11 responses

  1. Stewart
    12 May, 2005

    I fundamentally disagree with you on all of these issues, but I wouldn't have bothered composing the list if I didn't already know that.
    Still, I appreciate the time you spend composing your answers, and I'd happily return the favor by responded to a list of "Ten Questions An Athiest Can't Answer".

  2. danielg
    12 May, 2005

    Hmmm. Ten questions an atheist can't answer? I will have to think, but here's an off the cuff start? I suspect you *will* have answers, but as with those above, they may not be satisfying to some readers.
    There are the basic world view questions:
    1. Origins: Where did life and humanity originate?
    2. The Problem: Why is there suffering, sickness, and death?
    3. The Solution: What is the cure for man's suffering, esp. his existential lonliness?
    Questions of Meaning and Value:
    4. How does an atheist assign meaning to human activity? Is all meaning subjective, or do some activities have self-evident and objective worth and meaning. If so, what are these activities, and how to you arrive at their value?
    5. Are humans of more intrinsic value than animals? Why or why not?
    6. How does an atheist determine what is moral or immoral, right or wrong. Is there any objective standard or principles?
    Questions of Worldview:
    7. What type of government does atheistic philosophy translate into? How does it understand the relationship between man and government? What type of government structures flow from an atheistic world view? Does it merely rely on someone else's system of thought, like the assumptions of naturalistic science?
    8. How does atheism view religions and religious faith? What about metaphysics? Is atheism purely materialistic and naturalistic?
    9. Who are the authoritative writers/books of atheism? What are the central tenets of atheism, and if they have a "greatest commandment," what is it? For example, arguably, Christianity's is "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."
    Questions of Revelation:
    10. What happens after we die?

  3. Aaron
    12 May, 2005

    Yeah, the "Can't Answer" is not true. I just decided to carry the meme that Stewart started. I don't think that he thought no one could answer the questions, only that they may be difficult and require thought and time to answer.
    Stewart, I am aware that we disagree on most things, but I hope at least you found the answers to be real and not simply skirting the issues. If not please tell me and I will continue to work on it.
    Thanks in advance for doing the 10 Atheist questions. We may have to let others from our sites join the fun, as Seeker already has here.

  4. danielg
    12 May, 2005

    I wish the questions were broken out, one per post. I would like to comment and expand upon each of Aaron's original answers.

  5. danielg
    12 May, 2005

    Of course, there's the age old question of
    How many atheists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    But that one, it seems, has been answered.

  6. Aaron
    12 May, 2005

    I agree 10 at one time made it difficult to go in to much detail. If you would like to expand (or disagree) by all means use this is a starting point and post specifically on the one (or ever how many) topics you want to discuss.

  7. danielg
    12 May, 2005

    What I'd like to do is create a new category called "Series" and put just the Series Index kind of page there, while putting all the posts in the Series into whatever category they belong. How's that?

  8. Drostie
    29 January, 2006

    If you *read* Genesis, and you somehow manage to take such blatant moral homily literally, then you've *missed the point of Genesis* completely.
    These *aren't* stories about what actually happened. They aren't literal histories. They are *blatant* mythologizing, and *blatant* moral homilies.
    The mistake is akin to people 2000 years down the line reading Aesop's fables and going, "Woah, animals TALKED back then?"
    Let me just restate the beginning of the story starting Genesis 2. Except for once, you're going to hear the names *translated into English.* You decide on whether this narrative sounds like a literal history or a set of moral homilies.
    Look at the first human in the second creation story. His name is Adam. That is to say, his name is, quite literally, Dirt. And what does Dirt do? Well first, Dirt grandly shows his authority over the animals. Then Dirt shows himself to be really a lonely person at heart, and so he pines away, sad because he needs companionship. God makes him a wife. And he's happy. That's why we seek companionship — we're lonely from the start — and that's why the traditional companionship is man-woman –'cause we're made for each other.
    Subsequently, the unnamed wife listens to a snake and brings Dirt to defy a rule that God set down for Dirt. And God gets pissed. So they subsequently both fall; and after the fall is completed, Dirt names his wife Khavah, that is to say, her name is, quite literally, Lifebreath.
    God expels Dirt and Lifebreath from the Garden *because God is very afraid*. That is God's cited reason — "oh no, now they might become immortal, and then they'd be like Me! That wouldn't be right! Send them out! And put an angel with a fiery sword at the gates of my garden!"
    So, now, Dirt and Lifebreath give birth to a boy, and they name him Qayin — literally, "Gotten." And Dirt and Lifebreath then also gave birth to Hebel — literally, Aura. And Dirt and Lifebreath and Gotten and Aura lived on Earth.
    In time, God pays no attention to Gotten, and Gotten becomes very jealous of Aura, killing him. In return, he's driven out to loneliness away from the others. Gotten begat Dedicated, and named his town after Dedicated. Dedicated begat Fleet, and Fleet begat God-smitten, and God-smitten begat Powerful.
    Powerful had two wives, Ornament and Shadow. Ornament begat Stream; he was the ancestor of those who live in tents and have livestock. Stream also had a brother, named River, who was the ancestor of the poets and bards.
    Shadow gave birth to Gotten-from-Gotten, who was the ancestor of the smiths of the world, and Gotten-from-Gotten had a sister, whose name was Loveliness.
    – – – – –
    Even if you completely missed the fact that the names are words from the rest of everyday life, doesn't the underlying story seem weird? It's a story of moral lessons. It's not a literal history. And if you take it as a literal history, you've missed the point of Genesis.

  9. floss
    17 May, 2011

    “But if He forced Himself on us or He only created those who would follow Him, He would be violating the free will of man. He would be removing us from the decision making process. How loving is that. Also, forced love and worship is no love and worship at all. For anything to be genuine it has to be chosen.”

    That would be very nice, caring and considerate if it were true. But the fact is nothing could be further from the truth. We are threatened with the roasting pits of hell and torture for all of eternity, if we choose not to worship God. How can it be said that God offers a free choice, when the alternative is so dispicable and disgusting?

    Why are you so insistant on basing your Christian faith on such dogged adhearance to ancient scripts, written in unenlightened times? Surely the Christian faith is based on living our lives by Jesus’ example. Showing and sharing kindness, compassion and understanding to all. Not on dogmatically insisting on following ancient rituals and superstitions.

  10. floss
    22 May, 2011

    No answer to that one?

  11. danielg
    22 September, 2011

    Jon, as you noticed, my title ended in the qualifier “well.” I appreciate your taking the time to provide the typical answers, but these are hard questions, and atheism is limited, even though some who claim to be atheists also claim to have definitive answers. Of course, I also wrote 10 Questions Your Pastor Can’t Answer and provided what some might consider just as incomplete answers ;)

    1) Where did life and humanity originate?
    A) Over the last three billion years, man has evolved from a protein acid.

    Quite honestly, natural selection and random mutation just do not produce those results in the labs or in observation. It’s a nice theory, but those who claim it to be gospel truth are believers, not scientists, imo.

    2)Why is there suffering, sickness, and death?
    A) Because humans are greedy.

    Yes, that’s one reason – we would call it ‘sinful’ or ‘broken’ or ‘fallen.’

    B) As for death, it is because of the telomeres at the end of the Chromosomes which hardwired a set limit of time that any human is capable of living. This is also known as the Hayflick Phenomenon.

    This is an interesting conjecture, but also very limited. We may lengthen our age to even 1000 years (like the Old Testament patriarchs are reported to have lived), but death still comes – the question is, why are we MORTAL?

    Unfortunately, aging research had two recent setbacks this past month, one by the author of the original seminal paper on sirtuin proteins, see Anti-Aging Research Faces Setback and Too Good To Be True? Anti-Aging Proteins Not So Potent After All

    3)What is the cure for man’s suffering?
    A) Two different answers. The extinction of man, or man caring about their fellow man.

    Those are pleasant enough solutions, but caring alone won’t eradicate suffering, esp. the existential kind.

    4)How does an atheist assign meaning to human activity?
    A) In the same manner that a Theist would. Baseball is fun, so people want to play it. Murder hurts people so people don’t like it.

    Something isn’t meaningful just because it is desirable – you may be answering a different question here, which is how do we know what is moral, to which some atheists respond with ‘Desirism’.

    By meaning, I mean, worth doing. I know that may be splitting hairs, but desire and pain are not a complete solution to moral or ethical epistemology. While I agree that we can use the Golden Rule or some other moral principle, but unfortunately, that won’t, for instance, tell us if it’s wrong to eat animals, or MORE wrong to eat our children.

    In an atheistic world view, you have no real independent manner in which to establish moral absolutes, and a very limited epistemic tools in which to determine what those absolutes might be. In the end, it comes down to popular opinion, or subjectivism. If Hitler thinks that racial purity will lead to peace, and has the might and convinces other, there is not really a good retort from the atheist – at least, it seems without authority (“says who?”).

    5) Are humans of more intrinsic value than animals?
    A) It depends on the humans and the animals. I would put Steven Hawking over any Chimp. I would put any Chimp over Marlalyn Manson.

    That’s interesting. So you have some criteria for valuing Hawking over Manson? And your criteria could devalue Manson so much that Manson could. for instance, be used for food or experiments like chimps, or if he was, you could only be as inscensed as you are at chimp research?

    6) How does an Atheist determine what is moral or immoral, right or wrong?
    A) Through observation of the world around him or her. Does this action cause pain or suffering to another? Is it going to cause this person grief if I do such and such action?

    Simple heuristics like that are used by everyone, but what about, for existence, the value of the fetus? Capital punishment? Any kind of just punishment?

    7) What type of government does Atheistic Philosophy translate into?
    A) There is no specific government for Atheistic Philosophy akin to a Theocracy for Theists. Each Atheist has his or her own views on the world and as such have different views on politics and governments. There is no right or wrong answer for this. Everyone is different.

    So, for instance, atheistic communism is ok, but Islamic theocracy is not? At the very least, atheism must deny some forms of government, and prefer others, like Libertarianism – yet I wonder how many atheists are European socialists, which to me seems to go against human dignity and freedom.

    8) How does Atheism view religions and religious faith?
    A) Again, different Atheists view religions differently. Some feel that Religion can be a positive force in the world, whereas others feel that religions are a poison and should be taken out of the world post haste.

    True that. The real issue is, doesn’t atheism pretty much view faith as a LIE? I don’t see how you can justify any stronger position than agnosticism without making a faith statement about what you BELIEVE based on the incomplete evidence (in both directions).

    9) Who are the authoritative writers/books of atheism? What are the central tenets of atheism, and if they have a “greatest commandment”, what is it?
    A) There is no authoritative writers or books for Atheism. Nor is there any tenet or commandment for Atheism.

    I think this is true, but also disingenous. True, there is no official ‘atheist bible’ or authoritative handbook, and there is a spectrum of belief on secondary issues. However, on the primary positive statement “God does NOT exist” most atheists (except for agnostics, aka “weak atheists”) agree. And there are, of course, representative luminaries from atheist thought that are at least defacto prophets who articulate the central dogmas of atheism, right? Nietzsche, Russel, Hume (I wouldn’t put Harris, Hitchens, Dennett, or Dawkins in the same intellectual class as them – these modern guys are more polemicists than philosophers).

    10) What happens after we die?

    A) We begin to decompose, our carbon based bodies releasing the nutrients that we have taken in over the decades of life, so that flora and fauna may dine upon our remains. As for any “Soul”, the only thing that could be classified as a “Soul” is the brain, and once that stops working, there is nothing left of us, aside from the memories of us in our friends and families.

    Lack of evidence in this regard is not evidence. And some experiments seem to prove the existence of independent mind. But all claims as to the existence or non of the afterlife are conjectures, statements of faith, and to be chosen based on inference, I think.

    Thanks again for the conversation.

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