Fellow blogger MyAtheistLife posted a really good series of religious questions earlier today. Although a decent number of them were directed towards monotheists (and perhaps Christians in particular) I thought I’d give answering them a shot. The post’s original questions are in bold, my responses are all italicized.
Here’s his blog, if you find such religious debates/questions interesting: http://myatheistlife.wordpress.com
1.If evolution is not true, why do mammals all share a common body plan – five digits, tube design, etc. Did the god run out of ideas or simply not have enough imagination to make more animals like the kangaroo and platypus.
As evolution is actually a scientific theory, and thus supported by numerous pieces of evidence including (but not limited to) the fossil record, DNA mapping, transitional forms, and the fact we can see it happen under strict laboratory conditions with bacteria and insects, there is little reason to not believe it to be true. Thus, I know evolution to be true based on the facts that the creationist hypothesis lacks.
2.I’ll ask about the flood myth but this goes for a lot of things. Why do believers have to invent their own ‘bible science’ which is in contention with very smart people that spend their entire lives dedicated to the science of understanding geology? Why is it necessary for believers to understand the world in terms of their holy book? Can’t they simply join the rest of humanity in the search for answers and learn from what is discovered?
They have to invent biblical “science” because otherwise they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. These people have a psychological need to believe in their religion, and often look to their spiritual texts for guidance. Well, if parts of these aforementioned texts can be proven false, then it stands to reason that other sections…perhaps ones that are more important to the core tenets of their faith…could also be incorrect. Should this happen enough times, it will punch enough holes through their scriptures that they’d be hard pressed to explain why anyone should follow this religion. However, by creating a “science” that doesn’t rely on proper use of things like radiocarbon dating, understanding the fossil record, or the scientific method, they can pretend to legitimize what their holy books say.
3.I have yet to hear a response to the Steve Project that makes sense. Does anyone have one?
Yes. The overwhelming majority of scientists believe in evolution rather than creationism because it has numerous proofs to back it up. The end.
4.Speaking of monotheism, if the god created everything where does evil come from? No, don’t bother with free will for the angels chose to disobey and they were not given free will. Which leads us to number 5.
Evil is the result of selfishness and a lack of empathy, which is always a possibility when dealing with sentient beings who have free will. One doesn’t need the Gods to have created it…we did pretty well on our own.
5.The god of Abraham has failed at the things he set out to do in spectacular fashion. On top of that, outside of natural disasters, every time he exacts punishment on humans it is done at the hands of other humans. How is this supportive of an omnipotent and omniscient god? Clearly all that foreknowledge has not helped the god of Abraham create anything that would succeed as far as we know. The god of Abraham is a failure… which leads us to number 6.
Agreed. If the god of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims actually does exist I’m frankly very unsure if said deity even has omniscient/omnipotent powers. Either than, or Abraham’s god is really inefficient at telling his followers what he actually means.
6.There are those that believe in gods. They have failed to provide credible evidence for their belief. What do you believe and how do you KNOW it to be true? If you can’t know it to be true why do you believe it. Those that believe the big bang created the universe are encouraged to explain their answer to this question.
If I want to be 100% honest here…I don’t know that the Goddess and God exist. As They would likely be supernatural in origin, there’s no way to use the laws and theories of the natural world to test Them. In this sense, I’m an agnostic theist.
As for why I’d believe in something I can’t prove, I’m guessing it has a lot to do with my upbringing. Were I raised a strict Hindu, or Christian, or Muslim, etc. I’d probably believe in the “authority” of that faith. Instead, I was sent to a private Catholic school from kindergarten thru 5th grade, but had friends that were Jewish, Hindu, and Protestant. My family not only celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah or Easter and Purim, but my grandmothers had many Middle Eastern/Asian pieces of artwork and religious pictures around our home.
So, I was taught that my Hindu friend Rashmi was just as “correct” as my Jewish friend Matthew, who was in turn just as “correct” as me. The idea of a “one true god” was foreign to my house and to this day I believe there’s many paths to the divine…including not necessarily worshipping anyone at all. Thus it’s a bigger leap for me to go from believing to not believing at all than it is to just accept numerous concepts of deity. And, as Matt Dillahunty constantly points out, one can’t really choose what to believe or not believe.
7.It appears that the human like for sweet tasting things is biological. Where do you derive your morality from? Why? What evidence do you have to show this was a correct decision?
Yup, as is our penchant for desiring fatty foods. It’s a remnant of our evolutionary past that aided us in searching out a high sugar/fat/protein diet. Obviously we no longer need to do this…someone should tell our bodies.
Morality is subjective, and subject to change per culture, era, community acceptance, etc. Hence why the bible condones things like lifelong slavery of non-Jews, forcing a woman to marry her rapist, wholesale slaughter of entire tribes including unborn fetuses, and many other actions we’d consider atrocious by today’s standards.
Personally, I derive my morality from a combination of my own ability to empathize with others, plus what I was taught as a child that has stood up to my adult scrutiny.
8.There are those that believe in an afterlife. Their world views hold that many will be tortured forever. How do you justify this belief? How do you justify the infinite torture of someone else? For those that do not believe in an afterlife, how do you justify not helping those in need? Well, even believers, how do you justify not helping those in need?
Ah…here’s where I’ll first truly disagree with Myatheistlife. Not everyone who believes in an afterlife thinks this way. I absolutely do not try to justify the infinite torture of someone else, and especially not for any finite crimes or “sins” they might have committed in their time on Earth. Instead, many Pagans (myself included) believe in reincarnation, particularly multispecies rebirth. After a sentient being dies, their soul goes to a place of reflection (known as the Summerland to some Pagans) to determine what still needs to be learned. Then the soul is reborn into a body that has a high probability of experiencing those lessons.
I also do not attempt to justify not helping those in need. The way I see it, I could be utterly wrong about my beliefs in reincarnation. This may very well be the only life we have. Ergo, it’s better to treat others as one wishes to be treated, and help others as much as possible since this life (at least) is a guarantee.
9.Have you thought your world view out to it’s logical end point? If you have, what is the meaning of existence? What purpose does this life serve? How do you reconcile your answer to this question with your answer to question 8?
Very easily. Life is meant to be lived. We experience joy and sadness, pain and pleasure, frustration and elation. It’s all a part of the cycle of growth we go through. Look around at the terrifying majesty of the natural world…Does it need more meaning than this?
10.What is you most favored music genre?
11.How do you know that the world is real? How do you know that these questions are real? How do you know that your lover/spouse/SO is real? Given the answer to this question, how can you know if the Christian Jesus was real?
Much the same as I can’t know for certain that the Gods are real, I can’t know that Jesus was real. For that matter, I can’t 100% know that Tesla or Martin Luther King Jr or Joan of Arc were real. We can only trust the numerous historians who provide evidence for these people’s existence, which tends to be good. To clarify, I do believe that enough evidence supports the existence of a flesh-and-blood pseudo-progressive rabbi that we call Jesus who died on a cross as a political dissenter and possibly “rose from the dead” (aka awoke from a catatonic stupor caused by extreme physical and mental duress) and who likely migrated to a different area afterwards to prevent recapture. But this is as far as I’ll go.
12.Given the general nastiness of the gods of monotheism, why would you worship them? Why would you worship anything or anyone? What is worthy of your worship and dedication?
Lol, I wouldn’t. I gave up trying to believe in the Abrahamic religions nearly 2 decades ago. I give thanks to the Lord and Lady because I believe They are responsible for the big bang and abiogenesis. However, I’m fairly deist otherwise as I believe they used real, scientifically testable methods to create the universe and life, but not that they dabble in our everyday lives.
Truth be told, if the scientific community proved that the Gods (any/all of them) conclusively did not exist…well, I can’t say I’d be that upset.
I’m much more focused on being the best person I can realistically be, and helping my fellow sentient beings, human or not, to have decent lives. If Yahweh/Allah/Jehovah exists and this isn’t good enough come my “judgement time”, then I doubt this god is worth worshipping anyway.
And just for some language-explict fun: