Friday, March 14, 2008

The Same Old Questions...

There are certain issues that pop up over and over again, in the
philosophical battlefield between Christianity and atheism. This
article attempts to deal with these issues so that Christians will
better understand where we, as atheists, start from, and might
possibly prevent repetetive and oftentimes annoying re-debates.

(1) "Millions of people all over the world believe in God. Are you saying that they're all wrong."

Essentially, YES, but there is nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with preferring the color blue to the color red, or preferring vanilla to chocolate. Like any other descision in life, Belief in God has different opinions available. Some people prefer to believe in one, others don't. Atheists choose to not believe in God for many reasons, usually because they cannot find any proof that one exists. You cannot convince a person who prefers vanilla ice cream over chocolate ice cream that chocolate is better or right, and vanilla wrong. The same is true in this case.

(2) "Where did the universe come from if there wasn't a God to create it?"

Christians assume that God created the universe. Atheists admit that no man knows what created the universe. In fact, there are many origin theories to choose from. One theory suggests that the universe simply always existed (much the same way Christians maintain that their God always existed and had no beginning nor end), while another suggests that the universe was created as the result of a process that we do not fully understand yet.

(3) "How can you be moral without belief in God?"

Are all Christians moral? Are any non-christians moral? Morality has absolutely nothing to do with belief in God. Morality is a way of conduct that is beneficial to society, or considerate to others. Manners, politeness, and ethics are all practiced by many non-christian cultures, as well as atheists. you do not have to be a believer in God to be moral -- you just have to be considerate of others.

(4) "What about your soul? Do you want to suffer for eternity?"

Most atheists do not believe that the soul exists. We maintain that personality, consciousness, intelligence, and talent are all contained in the organ known as the brain, and there is considerable scientific and medical research that proves this to be true. When confronted by the facts about the Brian-mind connection, many Christians opt to describe the soul as having nothing to do with intelligence, perception, or personality. If that is the case, then what does the soul do? what evidence is there that such a thing exists?

(5) "What happens to you when you die? I know I am going to heaven!"

Sadly, we atheists cannot offer any pleasant stories to comfort a person's fear of death. We do not believe in an afterlife. We believe that when you die, that is it. We believe that death is final, and that nobody has an afterlife. We discount all stories of "near death experiences" as fantasies that people under very traumatic
circumstances have, very similar to the hallucinations that child molestation victims create to blank out the memories of abuse. We simply accept that death is the end, and get on with our lives.

(6) "Why live, then? Why not just kill yourself?"

This follows from question #5. If we have no prospect of an afterlife, that doesn't make living any worse. Instead of striving for some imaginary goal that will only come after death, the accepting of death as our ultimate end gives us less time to worry about the afterlife, and lets us concentrate on enjoying this life -- the only
one we have. We are no more or less depressed about death than a christian would be. We simply accept it's finality, where the Christian has to cling to a myth about an afterlife.

(7) "Why be moral? If there is no ultimate justice for people who commit crimes, why not lead a life of crime?"

This also follows from question #5. Essentially, it is much more beneficial for survival to behave in a moral way, and avoid crime, because criminals tend to be hunted by their victims, and a life of crime is typically short and brutal. Few criminals have ever been able to live pleasant lives. They usually end up dead or in a prison cell somewhere. It is better to live in an ethical way, because people will be less likely to kill you if you are nice to them.

The very notion that "if there is no God, and there is no judgement, why not be as bad as you want?" speak a lot more about the Christian using this argument than it does about atheism. It speaks of a person who feels that if it were not for God and the Christian belief structure, they would just go hog-wild, kill, steal, and rape their way through life. If that is how these people trully feel, and if it really were possible for them to do that, it doesn't give a very positive message about that individual. It is actually quite pathetic.

1 comment:

GamingAsshole said...

I don't get the sixth claim. If someone does not believe in an afterlife, is that more of an incentive to live, rather than die?