Christian Answers has this list of questions up and while I appreciate the fact that they attempt to use inviting language and a reasonable tone, what most Christians asking similar questions don’t understand, is that sometimes it’s the very question itself that’s insulting, not the tone or extra ad homs. Some of these questions are just completely unreasonable, and makes it near impossible to answer them. Let’s give it a shot though.
1. “If all of life is meaningless, and ultimately absurd , why bother to march straight forward, why stand in the queue as though life as a whole makes sense?” —Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There
I fucking hate this. I hate this question and as much as I want to be able to say that the asker and myself are on the same intellectual level, this question is dishonest and childish, like the neighbour kid asking, “I know you are, but what am I?”. It’s literally just as fucking silly. Why? Well first, there are two ways to look at the meaning of life. One, is on an objective level – what is the meaning of there being life at all – and two, more subjective – what is the meaning of your life?
I’m just going to go ahead and assume that the asker is referring to the objective version, because I’m pretty sure there’s not an atheist who doesn’t find meaning in his or her own life, myself included. Given we’re talking about the objective question of meaning for the very existence of life itself, the question becomes even more absurd, though. It assumes that the existence of life ought to have a meaning, and that we ought to be able to understand that meaning at this point in our collective human knowledge. That, to me, is an arrogant and absurd assertion: that somehow, we’re owed some kind of explanation.
Taking that a step further, and providing our own explanation, for which there is no evidence, is even more absurd. For me, I don’t need the explanation, nor do I feel we are owed one. There is no explanation that we have evidence for as of yet, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I fail to see how not having an explanation for why the Universe showed up in the first place, is a reason to give up on life completely. In fact, it’s the opposite. The unanswered questions about life and our universe are what drive many people to push on.
2. If everyone completely passes out of existence when they die, what ultimate meaning has life? Even if a man’s life is important because of his influence on others or by his effect on the course of history, of what ultimate significance is that if there is no immortality and all other lives, events, and even history itself is ultimately meaningless?
Again, you make the mistake of assuming we are somehow entitled to objective meaning. What makes you so arrogant? Is it not enough to give your own life meaning within the context of human history? Why does it need to somehow have an impact on everything that ever was? That’s just silly and juvenile.
3. Suppose the universe had never existed. Apart from God, what ultimate difference would that make?
None. It would make no difference. Does that make you uncomfortable?
4. In a universe without God or immortality, how is mankind ultimately different from a swarm of mosquitoes or a barnyard of pigs?
We’re not. Again, wanting to be more and better and superior does not make it so. Something I learned when I was 8 or 9 years old and I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid. I learned that it’s not enough to just want something. You can’t wish something into truth.
5. What viable basis exists for justice or law if man is nothing but a sophisticated, programmed machine?
Consequences. There are consequences for doing certain things. We have a conscience, first of all, that prevents most of us from doing shitty things. We’ve been hardwired through evolution, to feel guilt. It stops us from doing a lot of things, or righting things we may have already done wrong. The strong emotions we feel drive us to enact laws to protect each other and society from those whose conscience may not be fully functioning. I don’t need some threat of eternal damnation to know there ought to be a law against murderin’ folks. It’s concerning that this question insinuates that some do.
6. Why does research, discovery, diplomacy, art, music, sacrifice, compassion, feelings of love, or affectionate and caring relationships mean anything if it all ultimately comes to naught anyway?
Why does it need to, again? You take someone like Nikola Tesla, who was driven by the questions in his head. He wanted to know more about electricity, so he woke up, day in and day out, with the aim of figuring shit out. The questions and curiosity he had were enough for him to get up, get dressed and seek answers. Why does there need to be more than that? Mark Twain was driven by a similar passion to my own. He loved the shape and form of a story coming together under the clacking keys of his typewriter. He was driven by his love for and desire to write. Should he have needed more? He’s passed on his stories to generation after generation, millions of people have enjoyed them. Does there need to be a bigger meaning to what he did than that? I’m curious to know why?
7. Without absolute morals, what ultimate difference is there between Saddam Hussein and Billy Graham?
In order for this question to have any merit, you must first assume there is someone or something outside of our Universe to whom “ultimate” difference must matter. Without that, why does there need to be an “ultimate” difference? The difference between the two within the bounds of human history is all we’ve got for sure. Although, I would have chosen someone like Bill Gates or Jose Mujica as the good one, because Billy Graham is a douchecanoe.
Um. I see no connection between the two parts of this question, but for the sake of argument, I’ll indulge this idiocy (pardon the pun… get it? Dostoyevsky? Sigh… I’m a nerd). All things should not be permitted because pain. Our emotions, our guilt, our conscience, our empathy, and our compassion are all good enough reasons to say shit like, “Hey kids, probs should not rape a lady”. We don’t need immortality to collectively not want that to be permitted.
9. If morality is only a relative social construct, on what basis could or should anyone ever move to interfere with cultures that practice apartheid, female circumcision, cannibalism, or ethnic cleansing?
On the basis that we know what causes pain and what hurts people. We have compassion. We have empathy. When people are hurt and are caused great pain by certain actions that have no benefit, those actions should be fought and eliminated. Imaginary lines drawn in the sand should not matter.
10. If there is no God, on what basis is there any meaning or hope for fairness, comfort, or better times?
People. People have consistently worked to create a better world and have succeeded. We live in a better world than the one that existed 1000 years ago. The fact that legislation is worked on and fine-tuned everyday in most countries, is an indication that most people feel it’s a good thing to continue, unendingly, to find better ways to be fair. As far as comfort goes, I am comforted by my family, my dog, my passions. I am comforted by my home. As human beings, we should and do work together to try to make sure that all people in the world can have those comforts.
Further to this however, a mere need for comfort does not force the existence of a God. Just because you need something to feel comfort, doesn’t make it real.
11. Without a personal Creator-God, how are you anything other than the coincidental, purposeless miscarriage of nature, spinning round and round on a lonely planet in the blackness of space for just a little while before you and all memory of your futile, pointless, meaningless life finally blinks out forever in the endless darkness?
Removing the words “futile”, “pointless” and “meaningless”, the answer to this is, I am not anything other than that. I’m totally okay with that. But pointless, futile and meaningless? I have no trouble finding meaning and purpose in my life without God. It’s truly a shame that you cannot.
These questions are completely dishonest and jump to conclusions without any evidence for said conclusions. As ridiculous as they are, however, the fact that they keep popping out of the mouths of believers means that these are actual questions they want answers to. So, why not answer them yourself as well? Write up your answers and post them or a link them in the comments. I’d like to see how all of you answer them.