Sunday, July 28, 2013

Questions For Atheists - Part 7 (Just Curious)

I've finally reached the end of Phil Fernandes' challenging questions to atheists with my intellectual integrity intact and unscathed. The last section of questions seems to be really just a bunch of miscellaneous questions about cosmology and evolution and morality, perhaps his last ditch attempt to damage my intellectual integrity. Considering how far I've come and how all of his questions so far seem to have stemmed from monumental ignorance about the most basic science, I highly doubt they'll be anything here remotely challenging.

1. If caterpillars could talk, would they argue against the cocoon-of-the-gaps with their butterfly friends?

Presumably, if caterpillars had enough intelligence to talk, they'd figure out science and answer this question using the scientific method. They'd be able to observe other caterpillars cocooning themselves after some honest inquiry and not need to resort to fantasy tales of magic. Although, they might have to all suffer intellectually through many years of ignorance until they figured this out, just like how we did.

2. If there was a Big Bang, where did the bullets come from? Who pulled the trigger and who manufactured the gun?

There couldn't have been anyone pulling the trigger given the standard big bang model because it was the beginning of time and thus no events could have preceded it. That's why it couldn't have had a cause.

See more on the cosmological argument here and here.

3. How does science weigh morality? Does ‘goodness’ expand when frozen or rise when heated?

I don't believe like Sam Harris does that you can describe morality strictly in scientific terms. Morality is ultimately in the domain of philosophy, not science. But, that doesn't mean that science has nothing to say about morality. Science can give us empirical answers as to what actions we commit will harm those affected by them. For example, Europeans used to think Africans weren't human and thus weren't entitled to be treated like humans. Science has proven that Africans are just as human as Europeans and as well as all other races. So empirical answers could be given regarding such moral concerns. The same was true about smoking. In the 1940s and 50s, doctors used to recommend their patients smoke because it was believed to be helpful. Then we learned it caused cancer. And after that fact emerged, it would have been immoral for a doctor to recommend their patient smoke, because they would've been knowingly harming their patient's health.

See more on moral arguments here, here and here.

4. If man is just an evolved animal, why have we never observed another species thrilling in the beauty of a sunset or a picturesque mountain view?

I don't see how the fact that man evolved has anything to do with whether animals enjoy sunsets. Maybe they do. Maybe birds enjoy their aerial views as they fly across beautiful landscapes. Maybe chimpanzees enjoy the mountain views from the canopies of their jungle homes. Even if they do not, our ability to enjoy beauty is most likely a byproduct of our evolved consciousness that natural selection embedded into us. And what about those of us who are mentally handicapped who'll never enjoy a sunset or a scenic landscape? Did god purposely screw them over? 

5. While you've most likely heard, “Forever’s a long time to be wrong,” have you ever considered it’s also a “long time to be right?”

If implied in this question is the vague threat of eternal hell fire, then I don't want to allow fear to cloud my mind. To me the best way to construct reality is to educate yourself on the facts as much as possible and follow the evidence where it leads. Any time fear enters the mind, you are bound to start thinking irrationally. I want to know the truth. We all do. If the evidence lead me to religion, I'd go that way. But a close look at the evidence for god and for Christianity and other religions has shown me that they all are based on logic derived primarily from faulty human intuition and leaps of faith aided by confirmation biases motivated by emotion. That's why apologetics ultimately fails. And it only ever succeeds in winning over hearts and minds when it preaches to the vulnerable and uneducated. 

Final Thoughts

Why did I do this? Several reasons. First, I wanted to challenge myself. I think no one should ever get complacent in their worldview for too long, and a good challenge is necessary from time to time. That beings said, Phil Fernandes' questions were hardly a challenged as I consider myself pretty seasoned in the realm of counter apologetics. This shows you how naive he is about his own views of religion, science and philosophy. I'm sure William Lane Craig could've provided much tougher questions.

Second, I did this for other atheists and skeptics out there who may have been hit with one of Phil's questions either online or in person and needed to look it up online to find an answer. If someone in that position hit my site and I was able to provide them with a decent answer that they could also possibly use as a counter argument, I will have considered this a success. As I come across additional challenges on the internets, I will take them head on too. If you have any questions or need me to elaborate on an answer, feel free to ask, and I will try to provide you with a more thorough response. 

Until then, this is your atheist in the city here, keepin' it secular. Over and out.


  1. I liked your answers to all these questions. 5 here is especially confusing though. Right from our perspective would mean that there isn't an afterlife and therefore forever wouldn't apply. The forever to be wrong bit seems to cover hell. Not sure what his point is.

    1. Thanks, I think question 5 was about hinting at hell if you're wrong. That's my guess. A few of his questions were very confusing, either deliberately, or through his own ignorance.



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