June 6, 2012

Atheist Answers Questions From a Christian

A Christian blog, the BitterSweet End, has posted ten questions for atheists. Here they are (unedited except for the italics) along with some quick answers, all of which could be expanded but probably don't need to be:

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

Plenty of standards for morality have been developed over the centuries. In fact, there is an entire branch of philosophy dealing with this (i.e., ethics). Philosophers have produced moral theories (e.g., utilitarianism), which provide standards for determining what is moral. However, one can find an even more basic form of morality in the "golden rule." From what I recall, this predates Christianity by hundreds of years.

Scientific evidence suggests an evolutionary basis for what we call morality. Research shows that non-human animals exhibit some of the precursors to what we think of as the moral emotions, and we have long observed evidence of altruistic behavior among non-human species. Clearly, supernatural entities are not necessary for morality.

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?

Life is meaningless in the sense that there is no external source of meaning imposed upon us. But because we make our own meaning, there is plenty to be had. Is it really so difficult to imagine a proud parent not finding meaning in being a parent regardless of what he or she believes about god(s)?

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?

DarwinI'm not sure what is meant by "new atheism." I was an outspoken atheist long before anybody was talking about "new atheism," and I have found very little new in the books I've read by authors described as new atheists by the media. Having said that, I agree with much of what they have written.

As for "Darwinism," I think you'd be hard pressed to find anyone today who identifies as a Darwinist. This seems to be a disparaging label some creationists try to apply to those of us who accept the reality of evolution. Like most educated adults, I am well aware of the impressive scientific evidence supporting evolution. It has very little to do with eugenics or so-called social Darwinism.

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

We are not ancestors/descendants of apes. We share a common ancestry, and fossilized remains of common ancestors have indeed been found. While some creationists have claimed there are no transitional fossils, scientists have known this to be false for some time.

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?science globe

I am not sure what you mean by human nature. God belief makes sense for primitive human societies without scientific understanding, so it is not terribly difficult to imagine how it evolved over time. Humans are known to be pattern-seeking creatures who tend to anthropomorphize nearly everything we encounter. We needed to invent gods to explain our world.

Although this is no longer necessary, religion continues to meet many important human needs today. But these needs vary from person to person, and there are many other ways of meeting them without invoking supernatural beings. So the existence of atheists is not troublesome.

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

Not necessarily. As for the universe, I suspect some matter and energy may have always existed. I see no reason to assume that there ever was nothing.

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?Atheism

A ruthless tyrant who happens to be an atheist is not necessarily motivated by atheism any more than one who is a Christian is necessarily motivated by Christianity. The examples you mention were oppressive regimes, and part of what the ended up trying to oppress was religion. However, it was certainly not all they were trying to oppress. To say they were motivated primarily by atheism would reflect utter ignorance of history, human psychology, and the meaning of atheism.

I wouldn't want a society in which religious belief (or lack thereof) was dictated by anyone. I hope that religious folks will eventually outgrow their superstitions on their own, but I would accept no intervention by the state to restrict religious freedom.

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?

I don't believe in gods, so this hypothetical is a bit of a stretch. In order for me to be able to give a coherent answer, I'd first need a clear definition of the god to which you refer. That is, what are the essential characteristics of this thing you call god?

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

I would be convinced that atheism was wrong if I had clear and convincing evidence to support the existence of some sort of god(s). Of key importance, the evidence would have to be sufficient to eradicate any need for faith.

The same would be true for Christianity, although it is important to note that the evidence necessary to establish the truth of Christianity would necessarily be much larger than that necessary to support the existence of a god. Why? Because Christianity asks one to believe much more than the existence of a god. Thus, quite a bit more evidence would be needed, as each of the belief claims would have to be supported.

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 am an atheist because I do not believe that the religious person has met his or her burden of proof. That is, the evidence to which I referred above is lacking. Therefore, the only reasonable position is atheism. I don't believe in gods for precisely the same reasons you do not believe in unicorns.

For different answers to the same questions, see On Leaving Fundamentalist Christianity.

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