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48 Sure-Fire “gotcha” questions for Atheists! (part 3) June 18, 2015

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Questions, Responses.
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4 comments

Previous post in this series

Still more of the stupid questions…

17. How did the planets form when the Big Bang explosion all of a sudden happen? After all, you don’t see round objects form when something blows up.

Again, ungrammatical, and showing a lack of understanding of the science.  The “Big Bang” wasn’t an explosion, it was a sudden expansion of the universe itself 13.7 billion years ago from being very small to being much larger very quickly.  That expansion is continuing.  There would not have been stars and planets, not at first.   Those formed later (around 500 million years later), when things had cooled down enough.  Gravity working on dust and gas clouds  pulled them into stars.  (If there’s enough mass, gravity will pull anything into a spherical shape.  If you look at our solar system the only things that aren’t spheres are small rocks.  Everything else winds up round.)    At this point there weren’t any heavy elements, just hydrogen and helium, so there would have been no rocky planets, not for a long time.  Heavy elements are made inside of stars, and the really heavy elements are only made in the explosive deaths of large stars.  Our solar system formed about 4.5 billion years ago, out of dust clouds that included those heavy elements from those ancient stellar explosions, and so could also form rocky planets that can support life.  So never mind about ancient Palestinians, stars died for you!

18.  If evolution is real, how can it explain gravity, angular momentum, human emotions, and why we worship God?

This question conflates “evolution” with “science”, a common tactic.  Evolution only explains how life forms change over time, and is part of the field of Biology.  Gravity and angular momentum are part of Physics, and not related to whether evolution is real in any way.   Humans evolved, so the brains that let us experience emotion are a product of evolution.  We aren’t the only creatures with emotion, if you are paying attention that’s obvious. Chimps laugh, elephants mourn their dead, your dog is happy to see you.  Emotions help us survive in our complicated socially interactive world.

As for why people worship gods, that’s a more interesting question.  Probably it’s a side effect of other evolved brain functions that we need for survival (patternicity, theory of mind, agenticity, credulous childhoods) combined with our built-in mental failings and limitations (confirmation bias), like a sort of mental malware that crops up.

19.  How did pond scum make living things appear out of nowhere?

The snarky answer is that it didn’t make living things appear out of nowhere, it made them appear out of pond scum!

We don’t have the full answer on how life began yet, but it’s a question scientists are working on.  We can learn a lot about what was on the early earth by looking at our geology, and also by studying other planets and moons in the solar system.  We know there was a lot of water with a lot of chemicals dissolved in it.  We know there was an atmosphere, but not any free oxygen.  We know there were sunshine, tides, freezing and thawing, volcanic vents, and lighting, all affecting this ocean full of chemicals.  We know that there were different surfaces that the chemicals could interact with, such as rock, sand, clay, and ice.  Put all this together, and you get a lot of interesting chemistry happening.  Give that chemistry a long enough time, and you may get a molecule that can make copies of itself.  Once that starts, the “nothing succeeds like success” rule takes effect, and those molecules that were better at making copies left more copies.  That, plus four billion years, is all you need!

20. How can evolution be true if we don’t see pocket watches or airplanes form by themselves?

Pocket watches and airplanes don’t breed and produce offspring.  If they did, we’d see them evolving too.

This doesn't actually happen

This doesn’t actually happen

21. Did you know that dinosaurs and man lived together?

The Flintstones is not a documentary!  However some dinosaurs did live with man, and still do. I have three small ones at home right now, a yellow one, a green one, and a blue one, and my cat is very frustrated that he can’t get in their cage to eat them.  I also ate a dinosaur sandwich for lunch today.   But you probably weren’t referring to birds, were you?

The non-bird dinosaurs all died 65 million years ago, probably as a result of a meteoroid impact. (There’s a layer we can find in the rocks all over the world that has a high level of iridium (rare on earth, more common in meteors)  that was our first big clue.  Below that layer (older) – big dinosaurs.  Above that layer (newer) – no big dinosaurs.)   Humans didn’t diverge from their common ancestor with chimps until about 6 million years ago, and our modern form is only about 100,000 years old.  Sorry, no overlap there.  You know what humans did live with? Mammoths!  We have direct evidence of this – we find mammoth bones with butcher marks from stone tools on them, we have found bones with spear points still stuck in them, we’ve found human houses that used mammoth bones in their foundations.  If humans lived with dinosaurs, we should find evidence like that – but we don’t.

22. If evolution is real, then why do caring people like Rick Santorum argue that it must be challenged in the classroom?

OK, this is another one of those questions that tells me that these questions may be meant as a spoof.  Santorum?  A caring person?  Rick Santorum?  This guy?

rick-santorum-taliban-quote1

santorum-and-his-view-that-rape-is-a-gift-from-god1

The only thing Santorum cares about is shoving his religion into everybody else’s business.  I’ve never seen that he cares about actual people in any way.  But I do appreciate the opportunity to do my part here to add to Santorum’s little Google Problem.

And even if he were a caring person, (which he’s not) being a caring person does not prevent somebody from being completely wrong about something.  You can’t make something false into something true just by caring harder.

23.  Why are youtube atheists like AronRa and Thunderf00t afraid to debate Ray Comfort?

They each already have debated Ray Comfort.  You can look this stuff up on the internet you know.  Next question.

24.  Why do we celebrate Christmas if Christianity is not real?

The original celebration had nothing to do with christianity.  People have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for as long as they have been keeping track of the seasons.  The christians just usurped the celebration and now pretend like it was theirs all along.  But most of the associated traditions (evergreens, decorated trees, mistletoe, yule logs, gifts, images of a mother and baby, parties) come from the older pagan traditions.

Also, why does something need to be real to have a celebration?  I celebrate Star Wars day and Captain Picard day.  People can celebrate anything they want to, that doesn’t make it real.

More stupid questions to come…

48 Sure-Fire “gotcha” questions for Atheists! (part 1) June 16, 2015

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Questions, Responses.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
11 comments

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:

Dear Christians,

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!

Shuvuuia

Small, cute and fluffy. I’m not scared.

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?

Terror Bird: 10 feet tall and weighed half a ton.  Glad they're gone!

Terror Bird: 10 feet tall and weighed half a ton. Glad they’re gone!

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.)

Next post in the series.

cluelessnessdemotivator

I like this Demotivator, even though I think there are plenty of stupid questions.

Misspelled Memes December 6, 2014

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Humor.
Tags: , , , , , ,
4 comments

Some years ago (about seven, I think) Hemant had a humor contest on Friendly Atheist.  The challenge: create a Demotivational style poster based on a slight misspelling of a religious term.  I took a stab at it and got a couple of winners in the results, which was cool.   I realized the other day that I hadn’t posted them on this blog yet, so here they are:

Blond Faith

Christinanity

(Since I’m blond myself, I think I can get away with the blond joke.)