48 Sure-Fire “gotcha” questions for Atheists! (part 1) June 16, 2015Posted by Ubi Dubium in Questions, Responses.
Tags: atheism, birds, christianity, critical thinking, dinosaurs, evolution, Questions, relics, religion, Shroud of Turin, stupidity
First, I’d like to thank Makagutu for linking me to this list of questions on a hardcore christian blog, here. As much as I want to think that we are dealing with a Poe, as far as I can tell the writers of that blog appear to be genuine.
Some people say “There are no stupid questions!” Well, apparently there are. So if the questions are stupid, why would I take the time to respond to any of them? Because sometimes the questions are stupid, but the people asking them aren’t. They may be deeply indoctrinated, and have been fed misinformation since they were children. This is not their fault. (I have a young niece who once sincerely asked me one of these questions. And she was surprised that there was a real answer to it; she wasn’t expecting there to be one.)
These questions are presented to believers as “checkmate atheist!” questions that don’t have real responses, but then the apologists just pat themselves on the back about how clever they are, and never actually check with real atheists to find out if there are answers to any of them. In hopes that there are some christians out there who are wondering if their “gotcha” questions are as good as the preachers say they are, I’d like to supply sincere, thoughtful answers to each of them. Since there are 48 questions, I’m only going to respond to a few per post.
So I’ll start with the intro:
Are you tired of atheists claiming they are more intellectual and smarter that Christians? Do you want to continue the good fight against the satanic secular machine that has hijacked this nation from being Christian? Look no further! Here are a bunch of clever questions you can ask atheists. When they fail to answer these questions, show them the truth from the Bible and watch as they are lead to the light.
So they’re starting right off with the smug back-patting about how great these questions are. As if they are somehow magic, and have atheists converting right and left. Sorry, your questions aren’t actually clever.
1. If creationists can’t do science, then why do Kent Hovind and Duane T. Gish, who are creation scientists, have professional degrees in science?
Kent Hovind’s “degree” is from an unaccredited diploma mill. I tried to read his 1991 “dissertation” once; it was painful. There is no real university that would award a doctorate for that. My children wrote better arguments in middle school . He is in no way a professional “scientist”, he’s an evangelist. To be a scientist, you must be open to changing your ideas in the light of new evidence, and Hovind just doesn’t qualify. Duane Gish is a more interesting case, because he does hold a real degree in biochemstry. Indoctrination is a powerful force, and not everyone can resist it.
But I think the real question here is not why one isolated person with a science degree is a fervent believer, but why so few of our top scientists are. If christianity, or theism in general, were correct, you’d think that scientists would have found so much evidence that points them to that answer that they would be more religious than the general public. But they are far less religious. A 2009 Pew survey showed 83% of the general public having a belief in god, but only 33% of scientists sharing that belief. Of our elite scientists in the National Academy of Sciences, only 7% hold a belief in god. So learning more about the way the universe really works leads to less god belief. Hmmm.
2. If dinosaurs turned into birds, why are we not afraid of them?
There are several assumptions in this question.
First, is that dinosaurs “turned into” birds. Birds are one variety of dinosaurs, and were the only group to survive the mass extinction 65 million years ago. But there’s also the assumption that the (ancient non-avian) dinosaurs were all big and scary and modern birds are not. Many dinosaurs were small, check out these guys. It’s just that large bones are less likely to be eaten or broken before they fossilize, and they make better museum displays, so big scary dinosaurs are what you are used to seeing. Jurassic Park wasn’t a documentary!
Whereas, thinking of modern birds, a kick from an ostrich could kill you. A parrot could take off your finger if it wanted to. I was pretty unnerved the other day by a large flock of Canada Geese that thought I was going to feed them. They are large and aggressive and everywhere in my area, don’t cross them! And how about the terror birds that lived in the southern part of the world for millions of years after the “dinosaur extinction”? How were they not scary?
3. If homosexuality is right, then how come two people of the same sex not produce a child?
I have no idea what this has to do with whether there’s a god, and it’s also ungrammatical. I also don’t know what you mean by “right”. It’s certainly natural, and occurs in nature in many animal species as well as humans. Many gay people do have children (sometimes because they’ve been pressured into a heterosexual marriage), and many others adopt children, or help raise their relatives’ children. And gay/straight is not just an either/or thing, it’s a spectrum of behavior, just as with many other human behaviors.
4. What purpose do we have if evolution is real?
We don’t have a purpose! The “purpose” of life is to exist and reproduce, since those life forms which are better at it exist in larger numbers. Which is great news! Since there is no pre-determined purpose for your life, you are free to decide for yourself what the meaning and purpose of your life should be. It’s yours to create.
5. You say Jesus never existed, but have you heard of the Shroud of Turin?
Jesus might or might not have been a real person that existed, but all that stuff in the new testament is mostly hearsay and legend.
There was a great fad for holy relics in Europe in the middle ages, because a church that had a convincing one could draw pilgrims, and therefore fame and money. People came back from the Crusades with tons of “relics” they had found or bought. There may have been as many as eighteen “holy foreskins” at one time, and you must agree that at least 17 of those were fakes. There were so many claimed pieces of the True Cross that John Calvin remarked there was enough wood in them to fill a ship. Faking relics was a big business back then. The cloth was dated by three different labs, and all came back with a date during the middle ages. I have no reason to think it’s not just another faked Medieval relic.
6. Why do we not see humans being born in the zoos from monkeys if we came from monkeys?
Because evolution does not work that way. Evolutionary change comes from a gradual accumulation of small changes that were favored because they increased survival in their environment. Big jumps like the one above don’t happen. This question shows a deep and deliberate misunderstanding of how natural selection works. (Also, we didn’t come from modern monkeys. We share an ancestor with modern monkeys.)
7. Why do we go to church if God is not real?
To keep persuading yourselves that god is not pretend. For things that we know are real, we don’t need a weekly coaching session to make sure we believe in them. There’s no weekly services where we persuade ourselves to believe in gravity, or electric lights, or cellphones. I don’t need to have “faith” in the change of the seasons or the day-night cycle. I don’t need to go to weekly study groups to strengthen my belief in the phases of the moon. I don’t send my children to Sunday School to persuade them to commit their life to a belief that trees exist. I sing no songs to make sure I keep my faith in Twinkies.
8. How did the Grand Canyon form?
Gradually, over a very long time, through the same processes of erosion and uplift we see working today. The creationist claim is that it was somehow formed in the flood. But the obvious hole in that speculation is that, since the flood supposedly covered the whole earth, that it should have left huge canyons like that all over the whole planet, and it obviously didn’t.
I’ll do more questions in another post. This is long enough for now.
(update – after a little more perusing, I think that the blog that is the source of these questions may actually be a spoof after all. It’s just so extreme that it’s got to be a joke. Poe’s Law in action, I hope. However, since real people actually are encouraged by evangelists to ask atheists these questions, I’m going to go ahead and answer them anyway.)