Saturday, June 1, 2013

3 Questions To An Atheist On Existence and Meaning

I came across a website the other day that spoke about the "absolute truth" of the Christian doctrine and in it, it asks the skeptical non-believer a few questions that seemingly can't be answered unless you accept the belief that god exists. So, reproducing them here, I decided to take a quick crack at them. My answers are not meant to be an in-depth discussion on the order and structure and meaning of life, but rather quick, easily digestible, sound-byte answers.

1. Why do we have personalities? If there is no personal God who "shared these bits of His personality with us," where did we get them?

It's hard for me to take serious the notion that each of our individual personalities is a part of god. How would you then explain psychopaths and sociopaths who cannot feel empathy for the pain of others and may even get sexually aroused from the pain of others? Are they made in the image of god too? Our personalities are shaped by our genetics that we inherit, and the unique experiences we have growing up in our environment. These two factors "customize" us into who we are and make us all unique individuals.

2. Why do the pieces of the universe fit together so intricately? If there isn't a higher standard outside the natural world ordering the way things work, then why do they work so well?

Again, it is hard for me to take serious the idea that the natural world is ordered by an omni-benevolent intelligence. How do you explain cancer, disease, and natural disasters? Does god design and will all these things into existence? If he does, he is not omni-benevolent, and is at least capable of sadism and indifference, and this would of course be incompatible with the traditional notion of god. The natural world is governed by the laws of physics. These laws make it possible for life to arise but also make it possible for that life to suffer and be destroyed. Nature giveth and nature taketh away. We happen to be living in a fantastic time in human history, because it is only now that our knowledge of the world has advanced enough to the point where we can actually explain nature. And through our explanation of nature we've been able to describe the natural forces that keep you, me and the entire universe held together in an orderly fashion. No appeal to a "higher standard outside the natural world" is necessary.

3. Why do we have a strong desire for purpose and meaning in life? If there is no "big picture" that explains where we came from and why we're here, why do we ask questions about purpose and spend our lives trying to find the answers?

Man is nature becoming conscious of itself. As such, once we evolved the consciousness through natural selection, we had the ability to think of our world and our place in it like no other species has that we know of. You could say that our consciousness has in a way, burdened us with the never ending quest for meaning and purpose. That's exactly why we invented gods and religions - to fill in the gaps and answer the questions we were asking ourselves. Any species that evolves a consciousness like ours will inevitably ask those questions of meaning and existence because nature doesn't come self-explained - we have to go and figure out. The purpose of life is to live. So ask yourself, "How can we all live our best collectively?" The answer is by expanding our circle of compassion and by respecting the environment we all live in. The best purposes in life are the ones that advance this project and address this question.


  1. It's hard to take any group seriously when they ask such ridiculous questions.

    1. It is truly sad sometimes dealing with the objections from some religious people, especially when this neat little thing called Google exists where they can instantly look up and find the answer to almost any question they have.

  2. 1. Why do we have personalities? If there is no personal God who "shared these bits of His personality with us," where did we get them?

    A FAR more interesting question is why does God have a personality, desires, emotions, etc?
    There are good reasons for why humans have desires, emotions and personalities (due to our evolutionary heritage, and our limited and fallible natures).
    God on the other hand is supposedly neither limited nor fallible, nor does he have any evolutionary heritage. A being such as God can seemingly have no desires, since this being would want for nothing.
    "It is a testament to our narcissism as a species that so few humans are embarrassed to assign to divinity the attributes of a male alpha primate."

    . (2011-10-20). End of Christianity, The (Kindle Locations 3183-3184). Prometheus Books. Kindle Edition.

    1. God can't have a personality because he's timeless. If he somehow does, he would have to be the strong silent type.

    2. Well, that's better than the spoilt brat depicted in the Old Testament :-)



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