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From time to time I will post a short extract from one of my books listed in the Books menu above.  Here is the first …


 The Religion Business
Cashing in on God

Ben Bennetts
Published by Atheos Books, 2012


Prologue: A Conversation With A Christian

Some time ago, I came across a website, http://www.everystudent.com, that purported to answer questions of a religious nature and, being idle that day, I started an e-mail exchange with one of the advisors. The site advertised itself as ‘a safe place to explore questions about who God is and what it might be like to know him’. Here’s the transcript of the dialogue that took place over three days. I have changed the name and e-mail address of the advisor to preserve his anonymity.

To: <john.smith@domain.com>
Sent: Sat, 2 Jan 2010
Subject: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

If God exists, who created him, or her?
Ben

From: john.smith@domain.com
Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2010
Subject: Re: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

Ben,
Thanks for visiting everystudent.com

I don’t think there is an answer to your question except to say that God has always existed. If someone were to have created God then that someone, by definition, were to be God! What do you think?

Hope that helps.
John

To: <john.smith@domain.com>
Sent: Sat, 2 Jan 2010
Subject: Re: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

John:
For me, your answer demonstrates a fundamental weakness for ‘proving’ the existence of God. You cannot say that he has always existed. That’s axiomatic. Where’s the proof? My question also becomes recursive. Even if you could, somehow, explain the creation of God, my next question would be ‘Who created God’s creator?’, and so on.

Richard Dawkins hit it on the nose when he asked a similar question recently about unicorns – can you prove the existence of unicorns? The fact that nobody has ever seen a unicorn doesn’t prove, or disprove, that unicorns do not exist. It just means exactly what it says – nobody has ever seen a unicorn. So, to base a religious edifice around something whose existence cannot be proved is, to me, a pointless exercise unless there’s some other hidden agenda such as power or control over a populace, or greed, or some other human trait.

Here’s another question. http://www.godchecker.com has identified 2,850 different gods, including God/Allah/Yahweh/Jehovah/Jesus and so on. Is ‘The God’ all 2,850 gods wrapped up into one; or are there really a multitude of gods out there, all different, all teaching/preaching different things; or is The God a sort of Chief God? How does that work?

Just curious,
Ben

From: john.smith@domain.com
Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2010
Subject: Re: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

Ben,
To be honest, it sounds like you are trying to pick an intellectual fight with me. I could be wrong (and I hope I am), but if so I don’t think anything I say will convince you nor you me. We will just be sending each other links and that won’t get us anywhere.

If you are truly interested as you are searching for God I would be happy to answer your question as I do have some extremely rational reasons to your valid questions and objections beginning with the person of Christ and His claim to be God in human flesh.

Let me know how you want this conversation to progress.

God Bless,
John

To: <john.smith@domain.com>
Sent: Saturday, January 02, 2010
Subject: Re: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

John:
You said ‘… it sounds like you are trying to pick an intellectual fight with me.’ Well, not really, but I am looking for answers to basic questions and I thought that when I accidentally found your website that I could engage in a fruitful discussion. It sounds, to me, that this is not the intent of your website. Your assumption is that God exists and everything stems from this assumption. I cannot make this assumption because of answerless questions like the ones I’ve posed. And, I’ve many more questions which, so far, have never been answered to my satisfaction if the basic axiom of God’s existence is not assumed.

I suggest that we stop our discussion and I will look elsewhere for answers. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my e-mails.
Ben

From: john.smith@domain.com
Sent: Sunday, January 03, 2010
Subject: RE: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

Ben,
Email is always hard to tell, but it seems that I might have offended you. Please forgive me.

Here is where there is a whole section dedicated to the subject of God’s existence. The author of a majority of the articles on this website was Marilyn Adamson who was a former atheist, so hopefully you can appreciate her perspective.

Here is that section in case you are interested:
http://www.everystudent.com/menus/existence.html
John

To: <john.smith@domain.com>
Sent: Monday, January 04, 2010
Subject: Re: Got a Question? – EveryStudent.com

John
You did not offend me. My skin is far too thick for that to occur! I just thought that you did not want to get into a discussion, intellectual or otherwise, about the existence of God. Hence my closure. There’s nothing to forgive. However, since you’ve re-opened the discussion, I do have some further thoughts.

I had already read Marilyn Adamson’s essay before I contacted you. I had some major problems with her position on the existence of God – see later – and I moved from her essay to the Contact page and sent you my opening e-mail.

To illustrate my problems, I have cut and pasted sections of the Adamson essay into the attached document and then inserted my comments, in italics, under the sections. Take a look.

I am also quite happy for you to forward my comments to Marilyn Adamson. I don’t have her e-mail address. You may have it.

One final question. You say that Marilyn Adamson was a former atheist. Can you tell me her profession and about her background? In particular, has she ever had any scientific or engineering training? I’m just curious, again.
Regards,
Ben

The attachment, containing extracts from Adamson’s essay and my interspersed comments in italics.

Extracts from Is there a God?

By Marilyn Adamson

Does God exist? Here are six straight-forward reasons to believe that God is really there.

Just once wouldn’t you love for someone to simply show you the evidence for God’s existence? No arm-twisting. No statements of, “You just have to believe.” Well, here is an attempt to candidly offer some of the reasons which suggest that God exists.

But first consider this. If a person opposes even the possibility of there being a God, then any evidence can be rationalised or explained away. It’s like if someone refuses to believe that people have walked on the moon, then no amount of information is going to change their thinking. Photographs of astronauts walking on the moon, interviews with the astronauts, moon rocks…all the evidence would be worthless, because the person has already concluded that people can’t go to the moon.

<Ben> I don’t agree. If the evidence of moon walking is irrefutable, then any sane and intelligent person will change his or her mind. We are built to question but we are built to accept that we might have been wrong.

1. Does God exist? The complexity of our planet points to a deliberate Designer who not only created our universe, but sustains it today.

Many examples showing God’s design could be given, possibly with no end. But here are a few:

The Earth…its size is perfect. The Earth’s size and corresponding gravity holds a thin layer of mostly nitrogen and oxygen gases, only extending about 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. If Earth were smaller, an atmosphere would be impossible, like the planet Mercury. If Earth were larger, its atmosphere would contain free hydrogen, like Jupiter. Earth is the only known planet equipped with an atmosphere of the right mixture of gases to sustain plant, animal and human life … as we know it.

<Ben> This is post rationalisation. This is like saying that the human hand is exactly right to grasp an orange therefore the hand has been designed correctly. If the orange turns out to be a pocket of air or a large bubble of water, then the hand has been designed incorrectly.

The Earth is located the right distance from the sun. Consider the temperature swings we encounter, roughly -30 degrees to +120 degrees. If the Earth were any further away from the sun, we would all freeze.

<Ben> Not if we had all developed in such a way so as not to freeze. Human beings cannot live at the extremes of our planet, such as the Arctic and Antarctic – well, not without considerable help from artificial aids such as clothing, generated warmth, brought-in food and drink and so on. Darwin claimed that …

End of extract.  To download the whole book go to http://www.smashwords.com and search for ‘Ben Bennetts’ or similarly in http://www.amazon.co.uk ⇒ Kindle Store.

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