Christian Questions For Atheists – My Responses

6933918166_81a8b9a5d7_zSo there is a set of questions making the rounds, and I thought I’d try to answer them myself. You can find other atheists answering them here and here.

So here I go!

How would you define atheism?

Start off with a real doozy. I’m going with ‘lack of belief in God(s)’.

Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?

I act according to what I believe. The concept of God doesn’t enter into it because I lack belief in a God(s) and so its existence is irrelevant.

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?

If God exists, no one could possible ‘work against his existence’. That’s just silly.

However, it’s no more inconsistent than someone who believes in dragons or elves approaching someone who doesn’t believe in those things, and having the non-believer point out how bad their arguments for the existence of such things are. The person wouldn’t be ‘working against’ the existence of elves or dragons because they haven’t been demonstrated to exist in the first place – they’d be pointing out that the other persons arguments aren’t good ones and that it isn’t rational to believe in them.

When Christians argue that only their God exists (one true God) and others don’t, are they being inconsistent and working against the existence of Zeus, Odin and Vishnu?

How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

Pretty sure, although I’m always open to arguments against my position.

How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

Fairly certain. More certain when it comes to the major religions of today because they provide documents that can be examined.

How would you define what truth is?

That’s a tricky question and a deep one. Some people would argue there is no such thing as truth.

For the purposes of this questionnaire and the God question, I’d say it has to be verifiable, observable, logically consistent and testable. This shouldn’t be a problem for a deity that has unlimited power and who demands we believe in its existence.

Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

Because the God hypothesis lacks evidence.

Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?

I’m a naturalist.

Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview?  Why or why not?

I deny that it is a worldview.

Atheism is not a collection of beliefs. It’s a lack of belief, and it’s only a lack of belief in a specific area – God(s). It’s also not the overall perspective that I see or interpret the world.

Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

Because I don’t want their beliefs pushed on me or legislated. This goes for any religion that seeks to do so. I’m an equal opportunity atheist. If you say in public that your deity is real, I will disagree with and question you. I also think that atheists have been silent for too long, and our silence has allowed (some) religious folk to perpetuate the myth that we’re evil and immoral and not to be associated with.

I’m also not always ‘antagonistic’ towards Christianity. In my professional life, I sometimes have to work with faith groups. I will also admit when Christian groups do something I agree with, even if I disagree with their reasons for doing so.

However, I do not agree with their conclusion and my disagreement is often misconstrued as antagonism.

If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

Lack of evidence. Internal biblical inconsistencies. Logical inconsistencies. Historical inaccuracies. Magical claims that break the laws of physics. The way the God of the bible is incomprehensible. The way Christians can’t even agree on what properties their God possesses or what it wants.

I finally realized after much research, that I didn’t believe in the Christian God because it was the rational thing to do, but because I was taught it was real and my culture and socialization was such that it reinforced this belief.

Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

Yes. But I extend that to all dogma based ideologies that aren’t to be questioned. I also think some religions are more harmful than others. I also think that without religion, it’s possible the world wouldn’t be ‘better off’ in some areas of life.

Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

In some ways, yes. It also depends on the form that religion takes. Not all Christians or denominations are equally as harmful, in my opinion. Some Christians aren’t harmful at all.

Like I said above, I don’t think Christianity is true and I think it makes definite claims on reality. I think any time we base our decisions and conduct on a false premise, we can potentially end up with undesirable results. This is why I think it’s important that we carry on this religious (non-religious) conversation and ferret out the truth.

Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?

No. I also think that people who aren’t qualified to diagnose mental illness shouldn’t be doing so.

Must God be known through the scientific method?

It would be appreciated.

If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

I didn’t really answer ‘yes’ but I’l answer anyhow.

If God is all-powerful, then it would take no effort for Him to produce material evidence for His existence. I think religions that  insist their Gods are immaterial and outside space (they’re capable of being nowhere) and time (at no time) do so because they realize it makes their God(s) unfalsifiable. I also think it renders them irrelevant and incomprehensible.

Do we have any purpose as human beings?

Yes.

If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

We each decide our purpose. Even theists do this. Belief in a supernatural deity does not equal automatic purpose.

Where does morality come from?

Society, culture, reason, empathy etc.

Are there moral absolutes?

I know this scares some people because it forces us to organize and think for ourselves, instead of trusting the judgment of primitive peoples, but no, I don’t think there are moral absolutes.

Even if there were moral absolutes, this in no way proves your God(s) exists.

If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

N/A

Do you believe there is such a thing as evil?  If so, what is it?

It depends on your definition of evil. I rarely use the word ‘evil’ because it’s so ambiguous. I think ‘ethics’ or ‘ethical’ is a more precise word.

If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

By using reason, cultural norms, empathy and socially taught moral codes.

Ironically enough, many of the things the God of the OT does is contrary to its own moral codes.

What would it take for you to believe in God?

Evidence. Then more evidence that your God is the correct one.

Of course, a deity capable of knowing anything would know exactly what it would take and be able to provide it with no effort whatsoever.

What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

Verifiable, observable, logically consistent and testable evidence. It could probably be accomplished in other ways, but that’s a good starting point. Again, any God with the properties of the Christian God would know what it would take to convince me of its existence.

Playing the worlds longest game of hide and seek isn’t the best way.

Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?

As opposed to what? Being irrational and unfalsifiable?

Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer?  Why?

Way too many variables to answer this question.

I think both a country that is run by Christians or one run by atheists can be safe – equally so. This is more of a political question than a question concerning the existence of God(s).

Do you believe in free will?  (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion)

Tough question. It depends. I don’t believe in free will as described in the bible. I also think we’re constantly coerced by our environment and our needs. I think if I could rewind time, I would make the same decision over and over again if the variables and environment were to remain the same way. I do think we make our own choices, but that those choices hinge on the variables present within ourselves, our environment and the choices available to us at any given time.

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?

No, depending on your definition and application of the term ‘free will’.

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?

I’m not sure why evolution would take that course and I’m not even sure it’s possible.

The short answer would be no. I don’t think that’s possible.

If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

No. Actually, if I would have answered in the affirmative, I would have said it would be extremely unlikely. Not probable at all.

Some sort of God, doesn’t equal your God. Even the questionnaire has to resort to vague questions to try and trick you into a response they desire.

But it was fun to answer anyways. I hope you, dear reader, enjoyed reading it.

Oh, and if you have any questions about my answers, please feel free to ask in the comment section. Hell, if you have anything to say or add at all, feel free to leave your thoughts behind.

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57 Comments

  1. Good answers to these questions. But what I don’t understand is this: if the god that these people believe in is ever present, all-seeing, and all-knowing, why don’t they ask him/her/it for the answers to these questions. After all, why ask an atheist these questions when they think atheists are hopelessly lost souls, without a moral compass, and who are condemned to eternal damnation?

    By the way, last month I came across a similar “questions to ask atheists” survey. It had only 10 questions, but you might be interested in how I answered. Not dissimilar to your own: http://mindfuldigressions.com/2014/07/14/qa/

  2. I find “presuppositional” questionaires from christians increasingly annoying. I’m going to work on building one of my own, I think. That said, I’ll have a go at answering this one although given my bone idle nature it’s never make it to publishing. I have a dozen drafts “in the works”. It will help me focus my thinking-
    I agree mostly with your answers, pretty thorough.

  3. Pingback: Presuppositional Questions from Christians Part I | Consigliere Del Papa

  4. I’ve answered these kinds of things in the past, but in this case I’ll take a pass. Based on the questions I’d say this guy isn’t interested in what you think beyond tearing it to pieces with bad logic and telling you why you’re wrong. Of course that’s probably what he thinks we do, so it’s no surprise. In any case, I don’t see a point to giving him fuel to misuse.

  5. The thing that baffles me at this point (in history) is why the question of whether a supreme being exists is such a topic of debate. Until that supreme being comes along and introduces him or herself, we can just live our lives and see what happens. If we discover an afterlife when our bodies die, great! If not we’ll be unconscious and there’s nothing we can do about it. If only humanity could wrap it’s head around that simple concept, we’d be on our way to actually making some progress.

  6. Great post. My favorite: “Where does morality come from?” The question suggests that morals are derived from a book faxed down from a petty, jealous, vindictive, and genocidal deity is, to me, utterly egregious and twisted.

    • Well said!

      The morality question actually annoys me somewhat. It suggests that atheists have no basis for morality, and that because their answer seems easier (just crack the book) it’s both the right answer and the only conclusion we could possibly come to. I think any modern person could easily come up with a book that is more moral than most of the holy books.

  7. Great post! I agree with a lot of your answers. I also think that people who argue that “there is no such thing as truth” are stating something they believe to be true. That means they can’t possibly believe their truth claim about truth being non-existent, therefore they are incorrect. That is like saying the phrase “language is useless”. A self detonating claim for obvious reasons.
    Have you heard of universally preferable behavior or UPB? It is an amazing theory about moral ethics. I have yet to find someone to logically rebut it. Great post! Thanks a lot my friend. I will definitely enjoy your posts!

  8. Pingback: Questions posed by Christians to Atheists: My Responses | Yes, I'm an Atheist

  9. Pingback: Presuppositional Questions From #Christians Part II | Consigliere Del Papa

  10. Pingback: Questions for Atheists? Answers for Everyone! | Shame on The Universe

  11. I’ll be honest: I can’t be bothered with these sorts of things. The people asking aren’t looking for meaningful dialogue. They’re just waiting for an opening to “show you the light”. It’s called “witnessing” amongst the Baptists, and I find their methods distasteful. I also have a problem with it because it assumes that we all have the same “rule book”. I hate to break it to them, but there is no atheist bible. There is no “atheist answer” to any question except one: Do you believe in a god or gods?

  12. Extremely helpful. I do agree that the questionnaire was crafted with the intention of exposing arguments, and provoking conflict with the hope for resolution in the direction of theism. As my friendship with one particular atheist grows, I will testify that he is more kind, moral, and thoughtful than most Christians I know. Although his language to explain morality is evolving, his actions are irrefutable. Dialogue is possible. Its an artifact worth seeking. Thanks again.

    • Thank you for stopping by, Pascal.

      The survey does seem to try for that, but it’s possible they really do want answers because they don’t understand.

      I’ve had emails from Christians who say they’ve never spoken or personally met an atheist, so I guess I try to give them the benefit of the doubt when they say they’re looking for honest answers. I see many Christians ask for answers to similar questions online.

      Thank you so much for leaving your thoughts. 🙂

  13. Pingback: On Some Questions for Atheists | The Caveat Lector

  14. I recently did a presentation about Richard Dawkins. Mostly we were just discussing his own grappling with atheism, but we also discussed that the type of almost cultish following that he has developed has made his ideas look somewhat like a religious creed for his followers. Even though they all lack belief, they structure themselves around his beliefs in a way that almost mirrors organized religion… It’s an interesting situation…

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