Trav Answers the 10 Questions All Atheists Must Answer (Apparently)


3d human with a red question mark

Photo credit: WingedWolf (Creative Commons)

[CN: Rape and murder]

A while ago Today Christian posted 10 Question For Every Atheist to Answer. The website says these are questions “atheists cannot truly and honestly really answer” (didn’t need all those adjectives), so let me give it a try.

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?

I was raised a “wedding and funeral Christian,” which means my family and I only went to church when someone was getting either married or buried. But my mom gave me a children’s Bible, so I knew the basic stories. This was before I really dug deep, so at the time I thought God was alright guy. Then I became born-again at age 17 because, at the time, Jesus was the only thing that gave me any comfort. I’ve always struggled with mental illness, but high school only made it worse, so I was looking for some cure for the pain. I thought I found it in religion.

I always knew Christianity didn’t make sense, but instead of exploring the questions for myself, I just accepted whatever C.S. Lewis and other Christian apologists had to say. In 2010, I became involved with liberal Christianity, where I learned that the virgin birth didn’t happen and the Bible is a man-made product. The more I deconstructed my faith, the more God disappeared until one day I had nothing left.

It took me a while to identify as an atheist. At first I was a pantheist because I loved the idea that God was just another word for nature. Then I realized there’s no reason to call nature God when you can just call it nature.

2.       What happens when we die?

I don’t know for sure, but based on the available evidence, we lose consciousness forever. All our memories, thoughts, emotions, opinions, etc. . . . . gone. The only way I will live on is in the memory of my loved ones.

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

First of all, I find it interesting that heaven gets a question mark and hell gets an exclamation point.

Now there is always a slight possibility that I’m wrong. But the opposite could be true; YOU could be wrong. Maybe Allah is God. Or maybe Vishnu. Or maybe the ancient Greeks were right all along and Zeus is the true god. I’ve got a better question to ask: If God wants everyone to worship him, wouldn’t he give us more proof of his existence?

I’ve heard people say, “We don’t know everything about the universe, so who’s to say there is no god?” To which I respond, “Why would God hide himself in such a way that we need super-complicated technology to find him? And why haven’t we found him already with the technology we have now?”

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

I tend to lean towards consequentialism for ethics. If it harms or dehumanizes others, it’s morally wrong. If is produces the most good to people, as Jeremy Bentham would say, it’s morally right.

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

To quote Penn Jillette, I actually do rape and murder all the people I want to, and that number is zero. That’s because, as I mentioned above, I consider the consequences. I may not go to hell, but I’m pretty sure rape and murder will land me in prison. As far as good deeds going unrewarded, why need a reward to do good? Why not give food to a hungry simply so they won’t be hungry anymore?

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

I create my own meaning. The human race has evolved in such a way that we have the ability to create something beautiful. I don’t need a God to give me meaning for my life.

7.       Where did the universe come from?

I’m not a scientist, but right now I’m going with the Big Bang because there’s more evidence for that than divine intervention.

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?

As far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong in the comment section), there’s absolutely no evidence whatsoever for divine intervention. If someone claims to have come back from the dead and has seen Jesus, I want to know how long the person was dead and what their mental state was during that time. I want to make sure it’s not a trick of the mind.

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

Meh, they’re alright, but I’m not a big fan. I give them credit for starting conversations about atheism, but I don’t think of them as some holy trinity of atheism. Plus, Dawkins and Harris tend to stick their feet in their mouths.

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

To paraphrase Douglas Adams, our early ancestors at some one point and said, “I have the ability to make tools, so therefore there must be a higher toolmaker who made me!” All religions are human attempts to describe the indescribable. The difference between religion and science is science keeps testing theories to make sure they hold water instead of just saying, “I can’t explain it, therefore God.”

Well, there you have it, folks! I answered the questions has truthfully and honestly as I could. Feel free to give your answers in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    That’s the first Penn Jillette line I’ve seen worth adding to my quotations collection – thanks!

  2. Andrew Garber says

    Well done, Trav!! I’d congratulate you further, but honestly, I didn’t find those questions particularly hard to answer.

    Why do you think the religious think the atheist WOULD have trouble answering these questions? I mean, I could see a religious person thinking an atheist would have a hard time answering these questions, since the religious person would answer them all from a place of faith and the atheist has no faith, but to claim the atheist cannot answer these at all betrays a level of ignorance rarely seen even within the faithful community.

  3. Devocate says

    why need a reward to do good? Why not give food to a hungry simply so they won’t be hungry anymore?

    And why isn’t seeing hungry people, not be hungry anymore, a reward? How dead inside do you need to be, to help people like that, and NOT feel rewarded?

  4. Ambidexter says

    I’ve heard people say, “We don’t know everything about the universe, so who’s to say there is no god?

    “Just because science doesn’t know something doesn’t mean you can fill the hole with whatever fairy tale most appeals to you.” –Dara O’Briain

  5. says

    I’ve heard people say, “We don’t know everything about the universe, so who’s to say there is no god?” To which I respond, “Why would God hide himself in such a way that we need super-complicated technology to find him? And why haven’t we found him already with the technology we have now?”
    What’s this, an implied assumption that because you believe in God, you are more noble and I’m supposed to come to you!??
    Who the eff are you to say that there is a god? Who’s to say that there is one, on what authority that we somehow have to acquiesce to their question?
    First, you tell me where you get off thinking that you are in some special position because of ‘God’ when you can have absolutely no way of knowing whether there is a God exactly the way you are pointing out that there is no way for us to know for sure one way or the other.
    This is one of those insidious little ‘benign’ remarks that are actually an underhanded way of assuming authority to ask, but not ask or answer the exact question that applies the exact same amount to them.

    In fact, i just recently heard someone explaining that God works in mysterious ways (usually when a three year old dies of cancer). When something doesn’t sit fairly, in fact is cruelly wrong as we are able to judge, then we get that mysterious shite.

    GUESS WHAT?!? If God works in mysterious ways, then you cannot, with even the slightest amount of confidence, know why He does anything, PERIOD!
    So it necessarily follows that you don’t actually know if morality comes from God, or any single thing action or inaction; you DO NOT, EVEN AT THE BEST OF TIMES, know why anything happens the way it does, no matter if God has an airtight reason for things being the way they are.

    Disaster/injustice = God works in mysterious ways. Fortuitous and great fortune and/or happy outcomes = God works in mysterious ways, so it bears repeating: you haven’t a clue what God is thinking.

    I thought this a bloody long time ago, and I realized that there is no way to tell if the Bible is the word of God, or of a/the Devil. It’s a pathetic little story that doesn’t make sense half the time, is simplistic and childish, is so fucking obviously just rife with inconsistencies and contradictions that it’s a endlessly poor guide to living.
    See, that what the Republicans Devil would do, it is so obvious. Get people to whoreship such a contrived and unprincipled children’s story that keeps them from even questioning what reality is and even worse, keeps them from wanting to know because they think they learned everything important from the bible.
    What a fucking sick trick to play on people, we get an unfathomably but brief life that is so full of beauty and learning unconditional love and self esteem to enjoy and explore and grow, and to express the awe and curiosity that makes life have great meaning.
    The Religions, and christ all mighty ianity couldn’t be better designed to suck people in with a fucking false sense of meaning and euphoria in order to debilitate their chance to develop into beings that understand how infinitely precious it is for us to have developed consciousness.
    They are promised everything, and they are told that God loves them, even when Janjaweed is spearing women and babies in a desperate part of the world. They put it down to you know what, (God/mysterious/ways)and this fucked right up attitude that God is doing what’s right even though he mysteriously the most cruel entity ever conceived in the universe.

    Then, it is built in and driven into their naive heads that if someone tries to argue with them and makes a point that they can’t handle – IT’S THE DEVIL TALKING, DON’T LISTEN.

    So, first, who do they think they are asking us how we can me sure there is no God even though we don’t know everything? Guess what, buckshot, not only do you not know everything, you logically and therefore in actuality(there even being a god)
    not only can’t know if there is a god, because everything he doers is mysterious, you parenthetically don’t even know anything about him – by decree.

    Honestly, if I was religious, I would bet that Bible is the Devil’s handiwork. I wonder if He works in mysterious ways, lol! No, just devious.

    MikeL

  6. Menyambal says

    Lovely job! You really showed that they are easy questions, too – those were supposed to be stumpers?

    I became an atheist from attending too many different churches, and paying attention, while resenting having to be there. (Thanks, Mom, for the uncomfortable clothes, and thanks, Adolescence, for the body issues.)

    By the way, the true god would be Anubis, with a few of the Norse gods as backup.

  7. thebookofdave says

    What I find amusing about these questions is how questions of general interest to us can be an existential challenge to the ones who ask them. This exposes a kind of intellectual brittleness that influences their worldview to a far greater degree than is seen among skeptics. If someone presented evidence for a god or gods, especially from independent sources, I would begin to believe in them to the degree that the evidence was consistent and reliable.

    The theists circulating these questions are presupposing not only god’s existence, but a number of dependent theological conclusions as well.

    What happens when we die?
    Without God, where do you get your morality from?
    If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
    Where did the universe come from?

    Questions like these were adequately explored by philosophy (and philosophical naturalism) without resorting to god, long before scripture was written or assembled into canon. We are able to adapt our conclusions to fit the best available evidence in a continually expanding base of knowledge. Others long ago hitched their moral and epistemic wagons what were originally a set of hunches, and since their primary moral value is blind obedience, are fundamentally challenged to look outside the box of dogma and sacred ritual. That, and religion’s wholesale appropriation of western culture over the last two millenia have them convinced that nothing lies beyond it.

    It’s a huge blind spot for theists, and a primary reason why they think we can be stumped by such questions IMO.

  8. says

    Questions 4&5 are particularly funny because there is plenty of rape and murder in the bible that is absolutely condoned, as well as slavery and genocide. Someone was asking me where I got my morality without the bible and I asked them where I should look in the bible to determine the age of consent. How about equal rights for women? And then there’s the weight of some rules over others. Are the most important a part of the 10 commandments? If so, we should be far more concerned about disobedient children than abortion and same-sex marriages. Christians can ask me where I get morality without christianity, but I’d put the burden of proof is on them that the bible is the best source.

    Morality is ever-changing. We continue to look at the evidence available and as we better understand the implications of our laws and actions, we adapt. Refusing to change in light of new evidence makes you less, not more ethical. I don’t want any part of 3000 year-old morality.

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