Twelve Questions to Ask an Atheist

Some of these obviously involve multiple questions…

1. Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

2. Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

6. Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

7. Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

8. In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

9. Much attention has been given to alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

10. Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity? If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

11. Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

12. How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

*Questions 11 and 12 are taken from a similar list on Wintery Knight.

Christians & Theists: If you have additional questions you would have included on this list (or disagreements with anything I’ve included), I invite you to respond in the comments section, or with a post of your own.

Atheists: If you would like to respond to these questions, I also invite you to do so in the comments section, or with a post of your own. In the interest of fairness, I will include on this page a link to any such posts.

UPDATE: I’ve posted a compiled list of answers (n=11) HERE.

About these ads

61 thoughts on “Twelve Questions to Ask an Atheist

  1. I think the questions are awesome too! However honestly, I obviously am not nearly as educated as you are. If I were an atheist, and I am not, I would read and not know how to answer many of the questions, as much of the material is unfamiliar (though quite interesting) to me. I hope you don’t mind my input. I do really enjoy your blog.

  2. I have a long, detailed explanation for each of these questions, but in the end it all comes down to faith. You can choose to believe in things based on faith or you can choose to believe in things based on evidence. I think that if everyone formed beliefs based on evidence, the world would be a better place.

    Cheers!

    • possibly, Pamala, but it takes faith to make the most elemental decisions. entering into a relationship, even with someone you can see and feel, takes faith. believing your opinions, thoughts, and emotions to be original and not the product of instinct, suggestion, or random electrical impulses in your brain takes faith. and faith, to be legitamate, needs to be based on something reliable and true. faith for faith’s sake is a foolish endeavor.
      k☼

    • This actually a reply to silverylizard. We as humans will always have imperfect information and our brains have developed certain biases due to eons of evolution. The things you mentioned that you say require faith are not technically faith-based. Relationships take trust, not faith, they aren’t the same thing. Whether thoughts are based on instinct, on a virus that has invaded your brain (yes it does happen), matters not one iota as to whether something is real or not. I can assume you feel pain sometimes, because I feel pain sometimes, and your reaction to that pain will kind of look like my reaction. I will never know for sure, but I can infer we feel pain the same way. That’s not a guess, that’s a reasonable inference. Once again, if these are just random impulses they still have a consequence that can be measured objectively and perceived and therefore do not require faith. God, not so much.

    • i said original, not real. thoughts can stem from all kinds of things, and may or may not be based in reality … but we ahve faith they are our own, and not the byproduct of some impulse or disease – even though sometimes they are not our own.

      as for trust and faith in entering a relationship … ever go out on a date with someone you didnt know that well? did you trust that person? or did you take it on faith they would safe enough to go out with?

      we all have put our faith in some one or some thing, thinking it to be a safe venture, only to find out we were wrong. again i say … faith must be based on something reliable and true … not on blind assumption. but it still stands that life requires a certain amount of faith, like it or not.
      k☼

    • My faith in God is based on many evidences, these evidences are stronger for me than the evidences that support the theory of evolution or an old earth. I strongly believe that someone honest who wants to follow the truth and who examines the evidences thoroughly will come to the conclusion that this world was created by a supernatural almighty being that we call God. Lee Strobel did this. The problem is that within this supernatural equation there is not only a supernatural being in God Himself but also a lesser “created” being in saten who primary weapon is deception. I also find it remarkable how Gods Word to mankind fortells of these exact circumstances and they are happening. Exaple… the bible defines a time when a group of people will get together and support a story that is against God… ” saying what their iching ears want to hear ” just the way scientist date things is so biased and one sided that its obvious there is a great conspiracy theory…this theory is evolution…when evidences oppose evolution they are quickly barrried orfabricated to show false answers to support evolution.. I suggest googling Brad Harrub or going to ffocuspress.org and check out some material for yourself. Maybe also google Kyle Butt. Kent Hovind is another if you can get past the fact that he is in jail for tax issues…i just examine his work not personal issues. My name is Jim is u have a comment for me I wont be back to this thread but can reached at @coachjim559 on twitter or email stingbasketball@live.com thanks

  3. Question #13 for atheists, from the first few chapters of C. S. Lewis’s Miracles: Do you believe that we have a non-illusory power to reason? If you believe that our thoughts are ever rational, not mere biochemical events in an inevitable cause-and-effect chain, you’re not a materialist; you believe in the supernatural. Discuss.

    • That doesn’t make any sense. Who cares if our thoughts are rational! Perception is the key. By definition rational means something that is based on some real world perception of our environment. You can choose to believe it or not. You perceive and you act upon those perceptions, that’s not supernatural, that’s reacting and making sense of your environment, in other words – survival. If it’s caused by a chemical reaction makes it no less real because it to is a product of the environment. There is no need for a supernatural component. I don’t know if my thoughts are rational, but I have intelligence to act upon what I perceive, that doen’t make the act of thinking any less meaningful.

    • Well, it just so happens that this atheist believes that our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are the result of biochemical events.
      There are mountains of evidence, reports, and studies on the biochemical events that take place in our brains and in neurons. Not only that, but neuroscience has visible results. We know that certain chemical mimic certain neurotransmitters- that’s how drugs work. We can measure the electric charge running through a neuron as ion gates open and close. We can synthesize chemicals to treat depression based on our knowledge of neurological chemistry- and those medications work. We can see what parts of our brains light up when faced with certain stimuli using MRIs. We can even isolate the proteins and chemicals involved in these reactions.
      Not sure if that’s the answer you wanted, but here it is anyways.

    • if our thoughts are only a chemical reaction, then free will and choice must be an illusion. that woud make intelligence a bit questionable …
      k☼

    • To Junction:

      I don’t think you have understood Lewis’s point yet.

      Agreed, we receive information about the world around us from our senses. Agreed, we act on that information. Animals do both of those things as well.

      One thing that makes man different is that we can make abstract, rational inferences from that information. In short, for us to be able to do that, our thoughts must to some extent be caused by being true. But if our minds are no more than the matter and energy contained in our brains—if the physical world is all there is—then all our thoughts are caused inevitably by the chain of physical causes that preceded them, ultimately going all the way back to the Big Bang. In that case, there is no room left for our thoughts to have any other cause—truth itself—and so we have no power whatsoever to reason.

      I understand that it’s a difficult argument to understand, but if you don’t understand it yet, I don’t think I’ll be able to get it across in the limited time and space available in a blog comment. I refer you instead to the first part of Lewis’s Miracles.

      To Daniel:

      Yes, agreed, there are biochemical events in our brains. Of course.

      The question is whether there is also anything more, or whether our minds are only the physical matter and energy contained in our brains.

      On my view, the mind is something partly supernatural, something not entirely contained within this world; on my view, the brain is nevertheless an indispensable part of the mind’s interaction with the world.

      If I understand you, on your view, the mind is entirely contained within this world. But in that case, it is impossible that we ever truly reason; if we think we do, that is just one more illusion. See above.

    • Asserting that the ability to reason depends on a non-deterministic mind doesn’t accomplish anything you have actually demonstrated that the assertion is true.

      There are two ways you can lend your argument any credence. One, demonstrate that it is impossible for a neural network in a deterministic universe to reason abstractly; or two, demonstrate that one or more processes in the human brain contradict laws of nature which are applied everywhere else (for example, that our decisions are sometimes triggered by causeless effects which are not present in animal brains).

      (Also, you also need to define “reason”)

  4. 1) I have no idea if the universe had a beginning. Presumably, it began with the Big Bang, which, as Stephen Hawking puts it, began inevitably.

    2) I am truthfully not sure.

    3) How do you know they are finely tuned? Saying that automatically implies something put them there, which you don’t have a reason to believe. Maybe it’s the only way they could be. Perhaps if they were different, there would still be life, but it would also be different, if not on earth, maybe another planet.

    4) Language is necessary to communicate with each other, we are a social species and have evolved as such. Many other species have complex ways of communicating, though not verbally. Math was created by humans (there isn’t really such a thing as “four”) to have a way to explain the phenomena around us, so obviously it would be constructed to fit what we wish to learn.

    5) This question assumes, simply because we do not know the answer to something, then there is only one other option: God. This is simply not true.

    6) I’m not sure what you mean by “illusory”. I believe free will exists to an extent (you can’t become a different person by simple will power). People can feel and believe anything they want, until the point it hurts others. If something is pointlessly causing harm to people, it would stand to reason that this is not a good thing to do, and therefore be stopped. For example, you can’t arrest a pedophile for being a pedophile, but you can arrest them for raping children.

    7) Morality is completely subjective, however, just because Person X may hold a certain moral belief, that does not automatically grant him permission to act on it. If it causes others useless harm, then there is no basis for it to be considered a “good” belief. This question seems to overlook the fact that most sane people have a conscience and have an innate ability to tell right from wrong and justice from injustice.

    8) This question is worded oddly, so I may answer it wrong. If my best friend and a complete stranger were both held at gunpoint and I was allowed to chose one of them to live, I would obviously chose my friend because I have a personal connection with them, although I would rather have everyone live.

    9) Not really, as there are some Atheists who wish there was a God, or wish they did believe. This also implies that atheists don’t want to believe in God so they can do what they want to do, which I suppose is the case for a very small fraction of “atheists”, but that isn’t the case for the majority of us.

    10) It’s difficult to tell, it may have served more of a purpose in ancient times to keep the masses under control (Go watch Patton Oswalt’s “Sky Cake” bit), but it obviously had very drastic consequences in the past as well. Obviously, good has been done in the name of religion, but it is usually done in an attempt to gain more followers of said religion, or because the Deity of said religion would want his followers to do that, not necessarily from human compassion.

    11) It is irrational to a certain extent. However, humans function largely on emotion and not simply whether or not something is completely rational.

    12) I would not follow Christianity even if it was true. I think it is a morally reprehensible religion that teaches we are created filthy and worthless creatures, but if we just worship the being that made us this way, we can be made clean and useful. It is a sickening thought to think that people who murder, rape, torture, etc can gain entrance to paradise by simply asking for forgiveness, but perfectly kind and caring people of the wrong faith (or no faith) are damned to eternal torment for simply believing the wrong thing.

    • actually, the Bible does not teach that we were created filthy and worthless creatures, but rather that we were created in the image and likeness of God. it was man that walked away. and one does not gain entrance by simply asking forgiveness. one must repent, turning 180º from ones selfseeking ways, and accept the gift of righteousness, which came at a high cost to the God that offers it. unfortunately, many religious idiots do not teach the Bible, but their own ideas. if Christianity were as you describe, i would not be one either. that would be, as you well put it, morally reprehensible.

      sorry, but i believe in being accurate. too many people simply have the wrong information, and dont go see for themselves.
      k☼

    • Once again silverylizard I have to disagree. The bible explicitly states that we are made in the image of god, but fall short, and are a little less than the angels. I’m not going to quote verses, but there are numerous instances where the bible says we are born into sin and Jesus is the only salvation. My second issue with your response is how do you know YOU have the correct interpretation? Maybe the Catholics got right exactly, or the Calvinists, or the Anglicans, or (god forbid ;) ) Muslims. I’ve heard the argument many times that “those aren’t true Christians” or “that’s not the correct interpretation of ‘this or that’ concept/verse/image” (fill in as needed). As someone looking in at the whole mess, I don’t know who is right. To me this guy’s interpretation is as legitimate as yours, who’s able to tell? A deal breaker in one sect may be a small thing in another – getting baptized for instance. You all say you’re Christian, so who am I to tell you that you’re right or wrong, I have to take your word for it. And what I see is an utter impotence of God in defining how we should see him/her/it.

    • read my statemnent again, sir junction … you have only restated what i said, not disagreed with it.
      as for interpretations … i steer clear from trying to tell anyone what it means. i am only interested in what it says. i am not interested in adding to it, or taking away from it, or amending it, or adding another companion book to it. what other people do with it is not under my jusidiction. i just get dismayed when people preach crap in the name of Christianity, and it presents a false message tht takes away hope.
      k☼

    • I would only add that I recommend C. S. Lewis’s book Mere Christianity for Junction. It’s perhaps not for everyone (different people think in different styles), but for me, it was a great book, and I can’t recommend it enough.

      The different groups and schools of thought among Christians have a lot more in common than not.

  5. In the words of Charles Babbage…

    “I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”

    Your questions are full of logical inconsistencies, which makes them impossible to answer. There is no point in even trying to address this. Sounding clever does not mean cleaver.

    Far better, YOU are the one making fantastical claims, therefore the burden of proof is yours.

    If you are genuinely interested in engaging with someone who really does not accept your claims, then rewrite your questions so they can be addressed and please give up this teen angst type of philosophical double speak. I for one would be happy to debate you, once you work out what you are trying to ask.

    Good luck.

    • I’m very interested by this kind of response. I’m not trying to pick on NM—I know atheists who sound like this, and even Christopher Hitchens himself apparently never understood the other side’s point of view:

      Talking with Hitchens about this, you sense not only an anger with the institutions, teaching and practices of religion, but also an exasperation and bemusement with the very fact of belief. Put simply, he just doesn’t get it. When he was on the Left, he says, he was good at debating with Tories because his family were Tory: ‘I knew where they were coming from.’

      Now, when he debates with opponents from the Left, it is in the knowledge that he is probably better acquainted with their ideas and history then they are. ‘With religion, try as I may, I can’t think myself into the viewpoint of the faithful. I can’t think what it would be like to believe that somebody had died for my sins, for example. I don’t get it at all.’ So it is that people’s experiences of faith will always be ‘delusions’; the consolations they may derive from it always ‘false’ ones.

      One time I was having a conversation with an atheist friend of mine. He said at a certain point, You realize you sound like a crazy person to me right now? This all sounds like nonsense to me. But then, probably you feel just the same way about me. I said no, not at all; everything he was saying made perfect sense to me, and I used to be there myself. But now I can understand a little bit more, and see around those beliefs, and see why they logically can’t be true.

      A lot of Christians I know or know of seem to be able to understand the other guy’s point of view. By contrast, many of the atheists I know don’t seem to be able to understand what we’re saying. (Hint: Calling names or accusing us of “teen angst” does not make it any clearer that we’re the ones not thinking clearly about the substantive issues at hand.) Even the ones I know who used to be in the church, in most cases, remember it only from childhood Sunday-school class, where (it becomes clear from talking with them) they never reached the point of understanding grown-up Christianity.

      And Hitchens was a famous debater, who took on Christians in person and in writing—and even he couldn’t understand why they would think what they think?

  6. Your blog post was listed on reddit /r/atheism today. Here was my response:

    1) Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

    Top four hypothesis:

    * P-Branes in M-Theory
    * Special Black Hole Hypothesis
    * Quantum Foam
    * Penrose Cyclic Universe

    We should have a YAY or NAY on P-Branes in the next few years. I can explain any of the others at length except for Quantum Foam which I’m not entirely clear on myself.

    2) Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

    Difficult to answer so far (science is still very young) – but it would appear that certain factors within QM would indicate a non-predetermined universe.

    3) How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

    This is a misnomer to a degree. First, in most of the universe forming theories multiple universes exist. For example, in M-Theory two colliding P-Branes cause two universes to spin out.

    Physics, time, etc… are independent to the universe – and yes, certain conditions can cause other types of universes. However, to find yourself in a particular set does not make it special – it makes it correct for that type of universe. It is like saying that as a fish, your pond is obviously special because it has just the right conditions to support life – without being able to acknowledge countless other perfectly fine ponds.

    What would be special is if you found yourself in a universe you shouldn’t exist in.
    4) Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

    Math is the language of the universe and appears in everything down to the lowliest cell and the very structure of energy itself. However, do not be deceived with math – just because the formula works out doesn’t mean the premise is correct.

    You are in awe of something which is simply a fundamental foundation of the universe. For example, if string theory is correct then ever thing we experience in our universe, atoms, particles such as gluons, etc, energy, everything – is composed of the vibration of strings in 11+ dimensional string space. This comes down to wonderfully simple math (which is why M-Theory is rather popular) – simple math creates everything we see around us.

    5) Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

    Yes. And as to the second question – again, science is so very young and we are moving so very quickly. Look at the computer on your desk and then think back 100 years ago. Now think back 2000 years ago. Look at that progress. And this is only exponential.

    Now we have computers doing the work of thousands of humans in a matter of seconds – just give us a few hundred years and baring stupidity on our part I think you will see amazing things.

    6) Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

    No. And if it is illusionary then the scale is still such that to human experience it does not appear that way. Am I 100% sure? No, but Quantum Mechanics would seem to indicate that free will exists.

    However, this could be just a factor of complexity. At a certain amount of complexity you can’t tell the difference from noise or chaos at the local level. Quantum Foam, from my understanding, if found to be a forming factor of the universe might indicate a predetermined universe (I’m really fuzzy on quantum foam though, I might be completely incorrect).

    7) Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

    If you are asking if there is inherent morality. In a social situation – yes.

    If you are an individual lost on an uninhabited island – then morality is not an issue or question.

    If, on the other hand, you want to function with others you must have some sense of fair play or you will soon learn that you don’t move far. This is an inherent reward system and tends to reinforce proper behavior because we all tend to want a positive outcome for ourselves.

    8) In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

    Since there is no afterlife, no heaven, no hell – and this is the only spin you get – all life is precious. However, as evolutionary beings – all creatures consume other creatures to survive (plants being included in my definition) – at some point humans, through technology, can probably get rid of this requirement – but that is not the natural way for the majority of the universe.

    9) Much attention has been given to alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

    We all suffer from wishful thinking – and that is not necessarily a bad thing since it can provide goals to strive for.

    The question is what we base our thinking on – fact or fiction… and which has more benefits in moving society, and the individual, forward.

    I would like to think we are based more in reality and the provable (via observation and peer confirmation).

    10) Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity. If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

    Net negative. Religion is early attempts to explain the unknown. It later became a way to control and a financially lucrative franchise (as in the Catholic Church, etc).

    11) Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

    Yes – given the chance of success and the impact to others.

    And interestingly I’ve saved a life twice in my life. Once to stop an old lady from getting hit from a car and a second time when someone driving near where I was walking had a seizure.

    12) How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

    I would not. A true god would not require our endless awe. She/He/It would also have a better grasp of physics 101 than foretold in the bible.

  7. why are humans the only onles who decided to loose all their fur, then make clothes? was this an evolutionary move upwards?
    why are primates the only ones who evolved into such a higher life form – if it is indeed a higher form? why did not the birds, the sea life, or any of the reptiles?
    where did the concept of God, morality, and ethics come from? what other species worships something they cant see?
    why do humans choose to abort healthy offspring?

    not trying to be snarky. real questions.
    k☼

    • 1. why are humans the only onles who decided to loose all their fur, then make clothes? was this an evolutionary move upwards?
      A: I don’t think you understand evolution. Evolution is never a “decision”. Let me give you an example: there is a species of fish that live in a river. the population splits off into two, one in a pond, the other in a fast-moving stream. One of the fishes in the pond, through a random genetic mutation develops brown scales, while the rest naturally have red scales. Because it blends in more, it has a greater chance of surviving (since it can better avoid predators), and reproduces more often since it lives longer. The descendants also have brown scales, and also are more likely to evade predation than the red fish. The red fish, on the other hand, are easy to pick out and face brutal predation. Their numbers shrink. Eventually, the whole pond species becomes brown, as more and more brown fish survive into reproductive age and have successful offspring. On the other hand, the species in the river develops a more streamlined body. This increases their chance of surviving and having offspring with the same trait since they are better suited to their fast-moving environment. This process is called natural selection. There isn’t a decision on the part of the fish. In fact, to one single fish living its life, it may not notice any change in the population. Natural selections happens over many generations. The same applies to humans. We lost our fur through multiple generations, most likely because the greater exposure to the sun allowed us to synthesize more vitamin D (that’s one of the theories). There is no upwards movement in evolution, it is simply based on who is more fit to survive. Note that if the pond in the example above turns red from algae or what have you, then the fish could eventually, over generations, turn back into a red color. For a real life example, check out the “peppered moth evolution” page on wiki.

      2.why are primates the only ones who evolved into such a higher life form – if it is indeed a higher form? why did not the birds, the sea life, or any of the reptiles?
      A: From a natural standpoint, higher life means a greater chance of survival. Although we are more intelligent, to say we are the highest on the ladder is, well, debatable. We have worse eyesight than certain species of shrimp, and have a shorter lifespan than some species of fish. Yet because our intelligence gave us an edge in natural selection, we managed to make it this far. That is not to say that no other organism could ever be as intelligent as us. Its just that no other species has evolved to be as intelligent as us thus far. Also, we have committed horrendous atrocities against one another in the name of skin color, religion, nationality, hate, etc. Higher life form? Well, we’re smart, but we’re not perfect.

      3. where did the concept of God, morality, and ethics come from? what other species worships something they cant see?
      A: Well, perhaps long ago we felt as if we wanted an explanation for natural occurrences (lightning, auroras, disease), so not knowing the scientific explanations for them, we came up with supernatural explanations instead. Honestly, religion is more of a cultural thing. Although on an interesting side note, one of Skinner’s psychological experiments on pigeons showed that they can be superstitious (wiki: B.F. Skinner, sub-entry “superstition in pigeons”). Morality and ethics could be explained by evolution. We developed empathy so we could work as communities and be more successful, thus being more likely to spread our genes. We wouldn’t be too successful without our concepts of ethics, so natural selections would, to a point, select against sociopathic behaviors. If you don’t believe that human behavior can be affected by genes, take in note that individuals who cannot or have trouble secreting the hormone oxytocin usually display sociopathy (more info on wiki, I would give links but I don’t know if the website would accept them).

      4. why do humans choose to abort healthy offspring?
      A: Some women were raped, others feel as if they are too young and don’t have the resources nor experience to raise a child, yet would not put them up for adoption for fear that they will end up in an abusive household. This is a pretty deep issue, I’m not exactly sure where you are going with this. The Guttmacher institute website has some pretty good info on abortion, abortion rates, etc. if you want more facts.

      Hope I answered your questions :) Sorry if it’s a bit lengthy

    • Hello again silverylizard. We didn’t decide to lose our fur, chances are it was due to the different climates to which we were exposed. Clothes are much better for dealing with variable climates. Who says primates are the most evolved? That’s your bias and imperfect knowledge. Evolution doesn’t have an ultimate species, only species that adapt to whatever environment they’re stuck in. For whatever reason we grew large brains and self-awareness is a product of that environment. One can only assume that a God concept was developed to help us understand what is not currently known so we can get on with our survival. Morality and ethics probably came from fact that we work better as a social group than as loners. A group of humans cannot survive without some concepts of rules and order. We have no idea if other species have the ability to worship. There have been instances where some primates “behave” like they have some concept of something greater than themselves.

      As to your last question, there are a number of different reasons why a person would get an abortion. Lack of ability to survive either financially, physically, or mentally come to mind. These may seem like inadequate reasons to you, but to the person getting the abortion they are things most likely not considered lightly. It’s complicated, but society, I can only speak for the USA, can create untenable situations for anyone. We look down at those who want abortion and look down upon those who have kids and are poor.
      There are a myriad of reasons why a person may choose abortion, just because you don’t think there are reasons for it doesn’t mean others can’t have equally valid and important issues for abortion.

  8. I’ll bite.

    1. Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

    The observable universe? Probably. We don’t know for certain what that cause was yet, but we are working on it.

    There are two major problems with this question:

    First, you’re referencing the “god of the gaps” argument. This is an untenable position because nearly everything which was once attributed to god (disease, weather, etc.) has now been found to have natural causes (or to not actually happen). The once-vast realm of things which were attributed to god has now shrunk to only two, the origin of the universe, and abiogenesis, and we are actively working on both of those and have a number of decent ideas for each.

    Second, attributing the origin of the universe to a god only begs the question “then what caused god?” If you then try to say that god does not require a creator, you are engaging in the logical fallacy of special pleading, in which an attribute is applied to one thing but not another (in this case, the requirement that a thing have a creator is applied to the universe, but not to god).

    2. Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

    Unknown. It’s possible that quantum mechanics only seems probabilistic to us because we don’t yet understand its’ underlying principles.

    3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

    You’re approaching this from the wrong direction. The fact that we are here and able to observe that the universe is able to support life is predicated on a universe which is able to support life.

    Consider a system in which an infinite number of universes with randomized fundamental rules are created. Some of these – perhaps only a very few – will be able to support life. Only those few universes which are able to support life will have inhabitants who are able to marvel that their universe is finely tuned just for them.

    4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

    Because the fundamental forces of the universe are based on predictable rules.

    Also, you are presupposing that the human mind is in fact naturally fluent in the language of mathematics. Considering that we find it necessary to educate every member of our society in mathematics, and that very few people actually learn mathematics beyond basic arithmetic, this may not actually be the case.

    5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

    Yes.

    Because these mechanisms have had billions of years to evolve, while we have only known that they even existed for a few decades. We have not yet developed the technology to work with such complex things on such a small scale.

    (But when we do, you had better believe we’ll get right to improving ourselves. There are over 4000 known genetic diseases that need curing)

    6. Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

    The concept of free will is meaningless philosophical drivel. Whether our brains run on purely deterministic electrical and chemical processes, or whether there is a magical “free will” particle that interferes with the process, what is clear is that what we perceive as our “self” is a system for making decisions. If one such system makes decisions which are detrimental to society as a whole, or to another individual, the ethical course of action is to stop the system from performing the action which has a negative impact.

    7. Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

    No, but there is something we call universal morality — things which are considered immoral in most or all societies – murder, for example – and things which are considered virtuous in most or all societies – self-sacrifice for the good of society at large, for example.

    What we find is that all behaviors which are universally moral or immoral are those which impact the health of a society. This suggests that universal morality is evolutionary: As a social species, we live in groups. Groups in which individuals follow what we now call “moral” behavior – sharing resources, not killing each other – are more likely to survive and prosper than ones in which more members exhibit immoral behavior. Thus, morality is evolutionarily selected for. This is supported by the observation of universal morality in other social species (which have no concept of religion).

    8. In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

    This is a difficult question. There are many ways in which the value of human life could be quantified – it could be based on value to society, for example, or uniqueness – but pretty much all of them end up feeling unfair when taken to logical extremes.

    9. Much attention has been given to alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

    It has been observed that the less healthy a society is, the more religious it is. Third world hellholes are invariable completely religious, and not infrequently theocracies, while religion dies out in highly developed socialist states.

    My suspicion is that religion is a factor of uncertainty. When life is dangerous, violent, and short, it is a great relief to have a higher authority which can be appealed to. When the life is safe and certain, the need for the higher authority no longer exists and religion dies out.

    10. Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity. If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

    Probably net positive, in the very long term. My suspicion is that religion is a stabilizing force, by virtue of providing a higher-than-human authority which can be invoked.

    This can be a good thing in unstable societies, but it’s a two-edged sword. People begin to view change as being against god, which makes it hard for a society to progress. Thus, religion is always on the wrong side of civil rights issues, fights science, etc.

    Evidence for the stabilizing influence of religion can be observed in communes. Many were formed in the 60s. Many were freethinker types, but some where highly religious and authoritarian. The freethinkers mostly fell apart quickly, but religious communes lasted longer.

    11. Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

    Yes. When our social groups were small and the world was dangerous, preserving the lives of members was important to the health and continuation of the group, and so was evolutionarily selected for. This assumes that the average incidence of success was more than 50%, leading to a net positive in the numbers of people saved, but if it were less than 50% it could also be explained as a maladaptation linked to other group behaviors which were net positives.

    12. How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

    This is impossible because of the contradictory god and rules presented by the bible. Attempts to follow those rules and rectify the discrepancies with human morality and with the bible itself have resulted in christianity splintering into more than 30,000 denominations, so we can conclude that it’s not possible to arrive at an actual “correct” way to be christian.

    Questions answered, there are larger problems with this post:

    First, rather than providing evidence for the existence of your god, you are trying to ask difficult questions and hoping that the reader will fill in the gaps in their understanding with “god”. This approach is not useful against atheists, because to us “I don’t know” is not an answer, but a question. We aren’t satisfied with not understanding the world, so gaps in our understanding represent an opportunity to learn, rather than being filled by a default explanation which tells us nothing.

    Second, even if someone did come to the conclusion that one or more of the questions could only be answered by filling in a supernatural force, you have given us no reason to suspect that that force must be the god of Christianity, rather than any other of the thousands of gods which have existed throughout human history.

    I know you asked Christians to provide questions rather than atheists, but if you’re looking for more you could try this page: http://iloveatheists.com/top_100/challenge_category/Questions%20for%20Atheists/challenge_answer/288

    Fair warning though, I found none of those any more convincing than the questions you ask here.

  9. Some of these obviously involve multiple questions…

    1. Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

    Did it have a begining? If it did, how could we know what caused it? Perhaps the universe is just in a stage inbetween reincarnations of the continuously creating and destroying Lord Shiva? Maybe it was created by a different dimentional LHC?

    2. Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

    I’m not that knowledgeable on quantum mechanics to be honest.

    3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

    I blame Canada. And perhaps there is a reason that we aren’t aware of for all those constants being the way they are. Early 21st century Scientists barely know shit.

    4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

    Evolution! And not all humans are as good with math as others.

    5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

    I don’t think theyre better explained than by saying “this god did it” rather than “Shiva did it” or Ancient Aliens did it.

    6. Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

    Not really, I think our conciousness is a result of a massive amount of processor power in a way more than binary computer system. Free will is basically being able to process information in our heads, and I can definitely do that. I don’t think our minds aren’t as logically pure as people seem to think though, given things like confirmation biased and tribalism. I think we will understand conciousness much better as computer science grows in knowledge.

    7. Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

    I think that morality is basically a human construct in an amoral world. That being said, most humans have built in empathy, so I think our morality should be based on that. Religious definitions of morality are nothing more than opinions too, look at the Dalits in India.

    8. In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

    I would say a human life transends value. Or maybe somewhere around three fiddy.

    9. Much attention has been given to alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

    Sure, humanity has massive amounts of cognitive biases in alot of ways, affecting everything from religion to politics to social rituals. Nothing is immune from this, save impersonal things such as math perhaps.

    10. Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity. If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

    Define religion. Christianity/judaism/islam has had a massive net negative effect on humanity imo.

    11. Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

    It all depends on the risk involved. a little risk to save someone from certain death? yeah. Almost certain death to save someone who is probably going to be fine? No.

    12. How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

    If it became 100% clear, I would be like lol ok and be non-literal-bible christian. I seriously doubt this would happen though.

    All these questions are seriously easy to answer.

  10. The one question that really spoke to me was question 4.

    4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

    I’m not ragging on these people, but go sit in a community college pre-algebra class, then come back to me and tell me how “fluent” the human mind is in mathematics. I’m having to remind chemistry classmates (all of whom have passed algebra) how percentages work. I flatly reject the premise of inherent and overall human fluency in mathematics.

  11. Pingback: Neil Shenvi on Quantum Mechanics and Materialism | Well Spent Journey

  12. Interesting reactions to your post though. I didn’t expect to see 12 of the greatest questions facing academia today (apart from 10 and 12 perhaps) described so casually as being ‘easy to answer.’
    Take that Oxford and Harvard.

  13. 1. Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

    The only mechanism we are currently aware of that accounts for ex nihilo creation–both empirically and philosophically–is acausal. Lawrence Krauss’ work covers this in about as much detail as humans currently have. It’s not a certainty, but it’s a solid contender (especially when you consider the God hypothesis doesn’t really make sense: http://wp.me/p1AzQ4-9K).

    2. Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

    Yes. Macro-objects behave is statistically deterministic fashion, as dictated by quantum mechanics.

    3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

    String theory, anthropic principle, multiverse, Lee Smolin…

    4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

    The human mind is not naturally fluent in mathematics, I know plenty of people that can’t do anything about multiplication functions. Maths is, by necessity, an incomplete discipline (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%B6del's_incompleteness_theorems). It tracks the universe with accuracy because the methods used are devised from science that was designed to track reality.

    5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

    I think all of the evidence points towards evolution having happened and not having a guide. Evolution by natural selection is a massive self-correcting system that has been going on for billions of years with a massive series of subsets to work with. The fact we can’t replicate that in a century is a disappointment to you?

    6. Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

    Yes. Yes. Yes.

    7. Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

    Objective morality exists. It is objective because it can be empirically measured. The thing you measure is the changes in the wellbeing of all humans involved (The Moral Landscape, Sam Harris).

    8. In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

    I’ve not given this much thought before, I’ve treated the value of life as a given–not that that matters, I don’t have to be able to account for every philosophical question you have, I’m yet to find a theist that can answer all of my questions and they see that as no challenge to their belief.. However, I think experience is the most valuable commodity in the universe, so it is a being capacity to experience that determines it’s value

    9. Much attention has been given to alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

    For some people this may be true. However, I was an atheist long before I thought a secular reality was preferable; I was an atheist when I still thought of God as a loving Father that loves and protects me and promises me Heaven. I was an atheist before “wishful thinking” could play a role.

    10. Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity. If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

    Death, war, bigotry, hatred, conflict and social tension Vs a warm fuzzy feeling and community. This is before we attempt factor in for specific religions–Catholicism comes to mind, so does Islam–for their contribution to misogyny, disease, AIDS, suppression of right and autonomy and desire to incite fear. Although the debate is still open, my money is on “net negative effect”. In evolutionary terms, religion works on the individual level: it’s a tool for initiating wars (and this acquiring land and spreading your own message); it’s a tool for obedience (don’t forget that the average advice from an older, like don’t poke the snake, is good advice. So obedience to the leader can be an evolved trait); it’s a tool for ‘knowing’ in the face of ignorance, something our psychology kind of demands from us).

    11. Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

    No. Is it right? Depends wholly on the situation. Will you definitely save the person? What are your odds of dying? Is their life definitely about to end, or merely ‘at risk’? How ‘at risk’?

    Trying, however, is a side effect of a few evolutionary traits that are, as a rule of thumb, useful: empathy, to consider your ability to be higher than it is…

    12. How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

    I would follow, I’d want my eternity in Heaven. If it was shown to me to be true, then I would believe and follow. The hardest part would be to convince myself that the God of the Bible, and the God in charge of our human life, is a Being deserving of my worship. He’s certainly powerful, but He is a vengeful, homophobic, misogynistic, aggressive and violent God. That would be hard. I could not believe that God was “all loving” just because Jesus was His son.

  14. Pingback: Twelve Questions to Ask an Atheist: The Responses | Well Spent Journey

  15. Pingback: Twelve Questions to Ask an Atheist: The Responses–A Reblog | catholicboyrichard

  16. How did language evolve? If the ability to use sounds to represent objects, and later abstractions, had its genesis as a random mutation in a single individual, how could it possibly have resulted in a significant survival advantage for that individual? I mean, you have to have a person who understands language in order for the use of language to bestow any particular benefit.

    Is there a mechanism in materialistic evolutionary theories that allows for a “group mutation” that would allow language to emerge spontaneously within a group, giving that group a distinct advantage vis-a-vis other groups that lacked this ability.
    Maybe like a virus that infected one tribe and left another alone, and managed to alter the DNA of that group alone.

    It’s a tough problem. Language poses a lot of tough problems. Basically, it is how we recognize the existence of other deliberative minds.

  17. Pingback: Answering some questions posed to athiests | The Heretical Philosopher

  18. Pingback: Ten Questions to Ask a Christian: My Responses | Well Spent Journey

  19. Pingback: Answering the Well Spent Journey Atheist Questionnaire | The BitterSweet End

  20. Wow, you really got some good dialog going on here. Lewis’ Mere Christianity speaks clearly to many, but like all human communication, not to all. It’s wonderful that God uses so many different types of disciples to share the good news, so that more men and women might find like and meaning in Christ.

    • “Mere Christianity” is definitely one of my favorites. My wife and I have lent it out to quite a few of our friends and family now.

  21. 1. We don’t know yet.

    2. I don’t think so, which is why I don’t hold to it.

    3. There’s actually a fair range in which stars, planets, and life as we know it could exist, and we don’t know about other potential forms of “life”. Plus, since we don’t know how all of those parameters, fit together, we don’t know what ranges are actually possible.

    4. I think a more important question is ‘what does fluency in mathematics require?’, and we’d need an answer to that to make solid conclusions. But I think that part of it may simply be that we evolved to have adaptable brains.

    As to why mathematics can describe the laws of nature, I’m not really sure how you’d expect it not to. Anything can be given a value, and those values can be related to each other.

    5. I do. We haven’t been able to imitate it yet because they’ve been evolving for billions of years in an uncountable number of instances, and we’ve been at it for a few decades.

    6. It depends on what you mean by free will. As I said above, I don’t believe in determinism. However, I do think that our actions are constrained by our character and personality. Otherwise our characters and personalities would not exist in any meaningful sense.

    7. Systems of objective morality exist. However, I don’t think that they have a fundamental existence of their own. For example, I base my morality on the fact that dukkha is bad, and go from there, but I don’t think that this is written upon the universe in some fashion.

    8. I define it in the context of having a mind and the potential to use that mind. I would place the life of a child over that of any non-human animal (that I know of).

    9. I think we’re all subject to certain biases, and the goal should be to recognize them and minimize their effect on our decisions. As to whether they play a role in religious belief or non-belief, I think that would depend on the person.

    10. I’m not entirely certain. Given the myriad teachings even within an individual religion, I don’t think we can predict what would have happened if we just took it out. However, I do think that blind adherence to dogma has been a negative influence on humanity, and I think we’re outgrowing it.

    11. Generally, yes.

    12. I’m not sure I would. It would depend greatly on factors such as which version of hell were true.

  22. Pingback: Atheist Survey Results (n=23) | Well Spent Journey

  23. Q: 1. Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

    A: yes, of course, though if this “beginning” needed a cause, then was it really THE begining? In some sense, yes, in others no. What really irritates my about most theists is this mentality that god as an explanation or beginning is the “one true beginning” or that it solves the dillema to the beginning of creation, time, and existence completely. Their is a serious flaw in that way of thinking, that the general populac believe that their can be no other origin explanation to creation, existence, and time itself, other than god. I personally think that it is probable that the big bang was a “beginning” to the universe, if universe for a moment means “the way our universe is now”, but what caused the big bang, I don’t know Now let’s look back at god as an explanation as a true beginning, it is logically fallacious to think that their is no other origin explanation that can replace god as an explanation, the reasoning behind this being that our ONLY evidence based explanation gets questioned with the very question “where did that come from?”, but the question “where did god come from?” gets ignored so easily, or easily dismissed, but if we face the fact that the questions application to god is just as valid, then anything of the imagination is as much of a “true origin explanation” as god, including the big bang (which is actually evidence based). Not that one can only accept one of these but hell, every “explanation” we can imagine COULD all be true as a part of the “infinite creation chain”,r none of them and the infinite creation chain uses noxplanation that we have ever been capable of imagining The truth is we can’t imagine a true origin, the very notion of a cause needing no cause at all is incomprehensible to human imagination. For all we know there may be a true cause but unlike god as an explanation it may be something that somehow requires no cause at all, meaning it would be beyond our imagination, meaning no human being should be capable of even suggesting it completely out of the blue. The justification for the belief in god as being that god cannot be replaced by any other explanation has two major flaws. one: being that there is a “true origin” (cause requiring no cause). Two: being that god matches the requirements necessary for “a true origin”. Now if we were to once again compare all possible origins the big bang would have the biggest advantage of the backing of evidence, god would have the advantage within the realm of pure imagination as being one of the most purely simplistic as the only necessity for a god may be , being a cause and being conscious, a simpler imagined origin would be, simply being a cause, which would be equal to the statement of something created the universe, which I definitely agree with on the basis of common sense.

    Q: 2. Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

    A: To be honest, I do have an interest in becoming educated on physics, 19 years old, and only one physics class, and have only tooken personal initiative at understanding common knowledge of theories in theoretical physics and gravity on for the most part a purely conceptual level. I am afraid I may not be educated enough to give a satisfactory answer to this question. However whenever god has been intertwined philosophically, with various fields of study, it turns out to be more or less forced, (for example, how could all the conditions for life on earth be without god? When in reality, looking at the vastness of the universe, that becomes as foolish of a question as rolling a six sided die , with 5 sides being 6 and one side being 1,100 tmes and the 77th time being 1 and going “omg. There was a 5/6th chance of it being anythingelse other than 1, which was only 1/6th chance, how is that possible?) I have my doubts on this being much of a releveant question, to the existence of god other than being mental jumping jacks invented by defensive theists. Since that seems to me tbe the case most of the time.

    Q: 3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

    A: That is like asking the question “how do you account for the fact that seeds are perfectly equipped creating trees?” Now like I said I am not educated in physics, so I woun’t be surprised I’m mistakn, but I believe your queon being that these facts all being responsible for how are stars, planets, and life exists,means that they MUST have been DESIGNED that way, because that is what they do. The logical error being that just because something does something, or is the cause of something doesn’t mean that it was intentional. In fact, I can design something, that does something I didn’t intend for it to do, but it does it, so how do you account for how it is able to do that? It is pressuming that EVERYTHING is intentional, for what reason? Even if you go Along with the assumption that everything requires intention, thus requiring a creator, then what is the intention of god? Also, the hypothetical shows how something can have an accidental function, and to say it was just gods function of it, and holding the mentality that every function of everything is intended by god is suggesting god is flawless, which is odd considering that our universe seems to be 99% lethal…

    Q: 4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

    A: This is an incredibly moronic question with all due respect. Mathematics didn’t just appear out of nature was carved in by nature in a mountain or something……… We invented mathematics to communicate the purest form of logic… This is like asking how a cup is so perfectly designed to drink from… Because that was the intention of its design. And we create new types of mathematics to apply differently to different studies, thus the math behind the laws of nature were intentionally designed to communicate the laws of nature. It allows us to literally write our purest logic in a language to look at in a physical form so it could be more easily shared amongst people.

    Q: 5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

    A: hopefully I understand your question correctly, because everything being apart if nature, doesn’t automatically make it easy as pie to imitate, that would make us like gods. We don’t have a perfect understanding of anything and our understanding of everything starts off VERY faulty and improves in time, natural and simple aren’t synonymous, they merely have not obtained a good enough understanding to imitate this nature technologically.

    Q: 6. Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

    A: as a bit of a secular deterministic I think we have “free will” in some sense, but that it is limited. Our decisions are based on who we are, our decision over who we are is based on who we are before we make those decisions, thus we don’t have full control over who we are, thus our decisions are controlled by who are making us not truly having free will. That is only because our will being dependent on ourselves makes it not truly free, and if we made it independent it would have a different cause making it not truly free. We still however can make decisions.

    Q: 7. Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

    A: No and yes, (though I wouldn’t use the words social fad) and that also means that my opinion that murderers, rapists, etc should be punished to keep them from doing those things don’t have to be objectively justified either. To further the point that the moral opinion that murderers, etc should be jailed wrong, because those things aren’t inherently evil is moot after pointing out that all moral arguments are just differences of opinion. It all comes down to this, I prefer the well being of sentient life to be improved rather than deturred for emotional reasons, just like how I will eat candy because the deliciousness of the candy, even though the deliciousness of the candy is completely subjective.

    Q: 8. In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

    A: I consider all sentient life equally valid, however for evolutionary reasons I feel more compassion for humans than animals, and babies to adults. People I care about to strangers, however this is not a determination of worth but of care, I value sentient life somewhat separately from what I intimately care about, which ties into fairss which ironically ties into selfishness.

    Q: 9. Much attention has been givento alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

    A: what makes you think for a second that we don’t want god to exist? Any moron withalf a brain contemplating on an all loving, powerful, all knowing god wouldn’t be against this god existing. I don’t see how any person can claim to have intelligence while humoring the thought that all us atheists really don’t want some sort of god that would ultimately benefit us from existing. Why would we so desperately want an all powerful being that could make us ultimately happy from existig? Some gods… Like the homophobi od, or sexist god, thatpeople believe, I can see why you would think that, but their is a concept of god that is ONLY beneficial for everybody.

    Q: 10. Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity? If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

    I confess, I am an anti-theist, that to me doesn’t mean to be something similar to racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. My anti-theism is to theism, as my democratic view is to republicanism, or my nihilistic view is to opposing philosophies. I am on an intellectual level against theism, or that I disagree with it as a determination of reality, furthermore that I hold the view that religion in the long run is bad for humanity. I do not think of theists as inferior, I do not want to illegalize belief, I do not approve of genocide, and respect everyone as a human being regardless of their stance on the existence of god. Just like how me being a democrat doesn’t change the fact that I respect republicans as human beings. Now my answer to the question is negative, I will admit religion has done both good and bad, but I think something that is overlooked is it is not only about all the good v.s. all the bad, but how exactly religion effects morality. Now as a moral nihilist, I see morality as something completely subjective, I still have morals and are against certain morals to the point I want them discouraged in society by, yes, a difference of opinion. The person who kills for the fun of it, I have difference of opinion towards his behaviors with him. It all comes back to ne having a chocolate bar because, I have the OPINION that chocolate is delicious. To say that I am morally wrong to be against moralities because there is no such thing as a right morality is being against a moral of mine which is hypocritical… Morality is separate from objective reality, its not like humanities shared disapproval for murder has a physical being… Get used to it. Now most reasonable people don’t want to live in a society that approves of murder cause they dont want to be murdered and most people don’t want to see another person murdered, so because we don’t like murder so much we make a law against it. Now we critique our moralities to be beneficial to humanity in general, through a shared desire of rights, of which are consistent so it is stronger. Critical morality has gotten to the point of, if it negatively effects people iit is bad, if positively effects people it is good. I prefer a world like this, I bet you agree, unless you have been taught otherwise. However when morality becomes more about what god approves of or disapprove of, then “bad” morals and “good” morals get put on more equal grounding. In other words in the considerations of ethics (out of personal interest of which we have evolved to have), good and bad have been quite concretely defined, in the considerations of religion it because nobody can prove their claims morality becomes delusional and it becomes a grounds of “anything goes”. Now as far as evolution goes, religion may cause us to be delusional with our morals, it does strongly motivate morality, just not always good morality in my opinion. also causes us to conform, so I suspect that religion played a role in getting our governments started but, as we became more civilized morality became more about compassion and what’s fair, and ethical and less about what will you be rewarded or punished for, though it still play a big part. We have evolved to naturally have a conformed morality in relative to ancient times without religion, this might have been started by religion, now we have developed to take the good out of religious morality, we still cling to the bad of religious morality and it now holds us back. Also all the attached beliefs that we get the feelings of beingg threatened whenever we discover something that we feel challenges our beliefs has halted science.

    Q: 11. Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

    A: depends on my morals or feelings on that matter, in a realm of subjectivity, yes it can be. If subjectivity is irrational, then it is irrational to care about my own life, and irrational to eat candy cause of the deliciousness.

    Q: 12. How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

    A: depends upon the interpretation.

  24. Every single question, seems like it was written to attempt an act of esoteric pondering. Each implying some form of difficult question for a group of atheists to answer, when they are fairly simple questions, usually dealing with subjection and objection, a view of morality instead of the existence of a higher power.

    They all requirer fairly little effort to answer, even if a lot of them require futher elaboration to even attempt to answer. So to recap the questions are more about the person asking, than the actual answer. So this isn’t towards atheists, this is reassurance for those with faith to rest easy thinking that atheists would find these difficult to answer since they probably can’t themselves, and if atheists can’t answer it, that somehow validates their presumption of God.

    But I love this “waiting for moderation” nothing says “person of faith” like censoring free speech XD

    • 1. I go on to explain the purpose of this list in the accompanying “responses” post.

      2. I moderate comments because, shocking as it may seem, atheists like to spam this site, send threats & insults, etc. I do apologize for the delay, though. I have very spotty internet this month. My rule is: I basically approve anything that isn’t overtly profane or threatening.

      3. Just as your “right to assembly” doesn’t include the right to throw a party in my backyard, neither does your “right to free speech” include the right to say anything you want on my private blog. I like to think that I am pretty accomodating though.

      Cheers. :)

  25. two points, if you pick up a rock, whether it is 10,000 years old or a 100 million years old is irrelevant because your only here at max for “about a 100 years” ( if your lucky),

    2nd point, your soul is a bit like “a removable hard drive”, Jesus offers to save your removable hard drive “so to speak” – your soul – that’s a pretty good deal,

  26. American Athiest:

    1) Yes all things have a beginning, and ending as such is the rational nature of logical sequence. The beginning of our universe is the Big Bang Theory. Notice the word theory, we do not presume to know everything, we are content to claim only what can be proven.

    2) The comparison of physics with human nature is irrational, and speaks to the irrational nature of religion. I will not attempt to answer the irrational questions.

    3) The natural processes which came into existence after the universe was formed. As for why the laws of nature exist as they do, such is of ongoing scientific inquiry, and until then we are content with I don’t know, as stating a lie is worse, than admitting lack of knowledge.

    4) Since the mathematics are the sister to physics, and often times the presence of physics requires math to explain her principles, and physics uses mathematics to show hers, it is quite natural that the two be so good at explaining the other. As for why humans are naturally gifted at mathematics, thanks to evolution for creating the most advanced and intelligent species in the universe’s history.

    5) DNA processes are of a rational nature, but of such a complex nature that it requires time to understand them.

    6) Absolute free will is illusionary, as rationally speaking, you cannot do “anything” you want to do as your actions are at the very least limited by physics, and the mathematics. Within those bare minimum boundaries exists the realm of your will. As such punishment maybe doled out for going outside of those boundaries. However, in a practical sense, of course humans are restrained by moral and ethical perceptions as well as cultural and etc, so to imply that to go against boundaries is to be outside laws of nature is a fallacy, and an irrational counterargument. Ethics punishment still exists though, as when you go outside of the boundary.

    I feel the rest of the questions are your attempts to sound intelligent.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s