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New wallets sometimes come with sample photos in the clear plastic sleeves. Suppose I kept the photo of the female model and told everyone that she was my girlfriend. Her photo is in my wallet, after all, and I’d be happy to show it to you.

You might remember this bit from the movie Napoleon Dynamite.

Napoleon: My old girlfriend from Oklahoma was gonna fly out here for the dance but she couldn’t cuz she’s doing some modeling right now.

Pedro: Is she hot?

Napoleon: See for yourself.

At this point, Napoleon brings out a stock model photo from his wallet, and Pedro is impressed.

The Christian is like Napoleon when he brags about God’s properties, accomplishments, and (of course) skills. “Oh, he’s great—he supports me when times are tough” or “He found me a new job and cured me of cancer” or “He upholds the very laws of physics.” All this is stated without evidence.

Anytime you get a little too close to exposing the claim, the goalpost is moved.

Maybe you prayed without success, but you’re told that God’s answer must’ve been “not yet.”

Maybe natural disasters that kill thousands don’t sound like what an all-good god would allow, but you’re told that it’s actually mankind’s fault.

Maybe you wonder: If the Trinity is so important, why aren’t the specifics made clear in the Bible? Or, why is the Bible ambiguous such that there are 45,000 Christian denominations, each hoping that they have the correct answers? Or, why does a good god do so many bad things in the Bible? Or, why doesn’t God make his existence obvious to everyone? Or, why does the Christian story seem to be from the same mold as all the other religions? You’re told that you can’t judge God or that God works in mysterious ways or that you haven’t proven that God doesn’t exist.

God is the ultimate hot girlfriend from Oklahoma who just can’t find the time to come for a visit. She’s busy modeling, you see.

See also: Weak Analogies? Is That the Best You Can Do to Prove God?

An infinite God ought to be able to protect himself,
without going in partnership with State Legislatures.
Certainly he ought not so to act
that laws become necessary to keep him from being laughed at.
No one thinks of protecting Shakespeare from ridicule,
by the threat of fine and imprisonment.
It strikes me that God might write a book
that would not necessarily excite the laughter of his children.
— Robert G. Ingersoll

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 2017-5-29.)

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CROSS EXAMINED After graduating from MIT, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware, and he is a co-contributor to 14 software patents. For more than a decade, he has explored the debate between Christianity...