Questioning the truth

Questions are great. They, hopefully, make us think about things and can open a world of conversation. I have spent a lot of time on the internet discussing various topics, and have often found the religion-based ones a bit of a dead-end. On both sides, we seem to have folks more concerned about pushing their own point forward and not taking the time to understand the other person.

We also tend to come across the same points. I mean, how many times have we heard the “If we came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” as if this is some new phrase that completely debunks evolution. Taking the time to explain the mechanisms of evolution, how it works, how the monkeys that were our ancestors are not the same as the monkeys that are alive today and in fact, millions of years ago we just took different paths and the rest just gets tiring, especially when folks don’t seem to want to actually listen.

This was indeed one of the reasons we created Answers in Reason. We were bored of the same conversations, and on places like twitter, the character limit didn’t really enable us to provide the level of detail we need on many topics.

I’ve become quite apathetic to theistic discussion, focusing more on philosophical and scientific discourse. I’ve enjoyed these discussions as they have tended to be more respectful, even if the result is “agree to disagree”.

I too have changed my beliefs on things, and it has encouraged me to look deeper into these topics such as morality (which so many of us atheists need to actually spend more time looking into), knowledge, beliefs, free will/determinism, and other aspects of philosophy.

So why now am I responding to a site with a religious agenda? Well, in the first instance it is because it seemed at least somewhat respectful. Perhaps this person is actually interested in my answers? It also had a number of questions that have been answered time and time again, and theists often find them really “clever” as if they somehow have an “a-ha!” moment. At the very least I can copy and paste my answers to it in the future lol.

Questions for Atheists – Intro

Atheism is changing. Many people believe that an Atheist is someone who does not believe God exists. While some Atheists will make this claim, most Atheists, especially New Atheists will not make this claim even though they line up with that claim epistemologically. Most Atheists today will say that they, ‘just lack a belief’ in the existence of God. With that being said, here are 36 questions for Atheists

https://adherentapologetics.com/2020/02/15/36-questions-for-atheists/

I imagine this opening statement instantly turned off many of the modern atheist tribe. I have covered off this in a number of topics on how the definition of atheism has seemingly changed on the internet/America (but less so in where atheists are not overly present on the net) from “The belief god(s) do not exist” to any form of non-theist, even though the “lacktheist” position is closer to the definition of agnosticism. Language is described through use though, so one ought to accept this definition as well.

I think the reason many atheists stray away from this belief position, is similar to what you have said above. It is conflating a belief in something with asserting something is true.

Claiming to believe something is true and claiming something is true are two different things. I go into detail about the different burdens that belief, claims, and knowledge carries in “Do we atheists have a burden of proof?“.

The short version is, all belief positions, even a lack of belief, carry a burden. That burden is simply to justify the position to make it rational. So for an atheist that believes gods do not exist, the burden isn’t to prove this is true, it is to justify the belief through logical reasoning and ensure there is no strong conflicting evidence.

Questions for Atheists – The Questions and My answers

I can’t speak for all atheists, in fact, many atheists I’ve spoken to on the net don’t like me because I don’t spout the same mantra they hear from their ingroups and they reject philosophy for their ad populum take on things. Atheists don’t even agree on the definition of atheism anymore and many have turned atheism into an ideology.

That said; like you can say all Christians believe in Christ, I think many atheists would answer these questions in the same way.

Why is there something rather than nothing?

I don’t know. Why do you feel the need to fill that with God? Why do you feel that nothing is the default if there is no god?

Nothing

What is your understanding of nothing? How do you ever know there has ever been a true nothing? If there has ever been a true nothing, that also means that there were no laws of physics there, meaning anything could have happened. Nothing is a weird topic, and I don’t think there ever has been a true nothing. I think there has been energy ever-present in the universe that one day inflated and expanded. You might (but I wouldn’t) call that energy God.

Is there any evidence that suggests the universe is eternal?

Cheeky, asking for evidence when no theist has ever provided any decent evidence for any gods. Whilst the current state of the universe had a beginning, the big bang, we don’t know if there was anything before that. It was likely that energy always existed in the universe, but we have not yet got the technology to see back that far. So again, at this point in time, we don’t know. There is nothing wrong with not knowing, especially if one is still looking for answers. We’d never get anywhere if we spent our time filling gaps in our knowledge with “God”.

Proof of God

If not, why do Atheists hold onto the idea and say you have debunked the Kalam Cosmological Argument?

The Kalam is one of those “best of the worst” arguments. It relies on presupposition and says nothing for what the cause is and if it is a deity which one?

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
2. The universe began to exist;
Therefore:
3. The universe has a cause.

  1. As far as we know, it might not always need a cause, although let’s say I agree with this point.
  2. The current state did, but we don’t know anything before that.
  3. Yes, the current state’s cause was the big bang.

So whilst the Kalam argument isn’t fully “debunked” it is shown to have flaws, it relies on presupposition, and even if we admit that there is a “cause” it says nothing about that cause being a god or even if that god is your god. It could be a completely natural process, and filling the gaps in knowledge with “God” is just another fallacy.

Therefore as a logical argument, that fails in some of its logic, it can easily be regarded as debunked until evidence is provided to support it.

For more information about the Kalam argument, there is a couple of posts worth checking out:

If so, why do the vast majority of scientists reject this idea?

Have you tried speaking to them? They are specialists in their field. Many are believers and still reject arguments like the Kalam and the Teleological.

I think all credible scientists agree about the big bang being the start of everything as we know it, but there isn’t much of a consensus on the “before” or even if there was a before.

Why is the universe so fine-tuned?

Fine-tuned for what exactly? If you mean fine-tuned for life, it clearly isn’t as we have only found intelligent life on our planet over millions of miles of space. Even earth isn’t fine-tuned for human life with 60-70% of it being inhabitable for us.

If you are really interested in “fine-tuning” or “design” in the universe, and want to read a detailed response (that we will be happy to discuss further) I would suggest reading these topics

Equally, you can just admit you were hoping for an “ah-ha” moment and didn’t get one.

If your answer is the multiverse, why is there no evidence for that theory?

It wasn’t, but it is a possibility, and recently there have been some indicators that this might be a reality, although I am still holding out for more evidence.

Is it possible that there is no natural explanation for the origin of life?

Yup, just as it is possible you have chosen the wrong god and are currently pissing it off by worshipping the wrong god. However, there is evidence of evolution and the big bang. There is even experimentation being done on the line between non-life and life.

Where does consciousness come from?

The bicameral mind. Honestly, we don’t really know but we can see it in more creatures than just humans, and equally not all creatures seem to have it. It seems to come when sentient minds reach a certain level of development, consciousness evolves. Again, your question is looking for another opportunity to commit a “God of the Gaps” fallacy.

Do you lack a belief that God exists or would you say that God does not exist?

Neither, I would say I believe gods do not exist but I am open to being presented strong credible convincing evidence to the contrary. But yes, logically if I believe gods do not exist I also lack belief in gods existing.

As I noted in “Do we atheists have a burden of proof” my reasons are as follows:

  1. Overwhelming lack of credible convincing evidence for any gods existence.
  2. Multiple different god claims.
  3. No coherent and consistent definitions of gods, even those within a particular religion discussing the same god.
  4. Contrary testimony.
  5. Errors in holy books, be they scientific, historical, or moral.
  6. Models that work without the need for a god.
  7. All arguments put forward for gods contain some level of presupposition or fallacy.

Do you lack a belief that Zeus exists, or do you believe that Zeus does not exist?

I believe I have answered this above, but I would say I do think the Zeus character is a lot more likely than the God character.

If you just lack a belief that Zeus exists, why are you centuries behind the rest of the world who say that Zeus doesn’t exist?

The more the world grows up, the more these myths are left behind. More and more Christians and Muslims are leaving the faith too. Perhaps in a few hundred more years, your myths will be perceived the same as we perceive the ancient Greek myths.

Do you act according to what you believe, or what you just lack a belief in?

This is an odd question. Everyone acts in conjunction with what they believe or lack belief in. The difference is there is no real atheist dogma. We don’t have a set of rules like the Torah, Bible, Qu’ran, Vedas etc that tell us what to do. We have to do our best to fully think for ourselves. We can’t act bigoted and claim to be moral because the Bible says it is OK to stone homosexuals.

What evidence is there that Atheism corresponds with reality?

Atheism is a position on one topic. God’s existence. Whether the classic atheist or the modern lacktheist, we don’t believe you. I’ve covered off why I am an atheist above, and to be honest, if the best you’ve got is “well you haven’t proved god isn’t real so why don’t you believe in him” then you really don’t have much of a case.

Perhaps tell me the evidence you are looking for are we can go from here, or perhaps try providing a coherent case for god?

Is Atheism a worldview?

No, atheism is a position on one topic, though I will agree that there are some atheists that have turned atheism into an ideology.

If not, what is your worldview?

The short version? Be excellent to each other.

The short of it is I want to better myself, my peers, my planet etc. I don’t really have a fixed view on most things as with new evidence my beliefs change.

What would convince you that God exists?

Genuine credible evidence that God exists.

If God is all-knowing, he would know what convinced me.
If God is all-powerful, he would have the power to convince me.
If He is loving, he would want to convince me (and also not have created hell)

Is God omniscient?

Are you willing to follow the evidence, even if it leads to a different understanding of how the universe works?

Claim vs Evidence

I always do, that is what lead me away from Christianity, and eventually all theistic belief systems.

Please note though, many do claim something as evidence without it actually being evidence.

If Jesus rose from the dead, would you become a Christian?

If he did so in front of me, convinced me he was Christ, and explained all the errors and the like from the bible? I probably would, but I don’t know. I definitely wouldn’t be an atheist any more if I was convinced a god existed but if it was the god of the bible I would be having words with that seemingly vile creature.

If you wouldn’t become a Christian, why would you ever accept that he rose from the dead?

If there is strong credible supporting evidence for anything I will believe it. There is not for any of the Bible.

Why do Atheists keep insisting faith is blind trust, when that’s not what Christians or the Bible say?

blind-belief

It frustrates me when atheists do this too. There are many forms of faith, and in reality, faith just means trust. However religious faith does seem to be predicated on believing things without sufficient evidence to do so, and this is why religious faith is referred to as “blind trust” or “trust minus evidence with a tonne of wishful thinking thrown in”.

Why do you want material evidence for an immaterial God?

Why would you assume your god is immaterial if you think it can affect the material world?

Is there a purpose to life?

Not really. Genes are programmed for survival. So, to live, breed, and die is the purpose of all life really. However, people can give their life a deeper meaning if they so wish.

If there is, by what standard do you determine life has purpose? 

Philosophy, science, reason. However, as stated, I don’t think there is a big mystical purpose to it all, just what people create as a purpose for themselves.

If not, what is the point of listening to this video?

What video? You didn’t post a video? Why would I be only listening to a video instead of watching it? Did you even write these questions?

Where does morality come from?

Morality is a concept, and it arose as we evolved, just as our understanding of morality continues to evolve over time.

I do believe in an objective standard of morality.

Here is a twitter thread: https://twitter.com/answersinreason/status/1220490226453315584
Here are a few articles:

How do you determine what is right and what is wrong?

Morality evolved as a means for species survival through collaborative cohesive societies and a way to enhance our well-being. I use evidence to see if actions support that.

Essentially the main things I consider are harm/well-being, and consent.

When a lion kills a cub from another pride because that’s what natural selection has raised it to do, is that morally acceptable?

Do lions have the cognitive ability to understand morality? It sounds like that lion was protecting its tribe. It sounds like it was acting on instincts rather than higher reasoning. I am not sure we can really regard the behaviours as moral or immoral – I think the action is wholly amoral, but if we do anthropomorphise then I would say it was immoral. However, I don’t believe they have the same level of cognitive function to really consider the actions as if they were humans (hence, amoral).

If evolution has put a sense of morality into us to help us survive, what makes our actions any better than any other animals actions?

You mean apart from the fact that we can consider things and act on more than just instinct? Nothing really.

Is it morally acceptable for you kill a toddler because you can no longer financially support it?

No. This is a silly question. It isn’t even the lesser of two evils situation.

Is it morally acceptable to kill a fetus in the womb because you couldn’t financially support it?

If you had the choice where you had to either kill a toddler or fetus or be sent to eternal damnation and both would be killed, what would you do? Could you choose between the toddler of fetus? If yes, that shows that you believe one has more personhood, or moral rights, than the other.

Abortion is never an easy thing. I wish it would never happen, yet I am still pro-choice. Pro-choice is not the same as pro-abortion.

Is it morally acceptable to kill a baby after it has been born?

No. However with many of these questions, there could be a nuance here. Would the death save it from a life of torture? Is there no other way to save it from said torture? Are there any other factors?

How can you morally differentiate between a baby in the womb at 6 months and a baby born prematurely at 6 months?

I assume you are talking about the 24 week cut off for abortions? That is not 6 months. There are 52 weeks (12 months) in a year. 24/52 = 0.46 = 5.5 months.

Honestly, I don’t see a difference in either, but here’s some information for you:

As a fetus develops it starts to become sentient and feel pain. At 24 weeks a baby can survive out the womb, but it is rare.

According to studies between 2003 and 2005, 20 to 35 percent of babies born at 24 weeks of gestation survive, while 50 to 70 percent of babies born at 25 weeks, and more than 90 percent born at 26 to 27 weeks, survive.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_viability

So we have statistics that back up the viability. Because a baby has a chance of survival, even a small one, at 24 weeks, it is the cut-off. It is almost completely improbable for one to survive before that.

Again, I would rather abortions didn’t happen, but there are so many factors and really if it is someones choice to have an abortion I feel we should respect their wishes and they did it as early as possible.

Pro-Choice does not mean Pro-Abortion.

Who was Jesus?

You mean other than a character from a book? (Or perhaps the person that the NT was based on?)

There isn’t much evidence that Yeshua the man even existed, but I am sure the character was based on someone or an amalgamation of many myths over the years.

exposes on Jesus

Why did his disciples die saying that he rose from the dead?

Is there any evidence outside the bible he did, or that they said that? Do people ever lie to further an agenda? Do you think lessons from the bible like “the meek will inherit the earth” could be about a power struggle?

We have to consider all religious folks that have died for claims like this. It is not limited to Christianity, you can see stories in many religions.

Why does the Bible keep lining up with archaeology? 

In general it doesn’t. There are many things that did not happen the way they were described in the bible. Look at the creation myth, flood story, Moses etc all don’t add up. The fact there are a few historical facts mixed in with it all just shows it is good fiction.

Again, we can look at other religions and see aspects that align with history and archaeology – does that mean all religions are equally valid, or that this is not a good method of validation?

Why do the three bloodiest regimes in History, (Mao’s China, Nazi Germany, and Stalin’s Russia) come from Atheistic ideas?

Come from atheistic ideas? Hitler was not an atheist, he was a catholic and even looked into all sorts of magic to further his agenda. Please don’t start down the path of a “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

As for the other two, I don’t think because someone is an atheist their ideas are “atheistic”. They were about politics and power no about atheism/theism.

That’s like saying everything a Christian does is a Christian idea. If a Christian thought God was speaking to him and decided to shoot up a school, did he do that because he was a Christian and that was Christian ideas? No, he was clearly sick in the head.

Now the crusades were clearly based on Christian ideas, promoting the church, killing those that didn’t convert etc, but even then I wouldn’t judge all Christians based on this poor show of judgement, just as I won’t judge all Muslims based on some extremists.

Summary of these “36 questions for atheists”.

The problem with all of the questions seems to be like they are desperately searching for an “ah-ha!” moment. They are looking to prove one wrong, rather than understand the position. They want you to examine your position without truly considering their own. So many of these questions are so easily refuted. It seems like the author just went around all the popular apologist sites and copied the questions down, especially when it came to that one about a video where no video was posted on the site.

They show a lack of understanding in science, philosophy, logic, reason, and are wrapped up in so much confirmation bias it would indicate someone heavily indoctrinated. However, I am hoping I am wrong and answering these questions will further conversation from the author.

Not only am I interested in hearing back from the author, but anyone else who would like to answer these questions, or discuss any aspects further, please do so in the comments.