Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Atheist Challenge

As I've made clear in earlier blogs, I'm neither Atheist, Deist, or Agnostic... I have too many other things on my plate right now. I understand why people are religious and that's their thing, but I don't have time for that. I also don't have the patience to be Atheist, either. Many (not all) atheists I've met has been kind of a dick about it, and spend a lot of time saying horrendous things about religious people - and that's not fair.

Apparently there's a series of questions called "The Atheist Challenge" which is a series of questions meant to test an Atheists beliefs. There's a bunch of different versions, and I was reading isabigot, and someone left them with ten questions regarding Atheism. I didn't really care for their answers. I felt their answers were stuck up, stuffy, and too wordy. They were written in the sense of "I am way smarter than you" and I hate when people write like that, because they lose so much meaning. The best writers are ones that you can tell are knowledgeable by the quality of their work, not how well they use a thesaurus. It reminds me a lot, actually, of Ann Coulter's writing. I read the first chapter of her book Godless, and it made absolutely no sense. She strung together pages from the thesaurus hoping to make her point across, but in the long run, she uses a simple manipulation technique I learned in Psychology:

If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance, Baffle them with Bullshit.

I really, really don't like that writing style.

So here's my answers to the questions that were asked of isabigot.

Also, I may have answered some of these before in another blog. And yes, I know the irony of saying that I have more important things on my brain than religion, yet, I spend a lot of time defending atheists. I'm not defending atheists so much as I am defending science. There's nothing wrong with defending what makes sense. Also, I don't consider myself agnostic, because it seems to me that Agnostics actually spend time searching for answers. I spend time listening to music, blogging, and hanging out with my friends. I don't consider myself atheist because hey, if there is a God, I certainly don't want to be wrong. If there isn't one, I've wasted a lot of time in church (I couldn't half-ass religion.) I am a good person with or without God in my life, and in the long run, the only Unforgivable Sin is not letting God speak through you at Judgement. I'm nervous about that, since I'm a bit of a talker, but I think I'll be okay if/when that time comes.
Also, I'll probably contradict myself a few times. Sometimes, writing makes you do that.

1. Aren’t you saying people who believe in a higher power are idiots because science can explain why we’re here? Hypocritic[sic].

I think everyone is stupid, including myself. Sure, we all have our smart moments, but in the long run, we're stupid.

For the most part, militant Atheists only see Religious people as the right-wing wingnuts like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter, Pat Roberston, and Fred Phelps.

For the most part, Religious people see Atheists as the militant atheists who want to make sure everyone else is just like them.

I've met many religious people and atheists that have a lot to say about their religion/lack of religion, and I've met many who'd rather talk about the eagles game. I've had some religious friends try and get me to go to church events with them, and I've had many of them come to bars with me. And no, they don't make us say grace before my amaretto and diet.
I also know a lot of atheists who completely support religious people, and don't use religion as an excuse for someone being a good or bad person.

I've also met religious people and atheists who are complete and total dicks.

I judge people a lot more on how much of a dick they are than what their religion is.

2. How do you know what’s right and what’s wrong? If there is a moral law, why is there not a moral law giver? Who determined morality, scientists?

I use logic and emotion. Don't rape, because I certainly wouldn't want to be raped. Don't kill, because that person probably has family or friends who would miss him or her greatly if I decided to end his or her life, and I could never live with myself after ending someone's life. Self-defense is a different issue, but I could never just plain kill. Sure, there are people that could, but they clearly don't use proper logic or emotion. Anyone that's ever loved certainly couldn't take someone away from someone that loves them.
Scientists are not the Atheist version of a priest, Science is not the Atheist version of God. They are not intended to be parallels. Just like Bhudda is not the Bhuddist version of God, he is merely the founder of the religion.
Unlike the commonly known Christian God, Science is ever changing, and scientists always look for ways to prove science wrong, in order to further improve theories and absolutes. SCIENCE IS NOT AN ABSOLUTE - not as it is, anyway. Science is always changing, and that's the beauty of it. Eventually, science becomes absolute - but then we test it over and over and over and over making sure that it's truly infallable. Then it becomes fact. Then we continue testing it.

3. Aren’t these scientists and evolutionary theorists dead?

...yes? everyone dies. But then hey! More kids grow up to be scientists and evolutionary theorists.

4. How do you explain death?

Well, because I'm not a four year old, I don't have to think that my Goldfish has gone to a "better place" or "a big pond in the sky." Death is the cessation of bodily function. The body can no longer function or sustain itself. These kinds of things happen. Besides, if people don't die, we won't have room for more people.

5. There is archaeological proof that Jesus did indeed walk this earth some two thousand years ago. Is there any proof that we evolved from some intergalactic comet?

Jesus likely existed. Was he the son of God? That's not something I can know. He may have solely been a religious leader who was written into the books as the Son of God. If the bible is infallable, why did it require four prophets to tell the same story of Jesus? Especially since they all told it differently, and had some conflicting ideas. There's a very high probability that Jesus was just a man who really loved God, and over the years, all the stories were embellished, whisper-down-the-lane style.

There's also no proof that we "evolved from some intergalactic comet"... a) comets aren't alive, we can't evolve from them. ...duh.

b) there's mountains of evidence towards evolution, and one book on creationism. Sure, almost all religions believe in creationism, but Religion is often used to make something that doesn't make sense, well... make sense. Science also makes something that doesn't make sense make sense, but uses rigorous layed out testing procedures. Theories, of course, are theories, and often have to remain so due to an inability to test certain things i.e. Black Holes. We also can't test your religion and your God, so if you won't listen to our theories because they're "just theories," then what of your religion?

6. Wasn’t the constitution (which protects your rights) based on biblical principles?

"The United States Constitution is in no sense founded upon Christian Doctrine" - George Washington.

I could leave it at that, but let me continue.

(Note: @jmundstuk pointed out that I lacked citation for this quote. I've seen it many, many places so I have to attribute it to common knowledge. As such, I did not look up the quote to get its exact phrasing. I believe this is the proper quote: "The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." From Yes, I'm aware that it is not a proper source, but I'm not sure where to begin to find the origin of the quote - I've only ever done professional research in psychology.)

EDIT: @jmundstuk did some research for me, and discovered that the quote originated from the Treaty of Tripoli. Article 11 states:
"As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
However, it is not right to use that as my sole argument. Let's look directly at the Ten Commandments and how they relate to American Legal Proceedings.

According to the New King James version:

The First Commandment: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
It is one of our rights to practice any religion we choose, including hinduism, bhuddism, atheism, and satanism.

The Second Commandment: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above...
Essentially, that's saying that all the statues of angels you have in your house, crosses, jesus statues, virgin marys, yeah. That's all gotta go. You can't worship any of these things - and using them as supplements to worshipping God is the same concept. I suggest holy sacrifice.

The Third Commandment: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
Freedom of speech, Goddammit. 1st Amendment.

The Fourth Commandment: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
I guess the constitution says that we must all go to the Christian Church every Sunday, huh.
...wait a minute...

The Fifth Commandment: Honor thy Mother and Thy Father
There are legal proceedings to divorce you from your parents.

The Sixth Commandment: Thou Shall Not Kill
...okay, yeah, that's illegal. I don't know if it's in the constitution, but it's definitely illegal to kill. And i'm okay with that.

The Seventh Commandment: Thou Shall Not Commit Adultry
Again, it sucks, but it's completely legal.

The Eighth Commandment: Thou Shall Not Steal
Yeah, that's illegal. Two for Eight now.

The Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
It is illegal to lie under oath. It's not illegal to lie in general.

The Tenth Commandment: Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor
Jealousy is completely legal.

7. Do atheists marry? If so, why?

a) absolutely, b) Marriage has evolved to be much more than a solely religious concept. It not only offers the couple hundreds and hundreds of legal rights unattainable by unmarried or gay couples, but society as a whole generally regards it as the ultimate commitment of love, and many couples want to make that commitment to each other.

8. If believers only “pick out” the good points in the bible, don’t atheists only “pick out” the bad? Who’s right?

I'm not entirely sure I understand the question - I think the points of the bible that Atheists "pick out" are solely used to point out hypocrisy within the Christian Nation (i.e. Levitical Laws indicating that we shouldn't eat Shellfish or Swine, or that a woman who is not a virgin cannot marry - and if she is, she is to be slain.) Sure, the bible has parables that offer moral guidelines, but many people agree that the most intelligent thing is to do "good" because you want to and you feel like you should and because it makes the most sense - not because someone told you to.

9. Isn’t it easy to oversimplify or discount something when you already have a preconceived notion about it? Okay Steve Harvey called atheists “idiots,” that’s a bit heavy-handed; but Bill Maher said the same thing about believers. Who’s right? If you say atheists are, how do you know this?

I've discussed this in the first question. Neither is right, however, I do believe that Atheists have science to back themselves up which is real, tangible, and testable. Religion, however, has over-translated texts and misguided, open-to-interpretation passages.

Also, Bill Maher is more of a shock-jock kinda guy. Steve Harvey is proclaiming these things out of ignorance - though I'm unfamiliar with the context, I'm assuming Bill Maher is saying that he disapproves of religious beliefs, but outside of that, a person is more than tolerable. Steve Harvey literally said that he'd walk away from someone who is an Atheist because it's not possible to speak to an Atheist, and that is the definition of a Bigot. He didn't say that he won't discuss religion with an Atheist, he said that he won't talk to them whatsoever. Bill Maher, from my understanding, is more than willing to debate someone in religion, or any other topic.
On top of it, Bill Maher has a dual degree in English and History from Cornell University. Steve Harvey did not go to college, and worked as an insurance salesman and a boxer.

10. We are not born understanding right from wrong. Inherently, like animals, we are more prone to do wrong (ex. breaking your mom’s favorite vase at aged-three, then denying it when she confronts you). How, then, do we learn that violating someone and lying about it is wrong? How did we become separated from animals? Who’s to say it isn’t right to get yourself out of a fix? We know murder, rape, theft, etc. are wrong, right? Well, who says?

...? For starters, I really hate the wording of this question. It's confrontational in a way that makes the speaker sound stupid. Let me rephrase it.

10.5 We are not born understanding Right from Wrong. Inherently, like animals, we are more prone to do wrong. From where/whom do we learn right from wrong?

I answered this question earlier - logic and emotion. I left out, however, society. If I killed my friend Amanda, her parents would be devasted about the loss of their daugher. Her friends would be devastated by the loss of their friend. They would be angry at me. Therefore, I know that killing Amanda would be wrong. If I stole a television from Wal*Mart, Wal*Mart would be losing out on a lot of money. The Ecuadorian children that made the television would be shorted one cent from their daily wages, which is a whole lot (yes, I just made that up.) Point being, grand theft is not okay. Quite frankly, I'm okay with petty theft from major corporations - they honestly aren't missing out. Petty theft from a friend is not okay, because it's theirs and they earned it. Stealing from a friend is unacceptable. I, personally, would really hate to be raped. It freaks me out, actually. Therefore, I'm not going to rape anyone. A majority of people would hate to be killed, stolen from, or raped, so Society as a whole have deemed these to be improper things.

Apparently, there was a bonus question/statement:

Without morality, there would not be six billion people on this planet, because we’d all destroy each other. And, someone had to be the moral law giver as I said earlier. Oh, yeah, it was those evolutionist dudes, right? But wait, aren’t they dead? n Mensa members can’t even figure out how to stop death.

a) That's true. Without Morality, we have the potential to kill each other... but evolutionarily, killing eachother doesn't make sense. In theory, animals don't have morals, but they certainly haven't destroyed their own species. b) Yes, someone had to give that moral law. c) "Those evolutionist dudes." There's a way to make an argument. No, the answer is Society. The "Superego", if you will. d) Yes, they're dead. That doesn't mean that things they said/did no longer apply. Bhudda is long dead, but his will lives on. e) Mensa members don't want to stop death - if we stopped death, we'd overpopulate the planet and destroy it. We already have more people than we know what to do with.

Well, I think I answered all of these questions in full and refuted any inane claims. Unfortunately, it's people like the question asker that make me side more with atheists, especially considering the bonus question looked like a ten year old wrote it. The answer? Wake Up. Question everything you're told. God is the one that supposedly gave us free will and the ability to make decisions on our own. We can choose whether to believe or not - and only God can judge us.

I have my moments where God is plausible, but more often, I have moments where God is thoroughly implausible. And you know what? I think he likes it that way.


  1. 1. Aren’t you saying people who believe in a higher power are idiots because science can explain why we’re here? Hypocritic[sic].

    There are several arguments here. A tenuous link between believe in god/s and a link to intelligence, the scientific method and mans origins.

    There is no link between intelligence and belief in Gods. To call someone stupid because they believe in god/s is a logically fallacy. There are many stupid and intelligent people who are Atheist and Theists.

    The scientific method is only a tool that allows us to measure the natural world. Both Atheist and Theist’s use it every day and it does not require a person to not believe in god/s. There are many scientists that are blissfully happy Christians, Hindus and Muslims for example (all power to them)

    The Scientific method has allowed us to measure our natural world. Scientists do this with a completely open mind. A scientist must honor their testing results even if it contradict what they expects to find. If a scientist finds 1 + 1 = 2.. the answer is 2. This can’t be changed by popular vote (ie the public agree it 3 not 2), or being fair, or it not aligning with the supernatural world recored in the bible.

    The Scientific method gave us evolution and now is considered the fundamental basis of biology. Evolution is supported by many other science’s ie geology, chemistry, laws of theory dynamics etc. However this is only a small part of the equation and only explains how we got from one form to another. It does not attempt to explain “life” ie that spark that made dna to start with. Nor does it even attempt to argue the existence of god/s.

    Science to date has not proven or tested the origins or the meaning of life
    Some of what science reports back is in stark disagreement with our old supernatural world of faith. ie Evolution Vrs The talking snake. Tensions between these worlds run very hot. People who observed / proposed; the concept of zero, the earth being a globe, the earth going around the sun, continental drift, and evolution have been murdered and hated verdantly for it.

    The definition of Faith is to believe. It does not require testing, evaluation, reason, prior observation or your experience. It just requires you do exactly what you are told without question. Faith as a rule is the opposite to science.

    When faithful try to argue against science in favor of faith they can’t do it with faith they must cross into the world of argument, in the literal sense they have to argue a point and in a way this contradicts faith.

    Where the term “idiot” or a better worded “unintelligible” comes into the fray is where the simple tools of arguments / science are not understood thus wielded poorly (or worse not used at all). This applies to both the Theist and Atheist. ie if someone argues 1 + 1 = 5 they are wrong.

    Conclusion 1:
    Aren’t you saying people who believe in a higher power are idiots because science can explain why we’re here? Hypocritic[sic].

    No. People are not idiots for believing in God/s. Idiots are idiots because they make unintelligible propositions. This applies to all people including theists and atheists. Science is a tool that can measure the natural world. Science has measured the natural world and in doing so given us evolution. Evolution however is separate to the question ‘why are we here’. This question had not been successfully addressed by science yet. Nor does it have to be.

  2. hehe, I just looked over my grammar.. Sorry it's a little poor..

  3. 2) How do you know what’s right and what’s wrong? If there is a moral law, why is there not a moral law giver? Who determined morality, scientists?

    The major unstated premise here is: ‘regions god/s tell people what is moral and without religion all humanity would have no morals and would fall into darkness’.

    The human race as a whole have morals that are integral with our whole human being. These key morals do not need to be taught. They are instinct. For example a love of a Parent for their new born baby. There are moral rules that are apart of us and there are also those defined by human culture. Religion gets it’s morals from both of these.

    The bible is a testament to an old cultures morals (or lack thereof): Ie woman have no rights, you can have slaves, blacks are evil, you can rape non believers, if you eat shellfish you should be killed. The morals of several thousand years ago were locked into the bible. We must remember when the supreme law giver of the land was the church the name of that age was the dark ages.

    As a modern culture with ‘modern morals’ we gave: woman rights, blacks rights, we are giving gays rights and all of this was done all against the wishes of the faithful who wanted to be ‘moral’.

    We the people of this current culture decided and will decide what is moral based on our innate sense of right and wrong and ever evolving culture. In developed countries this is written into law. We have agreements in law that set down what the baselines of these morals. Some countries even go as far to make it clear this is a disconnect between church and state.

    Science has very little to do with morals. Science is a tool for testing the natural world. The only time science enters into the debate is normally to test when someone has done something immoral. ie blood test from a crime scene.

    The word of god/s should be perfect thus the laws of god/s should be perfect. The bibles moral laws are deeply flawed and are even contradictory showing their man made origins. Ie
    Man shall have no other gods (is that an admitting there are other gods).
    One commandment is not to kill.. Yet another commandments demands you kill; for example if you work the Sabbath you should be put to death.

    Conclusion 2
    Humans have an innate sense of right and wrong and in our enlightened aged we have an impartial law system that protects and reprimands those who loose their moral ways. Science has nothing to do with morals. The morals of the the bibles god are deeply flawed and we have overcome the bibles morals and will continue to over come them. We don’t need gods to tell us the way.

  4. 3. Aren’t these scientists and evolutionary theorists dead?
    Yes. Everyone in the human race dies (which now includes some of the first evolutionary theorists). But their works live on in our world. In a sense they have become immortal via what they discovered with science. Now others follow in their foot steps up ladder where they could not reach climb. It’s inspiring and beautiful.

    I fail to understand the point of this question.. but hey

    4. How do you explain death?

    We get old we die. That’s it. Pss we have no measurable soul in the natural world. It’s not comforting, but it is true. We have no way to test this. It would be good if we did. I would be very happy.

    On an interesting note:

    Ahem: Chromosomes are capped with telomeres. These are prone to rusting. The DNA degrades.. our instructions ‘blue prints’ degrade and we age.. along with a-few other little variables. If we can stop the rusting of our DNA and if we can repair at a micro scale.. Then we might become immortal (well almost).

  5. 5. There is archaeological proof that Jesus did indeed walk this earth some two thousand years ago. Is there any proof that we evolved from some intergalactic comet?

    What is the “archaeological” proof mentioned about the existence of Jesus. It would be nice if it were cited that way we can test the facts. The second point about comets has no relevance to the existence of Jesus. The comet idea while unmentioned might be the theory of pansperma? (the seeding of life across planets).


    The second part of question five is there proof for panspremia in our evolution? Firstly this is a theory, it is not proven fact as yet. There is a very high probability that the theory is correct. There are some very interesting facts that may lead to this conclusion:

    The time required to evolve DNA is longer than the age of our earth ( Crick)
    Bactria has been found in space and can repair it’s self from UV and Radiation damage (Extremophiles)
    Biological by products ie methane has been found on other planets (if the earth biology is anything to go by)
    Meteor fragments have been found in the same time line as when life exploded on earth. The fragments have the markings of life on them, that leads to two possibilities One: life was in the fragment and came to earth. Two the earth had life that penetrated the fragment.



    Evidence for life in Meteorites

    Regards the statement:

    Jesus is an interesting subject. I would argue, he probably did exist but though the smoke of the ages and chinese whispers it is entirely possible he was not exactly like what Christianity thinks he is today.

    The Bible was written 300 years after the death of Christ. It took place in great Pagan Roman city of Constantinople. This “council of Nacia” brought together all the writings about Jesus and “decided” what ones were to become the main document. Note several books eventuated from this.. Firstly the Bible and centuries latter the Koran. The council changed some of the text, including moving key dates into alignment with pagan dates. For example the birth of Jesus was moved from September to the winter solstice (the same time as other regional gods birthdays). An interesting note is the world oldest Bibles do not have ANY reference to the resurrection of Christ (you can find these online now). The resurrection was added latter along with a few other amendments. There is a beautiful and detailed history of the evolution of the written text that is the bible.

    Question five shows a little bit of ignorance of how science and arguments work. Question 5 is one statement (not backed up with any ideas).. The pansperma question is asked with such a lack of thought (and sarcasm) I wonder if the writer even researched it for themselves. Rather I picture the writers closed mind screaming “Just have faith”.

  6. 6 Wasn’t the constitution (which protects your rights) based on biblical principles?

    I have no idea. Nor do I care enough about USA case law to research it.
    I guess the question assumes that biblical law is perfect and if the constitution and other USA laws were derived from biblical law therefore they are perfect too.

    Bible ethics are not always moral in the modern sense and in some cases contradictory.

    Under constitutional and biblical law:
    # You could / can have slaves
    # In our living life time Blacks have been permitted rights of white people
    # Woman were / are discriminated against and in very recent history were given legal rights i.e. could vote.

    It’s always a good idea when quoting the Christian Commandments to have all of the commandment and their variants. Laughs. The commandments have been altered a few times over the centuries.. (the unalterable law of god.. )

    Take one of the commandments:
    Ie The Fourth Commandment: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

    This little number was added to try are clarify the perfect word of god. Despite the additions which made it the longest of the commandments, they still failed to name exact day of the Sabbath. On an interesting note, one of the variants commands that people who work the sabbath be put to death.

    Regards the Sabbaths date, the seven days of the week, months and years were only decided on in 45BC, 1000 AD and then refined 500years ago (The Gregorian Calendar).

    45 BC:

    1582 AD

    The 4th Commandment:

    Interesting thought: A two thousand year period in the life age of the modern human race is a fart next to a supernova, why were these rules not handed out at creation? and maybe written on out hand for reference. Also the christian god failed to tell the whole human race of her rules. She told one tribe on one small part of the planet. Does it seem wrong that god failed to mention, her rules, the birth of her son and other such things to: The Chinese, The Aborigines of Australia, the Maoris of NZ, The Native American Indians and so on.

    Biblical Law and has chopped and changed over the centuries and is not the perfect law we would expect from a perfect god. It has all the marking of something man made. I can not comment on constitutional law because I did not research it. However the actions of the American Peoples history have been consistent aligned with flawed moral biblical principals, such as slavery, no rights for blacks and woman. Thank fully reason has banished these evil practices to the side notes of history.