31 Questions For Atheists

Also popular this week: Christ Flix : Why U No Stick To The Bible?

I came across this list of questions for atheists and thought I would answer them:

  1. How would you define atheism? Atheism is a lack of belief in any gods.
  2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)? How would one act according to a non-belief in god? Would I take time to not-pray? Maybe I’d spend Sunday morning standing outside a church? The answer to this idiotic question is no, I do not live my life based on the fact that there is no god. I simply live my life for me and my family, taking responsibility for my own actions. You cannot “act according to what you believe” when you don’t believe. It is a lack of belief. Lack.
  3. Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist? No, just like it was not inconsistent for someone who did not believe the earth was flat to work against the common belief the earth was flat by attempting to show the earth was, in fact, round. Living in truth is the key.
  4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality? It’s not that I am sure there is no god, it is that I do not blindly believe in one with no evidence. Evidence is what gives us our reality. Without evidence, it’s fiction. Reality is aptly presented by facts. Not old stories.
  5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct? My lack in belief that there are any gods is a direct result of there being no evidence for them. I would change my mind about there being a god if there was evidence that one existed. It’s got nothing to do with being correct or incorrect.
  6. How would you define what truth is? Truth is represented by facts that are backed up with evidence.
  7. Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold? Because there is no evidence for god.
  8. Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what? That has nothing to with atheism. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god. That’s it.
  9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview?  Why or why not? No, it’s not a worldview, because it is simply a lack of belief in a god. You can’t make an entire worldview out of that. An atheist can still believe in anything else, just not a god. They can believe psychics are real, they can believe the weather is caused by bejeweled dragons living in Mt. Everest. They can believe storks deliver babies. A worldview cannot be just a lack of belief in a god.
  10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism? Because religion is wrong. Teaching children to believe that this life is just a lead up to what comes after, is teaching them that this life is not the most valuable part of our existence. Believers blame their actions on forces outside of their control rather than taking responsibility for what they do. They feel god is in control and some people take that literally and, lacking faith in themselves, let their potential wither and die away while they pray for change. It also endorses hate, intolerance and denies scientific evidence. It has been the driving force behind brutal killings, genocides, executions, rapes, slavery, oppression and it has driven millions of people to suicide. It’s wrong, no matter which way you slice it.

    Pray

    You choose prayer, I choose action.

  11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence? I was never a believer.
  12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion? Yes.
  13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity? Yes.
  14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder? Absolutely not.
  15. Must God be known through the scientific method? No. If he appeared to me in my living room right now, I’d believe, even if I couldn’t prove it to anyone.
  16. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God? N/A
  17. Do we have any purpose as human beings? Absolutely. There are many different possible purposes to each person’s life. It can be something completely subjective, like raising your kids to be great people or spending your life rescuing animals. It can also be something objective, like publishing research and works that will lead to massive change in our world that lasts well beyond a lifetime.
  18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined? It is determined by the individual and in some cases it can also be determined by the world (such as in the case of Hippocrates or Herman Melville or Mark Twain or Galileo).
  19. Where does morality come from? My morality comes from my family and me. My mother and father taught me the difference between right and wrong. I have furthered those teachings through thought. I take full responsibility for my morality. I can, without the help of a book or a fictional character, understand right from wrong all on my own.
  20. Are there moral absolutes? Fuck yes.
  21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them? Rape is wrong. Murder is wrong. Violence is wrong. Teaching children that there is some old man in the sky judging our every move is wrong.
  22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil?  If so, what is it? No, I do not. I believe horrible shocking things come from messed up people who became messed up through previous trauma or through mental illness.
  23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad? I don’t believe in him, so I don’t believe he is one way or another.
  24. What would it take for you to believe in God? Evidence.
  25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence? Seeing him, or having peer reviewed, independently reproduced findings that prove it.
  26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what? Yes to all.
  27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer?  Why? Atheists. Why? Because atheists take responsibility for their own actions, and they take action to make things better rather than pray.
  28. Do you believe in free will?  (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion). Yes.
  29. If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices? Again, nothing to do with atheism. Atheism is merely the lack of belief in a god. One atheist could believe the brain is run by My Little Ponies, another could think the brain is nothing but chemical reactions. Depends on the atheist. The only thing we have in common is a lack in belief of god.
  30. If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time?  If not, why not? How does one lead to the other? No, I don’t think our brains will evolve to the point that they become a deity. Evolution does not mean things become more powerful. Evolution means adaptation to the environment. If surviving our environment required us to be less intelligent, evolution would lead to a weaker mind.

    Dawkins

    Tell it like it is, Dawkins.

  31. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists? N/A

 

Also popular this week: Christ Flix : Why U No Stick To The Bible?

Every argument I have ever had with a creationist has gone the same way as this questionnaire: it just proves that they do not understand what atheism is. It’s absolutely impossible to have a coherent, civilized debate with a creationist until they understand what atheism is. I doubt that day will ever come.

What are your answers to these questions? Feel free to post in the comments, or write your own blog post and send me the link : mommy@godlessmom.com .

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  • I’m so glad I found this! I definitely think we should all copy this and answer these quetions in our own ways and hopefully help people understand Atheism and ideally make a choice to live rationally and individualistically. I will definitely be posting this on my blog with my own answers, and I’ll email you once it’s up!

    • awesome! I look forward to reading your responses 🙂

  • Moine

    I avoid these “questionnaires” from theists because they are often just passive aggressive attempts to frame the conversation in a pejorative way against atheism. They are dishonest in intent. You have made this one your own, however. It is good for the godless to discuss these issues, for clarity of thinking.
    I’m not going to comment on all of them but I will highlight where I take a path less travelled. Food for thought if nothing else.
    #14 Faith that is hope of a better outcome isn’t maladaptive and can’t be considered a mental disease. Faith that is used for a justification for racism, hatred, pacification of the people, et al, or that largely ignores an obvious reality is maladaptive and certainly is a condition of wider mental disease. [this isn’t a popular opinion among jeebots]
    #15 I recommend atheists read philosophical reasoning like A. J. Ayer’s ” Language Truth and Logic”. It is a seminal work and key to understanding apologist’s flawed approaches to reason and argument. Here’s a precis that specifically addresses the question:
    “It is plainly contradictory to say that fictitious objects exist, the device is adopted of saying, that they are real in some non empirical sense~ that they have a mode of real being which is different from the mode of being existent things, but since there is no way of testing whether an object is real in the ordinary sense, the assertion that fictitious objects have a special non empirical mode of real being is devoid of all literal significance. It comes to be made as the result of the assumption that being “fictitious” is an attribute. This is a fallacy of the same order as the fallacy of supposing that existence is an attribute and it can be exposed in the same way.”
    Ergo; special pleading.
    #20 Anything that relies on the action of the mind isn’t absolute OR “objective”, a term jeebots like to bandy about in their fight for self righteousness. Objective means “grounded outside humanity” or, as Merriam-Webster defines it, “having reality independent of the mind.” The test would be to name a moral act a mindless thing can perform. Moral constructs are the sole product of consciousness, are subjective by nature, and change with social evolution.

    Just my 2 cents…..

    • You always get to a point in an argument with jeebots where it becomes special pleading. It is probably the single most infuriating thing about talking with them. How do you get past that?

      I see your point with the mental disorder.

      I actually chose to answer these because I was totally stumped for a post for today. Hah, seriously, my first writer’s block and I’ve been writing for 15 years. Thanks for reading!

      • Moine

        My buddy W.L. Craig is the king of special pleading [See Kalam Cosmological Arg.] The good news is, if they resort to it they have already lost the argument because they KNOW they are subject to a law or idea and they wish to evade it. Special pleading is a result of strong emotional beliefs that interfere with reason.

  • Lars

    I think the answer to #15 is questionable. You have to be able to prove that it is God in some way and not just a hallucination for example.

    • Of course, but if I myself was sure it was not hallucinating or really drunk, it’s likely I would believe. I’m not one to hallucinate, not even back in my pothead days. If I were to see something like that, I’d be pretty convinced. I’d still go see a doc, though.

      • magsmagenta

        A doctor would be a good idea in those circumstances, if you suddenly start hallucinating when you didn’t previously, even if it’s something as simple as noises or smells it could be a brain tumor.
        I would certainly have to have someone else I trusted see the same thing I did for it to be real.

  • How would you define atheism? – A disregard for magic or the existence of deities often coupled with a strong understanding of reality and the physical sciences.

    • That’s a good definition, though the word itself just technically means without god.

  • In today’s climate with these important questions being debated and argued in practically every format and forum what is often neglected is the considerable science behind atheism. We find many atheists arguing from opinion rather than the vast fields of scientific evidence that support such a conclusion. Many atheists feel entitled to their opinion with the same justification believers feel entitled to theirs. They argue that the lack of evidence of god’s existence is sufficient. But, is it? Christopher Hitchens famously wrote “anything that can be introduced without evidence can be dismissed without evidence” and this maxim has become the Occam’s Razor for atheistic thought, and reasonably so. It can also be a lazy refuge for those attempting to seriously confront, debate and “win” the argument. Unfortunately, opinion will never be enough to convince the fence-sitters. Forget convincing the believer, it is a futile and hopeless task. At best we can only speak out and inform with the most immediate benefit of inspiring others to investigate the multi-disciplinary resources at their disposal, culled over thousands of years of anthropological, archaeological, mythological, psychological, and biological research. My hope for those who have applied their keen intelligence to arrive at the atheistic opinion will not stop there, but take the time to avail themselves of the hard work of hundreds of learned scholars in these fields who have left volumes of research, literature and scientific papers behind them rather than simply, sentimentally, or self-righteously rely on assumptions, opinion, and gut instinct.

    • What I think Hitchens meant when he said that was that the burden of proof – the responsibility of supplying evidence – lies in the person who is making the claim that something exists. Without proof, there is no need for anyone else to provide proof against it. If someone came up to me and said that there was a large green unicorn who loves hot dogs living in his backyard, I would not be required to provide proof to the contrary because the claim itself is absurd. Just because more people believe in god than they do frank-loving unicorns, doesn’t mean that their claim is any less absurd or any more in need of being refuted with evidence. As well, what I try to promote here is critical thinking – if something doesn’t make sense, it’s probably a load of crap. Why? Because there are christians and muslims who already have these questions going on in their minds, and are on the verge of having that one life-altering moment that will bring them into reason and rational thought. Reading scientific journals may be that defining moment for some, but for most people like that, the development of their own critical thought is what is going to work. Thanks for reading!

  • Dingus

    I would disagree with your answer for #2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)? I would say yes. As a non-believer, I no longer believe that there is an afterlife. That changes everything I think about this life. It is the only opportunity we have to exist. That makes this life so much more important and valuable. Atheists should try and make this life as good as possible not just for ourselves but for everyone. Otherwise, a great read. Thanks!

    • That is a fantastic point, and I do agree! Thanks for reading 🙂

  • What I’m suggesting is that the same lack of critical thinking is also rampant in the atheist community as well. Believers believe what they do because they are genetically-imprinted to do so. Thinking that they will see the light, or the fact that you do will never be sufficient to convert the believer. Beyond the dogma of any specific belief system, they do not critically engage because it is against their entire psychology, community structure, and world view to do so. See Oswald Spengler’s: The Magian Mind.They believe in lieu of thinking, or as JFK famously wrote: For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie– deliberate, contrived and dishonest– but the myth– persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forbearers. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” I find atheists to be just as eager to believe rather than subject themselves to the “discomfort” of research. If we are going to prevail against the insidious mindset of religious revisionism and pseudo science we have to be up on our game. What can be wrong about urging young atheists to learn the science behind their opinion? See: NO, You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.” http://theconversation.com/no-youre-not-entitled-to-your-opinion-9978 via @ConversationEDU

  • The Anti-religious Atheist

    In case you didn’t see it in your email, I answered the entire list 😛

    Here are my answers.

    How would you define atheism? The lack of belief in any deities. The assertion that there is no God (or any other gods or goddesses) falls under this.

    Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)? Is there really much of a difference between those two? Anyways, how would one act according to what they don’t believe to be real? I don’t believe in ghosts and that doesn’t influence my day to day choices in any way. Same with Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. So what impact would not believing in any gods have? None.

    Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist? No because going back to the ghosts thing, those who have a lack of belief in ghosts often assert that they are not real and some people probably try to prove they aren’t real. It is a natural thought process that does not contradict itself. This is what’s called living in truth. What would be inconsistent is if someone were to say that God doesn’t exist and then try to prove his existence.

    How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality? While I personally believe that God does not exist and assert that he is not real (same with all deities), I am not so sure that he doesn’t exist that I’d refute evidence of him existing. That being said, until there is evidence and henceforth a defining point of reality being different than how I see it now, the reality is I believe God does not exist (same with all other deities).

    How sure are you that your atheism is correct? I wouldn’t say that it is “correct”. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong. I would use the word “appropriate” since there is no evidence to prove that God or any other deities exist. If true, undeniable evidence were to be presented to me in any proper fashion, I’d change my view.

    How would you define what truth is? Truth is facts supported by evidence in most cases. In other cases, truth is something that stands as being fact without evidence being needed (like with killing and rape being wrong, helping people in need being good to do, etc.)

    Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold? Because I used to be a believer and it simply wasn’t getting me anywhere. My life went to shit and I realized there’s no one there in any recognizable form. Since then, I have discovered how wrong Christianity is as a religion. Also, there is no evidence that any deities exist.

    Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what? While these and atheism are not mutually exclusive, they don’t actually have anything to do with atheism. They have to do with someone on an individual level, not a beliefs or lack of beliefs one.

    Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? It can’t ever be a worldview because atheism is simply a lack of belief in any deities. If atheism were the assertion that there are no gods then maybe, but since it’s not, it isn’t a worldview and can never be so.

    Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism? Because religion is no good for this world. It’s only done an unjustifiable amount of harm. However, I don’t think badly of Christians when it comes to them as people, I think badly of their religion that causes all the bigotry and whatnot.

    If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence? The fact I was not getting any help when I was suffering.

    Do you believe the world would be better off without religion? Yes, very much so.

    Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity? Without a doubt.

    Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder? No, but I do believe it is a product of ignorance.

    Must God be known through the scientific method? While that would be a good way to discover him IF it would actually prove he is real, it’s far from what would have to show him to be real. I’d believe in him if he showed himself to me in any irrefutable way, whether I could convince others of his existence or not. So must he be known through the scientific method? Not even slightly.

    If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God? Doesn’t apply.

    Do we have any purpose as human beings? Absolutely. What one does with it is up to them, but we all have a purpose, whether it’s creating more people to live on after us, creating something that will make our name always remembered, or both, and everything in between.

    If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined? Determining one’s purpose falls on the individual. Since there is no higher power to determine our purpose for us, we all have a choice as to what our purpose is.

    Where does morality come from? Observing cause and effect if nothing else, though the law determines for us what is right or wrong. However, you don’t need to hear or read that killing would put you in jail if you just observe for yourself and see what it does, how chaotic it is, how it affects the people who loved said individual. It all boils down to one’s own mind though. It’s fact that we all respond to being treated in a good way and in a bad way. Everyone can pick up on this and base how they treat others and what they do on it, as well as how they perceive what others do to them. That alone defines morality.

    Are there moral absolutes? Fuck yes there are.

    If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them? It’s wrong to rape, murder, steal, many other things. Oh and it’s wrong to indoctrinate children into believing in some being who is not known to actually exist.

    Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it? No. There is no good and evil, only humanity and the sides of beautiful and horrible.

    If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad? To believe he is bad would be to believe he exists.

    What would it take for you to believe in God? Evidence in some way, shape, or form.

    What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence? Seeing him, or irrefutable evidence provided by others that is shown to objectively be true.

    Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what? Doesn’t matter, as long as it properly meets the standard of being true evidence in some undeniable form.

    Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why? Atheists. Why? Because look at what a society with Christianity in it has done. Seriously, take all the time you need to think about it.

    Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coercion). Yes I do.

    If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices? This is a redundant question. Also, that second part has nothing to do with atheists. Again, atheism is simply a lack of belief in any deities. Anything else is what the person believes outside of their atheism.

    If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time? If not, why not? How does one lead to the other? No because evolution is adapting to environmental changes over a period of time. Never in the history of the world has anything evolved into a higher being, merely a different one, and if you think humans are necessarily superior beings, check the food chain.

    If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists? Doesn’t apply.

    • I didn’t miss this in my email, I’m just catching up! good answers 🙂

  • I just published my answers on my blog here, http://chrisbforthee.blogspot.com/2014/04/31-questions-for-atheist.html for you all to check out. By the way, the reason we answer questions like this is because if we don’t, then the religious people have already won. If any potentially questioning religious person read that they weren’t worth your time to debate the issue or share your opinions on the matter, then it’s likely they would feel that Atheism or questioning their faith is or never was worth their time to consider as well. As such, it is always a duty to help to spread information and truth in all of it’s forms.

    • I totally agree – on top of that, if you’re passionate about your atheism and inquiry and critical thinking, it’s hard to walk away from questions like this. I will check out your post!

    • Josh Edrington

      I would say we have to answer questions like these because the only valid way to respond to lazy thinking is with critical thinking. Letting people who are asleep at the wheel continue to inform public policy is the reason American politics and education are as screwed up as they are.

  • Wow. I wrote “It’s forms”? Really?

  • @mabam70

    My answers to the 31 questions:

    1. How would you define atheism?

    — A personal lack of belief in a Deity.

    2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?

    — Not sure how you thought when coming up with that question. I do not go around asking myself What Would Jesus Do. I act according to social standards that have evolved in the society we live in. Commonly accepted Do’s and Don’ts and so on.

    3. Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?

    — Generally people does not work against the existence of God. They work against people who believe in God and want to inject their beliefs in Politics and Society.

    4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

    — My lack of belief in any deity is real to me. As far as I view the world around me there is no evidence of any supernatural being controlling anything.

    5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

    — See previous answer.

    6. How would you define what truth is?

    — Truth is a statement that should be able to be proven. In colloquial sence the truth is only a subjective statement of someone stating their opinion of a matter. However it can rarely be proven.

    7. Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

    — Because it is what I am. Atheism is not a position, it is a statement of personal non belief. Regarding belief see previous statements.

    8. Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?

    — I have no preference. Quite possible an “or what?”

    9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? Why or why not?

    — I do not see it as a worldview. Atheists can co-exist with believers, as long as the believers does not try to instate laws based on their religion. Maybe Secularism or Humanism is more of a worldview than Atheism.

    10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

    — Believers try to instate laws and rules of living based on their religious beliefs, demanding that non believers also shall follow them. That is not how a modern society makes laws. Also, at the moment, most of the Atheists are former Christians. You attack what you know, since you know where the fallacies are. But in general, atheists does not believe in any Gods. And also, the most visible negative effects in the western society are from the small but extremely loud and powerful American evangelical fanatics, and they are easy to attack because they mostly come off as batsh*t crazy to normal people.

    11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

    — Reasoning, learning of how the world really works, lack of evidence of any deities.

    12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

    — Yes and no. Yes, in modern times it brings nothing of value. Historically seen, No since a lot of art, architecture, science and progress was sponsored by the church (Vatican).

    13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

    — Yes

    14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?

    — In a way yes. It is a fostered delusion. However it can not be medicated away, and sadly some people will never let religion go. No matter how much evidence that contradicts what they believe they will still believe. I think (and this is a hypothetical event) if the person known as Jesus should come back now and say (for some reason in modern English with slang elements) “Hey dudes, what you are doing and saying is totally uncool. That is not what we intended and there are a lot of typos in that book of yours!” People would still ignore him and still hold their previous beliefs.

    15. Must God be known through the scientific method?

    — My opinion is yes. He must be able to be proven through impartial tests,

    16. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

    — You can still test “non material” items (as far as I understand physics) If he exists as energy, he will have mass.

    17. Do we have any purpose as human beings?

    — Live long and prosper? What purpose has green. That is just as easily answered.

    18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

    — Ask a philosopher.

    19. Where does morality come from?

    — From the socially accepted behavior in a Society.

    20. Are there moral absolutes?

    — I do not think so. Anyone’s morals can slide along a scale. Soldiers kill, a civilian can kill to protect family, friends and strangers from a dangerous person. However it is still not morally acceptable to kill in our society.
    Stealing is not morally acceptable, but a person can steal a loaf of bred to feed their children. It is not right, and in normal circumstances the person would not steal. Desperation can shift moral scales.

    So I do not think there are moral absolutes.

    21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?

    — See above, I do not believe there are any moral absolutes. It all depends on what is acceptable behavior from a consensus of the society.

    22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?

    — No, I do not believe there is something such as pure evil. There have been people doing evil things, for no apparent reason. Serial killers, pedophiles, mass murderers. However, do they do it because they were born evil or because of a mental defect?
    And you know the saying “It takes religion to make good men do evil things in the name of their religion”

    23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

    — From the stories in the Bible, he seems to act as an irrational evil sociopath. Maybe it was OK to act that way in that fantasy world.. since it is a discussion about a hypothetical supernatural-being, he was a jerk.

    24. What would it take for you to believe in God?

    — Evidence, but more probably head trauma.

    25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

    — Previously asked and answered

    26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?

    — previously asked and answered

    27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why?

    — Society is run by the people living there. Up until the last couple of years it was not such a big deal who believed in what. But in general, I believe that an Atheist society will be better than any religiously driven society. Atheists does not force their beliefs on others. You have never been woken up at 7 am on a Saturday morning from the door bell and having Atheists outside wanting to talk physics and pushing you to buy science journals. Atheists are more vocal now since the fundamentalists are trying to take over and ruin everything.

    28. Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coercion).

    — I do with some caveats. Men do stupid things when they are horny and badly educated. Not sure if you count that as coercion?

    29. If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?

    — See previous answer. Chemicals and hormones can mess up the most talented mind, however, those responses can be tempered with experience and learning from the previous mistakes.

    30. If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not be restricted by space and time? If not, why not?

    — As the evidence and tests so far proves, Evolution is, in its general form, true.
    No one knows if the Universe will continue to expand forever or if the expansion will slow down and start to contract. There are various hypothesis at the moment. I do not think the biological mass of the human brain can sustain itself outside the protective cranium. Also it is extremely unlikely that the human mind would develop in such a way through evolution, more likely is that people will be able to use more of their brains effectively making humans more intelligent. I however think it is unlikely that it will spontaneously develop temporal or extra physical powers.

    31. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

    — Logic fail.

    • Thanks for your answers. I loved #24: head trauma. 🙂

  • Good post. I wrote up my answers and posted them here.

  • Steve L

    Hey Godless Mom!

    The question/answer that bothers me is the one about if appeared to you in your living room. Now, I would argue that a belief in god based on a vision/hallucination isn’t really consistent with atheist ethos? Surely it would cast doubt, yes, but not belief? Is this much different from theists claiming to hear or feel god?

    I posted a few articles on Twitter recently which I would love to hear your views on, about the link between matter and conscious thought….

    Have a great day! Keep up the good work!

    Stevie L (simba83)

  • I answered these questions on my blog as well. Couldn’t resist. 🙂

    http://www.awakentosilence.org/blogs/brandon/2014/07/28/questions-atheists

  • Gary E

    19. Where does morality come from?

    This question from Christians always pisses me off. What they are actually saying is, without my God you can not have any morals and I would not have any morals. They are implying that they would be running around killing, raping, and stealing without their God. Simply looking at the whole world, both now and before their God was invented proves them wrong. But most Christians seem to have a hard time looking outside their own culture. So to answer this question:

    All human morals come from the same two places. Part of your human moral code was written into your DNA while we evolved as a species. This is not guesswork- it was proven decades ago by careful experiments. For a detailed analysis of this topic see Steven Pinker’s excellent book, “The Blank Slate”.

    The other part of your moral code came from your culture and family. You were taught these rules for living. It explains why killing a human is wrong in all cultures EXCEPT that in certain cultures “honor killings” are just fine and in other cultures “executions” are just fine.

  • Matt

    Great answers, although I disagree with your response to #15. If god appeared in my living room, I would assume it was an hallucination since there are so many examples of that happening to people before.

    • But given that it may have been a hallucination, you may not be clear-minded enough to come to that conclusion.

      • Matt

        Touche. Now my brain hurts.

        • Aha! that’s what Godless Mom is here for 😀

    • Josh Edrington

      My immediate response would be that I have just observed a phenomenon for which I do not currently have an explanation. It would be time to gather information about the event in order to make an hypothesis. If the hypothesis can then be shown to be consistent with the data, then I would feel confident that maybe I in fact experience this god person. If it were not consistent, I would suggest maybe I were asleep, or drunk, or high on NyQuil.

      It’s about collecting data and trying to construct a model to explain the data and predict future data.

  • Another Oz Atheist

    Q10: …antagonistic…
    A10: What GM said, plus: Because you christians are so OBSESSED with sex, you perverts! 🙂

    Q 11: If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?
    A 11: I am SO glad you asked!! And then provide a list of reasons, probably containing much vitriol.

    Q14: …mental disorder?
    A14: Other people? Maybe not, but if I myself started believing again, it’s time to see a shrink. Bring on the heavy meds!

    Q15/16 (…God appearing in your living room…)
    A15/16 What GM said, plus: Always have a camera ready to video the interaction with “god” so that one knows one wasn’t delusional at the time. Hovering teapots would also prove something if “god” wasn’t visible in the normal optical spectrum. But then, how would someone see “him” and the camera can’t? Maybe have an infra-red camera, X-ray camera and Geiger counter ready too. And those clever gadgets they use in Ghostbusters to detect ghosts 🙂 I’m sure one can buy them on eBay.

    Please excuse the misplaced humour, but being an ex-christian makes it all the more hilarious…

    • Josh Edrington

      You raise an interesting point that I have heard a few other places. With as many cameras as we have all over the world, growing steadily every year as every teenager gets a new iPhone, you would think, by now, we would have at least some observed data point that could be used as evidence for god.

      But the fact of the matter is we have hucksters like Uri Geller (please don’t sue me, bro!) who use optical illusions or camera tricks to fool viewers, so we know that video footage *can* be modified to serve whatever point anybody wants to make.

  • Allan Lewis

    It’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they won’t understand.

  • Josh Edrington

    I don’t disagree with your list, but your response to #21 includes two tautologies. Rape and Murder are both, by definition, wrong and illegal. Killing is not necessarily always wrong or illegal, but murder is illegal killing. I hope that makes sense to you.

    My response to #2 would have been that everyone always acts according to what they believe. My beliefs just do not include a god claim, therefore his existence or nonexistence does not inform my decision-making process.

    #4. My atheism is an extension of rational skepticism, so by definition it is logically consistent. Not having a belief that some invisible sky daddy is up there waiting to spank me has so far had no discernible difference in my ability to get through my life.

    I agree with #9. What does my atheism tell you about, for example, killing another person, or eating cupcakes? If the answer were anything other than “nothing”, then I would have the seed of a world view. It’s a belief about a claim.

    #11. Saying “deny his existence” is inaccurate. I reject that it is a thing that probably is. I live my life as if he weren’t there, and so far, this has had absolutely no discernible effect on reality. Also, I read the bible, his supposedly magnum opus, and found myself unable to defend the claims or reconcile the horrible atrocities condoned and ordered by the primary character. I was also unable to determine who was the actual villain because the “hero” of the book does all the horrible, terrible things.

    #19. My morality comes from the same place as yours: environment. We are a social primate and it improves our ability to survive by cooperating. Behaviors that are generally conducive to cooperation promote survival, and behaviors that are not conducive to cooperation detract from survival. I get my morality from a rational consideration that my actions effect others.

    #28. No. I do not believe in free will because I do not believe that there is a previously-prescribed order. I believe in emergent complexity in systems because we have observed it. But I do not believe that my decisions are necessary as some mechanism for validating an invisible sky daddy’s superiority complex. I believe in chains of causality. A decision I make today may reduce or add to the decisions I am able to make tomorrow. My genes are inherited from my parents, who inherited from their parents, and so on.

    I completely agree with #30. Organisms adapt to their niche and their environment. Our brains are physical matter composed of organic compounds. We have no example of a “thinking” thing that does not occupy physical space in some way. We just do not observe this quality in nature.

    • Tony

      I don’t think you understand tautology. To say “murder is wrong” is not redundant. You even admit that there is a distinction when it comes to killing. We assign the wrongness through the rule of law: killing during wartime is seldom labeled murder, but just about any other killing within society is deemed murder. Rape is wrong because we, as a society, deem it as such. When there is no rule of law, for instance, rape might be used by barbarians as a means of both control and propagation of their tribe. Such a group of people would not consider rape to be wrong.

      Remember, we’re talking about absolute or universal morality here. The universe doesn’t much care how we conduct ourselves. You might say that it only matters that we return to the same stardust that we came from. Whatever happens in the meantime is relatively inconsequential.

  • Tony

    I thought I would answer these, too, to at least create possible discussion:

    1. Atheism is the lack of belief in a deity of any kind.

    2. I don’t “believe” at all, so there’s no way to “act in accordance with belief”. I simply live for the life I have without concern for the supernatural.

    3. You can’t prove a negative, so it’s a waste of time to attempt to “prove something doesn’t exist”.

    4. Given current understanding of the universe/world, I accept that the most likely explanation is that our current reality is devoid of the supernatural. I wouldn’t speak to any more confidence than that, because we are learning new things about reality & the universe all the time. I only rule out what the evidence rules out.

    5. Again, it’s not about being sure, it’s about simply accepting what the evidence shows to be most likely.

    6. Truth is acceptance of a fact that is backed up by evidence.

    7. I don’t “believe” anything about atheism. I accept it as the “default position” for humans, in that we have no evidence for the supernatural, so being labeled an atheist is most likely to be an accurate label.

    8. I accept that we have a material, physical world in which we interact because that’s the reality that the evidence suggests.

    9. Atheism is a definition, not a worldview. A worldview is a set of tenets by which someone lives their life; atheism has no tenets.

    10. Religion excuses too many bad behaviors and offers people a way to justify horrific positions or policies for society. Any antagonism I hold for Christianity or any other religion stems from that corruption of our world. For example, indoctrination of children is child abuse. Adults use religion to justify discrimination or other oppressive views.

    11. I have never believed in any deity.

    12. I don’t “believe” anything. I do hold the opinion that the world would be much better off without religion.

    13. See #12.

    14. “Mental disorder” is a bit strong. I do think that blind faith comes from the same place as any other delusion or irrational belief.

    15. Yes. If there were a deity that was an actual, physical being in our universe, he/she/it would have to obey the laws of science.

    16. An immaterial god cannot be proven by the known methods of science, so this is irrelevant.

    17. Purpose is a philosophical question and is going to have many different answers. It is possible there is a purpose; it is possible there is no purpose. I think we each decide what kind of life we want to live, and in that way we create a purpose in the same way a group or business creates a mission statement. Such considerations are only significant for the people involved and have no relevance to existence within the universe itself.

    18. See #17.

    19. Morality comes from a common desire to co-exist with others in a way that best allows for progress and continuation of humanity. You might say morality is our shared agreement of how to live in/around one another with respect.

    20. I don’t think the universe itself has any moral absolutes. I think that humanity does have some morals that any sensible person would subscribe to.

    21. Murder, rape, abuse.

    22. No. Evil implies there’s something at work besides a person’s choices and I do not think there’s something working behind the scenes to direct people in any way.

    23. I do not believe in any deities.

    24. Testable, verifiable, repeatable evidence.

    25. See #24.

    26. See #24.

    27. Atheists. Non-believers are more likely to focus on the life we all have to live here & now and would not run society based on future promises of things in an afterlife, which justifies abhorrent behavior and mismanagement of our world.

    28. Yes.

    29. No. Free will is simply the process of a free-thinking individual to make choices that are not pre-ordained or directed by a supernatural entity.

    30. Evolution is simply the process by which a species adapts to the environment to produce future offspring more readily able to survive as the environment itself changes. I won’t rule out abilities that we don’t currently have (ie ESP, telekinesis, etc) because we are constantly discovering new things that alter our understanding of how we’re capable of interacting with the world around us. But I don’t think any future changes will suddenly spring the supernatural into existence.

    31. See #30.

    • Really?

      Again, on #15 – if the “deity” had a physical form and “obeyed the laws of science”, it would not be a “deity”. If the “deity” was merely “taking on” a physical form for our benefit, then it’s material nature would just be an illusion – it could look like a cow and still be a “deity” – so no physical inspection would yield anything “god-like”. If the physical form somehow defied the laws of science in some way, it would still be indistinguishable from advanced technology.

      On the other hand, if it had no “physical form” at all, which includes any measurable state of energy, then it could not have a physical “appearance”. In this case it’s “appearance” would only be some form of mental imagery distinct from any physicality. This would be indistinguishable from a hallucination. If the hallucination was somehow created from some external force, then that outside force would be measurable. If not, then it’s “merely” an hallucination.

      There is no “God”, either in reality or theory. For all practical purposes, God is a 4-sided circle.

      • Tony

        Your statement presumes that a deity CANNOT have physical form. But why is that automatically true? Because you say so? Because of some old definition of “supernatural, ethereal entity” we’ve assigned to “deity”?

        Why couldn’t a deity take on the form of Thor or Superman, for example? If that happened, we’d be able to take physical measurements.

        As soon as you assign concrete definitions to something, you shut down the discussion, as you leave out possibilities we haven’t thought of or considered.

        • Really?

          Excellent point!

          God has been described in many ways, and I am completely removing other supernaturals like lesser gods and angels, but fundamentally we’re talking about the “God of Creation”. The primary mover. The first cause.

          Okay, so a physical entity with the appearance of Thor appears in my living room and claims to be God (not “a god”, but the one God). How would I know that Thor is God? Is there anything in our physical examination of Thor that could prove the case? Is there anything Thor could say? Is there anything Thor could do?

          • Tony

            There’s probably not anything Thor could SAY to prove divinity. But there’s plenty Thor could DO: anything that said deity is supposedly capable of.

            Just ask for anything that would be obviously supernaturally caused: make it rain inside the living room, give me the power of flight for the next hour, extinguish the wildfires ravaging across the west coast, sprout plants in areas of Africa where they can’t grow enough food, and on & on.

            In fact, SHOWING me some number of supernatural powers is the only way I’d believe any supposed deity that showed up at my house. Because claiming it isn’t any better than what we have in books now.

  • Really?

    Your answer to #15 begs the question – if God appeared in your living room, how would you know it’s God? When you say “appeared”, I assume you mean in some physical way you are seeing “it”. Assuming you are not dreaming or hallucinating, what exactly are you “seeing” that would make you believe it is God?

    I remember seeing a Wookie in Star Wars, but that doesn’t mean Wookie’s exist outside of a fantasy movie. For me to actually believe in Wookie’s as a race of alien being, I would need a lot more proof than the mere image of a Wookie, or even the actual appearance of a Wookie, which is most likely just a costume.

    In the same way if “something” appeared in my living room, under what criteria would I deem it to be “God”? What would it look like? What would it say? What kind of test could I use to prove it’s physical OR metaphysical existence? Is there a question “it” could answer that would prove it’s diety-ness? Is there a task it could perform that could convince me it is omnipotent?

    For that matter, is there anything at all that “it” could be, do, or say that would distinguish “it” from just being an advanced alien intelligence using unfamiliar advanced technology?

    Personally, I don’t think you can even get past the “it’s an illusion” phase.

  • Catherine Beverstock

    This is an old blog but it was posted on Twitter recently. I’m doing this because I have never really delved into this:
    1. Why are you an atheist?
    I was raised by a strong militant atheist father, who was also an amateur astronomer and inspired an awe of the universe, I have always felt that atheism is closer to truth than the earthly social religious fantasies of divine power.
    2. Have you ever believed in a Higher Power?
    No, not really. I had gone to church to make friends and family happy in my childhood, but I argued with the Sunday School teacher to the point of getting kicked out (whoever accepts genocide for praying to the wrong god as “good Christian values” to teach to children is extremely immoral). I’ve read the Bible to try to understand Christianity, but it only solidified my resolve that Christians have never taken it seriously either.
    3. If so, did something traumatic happen to make you stop believing?
    Christians need this mythology to explain why anyone would be a hell bound atheist. Nothing traumatic made me atheist because I never believed. But I do believe that the observation of the rampant racism and systematic entitlements of many Christians have driven many conscientious and sensitive people away.
    4. If not, why did you stop believing?
    I never really began.
    5. What do you think happens to us when we die?
    We die. I am a registered organ donor, so death might bring new life by the help of science. Hopefully, the majority of us leave good memories for making the world a better place.
    6. Without believing in a Higher Power, where do you think we get our morals from?
    My own values and experiences; history, humanities, literature, society, philosophy, sometimes even science. Reducing to the Girl Scouts laws, motto and slogan (without the god promise). “be prepared” and “do a good turn daily”
    7. Where do you think the universe came from?
    The universe. The universe is all there is. Even if we can identify what is known as separate from something else, that something else would be included under the realm of “the universe.” The universe just is the universe. Even the Big Bang from the Singularity requires an origin. We just keep plotting back, back, back… That is natural in the human progress of scientific curiosity. I am not an astrophysicist, I recommend asking one and not me.
    8. What’s your views on Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens?
    I respect them greatly and learn a lot from them, but I do not necessarily agree with them on everything. Thus of the greatness of atheism, freethought and critical thinking.
    9. Do you consider yourself a weak atheist or a strong atheist?
    A strong atheist, I don’t like to pander to any god/supernatural delusions.
    10. How can you prove that God doesn’t exist?
    This is my personal view: the universe is expanding greatly, but our ability to see more is expanding as well. You could open every box in the universe and even if you found evidence of a god, you would have to further prove that this is your god. It could be evidence for everyone’s god, someone else’s god, or worse but more likely, no one’s god. The Christian bible and the church have been proven to be frauds by those who care to look into it. Honestly, I think an atheist perspective is the most honest and kind.
    11. Do you believe in miracles?
    ??? Which ones are you referring to??? How far back do you go? Like the plague of locusts? Or the sodomites turned into pillars of salt, or the dividing of the Red Sea? How about the miracles of Apsu, Laozi, Mithra, Buddha, Muhammed, Krishna, Quetzacoatl? Or that someone who should be dead lives, or someone bends a spoon, or someone turns water into wine. No I don’t believe in miracles nor magic nor metaphysical.
    12. Do you have a support group/system?
    Not really, I have been independent all my life.
    13. Do you try to get others not to believe?
    Only those who solicit for my soul. I have tried to make proselytizers consider my point of view. It has worked a few times! Generally, I believe that people have to go on this journey on their own terms.
    14. Do others tend to view you differently when they discover you’re an atheist?
    Yes, because I look like a good Christian girl.
    15. Do people tend to try to convince you that your views are wrong?
    Not really, unfortunately or fortunately, most people don’t take low-class women seriously nor with compassion.
    16. How does your family view your beliefs? Are they supportive?
    My dad has softened, my mom is nostalgic and my extended family is bat-“trump” crazy. I believe they are all scared of an opinionated atheist woman.
    17. What are your views on Madalyn O’Hair?
    I like what I have read, unfortunately nobody cares.