Tag Archives: questions

Let’s Answer Theist Questions!

I had a subscriber over on my YouTube channel send me links for a bunch of theist questions.  One list I did for YouTube but this one I’m going to cover here.  It’s actually split up into multiple sections and I’ll look at the ones addressed to atheists and agnostics.  As I’m not a Muslim or Buddhist or whatever, I’ll leave those sections alone.  Fair warning, this post is going to get pretty long.

1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?

Nope, but I’m not absolutely certain of anything.  I’m not even absolutely certain I’m sitting here answering these questions.  And sure, I suppose in the realm of extreme possibilities, there could be a god.  I simply have not been convinced that there is, hence I am an atheist.  I’d love to look at the evidence.  Where is it?

2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?

If you had any, sure.  But you don’t.  You’re just asserting things for which you have provided no actual evidence.  So where is this evidence?  I’m not asking for empty claims, I’m not asking for weak-sauce philosophical masturbation, I mean evidence. Actual, objective, demonstrable evidence that can be examined by anyone without them having to accept your conclusions first. Where is that?

3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?

Yes and we do think, based on credible mathematical models, that the source of the Big Bang most likely came from beyond our universe.  That doesn’t make it a god, it could have been a completely natural phenomenon.  In fact, our own universe could be sparking off billions of new universes all the time.

4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?

We cannot see them, that doesn’t mean we cannot detect them and we cannot test that they are there.  All of those things are very easily tested for and operate in predictable, consistent ways.  Where, exactly, is the objective test for God?  Let me know when you come up with one.

5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?

You’re right, it doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t exist.  Doesn’t mean he does either.  There’s no evidence for leprechauns or unicorns either, does that mean they’re out there?  And because there isn’t the slightest shred of objective evidence whatsoever that any god, anywhere, actually exists in factual reality, only a complete imbecile would believe in such a thing.  Are you a complete imbecile?

6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?

There is undeniable evidence for the Big Bang.  It happened.  We’ve known that since 1964.  There are certainly questions about what caused it to happen and science is working on the details all the time.  That’s how science works, after all.  But you’re just assuming that “someone” had to exist.  You’re just positing an intelligent, all-powerful being for which there is absolutely zero evidence and apparently, at least according to your mythology, has always existed and violates every single known physical law, made everything because it wanted to.  Are you mental?

7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?

Not necessarily.  In our universe, causality is part of the physical laws.  That may not be the case in other universe, where  infinite regress may be entirely possible.  So the best we can say is we just don’t know at the moment.  That doesn’t give you a license to just make stuff up because you’re personally uncomfortable or unhappy that you don’t know.

8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000 Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)

It doesn’t take an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, all an encyclopedia is, or any other non-fiction book really, is a record of things that exist in reality.  If intelligent life had never evolved in this universe, reality would still exist and operate the same way it does not.  There just wouldn’t be books describing it for other intelligent beings.  Information doesn’t require intelligence to exist.  Information is everywhere.  It is a false claim, unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, that just because something looks complicated, it needs to have some kind of intelligent design behind it.  Wishful thinking is just wishful thinking.

9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?

Actually, that’s just nonsense.  If you’ve ever heard of the butterfly effect, the idea that a butterfly can flap its wings in Beijing and there’s a storm in New York instead of sunshine, that’s an example of how ludicrous this idea actually is.  There are lots of very small causes that result in very large effects.

10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?

Because we have decided, for ourselves, that some action is wrong.  There is moral law, we made it up.

11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?

Sure, and it’s us.  We are the moral lawgiver.  You’re welcome.

12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?

Nope.  Enough with the ridiculous wishful thinking.

13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?

Nope.  This here is a natural lava ball.  They exist by the millions.  They are generated within volcanoes, typically of obsidian glass and if launched into the air and it lands in water, they can spontaneously form these black glass balls.  No designer required.

14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?

That does not necessarily follow.  If we grant that there is a cause beyond the universe, and keep in mind that doesn’t mean said cause is intelligent or all-powerful or whatever, that doesn’t mean that said cause doesn’t, in turn, have another cause before it that had nothing to do with our universe at all.  Therefore, there’s no reason whatsoever to think that whatever sparked off the Big Bang is a god.  There is no reason to think it’s intelligent.  There’s no reason to think it still exists.  You are simply making up attributes to this unknown thing because it makes you feel good to do so.  That is not a rational way to operate.

15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?

The anthropic principle is idiotic.  Clearly, the universe was not fine-tuned for life because, so far as we have any actual evidence, there is no other life in the universe besides us.  That means billions of galaxies and hundreds of trillions of planets are lifeless, all but one little blue planet in the middle of an unremarkable galaxy in the middle of nowhere.  How is that fine-tuned for life?  Even our own planet isn’t fine-tuned for life.  Without modern technology, much of our planet is impossible for humanity to exist in.  In fact, if you want to argue that Earth is fine-tuned for life, it certainly isn’t our life, it’s bacterial and unicellular life. If that’s what  you want to accept, fine by me.  Go pray to the bacterial god.

And now for the agnostic questions.  This is, of course, another example of not having the slightest idea what agnosticism actually is.

1. Of the two possible kinds of agnostic, which kind are you: 1) Strong agnostic who says we can’t know anything for sure? or 2) Weak agnostic who says we don’t know anything for sure (but we could if we had enough evidence)?

Absolute certainty is an unreasonable standard.  We don’t know that we exist for sure and no matter how much evidence we ever had, I doubt we could ever be absolutely certain of it.  But since nobody in their right mind asks for absolute certainty, it doesn’t matter.  We only need reasonable certainty.  We need a solid case, made with objective evidence, for the existence of things that can be demonstrated to be most likely true.  Sure, it could all be a fantasy, but we have to assume, at a certain point, that the things around us are real and can be examined, otherwise what’s the point?  That said, I’d be happy to look at any actual, objective evidence that you might have for the factual existence of your god.  Of course, you have nothing, so that’s really not saying much.

2. If you are the strong kind, then how do you know for sure that you can’t know anything for sure?

Well, I’m not, I already addressed this above.

3. If you are the weak kind of agnostic, then is it not possible that we could know for sure that God exists (if we had enough evidence)?

We could.  We just don’t.  You have no evidence at all.  You have nothing.  Until you do have something, why should I, or any other rational person, take your unsupported claims seriously?  Come back when you have something to objectively examine, then I’ll re-evaluate your claims and not until.

4. Do you agree that an open-minded person should be willing to look at all the evidence? If so, then are you willing to look at the evidence for God’s existence?

You keep asking if people would look at the evidence when you don’t actually have any.  I can’t look at something that doesn’t exist.  If Christians or other theists actually had any objective, demonstrable evidence to present, the debate would be over. Show us God and we’ll believe God exists.  If you can’t do that, and we all know that you can’t, then why are you trying to pretend that atheists and/or agnostics are refusing to look at your evidence?  Dishonest much?

Seriously, these questions and those similar are painful to answer because it’s blatantly obvious that I’m addressing an ignorant, uneducated individual.  If they had any actual knowledge on the subject, they’d never waste everyone’s time asking what are essentially stupid questions about things they ought to know better.  They clearly didn’t do any research, they didn’t talk to any relevant experts, they looked up from their Bible for a moment and spewed all of the apologstic nonsense that they’ve managed to gather without ever wondering if any of it is actually so.  And then they post it on the Internet where they just look like idiots to those who actually have a clue.

Welcome to modern apologetics.  It’s sad, isn’t it?

Answers to Some Atheist Questions


Over on the Atheist Experience blog, a viewer asked some questions and although there is a thread over there for answering them, I thought I’d take a shot here.  These questions seem to come from an atheist, although I don’t think he ever self-identifies as one, that’s just the sense I get.  It could also be a sincere liberal theist questioning their own beliefs.  In either case, I never let an opportunity to answer questions go unresponded to, so let’s get started.

1. Someone I know told me that the Old Testament doesn’t apply to us, not only because there is a new covenant, but also because God made those laws for a specific purpose, for example, selling off your daughter to her Rapist only applied to the people at the time. What should I say to that?

This is an attempt by some modern Christians to get around all of those horrible, awful things in the Old Testament while still pretending that the parts they like have weight.  They all still pay attention to the Ten Commandments, they just pretend they can ignore the parts about slavery and stoning unruly children and murdering witches.  However, the Bible doesn’t support such an interpretation.  In Matthew 5:18, Jesus says: “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”  Since earth has not disappeared (can’t say anything about heaven since we have no reason to think it ever existed), then the whole of the Old Testament must remain in force.

2. He says evolution is discredited by the amount of genetic mutations that are negative instead of positive. I replied with the mutation that allows some people to drink milk is positive because it helped people back when food was scarce and also how most mutations don’t do anything, they’re neutral. Was that a good reply and how is his argument true or false?

These are people who have no clue what evolution actually is or how it operates.  No matter how many times it’s explained to them, they continue to be misinformed because their faith is more important than the facts.  There are many similar point mutations that we can point to, where a small number of people were able to do a certain thing that gave them a survival advantage and thus, they reproduced in greater numbers until the ability is widespread in the human population.  We can als point to this in many animal species.  In fact, that’s why we end up with superbugs, bacteria that are resistant to vaccines and treatments, because a certain percentage have a mutation that is positive (from their “perspective”) in that it allows them to survive and thrive where other bacteria are killed.

3. People claim the bible is scientific but the story of Noah’s ark is in there? What other stories show that the bible is as scientific as Harry Potter.

Any story in the Bible that relies on magic and miracle is, as you say, as scientific as Harry Potter.  That includes the creation story, the aforementioned flood, the Egyptian plagues, the virgin birth, all of the miracles of Jesus and the resurrection from the dead and ascension into heaven.  In short, all of the things that make Christianity a religion.

4. How do I explain to those who don’t understand about how “information” cannot exceed the speed of light and how DNA isn’t a written set of instruction that the way most would think of it?

It all depends on what you mean by “information”.  Not knowing that, I can’t respond to that part of the question.  As for DNA, while it isn’t the kind of information that a lot of theists think it is, it really is a “programming language” of sorts, if you manipulate the gene sequences in different ways, you get different outputs.  That isn’t what they mean though and it is a wholly naturally-derived “programming language” that had no initial programmer.  Trying to convince theists of that is nigh impossible though because their goal isn’t to get to the truth, it’s to maintain their faith.

5. Why is Theistic Evolution wrong or unreasonable? I may have gotten the name wrong but a friend of mine says theistic evolution is evolution but with divine intervention behind it all.

I don’t know about wrong or unreasonable, it’s just unnecessary.  There is no reason to think that any gods exist. Theistic evolution requires a god to direct it, in the absence of gods, or reasons to think gods are real, then you’re just left with evolution by itself.  We can prove evolution happened and continues to happen.  We cannot prove there are any gods that might have directed it.  Occam’s Razor states that the simplest explanation is most likely the right one.  That would be evolution without the unsupported god part.

6. My friend crashed in a plane recently and he was unscathed. Now all the uber christian kids at my school keep saying Jesus saved him, but for me I ask why he didn’t prevent the crash in the first place. Then they say Jesus doesn’t check planes before they take off. I know this is a subject that hits the emotions, but how do I convince the crash wasn’t divine but instead was a lucky crash?

You probably can’t because, as I said before, these people don’t care about the truth, they care about their emotional comfort. They want to feel good about the things they believe, no matter how unsupported or silly those things are in reality.  These kinds of claims are not at all uncommon yet they are quite absurd.  You get people who say “I was in a crash and I was the only survivor!  Praise Jesus!”  Well apparently Jesus didn’t give a damn about any of the other people who were killed in the crash, did he?  It’s all about you.  When you bring up the obvious problems with these claims, just like your friend, they find some way to rationalize around it.  As I said, they don’t care about reality, they just want to feel good.

7. Would finding how life forms can arise from inanimate organisms not just disprove but destroy any religious claims to creation? Also what would you think the response to new extraterrestrial life being discovered? Hement Mehta believes this would be a huge blow to organized religion.

Well, finding how they actually do arise certainly would. Just proposing a hypothesis, not so much.  Of course, evolution is the best supported scientific theory we have but creationists don’t care because, not to sound like a broken record, they’re not interested in the facts.  There are always going to be a certain number of theists who, no matter what is discovered, they’re going to cling to their irrational faith.  Just look at Ken Ham, who at the Ham/Nye debate, said that there was absolutely nothing that could ever cause him to reject his faith.  No amount of fact, no amount of evidence, nothing at all could ever make him doubt the existence of God.  That’s what we call fanaticism.

8. Many creationists claim that the odds of humanity coming to be is so improbable. I was thinking before I slept the other day about a new idea(which probably was thought of already because it’s simple). I call it the argument from hindsight. Is this a thing(argument from hindsight)? Is easy to say it must be hard to get to where we are now, but that because we’re looking back. How many Martians are saying this? None because there isn’t anyone to look back at what needs to occur for life.

That’s because they’re playing a numbers game, one that has been wholly discredited over the years but they still cling to it. It is blatantly dishonest, but… faith.  I do agree with the argument from hindsight, I like the name, I might have to use it sometime. We can make all kinds of arguments using it.  If we calculate the odds of any individual being here today, each person having to had the exact ancestors breeding with the exact ancestors, having the exact sperm meeting with the exact egg over hundreds or thousands of generations, the chances that any of us could possibly exist today is astronomical, yet here we all are.  Creationists like to pretend that humanity was predestined, like we were always supposed to exist, yet there’s nothing further from the truth. We are the result of the process, not the goal.  If something had happened differently, there might be intelligent slime mold sitting around on a wholly different earth, marvelling at how wonderful it is that their life form was predestined by their gods.  It’s all quite silly.

So there you go, some more answers, aimed this time more at an atheist audience than a religious one.  The whole thing really is bizarre and quite sad that so many people are so unwilling to care about reality because reality is uncomfortable and gets in the way of their religious fantasies.  You can’t reason with a lot of these people, it isn’t even worth it to try, but at least you can be aware that they exist and as G.I. Joe says, knowing is half the battle.

How About Questions for Agnostics and Other Religions?

ask-question-1No, please don’t send me e-mail claiming I’ve identified agnosticism as a religion.  I don’t mean it like that, this is another post from the same individual who asked questions of atheists earlier in the week and I’m addressing questions, both asked of agnostics, and those asked of a couple of non-Christian religious groups.  Don’t do it.  Just don’t.

This time out, I’m taking on questions designed for agnostics, Muslims and Hindus.  No, I’m not a Muslim or Hindu but I think it’s important to point out how Christians don’t understand the absurdity of their own questions and how they can, and should be turned around and sent back to them.  The level of irrationality and illogic in these ideas is astronomical.  The original list can be found here if you want to take a look.

So, here’s my take on even more questions.

Questions for Agnostics

1. Of the two possible kinds of agnostic, which kind are you: 1) Strong agnostic who says we can’t know anything for sure? or 2) Weak agnostic who says we don’t know anything for sure (but we could if we had enough evidence)?

Now since I’m not an agnostic in the sense that he’s using it and I think that most agnostics, and clearly the majority of Christians, have no idea what agnosticism is, I’m just going to comment on some of these concepts.  Agnosticism is not some mid-ground between atheism and theism, it is a completely different question.  Atheism/theism addresses the subject of belief.  Agnosticism/gnosticism addresses the subject of knowledge.  One can be an agnostic atheist, one can be a gnostic theist, in fact, everyone, including the person who wrote these questions, is both  because everyone is both.  You are either an agnostic or a gnostic.  You can’t be both, you can’t be neither.  You are either an atheist or a theist.  You cannot be both, you cannot be neither.  The unfortunate fact is that a lot of people with no religious beliefs, people who are, like it or not, atheists, are uncomfortable using the label so they’ve invented this softball middle ground where they can hide from the social stigma they think comes from adopting the word “atheist”.  Too bad.  If you actively believe in any god, you are a theist.  If you do not actively believe in any god, even if you say you don’t know or don’t care, you are an atheist.  That’s how it works.  Now personally, I’d fit into the “weak agnostic” category, using the questioner’s definition.  I think we can know anything, assuming we have the evidence to do so.  There is nothing that is inherently beyond the capability of humanity.  We might not know now.  We might not know tomorrow.  The idea that we simply can’t ever know no matter what we do seems defeatist.

2. If you are the strong kind, then how do you know for sure that you can’t know anything for sure?

I don’t believe that, therefore I’m not going to answer, except to ask those who think that gods and the supernatural are entirely beyond our ability to ever discover, how they justify their beliefs.

3. If you are the weak kind of agnostic, then is it not possible that we could know for sure that God exists (if we had enough evidence)?

Yup, we could.  Let me know when we actually do and I’ll believe it and not before.

4. Do you agree that an open-minded person should be willing to look at all the evidence? If so, then are you willing to look at the evidence for God’s existence?

Indeed, what makes the questioner think for one second that I (or any other agnostic) hasn’t done so?  Far too many Christians are self-assured that anyone who hasn’t become a Christian simply hasn’t looked at the evidence.  What if they have and haven’t been convinced? Certainly, I’ve looked at the evidence that is claimed by Christians, and it’s honestly some pretty piss-poor evidence from what I’ve seen, and not only have I not been convinced that God is real, but I have been convinced that the majority of Christians are clueless and delusional.  A lot of you people ought to be ashamed to believed based on what you accept as evidence.

Questions for Muslims

1. Do you pray five times a day? If you have not done the minimum requirement for a Muslim, how can you be sure you are going to get to heaven?

Well, no.  I don’t.  However, can’t we turn this around and ask if this Christian has done everything that the Bible commands, every single day? How many witches has he murdered?  How many disobedient children has he stoned?  Does he eat shellfish or wear mixed fabrics?  All of those things are in the Bible, yet the overwhelming majority of Christians ignore them.  So, how can they be sure they are going to heaven? Inquiring minds want to know.

2. How can Jesus be considered a great prophet when the Gospels say many times that Jesus accepted worship as God (Matthew 8:2; 14:33; 28:9; Luke 24:52; John 9:38; 20:28-29)?

Again, not being a Muslim, I don’t have to answer it that way.  Jesus wasn’t a prophet, there’s no evidence that Jesus ever existed in the first place, at least not the character as described in the Bible.  Jesus, if he existed at all, was likely an itinerant Jewish rabbi that wandered around the Middle East preaching a message.  He was far from alone, there were messiahs on every street corner in Jerusalem at the time, Jesus just hit the big time, having had the mantle of godhood draped over him posthumously.  That’s what the actual, objective, demonstrable evidence suggests and all the faith in the world doesn’t change it.

3. If our Bible today is corrupted, then how do we know what parts are corrupted?

A better question for the Christians is how do you know your Bible isn’t corrupted, or better yet, how you know that it isn’t wholly made up? I think both the Bible, the Torah, the Qu’ran, the Vedas, indeed every religious book out there, is a load of horse shit, mythical writing by ignorant peasants who lacked the ability to test claims and consider the things that they saw, or more likely heard about third or fourth hand, logically and critically.  Unless these books can be validated by independent sources, and they can’t, there’s no reason to take any of them seriously.

4. How can the Bible be corrupted when Muhammad told people to read it (Sura 5:68; 10:94) and we have manuscripts showing that the Bible of Muhammad’s day was substantially the same as the one we have today?

What Muhammad said and did not say is rather questionable since Muhammad never wrote down a thing in his life, he was illiterate.  He supposedly taught his followers and after he was dead, when he couldn’t re-read his scriptures and “sign off” on them, his followers inscribed all of his teachings and that’s where we get the Qu’ran. How accurate it is, we simply don’t know.  It could have been completely off.

5. How can you believe the Qur’an when it states that “none can change His word” (Sura 6:115; see also 6:34; 10:64), yet it also says that the Bible is God s previous revelation (Sura 2:136; 4:163)? Yet you believe that Jesus never claimed to be God but merely claimed to be a prophet, and somehow the Bible got corrupted because it teaches that Jesus claimed to be God.

The Bible says nobody can change a single word too.  It’s funny how easy it is for future generations to come along and conveniently read the books of the previously generation.  Christians do it today, they pick and choose what parts of the Bible they want to take seriously and then wave their hands around and justify why their decisions are valid.

6. If killing is wrong for religious reasons, then why does the Quran prescribe the killing of unbelievers (Sura 9:5,29; 47:4)?

The same reason the Bible does it?

7. How can heaven be described as a place full of wine and women when this is the kind of life Allah forbids here (Sura 78:32)?

Hey, at least the Muslim version of heaven is better than the eternity of ass-kissing God that the Bible describes. Good thing we have no reason to think that either of them are real.

8. Why do Muslims believe Muhammad is superior to Jesus when even the Quran affirms that Jesus was sinless (Sura 3:45-46; 19:19-21), born of a virgin (Sura 3:47), called the Messiah (Sura 3:45), performed miracles such as raising the dead (Sara 5:110), and bodily ascended into heaven (Sara 4:158), and Muhammad did none of these things?

I don’t think either of them are particularly good role-models.  Jesus spent a majority of his life walking around the countryside with a bunch of male followers who loved him and Muhammad was a pedophile.  Come up with some better role-models, will you?

9. If many Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the eternal Word of God and yet different from God, then why can’t Jesus be the eternal Son of God and yet different from God?

Because religious belief is bullshit.

10. If Allah can do whatever He pleases, then why could He not allow His prophet Jesus to die on the cross and raise Him to life again?

If God can do whatever he pleases, why would he feel the need to throw Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden for doing something that God must have already foreseen?  And then why would God have to flood the world, killing virtually everyone, because they acted exactly like God must have known he would have?  God is a dick. So is Allah.

Questions for Hindus

1. Can you explain why some Hindus believe there is one reality beyond good and evil, and yet they live as though they believe evil is real?

Seriously dude, there are more than 36,000 distinct sects of Christianity and you’re wondering how some Hindus can believe one thing and others can believe a different thing?  Pot.  Kettle.  Black.

2. If reincarnation is a result of deeds in a previous life, then how did the first reincarnation begin?

It wasn’t a reincarnation?  By the very definition of the word, you can only be reincarnated if you have been incarnated in the first place.  Look up the prefix “re-“.

3. If those suffering in this life are being punished for deeds in a previous life, then why show any compassion to help the downtrodden and needy? Are we not just tinkering with their karma and delaying their punishment to a further life?

Because part of the schtick for being reincarnated into a higher form calls for treating others around you, especially the less fortunate, better?  It’s not about lower forms of life being punished, it’s about you getting ahead.

4. If evil is not real, then how did the illusion begin? Why is it so universal? And why does it seem so real?

Evil is a human perception.  It’s true in Hinduism, just as it is in Christianity.  There is no actual evil anywhere.

5. If we must undergo a changing process of enlightenment to discover we are one with the Absolute, then how can we be the Absolute since it is unchanging and never underwent such a process?

There is no reason to believe in the Absolute, just like there’s no reason to believe in God.  These questions are really moot since the assertions that underlie them are empty.  What our Christian here doesn’t recognize is that his own religious assumptions have no more basis in reality than the assumptions by the Hindu or the Buddhist or any other religious group.

I wish that once, just once, theists would turn the questions back on themselves or look at it from a different perspective because it’s painfully clear that none of them do.  They believe what they believe, it’s beyond reproach, even though the very existence of these questions should tell them that something is wrong with their beliefs.  They assume, without evidence, that what they believe is absolutely true, then tell other religions who have the exact same assumptions that they are wrong.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

The Christian Questions Never End

QuestionsI’ve answered tons of questions from Christians in the past, today I was out looking for any questions from other religious groups, such as Muslims, but came up empty, at least so far.  I did, however, come across this list of questions that I wanted to take on, plus he asked a couple of other questions to agnostics and Muslims that I will handle in another post.

Considering the never-ending list of questions that Christians want to ask atheists, I was expecting an equally unending list from other religious groups.  If anyone knows of a Muslim list or any other non-Christian list, could you please point me in the right direction?  Christians claim that we never address Islam, I’m trying, I just haven’t found anyone asking any questions that I can address!

And so, on with the show.

1. Are you absolutely sure there is no God? If not, then is it not possible that there is a God? And if it is possible that God exists, then can you think of any reason that would keep you from wanting to look at the evidence?

No, I am not absolutely certain there is no God any more than I am absolutely certain there are no unicorns. Absolute certainty is not a factor in skepticism.  Skeptics do not accept anything to any degree of absolute certainty.  We look at the available evidence and make the most rational call based on what we see right now.  If that evidence changes tomorrow, we will look at the new evidence and evaluate it rationally and we may change our minds.  What makes you think that we haven’t looked at the evidence for God?  In fact, most rational atheists are far more knowledgeable with regard to the supposed evidence for gods, both Christian and other gods, than the overwhelming majority of theists are.  In fact, we’ve not only looked at the evidence, we understand what the evidence actually means, where it came from and why it isn’t actually evidence for the factual existence of any god.  Theists can’t say that, they just believe it blindly.  And here’s a counter question for you, that I know no theist will ever answer:  Are you absolutely certain that there is a God and how do you know?  Not believe.  Not have faith.  How do you know.

2. Would you agree that intelligently designed things call for an intelligent designer of them? If so, then would you agree that evidence for intelligent design in the universe would be evidence for a designer of the universe?

By definition, something that is intelligently designed must have an intelligent designer, but there’s no evidence that the universe is intelligently designed so this question is no more than begging the question.  Show that the universe actually is intelligently designed, don’t just assert it.  This comes straight from the argument from ignorance.

3. Would you agree that nothing cannot produce something? If so, then if the universe did not exist but then came to exist, wouldn’t this be evidence of a cause beyond the universe?

Define “nothing”.  Most theists don’t understand the concepts involved in their apologetics.  For science, there is no such thing as “nothing”, in the sense that it is a complete absence of all matter, energy, etc.  Theists would have to show that such a claim has any application in reality. Further, this is just an assertion that the universe came into being from absolutely nothing, yet we have no way of showing this to be the case. It’s not only possible, but likely, that something outside of the universe was responsible for the universe springing into existence and that our universe is but one in a virtually infinite number of universes.  We’re not special.  Theists need to get that through their heads.  Ego trips are not impressive.

4. Would you agree with me that just because we cannot see something with our eyes—such as our mind, gravity, magnetism, the wind—that does not mean it doesn’t exist?

There are lots of things that we can’t see with our eyes, yet we know exists.  However, we can detect them in other ways.  Those things that we cannot detect by any objective means, we have no reason to think they exist.  However, I will head off this objection at the pass and point out how rational thinking works.  There was a time, not that long ago, that we had no clue that atoms existed.  We couldn’t see them, we couldn’t measure them, we couldn’t detect them in any way.  Still, they existed, our knowledge of them has no bearing on their actuality.  Some theists say that just because we can’t prove God exists, that doesn’t prove that God doesn’t exist.  I will agree with this wholeheartedly.  However, because we can find no reason to believe that God exists, there is no reason to believe that God exists, any more than people should have believed in atoms before they had evidence for them.  The lack of belief in something is not a belief in the non-existence of that thing.  It is rejecting unsupported claims until they are, in fact, supported.  If you want rational people to believe in your gods, pony up the evidence.  We won’t believe it until you do.

5. Would you also agree that just because we cannot see God with our eyes does not necessarily mean He doesn’t exist?

Looks like I jumped the gun, I answered this in #4.

6. In the light of the big bang evidence for the origin of the universe, is it more reasonable to believe that no one created something out of nothing or someone created something out of nothing?

This goes back to #4 as well.  We know for an absolute fact that the Big Bang happened, there is so much evidence that supports it that it would be absurd to claim otherwise.  We have no idea what caused the Big Bang, therefore we cannot simply attribute causes because someone is uncomfortable saying they don’t know.  That’s really the important point here, your discomfort in not having an answer does not give you license to simply make something up that’s emotionally comforting.  The options aren’t  between something came from nothing or something came from God, that’s a false dichotomy.  The only option we have right now is that we don’t know and we will have to keep looking.

7. Would you agree that something presently exists? If something presently exists, and something cannot come from nothing, then would you also agree that something must have always existed?

How many times can the same question be restated?  This has been answered.  Move on.

8. If it takes an intelligent being to produce an encyclopedia, then would it not also take an intelligent being to produce the equivalent of 1000 sets of an encyclopedia full of information in the first one-celled animal? (Even atheists such as Richard Dawkins acknowledges that “amoebas have as much information in their DNA as 1000Encyclopaedia Britannicas.” Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (New York: WW. Norton and Co., 1996), 116.)

And again.  Move on.

9. If an effect cannot be greater than its cause (since you can’t give what you do not have to give), then does it not make more sense that mind produced matter than that matter produced mind, as atheists say?

And again.  Besides, you’re just making a personal value call here that somehow mind, which is an emergent property of the physical brain, is more valuable than the matter from which it emerged.  Who determines value? Back it up with evidence.

10. Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a moral law?

There is no such thing as moral law, morality comes from people, more specifically, from human society.  We determine what is right and wrong subjectively.  Some people are not comfortable with this simple fact, they want morality simplified such that there is no debate between people of varying opinions who is correct and who is incorrect in their moral assessments.  Sorry, it doesn’t work that way.

11. If every law needs a lawgiver, does it not make sense to say a moral law needs a Moral Lawgiver?

There is no moral law.  Move on.

12. Would you agree that if it took intelligence to make a model universe in a science lab, then it took super-intelligence to make the real universe?

Nope.  We know what human-created things look like and we have multiple examples of what an intelligently designed model would look like.  We have no examples of an intelligently designed universe to compare against what we see when we look around us.  You *WANT* intelligent design, you have yet to demonstrate intelligent design.

13. Would you agree that it takes a cause to make a small glass ball found in the woods? And would you agree that making the ball larger does not eliminate the need for a cause? If so, then doesn’t the biggest ball of all (the whole universe) need a cause?

Restatement of #12.  Move on.

14. If there is a cause beyond the whole finite (limited) universe, would not this cause have to be beyond the finite, namely, non-finite or infinite?

Let us know when you actually demonstrate that there is a cause of any sort.  In fact, I wouldn’t argue this at all. There are some people who believe, rightly or wrongly, I use this only as an example, that every black hole in the universe is the spawning point of a new universe.  Somewhere beyond the event horizon, according to some, there is a new universe which came into existence solely because a super  massive star imploded.  So, is that cause beyond the finite?  No, it is not.  Again, let us know when you actually can show us what created this, or any, universe.

15. In the light of the anthropic principle (that the universe was fine-tuned for the emergence of life from its very inception), wouldn’t it make sense to say there was an intelligent being who preplanned human life?

The anthropic principle is inherently flawed, it’s wishful thinking, not objective observation.  The universe is not fine-tuned for the emergence of life, life is fine-tuned for the existence of the universe.  Creationists are like a puddle who seems self-assured that the hole it inhabits is perfectly made for it, therefore the puddle must have been pre-planned.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  The universe exists.  Life on our planet evolved to fit the conditions on our planet.  If the conditions were different, life would have arisen differently, if at all.  If life did not arise, no one would be here arguing that the planet is so perfectly tuned for it’s existence.

I am always surprised that these sets of questions contain so many re-statements of the same idea over and over and over again.  Maybe they can’t think of any other questions, maybe they never re-read their articles before they post them, maybe they’re just copying from a variety of sources with the same questions, but when something is asked once, it really does not need to be asked again.  Please try to do better, Christians.

Four More Questions From Theists

FourQuestionsThis actually comes from Martin Pribble’s blog and while he answers the four questions quite admirably, I find that I’ve got some different answers.  There’s nothing wrong with Martin’s, of course, but we all approach things from a somewhat different perspective and while he’s a nice guy, I, as I have been told so very often, am not.

Even though I have a reputation for being an attack dog, it has to be understood that I do so because it is actually important to come to demonstrably true beliefs and to reject unsupported false beliefs, as well as being able to tell the difference between the two in a consistent, predictable manner.  The fact that I won’t accept unwarranted claims and unjustified beliefs as fact tends to offend those who cling to them tenaciously.  It isn’t I who is doing anything ridiculous though, it is the believer in things who wants to demand their assertions are true without being able to actually demonstrate that they are true.

And so, on to the questions.  You can go look at Martin’s blog to see his answers to these questions, there’s some really thought provoking stuff there too.

1)    What are the three biggest mistakes that Christians make when discussing faith, or life in general, with atheists?

It’s honestly hard to come up with just three because there are so many.  The first, I would have to say, is that Christians think that their own personal beliefs, faith and experiences have any impact on atheists.  Those things may be very powerful to the theist but they really mean nothing to the atheist.  It’s probably easier to see if the theist looks at those exact things, coming from another faith tradition.  A Muslim, for instance, saying all of the same things to a Christian, just from a different theological perspective, really has no impact on the Christian. The Christian won’t accept that Allah was talking to the Muslim, that Allah acts in the Muslim’s life or that the Muslim just feels right believing as he does, any more than the Muslim will accept the exact same things coming from the Christian.  The atheist, of course, will reject it from both sides because none of those beliefs or feelings can be backed up critically or rationally.

Second has to be the automatic rejection of science when it comes into conflict with their religious beliefs.  As Martin says, atheism isn’t a position designed specifically to harm the theist or their beliefs, neither is science. Science is a systematic means of looking at the world around us and coming to demonstrable conclusions based on observation.  It is the only system we have come up with so far that actually produces demonstrable results.  Remember that word: demonstrable, it is important.  That’s just not something that religion can do.  Religion can only make claims, based on assertions, based on beliefs, it cannot prove that any of those claims, assertions or beliefs are objectively true.  This is a problem for atheists and it ought to be a problem for theists as well, but for some reason, they value their emoti0nally comforting beliefs over what is actually demonstrably true in the real world.  Oftentimes, when science says something that contradicts their beliefs, they will entirely ignore science, no matter how clear and undeniable it is, and cling to their faith.  This proves to atheists how little many theists care about reality.

Third, I’d have to say telling atheists you’ll pray for them or something along those lines.  It’s not only insulting, it’s really meaningless.  If you want to talk to yourself for me, knock yourself out, but it doesn’t make you look better in a debate or a discussion.  Fanatical, unsupported faith in a god isn’t something to be proud of, I’m sorry. Praying to such a god is about as valuable to me as offering to write a letter to Santa Claus for me.  If it makes you happy, go ahead, but it’ll leave me shaking my head.  Also, don’t try to condemn me to hell or any other farcical place that you can provide no evidence for, it doesn’t do your position any credit.

2)    Of course a Christian does not want to back off from their beliefs, but how does one draw a line while at the same time not offending a non-believer?

To begin with, there is no right not to be offended.  If a theist gets offended because an atheist tells them they have no objective evidence for the existence of their god, there’s nothing anyone can do because the statement is factually true.  Whether a theist gets upset at reality or not is irrelevant, it doesn’t change the fact that it is, in fact, reality.  The unfortunate truth is that debating theists over the existence of their gods is really no different than debating children over the existence of Santa Claus.  I’m sorry if that offends theists and I know that theists have strongly objected to me making this comparison in the past, but it’s true.  The fact is that both the theist and the child have an overwhelming emotional interest in maintaining the belief, regardless of what the facts say.

3)    A Christian wants to start a relationship with an atheist, what would be a good start to gain that trust?  For example, what could be three steps?

It depends on what you mean.  If you’re talking about a romantic relationship, I’d never recommend that.  Ever. I say that for the same reason the theist does, because differences in belief put an unwarranted strain on a relationship.

If you mean a friendship, there isn’t a lot that needs to be done except an understanding that certain subjects are just off limits.  I have lots of Christian friends.  We just know that it’s pointless to discuss some subjects and that’s not necessarily limited to religion.  We also don’t talk about politics where we know we vehemently disagree.  We enjoy the things we have in common and we don’t worry about the rest.  That said though, my best friend started off as a Christian and over the past 30 years, he’s rejected his belief, mostly because of discussions with me. Take that as you will.

4)    How do we steer society back towards civil discussion?  (Now that you have stopped laughing)  Parts of society are still involved in good discussions, but online and in the general media there is a strong belief that it’s OK (an expectation even) to fire off a hateful comment.  How do we wean people off this idea?

The problem here, and I’m sure theists will disagree, is that the reason we’re having uncivil discussions generally doesn’t come from the atheist side, but from the religious.  Now I’m not trying to be insulting, but it becomes painfully obvious that the two groups are talking about entirely different things.  The atheists, in general, are concerned about what demonstrably is true in the real world and theists, in general, are concerned about what makes them feel good emotionally.  It’s no surprise that discussions tend to get heated because the two sides aren’t even speaking the same language.  Theists get upset when atheists don’t get how they feel about their beliefs.  Atheists get upset when theists don’t see how irrational their beliefs are.  The more strongly the two sides feel about their beliefs, the worse it gets because they’re much more attached to their particular worldview.  The only place in society you’ll get any good discussions are between people who are not particularly attached to their positions and I don’t know that’s really a good discussion to begin with.  As far as hateful comments on the Internet, there is probably nothing you can do about that, it’s the nature of the beast and if you want to have productive, intelligent discussions, you really simply need to avoid doing it online entirely.  You will never wean people online off the idea that trolling, attacking and calling names is an acceptable way of doing things.

Therefore, your best bet is to limit your debates to face-to-face encounters where politeness is a prerequisite, lest someone get smacked in the face for being a douchebag.  Also, understand that debating with fanatics on either side is not going to produce a civil discussion.  Civility requires the ability to step outside of your comfort zone and try to understand how the other person feels.  Fanatics can’t do that.  In fact, in that regard I’d probably consider myself somewhat of a fanatic because I am convinced that theists, almost without exception, are simply not looking at the world rationally and that rationality is the most important element to any evaluation of the world we live in.  It’s like someone stumbling around with their eyes clenched shut, screaming that there’s no such thing as color.  All they have to do is open their eyes.  I know that theists may claim that’s what atheists are doing, but they can describe no means where a rational, evidence-based atheist can come to the objective determination that God is real.  Until they can do that, there’s no reason to take their claims seriously.

And so, I bid adieu to another set of theist questions.  These weren’t bad, they certainly weren’t rude, I would guess, although I have no means of knowing, that this theist isn’t a fundamentalist or an evangelical, they strike me as a much more liberal theist.  They can, of course, correct me if I’m wrong.

Can’t Forget Those Offensive Questions, Can We?

DouchebagI’ve spent the last couple of Mondays looking at various and sundry theist questions from the web and for the most part, the questions have been generally friendly, if a little misguided.  This time, I find a series of questions that are anything but friendly, anything but honest and really betray a hatred and absurdity that I think a lot of atheists have come to expect from some theists.  Not one to run from a challenge, here is my take on these 10 rude questions asked to atheists.  Because the theist did their list counting down, I’m going to flip the whole thing around, just to be contrary.

#1 – Who do you hate more, Jews or Muslims?

Isn’t that a question you should be asking yourself?  After all, most Christians are supremely convinced that both the Jews and the Muslims are headed to eternal torture in a lake of fire because they don’t believe in the same God you do.  There isn’t a single atheist out there who thinks that.  In fact, you can point to all kinds of religious pogroms, such as the Nazi Holocaust, which was perpetrated by Christians against other religious groups in the name of their own religious beliefs.  You cannot point to a single case where atheists, as a function of their atheism, did the same.

#2 – Why are you an anti-science fanatic who strongly opposes free and open criticism, scrutiny, and questioning?

Have you been looking in the mirror?  Atheists, and I can only generalize here, tend to be very pro-science and extremely rational, open and honest people who value scrutiny and criticism of all positions and points of view. In fact, that’s why most atheists reject religious claims because they just don’t bear up under any form of rational scrutiny.

#3 – Why do you discourage belief without evidence, intuition, and originality?

Because belief without evidence is inherently irrational.  I know that’s not how you intended me to answer the question but that’s how you wrote it.  As far as I’m concerned, there is no difference between the irrational belief in a god and the irrational belief in Bigfoot.  Actually, belief in Bigfoot is probably more rational because at least they claim to have footprints.  Where are God’s demonstrable “footprints”?

#4 – Why do you value high IQ as being worth more than contributions?

I don’t value IQ over contributions.  IQ is an artificial measurement of the potential for knowledge, it doesn’t actually address what someone might do with that knowledge.  Just because you have a high IQ doesn’t make you a decent person, a rational person or anything else, it’s all about the ability to do those things, not the actuality of doing them.  That said though, people with a higher IQ do have the ability to do more things that benefit the world, whereas the stupid and foolish really don’t achieve much.

#5 – Why have you intentionally remained silent in opposition to racism but not silent in opposition to Intelligent Design, Creationism, and many other things?

jesus_troll_faceWhere do you get that idea?  I’ve been openly opposed to all of the things you list above and many more. Something tells me you’ve been wearing your Christian blinders far too much.  Of course, looking at your entire website makes me think that you’ve got something loose upstairs, you’re just randomly ranting at atheists and demonstrating, without question, that you have no clue what you’re talking about.  And you accuse atheists of trolling?

#6 – Why do you consider any criticism of atheists, atheistic arguments, or atheistic beliefs as “trolling” but not consider condemning, ridiculing, or making fun of religion as “trolling”?

I don’t, although a lot of it really is.  Trolling is any attempt to get a response by posting something foolish, stupid or untrue.  That’s what a lot of so-called Christian apologists do online.  They do not know what they are talking about, they just make absurd claims, backed up by nothing but their own blind faith, and when reality is explained to them, they refuse to change their views or perspective.  So ask yourself, why are you such a dick?

#7 – Do you have any independent mind of your own or ability to question what other atheists say or think?

Not only do I, I have on many, many occasions and over many, many years, done exactly that.  I challenge and question everyone regardless of their religious, social or political views.  It tends to piss people off but that’s life. I am an equal-opportunity critic as everyone else ought to be.  Too bad I see theists doing exactly what you criticize atheists for every single day.

#8 – What’s the reason that you continue to use racist atheists as viable sources, celebrate racist atheist biologists and racist/atheist countries?

You’d have to point out where I have ever done any of that, or where any of those people even exist.  Why do you continue to use racist theists as viable sources, celebrate racist theist preachers and racist/theist countries? It works both ways.  After all, we can point to tons of Christian sources who are or were demonstrably racist, in fact, the entire slave industry in the United States was based on Christians claiming that blacks were less than human and trying to accuse them of being the descendants of Cain.  Of course, you won’t acknowledge that and neither will most Christians, they find some way to get around the demonstrable truth.

#9 – Are you only capable of mimicking and copying arguments you heard from Dawkins and other atheists?

Hell, I hardly pay any attention to Dawkins, I might read his books as they come out but I’ve voiced plenty of disagreement over things that Dawkins, Harris, Dennett and Hitchens have said, heck, I’ve posted a couple of book reviews here that were certainly quite negative.  I don’t know about you, but I’m entirely anti-hero worship, I value what someone says over who they are and so it doesn’t really matter if it’s Dawkins or not, it matters what actually comes out of his mouth.

#10 – Do you take pleasure in telling lies or are you just so gullible that you believe any anti-religious lie you hear?

Actually no, I check out each and every claim on it’s own merits and the ones that don’t make the grade do get criticized.  Maybe the religious ought to stop making so many irrational, illogical and utterly absurd claims?  I’m really sorry that you need to invent these ridiculous claims, maybe it’s the only thing that gets you through the day, I have no idea.  However, this entire series of questions comes off exactly as though you were trolling, saying things that you had to know were false, just to get a reaction.  The only thing that’s happened is that you made yourself look like a fool.  If that’s the best you can do, then so be it, you’re exposed to the world for all to see.

The only reason I took on these questions is to demonstrate to rational atheists just how irrational and ridiculous some Christians can be.  I looked through more of this guy’s site and it’s all the same nonsense.  I doubt he’ll see this post, he seems to have given up the ghost back in 2011, but I thought it was important to show just how crazy some people can be.  If you want to see more people being just as crazy, go look at #atheism or #atheist on Twitter, these people are everywhere.

Next week, more questions.  See you then.

While I’m Answering Questions…

10QuestionsHere’s 10 more.  Today, they come from the blog of Robert Nielsen and he has some questions for atheists that I’ll take on.  The interesting part is that Mr. Nielsen is an atheist himself and therefore these are not really meant to challenge atheists, he’s actually answering them himself.  I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one out there that does this, in fact, I’ve seen people on YouTube and other blogs do it as well so I guess it’s a “thing”.

Therefore, I’m not really going to address Robert’s answers, although I may reference them if he makes a particularly interesting point, I’m just stealing the questions.

And for theists, if they want to discuss my answers, I invite them to comment below.  I’m not trying to answer these question in a vacuum, I want to know if they are sufficient for theists and make sense.

So without further ado, let’s get going.

1. How Did You Become an Atheist?

That would be a long answer in and of itself and I’ve already discussed it at length in the past.  In short though, I spent about 20 years as a Missouri Synod Lutheran, I was seriously considering a life in the ministry, but after being challenged to check out the Bible and Christian beliefs objectively, I did so and discovered, much to my chagrin, that those beliefs were simply not rationally justified and the things that I had been told about the Bible, both by ministers, teachers and apologists, were simply not defensible or true.  Therefore I embarked on a long and twisting road to discover what was actually so and ended up an atheist.  If you want to hear the whole story, I talked about it once on the podcast, which you can listen to here.  Or you can just ask.  I’m flexible.

2. What happens when we die?

So far as we are aware, based on the scientific studies that have been performed, we simply cease to exist.  I know a lot of theists are terrified of this reality but that doesn’t stop it from being factually true.  Perhaps that’s why most atheists value the life that we demonstrably have over an imaginary life that no one can demonstrate is to come.  Far too many theists, particularly fundamentalists, treat this life like a training ground for an eternal paradise in heaven.  When that turns out to be false, as all evidence suggests it to be, then they have wasted their only chance believing a lie.

3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven?

What if theists are wrong and there is no heaven?  Or what if another religion is right and Christians are doomed to spend eternity roasting in the fires of some other pantheon’s hell?  To be honest, if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  I’ll tell whatever god is about to throw me into eternal perdition that I went by the only demonstrable evidence I had and I’ll go willingly into damnation.  Any god who is unwilling to provide clear, concise, objective evidence of its own existence is not a god worth believing in and certainly not a god worth worshiping.  I’m fine with being wrong.

4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?

The same place theists do, I’m just honest about it.  The fact is that nobody really gets their moral values from their holy books.  Take the Bible for example.  It is not possible to live by the various and sundry moral statements made therein without going to prison as a sociopath.  The Bible commands people to stone witches and unruly children.  It demands that people not work on the Sabbath.  It tells people not to eat shellfish or wear mixed fabrics.  It tells people to keep slaves and describes quite horrific methods for treating them.  I’m unaware of a single Christian anywhere that actually follows every commandment from God in the Bible.  Instead, they pick and choose what they like and then rationalize away all the rest.  Their moral values come from society and the people in the culture around them, not some silly primitive book.

5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

No, because we have human justice.  Certainly, without a god, there is no eternal punishment for temporal crimes, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be punished by human laws and spend your life in human prisons, or be put to death by human hands, if you sufficiently break acceptable social rules.  Beyond that though, and this goes back to question #4, it seems that many theists pretend that without the threat of supernatural punishment hanging over their heads, they’d go around and rape, murder and pillage because they don’t have any moral compass.  If that’s the case, please, put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger, you’re not just a theist, you’re a sociopath.  Normal people don’t believe that at all.

6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?

Certainly it does, but the meaning is mine to provide.  I don’t need gods to tell me what my life means and neither do theists.  Except for the most vague basics, how do these gods tell you what your meaning in life is anyhow? Nobody can demonstrate that gods actually communicate with them, therefore, other than having an internal monologue, how does anyone know what the gods want from them?  Or do they just make it up on their own and then attribute their own decisions to the gods?  That seems most likely.

7. Where did the universe come from?

We don’t know for certain, we are unable, at our current level of technology, to discover what happened before the Big Bang.  There is no question that our universe began in the Big Bang but beyond that, we’re currently at a loss.  That does not mean that theists are free to posit a god though, as no gods have been demonstrated to actually exist.  It’s an unfortunate reality that humans are wired to hate unanswered questions and quite often will invent an answer, just to say that they have one.  The problem though is that once you think you have an answer, even a made up one, you tend to stop looking for the real solution to the question.  It doesn’t matter if it makes you happy, making something convenient and comforting up out of whole cloth is not a rational act.

8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

There are a lot of people who have made a lot of claims.  Christians are only too happy to reject the supernatural claims made by non-Christians and vice versa.  To date, there is no evidence that any of these claims are factually true, or that the claims are rational in scope or logical in nature.  I’ve pointed out in the past where theist claims fail under even the most cursory critical evaluation.  The fact remains that none of these claimants have backed up their claims with anything resembling objective evidence or critical thinking.  They may claim that they had an experience with Jesus, but how do they know?  How did they test it?  The answer, of course, is that they have no way of knowing, they simply took an experience they couldn’t explain and arbitrarily assigned a cause to something that they are predisposed to wanting to be true, then they refuse to examine the experience further because their ad hoc explanation might be disproven.  It’s really quite sad when you’re willing to look at these claims objectively.

9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?

They are humans who happen to be atheists.  Beyond that, I agree with some things they’ve said and disagree with others.  They don’t get any special treatment because they are atheists.  I’ve spoken in the past about my aversion to hero worship and that goes for supposed atheist heroes as well.  They’re people. They’re well known.  They make a lot of money selling books.  That’s as far as I’m willing to go.

10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

Because humans are not inherently rational creatures.  As I said above, they don’t like not knowing things, it’s hard-wired into our brain, therefore when primitive man had no means of examining the world around them scientifically or critically, they came up with stories about powerful gods that made the sun move across the sky and made the rain fall and when bad things happened, people assumed that the gods were angry and sought to appease them.  This hasn’t changed in thousands of years but today, religion has gotten slightly more sophisticated.  No longer do most Christians think God moves the sun and moon and stars, no longer do most theists think they have to perform blood sacrifices so their crops will grow, they’ve accepted a generally scientific view of the world around them because it demonstrably works.  It’s just for those things that they cannot study easily that they insert their gods to answer questions that otherwise would have no answers.  Religion serves as a security blanket for billions of people, but unfortunately, that security blanket often keeps them from doing whatever it takes to actually solve their discomfort.  There are far too many people out there who refuse to work because the Bible says God will provide for them and they’re waiting for a spiritual payday.  This is a problem.

So there you go, another ten questions answered and I found that I agreed with virtually everything that Mr. Nielsen said.  Good job!  Hope you look forward to my next set of questions!

I Can Answer Matt Slick’s Questions…

matt-slickIt struck me earlier this week that I see a lot of challenges for Christians made by atheists, especially on Twitter, but I can’t say I’ve seen any challenges aimed at atheists, made by Christians.  Oh sure, I’ve answered some of their “10 questions” in the past and I enjoy doing things like that, but never any kind of direct challenge.  Therefore, I took to the World Wide Web to see if I could find any and my Google-fu has failed me.  Either that or there just aren’t any.  So I turned my attention back to some of those lovable questions that theists direct at atheists that tell us a lot more about their lack of information than anything else and came across this list of 31 questions that Matt Slick of CARM fame directs toward atheists.  What the hell, I’m game.

Of course, I can almost guarantee that I won’t answer any of these questions in a manner that Slick might wish I would because reality and whatever passes for it in Slick-land are two very different things.  Still, I guess it might be interesting to see what he wants to know, even though we know that he and other presuppositionalists really aren’t terribly honest in their apologetics.

And so, without further ado, here’s Matt Slick’s list of 31 questions for atheists.

 1. How would you define atheism?

I know this is a point of contention for Slick, but atheism is state of being without a belief in god(s).  It can be an outright denial of the existence of god(s), but that doesn’t apply to me.  I do not believe because there is not enough objective, demonstrable evidence for me to believe.  I do not believe in god(s) for the same reason I don’t believe in Bigfoot, alien abductions, unicorns or honest politicians.  If someone could present significant, objective, demonstrable evidence for the factual existence of any god, I would believe in it.  That doesn’t mean I would worship it, but I certainly would accept that such a thing actually exists, the same way I’d believe that reptilian aliens are running the country if someone plopped the dead body of an alien in front of me.

2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?

Absolutely and without question.  My actions with regard to gods are no different than my actions with regard to leprechauns.  Neither have any bearing on my decisions or actions.

3. Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?

It is fundamentally impossible to show that something doesn’t exist.  Matt Slick is entirely unable to demonstrate that Krishna does not exist or that unicorns do not exist, etc.  All you can do is point out that there is insufficient evidence to think that it does and reject it provisionally on that basis.  I do not attempt to show that God doesn’t exist, any more than I attempt to show that there aren’t invisible, intangible gnomes living on my shoulder.  There’s no point to it.

4.  How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

I’m not worried about atheism representing reality.  I do not adopt a position and then try to measure that position against the real world, I explore the real world and adopt positions based on how well they jive with that reality.  Honestly, I am a skeptic first and foremost and I reject anything for which there is no evidence, not just god(s).  As I said before, present evidence for your claims and I will believe, not until.

5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

All positions are provisional.  Based on the evidence that I have seen so far, there is no reason to believe that any god(s) exist.  If that changes in the future, I’ll re-evaluate my position based on that new information.

6. How would you define what truth is?

You’d have to define what you mean by truth, far too many theists think “truth” and “fact” are one and the same. As I cannot be sure of the intent of the question, I will leave the question unanswered.

7.  Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

Apparently so since I hold it.  Again, I’d have to ask what is meant by “justifiable”.  Since atheism is the rejection of claims made by theists based on a lack of objective evidence, I’d argue that it’s just as justifiable as not believing in the Loch Ness Monster.

8.  Are you a materialist, or a physicalist, or what?

I know this would piss Slick off, but I identify myself as a realist.  I accept that which has evidence that it is real and reject that which does not have evidence that it is real.  Because we have evidence for the physical world around us, I accept it.  If someone came up with a way to demonstrate a supernatural realm to my satisfaction, I’d accept that too.  No one has done that, therefore I don’t believe it.

9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview?  Why or why not?

Atheism is not a worldview, nor is it a religion.  It is the answer to a single question, that being do you believe god(s) exist?  There is nothing else to it.  The second you start talking about any other position beyond one’s lack of belief in god(s), you’re no longer talking about atheism, but about something else.

10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity, but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

Because Christianity is demonstrably harmful to humanity.  I feel the same about any and all religions, as well as any and all irrational beliefs.  I’ve got more than enough evidence of this in the Religious Horror Show.

11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

The same thing that caused me to deny the existence of Santa Claus.  There was a time I believed it, I found that it was not a position that was defensible by the evidence, I rejected the claim based on the criteria I’ve described above.

12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

Absolutely and without question.

13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

Absolutely and without question.

14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?

Again, that’s a loaded question.  Do I think that all theists are demonstrably mentally damaged?  No.  Do I think that all theists are delusional to some degree with regard to their religious beliefs?  Yes.  Do I think that all theists are irrational in their religious beliefs?  Absolutely.

15. Must God be known through the scientific method?

God, and I’ll expand this to any claim, must be known through some form of thinking or methodology which produces consistently demonstrable results, is able to make consistent testable predictions and allows us to learn more about the world that actually surrounds us.  So far, the scientific method is the only means we’ve discovered which fits that criteria.  I’d be happy to consider another criteria if it was able to demonstrably produce similar results, but theists don’t even bother to try.

16. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

Even though I didn’t really answer yes, I’ll point out where Slick fails here.  There is no evidence that God is actually immaterial, mostly because there is no evidence that God is actually real at all.  Christians arbitrarily assign the “immaterial” characteristic to their beliefs about God without being able to demonstrate that God actually has that characteristic.  That’s like the farcical conception of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.  Both the characteristics “invisible” and “pink” are arbitrarily assigned to this invented entity without any means to actually show that they are a part of the real unicorn.  You could just as easily claim that it was an invisible blue unicorn and not fundamentally change anything.  In order to have an immaterial God, you have to demonstrate that immateriality actually exists and that it is a demonstrable characteristic of God, two things that theists have entirely failed to do.  I’d ask how they actually discovered that God was immaterial.  They can’t provide any reason, outside of blind faith, that they think this way.

17. Do we have any purpose as human beings?

Define purpose.  If you mean an external purpose, one forced upon us from without, I’d say there are many biological imperatives, such as survival and reproduction, which one could state as a purpose, although it is up to us whether or not we choose to follow them.  Internally though, we all assign some purpose to our own lives.  I decide what to do and how to live my life, within the context of the larger society around me.  My culture can have some effects, both positive and negative, on my choices.

18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

I think I already did that above.

19. Where does morality come from?

Humanity generate morals, we all decide what is best within our individual communities and through our larger societies.

20. Are there moral absolutes?

Absolutely not and a look around the world at different societies and cultures, and across history, should disprove any such assumption.  There are certainly common moral views, brought about because we’re all humans and we all have similar needs and desires, but you cannot point to any single moral dictate that has held across all cultures and throughout time.  It just can’t be done.

21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

Not applicable.

22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil?  If so, what is it?

If you mean innate evil, then no.  Certainly there are things that we, as humans, can identify as evil, those things that fall so far outside of our cultural moral norms or our own social expectations that we are shocked when we encounter them.  What is viewed as evil in one place may not be viewed as evil in another.

23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

Based upon the narrative in the Bible and my own personal social understanding, I’d certainly call him morally bad, based upon my own subjective understanding of right and wrong.  Of course, my understanding is neither universal nor “correct” in the sense that anyone who disagrees is absolutely wrong.  Morals are subjective.

24. What would it take for you to believe in God?

That’s a somewhat difficult question because virtually any answer I could give, I could imagine an immensely powerful alien species being able to, at least in theory, duplicate it.  Therefore, I will say that if God was real and has the characteristics typically assigned by Christians, God would know what it would take to convince me and because I am not currently convinced, God has not seen fit to do so.

25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

The same as above.

26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc. or what?

It must be objective and demonstrable to anyone without a requirement to believe in a god first.  I cannot think of any way this would not need to be rationally based but I’m open to someone suggesting a demonstrable means that is not.

27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer?  Why?

I think that a society run by the rational would be safer.  As I said above, atheism has no meaning outside of a lack of belief in god(s), hence any question about these people’s abilities to run a productive, safe society is entirely irrelevant and beyond the definition of atheism.

28. Do you believe in free will?  (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).

That depends on what you really mean by that.  I think that people can choose from a variety of available choices without direct, identifiable coersion.  Certainly, people are not able to make choices that are simply not possible. You can’t decide to flap your arms and fly.  You can’t decide to explode into flames by mere willpower alone.  I’m sure that on some level, our biology has a great deal to do with what choices we make, but this is not something that we recognize on a conscious level and therefore, even if ultimately it is an illusion, it certainly feels real to us when we exercise it.  So yes, I believe in free will, I just disagree with how some people choose to look at it.

29. If you believe in free will do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?

I answered that above.

30. If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal, and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time?  If not, why not?

By the definition most Christians give for God, it is not possible for any physical being to ever evolve to such a point as to become as powerful as the Christian God.  Therefore, I’d say no.  Again, the Christian God has a lot of assigned characteristics, such as all-knowing and all-powerful which would seem to me to fall outside of any conceivable evolutionary path for humans or any other temporal/physical creature.

31. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

I didn’t and I don’t.

In reality, my answers here would frustrate Matt Slick to no end because none of them allow him to twist my words into something that serves his cause and that’s really what he wants to do.  He’s demonstrated his own inherent dishonesty in debate after debate and that’s why he constructs many of his questions the way he does, to try to trip up the unwary and those not familiar with his methods.  Of course, after more than 30 years of dealing with dishonest theists, I automatically look at everything that they say with distrust and try to work out where they’re trying to twist your words around and can avoid them the vast majority of the time.  I recognize that these are not simple questions, they are designed to give the theist an opportunity to expand on the question and try to dig a wedge into the atheist’s words.  That doesn’t work with me and for anyone who debates theists on a regular basis, it’s a mindset you ought to adopt as well.  Know what they’re trying to do and think a few steps ahead and you’ll be fine.

So, while I doubt Matt will ever see my responses, what does everyone else think?  Any that you disagree on?  Let me know.

Some Random Questions

qandaThere are a lot of weird lists of questions floating around online, but this one is different.  See, I’ve avoided giving out too much personal information online and especially here on the blog.  It’s not really about fear of being discovered, I’m an out atheist everywhere, but honestly, it’s that I don’t matter.  I don’t say that in a self-depreciating manner, but in an honest one.  The things I write don’t depend on me, but on the ideas that I write about.  I hate the cult of personality that so much of atheism has become, where people follow heroes around and agree with whatever they say, just because they say them.  I’m not here to be idolized, I’m not here to be followed, I’m here to put out good information, rational arguments and hopefully entertaining reading.

That said though, I came across this list of 25 questions over on Google+ and thought I’d reveal a little about me, for anyone who actually cares.  If anyone has any other questions, I really don’t mind answering them, so long as they’re not too absurdly personal and even then, I won’t get mad, I just won’t answer.

1. Do you have pets?   Yes, I currently have 4 dogs, 5 cats, 4 birds and a snake living in the house with me.  In the past, I have had all manner of other animals, from hamsters and chinchillas to ferrets and weasels.  About the only “common” animal I haven’t had is a horse.

2. Name three things physically close to you?  Right now?  Well, clearly my computer so I won’t say that.  I have my tablet, my headset that I use for recording podcasts and a cat sleeping on my desk.

3. What’s the weather like right now?   Actually, it’s really nice at the moment, sunny and warm without being too hot.  Over the past week, it’s gone from being cold and rainy (right after I washed the cars, naturally) to being very hot and windy.  This is a nice change.

4. Do you drive, if so have you crashed?  Yes, I drive.  I haven’t crashed in a long, long time, the last accident I was involved in was maybe 5-6 years ago, I was pulling out of a parking lot late at night and someone in a red pickup came out of an adjacent driveway without their lights on and without looking.  I had to swing wide to avoid getting t-boned and ended up hitting a street sign, resulting in a huge dent in the bumper and a flat tire.  The guy in the pickup just kept on going.  Insurance paid for it and in fact, the body shop fixed some other non-related damage to the car and billed it to the insurance company anyway.  Shhhhh. And no, I didn’t ask them to, they did it on their own.

5. What time did you wake up this morning?  This morning?  6:04am.  I have a really accurate internal clock, I will wake up and know what time it is, usually accurate to within a few minutes.  I play this stupid little game in the morning where I guess what time it is before I look at the clock.  This morning, I thought it was 6am.  Close enough.

6. When was the last time you showered?  This morning, not long after I woke up, of course.

7. What was the last movie you saw?   The last movie I saw at all?  I rewatched Tron Legacy last night.  The last new movie?  The Hobbit on Bluray.  I don’t go to theaters.

8. What was your last SMS/text message?   Seriously, I don’t text much.  I used to, back when I had some idiot employees who had to ask my opinion on every decision they ever made, but now, it’s just not necessary.  I’m much more of a phone call kind of guy.

9. What is your ring tone?   The theme from the  TV show Psych.  Ought to change it.

10. Have you ever been to a different country?   Yes, many.  However, I’m not a big fan of travel, I don’t want to go someplace, just to say I’ve been there.  Usually, if I’m traveling, it’s for a specific purpose, I have something that I want to do when I get there and the amount of touristy stuff that I’ll do is minimal.  For some people, it’s the journey, not the destination, for me, it’s usually the destination and maybe have a little fun on the journey too.

11. Do you like sushi?  I love it, we’ve got a really great sushi place we go to less than a mile from the house.  I don’t know that I have a favorite type of sushi, although I really like makizushi and onigiri.

12. Where do you buy groceries?  Um… Home Depot?  What kind of a question is that.  It depends on what else I’m doing but the two grocery stores closest to the house are Stater Bros. and Food 4 Less.  I pick whichever one is most convenient.

13. Have you ever taken medication to fall asleep?  Not often, although things like Nyquil just have that side-effect.  They really don’t work on me anyhow, I’ll take something, it won’t work at all the day I take it, but the next day, it’ll knock me on my ass for 12 hours straight or more.  It’s just not worth it.

14. How many siblings do you have?   One, a sister, 3 years younger than I am.

15. Do you have a desktop or laptop?  Both, plus a tablet, a smart-phone, etc.  I have online accessibility pretty much everywhere I go.

16. How old will you be on your next birthday?  My next birthday?  47.

17. Do you wear contacts or glasses?  Neither, I have always had better than average vision.  I guess I wear sunglasses but that’s about as far as it goes.  I also have better than average hearing.

18. Do you color your hair?   Nope, no need or desire.  I don’t get people who are so shallow as to be overly concerned about their looks.

19. Tell me something you’re planning to do today.  I can tell you some of the things I’ve already done, other than the obvious.  I’ve written and recorded another episode of Bitchspot Quickies, I’ve written 3 new blog posts (including this one) and tonight I plan on watching 4 TV episodes so I can put my TV Thursday post to bed for the week.

20. When was the last time you cried?   I don’t know, I don’t cry easily.  There are certainly things, like the death of family members or pets, that can choke me up and a really great emotional scene in a movie can move me to tears, but otherwise, not much of a crier, sorry.

21. What is your perfect pizza topping?  I love meat on pizzas, give me pepperoni, sausage and ham and I’m a happy guy.  I don’t go in for pineapple or anchovies or anything like that, although I’ll certainly eat things like black olives and mushrooms.  I hated mushrooms as a kid but I really like them now.  Go figure.

22. Which do you prefer, hamburgers or cheeseburgers?   Definitely with cheese.  Everything is better with cheese.  My favorite cheese is cheddar, sometimes I’ll just buy a big block of it and eat it as a snack.

23. Have you ever had an all-nighter?   Define all-nighter.  Just staying up all night?  Of course, who hasn’t?  I used to go to conventions and stay up from early morning Friday until late evening Sunday.  I can’t do that anymore.

24. What is your eye color?   Blue.  I’ve had people say they really like my eyes.  Not sure there’s much more to be said about it.

25. Can you taste the difference between Pepsi and Coke?   Don’t know, I don’t drink either.  In fact, I only drink clear drinks and, because I’m diabetic, only sugar-free drinks if I can help it.  My favorite is Mountain Dew, but I can also drink Sprite.  I just don’t care for 7-Up for some  reason.  I’m also good with orange sodas or lemonade.  I do not drink alcohol.  The last time I had a drop of alcohol was about a week after my 21st birthday when a friend and I went out to celebrate at a bar.  We both had two beers and went home.  I haven’t had any, nor wanted any, since.

So, did you learn anything?  Anyone else who wants to answer these questions on their own blog, why not leave a link in the comments?  Sometimes, I guess we forget that there’s a real live person behind the text we see on the screen and maybe this will help to remind people.

Six Questions to Ask an Atheist

I was poking around at random today and I came across a few atheist blogs that were answering theist questions.  This isn’t uncommon, I’ve done it plenty of times here, but it seemed to me that most of the questions are the same over and over and over.  Once you’ve answered the same question a couple of times, it gets boring, not only for you but for your readers.  I’ve already made it clear how I feel about a lot of the most common questions so I went looking for something out of the ordinary.

I have no idea when these were written, specifically, although I’m assuming some time in 2011.  I’m just going to copy across the questions, if you want to read what the original author had to say about them, by all means to check out the original site.

1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered

Unfortunately, a lot of those questions are meaningless.  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Because there is.  Because if there was nothing, we wouldn’t be here to ponder it.  Sorry, don’t mean to be flippant, but it is a fact that there are plenty of people who spend altogether too much time noodling their navels and trying to find the answer to questions that are fundamentally pointless to begin with.  Why was there a Big Bang?  Who knows?  Why implies purpose.  There may have been no purpose.  Why did Stephen Hawking contract Lou Gherig’s disease?  Isn’t it more important to ask “how”?  Or “what do we do about it now?”

The problem is, so many of these “big questions” that theists want to ask aren’t big questions at all, they’re pointless, stupid questions.  They are questions that assume an answer when they simply may not have an answer, or at least not an answer which may be satisfying to them.  What is the ultimate meaning of life?  There may be none.  In fact, there seems to be none.  Whether that makes you feel good inside or not is entirely irrelevant to the fact of the answer.

And that right there is the issue.  Asking these pointless, unsatisfying questions is often how theists get to their conclusions.  What is the meaning of life?  They don’t like the answer that the real world seems to give, therefore they invent a new one that is more satisfactory.  Their own personal emotional states become more important than the truth.

2. If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning.

Certainly untrue.  At best, we are left with an absence of externally-generated meaning, but who says that meaning must come from without?  We are certainly able to provide meaning for our own lives and each of us does that every day.  Unfortunately, there seem to  be some who are so intellectually inept that they cannot accept their own responsibility for their own lives.  Instead, they have to turn to an imaginary friend in the sky who they think watches over them, to allay some internal fear of their own responsibility.  If things go badly, it’s not their fault, “the devil made them do it”.  If things go well, it was God’s will.  Yet, people succeed or fail in roughly the same percentages no matter what gods they believe in or whether they believe in gods at all.  In the end, we’re left with a lack of responsibility and a lack of understanding that the answers aren’t out there somewhere, but within us all.

3. When people have embraced atheism, the historical results can be horrific.

Of course, all of this has been dealt with many times before.  Atheism means the lack of belief in god(s), period.  No one can act in the name of atheism because atheism has no creed, no laws, no rules.  It doesn’t make demands on disbelievers.  What’s really being confused here, often on purpose, is that atheists can, and do, bad things.  So do theists.  However, while theism can demand that certain actions be done, atheism cannot.  Were Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao atheists?  Almost certainly.  Did they claim to do anything in their regimes in the name of atheism?  Absolutely not.  Of course, if you want to claim that atheism is responsible for all acts performed by atheists, then you must also acknowledge that religion is responsible for all acts performed by the religious, especially since so many of these horrors are claimed, by the religious, to be ordered by their gods.  Hitler was very clear that his crusade against the Jews was commanded directly by God.  American slavery was promoted as a Christian concept almost entirely.  Let’s not forget the Crusades and the Inquisitions of the Middle Ages that came completely from religious grounds, they could not have happened had it not been for the Catholic Church.  In fact, it’s only been within the last century or so that wars have stopped being almost entirely religious.  Warfare for thousands of years has been little more than “my god is bigger than your god!”  Centuries upon centuries of genocide and slavery rest solely at the feet of religion.  Besides, I don’t see atheists flying airplanes into buildings in the name of atheism.

That requires religion.

 4. If there is no God, the problems of evil and suffering are in no way solved.

That asserts that there is a problem of evil.  Certainly, evil is a problem that we ought to try to solve, ending suffering is a worthwhile goal, but in reality, isn’t it religion that refuses to deal with the problem, instead making asinine excuses for it?  After all, don’t Christians claim that their God is all-powerful, yet does nothing to end earthly suffering?  It’s the same as someone beating their wife and telling her “it’s okay, you’ll be rewarded for your years of suffering after you’re dead, so get over here!”  It’s a conveniently empty claim because so far as we can tell, there’s absolutely nothing after death.  It’s as absurd as an employer claiming “work for me for free and you’ll get paid a billion dollars after you die!”

So we return to the “problem” and discover that religion is the one with the problem.  They do not seek to actually solve the problem, or at the very least, accept that all evil cannot be fixed easily or quickly.  Instead, religion makes up an explanation for why you’re not going to get what you want and should just stop asking for it because you’re going to get your just rewards at some unspecified time in the future, conveniently beyond any capacity for verification.  If you never get the reward, you can’t come back and tell everyone it’s a load of crap.

What a scam!

5. If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people.

I’m not sure where they get this.  So, without Nazism, the Hague had no standard for evaluating the Nazis?  That’s absurd.  The belief is that all intellectual ability springs from God, therefore if you reject God, you cannot have any intellectual ability.  Since the existence of God has never been demonstrated and thus, the claim that such ability must come from God cannot be justified, it’s a load of nonsense.  You might as well substitute “unicorns” for “God”.  Once that kind of thinking comes into play, you’re not longer talking to reasonable people, you’re talking to fanatics and you cannot debate with fanatics.

Once you start demanding objective truths without being able to demonstrate objective truths, you’ve abandoned the intellectual high ground and thrown any credibility right out the window.

6. If there is no God, we don’t make sense.

Certainly, we do make sense.  The original author claims that unless God exists, that man cannot explain our “desire for the transcendent“.  Yet I have problems claiming that man has a desire for the transcendent, rather that man is hardwired to seek out explanations for questions about the universe, yet until relatively recently in human history, the actual answers to those questions have been beyond human comprehension.  If you took your computer and put it in front of someone from 5000 years ago, they’d have no way to evaluate it except for as magic.  It would be a gift from a god or a curse from a devil, depending on your point of view.  They’d have no frame of reference from which to properly evaluate a modern piece of technology.

So does that mean that the computer actually comes from God?  Or that primitive man was wrong in their assertion?  We know where computers come from, we know that we build them.  We also know what the sun is and how it operates, but it wasn’t that many thousands of years ago when people thought it was a fiery chariot being ridden across the sky by the god Helios.  When most of these myths started, man had no way of comprehending that the sun was a star, one of uncounted billions in the sky, powered by nuclear fusion.  They just knew it was important to life, it provided heat and light and helped the plants to grow.  They just knew that the sun was much more powerful than they, therefore they made it a god.  The earliest gods, including the Hebrew God of the Old Testament, were very human.  They had human emotions.  They got upset.  They punished people.  It was the only terms that primitive man could understand and therefore, when something went wrong, when there was a drought or a storm or an eclipse, those weren’t natural events, they were angry gods.

Today though, we know the real answers to most of the questions to which “God” was a placeholder.  We don’t have to believe in gods that make the sun cross the sky, we don’t have to believe in gods that cause the rain to fall, we know those are wholly natural phenomenon that do not rely on the actions of deities to explain.  Yet, the concept of gods has become ingrained into the psyche of man socially.  It’s become a popular ad hoc explanation for anything that cannot easily be demonstrated otherwise, but as those explanations become fewer and fewer, gods move into smaller and smaller boxes, as well as farther and farther from their human roots.  Why do we hunger for the spiritual?  We don’t.  We hunger for knowledge and when that knowledge is absent or emotionally troubling, we turn to our oldest explanatory beliefs: the supernatural.  Slowly but surely, little by little, we are weeding out the need to turn to the supernatural, just as we have done away with our need to believe in gods to make the crops grow.

It turns out that these questions are no better than the most common ones that flood the Internet.  They just aren’t impressive because they assume that religion is right and anything that is not religion is wrong.  When we look at these questions objectively, we find out just how absurd they really are.

Come on, doesn’t anyone have any worthwhile questions to ask?

The Atheist Challenge

A theist asked 10 questions of atheists, here are my answers.  I saw this over on Atheist Revolution and I like most of his answers, so he gets the credit!

As anyone who has read this blog for long, I have answered many of this type of questionnaire in the past and they vary in quality dramatically.  Some are very inventive, requiring careful thought and long, detailed answers.

Then there’s this one, that is… not.

Now I’m not trying to be insulting, certainly I haven’t read much more of the blog in question to find out if this is the general quality of what’s written there.  The author could have simply found these questions in a children’s storybook somewhere and posted them verbatim.  I don’t know and certainly I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but seriously, these are questions that demonstrate not only a total lack of understanding of the subject matter, but a complete disinterest as well.  Many of these questions shouldn’t have to be asked and even if interested in an academic sense, they are phrased in such a tiresome fashion as to make them almost painful to answer.  That, in addition to the random capitalization, etc. starts to make me question the whole exercise.

That said though, I get the feeling that this wasn’t a post just to fill space, but the poster has a real interest in what atheists have to say and that’s always a good thing.  I’m also getting the impression, based on some of the other posts I’ve seen listed in the sidebar, that the author is having a crisis of faith.  That’s a very good thing, although certainly won’t be viewed as such by most theists.  It is the first step in shedding the bondage of religion.  It just requires two things, actually caring that what you believe is factually true and being confident enough to go test what you believe against factual reality.  Most theists never reach that point.  I’m going to keep my fingers crossed that this theist can.

So here are my answers.

 1. If there is NO God, then their is no Measurement or Standard for morality?  Then what will define morality?

I get my morality from the same place you do, but you don’t get yours from where you think you do.  All human beings get their moral views from the society and culture in which they live.  It doesn’t get handed down from on high by some deity, clearly just looking at the way morals change over time, even within a particular religious community, should be enough to prove that’s not true.  After all, the overwhelming support for things like slavery and against things like women’s and civil rights were religious.  We also find that the groups that tend to lag behind the social moral curve are the religious since, as a little research will show, the groups that are still pro-racism, anti-woman and anti-civil rights tend to be the religious.  They are coming along though, slowly but surely, dragged kicking and screaming by society into the 21st century.  In all reality, I’d say religion tends to hinder morality, not help it.

2. If there is NO God, then there is NO meaning or purpose to Life;  So not everything meaningless since there is no God?  So what will the purpose of living?  Without God, does the Atheist have purpose?

You make the same mistake here.  You don’t get a meaning to life from a god, you get it from the same place everyone else does,  yourself.  An imaginary friend can’t give your life meaning, can’t give you purpose and certainly can’t think for you.  Many theists blindly attribute ideas to a god but there’s no evidence whatsoever that they actually come from there.

3. Are you an advocate of New Atheism and Darwinism?  If so then the most extreme and logical form of Darwinism is Eugenics, Survival of the fittest.  Would you support this?  Why or Why Not?

Evolution applies only to biological systems, not to social ones.  The most fit species to survive in a particular ecological niche will survive.  This doesn’t apply to social settings and anyone who told you otherwise was lying to you.  That’s not surprising because religion doesn’t have a vested interest in the truth.  They gain by keeping you ignorant and afraid.  They keep you coming back to them for answers and they discourage you from going out to look for opposing views on your own.

4. If we are ancesoters/descentdents of Apes, then why are there no transitional fossils or species to support this theory?

Humans and apes share a common ancestry, humans did not come from apes.  This betrays a distinct ignorance of evolution, which I suppose is hardly surprising.  There are also a wealth of transitional fossils that support it, your ignorance in this area is proof that you know nothing about what you speak, you’re just parroting creationist nonsense.

In fact, this seems like a good time to address it, a lot of these questions are just parroting religious ideas that anyone who has spent 10 second thinking about it ought to have seen through.  Take the first question about morality.  If you look at prison populations, you find that Christianity is represented there at a much higher rate than they are in the outside world, while atheists are represented in the prison population far lower by percentage than they are in the outside world.  So who has the best morality again?  Then with this question, it’s clear the author doesn’t have the slightest idea what evolution says, yet they have no problem asking the question?  It comes back to Christian fear.  You have no idea what you’re talking about with regard to these topics, you just “know” they can’t be true because they disagree with what you already believe.  It’s about as absurd as someone telling you “The Bible says Jesus turns into a door, explain that!”  It’s an idiotic question, based on an almost complete ignorance of the source material, ripped out of context from John 10:7.  You shouldn’t have to answer it because it’s a dumb question to begin with.  Just like what you’ve asked here.

5. Do you believe in Human Nature?  It is Human Nature to believe in God, if so, why do you go against human nature and not believe in God?

Do I believe in human nature?  You’d have to explain what you mean.  I do entirely disagree that it is human nature to believe in a god, that’s a by-product of what actually happens.  The human brain is hard-wired to seek out the answers to questions.  We have evolved to be problem-solving creatures.  In the past, when the answers have been beyond the ability of the human brain to find, man has simply invented “place-holder” answers.  One of those answers was “God”.  Today, most of the questions that we’ve applied “God” to have been answered rationally.  We should have outgrown the “God” answer by now, but many people cling to it because it’s tradition.  It’s passed down from one generation to the next and frankly, most people don’t bother to think about the “God” answer, they just accept it blindly.

6. Can Nothing come from Something?  Doesn’t that violate The First Law of Thermodynamics?

I’m sure you mean “can something come from nothing” and I’m further certain you’re talking about the Big Bang, which certainly isn’t “something from nothing”.  That’s basic cosmology.  In fact, the only case of “something from nothing” I’m aware of is the Biblical creation story.  So, why does your own belief violate the First Law of Thermodynamics?

7. It seems that a society of Atheist are immoral and self-destructing.  Why would anyone want a Godless Society, just look at our examples, North Korea, Maoist China, Stalin, & Pot Pol?

None of which are atheist societies because such a thing doesn’t exist.  Atheism is a lack of belief in a god, nothing more.  Those may be non-theistic societies, but they didn’t fail because of atheism, but because of their political actions.  There are many nations today which are secular which are doing just fine.  In fact, Norway just separated itself from it’s national religion, on it’s way to being a wholly secular nation, and it’s doing much better financially than the U.S. is.  In fact, if you look at the most irreligious nations, you find that they are much better socially than the most religious nations.  Certainly they’re not out killing people for believing in the wrong imaginary friend in the sky.

8. If you were to die, and you were before God.  And he was getting ready to pass judgement on you,  What would be your reaction or thoughts?  What plea would you give him so he does not judge you harshly?

That’s about as ridiculous as asking you if you were to die and stand before Krishna or Enki, what would you do?  Oh wait, you don’t believe those things exist, any more than I believe your God exists.  If I was standing before your God, I wouldn’t make excuses or beg or anything of the sort.  God should have known what kind of evidence it would take for me to believe and God withheld that evidence. That makes God a dick.  Sorry, I have more self-respect than to prostrate myself before an obnoxious God so I can spend eternity with his mindless sycophants.  So, if in that situation, I’d tell God he was an ass and happily go to hell.  Of course, I’m no more worried about that than you are about being judged by Zeus.

9. What would convince you atheism is wrong?  And that Christianity is Right?

Objective, demonstrable, verifiable evidence for the factual existence of God and nothing else.  Got any?

See, that’s really a silly question, what would it take to convince you that Christianity is wrong and another religion is right?  I’m willing to bet that you didn’t provide the same answer that I did.  In fact, I’m willing to bet that your answer was “nothing”.  There is nothing that  could ever convince you that Christianity is wrong, or that any other religion is right.  You’re not open to examining your faith, you’re holding it blindly.  Certainly correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t help think that I’m right.

One of us is actually concerned if what we believe is factually true and one of us is not.  Which one is the better, more rational position?

10. Why are you an Atheist?  Why do you NOT believe in God?  Why do you reject God?  (You can be as detailed as you want.)

I don’t believe in God for the same reason I don’t believe in unicorns.  There is no evidence for either.  Originally, I was going to say “I don’t believe in God for the same reason you don’t believe in Vishnu”, until I realized that you’ve never given a second’s thought to the existence of Vishnu or any other deity.  You reject them out of blind faith, not because you’ve fairly evaluated the evidence, examined the claims and decided that there was no good reason to think they were true.

I’m an atheist  because there is no reason to be anything else.

See, there just isn’t a whole lot there.  This certainly isn’t a credible way to open a detailed dialog with atheists and, although I think the author wants to know the answers, it doesn’t show that a lot of thought or research has gone into the questions themselves beforehand.  So why did I bother?  Because this might be a gateway to a better, more critical understanding.  Asking simplistic questions may lead to more complex questions and asking others what they think can lead to asking the same kinds of questions of oneself.  Instead of asking atheists “why don’t you believe in God?”, it might also lead to them asking themselves “why do I believe in God?”

Of course, most theists are terrified to ask those kinds of questions and just about every church forbids it, but ask yourself, if these beliefs are really true, what harm can come from an honest examination of them?  Ask that to the many, many, many atheists who used to be Christians, who weren’t afraid and who realized that Christianity is a load of nonsense when evaluated fairly and openly.

So what is more important?  Your comforting faith or the truth?