I may have disagreed with you elsewhere, but this is very good John D, concise and articulate.
Madhukar, here are my answers to the first question. #2 comes next.
Six Key Questions to Ask an Atheist
1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered,
Why is there something rather than nothing?
There is something from nothing the same way there is strong interaction , electromagnetic force, weak force, and gravitational force; these are natural forces that continue unanswered but there is no need for god or gods to explain them. They are factors of natural energy and we may or may not find the answer. Religion is totally inadequate to define or explain them.
Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet?
Evolutionary processes emerged out of need of the organism; the first living cells and amoeba were “open systems” that needed fuel. Processes developed to meet those needs for food. Over time, there was need for the capacity to hunt, small and weak creatures had to figure out how to survive in hostile territory, whether in the seas or later on land; evolution met those needs. Brute force animals, emerged and had to use strategy to hunt; man emerged and those conscious, intelligent aspects of human life evolved. Others evolved in different ways, whether birds or insects, or bacteria, or whatever life forms existed. There is no need for god or gods in these processes.
Is there any meaning to this life?
If you are meaning to human life, just look at the equipment with which we are endowed: sight, sound, smell, taste, feeling with our tissue or feeling with our emotions and a brain and nervous system. These are the tools that make it possible to live, learn, thrive, and do those things that humans do.
If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found?
Stand under the starry skies, seeing billions and billions of other universes, thinking, contemplating, exploring, experimenting, making sense of it all and taking actions to solve individual problems or community problems, learning how to live in family, community, nation, and the world. We have many talents and great ideas, but we have not solved how to live together in peace and harmony. We don’t even remember human history and the ways each human or each group of humans has exploited others. If there is meaning to all this, it is that we do have better ways to live and we need to take the risks necessary to attempt them. There is no god or gods to obey or love and serve or submit to, or crucify oneself for. The meaning of life is to participate to one’s full capacity and join with others to meet challenges facing each one of us.
Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end?
What is the big deal about death? We are born, we live, we die. Is that all in vain? Of course it is not! The great privilege to participate in life with all of the other glorious things of life is a real wonder. Do we have to defeat death to be of significance? I think not. Believing fairy tales about overcoming death and being reborn into another realm might sound good for others; I see no reason or purpose for that. God, heaven, hell, redemption are all figments of human imagination trying to escape the reality that we are born, live and die. That is it. So? We have a very few years to be and do, and belong, and think, and participate in this magnificent story.
How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier?
This one is simple: good means thriving, evil means submission, obedience, looking to others for meaning or purpose. Just look at the women in burkes; are they thriving to their full potential? I think not. Being obedient to a god or to a husband or to a father depends on the thriving of good will of the one who expects obedience. That is putting one's life and welfare at great risk. To me, obedience is not the highest value. Thinking, reasoning, participating, cooperating, compassion, caring, seeing the wider picture and looking to the long run, all have higher value.
If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong?
That was my very first question. Why should I obey my father, who was a thug and a brute; my husband, who was a thug and a brute; god, who was a thug and a brute?
If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?
This is the easiest of them all, I have always been open to other options and other opinions. The problem was I was born into tyranny and it took me far to long to realize that. I want critical thinking, realistic observations while foregoing myths, fairy tales, wishful thinking.
Closing thought: the whole point of these questions, for what I can tell, is to attempt to create or suggest a dependency on ONE particular form of belief as THE answer to all these terrible-horrible-vexing questions. Those who pose them assume that they have only one answer – theirs – mostly owing either to a lack of imagination or introspection or an agenda which aims at the gathering and control of numbers in the service of their particular belief system.
Sorry, fellas, not having any!
1] If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered
these so called "big questions" are very childish and they can not be answered with logic or reason. does that mean they can be answered illogically or irrationally? we better left these question than to get an illogical or irrational answer.
2] If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning
the meaning of life is to know one's own self. the meaning of life of a man or why he is born is to find out who he is, what is his capability, what is his real nature. this search should also be done rationally.
3] When people have embraced atheism, the historical results can be horrific
really? what about two world wars, atomic explosion of hiroshima, nagasaki, worldwide colonies done by hardcore christians? hitler who was a christian killed 6 million jews. queen victoria who was a christian was the owner of a worldwide colonies where the british exploited and killed many people. all those britisehes were christian. i don't think christianity will be better than atheism.
take god fearing muslims. what they do? they become terrorists. they did 9/11 and many bomb blast all over the world.
god fearing hindus created godhra in Gujarat. god created more problem than atheists.
4] If there is no God, the problems of evil and suffering are in no way solved
the cause of problem and sufferings is NOT GOD. it is IGNORANCE. man suffered because of this ignorance. man does not know the nature of the world that's why he suffered. god has no relation with man's sufferings.
5]If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people
If there is no God, there will be no religion at all. there will be no need to critique religion.
6] If there is no God, we don’t make sense, so how do we explain human longings and desire for the transcendent/ spirituality?
longings and desire for the transcendent/ spirituality is there because for centuries we are practicing this longing or desire for spiritual. we become habituated to it so much so that we cannot renounce it so easily. we should try to stop it.there is no god. it is a proven fact.
so how about these answers?
The questions are moot. An atheist knows that in the absence of a god, the higher self prevails. Self knowledge and free thinking is the result. We know that there are no excuses, no one to blame, no one to hold as a crutch in hard times. We rely on ourselves, our family and our friends and, most importantly, what can be proven.
You ask these questions assuming the burden of proof is on the atheist.
The questions, I believe, should be held up to your own eyes and mind and there you will find your own answers. Just as atheists do.
I think I will also posit "Six questions to xtianity"....
1. Why does xtianity continue to insist a fictitious god answers any of the so-called "big questions" of life when science has answered them?
2. Why does xtianity continue to insist there is no meaning to living and keep insisting that people give all their money to the "church" and look forward to dying instead of helping the planet progress?
3. Why does xtianity continue to insist that atheism is somehow responsible for the tremendously horrific history of bloodshed when almost ALL of it can be traced back to ignorant religious people "defending" their impotent gods? And when it is written in their filthy books that everyone must either convert or die or the destruction of the world is the solution to everything?
4. Why does xtianity continue to insist there is good and evil (mythology), heaven and hell (mythology) when there are just choices in the world and people are living their lives and trying to make the most of a fucked up world that I would point the finger directly at religion for causing?
5. Why does xtianity continue to insist their bible is right when it was stolen (oops borrowed) from the Jewish people, originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic, written by Jewish people for Jewish people, and then "whitened" up by changing the names when no other book is "translated" in that manner? And why don't most xtians even know that? Why did xtians do this in the first place? Jealousy because only Jewish people were "chosen" by a fictitious god that one person pretended to hear from and then a bunch of other writers continued to embellish the bullshit stories?
6. Why does xtianity keep insisting they actually have answers to anything when they just say "have faith" or because god said so (which works as well as any parent saying the same thing)?
7. Why does xtianity keep on taking people's money in order to keep on building more country clubs, I mean "churches"? Does their god really need people's money?
8. Why do xtians think their pastor crooks need thousand dollar suits and limos and body guards and tv shows and millions of dollars and why does the catholic church need their own country and more body guards and why does the Pope need bullet proof glass and why aren't xtians learning Hebrew to understand their fairy tales better and why do xtians hate Jewish people just because they don't believe in the same messiah and why do xtians believe they live any way they please and just say they're sorry and be forgiven and why are there so many denominations if they all wave the same book at gay people and why can't they all agree and get along and why aren't they being charged with child abuse by forcing this crap on their kids and why don't churches pay taxes and why haven't we rid the earth of this foolishness by now when there's so much evidence and information and the internet and I'm going to stop now....
I WILL LIVE TO SEE THE END OF RELIGION'S REIGN!!!
I WILL LIVE TO SEE HUMANITY USE THEIR BRAINS!!!
Ahhh this post is hilarious. It embodies the rant I have going through my head on an almost daily basis.. I thought there were supposed to be 6 questions turn into 66 ? I was going to post my own, but I see that I have nothing to add. Good stuff!!
I have one question for theists, which in my humble opinion, answers all six questions at once.
Why, when asking any question to which you don't know any good answer, does the automatic default position have to be magical, superstitious, bullshit?
For me, "I don't know right now. Maybe I/we will learn the real reason later on after sufficient study and inquiry," is quite sufficient, without recourse to the juju spirits in the sky.
The difference between theists and non-theists, is the desire to understand. Theists don't ask these questions because they really want to know what non-theists or atheists think, they do it to try to convert. As a tool to try to get us to think the way that they do.
This is absolutely true. The religionist cannot be bothered with the facts that contradict faith. The Christian apologist argues that the atheist ascribes to scientism or naturalism to answer the big questions, rather than keeping an open mind to ALL possibilities. Thus, the close minded one is the atheist. However, what is missing from the equation is that there is no good reason to adopt a supernatural worldview.