I had a conversation while I was at a Hindu friend’s house for a birthday party last night. This friend of mine is not a real religious Hindu, but more of a cultural Hindu, who respects it as his family (and wife’s) religion and tradition. We had quite a long conversation (over an hour) about the existence of God, the Christian faith, etc. Here are some of the objections he was raising:
- Religion was created by men to control people – it is all made up. You’ll burn in hell if you don’t behave according to what this book says. Jesus is always watching you. Interestingly, he mentioned that Hinduism does have a concept of hell, and hellfire as well. He said that this is only experienced by humans (not other life forms) who do something terribly wrong, let’s say murder, then you go to eternal hellfire. I told him but that was the first time I’ve ever heard that. His wife, who was sitting there, but not involved in the conversation, confirmed it.
- He complained that some of these “people in religion” (the leaders) are smooth talkers and they manipulate people for their own benefit (private planes, big houses, etc.)
- I asked him to forget about “religion” for a second and focus on whether God exists. He said that he sees no evidence that God exists. However, I was finally able to convince him that it was reasonable to believe that a Creator of the universe and life exists (via the cosmological and design arguments), but then he said, “OK, so if God did create the universe, so what?” I said if there is a Creator, then we ought to try to know Him and determine if He’s revealed Himself to mankind.
- He questioned why there is only life here in the universe, since the universe is so big. Why do you need this big universe if you’re only going to have life here? It was not clear whether he truly believed that there was no other life in the universe, but I think it may’ve been more of a critique of the Christian view of God creating this gigantic universe to only have life in one galaxy and one planet out of billions.
- We had a discussion about science and Christianity. I mentioned that many of the scientists of history were Christians, I named Newton, Copernicus, Galileo and that there were many others. The reason they studied science passionately was because they believed that God created the universe and it was meant to be understood by us because it operated in an orderly, law-like fashion, according to the laws of nature, physics, chemistry, etc. Since nature operates according to such predictable laws (e.g. we can land a rover on Mars because we can so accurately predict the path of the planets around the sun), it is reasonable to believe that these laws of nature had to be given by a “Law Giver”.
- He asserted that all religions are the same. He questioned the story of Jesus coming to Israel. Why did he come at that time and only one place? He said, if he was a god, he would’ve came to every continent (basically, I think he was saying he would’ve made his existence irrefutable). He asked, was Jesus a messenger? Why did He come to earth? I replied that He came to seek and to save lost humanity. Yes, He was a messenger also, in the sense that He taught and healed people, but he didn’t just come as a messenger.
- In response to me telling him something that Jesus said, he also said, “No one can know what Jesus said”.
- He said, “How do you know what is the true religion? Many people wrote down books from other religions. How do we know Bible is true over those?” When he said that other religions have their books too, I contrasted the Bible, which was written by 40 authors over a period of 1500 years – these authors were different types of people such as fisherman, shepherds, military generals and kings writing at different times in history and locations in different geographical locations. However, they were all writing a single, consistent message throughout the Bible. He asked “Why should I believe them more than the writers of other religions? For example, Islam…” I answered, “Yes, Islam, where Muhammad is the only person that supposedly received that message over a period of 23 years in a cave from an angel – and we just have to believe him?” I continued, “The same thing regarding Joseph Smith the founder of Mormonism, who claims to have had a vision of Jesus and God the Father and claims to have been given ancient golden plates containing a divinely inspired message? Believing 40 different eyewitnesses to historical events is much more reasonable than believing religions that are based on the private vision of one individual with no other corroboration.” At this point he took exception because, he said, “Mormonism is Christian”. I said no, it is not. They separated themselves from other Christians initially, and said that all existing Christian denominations were heresy. He challenged me, “Mormons believe in Jesus Christ right?” I said yes but, they don’t believe in the same Jesus that is described in the Bible – that Jesus is the one true God. In addition to that, they have a separate scriptures called “The Book of Mormon”, which does not agree with the Bible.
- He thought that Christianity started when Jesus came, two thousand years ago. But I corrected him that the Bible starts at the beginning of creation. The first sentence of the Bible is “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. He was confused and said who wrote that part? I mentioned that Moses wrote the first five books the Bible that include the account of creation. He asked, “So, Moses wrote about Jesus?” I told him yes that he and other Old Testament writers predicted the coming Messiah. The Bible contains over 300 prophecies of the coming Messiah, most of which are fulfilled in Jesus.
- He complained about injustices in the world. He gave the example of a faithful Christian couple who has a child with birth defects and then lives “a life of hell”. Why isn’t their God taking care of them? And people talk about how God has a plan, God loves you, but meanwhile, people go on suffering greatly (I’m paraphrasing – I can’t remember exactly).
During our conversation, he was a bit of a steamroller – but a friendly steamroller. But he hardly allowed me to get any words in – he just kept bringing up objection after another – and if I got a chance to answer an objection, he would just move on to another objection.
He has agreed to have lunch to discuss this more. I told him that he should come to lunch with me another Christian friend of mine (who he also knows from a company we worked at together) and he sounded interested.
At the end of our conversation, I asked if he would be willing to read a book. He said yes. I gave him a copy of a book I just happened to have in my car: Is God Just a Human Invention and Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists. I asked him to just devote an hour or less and read chapter 1 to start. He said he’s “lazy to read”, but said he would do it (I don’t have confidence that he will).
Please pray for my friend that this conversation would get him to think and consider whether he is wrong in his worldview and for another chance to continue the conversation.