Hemant’s list of common atheist questions
Hemant over at FriendlyAtheist.com has posed a list of questions commonly asked of atheists, and put out the call for answers. Mine, without further ado, below the fold.
Why do you not believe in God?
Everything I know about physics, biology, palaeontology, archaeology, history, and basic human nature tells me that man made god, not the other way around. God has thus far failed to disagree.
Where do your morals come from?
Empathy for my fellow human being, and a good understanding of how society relies on co-operation for its survival and the greater good of all its members.
What is the meaning of life?
There has to be a meaning? Why not just be thankful for the fact that you have it? You’re the kind of person who looks a gift horse in the mouth, aren’t you?
Is atheism a religion?
Only so much as black is a color.
If you don’t pray, what do you do during troubling times?
Should atheists be trying to convince others to stop believing in God?
No. Atheist should be convincing others to think for themselves in all things. Atheism is just a natural side effect.
Weren’t some of the worst atrocities in the 20th century committed by atheists?
Did they commit them in the name of atheism? If not, I don’t see your point.
How could billions of people be wrong when it comes to belief in God?
The same way billions of people are wrong when it comes to belief in a magic pill that will make you thin without having to exercise or eat well – we all like easy answers that don’t require us to take responsibility for our own actions.
Why does the universe exist?
Why does there have to be a reason? How is the more interesting question, and we’re already making real progress answering that one.
How did life originate?
Most likely according to one of the current theories of abiogenesis being explored and argued by biologists, or according to a theory of abiogenesis yet to be discovered by said biologists.
Is all religion harmful?
Any time we lie to ourselves, we do harm.
What’s so bad about religious moderates?
The term is an oxymoron.
Is there anything redeeming about religion?
It’s a comfort to some people. In that respect, it’s about as redeeming as heroin.
What if you’re wrong about God (and He does exist)?
Then he’s got some explaining to do.
Shouldn’t all religious beliefs be respected?
Either all evidence-free beliefs should be respected, or none should. There’s no reason belief in a god should demand more respect than, say, belief in the tooth fairy. They both have about as much going for them. The only reason we think we should respect religious belief over any other kind of belief is because those who believe in a god have historically wielded great political power, whereas those who believe in the tooth fairy have historically wielded great power over their smaller brothers and sisters, and possibly the family terrier.
Are atheists smarter than theists?
No, just more honest.
How do you deal with the historical Jesus if you don’t believe in his divinity?
We can respect a man’s life and his message without deifying him. Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela. Abraham Lincoln. Saying that a man who preaches morality in a time of immorality can only be inspired by god, shows very little faith in man.
Would the world be better off without any religion?
Depends how you got to that point. I don’t think the world would be better off if you banned religion outright. But it would certainly be better if we all became sufficiently advanced in our moral and critical thinking to realise that we did not need religion, and just got on with the business of being better humans.
What happens when we die?
If we lived our life right, we have loved ones who mourn our passing. The wheels of society turn to dispose of our body in a way that shows respect to our life. We are remembered for a time, and then eventually we are not. The world goes on without us. We are oblivious of all of this, given that the biological processes we interpretted as ‘me’ have ceased to function, and ‘me’ has therefore ceased to exist.