“Dear godless Mom,
You are going to land your kids in hell, bitch mom. Just try to answer these questions, you can’t…………………….”
Of course, there followed a link to this page.
After I read this note, I’m not gonna lie to you, I had to stop and focus on my breathing for I was far too intimidated to do anything else. Not only did this guy’s intellectual prowess leap out of that email and smack me in the brow, but there was that elongated ellipsis… damn…
I caught my breath and focused. Unsure of what I was to find after the jump, I clicked the link. My heart leaped when I read,
Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…
Would I be able to answer these questions? It must have been the way the asker capitalized all the words in the first sentence but not the second, or perhaps the failure to pluralize “atheist” or punctuate the sentence. Maybe it was the promise of interesting conclusions or the haunting similarity the language held to the email I’d received with the link… whatever it was, it had my stomach in knots as my eyes drifted to the first question!
1. How did you become an atheist?
Phew. Okay. I can answer this one. I became an atheist when I was born.
2. What happens when we die?
Huh. Another gimme. Well, we decompose and break down into smaller forms of matter which eventually become part of other more complex animals, plants or minerals. Usually, there is a funeral. In New Orleans, they are way more fun than anywhere else. Sometimes we’re shoved in a box and buried, others we get put in a pizza oven until we turn to dust. If we’re lucky, we leave behind a legacy and fond memories in the minds of our loved ones. Perhaps a memorial is erected in our name somewhere, maybe at our grave, or if we’re Obama or some other important historical figure, we could find ourselves memorialized next to Lincoln in the shadow of the Washington Monument. Most people leave behind a will, which determines where our shit oughtta go. Over time, the wound your departure left starts to close over and then in a billion years or so, when Plutonians rule the Universe and humans are extinct, you’re nothing to no one and no trace of you, outside of particles of stardust that once made up you, exists to be found.
3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
Well, if I am wrong and there is a Heaven and a Hell, well, then the entire lot of us will spending eternity in Heaven or suffering.
There are only two ways that Heaven can truly be blissful. One, is that there is no Hell, and the other is that the loved ones in your life who go to Hell are erased from your memory once you arrive in Heaven, so you feel no pain in their torment or in their absence. Being as most mothers and fathers would admit that without their children, they would be lost, you are changing the core of who that person is by removing memories of a cherished child. Some people would say the same about their significant other, brother, sister, mother or father. So, either Hell is not real, or everyone in Heaven is but a shell of their former selves.
Either there is no eternal punishment, or both Heaven- and Hell-bound folk are punished for all eternity.
Sounds fucking silly to me. I thought Heaven was supposed to be a reward, not a lobotomy.
4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
Um. Learning, adaptation, observation of the world around me? Lessons I was taught as a child by my parents, my teachers and other significant people in my life? The same place you get your morality from, I’m afraid. You want me to believe that deep inside you’re an awful human being just waiting for any excuse to murder and torture people and the only thing stopping you is that there might be a God up there somewhere? I mean, maybe that’s the case. Maybe you are a raging psychopath held in check by your beliefs… maybe that’s true for you, but you have to understand, it’s not true for the vast majority of us. Most of us, believe it or not, are innately good, kind, compassionate and courteous.
5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
We can do what we want whether there is a God or not. All actions have natural consequences. Some have legal consequences. You believe many have eternal consequences. Most people assess the natural, very real consequences of their actions before anything else. For instance, most people don’t kill other people, not because they are afraid of Hell, not because they are afraid of prison, but because the idea of taking a human life makes them sick. They know they could not take the life out of a body and have their lives continue on as normal as they were the day before. They know that drawing another man’s blood until he died would bring about a sadness more intense than anything else they’ve ever felt. They understand that they would be emotionally crippled, and unable to live with themselves. They get that life from that moment forward would be infinitely more difficult. Most people feel no desire to kill other people, because most people feel no desire to destroy themselves with self-loathing, desperation and despair.
If you’re saying that the sole reason you don’t kill is because you don’t want to burn in hell, well hun, please know, you need help and probably should not be roaming the streets unmonitored.
There are two things that stop us from being “free to murder and rape”. One, as mentioned above, is our own conscience. Two, is the law. I guarantee that even the most devout Christians are stopped from raping and killing because of their conscience and/or the law, and not the threat of Hell. Ask yourself, if tomorrow there was irrefutable proof that there was no Hell, would you go out and suddenly want to murder and rape people? No. Probably not.
Likewise, if you’re only committing good deeds for the promise of reward, well then they’re not really good deeds, are they?
6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
What? Like, I don’t even get this question. I really don’t. Let’s say tomorrow we find out definitively there is no God. It’s been proven beyond any doubt. Would that suddenly erase the meaning of Plato’s life? Hippocrates? Shakespeare? Galileo? DaVinci? Einstein? Rosa Parks? Suddenly, their lives meant nothing? What? Your question doesn’t add up logically.
I make my own meaning. I will leave a legacy. I don’t need God for that.
7. Where did the universe come from?
This is something we don’t fully understand yet. It’s sort of like back when we thought the Earth was the centre of the Universe – we didn’t understand yet that we revolved, along with other planets, around the sun. There was a time when we didn’t understand that the best defense against disease and illness is sanitation. Not so long ago, we didn’t know how to fly across the Atlantic, send electronic e-mail or what the surface of Mars looked like. But just because we couldn’t explain it then, didn’t mean it was inexplicable, did it? We figured it out; we found out the truth. Not being able explain something today does not mean it’s inexplicable. It just means we have not found the answers yet. Rest assured, we will.
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 them? Provide evidence of these things, and I will surely believe. You need to familiarize yourself with the difference between hearsay, and empirical evidence. Also, going back to question 7, some things are not easily explained. Making up a story to explain them, isn’t the answer. Studying the phenomena in controlled environments will likely yield the true answers and more often than not, when “miracles” are studied closely in this way, they are found to be easily explained.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, just because you can’t explain something that happened in your own life while you were alone, doesn’t mean it can’t easily be explained by someone with more qualifications and education to study such things closely.
9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
Fallible men who do or did put their pants on one leg at a time, have a gorgeous way with words and whose minds are full of the very same knowledge we have access to if we seek it out.
Plus, Sam’s kinda cute.
10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
Because human beings seek explanations for the world around them. God fills the gaps in our knowledge, but those gaps are shrinking and he’s being squeezed out like a zit on your prepubescent forehead.
Oddly, when I came to the end of this set of questions, which we’ve all heard before, there were no “interesting conclusions”. I was kind of looking forward to those, but I guess the author of these questions also promised 10 questions we cannot answer honestly, and then made one of them, “What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?”.
How easily can you answer these questions? Leave your answers in the comments!