26
Dec
09

Brett Keane’s Atheist Challenge

Earlier this year, a fellow named Brett Keane posted his Atheist Challenge – a series of questions for atheists to answer with the goal of creating a better understanding between believers and non-believers.

Since that is also the goal of this blog, I thought it would be fun to accept the challenge, and answer each of the questions in individual blog posts.

Here are the questions:

1. Where do you get your morality from? Please explain your morality. (This one was already answered in a previous post, so I’m going to skip it.)
2. Why do you accept evolution? Explain how you came to your conclusions.

3. What is the meaning and purpose to your life?

4. What is the greatest thing that you have done for others?

5. Would you kill for atheism?

6. Why are you an atheist and consider your position valid?

7. If you died and discovered that a god exists, what would you say to he/she/it?

8. What religion is the most dangerous in your eyes, today and in the past?

9. Name three peaceful religions that you have no issue with.

10. What would it take you to believe in a god?

11. Would the world be a better place without religion?

12. How do you feel about government/politics?

13. If you could go back in time and kill Hiter or Stalin as babies so they never kill the millions in the future, would you do it if time travel was possible?

14. Why is stem cell research so important?

15. Is abortion evil?

16. What would the circumstances be for you to approve of torture?

17. Should we try to save animals from going extinct?

18. Do you approve of capital punishment? Explain.

19. Do you believe in aliens, ghosts, spirits, souls, or any kind of supernatural forces?

20. Would you sacrifice yourself for a loved one, with the chance that you may end up in hell because you are an atheist?

21. Explain in detail the process of death.
22. Have you ever been dead?

The first answer is coming up, and I’ll try to answer a new one every day or so.

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3 Responses to “Brett Keane’s Atheist Challenge”


  1. 1 Keith
    August 25, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Most of these only require a couple of words to answer:

    1. Where do you get your morality from? Please explain your morality.
    Sociology
    2. Why do you accept evolution? Explain how you came to your conclusions.
    Yes. Because of the empirical evidence.
    3. What is the meaning and purpose to your life?
    Help as many deserving people as possible.
    4. What is the greatest thing that you have done for others?
    I don’t blow my own horn. I have helped others whenever and where ever I could.
    5. Would you kill for atheism?
    No. But I would kill for freedom.
    6. Why are you an atheist and consider your position valid?
    There is NO evidence that ANY religion is true.
    7. If you died and discovered that a god exists, what would you say to he/she/it?
    Judge my actions, not my beliefs.
    8. What religion is the most dangerous in your eyes, today and in the past?
    Xianity and islam.
    9. Name three peaceful religions that you have no issue with.
    Buddhism and as far as I know, Hinduism
    10. What would it take you to believe in a god?
    ANY empirical evidence.
    11. Would the world be a better place without religion?
    YES!
    12. How do you feel about government/politics?
    Separation of church and state
    13. If you could go back in time and kill Hiter or Stalin as babies so they never kill the millions in the future, would you do it if time travel was possible?
    I am not history’s or the world’s judge, jury, and executioner.
    14. Why is stem cell research so important?
    To save lives and make life better
    15. Is abortion evil?
    No.
    16. What would the circumstances be for you to approve of torture?
    None.
    17. Should we try to save animals from going extinct?
    Yes.
    18. Do you approve of capital punishment? Explain.
    Yes. Some people are just too dangerous to be allowed to be free. If a person will never be free, why keep them in jail forever? That is torturous.
    19. Do you believe in aliens, ghosts, spirits, souls, or any kind of supernatural forces?
    Aliens are not “supernatural forces”. I believe that statistically we can’t be alone in this galaxy, let alone the universe. Other than that, no.
    20. Would you sacrifice yourself for a loved one, with the chance that you may end up in hell because you are an atheist?
    Yes.
    21. Explain in detail the process of death.
    Your higher cognitive brain functions stop.
    22. Have you ever been dead?
    Mark Twain said it best.

    That was easy.

  2. August 31, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I’ll just have a go as well for some diversity. Haven’t read the blog-author’s answers yet.

    1. Where do you get your morality from?
    Biology explains this much better than religion: reciprocity. We are pack animals. By helping the pack, we increase our own chances of survival. That really explains all of the concept of morality.

    2. Why do you accept evolution?
    Irrelevant. Evolution has nothing to do with atheism. But if you must know, I accept it because it is empirically proven. I do, however, accept that the theories of why and how evolution happens will likely change or become more detailed in the future. Just as with e.g. gravity: its existence is fact – the details are a theory (in the scientific sense of the word).

    3. What is the meaning and purpose to your life?
    None. But is that a bad thing? I’m going to do the best I can while I’m here, but I don’t need some specific goal laid out for me.

    4. What is the greatest thing that you have done for others?
    Given to charity, paid my taxes, voted with my conscience and not selfishly. I realise I’m not going to save the world, but neither are religions.

    5. Would you kill for atheism?
    That doesn’t make sense. It’s impossible to do anything for the lack of belief in something, and especially killing for non-belief is complete nonsense. So no, I wouldn’t. There are things I would kill for, but not the lack of belief in gods.

    6. Why are you an atheist and consider your position valid?
    Atheism is a lack of belief, and in at least 99% of cases, it stems from lack of evidence. I’m in that crowd. Show me evidence of a god and I’ll believe. Until then, I’ll believe it as much as any other extraordinary claim that has no evidence, including Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. Yes, that is a valid position, and everyone takes that position on topics they don’t specifically want to believe in.

    7. If you died and discovered that a god exists, what would you say to he/she/it?
    “Asshole!”. If a god is governing this world, he/she/it is a grade A jerk. Just look at something like the food chain. What kind of asshole god would create a world where many animals had to kill each other to survive? Biology, on the other hand, has no emotions or empathy, which means the world makes perfect sense.

    8. What religion is the most dangerous in your eyes, today and in the past?
    I can’t decide between the monotheistic ones: Islam, Christianity, Judaism.

    9. Name three peaceful religions that you have no issue with.
    I don’t know any peaceful religions. Even Buddhism, which has established itself as peaceful, has its violent rules. But I don’t know all religions, so I can’t say for sure if any exist.
    Of religions I have no issue with, on the other hand, I can say with certainty that none exist. I have issues with them simply being religions.

    10. What would it take you to believe in a god?
    Evidence. Not even necessarily the scientific kind, but just enough that a specific god was more likely than all alternatives, including just not knowing.

    11. Would the world be a better place without religion?
    I would say yes, but I’m not so sure. The problem is that people have this natural desire to explain the unexplained, and without religion they’d just find some other bullshit to believe in.
    If you’re asking whether the world would be a better place if we could all simply accept not knowing everything, then definitely yes!

  3. August 31, 2010 at 11:22 am

    12. How do you feel about government/politics?
    Could you be more specific? “I like politics”, is that the answer you wanted?
    More seriously: church completely out of all decisionmaking, socialist politics, government distributes wealth, but keeps out of people’s personal lives. Free speech.
    I don’t expect everyone to agree, but that’s what my conscience tells me is best for most people.

    13. If you could go back in time and kill Hiter or Stalin as babies so they never kill the millions in the future, would you do it if time travel was possible?
    Tough question, but I think not, because I wouldn’t know what world I would be coming back to.
    If you ask the reverse: If I could see into the future and tell that someone today would be an evil, murderous dictator in the future, then yes – I would kill that person, if I could get away with it.

    14. Why is stem cell research so important?
    Come on, does this really need an answer? Same reason medicine is important.

    15. Is abortion evil?
    I don’t believe there is such as thing as evil. If you mean immoral, then no.

    16. What would the circumstances be for you to approve of torture?
    The hypothetical case of knowing for 100% certain that someone had information that could save many lives, but refused to give them up voluntarily. But we can never be sure of that.

    17. Should we try to save animals from going extinct?
    If we (humans) had a hand in their extinction, yes. If not… tougher question. It’s natural for some races to die out, and we probably shouldn’t prevent it.

    18. Do you approve of capital punishment? Explain.
    No, because there are too many cases where someone was proven innocent after being killed. Other than that, I agree with Keith here: better dead than in lifetime solitary.

    19. Do you believe in aliens, ghosts, spirits, souls, or any kind of supernatural forces?
    No. That is, I am open to the possibility that aliens exist – in fact I find that most likely – but I won’t say I believe in them, because that still requires evidence.

    20. Would you sacrifice yourself for a loved one, with the chance that you may end up in hell because you are an atheist?
    Being an atheist, I don’t see ending up in hell as a possibility. Sacrificing myself depends how much I loved them. For my wife, most likely. Anyone else? No.

    21. Explain in detail the process of death.
    You cease to exist. We are our brains, and when the brains die/dissolve, so do we.

    22. Have you ever been dead?
    Depends on your definition of “dead”. I have been in the same state, yes. The Mark Twain-thing. If you define “dead” as the thing you become AFTER you live, then no, but what difference does it make?


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I am an atheist, a person who does not believe in the existence of any gods.

Many people don't know a lot about atheists, and have questions about them. In this blog, I do my best to answer them, to help build an understanding between atheists and theists.

Do you have a question? You can post it in the comments to any of my blog entries, and I will do my best to answer it in a new entry.


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