As an American, I am surrounded by Christians. It is by far the largest religious group in this country. You can’t drive a few miles without crossing paths with a church of some kind. My small town (about 42 square miles) has only about 4500 residents, yet we have at least a dozen churches. In the small state of New Hampshire where I reside, there are approximately 1.3 million residents. There are (according to http://www.churches-in.com) 109,816 churches in the state. I am sure there are more that are not on their directory, but we’ll go with that number for now. (This is just Christian churches, by the way) That means that there is, on average, one church for every 12 people in New Hampshire. Now imagine if New Hampshire was in the Bible Belt or some other more religious area. How many more churches would there be near me?
There are a lot of churches in this country. A LOT. And we are just one country out of many in the world. Now, with so many churches preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in this country alone, one must wonder why. Why is it that we have come to believe in, and follow, the teachings of a man named Jesus? Did Jesus ever speak of the Americas? What about Australia? Greenland? What about every single area not mentioned by name in the Bible? It would seem, according to the Bible, that God had only focused on one locality; the Middle East. What is the explanation for this? Was there no one living in these other areas at the time? Did we have to wait for people to leave the chosen area and populate these “desolate” areas? No.
Paleo-Indians lived in the Americas at the time. Roughly 13,000 years ago, the Clovis culture was said to have been thriving in North America. The Clovis people were the ancestors to the Native Americans we were all taught about back in school. Surely God would have known about them and would have wanted them included in his divine plan, right? What about Australia? Aborigines have been on that continent for at least 50,000 years. Some archaeological discoveries even suggest that there were people there as far back as 60,000 years ago. Were they mentioned in scripture? What about all of the other areas of the world that had people living in them at the time the scriptures were written that were completely ignored in the Bible?
In his book, God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens says this when speaking of fantastical biblical claims:
“Moreover, the context is oppressively confined and local. None of the provincials, or their deity, seems to have any idea of a world beyond the desert, the flocks and herd, and the imperatives of nomadic subsistence. This is forgivable on the part of the provincial yokels, obviously, but then what of their supreme guide and wrathful tyrant? Perhaps he was made in their image, even if not graven?”
This idea from Hitchens got me thinking about why we here in America worship and follow a completely Middle Eastern god. If we here in the states, as well as every other area not mentioned in the Bible, were not important enough to even be mentioned, why do we fawn over this supposed all-knowing and all-powerful being? Every story is distinctly Middle-eastern in the Bible. The people, the homes, the landscape and the customs. All of it. Nothing in the scriptures gives us even a glimpse of the world outside of that area. If the story is completely thought up and put forward by men of limited education and experience, then it makes sense. If inspired by God, he’s got some explaining to do.
Before any believers out there reading this say that these omissions were left intentionally in order for us to spread the gospel, (you know, be the hands and feet of Jesus?) stop and think a bit first. Is that really logical? Is that right? How long would it take ancient Middle-Eastern people to reach other continents that weren’t even on their radar? Did the people of Nazareth have a map of the Americas? What about the Israelites? How could they reach these other areas in time to save anyone? Were they okay letting countless generations be damned while they made the necessary technological advancements that would enable them to reach the ends of the earth? And that brings up the invented notion of “Well, I don’t think God would punish those who never heard of Jesus. I believe that they are innocent if they are ignorant.” If that’s the case, then stop spreading the good news. It’s apparently bad news once you’ve heard it.
So what are your thoughts? Is there a reasonable explanation for why the god of the universe focuses only on one small region of this one planet? Is there a good reason for why he makes the rest of the earth wait for the salvation story while his favorites get to witness the events in person? Is planting a seed in one spot and then waiting for it to grow and spread slowly really the best way to teach the word to everyone? God was supposedly so angry with us that he destroyed the world once with a flood and then sent his son to die when that didn’t fix the problem. Is he really okay waiting thousands of years for the rest of us to hear his message? Didn’t he know how long it would take to reach the rest of the wretched sinners of the world? The Bible’s take on God’s wrath doesn’t suggest that he is the patient type. Is this really what we’d expect from a god-breathed religion or is it solely from the minds of short-sighted men who lacked the ability to see beyond their own feet? I have my suspicions. What are yours?
As an aside, I am still in the middle of reading Christopher Hitchens’ “God is Not Great.” It is most definitely worth a read if you haven’t yet. It is extremely well-written and full of terrific insights. If I had known of it while I was a Christian, I would be left with only two choices. One, I could take his concerns to heart and rethink my methods of finding truth. Or two, I would toss it in the trash after just reading the title and claim it must have been inspired by our enemy. As a non-believer, however, I am nodding my head in agreement constantly as I read.