myatheistlife, I have read much of what you have written, not all by any means. I experience you as making sense, sometimes not at first. You clearly make your thinking known about the labels of non-believers. I assume you accept the label "atheist" and am not sure why. If you were to make a category where people who explore as you, how would you label it? OhOh, labels again. But say I wanted to find others who thought as you, what key words would you use?
I think it's simple, actually. Even among those claiming to be free thinkers there are many sheep. Many won't like what comes next. Those that convert to non-belief after reading a book or hearing a debate/talk/lecture are not likely to be like me. Those who found non-belief (atheism or anti-theism) like me have done it on their own. There was no blinders removed from their eyes, they instead fought a long tough fight to get them off. Look for people that seem to think in ways that new atheism is trying to reveal as 'new' but they have been thinking that way all along. Perhaps look for someone who feels "wow, there suddenly are people who think like me elsewhere in the world". I'm not trying to say I'm special in any way. I simply think that all the new atheist community stuff is not the enlightenment it is oft touted to be. I see some of the new atheist crowing like a small child yelling with joy because they can ride their new bike... the one with training wheels on it.It's great that they can ride! There is still a lot of work ahead of them. A LOT of work. Sticking your fingers in your boot straps every morning is not easy. Non-belief does not offer any kind fluffy father figures to take care of you and put you to bed at night. Some days you just do it in hope that tomorrow is better. Hope, not faith. Maybe tomorrow will be easier, maybe something will make me laugh.. so you keep going. I have been likened to nihilists, libertarians, and anything else that can't be applied to people in the middle of the road. In the end, I am me. I subscribe to a particular school of thought... mine. Oh sure, I know that I've picked up stuff here and there from philosophers and great thinkers and even science fiction writers, but my creed is to be me... the best me I can figure out how to be. (JFK quote) not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Telling me that I can't do something is like betting that I'll do it better than you imagined. Sure, I fail often enough. Like I said, life is hard. It ain't easy being an ape. Most labels are ascribed from the viewpoint that the existence of gods is arguably true, or might be. I don't hang out on that side of the fence very much. I peek over at the other field regularly, but the grass is just fine under my feet. I've been told that my attitudes verge on monastic or 'Vulcan' (Mr Spock) at times. I don't know what key words would work for such. I'm me, not a joiner, and not a leader. Society seen from a short distance and with the wisdom of science in hand, looks much like a bunch of apes trying to pretend they are more than they are. Like a chimp in a suit with a cheap cigar. All show and no real compassion, no real depth. Whenever I express such thoughts I'm told I'm arrogant. I don't think so but I could also be more eloquent. I spent a lot of time on my own in life... travelling for work mostly. I often went to zoos to see the animals. You should watch the apes/monkeys for a while. It will surprise you just how like us they are. Try taking a 5-6 minute film of ants at work... next time the traffic gets you down pull that out and watch it a couple of times.
I don't know what key words to give you. I don't know anyone like me either.
One question for theists, why do you feel it is necessary to lie to get your point across?
The title of the inquiry is, "Six Questions to Ask an Atheist," except there aren't six questions, there are 14 questions mixed in with nine prejudicial position statements. In the political world, this would be known as a "push poll."
The author of the inquiry doesn't deserve answers, he deserves condemnation for his dishonesty.
On a side note, there are very cogent answers to all 14 of the questions; perhaps under a different series of posts?
I recognize one question to an atheist as of primary importance over and above all other questions. The question is that of the existence of a single eternal, all powerful, all knowing, creator of the universe, specifically God. As Bertrand Russell asked, where did God come from? Any suggested mechanism would imply an infinite regress. Or else one must accept that such a being has always existed. It is simpler to propose that something came from nothing or that something has always existed, and and operates by natural law. That's my inner Occam's Razor talking.
Everyone of the questions is nothing but hogwash. The religious have to have some spiritual meaning to everything. To them, if they can't understand something, then it must be the work of the supernatural. A totally asinine philosophy.
In a nutshell. There is no bridge over the abyss that separates the rational and the irrational. But, you realize we're debating each other to justify the website's existence.
I believe there is a lot we don't know...many unexplained events that we would love to explain because we know there is an explanation for everything...an explanation is an attempt to construct the elements of the event in best terms possible...ambiguous explanations are weak and don't give an "ah ha" moment. Tantamount to intrastellar travel to discover round, saucerlike craft on Planet X and saying "ah ha", by Jove, they do (or did) exist, we may someday discover where Santa Claus really lives. By the way, the word "nephilim" actually meant, "those who came down from above".
1 To live your life without a god or gods is not a life lived in vain...looking in the mirror all day for answers is.
2 If we live without a god or gods, sustaining food is still necessary, clean air is necessary, clean water is necessary, warmth is still necessary, personal safety is still necessary, love is still necessary, honor, respect, appreciation, all of which makes life possible and meaningful.
3 The godly Jewish leaders ordered the death of Jesus...godly sacrifices were performed by the millions.
4 Pain is inevitable but whether you suffer or not is your choice.
5 Judge not, hypocrite
6 We do not make sense, we are sensual. We sense. We have senses. God doesn't make sense...he made males with foreskins and then orders them to be cut off? Does that make sense? Oops, you should be so lucky.
OK, my rant against dishonest questioning aside. Here are my answers and counter questions to theists (everyone feel free to copy and paste anything you want (and ignore anything that doesn't work) without attribution).
1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
The question contains a hidden assumption that “nothing” is a more natural state than “something.” Empirically, wherever we look, we encounter something. Therefore the evidence dictates that “something” is the most natural state of events.
Counter question: Given the vast evidence of what we observe, why would anyone assume “nothing” to be the most natural state?
2. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet?
Because it evolved via evolution by natural selection.
Counter question: Given the overwhelming evidence for biological characteristics developing through evolution by natural selection, what other empirical evidence should be entertained for an alternate hypothesis?
3. Is there any meaning to this life? My life has the meaning that I give it, I wouldn't suppose to give meaning to any other person's life.
Counter question: By what line of reasoning would any person determine that they had the right to dictate to another person what the meaning of their life should be?
4. Does human history lead anywhere? Yes, human history leads to the present human condition.
Counter question: How could it lead anywhere else?
5. How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier? I understand those words to mean those things, by degree, that tend to enhance or thwart human happiness and thriving. Note, the very fact that I use the word “human” implies that they cannot be “transcendent.”
Counter question: If good and evil are transcendent, can anyone give an evidence based argument to the Euthyphro dilemma? Bonus question: If theology provides an answer to the transcendent question, why do professional theologians vehemently disagree about the issues of the death penalty, abortion, homosexuality, war, killing in self-defense, etc?
6. If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers? Empirical demonstration of conscious will without a material brain.
Counter question: Given that a conscious will without a material brain has never been demonstrated anywhere at any time, why should anyone ever entertain it as even a remote explanation for anything that we observe?
7. so why don’t we see more atheists like Jean Paul Sartre, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or Michel Foucault? They were called the existentialist, there were more, Camus comes to mind. You don't see more today, because their questions have been answered to the satisfaction of most atheists; We make our own meaning and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact there is something absolutely right with that (see the answer to number 3 above).
8. What set of actions are consistent with particular belief commitments? The commonality between the Inquisition, the Crusades, Communist purges and Islamic Jihads obviously cannot be a theist/atheist divide as the evidence shows they can happen under either belief. However, what can be seen in common is an unquestioning commitment to a specified dogma. This is common characteristic of religion, but missing from philosophical naturalism.
Counter question: If you believe in divine revelation and you had a revelation that god told you to kill all of the children in a primary school class, but what reasoning would you do or not do the act?
9. Where is the hope of redemption, or meaning for those who suffer? There is no hope of redemption or meaning. That is why it is absolutely imperative to try to alleviate it now. We have no excuse to expect an afterlife to make it right!
Counter question: If you believe in a redemptive afterlife, doesn't doing something to alleviate suffering now rob the sufferer of a greater joy then?
10. Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong? Humanity is who to say. I don't want to be murdered or robbed so I accept a societal set rules that also entails that I don't murder or rob (not to mention a well evolved set of mirror neurons that just make those things seem icky).
Counter question: If you believe in divine revelation, how do we decide who's revelation is correct? Even within a single religion, different sects interpret what is literal and what is figurative differently? How is that different than a secular morality?
11. Why do I feel unfulfilled or empty? I can't answer that for you. I don't feel unfulfilled or empty.
Counter question: Why do you think you feel unfulfilled or empty?