10 Questions For Atheists

On the internet there are many challenges posed by Christians to Atheists. Some are genuinely curious while others are unintelligent and offensive (take that stupid atheists!). Most are questions that Christians genuinely can’t see how Atheists can answer and are meant to open a debate or even attempt a conversion (some examples here, here, hereand here). So I decided to collect some of the better questions and answer them here. I have deliberatively omitted the worst questions (why are atheists evil? Is it because you worship the devil? If we came from monkeys why are there still monkeys?) In case you think I’m making that up there are some examples here and here. A downright offensive one here and a parody here . I have paraphrased the questions to make them as strong as possible. Interestingly, I have noticed that most questions are usually about evolution, implying their argument is with science not Atheism. I’m not going to repeat those questions here because evolution is a scientifically recognised fact beyond question and it only discredits Christians (most European ones have accepted evolution).

 1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?

This is usually a question out of curiosity rather than a challenge or a debate. Like most people in Ireland, I was raised a Catholic (not that I had a choice in the matter). I was an altar boy and I even went through a religious phase when I was about 13 where I would say a decade of the rosary every night before bed. Gradually I began to see Mass as a waste of time. It was boring and never seemed to have any relevance to anything. Also the Catholic Church is one of the most disreputable institutions in Ireland. It caused enormous damage to the country, promoted narrow minded sectarian stagnation and committed horrendous abuse. I stopped going to Mass when I was 16.

It was until I was 20 that I became an Atheist. Essentially, I set myself a logical challenge based on the problem of evil, lack of revelation and the absence of proof. I then decided that the only logical explanation was that there was no God. (This is a very short version. I discuss my loss of faith in full in another post, How I Became An Atheist).

2.       What happens when we die?

Nothing. That’s the short answer. This shouldn’t be shocking or disturbing, after all everything must end. Even the best book or film has an ending. Nothing can last forever, that’s what makes life so special. If it was eternal it would become meaningless and dull. When we die, that’s the end, we don’t feel or think anything. That’s why we cry at funerals.

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

Well then I’ll feel pretty stupid. Then again what if a Catholic dies and finds themselves in Lutheran heaven? Or Muslim heaven? Or finds that any one of the thousands of other religions that have existed is actually the correct one?

Honestly I’d also be pissed off and have a few words to say to God or Saint Peter. Why all the secrecy? Why did he hide? If he wanted to believe why didn’t he put any effort in it? Why did he not provide any evidence? Are you telling me the creator of the universe couldn’t do any better than a 2,000 year old book that is full of contradictory nonsense as well as violence, brutality and injustice? Was the Catholic Church really the best spokesmen for him? Imagine if I was to find out that God could have stopped the Holocaust or famine but didn’t? (This is basically Pascals Wager which I discuss here)

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

The same place everyone gets it from, their family, friends and society in general. No one actually gets their morality from the Bible. After all, the Bible says that homosexuals should be stoned to death. But not even the worse homophobe would argue that. Why not? If the Bible is the source of morality, then if the Bible says something it must be right. What about stoning adulters to death? Or executing a man because he collected sticks on the Sabbath? As an Atheist, I think all of these things are wrong and unjust, but if I took my morals from the Bible I must conclude that they were right and just. Clearly no one actually bases their morals on the Bible.

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

This question suggests that the only reason you don’t murder and rape is because God is watching you, but if he turned his back you would do it. This implies you have little morals or conscience. I once heard that character is what you do when no one is looking. If the only reason you don’t steal is because you’re afraid of punishment, then you’re little better than an actual thief. Likewise if you only do good because you want to be rewarded then you are fake. Being a good person means doing the right thing not because you will be rewarded, but because it is the right thing.

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

Since when was God the only reason for living? What sort of miserable empty life do you have if God is the only meaning in your life? What about your family, friends, career, hobbies? If God is the only meaning for existence then shouldn’t we all become monks and spend our lives living in a cave and praying the God? (I can’t possibly imagine a worse life)

What’s my meaning in life? Be a good person, enjoy myself and help others. These may not be the most amazing reasons, but I can hardly be blamed for not knowing the meaning of life. One thing I am sure of, the reason for life lies in other people.

7.       Where did the universe come from?

This is one of the most common Christian arguments, but proves very little. All they are saying really is “I don’t know what created the universe, so I’m going to presume it’s God.” At least scientists are trying to find an answer by doing tests and experiments, whereas religious people base their argument on ignorance of facts and winning by default.

Even if God created the universe, this proves incredibly little. It doesn’t mean the God of your religion is real nor that he can hear your prayers. It doesn’t prove that there is an afterlife. It doesn’t even prove God’s existence, because he could have created the universe and then died. (I discuss this in full in God and the Creation of the Universe).

8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?

What about those who claim to have seen ghosts or aliens? We don’t take these people seriously so why should we take those who claim to have witnessed miracles. Why are so many magicians Atheists? Because they know how easy it is to trick people into thinking they saw things that didn’t happen. Tricks of the light and the power of suggestion can make people believe in magic. Likewise with miracles. Ever noticed that appearances of saints were very common up until the invention of the camera, whereupon they died out? Or that miracles always happen among uneducated religious people? Why do they always appear to the converted? How come Muhammad has never appeared before Catholics and Mary never shows herself to Protestants? Isn’t it awful convenient that Hindu Gods only appear before Hindus?

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

Christians seem to think that these guys are the holy trinity of Atheism and that we all love them. Honestly, I think they get more attention than they deserve. Sure they’re good, but they’re not that great and I leave the hero worship to religions. I became an Atheist before I even read anything by these three (though I did watch a lot of Hitchens videos). When I did I wasn’t hugely impressed. Hitchens is my favourite and a great debater, but he’s more of scrapper, better at crushing an opponents argument than convincing them. Dawkins is very intelligent and the God Delusion is probably the best thought out of the three, but he can often come across as arrogant and condescending. I found Harris quite poor and The End Of Faith frankly dreadful. It lacked focus and was prone to obscure philosophical digressions and lumped all religious people together as though they were all the Taliban.

I leave the uncritical devotion to religion.

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

Religion served an original purpose. Thousands of years ago, scientific knowledge was non-existent. People longed for answers about the world and so they created religion. To every hard question religion was the answer. Where does thunder come from? Why do the crops grow sometimes of the year but not others? Why do people get sick? God(s), angels and demons became the answer. As science advances and finds the real reasons for this things, religion has declined.

Religion provides a second service, that of comfort. People grieve at funerals and religion provides comfort that the deceased aren’t suffering or in pain, but actually enjoying themselves. Likewise, there are many dangers in the world and religion provides the comfort in the belief that you and your loved ones will be protected from harm. Parents always pray that their children will be safe.

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So those are my 10 Atheist questions and my answers. What do you think of them? Too soft , too hard? Were they good challenges? What other questions have you been asked? What are your answers? If any Christians read this, what questions would you ask an Atheist? Seeing as I answered questions today, I think I’ll follow up with 10 Questions For Christians.

Update: A Christian website has reposted these questions but without any of the answers and claiming that Atheists cannot answer them (despite the fact that I have). There is a good Reddit discussion where dozens of Atheists give their answers to the questions.

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71 Comments

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71 responses to “10 Questions For Atheists

  1. Good post, I enjoyed it. I’ve been asked most of these myself at one point or another. It’s always nice when theists have honest questions. My personal favorite is the “without god what meaning does your life have?” question. Though the “what stops me from raping and murdering as much as I want?” one is good too. i like Penn Gillette’s answer to that myself ” Nothing. I do rape and murder as much as I want, which is not at all.” (paraphrased for brevity’s sake) Thanks for the post..

    • veggiedude

      “What happens when we die?”

      We become non-existent. The same form we were in before we were born. Why are religious people willing to accept one and not the other? That confounds me. And that is why I’m not afraid of death.

      “Without God, where do you get your morality from?”

      This question confounds me too. I do not eat animals because I feel it is immoral. What does that have to do with a god? The fact that most religious people eat animals make me wonder about THEIR morality.

  2. FauxCapitalist

    Hi Robert. It’s great to see your posts questioning Christianity and the Bible. I think you’d really enjoy Charles Giuliani’s “Truth Hertz” shows. He’s a former Christian pastor who realized the Bible didn’t stand up to scrutiny and regularly does shows exposing it.

    http://www.oraclebroadcasting.com/archives.php?who=Truth_Hertz

    I guest hosted his show on January 1, critically analyzing common biblical doctrines.

    Cheers,

    Jason

  3. Are you sure that creastionsciencestudy blog is genuine? It just seems to ridiculous not to be a parody site.

  4. Interesting post, interesting questions.
    I don’t think they were too hard besides I have come to the conclusion there are questions that are not answerable definitely for example where did the universe come from?.

  5. ittecon

    Hey Mate,

    Yeah, these are standard faire questions to atheists. There are other concepts such as the God Part of the Brain. Experiments have been conducted where innervating a part of the brain can make a person more or less “spiritual.” I presume this God Part had some evolutionary funtion, but its time has long since passed.

  6. Well done, sir, well done!

  7. Nicely pieced together! I suffer instant boredom answering such questions.

  8. A very thoughtful set of replies. I’ll admit to a bit too much fondness for Christopher Hitchens, though I will say that my love of his writing and argumentation style began with his case for the Parthenon marbles and his work on Orwell. It was only then that I branched out to his writing on religion and atheism. I never have read his book on Mother Theresa, as I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll find. I love his journalism and admire his writing style and voice.
    I can respect the work of Dawkins while thinking very little of him personally and condemning him when he (as he too often does) says something rather disgusting.
    The larger issue your post raises is something that I am struggling with quite a lot these days – can we find a way to forge common ground and build conversations with those whose ideals and ideas are so counter to our own? Your choice, to respond in good faith with thoughtful answers, is one I commend you for, and it’s inspired me to think the questions over myself.

  9. GM

    1. How Did You Become a Libertarian?

    This is usually a question out of curiosity rather than a challenge or a debate. Like most people in Ireland, I was raised a statist (not that I had a choice in the matter). I went to a public school and when I was about 13 I even went through a phase when I thought that there would be no schools if the government didn’t exist. Gradually I began to see statism as a waste of time. It was stupid and never seemed to have any real answers for anything. Also, the government is one of the most disreputable institutions in Ireland. It caused enormous damage to the country, promoted narrow minded economic stagnation, and committed horrendous abuse. I stopped going to political meetings when I was 16.

    It wasn’t until I was 20 that I became a Libertarian. Essentially, I set myself a logical challenge based on the problem of economic scarcity, lack of perfect information, and the absence of proof. I then decided that the only logical explanation was that there was no need for the government.

    2. What happens when we abolish the government?

    Nothing. That’s the short answer. This shouldn’t be shocking or disturbing, after all everything must end. Even the best business or charity has an ending. Nothing can last forever, that’s what makes a free economy so dynamic. If it was eternal it would just be a permanent monopoly. When we abolish the government, it simply goes away and society carries on. That’s why statists cry when they think about this.

    3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a need for government?

    Well then I’ll feel pretty stupid. Then again what if a socialist ends up finding out that fascism is correct? Or theocracy? Or finds that any one of the thousands of other theories of government that have existed is actually the correct one?

    4. Without the State, where do you get rights from?

    The same place everyone gets rights from, their family, friends and society in general. No one actually gets rights from the government. After all, the government says that people who commit non-violent crimes should be locked up in prison. But not even the worst person would want to actually put their friend in prison for a non-violent crime. Why not? If the government is the source of rights, then if the government says something it must be right. What about locking up people who take recreational drugs? Or killing innocent people who are colleteral damage in an unjust war? As a normal person, I think all of these things are wrong and unjust, but if I took my morals from the government I must conclude that they were right and just. Clearly no one in their right mind actually bases their morals on the government.

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

    This question suggests that the only reason you don’t murder and rape is because the government is watching you, but if they turned their back you would do it. This implies you have little morals or conscience. I once heard that character is what you do when no one is looking. If the only reason you don’t steal is because you’re afraid of punishment, then you’re little better than an actual thief. Likewise if you only do good because you want to be rewarded then you are fake. Being a good person means doing the right thing not because you will be rewarded, but because it is the right thing. Of course, there are plenty of ways by which crime will be punished and good deeds rewarded in a free society, which will be far more effective than what we have today.

    6. If there is no government, how does the economy have any purpose?

    Since when was government the only reason for doing anything? What sort of miserable empty economy do you imagine if the government is the only reason to do anything? What about your family, friends, career, hobbies? If the government is the only thing that provides direction to the economy, shouldn’t we all become public sector workers and spend our lives trying to live off the taxes of others?

    What’s the purpose of the economy? I can hardly be blamed for not knowing the answer to that.

    7. What about welfare? What about all the people who claim to need government jobs to live?

    Why do so many businessmen turn to politics? Because they know how easy it is to trick people into thinking they need things they don’t. The power of suggestion can make people believe in certain products and ideas. Likewise with the state.

    8. If there is no need for government, then why does every society have a state?

    The state served an original purpose. Hundreds of years ago, economic knowledge was non-existent. People longed for answers about the world and so they accepted statism. To every hard question, the government was the answer. Where does order come from? Why isn’t there enough food? Why is that other country richer than us? Tyrants and politicians gave easy answers. But as economics advances and finds the real reasons for these things, statism will decline.

    Statism provides a second service, that of comfort. People tire of inequality, and statism provides comfort that the poor aren’t merely helpless and weak, but instead are victims. Likewise, there are many dangers in the world and the government provides comfort in the belief that you and your loved ones will be protected from harm – never mind the fact that governments are themselves the greatest danger and cause of mass impoverishment in the world today.

    • I would start clapping but that might sound sarcastic. Either way, I’m impressed and did not see that coming. Good to hear from you again, I was wondering where you had gone. Some of the editing doesn’t quite work, but a lot of it is sheer genius. You almost made me rethink my statism, almost. 2,3 and 5 were particularly good.

      • GM

        Thanks for the compliments.

        I was an atheist by 16 and a libertarian by 20. I am helping you to catch up. ;)

        • I can’t believe there’s something we can agree on. This feels strange, can we go back to arguing? :) Ha, I’m taking a moment to discuss religion, but I plan to hit mainstream economics next week and then libertarianism the week after that. Be prepared.

          Out of curiosity, are you familiar with “The Machinery of Freedom” by David Freidman?

          • GM

            I’m prepared, although I may not have the time to reply to them. I’m sure they will be worth reading all the same.

            AIso, yes, I am familiar with Machinery.

  10. Robert, like you, I am an atheist in the sense that I do not believe in the existence of a supernatural being who created the universe, who is supremely powerful, wise and good, who loves me like a father and who, at the same time, would condemn me to eternal pain for rejecting him. I am an agnostic in the sense that I do not have a good understanding of the origins and nature of the universe, life, consciousness or the moral law.

    For me, atheism and agnosticism are starting points, not end points. A-theist means I am not a theist, a-gnostic means I do not claim ultimate knowledge.

    I don’t hang out with militant secular humanists because they are stuck on these things. I am interested in the next step. Granted that I have no faith in any revealed religion, what then is the meaning of life for me? By what principles should I guide my life? Why bother to live according to an ethical code? Do words such as “beauty,” “truth” or “goodness” have an objective meaning? Given that I am a product of a civilization based on the Christian religious tradition, what if anything is there in that tradition that is meaningful to me?

    I greatly like Bertrand Russell’s 1912 essay The Essence of Religion. Russell said that when you eliminate all the bigotry, superstition and unwarranted dogma, from religion, two things of value remain.

    One is a sense of being at one with the universe, with all its awesomeness, complexity and beauty and also its indifference to human life. Mystical experience seems to give a sense of unity and of acceptance. The other is what he called loyalty to the ideal good—in whatever way you may define the ideal good.

    The problem, according to Russell, is when you merge the two, when you affirm that the ideal good is the same as the universe as it actually exists. Then you run into the problem of evil, and wind up trying to justify the cruelty and injustice of the world.

  11. Even though I am an athiest, I have almost never been asked any of these questions, but this is probably because I live in a country were athiesm is the “norm” and it is when you are religious that people question you! but I definitely enjoyed reading this!

  12. Pingback: Just another atheist Questionaire | The BitterSweet End

  13. “How Did You Become an Atheist?”
    I was born that way.

    “What happens when we die?”
    Consciousness ends; body decomposes.

    “What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven?”
    The odds are pretty good that I wouldn’t be going there.

    “Without God, where do you get your morality from?”
    The need to live together in society.

    “If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?”
    Why would we want to murder and rape. No, we’re not free to do those things; they would land us in jail, and rightly so. Good deeds are rewarding in and of themselves.

    “If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?”
    I get to create my own meaning for life.

    “Where did the universe come from?”
    The prevailing model holds that space and time began with a singularity, which is a point of infinite density containing all matter and energy in the universe.

    “What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?”
    Without empirical verification of those claims, there’s no reason to believe them.

    “What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?”
    Admiration for having the courage to challenge taboos against criticizing religious beliefs.

    “If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?”
    False premise. The United States is an example of a secular society, without a religion.

  14. George

    Do you really think there is no design and purpose to human life ?
    Tell me how does human life come into existence apart from creation by the male seed fertilizing the female egg, Human life has always been created
    there is no missing link because it has never existed, Human life is created today it will be created tomorrow and as long as the earth remains it will be created, HUMAN CREATION IS A FACT that we see every single day with newborn please tell everyone another way human life comes into existence apart from creation. You may as well close the discussion now because you know there isn’t one and never has been.

    • Your argument is based on lack of knowledge and having God as default. In essence you are saying that you don’t know where life came from so you’re just going to presume it was God.

      PS Using capitals doesn’t make your argument any better.

    • DVD Bach

      So your argument is that human beings have design and purpose because they reproduce sexually? So what if they do? How does that imply design and purpose?

  15. So I have so many thoughts about what you wrote and decided to just copy your post and insert my thoughts. I apologize if it’s hard to read. I did it in Word in red and underlined but the comment box is limited.

    On the internet there are many challenges posed by Christians to Atheists. Some are genuinely curious (that’s me) while others are unintelligent and offensive (take that stupid atheists!) (I really don’t get that, you’re not stupid for being an atheist). Most are questions that Christians genuinely can’t see how Atheists can answer and are meant to open a debate or even attempt a conversion (some examples here, here, hereand here). So I decided to collect some of the better questions and answer them here (what a great idea). I have deliberatively omitted the worst questions (why are atheists evil? Is it because you worship the devil? If we came from monkeys why are there still monkeys?) (That’s terrible- not evil, devil’s irrelevant, nothing wrong with evolution if it is true). In case you think I’m making that up there are some examples here and here. A downright offensive one here and a parody here . I have paraphrased the questions to make them as strong as possible. Interestingly, I have noticed that most questions are usually about evolution, implying their argument is with science not Atheism (grits my teeth, myself being a scientist and a lover of science). I’m not going to repeat those questions here because evolution is a scientifically recognised fact (nope- theory, lots of good things to say it’s true but still a theory just as creationism is theory, but we don’t need to believe something just because it’s a proven fact, creation or evolution or aliens, brain in a vat, etc. anyone could believe these) beyond question and it only discredits Christians (most European ones have accepted evolution). (There was a time I was a Christian who believed in evolution- I now lean towards evolution but am aware there are still things there are problems with it)
    In my response to your questions, I offer an opinion and hope it in no way comes across as an attack. I realize by simply saying a view, it can come across as dismissive or rude or personal but I have none of these intentions. I see your point and value it and I’m just working through my own thoughts and sharing them. Your post is simply something for me to enjoy thinking about. Also let me say, I feel your pain in every criticism of Christianity- I go through it too and many of your thoughts I have and continue to wrestle with- but I absolutely love it and thank goodness God does too.
    1. How Did You Become an Atheist?
    This is usually a question out of curiosity rather than a challenge or a debate. Like most people in Ireland, I was raised a Catholic (not that I had a choice in the matter). I was an altar boy and I even went through a religious phase when I was about 13 where I would say a decade of the rosary every night before bed. Gradually I began to see Mass as a waste of time. It was boring and never seemed to have any relevance to anything. Also the Catholic Church is one of the most disreputable institutions in Ireland. It caused enormous damage to the country, promoted narrow minded sectarian stagnation and committed horrendous abuse. I stopped going to Mass when I was 16.
    It was until I was 20 that I became an Atheist. Essentially, I set myself a logical challenge based on the problem of evil (due to humans), lack of revelation (I doubt anyone can believe without revelation) and the absence of proof (no faith without proof, no salvation without faith). I then decided that the only logical explanation was that there was no God. (This is a very short version. I discuss my loss of faith in full in another post, How I Became An Atheist). (I shall read)
    2. What happens when we die?
    Nothing. That’s the short answer. This shouldn’t be shocking or disturbing (yep, a big part of me agrees completely), after all everything must end. Even the best book or film has an ending. Nothing can last forever, that’s what makes life so special. If it was eternal it would become meaningless and dull (I think there’s a way for eternal meaning and enjoyment but I think your view is justified and I think like this sometimes too because we just look at it from our own earthly point of view but we have no idea what the wonders of heaven and being with God are like). When we die, that’s the end, we don’t feel or think anything. That’s why we cry at funerals. (Sometimes that doesn’t seem like a bad option at all).
    3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven?
    Well then I’ll feel pretty stupid. Then again what if a Catholic dies and finds themselves in Lutheran heaven? Or Muslim heaven? Or finds that any one of the thousands of other religions that have existed is actually the correct one? (Good point- I think most will get there and be shocked with what God and heaven is really like and it won’t be anything like we imagined)
    Honestly I’d also be pissed off and have a few words to say to God or Saint Peter. Why all the secrecy? (Why the lack of faith?- hehe. I think God is pretty pissed off too, well disappointed at least- He says I’m right here and you continue to miss me, but I can see where you’re coming from.) Why did he hide? (The more years I live the more I see God everywhere and how I missed him for so long- I see him in you my friend, by your words and thoughts and heart and journey. I didn’t always think this way though). If he wanted to believe why didn’t he put any effort in it? (Again, my gosh he puts so much effort- it’s fascinating that two people can see the same thing and think completely different things about it- but it is true of many things not just religion. You may see purple when I see blue). Why did he not provide any evidence? (Won’t repeat myself). Are you telling me the creator of the universe couldn’t do any better than a 2,000 year old book that is full of contradictory nonsense as well as violence, brutality and injustice? (Yes the bible, my goodness deserves a post of its own- I hear you, I struggle but I also view it differently to you and would take way too long for this brush through with thoughts). Was the Catholic Church really the best spokesmen for him? (Well I have my issues with the Catholic church but I’m an outsider so I won’t offer up anything more here) Imagine if I was to find out that God could have stopped the Holocaust or famine but didn’t? (so many questions here, could he have? If yes, I imagine it took him such self-control and huge pain to not stop it because everything in him would want to shout stop. Yet he respects free will too much and allows us that gift. Or he couldn’t and his pain would have been the same- for the amount I hate it and want it to stop- God would feel that a million times more) (This is basically Pascals Wager which I discuss here)
    4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
    The same place everyone gets it from, their family, friends and society in general. No one actually gets their morality from the Bible (hopefully they get it from God). After all, the Bible says that homosexuals should be stoned to death. But not even the worse homophobe would argue that. Why not? If the Bible is the source of morality, then if the Bible says something it must be right (context, context, context and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus- I don’t necessarily believe it must be right because clearly some things we don’t agree with but the words and actions of Jesus were all right- again deserves its own post so won’t go into it here- I do suggest however, if you have an inquisitive mind- do a course on biblical interpretation because I feel you’re talking about something without having studied it- a Christian can do this too. Yes you can just read the bible but if you don’t have the tools it can be pointless. I absolutely thought the way you did about the bible before I actually learnt about the tradition of exegesis and hermeneutics- translation and its history and a bunch of other stuff. E.g no-one should ever take one verse on its own, it needs to be placed within the passage, chapter, book and whole metnarrative of the bible. Sorry, didn’t mean to go on that long but I really saw the value in doing a course). What about stoning adulters to death? Or executing a man because he collected sticks on the Sabbath? (Jesus didn’t approve of these things) As an Atheist, I think all of these things are wrong and unjust (agreed), but if I took my morals from the Bible I must conclude that they were right and just. Clearly no one actually bases their morals on the Bible. (the one moral of the bible- love God and love your neighbour- we have a way of stuffing that up)
    5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
    This question suggests that the only reason you don’t murder and rape is because God is watching you, but if he turned his back you would do it (okay two things, one it could also imply that the only reason people don’t is because they want to make God happy regardless of if he’s watching or not and not doing it out of look at me I’m so good cos I’m doing the right thing, but because we want to make the one we love happy. I f the only reason we did good was cos we feared God watching, I don’t hink God would be pleased. Rather when our desires match his, that’s preffered just as a worker can do a good job only cos they’re boss is watching but what the boss would really like is for the worker to be passionate about the work for its own sake- when they catch the vision so to be speak for themselves and not just do it to please someone else. Two, we do it because it makes us happy- as I’m sure many atheists would also do good- it makes them happy- you’re not evil- hehe). This implies you have little morals or conscience. I once heard that character is what you do when no one is looking. If the only reason you don’t steal is because you’re afraid of punishment, then you’re little better than an actual thief. Likewise if you only do good because you want to be rewarded then you are fake. Being a good person means doing the right thing not because you will be rewarded, but because it is the right thing. (Yes and anyone can do that no matter what you believe- some of the most moral people I know don’t believe in God.)
    6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
    Since when was God the only reason for living? What sort of miserable empty life do you have if God is the only meaning in your life? What about your family, friends, career, hobbies? If God is the only meaning for existence then shouldn’t we all become monks and spend our lives living in a cave and praying the God? (Not necessarily though some may get enjoyment and feel close to God doing that though not me, but just by simply living, working, gardening, whatever, we can enjoy the gift God gave us and feel close to him- it’s all in the acknowledgment) (I can’t possibly imagine a worse life)
    What’s my meaning in life? Be a good person, enjoy myself and help others. (Exactly- anyone can have meaning, their own meaning no matter what you believe- seriously some of the things some Christians believe about non-Christians are ridiculous). These may not be the most amazing reasons, but I can hardly be blamed for not knowing the meaning of life. One thing I am sure of, the reason for life lies in other people. (God would absolutely agree in a sense- it’s all about relationship)
    7. Where did the universe come from?
    This is one of the most common Christian arguments, but proves very little. All they are saying really is “I don’t know what created the universe, so I’m going to presume it’s God.” (Some of us use reason and come up with very different answers, we see logic in the existence of God and I guess all I can say is we all think differently and I’m not going to blame anyone for that. Then again some don’t think about it all and that’s what I take issue with. Why do you think God created the universe? I don’t know. Not good enough. Though it may be good enough for God so I better not judge) At least scientists are trying to find an answer by doing tests and experiments, whereas religious people base their argument on ignorance of facts and winning by default. (Even if we found out exactly how it happened to the minutest detail, we still might not know it there was a reason behind it or a being behind it so I’m fine with the world being created by the big bang or some other way but still what caused the big bang or that other way). Maybe nothing, maybe God, maybe aliens, whatever, it’s all theory and some will have their own ‘evidence’ for belief in God, just as others will have theirs for whatever they believe.
    Even if God created the universe, this proves incredibly little. It doesn’t mean the God of your religion is real nor that he can hear your prayers. It doesn’t prove that there is an afterlife. It doesn’t even prove God’s existence, because he could have created the universe and then died. (I discuss this in full in God and the Creation of the Universe). (Yep, I see nothing wrong here)
    8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
    What about those who claim to have seen ghosts or aliens? We don’t take these people seriously (I know some people who do who are both criticized by Christians and Christians are some of them) so why should we take those who claim to have witnessed miracles. Why are so many magicians Atheists? Because they know how easy it is to trick people into thinking they saw things that didn’t happen. Tricks of the light and the power of suggestion can make people believe in magic. Likewise with miracles. Ever noticed that appearances of saints were very common up until the invention of the camera (haha- I like), whereupon they died out? Or that miracles always happen among uneducated religious people? Why do they always appear to the converted? How come Muhammad has never appeared before Catholics and Mary never shows herself to Protestants? Isn’t it awful convenient that Hindu Gods only appear before Hindus? (Only have vague ideas on this one but here’s a thought, Christians in countries where spirits are a normal occurrence- in cultures where there are witch doctors and the like. Now Westerners tend to dismiss this, me included but until you’ve been over there, how can you judge. The way we see the spirit world is just one point of view so Christian or no Christian, we all tend to be stuck in our culture and think only one way, maybe we should all get out of that thinking- off topic sorry, just going where my thoughts lead)
    9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
    Christians seem to think that these guys are the holy trinity of Atheism and that we all love them. Honestly, I think they get more attention than they deserve. Sure they’re good, but they’re not that great and I leave the hero worship to religions. I became an Atheist before I even read anything by these three (though I did watch a lot of Hitchens videos). When I did I wasn’t hugely impressed. Hitchens is my favourite and a great debater, but he’s more of scrapper, better at crushing an opponents argument than convincing them. Dawkins is very intelligent and the God Delusion is probably the best thought out of the three, but he can often come across as arrogant and condescending. I found Harris quite poor and The End Of Faith frankly dreadful. It lacked focus and was prone to obscure philosophical digressions and lumped all religious people together as though they were all the Taliban.
    I leave the uncritical devotion to religion.
    (Well, as for my view on them, I would really like to read some of their stuff- looks interesting and I’m fascinated, one day I’ll get to it.)
    10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
    Religion served an original purpose. Thousands of years ago, scientific knowledge was non-existent. People longed for answers about the world and so they created religion. To every hard question religion was the answer. Where does thunder come from? Why do the crops grow sometimes of the year but not others? Why do people get sick? God(s), angels and demons became the answer. As science advances and finds the real reasons for this things, religion has declined. (And as philosophy advanced)
    Religion provides a second service, that of comfort. (I have to say Christianity ain’t comforting all the time, sometimes most of the time. It’s uncomfortable, confronting and hard, I always think life would be so much easier without God. Why do you have to exist God? Sometimes I tried to make myself not believe in him, never worked to my frustration) People grieve at funerals and religion provides comfort that the deceased aren’t suffering or in pain, but actually enjoying themselves. Likewise, there are many dangers in the world and religion provides the comfort in the belief that you and your loved ones will be protected from harm. (God isn’t there for our ‘comfort,’ he’s just there as uncomfortable as that is at times) Parents always pray that their children will be safe.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————-
    So those are my 10 Atheist questions and my answers. What do you think of them? (Love ‘em) Too soft , too hard? (Interesting) Were they good challenges? (Of course, though you know the word good can mean many things, they were good because they were yours and they were honest and therefore valid, I think we’d all benefit for more research though and dabbling in areas that we don’t understand as well as we could, it’s uncomfortable but how far are we willing to seek? To withhold judgment until we sincerely delve into the bible, science, authors, our own hearts, etc.) What other questions have you been asked? What are your answers? If any Christians read this, what questions would you ask an Atheist? (Have you studied the bible- I do have a view that you can’t fully judge something until you have looked into it and I mean not just the ways you think you should look into it cos we don’t know everything, but to accept that others look into it differently and you should try to look that way too. You still may not get anything or anywhere but at least your qualified to give a judgment that can be trusted. It takes a lot of guts to do that though, to suspend judgment and simply be there to learn and seek. I’m one of those people who always thinks I could be wrong so I love looking into as many different things openly. Other than that question, I guess I just like hearing the journey you go through, to hear it in context so I can try to understand what it’s like for you) Seeing as I answered questions today, I think I’ll follow up with 10 Questions For Christians.
    Well that was very fun, both reading, learning and answering. Thank-you for answering and sharing your journey, beliefs and thoughts. I’ll take a break before I tackle the 10 questions for Christians.

    • Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, I’ve been really busy this week. Your comment is quite long so it took me a while to get through it, but I want to thank you for your respectful tone and its clear to see that you genuinely want a debate.

      You start off by doubting evolution (an unfortunately poor beginning). That’s an argument for another time, suffice to say evolution is as true as global warming and smoking causes cancer. To say evolution is only a theory is only true as far as gravity is also a theory. Creationism is a farce held by religious fundamentalists, not scientists.

      When I mean God doesn’t reveal himself, I mean this literally. I don’t accept the idea you can see God in other people or things. It is too much of a jump to say that’s a nice tree, therefore God exists. Were God to open the clouds and reveal himself, I (and every other Atheist in the world) would instantly become a believer. Why doesn’t he?

      Free will is no excuse. It is certainly not an excuse for not preventing famine, especially as the Bible is nothing but a litany of examples of God intervening in our free will.

      “context, context, context and Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”
      Since when has there been any context in the bible? God (supposedly) gave these rules to all humanity, not just one tribe. God didn’t tell Moses here are some rules just for you, I’ll make other rules for other tribes. Christianity is the same the world over, there is no allowance for context. Seeing as Churches regularly quote the Old Testament and draw their rules from there (sometimes without reference to Jesus), does this mean their wrong?

      Unfortunately, I don’t have the time for a Bible course, nor do I know of any locally provided. But to say that’s the only way to understand the Bible is essentially saying 99% of Christians don’t understand the Bible.

      Going through your comments, I find few points of contention and we seem to have reached something of a meeting of the minds.

      • My gosh I’m so sorry about the reply format- it hurts my eyes and I hate looking at it and I can’t believe you actually went through it but thanks.

        Maybe we have differing views on the whole of what evolution is. I’m a scientist so I absolutely know natural selection happens and therefore evolution is fact. But I don’t know how it all started or if there was a reason it started. No-one was there at the beginning so it could have been a big bang but it also could have been something else- either way, none of this actually poses a problem for my belief in God, it may for others but not me. He created it, doesn’t matter how because the creation accounts- there’s more than one- are poetic.

        I won’t go through all your reply but just the context one- oh my gosh if there’s no context we’re on very dangerous ground. The whole point is that the bible was written by people in one culture at one place and time. God worked through that people so it had to make sense to them, He meets them where they’re at. It can’t be for everyone everywhere, I mean what about people who don’t have a word for lamb. It’s the meaning behind it that exegesis and hermeneutics, the tools of interpretation need to find. So some people will jar at the fact that in some cultures, Jesus is the pig of God. But how else are they meant to understand the sacrifice of God if they’ve never seen a lamb but the pig is valued in their culture. For us who believe in context, this is so important.

        The things of that day were for people of that day. E.g. don’t eat pig applied then because they were full of disease so it was a protection measure. Then in new testament, the believers wrestle with an eating meat question and some thought they couldn’t eat it even though people in other cultures did. Then it was revealed, don’t cause divide by the things you eat, eat it because it isn’t about the food you put in your mouth, but what comes out of your heart. So eat pig. Love trumps over piousness.

        The OT can’t be seen as a rule book or everyone will be doing crazy things. Rather it is a bunch of stories where we can see where someone went wrong or did right and we can apply it to our own context. The way I apply it in my context may be completely different to the way a tribal person will apply it. God loves culture, all of them. He doesn’t love all aspects of culture but he loves the diversity so he’s not going to make the whole world have the same culture. That’s akin to westerner missionaries trying to make everyone Western- so wrong. Love can be expressed in many ways as can hate. To show the souls of your feet is to offend in one culture. So just cos the bible doesn’t say anywhere not to show our feet, doesn’t mean we can or should in that culture. In fact God would probably command us to not show our feet because we are to love the people in that culture.
        So no, Christianity looks very different the world over. You can live different ways with love still in your heart, following the law of love God and others.

        Unfortunately, in a way I agree, many Christians don’t understand the bible. I think we have a childlike grasp at the least, when we don’t know the land of Israel, the significance of a tree that features in a story, the distances walked in a story. E.g. you must be like the trees of Lebanon- What? In my context I have no idea what this means. Woody? Tall? Brown? But the people of that land would have known it meant strong and enduring because these trees were known for that by all the people there. So many things we miss out on that would help us understand the stories. Of course there’s a place for the spirit to guide us, prompt us and lead us to understanding, and there’s a place for our God-given intellect, but my gosh we still need outside resources like commentaries and bible dictionaries to help us.

        There’s also a bit of a method to reading the bible for those inclined. To first understand what the original hearers of it would understand and what the author was trying to convey. Second, to understand what the principle, point, or meaning of the story was for them. Third to see if that message still applies today and how, in what context and fourth, to do it. So okay, put a steeple on your roof. The author writes that God wants people to protect themselves and the people understand this so they put steeples on their roof to look out from. The idea of protecting yourself is a good one so that still applies today, but since there’s no invaders around where I live, I don’t need to put a steeple on my roof. But I can lock my doors and if I feel the need I’ll put in a security system.

        Question- Are you a scientist?

        Sorry, for the long post again. I just go where my thoughts take me.

        • The problem is that if context is everything doesn’t that mean the rules of the Bible don’t apply to us? Could I not argue that the rules about adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality etc. don’t apply because they were for a different context? If the Bible was written by people, then what’s special about it? Doesn’t its authority come from God?

          On the point of pigs, why did God forbid them? Why then change his mind? Does that mean he was wrong the first time around? Was it a pointless rule? If it was for hygienic reasons, was not explain the rules of hygiene (and hugely advance medical knowledge) rather than relying on superstition?

          No, I’m not a scientist.

          • No, the way the rule applies is what might be different depending on context, the rule itself is still good. Besides not rules so much as guidelines to keep us safe and make for loving relationships between all people. Will answer rest when have time.

            • “rules so much as guidelines”
              They are definitely rules. Guidelines don’t come with the threat of eternal punishment. Religion doesn’t advise or suggest, it commands.

              • Doesn’t work- a person can do only good works and still not get into heaven if they hate God.

                • Besides heaven isn’t the prize. A relationship with God is. People might want heaven but they don’t want God.

                • DVD Bach

                  You do realize that atheists don’t hate something that they don’t believe exists, right?

                  • Rephrase- if they don’t believe in God and love him.

                    You don’t have to be atheist to not go to heaven. You can call yourself a Christian and not go to heaven too.

                    You know what, I call myself a Christian and I might not go to heaven. I search my heart and I believe I love God. But maybe I’m just tricking myself and want to believe that? Or maybe I secretly rely on my good works to save me?
                    But I have to go back to: do I believe Jesus died and rose again, do I receive what that means- forgiveness and eternal life by following him out of love and gratitude?

                    There are different views on this so don’t take this view as what every Christian thinks or any person for that matter- I know you won’t. I’m still working it through as well and always will be till my dying day and will always love hearing all the other views out there no matter what you believe- test it, evaluate and see what you think. Everyone should do this- don’t care what you believe, just dive in and explore it so whatever you do believe you can stand on- go for it.

                    Sorry, got off track. Sometimes I really wish I never believed in God so I knew what it was like. I know what it’s like to not be a Christian at least.

          • Well, for me, I already addressed the pig thing. It was right for that time. No need to explain about hygiene if people just didn’t eat pig back then- just a thought, but really, going round in circles for me- just thinking. He gave us science, medicine and our minds, let’s use them and we have and will continue to.
            Get into science- hehe. Sorry, shameless plug. Love science! Everyone should be a scientist I would say but then we wouldn’t have wonderful diversity. Looks like your a fan of science though so that’s good- though I could be wrong and you might hate science.
            By the way, on a different note, was wondering if I could ask some questions on an unrelated/related subject? Simply curious. Would you answer them? If so, what’s the best way to contact you?

            • “He gave us science”
              What God are you talking about? You do realise that religion has been (and still is) the most anti-scientific institution in history? If anyone was ever persectuted for their scientific beliefs, its almost guaranteed that it was for religious reasons. Then there is the point that there is next to zero scientific information in the Bible. Its clear that whoever wrote it had only a primitive knowledge of how the world works. So no I don’t think that God gave us science.

              (I realise you will probably argue that God gave us brains etc to which almost anything can be argued. As a rule I generally try to avoid cognitive biases and assuming that everything and anything can be traced back to God so long as the definition is broad enough).

              I would be willing to answer questions, what sort of things would you want to know?

              • Indeed- what you speak of is what a view I’m generally surrounded by and I feel like I can’t talk about these things in my circle. They might be against science or if not, they don’t understand it. Being a scientist and academic, I obviously rave about it and being a Christian as well has made me a minority and looked on unfavourably at times. But since this is my thing, I’ve sought out books, journals, etc. and actually have found many Christian scientists, academics and believers who are scientists and if not are open to science. They have different views for why science is valid/great but at least I’m no alone. I live in a house with two Christian scientists- one who is an astrophysicist, mathematician and scientist. My gosh if anyone wants to argue about science with him, he’s got all the answers, add to that Christianity and he’s still got all the answers- obviously I don’t mean literally and he admits he doesn’t but he sure does win every time. Though non-scientists have no idea what he’s talking about. I’m nowhere near where he’s at in terms of that level.
                I’ve also found at a Christian academic school that actually most of the were all for science, so either times are changing or there’s a big misperception about it. I think finally some Christians at least are coming around to the awesomeness that is science. I’d love non-Christians to come around to the awesomeness of science too though.

                Cool- I’m doing a bit of research for myself, not academic, so is there an email I can send to? Just interested on your views on something I’m not familiar with. Nothing to do with religion. I’d like to write a blog post about it and have started but want some more meat to my thoughts.

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  17. Keisha

    You are talking about science, but you do not seem to understand the core of it. Before religion, there was no science??? Then how on earth cave dwellers find out how to hunt for food? There was a time when men ran after an animal as long as they could. The idea was to make it tired. That helped them kill it easily. And they used weapon to make this happen. All these are science. The tactic is still very much alive in Africa. The heart of science is pattern which creates logic. If scientists find pattern in something they accept it as true. It should have the power to become a general point. This is where its weakness is found. There are many things in the world which have no pattern at all. You condemn Christianity because it asks for death of homosexuals. This is a typical “religion is violent” doctrine which forgets to take into account that it is science that builds nuclear bombs, guns and drones. Bitter than that, it has killed more people than all religions combined. As for morals, they come from religions. I am in MPA and I know that eventually to find out what is ethical, American lawmaker turn to religious studies. It is in my textbook. For a moment, ask yourself how the society will be without religions. And then turn to China. Buddhists have no God and many Chinese don’t practice Buddhism. The result of this is that they do not bother with ethics. Laborers are made to work more than 12 hours. Their students are notorious for stooping low to pass a class. And yes, if you are in a freak accident in China no one will bother to help you. The country is still surviving because of communism. Government has tight control on them. Otherwise, they would have started eating each other’s flesh. Note that their government is also practicing unethical tactics to force these people to behave. Anything touched by men cannot be 100% correct. This goes for both religions and science. You don’t seem to know the meaning of God either. Funny that the Christians you talked about are in the same league. God means creator. Think openly. Everything happens from an energy point.

  18. 1. I was raised a catholic. When I was 29 I started to realize that all my religious beliefs were indoctrinated into me when I was a kid, the same way a muslim kid is taught about allah. I wondered why my book was real and all other religious texts weren’t, since the evidence is lacking for any book. That was when I started questioning. And when you question, you only get answers that have absolutely no logic, or no evidence. So I realized this whole story was just a story.

    2. We cease to exist, just like we didn’t exist before we were born.

    3. That’s about as likely an me being hit by 2 separate lightning strikes while riding the subway back from work in the desert. But, IF I’m wrong, and I will be judged by my actions, I’ll be fine, I’m a nice person, I’m good to people, I spend a lot of money on charity, I help others without the expectation of any divine reward.

    4. If I had my morals from the biblie, I would probably have slaves, rape women, and torture puppies, because that is explicetly allowed in the book (in the case of rape I’d have to spend 50 silver and marry the victim, but that’s no biggie, right?). Anyway, my morals come from many experiences and interactions I’ve had in life, with friends, family, society, etc.

    5. This is similar to the previous question. Everyone knows tahat killing and raping is wrong, even people who have never had contact with the bilibe. So no, you can’t kill or rape because you are interfering negatively on someone else’s life. That’s my golden rule. I can do whatever I want as long as my actions don’t impact negatively on other people.

    6. Well, life is so much more meaningful once you realize it’s all you got. If you believe in eternal heaven, then you probably have no meaning to life, you’re just doing what needs to be done to get to that place. But me, wow, I only have about 7 ou 8 decades of existance, I’m going to enjoy it!

    7. There are theories based on a lot of evidence which points to a universe beginning out of an explosion. This, of course, raises many other questions, such as the famous: Who made the explosion happen? and many others. My honest answer for your question is: I don’t know. And the more important part of all is: The fact that I don’t know how the universe started is not a reason to believe in some magical story where a man comes from clay and woman comes from a rib, in a place with a forbidden tree and a talking snake. I realize some people are so disturbed about not knowing something that they would rather believe some fantastic myth than just accepting their ignorance (like I do).

    8. Miracles don’t occur. Theres a natural explanation for everything, eventhough we might not understand it. People who claim do have a connection with Jesus do not prove anything. I can claim I have a connection with Thor, and it does not make him real. Same thing goes for angels, spiritual connections, etc.

    9. They are well accomplished professionals in their respective areas, and all of them happen to be outspoken atheists. This generates a lot of hate towards them. I don’t hate them, I know how it feels like being treated like a second class citizen just because I don’t share your opinion on how the world started.

    10. Our natural need for answers has been the cause of all religions. Most of them start with small myths that usually have some helpful tip on how to deal with certain situations. Parents make up stories about rivers being inhabitted by monsters so that their kids won’t dive in and potencially drown. Over the years, some of these stories survive, some gain more complexity, and end up evolving into a belief system.

  19. Christopher Harvey

    Hey, great post. Just to let you know, TodayChristian.Net pulled this from post from you, and reposted it on their site…without the answers. They did give credit where it came from though. Just thought you should know.

    http://todaychristian.net/10-questions-every-atheist/

  20. André Roberge

    Your list of 10 questions has been copied (without answers) on a so-called christian site (http://todaychristian.net/10-questions-every-atheist/) with the introductory statement “Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!”. They do provide the url of your site though … which boggles the mind…

  21. 1. When I was extremely young, probably the same time I started to develop memories/personhood. All the bible stories blended together with fairy tales I was read so I never believed God was real, actually.

    2. When we die, our bodies decompose & our atoms move on to become other things on earth. Our consciousness-which is what I’m assuming is being asked about-would either a. not exist anymore (which, if you’ve ever had surgery, would be very much like that) or b. move on to a possibly entangled consciousness. More likely the former.

    3. If I’m wrong, at least in hell there’s rock n roll. I’ll accept Jesus on my deathbed just in case, since that seems to be OK. Plus, if I may answer a question with a question, how could an omnipotent loving God possibly maintain a place such as Hell?

    4. I base my morality in observations of life around me, interactions between people & the resulting effects of those interactions. Trial & error, I suppose.

    5. No (and this isn’t a fair question cuz it’s like 3 questions), it would not be ok to do said things. I’ve written papers on why, even if you are a die hard nihilist, murder/rape are counterproductive to life itself (in terms of societal organization & such). Good deeds go unrewarded all the time, as bad deeds go unpunished all the time. It’s not the biggest deal in the world to come up negative.

    6. My relationships with other people & my goals.

    7. The universe didn’t “come” from somewhere. It exploded into existence.

    8. Sideballin’ me with these 3-in-1 questions. Should be changed to “14 questions for every atheist”. I will say though, these questions make very little sense. I would actually agree with them. What about people who believe in saints/angels/Jesus connections/miracles? The human brain is an amazing reality generator; this can be seen in schizophrenics or a person on hallucinogens. Beyond disorders & drugs, your brain can take faith based beliefs & make you experience life as if they were real…reality is sort of like 90% self-proving, 10% virtual reality at all times.

    9. Hitchens is a con artist, Dawkins is an asshole, I don’t even know who Harris is. Although, to be fair, atheism doesn’t have saints…

    10. Mechanisms in our brain that allow for our grasp of symbology taken beyond reasonable measure when folks with power use these symbols as a way to keep populaces oppressed/depressed/under control. Why you think the south let slaves go to Church & were all about “saving” people? That don’t got nothin’ to do with mission work…

  22. 1. Realized that other religions, even those that don’t necessitate a deity (e.g., Buddhism), seemed equally moral if not more so. Realized that the specific metaphysical posits of Christianity weren’t necessary for morality nor supported.
    2. Don’t know, but I imagine it is rather similar to the time before being born.
    3. What if the whole Western concept of religion is wrong and we all get reincarnated according to karma? Or the Universalists and some sects of Judiams are correct and everyone gets to heaven eventually? What if the bible is a trick and only nonbelievers are allowed into heaven?
    4. Aesthetics, Empathy, and some of Kant’s philosophy
    5. We are already free to do what we want, provided that we are willing to accept the consequences. This is already how the world works. If the only source of reward and punishment is in the afterlife, then the world is the same either way. If anything, pushing it off into the afterlife makes it less necessary in the present life.
    6. Only that which I give it, plus whatever mysteries are locked in the human condition.
    7. Don’t know, wasn’t around.
    8. What about all the people in India who claim in present-day to have witnessed Gurus perform miracles? Miracle-sightings are not unique to Christianity. They may very well occur, but I have not personally witnessed one. I am skeptical, but at the same time I can not possibly know for certain.
    9. I’m more of a Jung, Santayana, Campbell kind of guy.
    10. I’d argue that religion and spirituality are fundamental to the human experience — that we have a sort of psychological need for it, in some form, whether it be expressly supernatural, philosophical, or even political. It will likely always be around in some form. Note however that not all religions have deities or even make supernatural posits, and most religions are not compatible with Christianity.

    From the perspective of a meme, I’d argue that religions which are successful in the long term, being that they are usually tied to a national identity, continue as a meme similar to political systems or cultural identities — those that promote reproduction and sustain the population will survive and be more numerous, so ancient religions and their common traits may have a sort of evolutionary benefit. Consider that the “golden rule”, or some variant, is found in nearly all old religions.

  23. Excellent, Robert. One of the best you have posted.
    I would like to re-blog this at some point if I may?
    Thought it best to ask as those sneaky Christian gits didn’t and just nicked it. Bloody cheek! :)

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  25. jordan

    1) I read the bible. Dealt with intolerant hypocritical people. Realize that “God” is made in man’s image, and man not in his. Life was easier when I could play pretend.
    2) When we die, our conscientiousness ceases to be. All that is left of us is the impacts that we made on the world around us. The ripples we leave behind in the pond of existence.
    3) What if I’m wrong? Should I live a good life but don’t believe I will be neither rewarded or punished. I will live in limbo with all the good pagans, and simple exist in a stat that I’m pretty much not existing.
    4) Because morals are defined by the population. There are people who have never heard of “God” and still think killing another human is wrong. When you be come a threat to a community the community acts. I know not to kill as it will remove a person from existence, not move them to another form of life. I don’t steal because that can alienate the people around me and I would rather not be stolen from. I wouldn’t rape because of the pain that it will inflict on another human being and I would rather not be raped. How complex is that idea? If its going to hurt your relation or standing within your community why do it? If you don’t want it done to you why do it? And death is much more for someone whom doesn’t believe in life after life. The better question is how do people who believe in the bible have morals? You “Holy” book is full on genocide, condones slavery, and rape. Treat women as below men and many times as sub-human. The only time the bible says to be good toward another person is when they are like you, other wise it states to kill them, regardless of age, regardless of sex. It tells you to take there stuff and state it is yours. The survivors you than enslave and they get fates worse than death. Yes the bible is such a great source of morality.
    5) Once again state from question 4. If it hurts you place in the community you live it is bad. Things like that follow you around no since everything you do follows you because of interconnected governments and the internet. Beyond these if you don’t want something to be done to you why do it to another person. To rape someone is to do such untold damage to them it is unforgivable. Stealing with alienate the people around you and they will no longer support or help you (if there is no law effect).
    6) Life has the same meaning for everything living think on Earth. To make one become two. To REPRODUCE. Yes people the meaning of life is SEX! or asexual reproduction if you are and organism that does that. As a being that is self-aware there is the desire for further meaning and for me anyway that is as simple as be good and leave a legacy where I live this world and the lives around me better than they where before I was there.
    7) It is something that we have yet to find an answer for. Just because science has found evidence toward what was before the Big Bang doesn’t mean there was God and the bible is no evidence toward where anything came from. But at the same time it is exceedingly difficult to prove the absence of something.
    8) Delusions. There has also NEVER been a “Miracle” that has been able to be proven. There are also people who claim to see people that aren’t there, there are called children. They grow out of their imaginary friends, well most of them. When you are told by all the people around you to keep just one of them, as long as it is the one that they taught you about since you could comprehend words, it is ok. Hell with time like that you could make someone believe 2+2=5 and they will fight for that belief.
    9) They are solid speaks but they don’t voice the majority but they try to degrees. They aren’t religious leaders and I don’t agree with everything that they say.
    10) Religion(s) is just a collection of shared supernatural explanations for events and phenomena that people observe but do not know how to answer. They become condensed because people talk about them and they are used to unify groups and produce a price within a community that is too large to bluff. It binds communities in times of crisis and war. The simple answer that that are thousands of religions that have dramatically different roots is enough to say there is no God that created everything, because if there was but one root to that you would see more similarities in these religion as they would all be rooted in the same place the Jewish Faith, Islam and Christianity.
    One more. Religion is Toxic when it fulfills any of these criteria. 1) Tells you to live for the next life. 2) Discriminates on any group of people for something that is beyond their control. 3) When a faith is unwilling to adapt to standing evidence and/or tries to push evidence to support existing religious stories.
    Any religion that does any is no true religion.

  26. James R. Lowery

    1. How Did You Become an Atheist?

    I am not an atheist. I am an agnostic. I was raised Pentecost. As I grew older and wiser, I did the research and found that the stories I was told as a child had no basis in historical fact. I will argue that point with anyone.

    2. What happens when we die?

    No one knows…NO ONE. But there are theories. But since no one has come back from actual death, it is all speculation.

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

    I will deal with it then. Just like I dealt with life before I arrived here. What if there is no heaven or hell, what a waste your life will have been.

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

    Society has developed morality. It was not god, but our imagination about right and wrong that has given us our morality. Not a god. I basically try to live a good life, and not hurt others. I follow most of societies norms.

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

    You are asking is there an ultimate judgment for our lives and our “sins.” The answer is no there is not. But we do live in a society where we can loose our precious freedom due to our actions against our fellow man. But does Hitler suffer in eternal damnation for his crimes against humanity? No he does not. Not that he doesn’t deserve it. But no he gets and got away with it.
    But I can see why it would make someone feel better to think that there is some “invisible man” who would make sure the guilty are punished somehow.

    But you believe that I am going to the same eternal damnation that Hitler is in right now. So how that is fair is just odd. But that goes back to the lack of logic of your premise about a “god.”

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

    Well it certainly means something to me. I love life, and as far as I am concerned I would love to live forever just to see what happens next. I do not need a god to make my life meaningful. It is very meaningful to me just the way it is.

    7. Where did the universe come from?

    Several theories. Too many to list. But the main two that make sense is the Big Bang (with expansion) or the big slap (between two universes). But what is clear is that the universe is expanding and accelerating. It is not stagnant as religions would have you believe. And it certainly did not take 6 days to create. The latest evidence says that the universe is about 13.5 billion years old (given the universal constant of light speed). And we can see the background radiation from its creation. We cannot see beyond it.

    8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
    Miracles, statistical probabilities, say a 1 in a million chance. I would say that would be amazing (GO KINGS GO). Well if we use this limit, given there are 7.5 billion people on the planet. That would mean 7500 would experience a one in a million chance event per day. Multiply that by 365… and well miracles are not really miracles anymore. They are statistical chance.

    People who see “angles.” Well that is a personal experience, and I do not want to call people liars. But people do hallucinate. And they can talk themselves into anything. As I said, I was raised Pentecost and those people will believe and see just about anything they want. But seeing something is not testable. So unless we can talk to an angel… prove it has angelic powers… but then there is that Satan thing and false profits, so…

    It is like people who have seen Aliens, or people who say they have been abducted. I am sure you would just believe them because they say it has happened. No I think you would want more proof.

    Contact with Jesus? Again this is a personal experience, and it is not testable (see alien hypothesis above).

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

    Never heard of them

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

    Why does every society have fire, Phones, electricity etc. We share our belief systems. As we came out o Africa (if you believe in that silly theory evolution), we were trying to explain what we saw. Those memories went with the people. Lightning and tornadoes were “the finger of an angry god.” I am sure they probably killed someone who was not “godly” enough. You know like an atheist or a man who was a “little lite in the loafers.”

    If there truly is only one god and one religion then why are there so many religion? Because there as many belief systems as there are societies on this planet. Heck even within the “one true church” there are hundreds of denominations.

    None of this means there is no god. Even an Atheist should be willing to look at evidence. It is just there is no evidence. At least not yet.

    But what Christian is willing to look at their religion and truly consider the evidence? I did. And that is why I am an agnostic.

    Anyway, I thought these questions were very easy to answer.

    PS> I know… I am going to hell. But I was raised Pentecost… So are you.

  27. Pingback: » Questions Atheists can answer, Christians just ignore them

  28. Baboon42

    This is a good exercise for everyone. Kudos to Mr. Neilson for bringing these questions up and answering them.

    1. How did you become an atheist? Studying other religions and viewing the one I was born into with the same critical eye I used with the other faiths.

    2. What happens when we die? Most of the time, our families and friends will miss us, but will move on with their lives. As for consciousness, nothing. The lights shut off and we just don’t exist, like it was in the billions of years before we were born.

    3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? Then this so-called god has a lot of explaining to do. I think god will have to answer for the suffering caused by his/her/its actions.

    4. Without God, where do you get your morality? From empathy and a sense of community. I have empathy for my fellow beings.

    5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded? You can do what you want now. If you’re a shit person, then nothing stops you from committing atrocities. In fact, throughout history there have been many “godly” people who have justified their atrocities with religion. Just look at the Bible. Societies were wiped off the face of the earth all in the name of Yahweh. The Yahweh/Jehovah/Allah has shown itself to not be particularly offended by murder and rape. The reason I know murder and rape are wrong is empathy and knowing that society simply will not function if even a sizable minority of folks decided that murder and rape are okay. As for me, I don’t want to murder, rape, steal, or anything else that harms other people.
    Aside from the feeling you get from doing good, many good deeds go unrewarded anyway. If I pick up a piece of trash on the sidewalk, it is likely that no one will see it and I certainly won’t be rewarded for it. But I’ll know that it’s one less piece of rubbish on the ground.

    6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning? The better question is, “If the reward is after you die, then how does life for a theist have any meaning?” As for me the atheist, I create my own meaning and I am quite sure that this is the only life I get so I’d better make it a good one. So, I do what I can to alleviate the suffering of others, try to cause as little suffering as possible, and enjoy the very limited time I have here.

    7. Where did the universe come from? I subscribe to the Big Bang Theory but as for what happened before the Big Bang, I don’t know nor would I pretend to know.

    8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels? Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Drugs, psychedelics, and mental illnesses (temporary or otherwise) are powerful and can make just about anyone “experience God.”

    9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris? Lately, Dawkins has had the tendency to engage with trolls and nutcases online, which I am not a fan of. I understand why he does it though. However, he is a brilliant evolutionary biologist and his books have changed many peoples’ minds regarding evolution and matters of religion. I miss Hitchens. His style of writing was intelligent while also being incendiary. He put a lot of religion on the defensive, which is something that is desperately needed if our species is going to progress. I don’t know enough of Harris to offer a good opinion though his Letter to a Christian Nation was great.

    10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion? Because mankind is rarely humble enough to say “I don’t know.”

  29. nitya47

    Hi. I’ve never commented on this site in the past, but I’m really impressed by the long, thoughtful replies.
    Robert, the answers given to each of the questions posed, were exactly as I would have replied ( given plenty of time to think through each one, of course). All bases appear to be covered, to my thinking.
    In regards to the replies posted in response by believers, they seem to have one thing in common; they’re all highly charged, emotional arguments! These good folk just FEEL that it has to be right! They feel it in their bones. Forget the bloody history of all flavours of religious belief! Forget the intolerance, hatred, burning, hideous forms of torture, the shunning and ostracism of those who don’t conform. Perhaps this is no longer the norm in modern, secular, western democracies, but it’s still going on in the name of god , in many parts of the world.
    It appears to me that atheists operate on a higher plane than believers.Their reasons for doing the right thing are directed by a personal core of conduct and not by a slavish obedience to someone in charge. I like to think of myself as a friendly, approachable, law abiding citizen. No worse and possibly a little better than your average Christian.

  30. Pingback: Questions for Atheists | The Complete History of the Universe: A Personal Journey

  31. Mark

    I am a non-theist, I don’t believe in any gods. In answer to your question, “Are we free to murder and rape?” the answer is yes, we are, and the fact of the matter is that I am raping, stealing and murdering as much as I want, and the amount that I want is zero. That’s because I am a rational human being and I don’t need some mythical figure to tell me that those things are not only harmful to me but to my family and to society in general. What kind of a stupid question is that? What happens when we die? No one knows, but, in the final analysis there are only two possibilities, there is either something or there is nothing. If there is nothing then it doesn’t matter, if there is something then that means that the possibilities are endless and I don’t care to speculate since there is no way to ever know, so I live my life to the best and enjoy every day.

    • nitya47

      Even though there are only two ways of answering the question, is there or is there not a god/goddess etc, it’s not a fifty-fifty bet is it? The chance of some supreme entity out there having created it all, is infinitesimally small, and the chance of the universe existing due to natural means is highly likely despite the musings of our ancestors thousands of years ago.

  32. Pingback: The stupid, it burns! | Atheos

  33. Pingback: The Dishonesty of TodayChristian.net | The Adventures of Leo Tarvi

  34. Pingback: 10 questions from a Christian website that Atheists supposedly cannot answer | the platitudes of willful resemblance

  35. Pingback: 10 Questions for Atheists « JoeWo Joe Wosik Blog

  36. Got linked here by a Christian website asking the questions rhetorically.

    1. How Did You Become an Atheist?
    Well I was a particularly religious person, and I had a great deal of faith. Mostly I believed faith was a personal journey, and I came to realize that was not what many christians believed. I started examining my beliefs and when I was finally asked what it was I believed, I realized I didn’t know, and that i didn’t believe in God anymore. I was a little upset but then I realized I’d made a pretty great bit of self understanding. I had a break-up prayer with God, because I still felt a good deal of kinsmanship with my idea of God at the time, even though I realized he wasn’t real.

    I’ve been an atheist for eight years now, it seems like an eternity sometimes. It was the best thing that ever happened to me, and i’m happier now than I ever was before.

    2. What happens when we die?
    Nothing. The person we are ceases to be, and our bodies decay. There is no afterlife, there’s nothing.

    3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
    I don’t believe God’s going to send anyone to Hell because they honestly didn’t believe in him. What kind of petty childish godling sends people to hell for not joining his fan club?

    4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
    I’m not sure this is a valid question. I get my morality from society and from my biology. Do you think morality is set in stone when, at various times it was okay to rape if you married your victim or it was okay to have sex with your daughters? That’s in the bible, pal, as things you can do, sanctioned by god and everyone, and I’m sure you wouldn’t be okay with that.

    5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
    Of course not! We have laws that we’ve all decided, largely, are there to protect us. Morality isn’t divinely imbued, it’s innate to social organisms. Dogs don’t murder and rape, so clearly they have some kind of intrinsic notion of morality.

    6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
    Because I give it meaning! Why do I need God for vindication of my actions and behaviors? Just because it makes you like have meaning doesn’t mean mine is meaningless without it.

    7. Where did the universe come from?
    I’m not a cosmologist, so I don’t know. Just because we don’t know for sure doesn’t make the answer God.

    8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
    They’re either mistaken or, less likely, lying. Anecdote is the lowest form of evidence and just because someone believes something doesn’t make it true. Also there are no miracles. 1500 people died of Ebola recently, and more are likely to succumb. I’m glad God kept you from dying when your car turned over.

    9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
    I like them pretty well? Why does that matter?

    10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
    The question is leading and also wrong. I’ll start with the leading part. It assumes that god must be real because people are inclined to religion, which isn’t true at all. People were inclined to believe the world was flat or that illnesses could be traced to humors. Knowledge comes from empirical observation and testing.

  37. Pingback: 10 Questions for Atheists | Mr. Syms Types

  38. Abby Smas

    Being interested in people, I might like to hear what atheists think, but these questions do not address the crux of the issue. As my daughter once told me once, “If you know God, nothing can dissuade you from your belief. If you don’t know God, nothing any one could say would convince you of his existence.” Your beliefs are yours, not mine or anybody else’s. However, I can’t help but hope (pray) that you may come to know Him- for so many reasons.

    • Actually I used to believe in God, but changed my view over the years. Your beliefs are not set in stone nor should they be. Your beliefs should change if you come across new evidence. Closing your mind to new ideas is nothing to be proud of.

  39. Pingback: Answering 10 Questions for Every Atheist | Alex and Ania Splain You a Thing

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