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Apr 18 2013

No one told me!

askanatheist

Apparently, it’s Ask an Atheist Day, that time when we’re supposed to be open to answering questions from people curious about atheists.

Well, I’m waiting.

125 comments

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  1. 1
    Tim Smith

    Oooh Ooh me first! Got any big plans this weekend?

  2. 2
    dianne

    Boxers, briefs, or commando?

    What? You said I could ask you anything.

  3. 3
    chigau (違う)

    If you could be an animal, what would you be?

  4. 4
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    What is the scenario my torts professor is going to inflict on me tomorrow?

  5. 5
    Glen Davidson

    Why do you hate god, and why do you deny the clear evidence that the universe and life are designed?

    (can’t get much more stupid than that, since that’s the way the “questions” seem to be going)

    Glen Davidson

  6. 6
    steve oberski

    @chigau

    If PZ isn’t already an animal, then what is he ?

  7. 7
    okstop

    When you eat the unbaptized children, do you have any special way of preparing them, or does Satan give you the ability to just consume them whole and uncooked (obviously as a reward for your loyalty to his Earthly agenda)?

  8. 8
    MarcusC

    How do you sleep at night? Is it easier because you know there isn’t a celestial dick waiting to mess with people for some divine in-joke.

  9. 9
    PZ Myers

    #1: Working. Working working working.

  10. 10
    PZ Myers

    #2: I’m going to have to demand original questions.

  11. 11
    yazikus

    Smithsonian magazine has a page in the very back where they answer reader questions. My favorite was from Jerry, in Eugene, OR. “How much water is in a cloud? What would be left if you squeezed the water out of it?” I am sure he asked it in good faith, but all I could do was to snortle and think to myself “and then Jerry asked, Why does my ice cream taste like rainbows?”. Cause, Eugene… yeah. It was funnier in my head.

    Well, I’m waiting.

    What is your favorite novel?

  12. 12
    PZ Myers

    #3: I am an animal already!

  13. 13
    PZ Myers

    #4: It will be something that will make you question your decision to go into law at all. You will pine for the questions about biology I would ask you instead.

  14. 14
    PZ Myers

    #5: Because I’m a bully, and god is such an easy target.

  15. 15
    PZ Myers

    #7: Ooh, yuck. Who would eat unbaptized children?

  16. 16
    PZ Myers

    #8: Usually on my left side.

  17. 17
    PZ Myers

    #11: There can be no favorite novel. It’s like asking what is my favorite breath.

  18. 18
    michaeldowd

    Okay, I’ve got a question: :-)…

    How come you atheists so often seem to be so damn happy?

    Sincerely,

    ~ Michael

  19. 19
    johnlee

    Question: “You could be wrong, so why don’t you pray to God – just in case?”
    Answer: “Of course, and you could be wrong, too, so why don’t you get yourself circumcised – just in case”

  20. 20
    maudell

    I heard this question on a podcast a couple months ago and I still can’t answer it:

    Would you rather ride a gigantic duck or 20 miniature horses?

  21. 21
    chigau (違う)

    There was a secret hidden message, dammit.

  22. 22
    KillJoy

    I participated in this on Twitter today.
    Some of the questions I got:
    1. Don’t you realize you’re just as bad as the christians you hate?
    2. Why do you hate christians?
    3. Why do you hate people’s beliefs?
    4. Can you describe, in one word, why you dont believe in god?

    Pretty much all of the questions I got (except for #4) had to do with me hating things. All of my “I dont hate anyone, here let me explain my position” answers were met with “Stop dodging the question”. My answer to #4? “Evidence”.

    Eternally Hateful, I remain,
    KJ

  23. 23
    chigau (違う)

    I second maudell’s question.

  24. 24
    PZ Myers

    #18: Because we’re unburdened with bullshit.

    #20: Where am I going?

    #22: I’d answer the first 3 with “I hate stupidity and ignorance, why don’t you?” Your answer to #4 is pretty good.

  25. 25
    Chris Clarke

    Are zebrafish light with dark stripes or dark with light stripes?

  26. 26
    mythbri

    Why is a mouse when it spins?

  27. 27
    glodson

    How often do you bathe in the tears of sweet Baby Jesus?

  28. 28
    A. R

    Which is the better model organism, worms or flies?

  29. 29
    Ingdigo Jump

    Why does fa speak?

  30. 30
    Delft

    Why do you discriminate against sock puppets?

  31. 31
    steve oberski

    Which taste better, consecrated or unconsecrated hosts ?

  32. 32
    Argle Bargle

    Why can’t Mr. Fork and Mr. Electrical Socket be friends?

  33. 33
    gridlore

    If you actually could saddle up and ride a dinosaur, which one would you choose? (Assume the dino has been trained to accept a rider.)

  34. 34
    saguache

    When is God going to take everyone from Kansas, Utah and Arizona back up to heaven? I’m getting tired of their bullshit.

  35. 35
    dianne

    I think Yossarian already asked the only question really worth asking about atheism: What makes you so sure? (Ja, I know, it’s still not an original question.)

  36. 36
    oolon

    Why did I find the trap door to my oubliette open with a rope improvised from what looks like tentacles dangling down enticingly for me, am I going to be shot “escaping” or is there an amnesty for poseurs no one told me about?

  37. 37
    Subtract Hominem, a product of Nauseam

    If humans either were sculpted from dust in the image of God, or evolved from monkey-like ancestors, why are clumps of dust called “bunnies”?

  38. 38
    Hank_Says

    Oi, mate, you’re a Yank: why did America go to all the trouble of taking “U”s out of words like “colour” and replacing “S”s with “Z”s and turning “plough” into “plow” (but, oddly, not “rough” into “ruff”), all in the name of simplifying English – only to keep using frakking miles and pounds and inches and ounces?

  39. 39
    Brian E

    OK smarty pants atheists, answer me this: If birds can fly, why did planes evolve? No? Ha, evilution is a lie, and I brilliantly disproved it with my outstanding logic.

  40. 40
    launcespeed

    What’s for lunch?

  41. 41
    pacal

    PZ do atheists eat babies with orange or sweet and sour sauce?

  42. 42
    Glen Davidson

    What was Jodi Arias thinking when she was stabbing Travis Alexander?

    She doesn’t tell us.

    Glen Davidson

  43. 43
    John Small Berries

    Ooh, yuck. Who would eat unbaptized children?

    Are you kidding? If you eat the unbaptized ones, you get the added joy of sending their little souls straight to Hell, since Pope Benedict was kind enough to abolish Limbo.

  44. 44
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    How many deaths will it take til we know that too many people have died?

  45. 45
    CJO

    No one told me!

    Well, see, tell an atheist day is next month. I’ll be staying home.

  46. 46
    carlie

    I got only two questions. :( But they were both from awesome people, so yay! (who can self-identify if they wish, but I won’t go plastering their names all over in case they don’t)

    One was “Dawkins. The fuck?”

    I just wish I knew the answer to that one.

  47. 47
    PZ Myers

    #25: Zebrafish are light with dark stripes. I watch embryos, remember — they all start out pale, and I can actually see the melanocytes migrate out of the population of neural crest cells and differentiate into stripes.

    #26: Because it dances when it mouses.

    #27: Tears? Madness. Everyone knows you bathe in the blood of baby Jesus.

    #28: Zebrafish. Or Arabidopsis.

    #29: Is this the start to a Julie Andrews song?

    #30: I don’t discriminate. I hate them all equally.

    #31: There is absolutely no difference.

    #32: Did the Ms Socket consent to being entered by Mr Fork? There’s your answer. Fork is a privileged bastard.

    #33: Is this like that giant T. rex vs 20 Compsognathus question? Because it is stupid.

    #34: Those people aren’t going to heaven.

    #35: Because if there actually were a good reason to believe, in 3,000 years you’d think they’d come up with something better than Pascal’s Wager and Biblical literalism.

    #36: OK, you’ve come up with a reason to believe god is a rabbit. Go try it on a Christian.

    #37: Wait, you’re asking for a rational explanation of America? Ha.

    #38: You try to get a tiny bag of peanuts and 3 ounces of coke from a bird.

    #39: It’s almost 7pm here. You missed lunch, so NOTHING.

    #40: Those don’t sound like barbecue sauces. Interloper! Seize him!

    #41: Who?

    #43: All of them.

    #44: Every day is tell an atheist day.

  48. 48
    PZ Myers

    #45: You’re asking the wrong atheist.

  49. 49
    markr1957

    Q. What’s the difference between a duck?

    [What's with all the questions involving ducks? Do I look like an ornithologist? --pzm]

  50. 50
    redpanda

    What’s the coolest fact you know about biology that most people don’t?

    [If I told you it wouldn't be my cool little secret anymore --pzm]

  51. 51
    Hank_Says

    #37: Wait, you’re asking for a rational explanation of America? Ha.

    I know. Consider me chastised.

  52. 52
    Lofty

    (Pouty face)
    Whyyyyy?

    [Beeecaaaaaauuse. --pzm]

  53. 53
    RFW

    Is it true that all good atheists have for lunch a sandwich filled with slices of fried baby?

    [I've been cutting back on the fried foods. --pzm]

  54. 54
    SallyStrange

    Why do I need ID to get ID? If I had ID, I wouldn’t need ID, see?

    [That's a might fine catch, that catch-22. --pzm]

  55. 55
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    PZ, is there any chance you could put the answers as edits in the relevant comments?

    [NO. --pzm]

    I’m doing a lot of scrolling up and down here. It would help!

  56. 56
    cm's changeable moniker (quaint, if not charming)

    Expecting “#54: No.” Of course. ;-)

  57. 57
    rghthndsd

    What are you wearing?

    [A pink silk teddy. And nothing else. What are you wearing, big boy? --pzm]

  58. 58
    kieran

    Why do my box plots for an entire year look excatly the same?

    [You were supposed to have identified the interesting variables in the pilot study. --pzm]

  59. 59
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?

    [Help him! Help him! Help the bombardier! --pzm]

  60. 60
    A Hermit

    I have a musical question…I’ll let Ike Willis ask for me…

    [You got it from the toilet seat. --pzm]

  61. 61
    moarscienceplz

    OK, here’s a serious question:

    I hope you saw the news about researchers trying to find the optimal oxygen level for preemies and not telling the parents they were doing it. I assume your first reaction would be that it was wrong not to discuss this with the parents, and I agree. My question is, what is the moral way to conduct this research, since too little O2 increases the risk of death and too much increases the risk of blindness. Or is this research that should never be attempted?

    [Maybe not all research should be done with the double-blind trial methodology. Constant monitoring of the individual patient with the dual goal of minimizing oxygen concentration while also minimizing respiratory distress sounds like the way to go. --pzm]

  62. 62
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    How does one transfer from a Asus7 to a Bm7 without tying one’s fingers in a knot?

    [Speak English, man! --pzm]

  63. 63
    A. R

    Why is one of the physicists in my uni’s physics department a creationist?

    [I'm guessing…religion poisoning. --pzm]

  64. 64
    Glen Davidson

    Why is one of the physicists in my uni’s physics department a creationist?

    At the least, denial isn’t a bad bet.

    Glen Davidson

  65. 65
    No One

    Are you an embryologist?

    [I'm a developmental biologist. That's an embryologist on steroids. --pzm]

  66. 66
    robro

    What does diddy-wah-diddy mean?

    [Ask me again when you're a little older. --pzm]

  67. 67
    FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!)

    My daughter has a question*:

    How many foxes can you scare with one flashlight?

    *We were riding home in the dark last night and she got scared because there were things out there that wanted to hurt her. When I pointed out that there were no large dangerous animals in Australia she said “But there are foxes!” I had given her a torch to play with as she rode along on the back of my bike, so I pointed out that foxes run away from torches.

    [The first time she aims that light out there, and the eyeshine appears, and comes closer and closer and closer, she'd going to cuss you out. --pzm]

  68. 68
    Larry

    A train leaves Los Angeles at 7:30, bound for Chicago and travels at 80 MPH. A second train leaves Chicago at 9:42, destined to arrive in Seattle 20 hours later. What time should Bill arrive at JFK airport in New York to make his flight to Frankfurt, Germany which departs at 10:30. Show your work.

    [8:30. Always arrive 2 hours early for your frisking. --pzm]

  69. 69
    evilisgood

    Is it safe?

    [Yes, it's safe. It's very safe. It's so safe you wouldn't believe it. --pzm]

  70. 70
    Argle Bargle

    Should atheists get insurance for “acts of god”?

    [Why? God loves you very much. --pzm]

  71. 71
    Subtract Hominem, a product of Nauseam

    Ogvorbis @ 61

    It depends on what positions and fingerings you’re using. x02030 to x20202 is quite comfortable.

  72. 72
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    Could you, would you on a boat?
    Could you, would you with a goat?

    [I have, on a boat. Never, with a goat. Wait, what are you talking about? --pzm]

  73. 73
    Glen Davidson

    Could you, would you on a boat?
    Could you, would you with a goat?

    Atheists would do it anywhere with anything.

    Don’t you listen to the televangelists?

    Glen Davidson

  74. 74
    Great American Satan

    What’s in the box?

    [Can't tell you. Spoiler! --pzm]

  75. 75
    Great American Satan

    I will accept answers from Dune, Se7en, or anything else you can come up with. But it’s gotta be legit!

  76. 76
    SallyStrange

    1. What is your name?

    [PZ Myers. --pzm]

    2. What is your quest?

    [To crush my enemies, to see them driven before me, and to hear the lamentations of their women. --pzm]

    3. What is the capital of Abyssinia?

    [You mean, "Assyria." --pzm]

    [Blue, no…AAAAAAAIAIAAIAIIIIEEE! --pzm]

  77. 77
    SallyStrange

    Furthermore, what has it got in its pocketsesss?

    [Tricksy. --pzm]

  78. 78
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Marcus @8:
    Gendered slurs are frowned upon here. There are many other words other than ‘dick’ to use as insults.

  79. 79
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    PZ: when/why did you begin connecting your atheism with social justice?

    [Always thought it was implicit. --pzm]

  80. 80
    Esteleth, [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    What is the punishment for Sally mis-quoting Monty Python?

    [Spankings! Many spankings! And then...the oral sex! --pzm]

    Also, what is the capital of Assyria?

    [Assur, as everyone knows. --pzm]

  81. 81
    Pteryxx

    What’s the best question you’ve ever gotten from a student?

    [Any of them. Every teacher knows the hard part is just getting them to ask questions. --pzm]

  82. 82
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Dang, PZ’s going red for answers. The Pullet Patrol™ has been debating, which come first, the Pullet or the Egg?. Feel free to ignore them…

    [Since eggs are an ancient metazoan innovation, and chickens are a relatively recent species, the answer should be obvious. --pzm]

  83. 83
    yazikus

    @sallystrange
    But more importantly, what is your favorite color?

    [Black. --pzm]

  84. 84
    mythbri

    @FossilFishy #66

    When I pointed out that there were no large dangerous animals in Australia

    Is your daughter not afraid of all of the small dangerous animals in Australia? Because if not, she’s braver than I am!

  85. 85
    mythbri

    What is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?

    [Life, the Universe, and Everything are meaningless, so there is no answer. --pzm]

  86. 86
    Rob

    PZ, what really happened to Schrödinger’s cat?

    [It probably lazed around, eating and pooping, until one day it died. Schrödinger's experiment was a thought experiment, remember: no cats were harmed. --pzm]

  87. 87
    mythbri

    Four men sat down to play,
    They played all night ’till break of day.
    They played for gold and not for fun
    With separate scores for everyone.
    When they came to square accounts,
    They all had made quite fair amounts.
    Can you the paradox explain,
    If no one lost, how could all gain?

    [They were musicians. --pzm]

  88. 88
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Mythbri:
    Dont we need to know the ultimate question before we get the ultimate answer?

  89. 89
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Why would someone make a baby Jesus butt plug?

    [People worship the Lord in different ways. --pzm]

  90. 90
    A. R

    If intelligent design creationists evolved from AiG creationists, why are there still AiG creationists?

    [We're not going to say one way or the other, except to suggest that the Darwinian dogmatists ought to consider the imminent failure of their paradigm and perhaps explore alternative explanations. --pzm]

  91. 91
    anteprepro

    Is it racist if I don’t like elves?

    [Pe-channas! --pzm]

    Why would someone make a baby Jesus butt plug?

    Because Catholic priests (?)

  92. 92
    No One

    #88
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    “Why would someone make a baby Jesus butt plug?”

    Open up and let Jesus in.

  93. 93
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    For the record, the “why would someone make a baby Jesus butt plug?” was a question asked of me by my then-14-year-old DaughterSpawn after reading some Pharyngula comment thread. She’s now 17, and Pharyngula has been a fabulous source of community, friends, and learning. Even about stuff more mundane than baby Jesus butt plugs.

    The correct answer to the question is SonSpawn’s: “Because it’ll save your ass.”

  94. 94
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    Who are you?

    [Some guy with a blog. --pzm]

    What do you want?

    [An end to religion, the dissolution of the Republican party, world peace and prosperity, and more science. --pzm]

  95. 95
    Old At Heart

    Who would win in a fight, Zeus or Odin?

    [The phantasms would flail ineffectually at one another, until a human being whiffed them away with a wave of their hand. --pzm]

  96. 96
    anteprepro

    [Pe-channas! --pzm]

    And so I learn that the racism is justified. And also that PZ has been working for Keebler the whole time.

  97. 97
    Rob

    Have you ever had a cat sit on your lap and, at least once, thought “this is nice” rather than “can I feed this to a squid”?

    [Have you ever had a squid in your lap? Don't judge me by your narrow domain of experience. --pzm]

  98. 98
    Stacy

    Can you make me a cambric shirt without any seam or needlework?

    [No. Nothing personal, I just don't have the slightest idea how to do that. --pzm]

  99. 99
    Great American Satan

    Two more:

    Who put the bop in the bop-shoo-bop?

    And, eh, why not,
    How’d it get burned?

  100. 100
    Rob

    Have you ever had a cat sit on your lap and, at least once, thought “this is nice” rather than “can I feed this to a squid”?

    [Have you ever had a squid in your lap? Don't judge me by your narrow domain of experience. --pzm]

     
    Nearly! After staring at each other for a while and a brief discussion Mr Octopus and I decided that it could have the fish.

  101. 101
    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain

    @93:

    What do you want?
    [An end to religion, the dissolution of the Republican party, world peace and prosperity, and more science. --pzm]

    Uh oh. Now, the Shadows will arrange for humans to learn new nanotech, culminating in grey goo…
     
    More science, brief prosperity, then dissolution, the end of religion, and world peace at last.

  102. 102
    Nemo

    How many roads must a man walk down?

  103. 103
    Owlmirror

    What’s your favorite beer?

  104. 104
    imkindaokay

    are you the piano player from glee?
    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ln9xk3yTwS1qh6p8b.jpg

  105. 105
    Great American Satan

    The question day thing must be over in his time zone. :-P Siiiigh. Now we’ll never know these important answers.

  106. 106
    Kaia Dekker

    1) I last took biology courses in 2001. What are the major new concepts / paradigms / understandings in biology that I should know about from the last 10 years?

    2) I love your developmental bio blog posts! Do you have a recommended textbook for someone interested in reading up in their spare time?

  107. 107
    Suido

    As the great Beard wrote, ‘All the world’s a beard, and all the animals merely follicles.’

    What kind of follicle are you?

  108. 108
    Delft
    Why do you discriminate against sock puppets?

    #30: I don’t discriminate. I hate them all equally.

    I bet if you gave the Scottish Falsetto Socks a chance, you’d be a fan. They are much too cute to hate.

  109. 109
    yubal

    If religion would cease to exist today, would you celebrate and if yes, how?

  110. 110
    yubal

    101 Nemo

    only those that lead you to Rome.

  111. 111
    chigau (違う)

    That was fun.
    But I never got an answer.
    And not one real theist showed up to ask a question.

    Ing #29
    Fa loves Pa.

  112. 112
    glodson

    Is it too late to ask questions?

    Do you keep emblems representing people who have given you some credit for their deconversion?

  113. 113
    Glen Davidson

    101 Nemo

    only those that lead you to Rome.

    I thought it was those that led away from Rome.

    Unless that was about direction…

    Glen Davidson

  114. 114
    yubal

    glen

    that is simply addressed by the sign in front of the motion.

  115. 115
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    Chigau:
    I think PZ would get some _lovely_ turnout on ‘Ask a Feminist’ Day…

  116. 116
    yubal

    # 108

    Seriously. If religion would end, how would you celebrate it? (public question)

    For reference. The youth of Moscow celebrated itself and the end of communism like this in 1991:

  117. 117
    chigau (違う)

    Tony
    Oh my yes.
    The banhammer would be busy.

    yubal
    Communism ended?

  118. 118
    yubal

    alternatively, the USSR ceased to exist.

  119. 119
    chigau (違う)

    yubal

    alternatively, the USSR ceased to exist.

    That I can agree with.
    sort of

  120. 120
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Maudel #20

    I heard this question on a podcast a couple months ago and I still can’t answer it:

    Would you rather ride a gigantic duck or 20 miniature horses?

    The duck. Splitting yourself into 20 sounds painful.

  121. 121
    PZ Myers

    Ask an Atheist Day is over. Now I can stonewall you until next year.

  122. 122
    chigau (違う)

    nooooo faaaaaiirr

  123. 123
    marko

    #20
    I heard the duck one a while ago, only it was would you rather be a attacked by a horse sized duck, or 20 duck sized horses. This led to extended arguments with my siblings.

    Of course, the answer is the horses. Can you really imagine coming face to face with an angry horse sized duck? 20 duck sized horses would be annoying at worst.

  124. 124
    Lars

    [Since eggs are an ancient metazoan innovation, and chickens are a relatively recent species, the answer should be obvious. --pzm]

    I’m sure you meant ovious but got autocorrected.

    Zebrafish are light with dark stripes. I watch embryos, remember — they all start out pale, and I can actually see the melanocytes migrate out of the population of neural crest cells and differentiate into stripes.

    Funny, I figured it out by its relatives (here are some of the closest), but of course I’m many time zones too late.

  125. 125
    coffeehound

    @ 87,

    [They were musicians. --pzm]

    Wait, no, xe said they made money at the end…

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