When I first began this blog, I answered 31 questions for atheists and then about a year later, I answered some more questions for atheists, and then even more. Being as it’s a year since then, I thought I’d answer even more questions for atheists. This time, however, it’s a list of questions compiled by an atheist, based on the better questions that are commonly asked by theists. Let’s see if many of my answers have changed.
1. How did you become an atheist?
Well, I was born one and was never indoctrinated. As a child, I didn’t know who God was, and had a very limited understanding of what churches were. As I grew and I understood these things better, I found them to be absurd. It wasn’t really until I spent a lot of time on Reddit, though, that I started to understand I fit the technical definition of an atheist.
2. What happens when we die?
The lights go out, and we go back to the oblivion from which we originally sprung. Our bodies rot and fertilize the future, the star stuff that made us passed on to new life, flora and fauna. It’s beautiful, poetic, cosmic recycling and maybe one day, we’ll all be spread out amongst the stars again, little sparkling reminders of what once was on a tiny little blue rock in the Milky Way.
3. What if you’re wrong, and there is a Heaven?
If I am wrong and I am punished for eternity for using critical thought, then your god is a douchebag. He visits us once thousands of years ago, let’s his little buddy Satan plant evidence for us to think God is not true, never comes back to correct us, and leaves us only with one book full of cryptic, poorly written tall tales that all seem to contradict each other, and then he punishes us for not believing in him? Doesn’t sound like a clever, or fair fella, which kinda kills the omniscient and benevolent bit, don’t it? If I am wrong, there is nothing I can do about it, but even if I found out today that this god truly exists, and I’d be punished for not believing, I’d refuse to worship such a horrendous asshole. I can’t really understand how anyone would want to worship a being like that.
In Hinduism, there are 28 hells. But I thought Hindus were reincarnated, GM? Yeah, they are. Just chill for a second. You see, in between death and being reborn, the real baddies get sent to hell for a stint. Or rather, one of many hells. So, there’s this one hell called Kumbhipaka which is reserved for those who have cooked an animal. Guests in this particular hell are boiled in oil. All the single strands of fur on each animal the damned person cooked are counted up, and that’s how many years he or she is boiled for.
So, if Hinduism is correct, every one of us who has so much as popped a pepperoni Pizza Pocket in the microwave, seared a ribeye in a cast iron skillet or just boiled an Oscar Meyer Weiner, is fated to be boiled in hot oil for countless years. So, I pose the question to the Christian who asks me what if I am wrong: what if you’re wrong about Kumbhipaka? Suddenly, that pork chop dinner you’re looking forward to isn’t sounding so good, is it?
4.Without god, where do you get your morality from?
Same place you do: compassion, my conscience, observation of cause and effect in the world around me. I once said this about it:
5. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
No, we can’t do what we want without consequence. Of course, you could walk across the street and murder your neighbour, right now, if you so chose. However, the consequences of such an action makes it unappealing. First, you’d probably get caught eventually, and have to spend a good long time in prison. Second, your conscience would consume you, if you’re at all a decent person. You might be consumed with guilt over your neighbour’s family’s grief, you might feel disgusted with yourself, and you might feel the sudden disgust everyone has for you. From that point forward, your life is infinitely more terrible than it ever was before, providing your conscience is at all functioning.
You see, there are consequences here in the real world for bad deeds. We don’t need a god to tell us not to do something: we have our conscience. Further, we have laws based on what the collective in our specific part of the world has agreed upon. If you’re suggesting the only true consequence for doing horrible things is eternal hellfire, then you’re also suggesting that Christians are all just murderers and rapists at their core, stopped only by their fear of god. I’m not so sure that’s what you want to be saying about you and your fellow Christians.
6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
My biggest problem with this question, when I’m asked it, is that you’re asking a mother this. You’re saying, in no uncertain terms, that my children provide for me no meaning. And you wonder why we think religious people are rude?
There are lots of sources for meaning in life. Just because yours is god, doesn’t mean those without a god have no meaning. I find meaning in a great many things: making sure than when I leave this world, I leave behind beautiful, caring, compassionate adults I’ve raised, perhaps leaving behind my body of work that will live on long after I’m gone, and perhaps leaving behind a better planet than when I arrived here. I could go on for days listing the things that give my life meaning. How sad for you, that you only have one item on your list.
7. Where did the universe come from?
The honest answer is, “we don’t know yet.” Because we don’t.
8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Personal accounts are just eyewitness testimony, and eyewitness testimony has been proven time and time again to only be correct about half the time. Even if someone is sure that they saw what they saw, unless it’s fully examined by people with the skills to rule out all other possible explanations, the eyewitness cannot say every possibility has been ruled out. Further, even if every possible explanation has been ruled out, by skilled researchers, all it means is that we don’t know what caused the phenomenon. It doesn’t mean that God did it. People claim to have a personal relationship with many different Gods across the globe, as well as spirits and ghosts of passed loved ones. If you believe them all, you must believe in a ton of gods. Doesn’t your god consider that a sin?
9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
This doesn’t matter to me. They’re thinkers and writers who’ve said stuff I like, and said other stuff I don’t like. I don’t see what they have to do with me, outside of the fact we all share the same lack of belief in a god.
10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
There have been religions as far back as human civilization can be traced because we have a need to explain things. Notice how the gods who caused the thunder suddenly lack a followership now that we know what truly causes thunder? Yeah, we use gods to fill gaps, until those gaps can be filled with knowledge.
What are your answers to these questions? Let me know in the comments!