Matt Slick of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministery (CARM) posted 31 questions for atheists, and I couldn’t help but submit my answers to them.
1. How would you define atheism?
Atheism means ‘without theism’; theism being a belief system which proposes a deity. Atheism is a lack of belief in a deity; a deity being defined as a magical anthropomorphic immortal. A belief is a conviction. A lack of belief is a lack of conviction. So anyone who is not convinced that an actual deity really exists –is an atheist. I know a lot of people are confused about this and want to call themselves agnostics instead, but agnosticism refers to knowledge where atheism refers to belief. So an agnostic is someone who does not know –that they are really atheist.
2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?
Beliefs inform actions. A lack of belief is a lack of information or no information for no action.
3. 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?
Do you think it inconsistent for someone who lacks belief in the stork to object when public schools teach middle schoolers that that’s where babies come from? Likewise no history class should ever confuse students by playing any movie with Mel Gibson’s name in the credits, because they’re wrong, and it’s wrong to mislead students. It would be inconsistent for one who loves and seeks knowledge of truth not to object to lies or challenge liars. Everything religion teaches is wrong. Although public schools are not teaching about the stork, some of them are teaching creationism, which is just as demonstrably absurdly wrong; In either case, it’s a criminal immoral disservice, and should be corrected.
4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?
If that means how sure am I that no gods exist, I’m definitely sure about that. We can say that no god exists in the same sense and for the same reason that we can say there are no leprechauns, sasquatch, or extraterrestrial reptiles manipulating the illuminati in human guise. All of these things are unrealistic unprecedented absurdities without any form of justification whatsoever. And when we get into either eastern or western theology, there is no potential for any of that to be true. Reading Genesis is really no different than reading the story of Pandora’s Box, Prometheus’s crucifixion, or Persephone’s abduction as an explanation for the seasons. They’re all just stories imagined in the minds of men without any basis in historical fact.
5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?
Christopher Hitchens’ razor is part of what he described as the fundamental rules of logic, that positive claims require positive evidence, and that which asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence, because it’s an empty assertion unworthy of serious consideration. If you can’t give me any reason to believe you, then I have no reason to believe you. Come back when you can show me you’ve got something to consider.
6. How would you define what truth is?
Truth is typically defined as “that which is concordant with reality”. If we don’t know whether it is concordant with reality, then we don’t know whether it is truth, and we should be honest about that. We should not assert as fact that which is not evidently true, because that is dishonest. Logically then, truth is whatever statement can be shown to be true. The truth is what the facts are because the facts can be objectively verified. There are many facts that we know and can show to be true of evolution, for example, but there is not one fact that is positively indicative of or exclusively concordant with gods or magic or mythology. So when I challenge religious believers to show me the truth of their religious belief, they can’t, because there’s literally no truth in it.
7. Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?
Because the default position is the null set. You’re not born believing everything; you don’t believe anything –until you’re convinced of it. The only reason anyone should ever believe anything is evidence. So there is no reason to believe in a god, and having no reason to believe something is a pretty good reason not to believe it.
Plus God is defined by his miraculous nature, and miracles are defined as inexplicable by science because they defy the laws of physics, meaning that they’re physically impossible and thus God is impossible by definition. God is also supposed to exist outside of our reality, which of course means he does NOT exist IN reality.
8. Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?
I’m an apistevist, meaning that I won’t believe anything on faith. Faith is an assertion of unreasonable conviction which is not based on reason and is defended against all reason. To prove that I got that right, we can it look up on every definitive source, dictionaries, scriptural references, hymns, sermons of theologians past and present, as well as philosophers. This grossly dishonest definition is also demonstrated by the statement of faith published by every creationist organization there is. These illustrate how faith is inherently auto-deceptive and the most dishonest position it is possible to have. So any belief that requires or desires faith should be rejected for that reason.
9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? Why or why not?
There are many forms of atheism, not all of them are secular humanist skeptical rationalist scientifically literate intellectuals. Some are spiritual and riddled with woo. So there are a few completely different and contradictory world views under that umbrella.
10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?
Because religion is predominantly evil and entirely deceitful, has only negative correlations statistically, and is frequently maliciously abusive physically mentally and emotionally. It has historically always obstructed education and retarded or impeded progress in whatever application it has ever touched. All the worst atrocities in history were done in the name of religion and our greatest advances were made in opposition to it. I’m an antitheist because religion is factually historically ethically and morally wrong.
11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny His existence?
Once I realized that faith was required, that pretty much did it for me. I remember when I was ‘reborn’ in Christ at 19. I was floating about the room dizzy with euphoria. But I had the presence of mind to ask my best friend at that time, (who later became a Southern Baptist minister) how could I know whether this feeling was really divine or something generated within my own mind. He grabbed me both shoulders with a huge beaming smile and said, “Just keep telling yourself it’s Jesus until you believe it.” That tactic was described as “fake it til you make it”, and it illustrated how faith-based beliefs are literally just make-believe. His answer was so dishonest that I was cured instantly. That was my last moment as a Christian.
12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?
Yes. I know it’s not everyone’s opinion, but I have to side with Betrand Russell on this one. It’s not just that you believe things that aren’t evidently true; you believe things that are NOT true. If the general consensus is the religion one has the better, then its best to have none. There are all sorts of horrors, abuses, ignorance, and atrocities commonly attributed to religion, and no genuine benefit, such as their would be skeptical analytical critical thinking and humanist values. If we promote those instead of faith, we’ll be a lot better off.
13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?
There are no special attributes to distinguish Christianity from any other collection of baseless lies. If there were no Christians tomorrow, we’d still have Muslims and a slough of other indefensible belief systems.
14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?
No, but it acts as one. For example, the psychiatric definition of ‘delusion’ is “a persistent false belief which does not change in spite of conflicting evidence. So religion is literally a delusion, but one caused by conditioning rather than pathology. There are a number of studies showing a negative correlation of faith as debilitating certain areas of the brain. So religion can lead to, conceal, or even encourage mental disorders without actually being one itself.
There is nothing anyone can honestly say they actually know about their various religious beliefs. Knowledge is justified belief, meaning it can be tested and demonstrated with measurable accuracy. If you can’t show it, you don’t know it. If there is no way to confirm your convictions to any degree at all by any means whatsoever, then you cannot actually know what you think you know; you only believe that you know that. Everything we actually do know, we learned from science. If God were real, there would be a way to him through science too.
16. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?
The words ‘magic’ and ‘miracles’ share essentially the same definition, being the evocation of supernatural forces or entities to control or forecast natural events. It is the natural events that are measurable; the effect and testable cause of the effect. In Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, people demonstrate their mystic abilities all the time with objectively verifiable success. But that has never happened in the history of reality. If gods and miracles were part of reality, there would be ways to know that that wouldn’t require faith.
17. Do we have any purpose as human beings?
As a species? No. Asking for the meaning of life is no different than a fortune teller casting tea leaves, chicken bones, or Tarot cards, then looking at the random mess they created and wondering what that means. Abrahamic religion offers no purpose either, apart from a Stockholm syndrome, because the best you can hope for is to be imprisoned by an indomitable despot and have to press your lips to his colon for the rest of eternity –or else suffer a fate worse than death. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?
That’s up to you. On a case-by-case basis, that is a matter of personal choice, ambition, motivation, and situation. There is obviously no purpose imposed by a god, because there is no god to impose one. Personally I think the only meaning your life will ever have is whatever your involvement means to someone else. The best strategy I think, if you want your life to mean something, try making someone else’s life meaningful. But if you want your life to mean something five billion years from now, it won’t –no matter what. Sorry. But what matters now still matters now.
19. Where does morality come from?
I’ve noticed that any species raised in maternal dependence has a greater capacity for empathy. Social animals also demonstrate altruism. Those who’s passions benefit society tend to prevail while selfish aberrations are usually ostracized. So our evolution naturally selected those with compassion for our family, friends, and fellows.
20. Are there moral absolutes?
I would say yes, but the only way to determine that is by having reasons why a particular action or choice is moral or immoral. Something everyone could debate and yet still achieve consensus. At the same time, I should note that rather than absolutes, most things would be on a scale of metrics, where some things are permissible under certain circumstances.
21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?
“A particular action or choice is moral or right if it somehow promotes happiness, well-being, or health, or if it somehow minimizes unnecessary harm or suffering or both. A particular action or choice is immoral or wrong if it somehow diminishes happiness, well-being, or health, or if it somehow causes unnecessary harm or suffering or both.” –Scott Clifton, AKA TheoreticalBullshit; Treatise on Morality
22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?
If there is such a thing as ‘evil’ I think it would an aberration against humanist values; hatred, prejudice, abuse, manipulation, discrimination, deception, ignorance, religion.
23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that He is bad?
By the objective standards of knowing the reason why something is bad, and then realizing that, according to the sacred fables, God commands bad things almost exclusively, not just in Christian scriptures, but in all of them, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, all of them. Every version of God is bad.
24. What would it take for you to believe in God?
For me to believe in God would probably require blunt force trauma to the brain, or perhaps a debilitating cognitive disorder. What would it take for you to believe that the myth of Persephone explains the seasons? Or that babies are delivered by a stork?
25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?
I’ll accept whatever qualifies as evidence. That means a body of objectively verifiable facts that are positively indicative of and/or exclusively concordant with that one conclusion over any other.
26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?
The definition of evidence requires that it be factual, that means rational and testable. It doesn’t have to be archaeological though. The Bible has already been proven wrong in every testable claim that it makes, such that not even could resurrect those falsified fables. Even if God were real, we would still be evolving apes and the Bible would still be wrong. But that wouldn’t matter since God is supposed to be immortal and eternal and is still supposed to exist today.
So trot him out here and let us see him; have him actually do something godlike. I mean if Darth Vader can do his shtick and have it work every time, whenever he wants, then he’d be able to collect James Randi’s million dollar challenge, right? Can your god at least do that much? Because when I read in the news that scientists have proven X or Y, once I confirm with corroborating sources, I’ll usually shrug and figure they probably did. You win Randi’s million bucks, I’ll give you a nod.
27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why?
A society run by reasonable, rational, educated, objective, skeptical people who know that actions work and prayer doesn’t –would tend to be atheist. We’ve already seen the world run by Christians. Whenever religion has had rule over law, the result has historically always been an automatic violation of human rights and an attack on factual education. So yeah, any Utopia would have to be humanist.
28. Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).
I find this question irrelevant because Christianity doesn’t permit free will, and not just because the threat of eternal damnation definitely counts as coercion. It’s also because of prophesy. If God knows the future, then he knows what you’re going to do, and you could no more change the future than you could the past. It’s just like Jesus said in Jesus Christ Superstar: “Everything is fixed and you can’t change it”.
29. 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?
I do not believe in free will, but I’m not certain about that, and I believe that our legal system should judge people as if they have free will, because that’s the only way to hold them accountable.
30. 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?
Everything that was ever reported about telepathy, remote viewing, telekinesis, astral projection, and other psionic abilities were all not just exactions; they were false. There is no means or mechanism by which any of these things could work. Physical things can extend their limitations but by definition can never exceed them.
31. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?
Even if I had answered in the affirmative, God still wouldn’t be probable; God is impossible, not just physically but logically. The only possible probability is that Man created God in his own image and that God exists only in Man’s imagination. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but all the gods of men will be long forgotten way before then.