Ask the Atheist


#1

I’m a strong atheist: I do not believe that any god exists. I’m not certain, but I think that the notion is so implausible that I would (like H.P. Lovecraft) consider myself “a pedant and a hypocrite” to call myself anything other than an atheist.

Atheism is not an ethical position. Ethically, I’m a secular humanist. I believe whatever it is we call good is knowable somehow by human beings, empirically and naturally. No god is required to have ethical beliefs.

You may ask me anything without fear of giving offense. I do not believe that contradicting or challenging my beliefs is in any way disrespectful. If the question is too personal, I might not answer, but I won’t feel offended for having been asked.


#2

Oh, and Merry Christmas! :slight_smile:


#3

Are you familiar with the “argument from design” as evidence of the existence of God?
If so, how would you answer it?

also, since you do not believe in God, obviously you do not believe that jesus of nazareth is God. What do you believe concerning him? Who or what, in your opinion, was Jesus the son of Mary, from Nazareth?

…And Merry Christmas to you also. :slight_smile:


#4

[quote=Reepicheep]Are you familiar with the “argument from design” as evidence of the existence of God?
If so, how would you answer it?
[/quote]

I am familiar with the argument. It’s a positive argument, and therefore assumes a burden of proof. I’ve not been convinced that the universe itself is a product of design.

also, since you do not believe in God, obviously you do not believe that jesus of nazareth is God.

You are correct.

What do you believe concerning him? Who or what, in your opinion, was Jesus the son of Mary, from Nazareth?

I’m indecisive about the mythicist position, that there simply is no historical person on whom the gospels are based; the evidence is equivocal and the opinion of the experts is divided. If the character in the Gospels is indeed based on an historical person, then obviously I see no reason to believe that he was anything other than an ordinary natural person.

As to Lewis’s trilemma, I don’t think the morality of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels is all that astounding or great. There are some positions I agree with, some I disagree with, and much that I consider morally important that is simply not mentioned.


#5

Where you writing this this morning because it is Christmas and you were curious?

I have a question for you. Do you believe that we do not have a soul? and that it yearns for god?

I hope you have a great and open mind to discuss this with really caring people that are informed by their own consciences? We are hear and interested to help with question (and answers).

I am praying for you even if you don’t believe. :thumbsup:


#6

Well let me be the first to say thanks for gracing us with your presence o mighty atheist. If I think of a question that you will not deem beneath your level of expertise, I’ll be sure to ask.

Once again thanks for taking the time to set us all straight!


#7

[quote=marvin]Well let me be the first to say thanks for gracing us with your presence o mighty atheist. If I think of a question that you will not deem beneath your level of expertise, I’ll be sure to ask.

Once again thanks for taking the time to set us all straight!
[/quote]

Gasp! Arrogant sarcasm? Now that doesn’t sound very Catholic to me. And on Christmas! For shame.


#8

If God doesn’t exist, how do you explain love? Why do I love my family? Why would I do things for the people I love even if they would have no benefit for me whatsoever?


#9

[quote=josiecoe]Where you writing this this morning because it is Christmas and you were curious?
[/quote]

It’s a coincidence that it’s Christmas. I’m always curious. Someone mentioned this site on IIDB, so I thought I’d come over and check it out.

I have a question for you. Do you believe that we do not have a soul? and that it yearns for god?

Even after many years of philosophical inquiry, I’m very much unclear on the whole “soul” concept.

I hope you have a great and open mind to discuss this with really caring people that are informed by their own consciences?

I try to have an open mind. I’m not at all sure it’s “great”. It seems pretty good, though. :slight_smile:

We are hear and interested to help with question (and answers).

Groovy. :slight_smile:

I am praying for you even if you don’t believe. :thumbsup:

I will accept these good wishes in the generous spirit in which they are offered.


#10

[quote=marvin]Well let me be the first to say thanks for gracing us with your presence o mighty atheist. If I think of a question that you will not deem beneath your level of expertise, I’ll be sure to ask.

Once again thanks for taking the time to set us all straight!
[/quote]

I’m not sure how to respond. I’m just a guy. I’m not here to “set anyone straight”. My beliefs are what they are, and I don’t think I need to apologize for them, but it’s certainly not my intention to ask anyone else to apologize for theirs. I’m just here to talk.

If you would like to ask me any question at all, please do feel free.


#11

I guess I would wonder how an atheist would explain existence. Is it all random, and if so, how did that start? How could 'Something" come into being from “nothing” and even assuming infinite possibilities manage to bring out not only sentiate beings but beings who, out of all evidence to the contrary, have not only a capacity for thought and action which is simply not empirically foreseeable, but not indeed related to SELF at all (personal altruism), and which even if randomly achieved, should have evolved or mutated out long ago.

I find the idea that somehow the entire known earth/galaxy/comos/universe just “banged” into existence and randomly and chaotically combined far less believable, on rational grounds, than the idea that some creator was responsible. Science really cannot “explain” itself, but a sentiate being CAN (and to people of faith, HAS) explain (ed).


#12

[quote=Benjamin89]If God doesn’t exist, how do you explain love?
[/quote]

Love is a natural human emotion. I don’t see anything mysterious or supernatural about it.

Why do I love my family?

Why not?

There’s probably some sort of scientific explanation as to why we evolved the propensity for feeling familial love, but it doesn’t really matter why we love; it’s definitely a fact that we do love.

Why would I do things for the people I love even if they would have no benefit for me whatsoever?

I don’t think love is without personal benefit. I enjoy doing things for the people I love; heck, I enjoy doing things for strangers. We live in a social world, and when we help each other, we all end up feeling better.

I’m a happier person because I love; I’m a happier person because I am loved. I’m happier because I’m generally nice to people, and I’m happy when others are nice to me.


#13

Okay, maybe this will help you on the “whole soul thing”.

I’m guessing that you accept science for what it is. And what we currently understand about the human body as a replacable organism (I.E. it regenerates itself very frequently). Our flesh is completely replaced from what each of us had more than a month ago, as well as all of our organs. we naturally repair and regenerate the sum and parts of our body. our hair and all of the liquids are replaced.

Suppose that you have committed a robbery or murder, and you got away with it for ten years. The statute of limitations not being an issue, you are finally found out and are arrested.

Couldn’t your defense be that you are not the same person that committed the crime because your body is not the same (sure your fingerprints are the same and all of your scars, etc,.) but you have “re-generated” and you are not responsible for “that” persons crimes?

The point being that while our bodies are physically not the same (scientifically) the part that will be imprisoned will truley be the soul? the only important part of each us, the part that we all are working on as Catholics. The part that God is responsible for hiding from science and giving us freewill to make right and wrong decisions.

I hope that this point helps. It helps me … also I find a greater mind than mine (that of Peter Kreeft) has some incredible insight into this and many other subjects about our faith to be amazingly thought provoking. (he has a lot of free audio on the web at his site peterkreeft.com)

I’m praying for your soul (and your body), God bless


#14

[quote=Tantum ergo]I guess I would wonder how an atheist would explain existence.
[/quote]

This is a good question. I think there’s some level at which the “explanation” has to be: It just is. We can push the “just is” around, we can dress it up with fancy words, but I don’t think we can do away with it. I say, “The universe just is;” you might say, “God just is.”

Is it all random, and if so, how did that start? How could 'Something" come into being from “nothing”…

Starting and coming into being assume there is time for things to start in or in which to come into being. But time itself is something, not nothing, so where how did time come into being?

…and even assuming infinite possibilities manage to bring out not only sentiate beings but beings who, out of all evidence to the contrary, have not only a capacity for thought and action which is simply not empirically foreseeable, but not indeed related to SELF at all (personal altruism), and which even if randomly achieved, should have evolved or mutated out long ago.

I don’t think there’s really any evidence to the contrary that humans cannot or “should” not exist. Evolution is very complicated, and I don’t think there’s sufficient evidence to say that altruism is selectively unfavorable. I don’t think human beings are really all that altruistic, and genetic evolution has been working on people for only a relatively short time.

I find the idea that somehow the entire known earth/galaxy/comos/universe just “banged” into existence and randomly and chaotically combined far less believable, on rational grounds, than the idea that some creator was responsible.

I have the opposite intuition. I find the Big Bang theory rationally plausible, especially given the enormous amount of time that has passed since then.

Science really cannot “explain” itself, but a sentiate being CAN (and to people of faith, HAS) explain (ed).

I don’t find that the idea of a creator really “explains” anything. Why did the creator create this creation and not some other? Why did the creator create anything at all? An explanation, in my view, ought to show that what we see logically follows from the explanation, logically precludes what we don’t see.

Theistic or creationist explanations seem always to have to specify how the universe is as premises. Well, that’s all well and good; fundamentally, saying the universe just exists includes the same premises. Adding a god seems to do nothing but make the explanation more complicated, without actually explaining any more evidence.

You’ve touched on some complictated and deep philosophical topics. I apologize for not answering in greater depth. If you’d like to pick a single topic at a time and start a thread on it, I’d be happy to go into more detail and depth.


#15

[quote=PLP]I’m not sure how to respond. I’m just a guy. I’m not here to “set anyone straight”. My beliefs are what they are, and I don’t think I need to apologize for them, but it’s certainly not my intention to ask anyone else to apologize for theirs. I’m just here to talk.

If you would like to ask me any question at all, please do feel free.
[/quote]

What is the meaning of you’re OP? Are you looking to be convinced of God’s existence? Are you looking to convince us that there is no God? Why should we ask you questions? Why should we not fear offending you?

And when you say things like “you may ask any question without fear of giving offense” and “I do not believe that contradicting or challenging my beliefs is in any way disrespectful.” well you have to understand how that seems a bit high and mighty, no pun intended.


#16

[quote=josiecoe]The point being that while our bodies are physically not the same (scientifically) the part that will be imprisoned will truley be the soul?
[/quote]

Forgive me for preserving only your conclusion; your presentation was skillful and I omit it only because I agree.

Abstract entities and identity are fascinating philosophical issues. There is definitely a sense that patterns and meanings are the “same” across entirely different physical representations. The words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” are the same words whether they are written in ink on paper, held electronically in a computer or are just an idea in someone’s mind. On the other hand, if the words were not physically instantiated at all anywhere, not even in someone’s physical brain, would they exist at all?

I certainly do agree that there is a sense in which an arrangement of matter exists, and it is the arrangement itself which is the entity; the actual matter is not important, except in the sense that some matter must be so arranged for the arrangement to exist. I do agree that “I” am not my physical neurons; “I” am the arrangement of those neurons.

Is this then the soul? The pattern of how my neurons are arranged? If I were to completely specify this arrangement in another medium (e.g. a very detailed 3D ‘photograph’ of my brain), would I have “captured” my soul? If I duplicated the arrangement on a computer, would the computer and I have the same soul?

I must say, y’all are sharp. Any of these questions could make a whole career for a philosopher or theologian.

And, as I mentioned to Tantum ergo, please forgive me for answering briefly.

peterkreeft.com

It’s on my reading list!

I’m praying for your soul (and your body), God bless

Thank you :slight_smile: I don’t pray, but I certainly wish you well also.


#17

[quote=marvin]What is the meaning of you’re OP?
[/quote]

The meaning seems direct and plain. I’m here, I’d like to talk. The technique of soliciting questions suits my intellectual personality.

Are you looking to be convinced of God’s existence? Are you looking to convince us that there is no God?

Neither. I’m looking to discuss ideas and have conversations. I came here because I presume that, at least as far as religion goes, many people would have different opinions from my own. I find this can make for stimulating conversation.

Why should we ask you questions?

If there’s something you’d like to know and you’d like my opinion, you may ask. You don’t, of course, have to ask me anything. It’s up to you.

Why should we not fear offending you?

In Western civilization, some people are in fact offended by discussing differing religious beliefs. I am stating explicitly that I do not choose to be offended in this manner.

And when you say things like “you may ask any question without fear of giving offense” and “I do not believe that contradicting or challenging my beliefs is in any way disrespectful.” well you have to understand how that seems a bit high and mighty, no pun intended.

I’m sincerely sorry; I definitely don’t intend to come off as arrogant. I’m coming here with a set of opinions in sharp contrast to the predominant opinion of this community and I’m doing so intentionally and knowingly. It’s my understanding that this community, while having an explicitly Catholic orientation, does not exclude people with different opinions. It seems only prudent to be up front and explicit that I have no intention of either giving or taking offense.


#18

I have a question for PLP. Do you believe we have free will? Please explain your beliefs on this topic. Thanks.

Matt


#19

[quote=PLP]I’m not sure how to respond. I’m just a guy. I’m not here to “set anyone straight”. My beliefs are what they are, and I don’t think I need to apologize for them, but it’s certainly not my intention to ask anyone else to apologize for theirs. I’m just here to talk.

If you would like to ask me any question at all, please do feel free.
[/quote]

Well, I think that you secretely believe in God, thats why you are here. I don’t think that you would be wasting your time here if you didn’t somewhere “feel” the pull toward god. Subconscience is a powerful factor and God gave us the need to need him.
So, I know, quite for sure (as a previous atheist myself), that you are pretty much on a great journey, which is starting now.
Keep your mind and heart open and…Bon Voyage!!!


#20

Welcome, PLP.

My question is pretty simple: What do you believe happens when we die? Is death the end of our existence, or is there something more?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.