Irradiated by LabRat
Yeah, it’s gimmie content, that I basically borrowed from Ozy (whose own answers I will not read until I’ve hit publish lest I talk myself out of posting in the belief someone else had already said everything, which I’ve been doing way too much lately), but it’s content. And I haven’t stirred this particular pot in awhile.
So, from Loving Christ With Your Mind, 15 questions for atheists and their replies from this atheist.
1. Why are atheists so obsessed with religion?
If life were meaningless and ends at the grave, why even bother. If life is just a monopoly game that’s going to be put up, why even try to take the property and money of others (in a metaphoric sense, of course)? It doesn’t make much sense. Given atheism, nothing really matters since it’s not going to last. So, again I ask you, why bother with religion and its negative effects?
Well for one, because having such a fundamental worldview difference from your fellow man, including people who share your culture and your life and are in all other respects fundamentally like you, is a weird and somewhat alienating experience at times. It’s really difficult to ignore, especially when some people will tell you people with your worldview are mean, nasty, grasping idiots with no sense of morality.
That, and this question contains some worldview assumptions that simply aren’t true. “Life is meaningless because it wasn’t personally gift-wrapped for me by an omnipotent deity that cares about my every thought and deed” is a childish outlook. To me, the fact that I believe none of it will last is exactly why everything matters. What I do and how I treat others matter because I will never get a chance to do it again, be redeemed, make restitution, or be forgiven. If our time here with each other is really all we’ve got, then it would be horrific to waste it.
2. Why are atheists so obsessed with monotheistic religions?
Why only the big three? If all religions are equally false, why only bother with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? What about Hinduism or deism? Again, it doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps there’s a reason that atheists are so amazingly obsessed with Christianity?
Because they’re the dominant religions in the West. They are, so to speak, right here in our backyard having pancake breakfasts. See again, y’all are really difficult to ignore by minority faiths and lack-of-faiths. Why Christianity? Because the majority of us in the west come from Christian backgrounds or Christianity is the dominant faith in the neighborhood.
That, and to a mind like mine (I was raised Unitarian, for the record), there’s something really curious about a mind that has an extremely complex background story about God and the savior that involves God messing around in a dissatisfied fashion with humanity for thousands of years, getting piqued and wiping out most of it at least once, eventually deciding that the way to redeem his failing science project is to conceive a child with a Jewish woman and make a blood sacrifice of him to serve as a supernatural middleman for the rest of eternity, yet also believes all other religions to be obvious fiction.
Not that I find Judaism or Islam any less strange, but I’m an American and Christianity is the water in which I swim, so to speak.
3. How do atheists explain the beginning of the universe?
Often atheists have pointed to the Big Bang to justify their worldview, but the Big Bang actually proves theism. Here’s a simple syllogism:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
There is great evidence for the Big Bang. We can be led to it by first stating this fact: The universe is either eternal, or it is not. If it’s not, than my argument is scientifically supported. The universe cannot be eternal because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is running out. If the universe is eternal, it should’ve run out a long time ago. The Big Bang proves God because it proves the universe came into being from nothing, and nothing cannot create nothing, for it is nothing. Therefore, Something must have caused the Big Bang. So how do you explain away this evidence for the existence of God?
Two-part answer: one, the answer to the first question is “I don’t, because I don’t know.” Some physicists seem to think they know about how things got rolling, but they might be wrong and we might know something entirely new and yet more fantastic a century down the line. But I don’t actually require physics to give me a definite answer; I’m comfortable with “I don’t know” and can’t swallow “Because an omnipotent entity whose existence and cause are also unexplained and who would have to be more complex and fantastic than the universe created it personally with the intent of populating one planet with humans.”
And my reaction to the second part is just… clearly that makes logical sense in the author’s head, but to me it reads like “the big bang proves God because banana”. You’re aware that “some other cause we don’t comprehend yet” is as valid an answer to that “dilemma” as “the God described in the Bible”, right? And that answer still leaves us with a causeless thing, i.e. God.
4. How do atheists explain away objective moral values?
Objective moral values are ones that are independent of human thought. If God doesn’t exist, they wouldn’t exist either. There’d be no one in charge to make a universal standard of right and wrong. It’d simply be a matter or opinion. But moral relativism fails. For one, it says that moral claims are only a matter of opinion but it asserts that as a fact. Also, we know things such as rape, murder, and child abuse are wrong, and if everyone agreed that they were right, they’d still be wrong. We know things are objectively wrong because we feel guilt when we do what is wrong; If morality was just our opinion, we wouldn’t feel guilty, for we would be doing what is right for us. So how do atheists justify the fact of objective morality?
People with no moral education don’t feel guilt because they have no idea it’s bad. It’s one reason we have as a court defense the idea that the defendant can’t be convicted of, say, capital murder if for some reason they legitimately have no idea the action was wrong.
I don’t try to explain it away, I think the idea of right and wrong as abstract but objective entities is a necessary thing for a socially living ape that is capable of abstract thought. But unlike many atheists, I do believe religion has done more good than harm for us as a species by providing structures for that. Abstracts are hard. (And a lot of morality IS a matter of opinion. If that weren’t true there wouldn’t be different sects of religions and we’d have no need at all for ethical philosophy.)
5. How do materialists justify immaterial realities?
Logic, math, morality, and other things such as free will, human dignity, and time exist. These things are all immaterial. We can’t put the number 7 or the Law of Noncontradiction in a test tube. But if God doesn’t exist, matter would be all there is, since there’d be nothing to be the foundation of immaterial things. Everything would come through by matter, and thus, be matter. How can atheists give an answer to this argument?
Erm. Being a materialist doesn’t mean that you stop believing in abstract concepts, or anything that can’t be seen and touched. “Abstract” and “supernatural” are two different things. I’m not sure I can really… answer beyond that just because the idea of treating everything that is an abstraction or is a dimension or just can’t be touched and held as directly from Yahweh is… incredibly bizarre to me.
6. How do atheists explain the existence of the universe?
If atheism is true, there isn’t a reason for anything. It’s all an accident. There isn’t any purpose. But if there weren’t a purpose for anything, how do things exist? If God does not exist, the universe would have no meaning for its existence, and would, thus, not exist. So how can we living in a universe that both exists and has no reason for its existence?
I don’t. I can’t. I’m not omniscient. But having an explanation isn’t a trump card if your explanation is incorrect. I can’t out-argue Christianity by saying “Aha, I have developed the superior cosmology by explaining the universe is all about the end goal of the Nabisco corporation. My explanation fits on a cocktail napkin, and I win.” There’s also the fundamental worldview conflict; I believe meaning is created by living, and that things don’t need to have a meaning or teleological purpose to exist. They can exist for their own sake. Existing is the ultimate “because”.
7. How do you explain away circumstantial evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?
Here are just two facts that help lead up to the conclusion that Christ is risen: 1. The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don’t die for what you know is a lie. No one does, and no one ever could. 2. Christianity started in Jerusalem. If the tomb weren’t empty, the Jewish pharisees could’ve proved it and ended the Christian movement. But they didn’t. How can an atheistic worldview explain this?
If “here, look, see, it’s not like that, knock it off” were sufficient standard of proof to crush cults in the process of beginning, there wouldn’t be any. And lots and lots of people around the world and throughout history have died for cults of various sorts believing sincerely their beliefs were correct, including lots of cults that Christianity believes were dead wrong.
8. If the gospels are just pieces of historical fiction, why are there embarrassing details in there?
Jesus being accused of being a demon. A prostitute wiping Jesus’ feet, which was seen as a sexual approach. Peter being called “Satan” and denying Jesus three times. Jews being told to pay taxes to the Roman empire. One criteria of finding a historical truth is to see if the text is embarrassing to the writer. If it is, they probably didn’t make it up. Could you clear this up for me?
….Yes. Clearly it takes an agent of profound truth and compelling morality to put embarrassing details in a memoir, or as many atheists believe the Bible to be, a collection of people jotting down half-remembered and sometimes fictionalized details, often many years after their events supposedly occurred, that were later patched together into a coherent account. For that matter most of those weren’t even embarrassing, they were “SEE SOCIETY IS AGAINST US BUT WE WILL TRIUMPH IN THE LORD’S KINGDOM.”
9. If we are just matter, and not souls, why would some atheists support life-sentences?
The matter in our body is totally changed out every seven years. If Cartesian dualism—a view I embrace—is false, and we are just matter, that means I am not the same person as I was seven years ago. And this is also true for a criminal.The justice system is completely futile if atheism is true. If matter is who we are, why don’t we change as our matter changes?
The first sentence is just… dude. I support life sentences because I think there is such a thing as doing something so heinous to the social contract that you are no longer allowed to participate in society, for society’s safety.
The rest of it is just hogwash because it’s based on an urban legend that is pretty easy to see the flaws in if you apply a few minutes’ thought instead of playing logic games with someone you disagree with. If the human body were completely renewed every seven years, tattoos would have an expiration date (I have one I’ve had for eleven years, I’m PRETTY SURE IT’S NOT TRUE), and people with paralysis and brain damage would only need to wait seven years to be all better again. Plus, uh, aging wouldn’t exist at all. And… I’m pretty sure having some new cells doesn’t make you a completely different person because I live in reality and that doesn’t happen.
10. Why do so many atheists deny historical facts?
The common view today that most atheists hold is that Jesus didn’t exist. But Jesus did exist. How do I know this? Historically reliable sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Jewish Talmud, and Pliny the Younger wrote about Jesus. So why do atheists hold to the Christ-myth hypothesis in spite of what we know through historical facts?
This one is just out of left field. I have yet to meet an atheist that doesn’t believe there was a Jesus or a person the character of Jesus was based on. If you believe the basic story to be fiction, why does it matter or not whether there was a real person behind what at the time was kind of a wild-eyed apocalyptic cult?
Why do most atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Denette, equivocate evolution with atheism?
Evolution does not prove God exists, nor does it prove God doesn’t exist. Darwin did not kill God. Most Christians accept evolution. Why, then, do so many atheists point to evolution as if it disproves Christianity?
Because a lot of really loud folks in fundamentalist Christianity believe that it would and fight to get it out of schools. When someone is attacking the lifeblood of your profession and the education of children, it gets your attention. But seriously, your primary problem is with your creationists there, not with atheists as a whole. Also it’s Daniel Dennett. Personally I’m not fond of either, actually, because I believe doing exactly that (as well as attacking religion wholesale and from a position of frequent ignorance) is misguided and unproductive.
12. Why don’t atheists actually question everything?
They’re always advocating skepticism, but fail to question their own views, including that of skepticism. If we should doubt everything, why not doubt atheism?
Because they’re humans and they have a worldview, and more or the point because the vast majority of atheists weren’t raised that way, they rejected whatever religion they were raised with. They aren’t questioning it because they already did and atheism was the conclusion they arrived at. Plus a handful of people I know who WERE raised atheist have later converted in adult life, so it does go both ways. Part of the process of going from childhood to adulthood is questioning the beliefs you grew up with when you were incapable of abstract reasoning and thinking them through to see if they square.
Plus “if you were really thinking it through and questioning you’d agree with me!” isn’t… an argument.
13. Where do rights come from?
Most atheists are supporters of the gay rights movement, and are furious when someone denies a homosexual of his or her rights just because of their sexual orientation. So it’s pretty clear that atheists believe inalienable rights exist. But where do they come from? How can they be explained naturally?
See again “being a materialist doesn’t mean you stop believing in abstract concepts”. Also “being an atheist doesn’t mean you think life is meaningless and how we treat one another is meaningless”. Believing something to be, at the end of the day, a social construct doesn’t mean you don’t also believe it to be an incredibly important construct worth fighting or even dying for.
14. How can there be no objective evil, but religion causes it?
A top argument in the atheist arsenal is that religion causes evil. This doesn’t prove a thing, for Pythagoras caused evil but no one doubts that a^2 + b^2 = c^2. But when atheists argue against religion by pointing out its sins, they assume that objective morality exists. If morality were a matter of opinion, there’d be no point in asserting it as a fact. So why do atheists use religious evil to try to disprove theism, when it actually does the opposite?
If you believe in right you also believe in wrong, but see again it isn’t necessary to believe they come from a supernatural lawgiver. (Actually I find THAT whole idea highly creepy- that right and wrong aren’t things of their own but the edicts of an old and powerful creature who isn’t even human and is prone to doing things like making blood sacrifices of his children or wiping out most of humanity in a fit of rage.)
Anyway, *this* atheist doesn’t believe religion causes evil any more than it causes good, but evils have been done in the name of religion and from worldviews and beliefs steeped in religion. It’s a human creation, and it can be used for either result.
15. Why are there no good reasons to believe atheism is true?
Whenever I ask an atheist to disprove God, they can’t do it. When something is true, there are good reasons to think it is true. But there are no good reasons to believe God does not exist. So why do non-believers count me as irrational when I embrace theism?
Well, I don’t. The whole premise strikes me personally as nutty, but I accept it’s a basic difference in whether we’ve accepted certain premises rather than an indication of who’s intelligent or rational or not.
As for the rest; we’re not recruiting nonbelievers, or at least most of us aren’t. We just don’t believe, we (mostly, see again I have issues with Dawkins and Dennett and their ilk) don’t proselytize. “I believe as I do because I just don’t buy that story” isn’t really an earth-shaking argument or lifestyle.
If we are to take the claim “question everything” as a serious one, we should question atheism.
Sure. It’s been fun times.
After much doubt, we are able to find that Christianity offers better answers.
Really can’t agree, but run with what’s working for you. Except maybe talking to atheists. Maybe make a friend of some and get acquainted with how they actually think rather than arguing with them on the internet. Man, you meet the worst people doing that.