The Cherished So-Called Evidence for God Hits Brick Walls

This is not hard to figure out

But you do have to think about what is claimed as evidence for god(s). Does the evidence hold up to careful, critical analysis? What is the evidence usually cited? At the end of the 1942 film, Casablanca, Captain Louis Renault utters the famous line, “Round up all the usual suspects.” So let’s review the usual evidence-for-god(s) suspects, starting with…
The problem is that devout theologians/clergy have never been able to agree on which scriptures, which portions of scriptures, actually qualify as divinely inspired word-of-a-god. Once the New Testament had become the Christian scripture, the Old Testament was downgraded, especially since it includes so much god-generated brutality. It’s still in the Christian Bible, but much of it can be dismissed with “Oh, that’s in the Old Testament…” And it’s no surprise that Jewish theologians don’t give divine ranking to the New Testament. Nor are Christians about to add the Qur’an to their Bible, though it is considered the supremely divine word of Allah. You mean the Muslim theologians have it all wrong? And it would be hard to find any Jewish, Christian, or Muslim theologians who doesn’t think The Book of Mormon is a joke. It’ll never happen that these thousands of devout theologians from different brands will come to an agreement.
So, whom are we to trust with their claims of divinely inspired scripture? 
It’s also a scandalous problem just within the deeply divided Christian faith, now splintered into so many conflicting, bickering brands. This derives in large part from disagreements about the Bible, based on stunning Bible contradictions and flaws—and so much bad theology in its pages. It’s awfully hard to maintain that a divine voice can be readily discerned from Bible teachings. John 3:16 (“God so loved the world”) is adored as evidence that God is Love, but the severity in John 3:18 and John 3:36 is alarming:
“Those who believe in him are not condemned, but those who do not believe are condemned already because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”      
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life but must endure God’s wrath.
So which is it: God is Love, or God is Condemnation and Wrath? Clever theologians—well, they think they’re clever—have written endlessly to explain how this makes sense, how their god can have such mood swings.

Here we can have even less confidence. When Pope Pius XII was a child, his mother had her children worship at a Mary shrine in their home. Statues of Mary are a prominent part of Catholic imagery, so we can’t be surprised that imaginations can run wild. Hence visions of
Mary, worldwide, are so common, and they might even be classified as hallucinations. Protestants usually are baffled by such boasts about this goddess, Queen of Heaven. In fact, visions used to prove other gods—or versions of gods—are discounted/ridiculed by competing religions.
Bible miracles stories draw so heavily on miracle folklore of the ancient world, so it’s risky to assume that miracles are evidence for any given god. It’s just the thing to say: “Our god is real—just look at the miracles he/she has done!” It’s especially risky for Christians to use miracles as evidence for their god, for example, Jesus feeding thousands of people with a few scraps of bread and fish. If their god has this spectacular power, why is there any hunger in the world today? Jesus healed a blind man by smearing mud—made from his own spit—on the guy’s eyes. If you’re inclined to believe such blatant superstition, then you have to explain why the powerful Christian god doesn’t heal all blind people now—but skipping the mud treatment. 

“I know Jesus in my heart”
This is perhaps the last resort: my intense feeling that Jesus and I are in close touch. He comforts me and gives me confidence, or even “I belong to Jesus.” This “truth” crashes and burns because people have vastly different ideas about Jesus. Surely the apostle Paul had Jesus right because of his intimate visions of the heavenly Jesus, and Paul was blunt: “…those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24) How many churchgoers would agree with that? For some believers, Jesus is the epitome of love and kindness, for others he is the guarantor of punishment and wrath for sinners. This is the case because there is so much confusion in the gospels about who Jesus was and what he taught. 
The bottom line: what you’re feeling in your heart is evidence for what you’re feeling, which is not evidence at all for what god(s) may be like. 
The First Brick Wall that the so-called evidences for god(s) smack into is this: reliable, verifiable, objective data for god(s) have never been found. None of the claimed sources of god-knowledge just mentioned meet this standard—despite the claims of theologians and clergy. Hint: Just try to find theologians and clergy, across the broad spectrum of theism, who agree about what god(s) are like and how they want to be worshipped. They cannot agree because they’re not using reliable, verifiable, objective data.
The Second Brick Wall is horrendous suffering, which cannot be reconciled with the claim that a powerful, loving, competent god has this planet under his management and supervision. Serious thinkers a long time ago began to suspect that things didn’t add up. Mark Molesky, in his book, This Gulf of Fire: The Great Lisbon Earthquake or Apocalypse in the Age of Science and Reason, makes this observation:
“…Europeans were suddenly confronted with a phenomenon of nature that could, without warning, throw one back into the chaos of blind and destructive forces. Once again in its history, the West found its conceptions of God, Nature, and Providence under a barrage of scrutiny. And many, as a result, began to ask the all-important yet profoundly disturbing question of theodicy: How could a Creator, both beneficent and all-powerful, have permitted such a catastrophe?” (p. 19, This Gulf of Fire)
The earthquake, which struck on 1 November 1755, killed perhaps 30,000-40,000 people in Lisbon, many of whom were crushed to death when churches collapsed; up to 10,000 died in Morocco. 
In Genesis 1:31 we read that the creator god was happy with what he’d done: God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” But natural disasters provoke doubts, disasters also brought on my microbes—which the god forgot to explain to humans—and colossal suffering struck in the 14th century as the Black Plague killed up to a third of the human population between India and England. The church claimed that god was punishing sin. Tim Sledge posed a legitimate question, in his book, Four Disturbing Questions with One Simple Answer: Breaking the Spell of Christian Belief: Why didn’t god tell us about germs? There could have been a book in the Bible about hygiene, and the many reasons why we get sick. See his chapter 3: The Germ Warfare Question.
Whoever wrote Genesis 6:5 didn’t agree with Genesis 1:31 that everything was very good. He wrote: “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humans was great in the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually.” We know that’s not true, but there are most certainly major defects in the human brain. Evolution did the damage, and theists should welcome that fact: for survival in savage nature, our brains are wired for territoriality and aggression, which—as it turns out—has programed us for wars, as history has so overwhelmingly demonstrated. And in the bargain: critical thinking is not a dominant human skill. Christian theologians must deal with this Brick Wall: how can their good god not be blamed for the terrible flaws in our brains that have caused so much suffering? 
So much horrendous suffering can be attributed to the human capacity for savagery. And heaven just watches, powerless or unwilling to intervene? This is the major Brick Wall that defeats Christianity’s posturing about its loving god. “How did you sleep? Oh, very well, thank you: Just like God during the Holocaust!” 
The Holocaust is the ultimate Brick Wall. Bruce Henderson, in his book, Sons and Soldiers, reports the stories of Jewish young men who escaped Nazi Germany, but returned with the U.S. Army to fight Hitler. In the Prologue he shares the story of Martin Selling, who had spent time in the Dachau concentration camp:
“… there were those who found they could no longer believe in God—any God—because of what was taking place. Martin identified with this group. He would, he decided, observe and participate in the traditions and ceremonies he had grown up with, out of a desire to acknowledge his Jewish heritage. But for the rest of his life, he knew, he would just be going through the motions. The horrors of Dachau had destroyed his belief in God.” (p. 10, Sons and Soldiers)
In Wendy Lower’s book, Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, she describes what can happen when critical thinking skills are lacking, and the state has created bureaucracies to manipulate the citizenry:
“One did not become a convert to the Nazi cause overnight; it required indoctrination and reinforcement pursued relentlessly in the Reich’s schools. For Hitler, a proper education should ‘burn the racial sense and racial feeling into the instinct and the intellect, the heart and brain of the youth entrusted to it.’ The school, according to a 1934 reform, should educate the youth in the service of nationhood and in the National Socialist spirit, and teachers had to be trained to become conduits of that spirit. Two-thirds of all German teachers attended training camps where they were subjected to physical and ideological exercises.” (p. 39, Hitler’s Furies)
“… at least half a million women witnessed and contributed to the operations and terror of a genocidal war in the eastern territories. The Nazi regime mobilized a generation of young female revolutionaries who were conditioned to accept violence, to incite it, and to commit it, in defense of or as assertion of Germany’s superiority.” (p. 166, Hitler’s Furies)
Why didn’t the wise, super-competent creator god do a better job when he designed our brains?
How do theologians and clergy attempt to meet the challenge of the Brick Wall? They hope that the devout faithful aren’t even aware of it, or won’t think about it if they are. When I gifted a copy of my book, Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught, to a religious friend, she said, “I can’t read that, I’m a Catholic.” The thought-barrier erected during catechism and Sunday school is intended to last for life. Of course, for a lot of people—those who have a spark of curiosity or skepticism—the indoctrination breaks down. Even so, the think-positive-thoughts approach still prevails, with pious platitudes added to the mix, e.g., god moves in mysterious ways, he has grand plans for humanity we’re not aware of. Yet the clergy never bother to provide the reliable, verifiable, objective data that would help us take these claims seriously.
David Madison was a pastor in the Methodist Church for nine years, and has a PhD in Biblical Studies from Boston University. He is the author of two books, Ten Tough Problems in Christian Thought and Belief: a Minister-Turned-Atheist Shows Why You Should Ditch the Faith, now being reissued in several volumes, the first of which is Guessing About God (2023) and Ten Things Christians Wish Jesus Hadn’t Taught: And Other Reasons to Question His Words (2021). The Spanish translation of this book is also now available. 
His YouTube channel is here. At the invitation of John Loftus, he has written for the Debunking Christianity Blog since 2016.
The Cure-for-Christianity Library©, now with more than 500 titles, is here. A brief video explanation of the Library is here.