Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

The Atheist Challenge – My Response

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I’ve seen the Atheist Challenge questionnaire making the rounds.  It’s questions made me stop and think and to try to articulate concisely what and why I believe as I now do. To give myself permission, if you will, to change and allow my beliefs to evolve.  It has hi-lighted some areas I’d like to delve into a little deeper to further my understanding of how I came to believe what I believed.  I am also now very intrigued by religion in general.  I’m fascinated by how the canon of scripture was developed and it’s impact on the world.

1. If there is NO God, then there is no Measurement or Standard for morality?  Then What will define morality?

I used to believe that if there was no God there was no standard for morality.  I now believe that morality is the same as it has always been.  A man-made law.  Considering that the written code we now call the Bible has only been in existence a few thousand years and man has been in existence much longer than that I would say that what has been written was what was born out of trial and error and societal norms at the time and what had been established orally up until then.  Looking at what we call the law, Exodus and Leviticus, it is obvious to see that this isn’t some perfect moral code.  It is actually quite similar to other written codes at that time and is hardly just.  In looking at it’s treatment of women, children and slaves(it condones it) it becomes obvious that this is nothing more than man’s attempt to maintain some sort of order rather than chaos.  Societal practices always have and always will be the standard for morality.

2. If there is NO God, then there is NO meaning or purpose to Life.  So without a God, does life have purpose or meaning?  Without God, does the Atheist have purpose?

I suppose many a man has gone down the nihilist path.  Life has whatever meaning or purpose we assign to it.  I would submit that it has greater meaning and purpose than if we have a forever to enjoy it.  What we have is the here and now.  That should cause us to take pleasure in the little things, the love we enjoy, the children we have, in a sunset or a sunrise, in nature.  It should cause us to develop a live ’til we die mentality.  Not one of excess and overindulgence, but one of appreciation of life and moments of happiness.  We should be striving to leave this place better for the next generation.

3. Are you an advocate of New Atheism and Darwinism?  If so, then the most extreme and logical form of Darwinism is Eugenics.  Would you support this?  Why or Why Not?

I really haven’t studied New Atheism or Darwinism as it relates to Eugenics.  Though I have to say I would not be a proponent of Eugenics.  If we are talking about the manipulations of genes to make specific humans genetically better, as in correcting a defect, then sure.  What I mean by that is if there is some way to alter a particular gene to prevent a known heart problem…well…that would be the same in my opinion as curing cancer and who wouldn’t want that?  But if we are talking about using Eugenics to populate the planet with some genetically superior humans then no.  We’ve already seen where that kind of thinking, that mentality, that kind of superiority complex leads.  I don’t think we want to go back there.

4. If we are ancestors/descendants of Apes, then why are there no transitional fossils or species to support this theory?

We are not ancestors/descendants of Apes.  We have common genes and we have common ancestors, but I’m not aware that we are directly descendant from Apes.  As for transitional fossils there actually are a few.  A quick google search will reveal this and the History channel has done a pretty good job with From Ape to Man.  You kind of have sift through all the opinion stuff but they do present actual transitional fossils pretty well and they show the ones that have been discovered to be a hoax.  They explain in some detail how it was determined that these are hoaxes and what criteria is used to determine which ones are not.

5. Do you believe in Human Nature?  It is Human Nature to believe in God, if so, why do you go against human nature and not believe in God?

We are humans.  We have a nature.  I believe that nature to be unique to the individual.  I do not believe it is human nature to believe in a God.  There are a number of tribes which are Atheist, not because they’ve gone against their nature, but because they’ve seen no evidence to the contrary.  They have no reason to believe there is a god and no one has yet told them there is.  When someone tries to tell them this they scoff at the idea because of their own life experience.

6. Can ‘Something come from Nothing’?  Doesn’t that violate The First Law of Thermodynamics?

That question implies that there ever was nothing.  We only make that assumption because the Bible says…in the beginning.  There was a beginning of time/record keeping, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there was nothing before that.  We simply don’t know the answer to that.  It would be impossible to know if there was a violation of The First Law of Thermodynamics.  My inclination is to say no, there was no violation of a natural law.  Either our understanding of that law is flawed or our understanding is incomplete or inadequate to even answer the question.

7. It seems that a society of Atheist are immoral and self-destructing.  Why would anyone want a Godless Society, just look at our examples: North Korea, Maoist China, Stalin, & Pot Pol?

We also have the Crusades, God-ordained slavery, murder, genocide and much more.  It seems to me that so-called godly societies can commit some of the worst atrocities against mankind.  Why would we want to establish a God-filled society?  Is it really any better?  No.  The problem is that humans are humans.  Good and bad.  Some use god as an excuse to carry out their evil deeds and some godless are the most upright, moral people on the planet.  I can’t see where belief in a god makes much of a difference.  These so-called Godless societies still use fear and brainwashing to control their masses.  Critical thinking skills are necessary whether god is or not.

8. If you were to die, and you were before God.  And he was getting ready to pass judgement on you,  What would be your reaction or thoughts?  What plea would you give him so he does not judge you harshly?

I would appeal to his rational nature.  I would remind him that if he so desired he could have made himself known to me.  The fact that I no longer believed in him wasn’t for a lack of seeking.  I would also appeal so his sense of reason.  If all it takes is a mental ascent to a particular belief any old monkey could do that.  Wouldn’t that make his grace cheap?

9. What would convince you atheism is wrong?  And that Christianity is Right?

I’m not sure at this point.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.  So far we have a lot of claims of virgin births, and resurrections but nothing more than conjecture to back it up.  There are a lot of people who “feel” that God is real and just “know in their hearts” that Jesus was raised from the dead.  Some physical, hard evidence would be nice.  Some sort of personal, verifiable, experience.

I’ve had all those “feelings” but have come to realize that isn’t a very reliable indicator of reality.  I “just knew in my heart” that Jesus had risen from the dead but the Bible itself says that the heart is deceptive above all else.  All of this is so subjective.  I’d need some objective proof of the existence, not just of a man named Jesus, but that the legends about him are true.

10. Why are you an Atheist?  Why do you NOT believe in God?  Why do you reject God?  (You can be as detailed as you want.)

Well, it all started with an innocent question from a person I was witnessing to.  They asked if I could provide some corroborating evidence from an extra-Biblical source for my claims.  “Piece of cake”, I thought.  Except that when I looked for the evidence what I found astounded me.  What was available wasn’t reliable.  These were sources that had been used to convince me.  But no one told me they were questionable, at best. Josephus turned out not to be such a reliable source.  That, in turn, caused me to dig further.  I began to research the origins of the canonized scripture and the reasons other apocryphal works were excluded.  What I found horrified me.  It horrified me to find out that the line I’d been fed by the church about the Holy Spirit’s perfect preservation of God’s word was just that.  A line.  I’d bitten hook, line and sinker.  The more I stepped back and looked through skeptical eyes the more I came to realize how flawed and wholly unbelievable the whole thing is.  It all crumbled like a house of cards.

As for rejecting god.  I simply see no evidence that there is one.  No god has revealed himself or made himself known to me in any reliable, discernible manner.  Once the Christian God crumbled right before my very eyes I saw now reason to believe in any other.  Is there any credible evidence one exists?

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13 thoughts on “The Atheist Challenge – My Response

  1. Great responses, D’Ma! I particularly liked your first response, which I thought was especially comprehensive.

    What a strange questionnaire though! The person who came up with it must have been very ignorant. For instance, to assume there is no meaning or purpose to life without a deity.

    By the way, the Theory of Evolution, which the author of the questionnaire mistakenly calls “Darwinism”, does not support eugenics. Eugenics, for instance, seeks to breed a “pure type” or an “ideal type”, but the evolutionary sciences have discovered just how weak and vulnerable to disease such a population would be in practice.

    And nor was eugenics derived from the Theory of Evolution. Instead, eugenics was derived from 19th Century experiments with plant and animal breeding in Western Europe.

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    • I linked to the blog that this questionnaire came from. I don’t think the person is ignorant. He designed this questionnaire from a Christian’s perspective, the way a Christian would ask them. These are questions a Christian would and has asked of Atheists over time. He compiled them into a comprehensive list.

      He’s recently been on his own voyage of sorts and has shed a lot of his faith, to what degree I’m not certain.

      Christians, in particular, believe that there is no meaning or purpose in life apart from God.

      A lot of Christians conflate the terms of evolution and Darwinism. But he links to an article in his blog about Darwinism and Eugenics. So I’m not sure he is conflating terms. In that particular question he doesn’t refer to the Theory of Evolution.

      At any rate thanks for the information about Eugenics. That was something I intended to look further into. I don’t fully understand it except to know that genes can be manipulated and that it’s negative results in humans have clearly been seen.

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    • I second Paul. The survey makes a lot of hasty assumptions about atheism that simply don’t characterize real-life atheist life. Nevertheless, your answers were very good.

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      • They survey does exactly that because it comes from a perspective where Atheists aren’t characterized accurately. Christians, for all they think they know, have no clue what Atheism is about.

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  2. Critical thinking skills are necessary whether god is or not.

    LOL! Amen to that, sister! Well answered.

    And Paul makes an excellent point which I often forget about eugenics being derived from breading programs of plants and animals. Evolution (genetics) only tells us how that selective breading works.

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    • Absolutely. And if we want to call selective gene manipulation for the purposes of better quality of life Eugenics(i.e. altering genes to prevent disease) then by all means. Never, ever to create superior races of men. Who would get to determine what traits are superior? What is superior to one might be infinitely inferior to another. That’s a slippery slope I don’t think would be very pretty.

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  3. I’ve been reading peoples answers to this “challenge” and like what I see. Rather than do a post myself, “ditto!” I say. “Ditto.”

    They aren’t real challenging questions anyway. I think I could come up with more challenging questions for atheists, but why feed the theist machine? 😉

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    • No, they aren’t very challenging. But Christians seem to think when they ask an unbeliever these questions they’ve “got ’em”. They smugly ask these questions because they think the unbeliever will be stumped somehow. If they are ignorant questions that’s where the ignorance comes from.

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      • thanks d’ma for answering them. And yeah, it is like you said christians set them up as gotcha questions. And I’m starting to experience that now. After talking to my pastor and one of the elders about me no longer being a christian. I felt that a good portion of the conversation was word games and gotcha questions. I’m glad I came out with the questionaire, cause I now realized I knew nothing about evolution, big bang and darwinism. Because if I would have gotten into a conversation about it before, I would have been a deer in the headlights.

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      • I admire you coming out the way you have. Being a minister of any sort and having this struggle would be so agonizing. On the one hand you can’t deny your doubts. You have to be true to yourself. And on the other knowing you’d have to tell your deep, dark secret and risk judgement. It’s not like me, where I had a built-in excuse to stop attending a particular church, although I do get lectured about not going to church anywhere from time to time.

        Also, I didn’t think I was a deer in headlights at all about evolution, big bang, and darwinism. I’ve studied the Answers in Genesis materials. I thought I had a handle on it. So when non-Christians tried to throw evolution on me, I had a ready answer – no matter how stupid it may have been. 🙄

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  4. And he(Jesus) sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation. Mark 8:12 KJV

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