Five More Questions For Atheists-A A +A
By Andy Uyboco
Thursday, July 24, 2014
THIS is a continuation of last week’s article, Five Questions For Atheists. I saw a website last week which claimed to have Ten “Questions Atheists Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer!” So of course I just had to answer them. Because of space limitations, I broke up my article into two parts. This is part two:
6. Where did the universe come from?
I have no idea. I don’t even know if it came from anything at all. I can make conjectures and intelligent guesses but that’s all they are and ever will be. I cannot claim these conjectures are truth, as many of the religious are prone to do.
7. 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?
What about them? Miracles are a dime a dozen -- and many have been proven to be fraudulent. If there is anything I have learned from my years in sales and network marketing, it is this -- we believe what we are inclined to believe. You are more prone to accepting as reality whatever you fervently believe. In other words, you are very much capable of fooling yourself.
Besides, if you claim to have seen saints or angels, well good for you. However, there are naturalistic explanations for such phenomena such as hallucinations imagination, etc. Also, these events count for nothing unless there is hard evidence to back it up, otherwise it is just hearsay. You can claim to see saints and angels and I can claim to see the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It’s your word against mine, until one of us provides proof.
Yet, after all these centuries, there is still no conclusive evidence -- and by conclusive, I mean something like the evidence for gravity, electromagnetic waves or photons. After all, you don’t see many people debating the existence of gravity or photons do you?
8. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
They are people with some interesting ideas -- certainly not infallible and definitely with their own flaws. I personally find them a bit sensationalist and exhibiting extremist behavior, clinging to atheism as a fundamentalist clings to his beliefs. Although I find them entertaining, I prefer using other sources for more scholarly discussions.
9. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
Just because every society has a religion is no proof that there is a god. Besides, that statement is not even accurate. There is an indigenous Amazon tribe called the Piraha, studied by anthropological linguist, Daniel Everett. According to Everett, these people have “no concept of a supreme spirit or god” -- the word does not even exist in their language. If anything, living with the Piraha eventually convinced Everett (who was also a missionary) to abandon his faith and become an atheist. You can read all this in his book, Don’t Sleep There Are Snakes.
In a radio broadcast of his story, Everett says, “The Pirahas have shown me that there is dignity and deep satisfaction in facing life and death without the comforts of heaven or the fear of hell, and of sailing towards the great abyss with a smile. And they have shown me that for years I held many of my beliefs without warrant. I have learned these things from the Pirahas, and I will be grateful to them for as long as I live.”
10. If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
Well, of course you can’t do what you want without reaping the consequences or benefits. We do not live in a vacuum but in a society where there are laws and norms of acceptable behavior. So as much as you like to murder and rape, you think twice because there are grave consequences to those actions. As my friend, Jong, puts it, “Since I live on the assumption that this life is the only one I have, it is very precious to me. I will not do things that will cause me to spend decades of my life languishing in prison.”
You might say that this is a false morality because it is induced by fear, but what do you call hell then? Isn’t that the ultimate fear-inducing horror story?
On good deeds, who says they are unrewarded? When I do good deeds, I immediately feel great and satisfied. I am happy that I have helped some else. What other rewards do you want? A mansion in heaven?Seven virgins in paradise?
Good deeds are rewarded here and bad deeds are punished here as well, in this life, which is the only one we are certain of. In the Christian scenario though, it is perfectly possible for one to murder and rape or commit any other crime, not get caught by the authorities, and then make a deathbed confession. By your doctrine, that person gets away unscathed on earth and even enjoys an eternity of bliss. If Hitler had truly repented and “accepted Christ” right before he died, there is a very real possibility that you would be next-door neighbors in heaven. Is that an exciting prospect for you?
I rest my case.
So have I “truly and honestly really answered” the questions? You be the judge.
Send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. View previous articles at www.freethinking.me.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 25, 2014.