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10 Questions for Every Atheist July 16, 2014

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Responses.
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This list has been floating around the internet for a few days.  I did a response to a similar list of 15 questions awhile back, and you can find my answers to that one here: 15 Question Atheist Challenge (Edit – and another fairly stupid 10-question set I answered here.)  But I suppose I’ll join in and answer these too.

The list recently appeared here: http://todaychristian.net/10-questions-every-atheist/#_

But was lifted from a post by Robert Neilsen, an atheist, here: http://robertnielsen21.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/10-questions-for-atheists/

The first thing that caught my eye is this lead-in on the TodayChristian website:

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…

And you will never hear any of those conclusions from their website, because commenting was not allowed on that post.  Because throwing out an assertion like that wouldn’t be any fun if the real atheists were actually allowed to show up and refute it by truly and honestly really answering them.  So here’s my shot at truly and honestly really answering them.  I’ll try to keep each answer succinct, since I tend to ramble sometimes.

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?

Short version: I read the bible, just like my youth leaders said I should.  Twice, cover to cover, two different translations. And then in college, I ran headlong into people who were crazy fundamentalists of one sort or another, and the nutcase preachers like Brother Jed, each totally certain that they were right and everybody else was going to burn in hell.  And I started thinking about whether it made sense to believe any of this, and I realized that it didn’t.  And I thought about whether the stuff I had been taught had any more solid basis in reality, and it didn’t.  By the end of college I was functionally an atheist, but didn’t adopt the word until later.  That was around 30 years ago now, and I’m still not believing any of it.

2.       What happens when we die?

We decompose, and the brain that produces the activity that we call our “conscious mind” stops doing that.

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

Then I’ll have a wonderful time at the Beer Volcano, while all you christian infidels have to settle for flat beer and ugly strippers down in Hell Lite.  Oh, did you mean YOUR version of heaven and hell?  Why are those any more likely to be true than all the other versions?

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

Same place everybody does.  My own sense of empathy and compassion, plus rules devised from the need to live together with other people in groups.  By trial and error over thousands of years, we’ve worked out some pretty good rules for co-existing.  Not that there still isn’t room for improvement.

Some people think they get their morality from ancient books or supernatural beings.  But I think that’s just religion taking credit for something it didn’t invent.

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

How would there being a god make you not free to do those things?  Plenty of religious people do those things all the time, the fact that they think there is a god watching doesn’t stop them.

But I’m not free to murder and rape if I want to live as part of a community of other people.

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

I create my own meaning in life.  Being told what my life is supposed to be by some superbeing would be awful.

7.       Where did the universe come from?

I don’t know.  But we are developing some good ideas about what happened right at the start, and those come from looking at the evidence and following where it leads.  I don’t pretend to know stuff that I don’t, that’s what religion does.

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?

Look up confirmation bias.  Humans are really good at paying attention to the things that match up with their preconceptions and ignoring everything that doesn’t.  And we’re really good at fooling ourselves.

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

You left out Dennett!  I agree with some of the things they say, and disagree with others.  There are other atheist writers and speakers I find more often in line with what I think, including Greta Christina, Matt Dillahunty, and Hemant Mehta.

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

If there were a god, then why do we have thousands of mutually contradicting religions?  If there were an all-intelligent super-being who wanted people to know what he wants from them, why has he done such a lousy job of communicating it?

People are superstitious, due to patternicity, agenticity, confirmation bias and credulous childhoods.  From that beginning, religions coalesce and grow and compete for followers, and those that are the most successful endure and spread.  (OOOOH- there’s that Darwin again!)  The other, less successful ones die off, which is why nobody is still worshipping Marduk or Osiris anymore.  Nowadays most people are stuck with some form of the mental malware of religion, but some of us are recognizing it for what it is and getting rid of it.

 

There, that’s enough for now.

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Comments»

1. namenews - July 16, 2014

Very, very interesting responses and answers to these select questions. A lot of new perspectives to read and try to comprehend from another human being’s standpoint.

(reading further reports)

-N.N. Team

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2. john zande - July 16, 2014

Nicely done. Beer Volcano is a winner!

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3. nonsmokingladybug - July 16, 2014

Very good and interesting answers indeed. Beer Vulcano…hmmmm…how about some wine for the winos 🙂

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ubi dubium - July 16, 2014

The Beer Volcano actually provides your favorite beverage, because the FSM is a benevolent deity. Not like some.

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4. makagutu - July 17, 2014

Very well done. I was thinking they were some tough questions.

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5. 10 questions for every atheist | Random thoughts - July 17, 2014

[…] friend here has answered this set if questions and I would like to add my two cents to them. The questions […]

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6. M.M.J. Gregory - July 17, 2014

I couldn’t have answered them any better. 🙂

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7. LAMarcom - July 18, 2014

Well done!
Bravo!

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8. charles - August 17, 2014

I really like the way you expressed your answer to # 4. I am a recent skeptic, and this is one of the questions that has been bothering me. I really thought there was no good answer to the question of morality without God, but as I’ve read what atheists actually think (instead of assuming what they think like I did before), the view you have expressed really makes a lot of sense to me. As the fog has lifted, I can see how the Bible was never really any kind of absolute morality for me… I was always judging it with common sense, emphasizing certain parts and downplaying other parts.

The wording of #3 pisses me off. “What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!”
This is the second post I’ve seen answering these 10 questions (I forget where the other one was), and both times this caps stood out to me. It’s like they are excited by the possibility that we are going to hell. I can picture the questioner with a big smile on their face. Yuck. Sick. Just sick.

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9. ubi dubium - August 19, 2014

Thanks. I could write a lot longer on each of these questions, especially #4, but I was trying to keep it at a readable length. I’ve seen a lot of good discussions on the origins of morality in the atheist blogosphere, and Sam Harris has also written a book on morality (which I haven’t read yet).

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10. normapadro - September 11, 2014

I like your post. The part of morality is always confusing specially when they give the news and they catch a preacher doing ugly things. I don’t know what book they go by then. It seems that they focus too much on telling others how to live their lives, but don’t focus on their desire to commit crimes. I just don’t understand the things that I listen to on television. It just sounds so incredible. My thoughts are always confirmed when I look at the news. I guess I have always been a very observant person since the time I was able to walk. I have seen so many things it’s ridiculous.

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ubi dubium - September 11, 2014

Thanks. I’m always amazed at how religionists will say that belief in their doctrine will transform lives and make people better, and that people would be committing all kinds of crimes if not for their faith, and then turn around and say (in response to shenanigans from preachers) that they “aren’t perfect, just forgiven”. Such hypocrisy.

Liked by 1 person

normapadro - September 11, 2014

I know what you mean. Not long ago I was reading an article of a preacher that was spreading the AIDS virus to the females in his congregation. He knew he had it, but didn’t care. He was arrested for passing on his disease forward. I just felt so awful when I saw that news. I kept thinking what is going on out there. I know exactly what you mean. There are so many stories out there that are just head turners. Incredible.

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