I know, I know
Reading Time: 7 minutes I just love that this gif looks like she's making big ole scare quotes.
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Hi and welcome back! Yesterday, I showed you the three main bits of evidence that Christians offer for the veracity of their religious claims. In reality, none of those three bits actually constitute evidence. They’re more like claims themselves, and no Christian has ever credibly supported any of them. But I can see why they worry at those three bits of pseudo-evidence like activated terriers. What they actually do have, they very logically never want to discuss with non-believers. Today, let me show you the real evidence Christians actually have — and we’ll be grading how that works out for ’em.

lucille bluth is going to be grading us!
Let’s get to grading! (Vintage report card from John Lawlor, CC.)

(RIP, Jessica. You were the classiest of all class acts.)

Grading: The Facts of Christian (Non-)Unity.

Back in 2016, Neil Carter wrote an iconic post about “the most fantastically failed prayer in history.” And it comes to us from the Gospels — and straight from the lips of the character of Jesus in the form of a prayer to his father/himself, the Mad Blood God of the Desert (MBGD). This failed prayer comes from John 17:20-23, which says at the end,

I have given them [believers] the glory You gave Me, so that they may be one as We are one— I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfectly united, so that the world may know that You sent Me and have loved them just as You have loved Me.

Whoof. That’s a hard cringe. Incidentally, I never really knew about that bit of the Bible, back when I believed. And I can absolutely see why I didn’t. Those verses speak of future Christians, today’s Christians, and tells us that their unity will be so remarkable that anybody encountering Christians as a group will marvel at it. Indeed, non-believers will instantly recognize that this kind of unity could never be anything but divinely miraculous.

So how’s that been working out for Christians? Poorly. Nobody even knows exactly how many different denominations there are — the number might be north of 50,000 so far. In fact, Christians began splintering apart almost as soon as their first groups formed up. Many of these denominations believe completely contradictory and mutually-exclusive doctrines.

Really, there’s almost nothing in Christianity that could even be said to be universal — not even the supposed divinity of Jesus.

GRADE: Double Secret Probation F. Nobody hates and fights against Christians quite like other Christians from competing flavors. It’s very easy to see why absolutely no Christians ever point to these verses as totes-for-realsies fulfilled prophecies.

Well, probably. I’ve read Revelation. I can easily imagine how that went.

Grading: Those Sparrows and Lilies of the Field.

The Gospels — and indeed the epistles too — tend to lean hard on Christianity being very difficult and probably ending in martyrdom. The Jesus of the Gospels rarely lifted a finger to help anybody but himself. He certainly did almost nothing to materially make anybody’s life easier in any of those stories.

But the New Testament also assures believers unequivocally that their god totes for realsies caaaaaaaaares about every one of his followers and will care for them like a parent cares for their own little child.

If a one sheep out of his herd of 100 gets lost, this god has said he will totally leave the herd unprotected to go fetch back that one because it’s so valuable to him. (And why do shepherds keep sheep? For the same reason that fishermen fish.) He also claims that he knows every hair on his followers’ heads, never forgets them no matter how humble they are, and will clothe and feed them and take care of all their needs — as long as they Jesus very hard.

Those are some next-level promises. If true, they would indeed be very compelling evidence for Christians’ claims. And absolutely none of them come true any more often than random chance, savvy marshaling of resources, and accidents of birth would dictate. The most fervent Christians tend to languish in poverty and dysfunction. They suffer disease and natural disasters about as often as anybody else, too. And obviously, no gods part oceans to retrieve Christians who lose faith.

Still, Christians constantly offer divine provisional care as a selling point. Of course, they must be very careful how they word their marketing slogans. Often, their idea of “provisional care” looks a lot different from the unequivocal promises in the New Testament — and usually ties in to lockstep obedience.

These promises usually translate to “Obey, and God will always take care of us,” as this Hawaiian pastor insists (and this large Christian site too). But as both these promise-makers immediately let slip, the meaning of word “care” includes such extreme variations that the term’s largely meaningless.

GRADE: Basic af F. Most outsiders can immediately tell it’s a solid fail of a marketing promise. Unfortunately, it works all too well on those who already believe — and those who are in really vulnerable situations.

I know, I know
Scare quotes around “care,” always.

Grading: The Power of Prayer.

Christians offer up answered prayers as evidence for their claims — all the time. Many Christians seem certain that answered prayers represent a major piece of evidence supporting their claims.

Of course, when people complain that nothing they pray for ever comes to pass, Christians get to gaslight them! We just Jesus-ed wrong somehow, and that’s why none of our prayer requests ever happened. Our requests just didn’t fit into the very, very long list of asterisked terms and conditions at the bottom of the promises!

Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t support these asterisks. A vast gulf exists between Christian claims about prayer and the Bible’s constant assurances about it.

Indeed, this same gulf proved impossible for me to overcome when I believed.

Constantly, the Gospels make huge promises about prayer. Jesus himself offers them to his followers. Oh, sure, the Epistles weasel-words a lot of those grandiose assurances. However, in the Gospels all we see is yes, yes, yes, always yes, and especially yes if you pray with a few Christian friends for the same stuff.

If Christians’ prayers actually got answered the way the Bible insists they should, that’d be one helluva weird thing. A lot of people would have a lot of thinking to do about Christian claims. It might not necessarily mean that the god described in the Bible is answering those prayers, but it’d certainly be a thought-provoking fact to consider.

You’d think Christians would be smart enough not to make such an easily-debunked claim as this, but here we are. I suspect strongly that they’ve been so well-indoctrinated in the asterisked terms and conditions involved here that they’re not capable of examining this pseudo-evidence critically.

(I still get flashbacks about the Bible college teacher I encountered years ago on Facebook who insisted his “prayer journal” revealed a 100% positive answer rate! We heathens HAD to believe NOW! After I pressed hard to see this journal, he finally admitted he’d lied. He’d never kept one. But he still considered “answered prayer” evidence for his claims.)

GRADE: A sad but hilarious F. It’s fun to present Christians with all the evidence against their pseudo-evidence (like this 2006 study).

lucille bluth is judging us all
Judging hard.

I Reckon It’s Easier to Concentrate on Red Herrings.

I can easily understand why so many Christians bust their humps trying to PROVE YES PROVE that the Creation myth really happened, or that Jesus totally rose from the dead for realsies (but don’t ask about the Great Jewish Zombie Uprising!), or that all those shreds of early Bible fragments must add up to a real live god, or that XYZ historic miracles really happened.

Moreover, all of this stuff only happens in Christianity. All those other religions that could say the exact same things? They are faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaake, donchaknow.

Y’all, that stuff’s just red herrings. Christians use them to distract their marks from the here-and-now evidence that directly contradicts everything they claim about their god. If they can sell a mark on the PROOF YES PROOF that, say, Jesus totally resurrected himself, then they can springboard from that to a bunch of other claims.

Oh, but the red herrings swim deeper than that, friends. Let’s follow this current a bit further.

lucille bluth wants to cry so bad
The world’s smallest violin is playing in my fingertips.

In the Wake of Red Herrings.

Christians only push as hard as they do on all this pseudo-evidence because they think they must convince people of their wackadoo religious claims to get to the sale they really want to make: active, engaged membership in their own particular Christian group.

Evangelism-minded Christian groups tend to be so awful that their salespeople need to coerce people into joining them and sticking around.

And what we see them using is the best they’ve got.

A real live god who’ll torture people forever for refusing to participate in this group? That works nicely as a coercive element that gives teeth to any pastor’s altar call.

Yep! That’ll keep people from drifting out of the churches that wrestled their affiliation into existence with bad arguments, dishonestly-presented pseudo-evidence, and no small amount of emotional manipulation. Yep! That’ll introduce that element of non-optionality people need to keep up with a religion that seems less and less relevant to their lives by the day! Yep!

Or at least, this tactic used to work.

Tomorrow, we’ll see that it isn’t working so well anymore. And as per normal, Christians have absolutely no clue how to cope with this new reality.

well, she won't
An actual scene from every major Christian denomination’s head office today.

NEXT UP: That Gallup poll — and why it might be even more groundbreaking than it seems at first glance. See you tomorrow!

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

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