Thursday, November 6, 2008

Questions Atheists allegedly can't answer...

Okay, I know, I know... Ray Comfort is a retard, and I shouldn't bother answering his bullshit posts, because doing so just legitimizes his idiocy in his own mind. We shouldn't encourage people who are proud of their own stupidity and ignorance, by taking them seriously. So after this, I promise not to use him for material... well maybe... I don't know. When there's nothing better to do, and I need a good laugh, it's so easy to peek at his blog again...

So I saw this post, and felt I should answer it, since it's allegedly a bunch of questions atheists can't answer.

  1. What was in the beginning?

    [Atheists have a dilemma when they say that there was nothing in the beginning. This is because nothing cannot create something. If they say that there were gases (or something) in the beginning, then it’s not the "beginning," because the gases or the “something” already existed. Who or what made them? This is why reasonable atheists admit that they just don’t know, humbling though it may be].

    Most, if not all atheists will answer "We don't know". Christians do not know any better answer to this than atheists do; Christians and other religionists assert an answer that people made up in the past, and wrote into their respective holy books. These "answers" are not answers based on fact of scientific research, and are usually nonsensical.

    We do not know what was in the beginning, because we don't even know exactly what, where, or when the beginning was. We don't know why matter exists as opposed to nothing. Nobody can answer that, not even Christians.

  2. Do human beings have more intrinsic value than animals?

    [If your pet dog and your neighbor are drowning, and you can only save one of them, who would you save? If it’s your neighbor, why? To an atheist, both the dog and the human being are both a mere species of animal, so their value is completely subjective. Most, if pressed, would say that they would save the human being, but they have no real explanation as to why he has more worth, other than to say that there is moral pressure from the social order to value a person more than a dog].

    Humans, like any other species, tend to value their own kind higher than other animals. It is instinctual for group survival. Christians like to proclaim that atheists MUST believe that a human has no more intrinsic value than a dog, because of some strange logic that seems to be unique to the Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian misconception of evolution and atheism. Values are determined by people, and by society. Humans value each other more than they value other animals, and they are usually conscious of the perception that society has of them as individuals. But I would argue that even a Christian might choose to save their pet dog if the person drowning were someone they didn't like. If the Christian was asked "suppose your dog, and a known vicious serial rapist/killer were drowning...", do you think they'd rescue the serial killer? If that's the choice, I'd go for the dog.

  3. What happens after death?

    [The only way any of us can speak with any authority about the subject of death, is to have reliable information from someone who has been there. God has been there. He transcends death. He is both on this side and on "the other side." When we remove God from the equation, we are left with mere conjecture].

    This is a trully idiotic statement. What happens after death, after you remove all of the superstitions like God and the supernatural, is not mere conjecture. It is well studied and understood by science, as well as fairly well documented. All of the myths about light at the end of the tunnel, life-review, and all the other myths associated with dying and near-death experiences, have very down-to-earth scientific explanations.

    As the brain loses it's blood supply, when the heart stops pumping blood, it begins to shut down. Lack of blood to the eyes results in the tunnel vision, because the blood vessels in the retina radiate from the center, meaning the last functioning parts of it will be close to the center, since that's where the blood is.

    During a near-death experience, people feel light, like they are floating, or "light headed", just like when people are drunk or have a fever, only the feeling is more intense. This is caused by a drop in blood pressure. As the reason, logic, language, and other non-essential parts of the brain shut down, the last parts to remain active include Broca's area, which is associated with fantasy and dreaming. So many people have vivid dreams during a near-death experience because that is the part of the brain responsible for our dreams. Once the brain is stopped, and the individual is not revived, cell death starts, and within hours, enough of the brain's cells die to make revival impossible.

    Now Christians claim that there is life after death, however, this has never been observed, and it trully is speculation on their part. In the world of Neurophysiology, it is almost universally agreed that the brain is what causes consciousness. Once the brain dies, consciousness dies with it.

  4. What is the purpose of life?

    [Without reference to a Creator who made us with the purpose of eternal fellowship, life has no real rhyme or reason. We are just tiny specs on a big ball of dirt, flying through space, striving to be happy, but with no purpose for existence].

    Which is why we tend to make up our own meaning of life. The Christian meaning of life is no more valid than that of a painter or musician, whose "meaning of life" will involve doing what is meaningful to them.

  5. Why there is order in all of creation?

    [If we believe that creation came into being through a big bang, it is important to understand that all explosions cause chaos. Order can only come through an in intelligent designer. Why then is there order from the tiny atom through to the massive universe? Why do summer, fall, winter and spring come around each year, at different times of the year, in different parts of the world--always in the same order? Why can we predict the sun’s rising to the second a 100 years into the future? Why is there order in the makeup of the eye, the ear, the brain, the blood, the heart, liver, kidneys, hands and feet? Every part of creation screams (to a thinking mind) that there is a Creator].

    Even explosions have order to them. Anyone who has ever studied ballistics and explosive debris fields knows that there are patterns to every explosion. People perceive chaos, because that is what it looks like on a superficial level. However, in an explosion, debris always radiates out from a central point, and it's usually in a fairly regular pattern. Craters left by explosions are almost always round.

    The statement that "order can only come from an intelligent designer" is nothing but an ignorant assertion. Atoms, and the subatomic particles that make them up, all have predictable properties, that, when mixed in specific ways, cause specific, predictable, and regular patterns, which happen automatically, without any intelligent agent acting upon them. All matter is made from predictable, specific arrangements of atoms, and each atom and grouping of atoms has very predictable properties. Religious people will insist that those properties of matter were put there by an intelligent force, but they have no way of demonstrating this; they merely assert it.

    Furthermore, the answers to why the seasons occur has been well understood by science for centuries. It is an admission of incredible ignroance for a grown adult person in a western nation to proclaim that seasons, the rising of the sun, the phases of the moon, and other astronomical and meteorlogical phenomena are a mysteries. They are not. Science has studied them, and documented why all of these things happen, and in the west, these basic facts get taught to small children in grammar school.

  6. Why is there a sense of morality in every civilization?

    [How do we instinctively know that it’s wrong to kill, to lie, to steal, etc. Where did this universal morality come from? The only reasonable explanation is the one given by the Bible--that "the work of the Law is written in their hearts" (Romans 2:15), and that God Himself has given light to every man (see Romans 1:18-20)].

    The Bible's explanation is not the only one, nor is it very reasonable. I can think of a much easier explanation. All humans have the same basic DNA -- the DNA that makes a human a human. DNA dictates both the shape and the basic behaviors of all life on earth. Because all humans have the same basic human DNA, they all have the same basic human behaviors in common, and that includes our basic sense of social ethics. Societies of humans will tend to reflect the basic behavior and social ethics that are part of the human mind. Though every culture has variations on what is acceptable, they all agree that killing one another is bad, that violence against a non-threatening or helpless individual is bad, and that stealing is bad. There are pretty simple evolutionary reasons why these behaviors evolved.

  7. Why does every civilization believe in a Creator?

    [While an atheist may be quick to point out that some religions within certain cultures (such as Buddhism) are atheistic, mankind has never found any civilization (no matter how primitive) that didn’t worship some sort of Creator, whether it be the sun, or an idol].

    Because uneducated humans are superstitious, and casually make up myths and fables in the abscence of knowledge.

  8. Why does every sane person have a conscience, even when it is not dictated by society?

    [If we didn’t accept that the conscience is inherent within every human being, we could never rightly administer civil justice. Morality is shaped by, but does not originate from society].

    The assertion here is that morality cannot be the product of society. I believe that this assertion is false. It's pretty obvious that societies create morality, because morality differs from group to group. Though there are a few universal values in different human cultures, morality differs greatly from culture to culture. Christians like to assert that their morality is the absolute basis for all other moral and ethical systems, but this is nothing more than a baseless assertion. The universal moral values that different cultures have in common can be seen in the writings of cultures that predate biblical ones.

  9. Which came first--the chicken or the egg?

    [Without "the book of beginnings" (the Book of Genesis) to tell us that God made the chicken first (see Genesis 1:20), we are merely guessing as to its genesis. If an atheist believes it was a chicken, where did it come from, and how was it given life when there was no egg from which to hatch? If it evolved without an egg, why did evolution change its mind and introduce eggs, if it was doing okay without them. Also, why and when did a rooster become necessary to fertilize the egg so that a chicken would form within it, and which came first, that rooster or its egg? If the atheist maintains that the egg came first, who then made it, (and again) who fertilized it, and who sat on it so that it would hatch? And that’s just the beginning of the beginnings dilemma. Which came first--the eagle or its egg? How about the duck? The owl, the kiwi, the tiny humming bird, and the big old albatross? There is no end to it, if you reject “In the Beginning God created..."].

    This question is based on the assumptions that evolution is false, and that chickens have always existed in their current form, and never evolved from other birds, or pre-bird therapods. Since dinosaurs pre-date birds, and were known to be egg-layers, then the egg clearly came before the chicken.

    The egg developed even before there were any fish. Creatures were laying eggs in the cambrian era. Eggs were a natural evolutionary development which allowed reproduction to continue without a large scale mitosis (where an organism divides itself into two separate entities). An egg contains the genetic information to create a new individual, but it grows on it's own, allowing the parent to be unencumbered and weakened by a large scale division of itself.

    Chickens are a relatively recent animal -- all the chickens that mankind keeps were created via humans domesticating and cross-breeding different game fowl to achieve desired traits. So before there were chickens as we know them, primitive humans were keeping other birds which eventually were replaced by modern chickens.

  10. 10. How did nothing create everything?

    [It is primary science to understand that it is impossible for nothing to create anything, let alone everything. Material creation cannot be made by nothing. Something had to create it, and the Creator of all things was and is the non-material Spirit of the eternal God, who dwells outside the dimension of time (see Titus 1:2), and is infinitely beyond the comprehension of human understanding].

    I never met an atheist who proposed that nothing created everything. However, I've met plenty of superstitious theists who proclaim that their God created everything out of nothing. Of course, this leads to the question of how god came to be in the first place, and we are left with the same question -- where did everything come from?

    Of course, the theists insist that there had to be nothing at some point, but we do not know that. For all we know, the energy that makes up all matter has simply always existed. That answer is no less plausible than an intelligent being just willing everything into existence 6000 years ago. In fact, It's more plausible because it's more in the spirit of Ockham's Razor, since it removes the unknown factor of God from the equation, leaving only that which can be examined. We do not know when the begining of the universe was. We do not know what existed before the universe as we know it did. We don't know if the universe simply always existed or if it was created. These questions simply cannot be answered, and the answers of the world's religions, including Christianity, are not adequate.


Pocket Nerd said...

Getting into arguments over the "real" answers to these questions misses the point, because theists themselves can't answer these questions-- "Goddidit" is not a meaningful answer any more than saying "just because" or "it wuz MAGIC!" All they have to offer is a thought-terminating cliché. (And, of course, the threat of hellfire for those who continue to ask questions.)

This is merely another case of special pleading by the religious right; they demand everybody else treat their semantically vacuous non-answer as a profound insight, while they casually dismiss the best available science and reason.

David W. Irish said...

Yeah, it's really annoying to give answers to these questions -- at least the ones that they claim have no answers, but which actually do, such as the "chicken and the egg" question, and the "why do all cultures have a belief in God... why do all cultures have morality..."

Even though scientists and sociologists have pretty darn near definitive answers to many of these bullshit questions, the theists keep insisting that because they've never heard of these answers before, that they don't exist. So rather than go out and look up the answers, they just blabber on about how there is no answer.

If you give them a definitive answer, and back it up with footnotes to relevent source information, they blow it off as though research and fact-finding doesn't mean anything compared to simply pounding the table and asserting that there is no answer.

Ray has asked these exact same questions before, in different formats, and with different comments on why we can't answer them, and we give him answers right back every time. It's like he doesn't get it. Well, that's predictable, since we know the guy is as dishonest as fundies come.

archaeopteryx said...

David - a highly intelligent, well thought out, excellently documented (through your links) publication.

If there was a problem, it's that the piece was SO intelligently written, that it was quite likely over the heads of those who needed to read it most. Unfortunately, there will always be those --

I tend, as Sam Clemens did, to create a persona when I write, so that when I catch myself getting a bit cerebral, I ask, "Would Mark Twain use that phrase?" I find it helps keep me grounded, and what I have to say, within reach of Everyman.

Good work - keep it up --

pax vobiscum,