It appears that the website Today Christian has come up with a list of questions that “Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY ANSWER!” One reason an atheist might find it hard to answer these questions is because there is not a comment section. Beyond that, these are fairly easy to answer.
1. How Did You Become an Atheist?
This has to do with two things that happened around the same time in my life. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, I became very interested in skepticism. I started to question everything I had believed before and started realizing that there was no evidence for much of what I believed (at this time I was a believer of Bigfoot, Atlantis, Aliens, etc…). At that same time I met someone, a classmate, who identified as an atheist. Until then, I actually never knew that was an option, I thought everyone in the world believed that a god(s) existed. After that, I applied my skeptical toolkit to the idea of a god and realised that it, like much of the other things I believed in, had no evidence to support it.
2. What happens when we die?
Personally, I am donating my body to science. I want my bones to be used by future anatomists to learn the wonders of the human skeleton. However, I feel this question has more philosophical connotations about an afterlife. When I was in high school, one of my friends use to always answer this question with, “Do you remember what life was like before you were born? Why do you think it will be different after you die?” I feel that is a good enough answer until one is able to provide evidence that there is an afterlife.
3. What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
I just want to point out that by asking three questions here, our author is actually asking more than ten questions.
Well, if I go to hell, I hope I burn well.
All jokes aside, there is no reason to think that such a thing as heaven or hell exists in the first place. Beyond that, this question presupposes that the author’s version of heaven and hell are the only options to me being wrong, which is not the case. There is nothing to suggest that the Christian heaven and hell is correct. A Christian’s idea of an afterlife is just as likely to be correct as any other religion’s ideas of an afterlife. There is no reason to believe this is a dichotomy. Who knows, perhaps there is an afterlife, but it is only enjoyed by those that were truly curious enough to ask questions. The fear of hell or the reward of heaven is not a good reason to believe in something.
4. Without God, where do you get your morality from?
I get my morals from the same place the author of these questions does; Society. There is nothing to suggest that morals are anything more than our shared agreement of how we should act. The good thing about this is that our moral arc has been bending to a far more just and fair society for everyone in the past few decades. One can only hope that trend continues.
5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
This question makes no sense, seeing as how the author already believes there is a god, yet rape and murder happen all the time. The question is better turned around on the author and asked, “If there is a (loving and just) god, why is there rape and murder?”
However, to answer the question, philosophically, yes. We can do whatever we want (including rape and murder). Yet, since we live in societies, and societies shape our morals and have laws, technically, we cannot do whatever we want. There are real world consequences for our actions.
Beyond that, good deeds should be their own reward. This seems to go back to question three and the authors carrot/stick beliefs about an afterlife.
6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
I make my own meaning in life. Even if there was a god(s), this would still be true.
7. Where did the universe come from?
I honestly do not know that. From my limited understanding of cosmology; the energy that makes up our universe is eternal. However, at some point in the past that energy started the universe as we know it now. The thing is, just because I do not know the answer to this question, does not mean I will pretend to have an answer. That is what theists do when they say GodDidIt to questions like this.
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?
Again, without evidence, miracles are just claims. People today claim to have connections with aliens and see them all the time. There is just as much evidence (that is to say zero) to back their stories as there is for the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus or say they saw him or angels. Claims made without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.
9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
I actually know very little about Harris. He seems to have a weird “No True Muslim” argument. Beyond that, I am actually not familiar with his work at all.
Dawkins is a wonderful biologist and communicator of evolutionary theory. If someone asked me for one book about evolution, I would say The Blind Watchmaker. However, I have read The God Delusion and have to say I was unimpressed. I read both of those books well after I had a great understanding of evolution and was an atheist, thus he did not influence me much in either of those aspects.
Hitchens is in my top ten favorite persons list. Out of the Four Horsemen, I found him the most entertaining and he was probably the only one that influenced me as a young atheist, since I would watch clips of him after I became an atheist in 8th grade. I still often go back and watch clips or whole debates of Hitchens. I read God is not Great well after I was an atheist, but I think it is good and does a much better job than The God Delusion at making a case for atheism.
However, I just want to point out that I was far more influenced by skeptics and scientists on this issue, than any atheistic writers. My influences trace back far more to Randi, Shermer, Bakker, Tyson, and the Leaky clan.
10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
Religion is not synonymous with belief in a god(s). Gods (and other supernatural entities) were created to answer questions to things that people did not know. Religions were a way to worship those things and try to gain their favor by doing rituals in the hopes it would please them. Religions were also part of the government and culture of most societies. That means in many cases, if you were not apart of that religion, you were kicked out of that society or killed. It is actually a fairly recent thing to separate religion from government. One can be religious and not believe in deities. One can also believe in deities and not have a religion. That is why people can say things like, “I am spiritual, but not religious” or “I am culturally Catholic/Jewish.” Beyond that, not all religions are the same, nor are the gods they worship. Thus, what was the point of this question?
Hat tip to Heina Dadabhoy for showing me these questions first.