I recently posted an “ask an atheist day” blog (because it was apparently ask-an-atheist day) and I thought the questions and answers were blog-worthy. So I’m posting a handful of the questions and answers here if anyone wants to read them:
Several questions from maniacsicko:
“what’s with the profile picture?”
It’s a non-human fossil of the species homo heidelbergensis and dates back around 125,000 years or so.
“wait, does the question have to be related with atheist in any way?
Don’t care really.
“do you put value in marriage? (considering, i’m guessing, it is traditionally, or originally (?) a religion thingy)”
I put value in a committed relationship, inside or outside of traditional marriage. I think someone having your back and you having theirs is a profound part of being human and can be very beautiful, and I don’t think you need a marriage certificate or a church ceremony for it to be meaningful. But ultimately any marriage only means what the two (or more) people put into it. And of course marriage has intrinsic value in our society since it grants tax benefits and over a thousand legal rights (visitation, child support rights, insurance benefits, the right to decide where or if your partner is buried and countless other things).
would an atheist react if one of the kids want to be a christian,
another want to be a muslim, and another want to join the KKK… which
kid will disappoint you the most?”
The KKK one definitely. As far as the other two, I would only insist they learn about all world views. Though I would hope that I would have taught them critical thinking and to stand on their own two feet to the point that they would not be easily sucked into a religion. If they believed in one anyway, I would disagree with them but would not hate them or treat them poorly. I don’t hate or treat poorly christians or muslims as it is. Though of course being christian or muslim does not prevent one from being an asshole, and I’m not fond of assholes.
I’d rather my kid be christian, muslim etc than an asshole.
“is it possible for an atheist to fall in love with a staunch staunch christian/(insert whatever else religion here)”
Of course. Though for any skeptic (atheist or not) the other person would have to be at least reasonable or they would not get along.
“yeah, that’ll do for the time being”
That’s fine, good questions. Thanks : )
“Describe your transition from Christian to atheist.”
I was not a born-again, I was raised christian. I did believe though, I have prayed in earnest in my life. But it was always a sort of agnostic’s “if anyone’s listening” sort of prayer. I was never hardcore. But I was sure there was a god and a heaven and all that. I took me years to realize I had never concluded any of these things were true, they were sort of built into my brain’s operating system from youth. As I questioned these assumptions I recall the feeling like a fog lifting from my mind, though some of that was no doubt also due to the changes in brain development from adolescence to adulthood, as this took place around the age of 14-17 or so. I found out I was an atheist when I came across the term atheism for the first time and looked it up, I realized it applied to me. What first made me question was the concept of hell. I thought that god was supposed to be basically the best person imaginable, kinder, wiser, greater in every way than us. One day it occurred to me that if I were god I wouldn’t send anyone to hell, not even hitler. Why torture someone when I could just blink them out of existence? Surely oblivion would be kinder, more forgiving, less cruel etc than torture, let alone infinite torture. It dawned on me that I was more forgiving and less vengeful than I had been told god was. It wasn’t too long after that that I lost faith in religion, but not god. I was still convinced (though for no reason other than my upbringing I realize now) that there was a god, and that for some reason it had to be the christian god. But I figured we humans had just screwed up the bible somehow, gotten the message wrong. It was later that I realized there was no reason to assume a creator at all, and I called myself an atheist.
Yes that is what it stands for. Agnosticism is a position not on the existence of god, but whether we can know (as opposed to believe) there is a god. I acknowledge that you cannot disprove the existence of a deity (any more than you can prove unicorns do not exist). I still though do not believe in them. We do not believe something exists until it is disproven, or we would believe in the existence of everything.
To give a reverse example, I believe in the existence of life on other planets, but I am agnostic with regards to it since I acknowledge it cannot be proven – I just think it’s very likely to exist.
To quote Robert Ingersoll : “There is no difference. The Agnostic is an Atheist. The Atheist is an
Agnostic. The Agnostic says: ‘I do not know, but I do not believe there
is a God.’ The Atheist says the same.”
“What is your attitude towards religious people? Do you think that religion can be beneficial, or does it do more harm than good?”
My attitude toward religious people depends on the religious person, they are not all clones – despite an enormous and centuries-long push for conformity. I think the elements common to western religion are extremely harmful, dogma, superstition, suppressing critical thinking etc. I think that faith can give people comfort and make them feel good on a personal level, but it always has drawbacks which cancel it out. A christian has a ready-made sense of purpose and direction for instance, but on the other hand they might miss out on the benefits of being “lost” for awhile which forces you to really learn about the world. They might feel happier when things are going well, perceiving the good things that come their way as not just being fortunate, but a gift, “blessing” etc, but then when things are not going well they feel abandoned and forsaken and all of that, which an atheist doesn’t have to go through etc. Overall if there is a positive net effect I just don’t see it. Or at least it’s heavily counter-balanced by bad effects. But maybe it could be better – or maybe it’s just the yin-yang nature of things.
[Then it goes on to be basically a discussion, will leave the rest out for space, but you can read it in the comments if you wish.]
Do you belong to any Atheist groups? Do you antagonize other atheists just for the sake of argument or do you help each other by sharing information?
Don’t belong to any atheist groups. I’ve also never read a book about atheism or religion written by an atheist. As far as antagonizing atheists, I don’t get the question – I try not to antagonize people in general. Did I say something on your blog to offend you or something? [Turns out I hadn’t btw]