Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Matt Slick 31 questions for atheists

1. How would you define atheism?

A state of mind which is characterized by a lack of a belief in a god or gods.

2. Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don't believe in (lack belief in God)?

This is a pretty vague question, if you are asking if I act according to beliefs, or a lack of beliefs, then yes. 

3. Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who "lacks belief" in God to work against God's existence by attempting to show that God doesn't exist?

Mu. The question is malformed as any normal response assumes god's existence.

If you instead want to ask if it is inconsistent for a person who lacks a belief in something to endeavor to convince others to lack this belief as well, then no, this is not inconsistent.

4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?

I am as sure as I can be that I lack a belief in a god.

5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?

I don't understand the question. How is an abstract idea correct or incorrect?

6. How would you define what truth is?

That which is in accord with fact or reality as can be shown by reason and evidence.

7. Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?

The 'default' position is to lack a belief. If a given position has not met its burden of proof, that is, it is not sufficiently supported by reason and evidence then it is reasonable to lack a belief in that position. 

8. Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?

Both. Things suspected as being immaterial have become material with sufficient understanding in the past, for example electromagnetism.

9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview?  Why or why not?

Atheism is not a worldview, as the way a person views the world is independent of the number of gods they believe to exist.

10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?

I'm not particularly antagonistic towards Christianity, but I can certainly understand the antagonism, especially in the United States where I live. The antagonism is due to an unconstitutional lack of separation of church and state in a multitude of areas, intolerance from many Christians towards those of differing faiths, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender, and sometimes even race. There are also many Christians who are anti-science, despite the enormous benefit to the human race science has provided.

11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?

I have never believed in a god.

12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?

That's a very far reaching question. It's hard to imagine such a world. I will say that the world would be a better place with much less religion.

I don't think a world without any religion is realistic, and may even be undesirable. It's simply too far removed from present day reality for me to contemplate. It's also problematic because in my opinion the definition of religion lacks sufficient rigor to enable the thought experiment. 

13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?

I would need more specifics on the scenario. For example, in this scenario is Christianity completely replaced with some other popular religion in the world today, such as Islam? I don't think the world would be better off in that scenario. Are Christians replaced with atheists whose typical idealisms are ones of wisdom, generosity and peace? That sounds like a positive scenario.

14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?


The definition of a mental disorder would be "a mental or behavioral pattern that causes either suffering or a poor ability to function in ordinary life." 

I don't think a belief in a god or gods can be made to fit this definition sufficiently.

15. Must God be known through the scientific method?

Do you mean for proof of existence? Perhaps not, but certainly something very close to it. 

TMM stated that proof of god's existence would require: 

1. A coherent definition of god.

2. A set of empirically testable and falsifiable predictions based on the supposition that god exists. 

3. Test results that match those predictions and are more parsimoniously explained by god's existence than by any other hypothesis.

That seems reasonable. 

16. If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?

I did not answer yes, but this refers to number one regarding a coherent definition of god. For an 'immaterial god' to be coherent, 'immaterial' would also have to be coherent.

17. Do we have any purpose as human beings?

I think you are looking for some kind of 'grand, divine purpose', and for that I say no. Biologically our purpose is to reproduce, nothing more. Psychologically, each person can find their own purpose in life, something to strive for that makes them happy if this is something they feel they need.

18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?

I refer to my previous answer.

19. Where does morality come from?

From mind.

20. Are there moral absolutes?

As I understand it, moral absolutes require objective morality, and morality at its foundation is subjective.

21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?


22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil?  If so, what is it?

The concept of evil? Yes I believe that exists. That's a strange thing to ask, like, do you believe dignity exists? Why would it be interesting to determine whether or not an abstract idea that does not relate to any particular physical phenomena exists or not? If I understand the word and the concept it's associated with, it implies that it exists, at least as a word and a concept. 

I can read between the lines about what the question was intended to ask and I could provide a more insightful answer if I really wanted to, but I don't think it deserves it. Ask better questions and you will get better answers. It's impolite for me to have to clean up malformed questions to enable a better answer.

23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?

I use these definitions.

Moral or right if it somehow promotes happiness, well being, or health, or it somehow minimizes unnecessary harm/suffering or both.

Immoral or wrong when it somehow diminishes happiness, well being, or health, or it somehow causes unnecessary harm/suffering or both.

By those definitions the god character in the old testament did many morally questionable things.

Why should anyone use these definitions? Well, they're roughly the best we can do. Health can be objectively measured, and perhaps in the future, things like well-being and happiness could be as well.

24. What would it take for you to believe in God?

See #15.

25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?

See #15.

26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?

See #15. Yes it must be 'rationally' based, what good is 'irrationally' based evidence?

I think I am taller than the Empire State Building, and my evidence is this banana.

27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer?  Why?

A society run by "Christians or atheists" as opposed to what?

28. Do you believe in free will?  (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).

First of all, it's spelled 'coercion'. Secondly, free will is entirely within the realm of philosophy since it makes no difference to us unless we have some knowledge of coercion.

The B-series of time indicates that all events have already transpired which would indicate that there is no free will, and general relativity is more supportive of the B-series. However since we appear to be locked in a scenario in which the future is unknown, with the past decided, free will exists for us, even if it doesn't actually exist.

29. If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?


30. If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become "deity" and not be restricted by space and time?  If not, why not?

I'm not sure if the universe will continue to expand forever, this is one idea among many. Happens to be the best supported idea by the reason and evidence at the moment, but such things are far from decided.

When  you say 'free of the physical', does that mean immaterial? If so I think this lacks coherence.

If not, you're just meaning something along the lines of energy vs. matter, then sure. I don't think transcending space and time is terribly coherent at the moment, nor is 'deity' really. I agree with the general sentiment though, and I hope we evolve sooner rather than later!

31. If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren't you saying that it is probable that some sort of God exists?

Nope. First of all no coherent definition of god has been established here, nor has any likelihood been attributed to an evolution of life to a level where a lifeform could fit said definition. It also doesn't address the Fermi paradox.

Moreover many rough definitions of god used in major religions today wouldn't support defining god as a being that emerged from any kind of extraterrestrial evolution. Such religions would consider such a being to be at best 'an entity with god-like power', but not the real deal.

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