Some questions I’d like to ask atheists

I have a questionIn no particular order:

  1. In the absence of a common moral code derived from any sense of a higher power, how do you decide what is right and wrong? Is it all subjective and situational, or are there some things, for instance, that are always wrong (e.g. rape, harming the earth, child abuse)? What do you see as the foundation of your moral sense?
  2. This is for atheists who want to persuade religious people to give up their faith and adopt a non-believing perspective: Why? I can see how you might want the brand of religious person who gets in your face and tries to persuade you of their views to back off, but in the absence of behavior that directly affects you, I’m curious about why freethinkers sometimes adopt an “evangelistic” position.
  3. Admittedly, I’m not as familiar with atheist writings as I would like to be, but a lot I find around the web is rather more emotional than rational, or based on misunderstandings of what people of faith actually believe. I can understand that a lot of blogs, for instance, are written for an audience of people who are already like-minded, so they would tend to assume the argument has already been made and accepted. But are there people out there who are interested in offering evidence, listening to evidence and having discussions?
  4. If you are an atheist who used to believe in God, do you think there’s a difference in your experience from people who have never had any faith? If so, how is it different?

4 Responses to “Some questions I’d like to ask atheists”

  1. Crispy Sea Says:

    1. As there is no god, humanity already retains copyright on all the systems of morality we’ve conceived and implemented.

    2. My blog post “The Cost of Faith” explains it clearer than I could here –

    3. As proof denies faith, there can be no ‘incontrovertible’ evidence that the theist could provide without invalidating his own faith. (Something of a disincentive to discovering the truth of a story) Evidence is less problematic, however the only evidence that can be provided is in support of the physical characteristics of portions of this or that scripture, but as this is not direct evidence of a ‘supreme being’ or even of supernatural phenomena, it cannot be admissible as evidence of god.

    4.I can’t say I ever truly believed, I kind of went along with the crowd until I was about 12 and had the vocabulary to start voicing my, as you know, Too many Questions.

  2. RoofWoofer Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It’s a busy weekend, but I’ll read carefully and reply when it loosens up.

  3. roofwoofer Says:

    Finally, I have a chance to respond. Thanks for your patience. I’ll remark according to the numbered points as you responded to them:

    1. What is it about us that is inclined to hold and implement a moral code at all? If matter is all that exists, how can the universal pull toward a sense of what is good and what’s evil be explained? Is there anyone who likes evil simply because it’s evil, or instead because they think it will achieve a good (such as ethnic cleansing for a higher purpose)? So who or what put the idea of what’s good out there? How did that get generated inside us if there aren’t some realities beyond what we can detect with our senses? Why has humanity bothered to develop and copyright systems of morality that we’re willing to apply to ourselves as well as others?

    2. Do the people of faith that you know personally exhibit the traits that you talk about in your post? Is the only effect in their lives that of “perpetuating the myth”? Evil done in the name of religion is absolutely inexcusable as is that done in the name of spreading atheism (e.g. Stalin), ethinic purity (Hitler) or for any other reason. But to ignore and hold in contempt the good done by those with religious motivations (such as the long history of establishment of church-based hospitals during the plague, Brother Damien’s self-sacrificial care for the lepers at Molokai, Teresa of Calcutta’s work with the dying, and the large amounts of ongoing private aid going to 3rd world countries by U.S. Christians) seems to produce a deliberate distortion of what’s genuinely going on.

    You’re 100% right to be absolutely indignant about the awful things that have been done. But a quick attribution to the “religious” excuses offered by the perpetrators misses important issues that muddy up any neat categories.

    There’s a big difference between what and how at least some Christians (much less deists in general) believe and what you seem to understand those beliefs to be, Crispysea. Many of those people are not persecutors, aggressors, haters or sexual perpetrators; but strong, wise, intellectually-aware, engaging and caring folks to be around.

    3. I completely disagree that faith and evidence are mutually exclusive, as if the point is to “have faith” rather than to believe what is true. The accuracy of whatever evidence is available (rather than speculation about random possibilities) is at the core of (at least) Christian belief. The question of evidence and belief is huge, so rather than go on at length, I’ll do a separate post. Let’s just say that I, personally, am not turned on by “proofs” of various texts of the Bible since they seem to me to miss the point, as you said.

    It seems to me that, to contradict the tenets of Atheism, all that’s needed is to demonstrate that things happen that cannot be proved to be of completely material origin. That’s not so hard, but there’s scarcely a point to that. If we’re all trying to find out what’s actually true, scoring debate points is sort of trite, isn’t it? There’s lots of evidence of God, but perhaps not evidence that you or others will find persuasive. Fair enough.

  4. jeremiah Says:

    You followed me on twitter, I checked your blog out. Here’s an interesting video on your first question.

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