Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ten Questions for Atheists

1. How did you become an atheist?
A long story. The short answer is a long, difficult investigation into the claims of the Bible. I found they came up lacking. I'm not the type of person who can ignore evidence in order to maintain what I would like to believe. I found a lot of evidence to the contrary of the claims of the Bible, thus I could no longer believe even if I wanted to.

2. What happens when we die?

I guess we go in the ground. But honestly, I'm not sure. Personally I'm hoping the simulation hypothesis is correct and we get to wake up from the Matrix, so to speak, when we die and learn from our experiences in a true reality. A nice thought, but there's no good reason to accept that as a true proposition either. So for lack of better evidence, it would appear nothing happens when we die other than we cease to be.

3. What if You're Wrong and There is a Heaven?

Certainly wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong, but I guess it would technically be the last!

4. Without God where do you get morality from?

I was born with a sense of empathy that was encouraged by my parents. The truth is, as a non-believer I kill and rape as much as I want to. Which is exactly zero.  I don't want to hurt people, in fact the opposite. I want to help people. I want to make people's lives better. This feeling has not changed at all from the time I was a believer to now.

5. If there is no God are we free to do what we want?


6. If there is no God how does your life have any meaning?

Well, if there is no god then that means my existence is probably due to a random arrangement of DNA. That means I am fortunate to be alive. It means that our model of the universe and life itself is wondrous, improbable, amazing, interesting, curious, beautiful, inspiring, tragic, awful, awesome, difficult, and breath-taking all at the same time and I am privileged to be a part of it. It means that if our minds are a result of an emergent forces in the universe that we are quite literally the universe contemplating itself for a short time. To me, that is unimaginably beautiful and poetic. It makes me feel alive and more closely connected to everyone and everything than I ever have before. That fills me with a sense of awe and humility and makes this life truly special to be a part of.

7. Where did the universe come from?

The present data indicates it came from the singularity.

8. What about miracles and people who claim they have experiences with God, Jesus, or angels?

I treat them the same way as I treat people who claim they had brushes with aliens, spirit animals, past lives, white energy, spirit chakras, or anything else of the like. People attribute a lot of difficult to understand neurological processes to supernatural forces with different flavors. All of these people believe what they have claimed to experience. I accept their sincerity, I do not accept their assessment of their experience is accurate.

9. What is your view of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris?
I do not care for Dawkins or Hitchens. I like Sam Harris.

10. If there is no God why does every society have a religion?

It's quite clear that religion most certainly provided a survival benefit in the past. Nothing unites a group of people quite like religion does. It's no surprise then that religion has persisted and thrived throughout humanity. However this is an interesting question that I personally think is less damning of atheism and more damning of theism. There are more than 5,000 religions alive and well on Earth today, with countless many more relegated to the annals of history. Each religion is supremely confident theirs is the right one and base their certainty on things like religious experiences (see question 8). I'm skeptical of god claims because from my perspective if there is a god, then 4,999 religions are totally false. At the very least religion is an extremely deceptive force which is easy to get wrong. That's why I'm better off by honestly not wagering on any rather than choosing the one most familiar to me and my culture that I was born into. But don't worry, I'm sure the religion your parents taught you is totally the right one. Of all the places you could have been born you lucked up and were born in the right religion AND the right denomination of that religion. Lucky you!