Saturday, July 28, 2007

Common questions atheists are asked

The Friendly Atheist posted a list of questions that atheists are often asked. He suggests that the answers be short and clear.

Here are my answers to them.

Why do you not believe in God?
I read the Bible when I was about 15. That plus a complete lack of real evidence.

Where do your morals come from?
The same place as everyone else's. Humans evolved a cooperative society. That is way over-simplified, but a full explanation deserves an entire post all to itself. Maybe sometime I'll do that.

What is the meaning of life?
42. Duh. Seriously, there is no one Meaning to life. If you feel your life needs meaning, then it is up to you to provide it.

Is atheism a religion?

If you don’t pray, what do you do during troubling times?
Something productive.

Should atheists be trying to convince others to stop believing in God?
No. I think that we should encourage people to learn to think critically, and embrace reality. Failing that, I'd encourage theists to leave me alone.

Weren’t some of the worst atrocities in the 20th century committed by atheists?
The worst atrocities in all of human history were committed by humans. What's your point?
Note: Hitler was not an atheist. (Don't kid yourself, that's who you meant)

How could billions of people be wrong when it comes to belief in God?
By being wrong.
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd.
- Bertrand Russell

Why does the universe exist?
It exists. This question makes no sense from an atheist viewpoint.

How did life originate?
I don't know. I'm comfortable with that.

Is all religion harmful?
That depends on what you consider to be harmful. I'll just say that it can be.

What’s so bad about religious moderates?
They provide an environment that produces and shelters extremists. Plus the "they aren't really Xian" argument is really annoying.

Is there anything redeeming about religion?
I don't think so, but some people prefer a comforting lie to the truth.

What if you’re wrong about God (and He does exist)?
I'll take my chances.

Shouldn’t all religious beliefs be respected?

Are atheists smarter than theists?
Not necessarily.

How do you deal with the historical Jesus if you don’t believe in his divinity?
The same way I deal with historical Beowulf. If he ever really existed, the stories of his life have been greatly exaggerated.

Would the world be better off without any religion?
Possibly. I doubt it, though. What the world would be better off without is credulous, superstitious thinking that leads to religion.

What happens when we die?
The living get on with their lives. The dead decompose.

Some of these questions deserve longer clarifications. I may do that sometime. Others barely deserve to be answered at all.


3 people have spouted off:

phil said...

good answers. I pretty much agree with you on most of them. I'm just not an atheist. Maybe I'm an agnostic. I don't know.

phil said...

oh, wait. now I'm a dudeist. I guess.

Qalmlea said...

"Why do you not believe in God?"

If they mean the Christian god, it's because I sat down when I was 17 and started trying to reason through the Christian belief system scientifically, so to speak.

If they mean any sort of deity, then my response is "Do you believe in the internet?" If something exists, there's no reason to go around "believing" in it.