Ten Claims of Religion That Are Mutually Exclusive

mutually_exclusive_eventsTheists have a script.  No, seriously.  They must.  How else could it be that the very first response of every single theist ever to every single atheist ever is that we are ignorant about their scriptures and their religion?  We haven’t read the whole thing, they complain, or we are taking it out of context, or we are cherry-picking the worst parts, or we are mis-translating, or yada yada yada. So let me put this caveat out there right up front: Every single one of the following statements can be found at any of countless online Christian ministries.  The sentiments represented are ubiquitous not only in the Christian meme-o-sphere, but in discussions with Christians themselves.  There has been no cherry-picking; there is no context to these outside of the standalone images and “whisper quotes” circulating on the Internet; nothing has been translated from ancient Hebrew into English by Google.  This is their theology, in their own words, in all its contradictory and self-refuting glory.

1. “Nothing can stop God’s plan!” → “Pray because prayer changes things!”

Say what now?  If nothing can stop god’s plan, doesn’t that include prayer?  And if it does, then why pray?  And if it doesn’t, why are they lying and claiming that nothing can stop it when something actually can stop it?

2. “God never gives you more than you can handle!” → “God WILL give you more than you can handle!”

So, is god making you suffer because he knows you can take it – or is he trying to break you so that you feel you have no choice but to run to him?  (This claim is everywhere in online Christian circles – which, as an aside, is kind of a dick move on god’s part.) He either does or he doesn’t.  Which is it?

3. “Every person in your life was sent by God for a reason!” → “God will never send you another woman’s husband!”

So let me get this straight: If a married man comes into my life he was sent by god, but because he is married he wasn’t sent by god? Or, he was sent by god, but not so I could fall in love with him? So if I fall in love with him, that wasn’t the plan?  But then, how does that square with item 1A above about everything happening being part of god’s plan? Does anyone else’s head hurt?

4. “God gives us what we need, not what we want!” → “Sometimes God gives you what you want so you can see it’s not what you need!”

Geez Louise, god, can you stop being a dick for like five minutes?

5. “Everything that happens is part of God’s plan!” → “Don’t blame God for the bad things that happen to you, blame your own bad choices / people’s free will!”

In my unscientific observations, the “everything according to god’s plan” line usually comes up in the context of first world problems – unemployment, relationship woes, financial troubles, and similar personal challenges.  Those are the times when it’s convenient to say god is working in your favor even if you can’t understand how.  The moment you bring up hunger, or rape, or child abuse, or famine, all of a sudden god is no longer responsible, because whoa, man, you can’t blame god for that shit when it’s people who are bad!  This leaves theists with the uncomfortable dilemma of having a god who intervenes in the easy stuff, like finding you a job, but can’t be bothered with the big things, like making sure babies don’t get raped; or of claiming two things that cannot simultaneously be true.

6. “God is directing all of your steps!” → “People have free will!”

If god is directing all of my steps, I don’t have free will.  If I have free will, god is not directing my steps.  Ironically, if theists would simply choose one of these it would be logically defensible (though it would still be false).  As it stands, these claims are incompatible.

7. “God is all-powerful!” → “Satan exists!”

There is no reason for an all-powerful, all-loving god to allow a character like Satan to run wild tempting and destroying people unless he (a) is not all-powerful and is incapable of defeating Satan, or (b) he is not all-loving and Satan just makes a good scapegoat or good entertainment (or both).  If Satan is real, then your god is either impotent or incompetent.

8. “God is all-forgiving!” → “Hell exists!”

“There’s nothing I won’t forgive you for!  Except for this list of things that I won’t forgive you for!”

9. “God is all-loving!” → “God will punish the wicked!”

“You can freely choose whether or not to love me! And if you choose not to, you will burn in a lake of fire for all eternity!  And yeah, genocide and war and child rape and disease and famine and natural disasters, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you coz I do! For realz! Even those idolaters and fornicators and blasphemers and apostates and unbelievers that I am condemning to hell!  Love ya, mean it!”

10. “God is always in control / has a plan / answers prayers / will make a way / has put you where he wants you / is the reason for everything you have / bestows blessings / heals / creates miracles!” → “God can’t stop people from raping children / committing murder / starting wars / perpetrating genocide / torturing / lying / stealing / hurting each other because that would take away their free will!”

And finally we get to the crux of why religion does not hold water: Because Christian theology claims perpetual, continuous, incessant intervention by god in the most minute details of your life while simultaneously claiming god cannot intervene to stop suffering because that would take away free will.  If intervention impedes free will, then god should never intervene in any human affairs for any reason.  If he intervenes to, say, send the right people into your life, or send you the storm to make you see he is the only shelter, or answer your prayers, or direct your steps, how is that any less an infringement upon free will than saving children from rape and starvation? Or stopping the Holocaust? Or teaching humans to be kind to each other?  Never mind, I’ll answer that for you: It isn’t.  It’s just that it’s easy to give god credit for being The Best Thing Ever when the stakes are low, but when the stakes are high god miraculously no longer plays by the same rules and must be held to a different (read: lower) standard than his flawed, sinful creations.

Christian apologists, if you’re out there, you’re going to want to attack me for misunderstanding or misrepresenting your religion.  However, you might want to consider redirecting that energy to the myriad Christian ministers and self-appointed spokespeople who are out there selling a version of your faith with which you disagree and making so many claims that cannot simultaneously be true.  After all, it’s not actually my responsibility to correct your theology.  That’s supposed to be your job.

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Godless Mama

Godless Mama writes about religion, politics, feminism, and the importance of evidence-based thinking with the goal of improving the world her daughter will inherit.

22 thoughts on “Ten Claims of Religion That Are Mutually Exclusive”

  1. You point out the contradictions side by side, succinctly, accurately, and expose the sheer lack of logic and harmony within what is supposedly one religion. Your writing also helps bring together the thoughts I have when I hear these utterances singularly – and faint alarms of untruth and fallacy are going off in my mind, but I can’t put my finger on how or why they are contradictory and illogical.



  2. Rock On Godless. You broke it down to the simplistic levels of logic most can see easily. They can denounce science and they can refute logic; but not both.


  3. Hi GodlessMama,
    You have put in two exactly opposite things and challenged the belief system of the Christmas. You have used very common clichés that we hear very often.
    I am glad you debunked them…. Because a lot of Christians use these to ward off confronting the reality.

    However, I am a believer of Jesus Christ and I hate when God is misquoted or misrepresented.

    I looked at the 10 pairs of points you have mentioned. Most of them are not quotes from the Bible, they are a bunch of Christian-sounding sound bites.

    Only truth is the 7th and half of 9th
    Gof is Almighty or all-powerful, Satan exists; and God iS all-loving.

    God’s love is unconditional. That mean He loves even those who hate Him.

    God is Almighty. Satan exists: Both are true and can coexist…. depending upon what God’s purpose for Satan’s existence

    Keep it up and truth will set people free,

    Ranjit Gorde


    1. consider: “God’s love is unconditional” vs “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated”… remember, God hated Esau from the womb, prior to him having done *anything*. if God’s love was actually unconditional, it would’ve been unconditional for Esau as well… but it wasn’t. if God made an exception for him, he can make an exception for you too… and just like he never told Esau he hated him, you’ll never find out if he hates you too, because he’s not going to tell you if he loves or hates you either.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeah, when you take issues out of context, you will find apparent “contradictions”. Try reading th whole book, not just the parts you want to “gotcha”, then get back to us.


    1. Did you not actually read the article? I specifically said these aren’t pulled from scripture – they’re the ubiquitous piffle that pours forth in the Christian online domain. If you’re going to try to criticize my writing you might want to actually read it first. Oh, and if your going to claim you’ve never heard a Christian say any of these things, you can stop right there because we’d both know that’s a lie.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I love how anything that challenges is now dismissed by the Palinism of ‘Gotcha’, as if that suddenly means that it’s invalid. If I can ‘getcha’, then you’re still wrong.


      1. Did you not read the article? Do you not know what mutually exclusive means? For each of those pairs, both statements cannot be true. That’s not challenging; it’s just nonsensical. I also love the excuse that because you’re presented with point-blank contradictions that you can’t reconcile, you can call it a “gotcha” and just dismiss it as though that’s somehow unfair. The fact that you can’t respond is an indictment of your argument, not mine.


    3. I have read it. Twice. It’s a stupid and terrible book.

      I would argue that you haven’t read it, “Mom.” Sure, you’ve skimmed it, but based on your comment, I think you lack the sufficient capability to UNDERSTAND it. READING it is not enough.

      Here’s an example which cannot possibly be “taken out of context”: We know that the value of pi is 3.1415927 (ad infinitum), but the Bible says in I Kings 7:23 that the value of pi is exactly 3. That’s just flatly factually incorrect. You’d think that a god like Yahweh, all-knowing as he is, would get it right.

      “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.” – Isaac Asimov

      (To wit, I really took a good look at religion because I had once considered entering the seminary. But once I really got into it, Christianity and all the other Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Islam, Sabeanism, Mandaeism, etc. – are shamanistic holdover beliefs from more ancient magic where snakes could speak – and apparently speak ENGLISH, no less!)


  5. I agree there is a strong tension in human experience – the good and bad and the idea that there is an all loving, all powerful God. However, why is it that sacrificial love is what truly satisfies us? Not wealth, power, honor, or pleasure. God is many things but typically never relates to us in an either/or way. Most often in a both/and way. We have free will because love can’t be true without being free. Our relationship with God is most easily understood like a parent child relationship. Do we control every aspect of our kids life? No, that would not allow them to grow. Do we allow them to experience things that will not be comfortable? If we are a good parent we do. Do we listen to a child who begs for things? If it is what is best we do, but not always. Do we want them to spend time talking to us (prayer)? We delight in it even when it does not change anything. The analogies could go on and on.


    1. Would we torture one child to death to absolve the others of their sins? Would we drown them when they misbehave? Would we condemn them to eternal torture for not living their lives the way we wanted? Probably not. God is the worst parent ever.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I once suggested that a sticker be placed on the front of the bible that would read:

    The contents of this book should be considered more as myth than history, more as wishful thinking than reason, more as escapism than inspiration, more as immoral than moral, and more as fantasy than science. The reader should take note likewise that there are numerous errors, contradictions, inconsistencies, and fallacies throughout this book.

    Due to the graphic descriptions of atrocities, violence, torture, rape, child abuse, cruelty, misogyny, barbarism, murder, infanticide, genocide, and crimes against humanity, and due to the portrayal of the God character herein as a cruel, vindictive, paranoid, narcissistic, irrational, controlling, bigoted, irresponsible, and dictatorial tyrant, parental guidance is highly recommended.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I considered a point by point discussion of this but realized it would probably be a waste of time. However, there are two points I will make.
    1: You seem to have a very fuzzy understanding of what a contradiction is.
    “Today is Tuesday-Today is not Tuesday” is a contradiction because both statements cannot be true in the same way at the same time.
    “Today is Tuesday-Today is Wednesday” is not a contradiction because while they can’t both be true they can both be false.
    “John saw 7 UFO’s -Mary saw 5 UFO’s” Is not a contradiction. It just means John saw 2 more than Mary.
    Bearing in mind what a contradiction actually is many of your ten statements are neither contradictory nor “mutually exclusive”. As such they do not testify of Christianity’s incoherence so much as your own misunderstanding.
    2. The rest reflects the scriptural illiteracy of whoever posted it. Statements like “God is all Loving” “God is all Forgiving” “Everything is God’s Plan” represent little more than wishful thinking on the part of those (Christian or not) who want those things to be true in spite of the fact that those beliefs are not supported by scripture.
    I agree with you that it is not your responsibility to correct the Theological misunderstandings of Christian posters.


  8. As a christian, I have to give you credit. Most of the popular memes what you have presented make me cringe every time I hear them. I am sure they are presented to give some level of confidence boost one way or another. They are popular surface level “quotes” that are not at all doctrinally sound. I too wish that many of these were corrected from the “pulpit”. Thanks for giving us a good booting for allowing these to float around so much. I admit that I let many of these slip right on by, because the timing or setting is often not convenient for correction.


  9. “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus circa 300 BCE


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