15 Questions for Atheists

I just saw this over at the Nerd’s place, and instead of reading LabRat’s responses, I thought “I’d better do the same thing and hit these questions fresh.”  I recently received a quite complimentary email from a new reader who is unabashedly Christian, and seemed to assume I was as well.  I don’t know what it says about me that I didn’t dissuade that belief with an immediate response, but I didn’t.  So, here we go:

1. Why are atheists so obsessed with religion?

If life were meaningless and ends at the grave, why even bother. If life is just a monopoly game that’s going to be put up, why even try to take the property and money of others (in a metaphoric sense, of course)? It doesn’t make much sense. Given atheism, nothing really matters since it’s not going to last. So, again I ask you, why bother with religion and its negative effects?

Well, I don’t. This question is directed at those I term anti-theists, or “Big-A” Atheists like Dawkins and Bill Maher. The only time that I ever concern myself with religion is when someone is trying to force theirs upon me.

2. Why are atheists so obsessed with monotheistic religions?

Why only the big three? If all religions are equally false, why only bother with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam? What about Hinduism or deism? Again, it doesn’t make much sense. Perhaps there’s a reason that atheists are so amazingly obsessed with Christianity?

Again, see the answer to Question 1. Personally, one of the reasons I’m an atheist is that I cannot grok, given the myriad of gods from which to choose, how anyone can be so convinced that the dominant god of their culture must be the “one true God.” But that’s just me.

3. How do atheists explain the beginning of the universe?

Often atheists have pointed to the Big Bang to justify their worldview, but the Big Bang actually proves theism. Here’s a simple syllogism:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

There is great evidence for the Big Bang. We can be led to it by first stating this fact: The universe is either eternal, or it is not. If it’s not, than my argument is scientifically supported. The universe cannot be eternal because of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that energy is running out. If the universe is eternal, it should’ve run out a long time ago. The Big Bang proves God because it proves the universe came into being from nothing, and nothing cannot create nothing, for it is nothing. Therefore, Something must have caused the Big Bang. So how do you explain away this evidence for the existence of God?

How do I explain the beginning of the universe? I don’t. THAT it happened, I don’t doubt. HOW it happened I don’t know. Why cannot the religious be comfortable with not knowing? Let’s look at that syllogism. OK, the universe was “created” by something, and that “something” was, ipso facto, “God?”

Where did God come from? And if the Creator of the Universe is God, why is He the God of Abraham? Isn’t that quite the logical leap?

Here’s an image by a somewhat more militant Atheist than I that expresses (poorly and unfortunately offensively, but generally accurately) my problem here:

(Click for full size)
So you accept the Big Bang, but all of it was just to create Earth? That doesn’t strike you as just a bit hubristic?

4. How do atheists explain away objective moral values?

Objective moral values are ones that are independent of human thought. If God doesn’t exist, they wouldn’t exist either. There’d be no one in charge to make a universal standard of right and wrong. It’d simply be a matter or opinion. But moral relativism fails. For one, it says that moral claims are only a matter of opinion but it asserts that as a fact. Also, we know things such as rape, murder, and child abuse are wrong, and if everyone agreed that they were right, they’d still be wrong. We know things are objectively wrong because we feel guilt when we do what is wrong; If morality was just our opinion, we wouldn’t feel guilty, for we would be doing what is right for us. So how do atheists justify the fact of objective morality?

“Objective moral values are ones that are independent of human thought.” BZZZZT! Oh, I’m so sorry! That’s a non sequitur. Morals are HUMAN VALUES. They CANNOT EXIST outside of human thought, unless they belong to non-human sapients. I’ve covered part of this discussion before. I don’t have to “explain away objective moral values.” I remain unconvinced of their existence. Those seemingly universal ones are the result of experience through the relatively short history of humanity, and even those aren’t truly universal.

5. How do materialists justify immaterial realities?

Logic, math, morality, and other things such as free will, human dignity, and time exist. These things are all immaterial. We can’t put the number 7 or the Law of Noncontradiction in a test tube. But if God doesn’t exist, matter would be all there is, since there’d be nothing to be the foundation of immaterial things. Everything would come through by matter, and thus, be matter. How can atheists give an answer to this argument?

I don’t grok the question. I do not grasp the (or the need for) the indivisibilty of the immaterial and the ecclesiastical. Logic, math, morality and other things such as free will and human dignity are human. Are you saying “Thou art God”?

Time? Time exists whether we do or not. This is a deeply odd question.

6. How do atheists explain the existence of the universe?

If atheism is true, there isn’t a reason for anything. It’s all an accident. There isn’t any purpose. But if there weren’t a purpose for anything, how do things exist? If God does not exist, the universe would have no meaning for its existence, and would, thus, not exist. So how can we living in a universe that both exists and has no reason for its existence?

This is a rewording of question #3. My answer remains the same: I don’t try to. I accept the fact that it IS, and that it’s AWESOME, and I hope some day to sail among its stars.

7. How do you explain away circumstantial evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?

Here are just two facts that help lead up to the conclusion that Christ is risen: 1. The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don’t die for what you know is a lie. No one does, and no one ever could. 2. Christianity started in Jerusalem. If the tomb weren’t empty, the Jewish pharisees could’ve proved it and ended the Christian movement. But they didn’t. How can an atheistic worldview explain this?

And atheists are obsessive about Christianity? We go from “Where’d the Universe come from” to “But what about the resurrection of Christ”? That’s quite a leap.

No offense, but let me comment here: “The early Christians died for their belief that He rose from the dead. You don’t die for what you know is a lie.” How many devout Muslims have strapped on explosives and gone to their 72 Virgins in the sincere belief that “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”? Belief in something is no guarantee that belief is true. “If the tomb weren’t empty, the Jewish pharisees could’ve proved it and ended the Christian movement. But they didn’t. How can an atheistic worldview explain this?” I don’t have to. I don’t know what happened to the body. The Mormons said Jesus came to North America after the Resurrection. Are they wrong? Can you prove it? This seems to me another version of “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”.

8. If the gospels are just pieces of historical fiction, why are there embarrassing details in there?

Jesus being accused of being a demon. A prostitute wiping Jesus’ feet, which was seen as a sexual approach. Peter being called “Satan” and denying Jesus three times. Jews being told to pay taxes to the Roman empire. One criteria of finding a historical truth is to see if the text is embarrassing to the writer. If it is, they probably didn’t make it up. Could you clear this up for me?

Nope. Didn’t realize that was a requirement. What about all of the scrolls that didn’t make it into the final edition? Can you explain to me what was left out and why?

9. If we are just matter, and not souls, why would some atheists support life-sentences?

The matter in our body is totally changed out every seven years. If Cartesian dualism—a view I embrace—is false, and we are just matter, that means I am not the same person as I was seven years ago. And this is also true for a criminal.The justice system is completely futile if atheism is true. If matter is who we are, why don’t we change as our matter changes?

It so happens that I agree with you on the topic of Cartesian dualism (and cannot prove it either), but that doesn’t mean I’m automatically a Christian, or even religious. However, short of traumatic brain injury, we remain the people we are because of the way our brains are wired, not due to the specific wiring components. And, realistically, the “me” of today is not the “me” of fifteen years ago, but what I did fifteen years ago, I did, and not some other “me.”

Personally, I think life without parole is a particularly cruel sentence, but given the fact that it takes decades sometimes to get someone through the appeals process, it can be less expensive to just house and feed them till they die a natural death.  And hey, the system has been wrong before.  Death is irreversible.  You can get out of prison if you’re not dead.

10. Why do so many atheists deny historical facts?

The common view today that most atheists hold is that Jesus didn’t exist. But Jesus did exist. How do I know this? Historically reliable sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, the Jewish Talmud, and Pliny the Younger wrote about Jesus. So why do atheists hold to the Christ-myth hypothesis in spite of what we know through historical facts?

Don’t know. Why do so many people deny that Mohammed was God’s messenger? Doesn’t fit their worldview. Personally, I find it highly doubtful that Jesus didn’t exist. I just question his divinity.

11. Why do most atheists, such as Richard Dawkins and Daniel Denette, equivocate evolution with atheism?

Evolution does not prove God exists, nor does it prove God doesn’t exist. Darwin did not kill God. Most Christians accept evolution. Why, then, do so many atheists point to evolution as if it disproves Christianity?

I don’t believe “equivocate” was the word you wanted to use there. “Equate” was. Freudian slip?

Why do so many Christians insist that evolution is a tool of Satan? That’s always flipped me out.

Evolution says precisely nothing about the origin of life, it just explains the mechanism of speciation. If you’re good with it, so am I.

12. Why don’t atheists actually question everything?

They’re always advocating skepticism, but fail to question their own views, including that of skepticism. If we should doubt everything, why not doubt atheism?

Those weak sisters are called “agnostics.”

Just kidding.

Doubting atheism does not equate to faith. I’ve done this before, but here are two statements:

I believe there is no God.
I do not believe there is a God.

See the difference? One is an active belief. The other is not. One is an act of faith, the other is skepticism.

13. Where do rights come from?

Most atheists are supporters of the gay rights movement, and are furious when someone denies a homosexual of his or her rights just because of their sexual orientation. So it’s pretty clear that atheists believe inalienable rights exist. But where do they come from? How can they be explained naturally?

Oh, Jesus. (No pun intended.) See the left sidebar over there under “the ‘Rights’ Discussion.” I’ve written probably a hundred thousand words on the topic, and I’m not reproducing them here.

14. How can there be no objective evil, but religion causes it?

A top argument in the atheist arsenal is that religion causes evil. This doesn’t prove a thing, for Pythagoras caused evil but no one doubts that a2 + b2 = c2. But when atheists argue against religion by pointing out its sins, they assume that objective morality exists. If morality were a matter of opinion, there’d be no point in asserting it as a fact. So why do atheists use religious evil to try to disprove theism, when it actually does the opposite?

Because a lot of atheists are assholes? And a lot of ostensibly Christian people are hypocrites? Can you, for instance explain “Thou Shall Not Kill” and “Kill them all, God will know his own”?

A lot of the problem that big-“A” Atheists have with the religious is the amount of slaughter done in the name of some deity, but as one of my readers has pointed out, Atheists have done some major slaughter of their own, once they got their hands on the levers of power. They haven’t had as long a history at it, but they’ve slugged at way over their weight in the short time they have had.

15. Why are there no good reasons to believe atheism is true?

Whenever I ask an atheist to disprove God, they can’t do it. When something is true, there are good reasons to think it is true. But there are no good reasons to believe God does not exist. So why do non-believers count me as irrational when I embrace theism?

Because belief without evidence is, by definition irrational. OK, you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve come to Christianity rationally. You are not alone. But faith is only faith if you can believe no matter what. Faith says “nothing can shake my belief.” This requires irrationality. Bear in mind, this is not a judgmental word, merely descriptive.

I am an atheist because I cannot bring myself to believe, and I won’t fake it.

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