Answers to questions from a student of apologetics.

A question about origin: Where did I come from? Where did the origin of life come from?

(JBH) We do not know. Those who know the most about biochemistry say that at present their best guess is that the first replicators were RNA strands on the edges of undersea hot-water vents, when the chemistry was quite different from what it is today. Research into this question is continuing.

A question for purpose: Why am I here? (Do I have a purpose? Is there ultimate meaning to life? What is the purpose of life?)

(JBH) For some of us, it is very important that life should have a purpose. When you go out to find the purpose of life, you are certain to meet someone who will tell you that the purpose of life is to do the will of God. Coincidentally, this same person will also do you the favor of telling you what God wills. And there you are… jumping through his hoops and carrying his luggage, and congratulating yourself for serving the highest cause of all. (I followed a Guru for five years.) SUCKER!!

We find ourselves alive and conscious. What shall we do with our lives? THIS IS OUR CHOICE!!. If we insist that someone else supply us with a purpose, someone else may DO just that. 

Meaning is a different thing from purpose. Meaning is the story that you choose to join. There are many stories available, and you can make up your own if you wish. It helps if you believe the story to be true, at least potentially true, in it’s essentials. I find that the history of life on Earth, and the history of human civilization, provides all the meaning I need, I join it by seeking to make this Earth a better place, “for ourselves and our posterity”. 

A question concerning morality: How can I know right from wrong? (Is morality objective or subjective?  Can there be be objective standards?

(JBH) Religious folk misunderstand morality at its roots. Religious morality comes down to obeying the alleged will of God, as reported by the priesthood. But obedience is not morality, and morality is not obedience. We can all think of famous people who did bad thing while obeying authority, and others who did good things while rebelling against authority. ALSO: Religious morality is necessarily subjective and relative, because it depends crucially on faith. Nothing that you have to take on faith is “objective”.

Religious folk may be Good Samaritans or suicide bombers, it depends entirely on what their chosen authority orders them to do. If a believer, or a community of same, wishes to make war or keep slaves or oppress women, all they have to do is persuade themselves that their god approves. This seems not to be hard, and no god has ever popped up to tell believers that they were wrong. They do not have a code of morality except by the convenience of the priesthood. What they have is a code of obedience, which is not the same thing.
Atheism means looking at ethical questions as an adult among other adults. Civic morality is a means of maintaining peace and cooperation among equals, so that all may pursue happiness within the limits that ethics defines. If you want to maintain peaceful relations, don't kill, steal, lie, or break agreements. This civic morality is objective. As Shakespeare wrote: "It needs no ghost, Milord, come from the grave, to tell us this."
Because we are biological beings evolved by natural selection, most of us value the health of our families, where "health" is the ABILITY to survive, and "family" is "all who share your genes, to the extent that they share your genes." This is also called "inclusive fitness" by biologists. Essentially all living beings are going to seek this, because their desires are shaped by natural selection, and inclusive fitness is what natural selection selects for.
Because humans are social animals, who survive by cooperating in groups, we have a "natural" standard of ethics: The Good is that which leads to health, The Right is that which leads to peace. A "good person" is a desirable neighbor, from the point of view of people who seek to live in peace and raise families. Most people understand this intuitively. Understanding the logic of it is better. "If you want peace, work for justice."
There is a long history of philosophical thinking about ethics. Morality is not based on authority, but on reason and compassion. If I had to recommend just one book on ethics, it would be GOOD AND EVIL: A NEW DIRECTION by Richard Taylor.


Questioning destiny: Where am I going? What happens when I die? What happens after death? The question for truth: How do I know any of this is true? What is truth? Is there such thing as known truth?

(JBH) Every life has one death in it. Paraphrasing Mark Twain: “I was nonexistent for Eons before I was born, and it didn’t hurt a bit.” 

I personally take as my working hypothesis that there is one Universe, and we all live in it. If we work at it, we can agree on what it looks like and how it behaves. AND, it is wiser and more useful to do that, rather than walking around believing whatever pleases us. I take as my working hypothesis that the Universe is what it is, independently of what we may think or wish. So there IS an Absolute Truth, but it is NEVER wise or useful to claim that you’ve GOT it. You may have great confidence in your current working hypotheses, based on the abundance of evidence, logic,  and testing you have done so far, but you must always be open to new evidence, logic, and testing that may challenge it. You don’t need certainty, working hypotheses work just fine. 

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Comment by Compelledunbeliever on July 8, 2018 at 4:46am

  You bring up an interesting thought. Lets say I have a customer at a store and there is some moral delema.  If I just do what my boss says it is not a moral decsion on my part, I am simply obeying my bosses will. If I make the decision it is a moral question as I must make the desicion myself, Thus if theist rely on their gods for their morality they do not actually excercise morality.

Comment by Michael Penn on June 28, 2018 at 7:55am

I agree with Loren. It all starts with the apologists when they hold to a bible verse that says "the fool has said in his heart that there is no god." To put this into usage properly for them the apologists always know god exists and this is what flaws all their arguments. 

How would I know these things because they are written in a book while everyone else also has a book but none of the books agree? That's insanity!

Comment by Loren Miller on June 25, 2018 at 7:24am

The questions listed here are pretty stock and represent the usual crap that comes from apologists.  Their problem typically is that they either think the matter is settled or they've failed to realize that there are ALTERNATIVE answers which 1) make more sense and 2) are more real-world oriented.

The biggest problem with apologetics is that they can't be bothered to learn when confronted with their poor reasoning ... and eventually, when all their lame explanations and excuses have been debunked, we still arrive at the threat of hell at the end of the line.  Same Stupidity, Different Day.



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