Saturday, June 02, 2007

I'm back, Thank you for the questions


Here are some questions I received a while back.

Question: Just because there isn't
a god doesn't mean that there is no other "higher being" in the universe. I
mean, the universe is far too vast for us to rule out the existence of
intelligent beings on some other planet, right? I'm not talking all-powerful
or perfect, and this still makes the fires of hell into bullshit, but the
fact should be thought of.

Answer: Atheism is a lack of belief (or denial) of gods. I don't think intelligent
beings on other planets is what most people consider "gods".

Question: Also, there are these books - the bible, the bhagvad gita, the quran - well,
who wrote them? Power hungry men? They must have been pretty fiendish to
fool almost everyone around them, and their books fool them still - is it
because of the cleverness of the authors or the stupidity of the masses?

Answer: These "holy" books were written by men who were expressing concerns of
their own time and culture, and I think the books reflect this. I don't necessarily
believe that these books were written with the intention of fooling people. I think
these cultures didn't have the kind of evidential standard that we (well, some of us)
have today.

Question: I also wish to ascertain the limits of atheism/theism. Is the rejection of
reincarnation included in an atheist's beliefs? I suspect that it is, due to
lack of evidence.

Answer: There tends to be a lot of overlap between Atheism and materialism, which is
a rejection of all things non-material, including "souls". It isn't strictly necessary
for an Atheist to reject reincarnation, but I do, and I think most other Atheists do as
well, for consistency if nothing else. For example, the "argument from a disembodied
mind" is useful for disproving that god exists. Minds depend on physical brains, god
is a disembodied mind, this is impossible, therefore no god. This argument can be
applied more broadly. If minds depend on physical brains, reincarnation can't happen,
because it depends on the movement of a disembodied mind from one physical body to
another.

Question: Again, if theists can fabricate fake proof like the bible, why the hell
can't atheists make any difference with facts, fabricated or real, on the
minds of dogmatic believers?

Answer: Facts are making a difference. For example, we no longer believe demons
cause disease. We no longer believe the earth is 6000 years old (other than a large
group of misled American Protestants). We have ideas about weather and how it is
formed, it's no longer a roll of holy dice. We no longer believe that the earth is
the center of the universe. We don't believe demons cause mental illness. There
are quite a few very strong beliefs that have been dropped over the last 2000 years,
even over the last 100 years. This is not all necessarily due to Atheism per se, but
it is due to a strict methodology that stays neutral towards god questions, and with great
success.

Question: Atheism does not defy religion. It defies god. If religion is, by
definition, a set of rules to be followed to bestow peaceful life upon
followers, no atheist should put it down. But when this religion promises a
peaceful afterlife - all atheists should cry foul and help others realise
the truth.

Answer: Buddhism is a religion that doesn't believe in a personal god, so you are
correct here. No Atheist should put down any religion which is a
set of peaceful rules? I suppose that depends on the outcome of those rules. I
think all rules should be open to scrutiny. That is how they improve.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Now accepting questions again

I've disabled the question form. I don't think the spammer exploit was personal, there are automated scripts that look for those kinds of vulnerabilities. I disabled it as soon as I saw it.

I don't want to shut down the site over this though, so you can now submit a question using the email address pictured at the right. The address is pictured to make it a lot harder for an automated tool to figure out the address, so that means you'll have to actually type the address into your email program. I'm sure you can handle it ... :-)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Shut down temporarily

My formmail script was being used to send spam. I disabled it and will re-enable it once I've found a different script to use.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Question: Hypothetically, if you and I could get in a time machine, travel back 2000 years, watch Jesus be crucified and watch him walk out of the tomb alive on Easter morning, would you then become a Christian? Why or why not?

Answer:

You assume a great deal. If we go back in time and we don't see anything of the sort, will you give up Christianity?

Your question includes many presuppositions. You presuppose that the events of the Christian religion actually occurred (otherwise our time-travel trip would be for nothing). There isn't even solid evidence that Jesus existed, let alone that he rose from the dead, yet you have faith that there would be something to see if we went back in time. I don't share that faith, I don't think it is justified.

In any case, let us pretend we go back and see a man tortured on a cross (planned by a "loving" god). We see him put into a tomb, and we come back some days later and the tomb is empty. If Jesus did exist and get crucified, I think it is likely that he was removed from the tomb at some point and thrown into a common criminal grave and eaten by dogs, as this was common treatment for persons crucified.

But let's go further. Say he goes into the tomb and we wait the whole time. Friday to Sunday (which is not three days) we wait. Then instead of seeing an empty tomb, we actually see him walk out. How did we verify his death? Did we being an EEG machine with us to check for brain waves? The people alive at the time certainly didn't check brain waves. (And incredibly enough, in this modern world with plenty of EEG machines available to test for brain death and miraculous recovery, there are no confirmed and reliable miracle reports of brain-dead people coming back.)

So to summarize, here are a couple points. First, when faced with the possibility that laws of nature are being violated vs. the possibility that I am personally mistaken, the latter is always more likely. Therefore the answer to your question is "no". (As an observation is validated and tested by others, a "yes" answer becomes more justified. Considering that the crucifixion story started as an oral tale passed along by zealots, the justification just isn't there here in the real world. We have no time machine.)

Second, you are talking about an alleged event from 2000 years ago based upon flimsy unverifiable evidence. The reason you bring up the time machine is because you understand how remote these hypothetical events are from us today. If I don't believe the Chriistian story, your loving god threatens me with eternal torture. If this god is just, he surely would have provided solid evidence that does not require a mythical machine to experience, especially considering the magnitude of the threatened (loving) hell torture. In other words, whether those events occurred or not, your god makes no sense. Torturing a person because he uses his (god-given?) rational mind is not just.

My rational mind says no, and if there is a just god who wants us all to believe (and threatens us if we don't), it makes no sense that he created a world in which rational people can disbelieve by thoughtful means.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Here is the first question for AskAnAtheist. This question wasn't submitted by anyone because nobody knows about this site yet, but I'm going to answer it anyway. I found the question here ... http://home.messiah.edu/~dgray/Chapter%208.rtf

QUESTION:
[An Atheist is asked to draw a region representing all knowledge, then another (smaller) region representing only the things he knows.]
Ask the atheist this, "If that small region is all you know, how do you know God is not in the rest of the area?" So long as there is a shaded region the atheist does not know everything. He or she therefore cannot outright declare there is no God. To declare that there is no God requires the atheist to know everything, that is, be omniscient, an attribute reserved for God.

ANSWER:
This question is a misrepresentation of Atheism. First, Atheism doesn't have to mean an absolute declaration that there is no god. In fact, on the same page where this question resides, there is a definition of Atheist that does not require a declaration of a universal existential negative at all:

Atheist n. one who does not believe in the existence of God.

This is disbelief, also called "weak Atheism". It can be contrasted with denial, or "strong Atheism". A weak Atheist would say "I don't believe in god" while a stong Atheist would say "I believe there is no god", but that stronger position is not necessary to call yourself an Atheist.

Even though strong Atheism is a stronger statement, that doesn't make it irrational. It is not always wrong to declare a universal existential negative. For example, we know that there are no square circles anywhere in the universe because square circles are internally contradictory. Similarly, if the Atheist can show that a god idea is composed of contradictory but necessary attributes, show that a god contradicts some aspect of reality, he can reasonably say that this contradictory god exists no more than a square circle.

It is also possible to conclude that there is no god based upon the best available evidence. Such a position is tentative, based upon the same kind of inductive reasoning used by science. Science is not absolute, yet it can come up with useful and rational conclusions. The Atheist can come to a rational conclusion as well without declaring an absolute truth. There are several evidential arguments against the existance of God such as the Evidential Argument from Evil and the Evidential Argument from Non-belief.



Friday, March 04, 2005

Up and running!
Ask an Atheist is now up and running complete with a working question submission form!

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Ask an Atheist is here!

I participated in a debate recently on the existance of the Christian god at a large church. After the debate, there was a question and answer period. There were plenty of questions during this period, but following this period there were still many more people with questions. It was a lot of fun answering questions for the crowd, and I got to answer more questions over a Christian radio network a short time later. Some folks followed me around for some time in order to make sure they had a chance to ask me their questions. Based on the crowd and the determination of some of the folks therein, it seemed to me that a lot of Christians have some needs that are not being fulfilled, so I started up this site.

Soon I will add a mail form so that you can submit questions easily. I will also add some answers to questions I received after the debate to get the site started.

I hope you find the site useful, enjoy!

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