31 Questions For Atheists
I came across this list of questions for atheists and thought I would answer them:
How would you define atheism?
Atheism is a lack of belief in any gods.
Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?
How would one act according to a non-belief in god? Would I take time to not-pray? Maybe I’d spend Sunday morning standing outside a church? The answer to this idiotic question is no, I do not live my life based on the idea that there is no god. I simply live my life for me and my family, taking responsibility for my own actions. You cannot “act according to what you believe” when you don’t believe. It is a lack of belief. Lack. I'm mystified as to how my actions would differ if I acted according to what I don't believe in. My day-to-day actions take precisely zero gods into consideration, and that's the best answer I can give you.
Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?
No, just like it was not inconsistent for someone who did not believe the earth was flat to work against the common belief the earth was flat by attempting to show the earth was, in fact, round. Living in truth is the key.
How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?
It’s not that I am sure there is no god, it is that I do not blindly believe in one with no evidence. Evidence is what gives us our reality. Without evidence, it’s fiction, assumption, guesses. Reality is aptly presented by facts. Not old stories.
How sure are you that your atheism is correct?
My lack of belief that there are any gods is a direct result of there being no evidence for them. I would change my mind about there being a god if there was evidence that one existed. It’s got nothing to do with being correct or incorrect.
How would you define what truth is?
Truth is represented by facts that are backed up with evidence.
Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?
Because there is no evidence for god.
Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?
That has nothing to with atheism. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god. That’s it. But if I had to choose, I'd go with, "or what."
Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? Why or why not?
No, it’s not a worldview, because it is simply a lack of belief in a god. You can’t make an entire worldview out of that. An atheist can still believe in anything else, just not a god. They can believe psychics are real, they can believe the weather is caused by bejewelled dragons living in Mt. Everest. They can believe storks deliver babies. A worldview cannot be just a lack of belief in a god.
Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?
Because religion is wrong. Teaching children to believe that this life is just a lead-up to what comes after is teaching them that this life is not as valuable as it is. Many believers blame their actions on forces outside of their control rather than taking responsibility for what they do. They feel god is in control and some people take that literally and, lacking faith in themselves, let their potential wither and die away while they pray for change. It also endorses hate, intolerance and denies scientific evidence. It has been the driving force behind brutal killings, genocides, executions, rapes, slavery, oppression and it has driven millions of people to suicide. It’s wrong, no matter which way you slice it.
If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?
I was never a believer.
Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?
Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?
Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?
Must God be known through the scientific method?
No. Demonstrable, repeatable evidence is all I require.
If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?
Do we have any purpose as human beings?
Absolutely. There are many different possible ways to have a purpose in your life. It can be something completely subjective, like raising your kids to be great people or spending your life rescuing animals. It can also be something for the benefit of all, like publishing research and works that will lead to massive change in our world that lasts well beyond a lifetime.
If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?
It can be determined by the individual and in some cases it can also be determined by the legacy and impact we leave behind (such as in the case of Hippocrates or Herman Melville or Mark Twain or Galileo).
Where does morality come from?
My morality comes from my conscience, compassion, consequences, my family and me. My mother and father taught me the difference between right and wrong. I have furthered those teachings through thought. I take full responsibility for my morality. I can, without the help of a book or a fictional character, understand right from wrong all on my own.
Are there moral absolutes?
Let me ask you this in response: how can you, as a Christian, claim objective morality when the church has changed its position on so many things throughout its history, splintering off into tens of thousands of offshoots based on those moral differences? Not to mention the violence and slaughter committed by the various churches, in the name of those churches, and even by your god?
If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?
Teaching children to fear hell is always wrong.
Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?
No, I do not. I believe horrible shocking things come from messed up people who became messed up through previous trauma or through mental illness. I don't think they are inherently evil.
If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?
I don’t believe in him, so I don’t believe he is one way or another.
What would it take for you to believe in God?
What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?
Demonstrable independently reproduced findings that prove it.
Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?
Just demonstrable, repeatable, independently verifiable.
Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why?
Atheists. Why? Because atheists take responsibility for their own actions, and they take action to make things better rather than pray. Atheists, generally speaking, have a better standard of evidence, protecting them from being led to believe things that are not true. ie. the belief that flying oneself into a building will land you in everlasting paradise.
Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).
Honestly, I don't know. I kinda flip flop.
If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?
Again, nothing to do with atheism. Atheism is merely the lack of belief in a god. One atheist could believe the brain is run by My Little Ponies, another could think the brain is nothing but chemical reactions. Depends on the atheist. The only thing we have in common is a lack of belief in god.
If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time? If not, why not? How does one lead to the other?
No, I don’t think our brains will evolve to the point that they become a deity. Evolution does not mean things become more powerful. Evolution means adaptation to the environment. If surviving our environment required us to be less intelligent, evolution would lead to a weaker mind.
If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?
Every argument I have ever had with a creationist has gone the same way as this questionnaire: it just proves that they do not understand what atheism is. It’s absolutely impossible to have a coherent, civilized debate with a creationist until they understand what atheism is. I doubt that day will ever come.
What are your answers to these questions? Feel free to post in the comments, or write your own blog post and send me the link: firstname.lastname@example.org