A while back, I wrote a post entitled, Hard Questions for the Religious. It received quite an interest from the religious people who read it and responded to it. The reason I posed these questions was the fact that I knew they would require quite a bit of explanation from religious people; yet, these same questions, posed to an atheist, would receive a minimal response. I’ve always hated obfuscation. It’s my opinion that response length and confidence have an inverse relationship when it comes to answering simple questions. In other words, the longer a response, the less confident the respondent is about their answer (of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but I think it applies to all the questions I proposed).
So, I will now answer my own questions (all answers will be in quotation marks to be clear). I will also add a commentary for each question after each response.
1) Do you ever question whether your worldview is correct?
“Yes. That is how I arrived at the world view I have. I am excited in evolving my worldview.”
This question was always answered in the affirmative by the religious people who responded; however, I have difficulty believing this. In my worldview, there is nothing that is impossible. If scientific evidence came out in favor of Allah or Yahweh or any other God, then I would accept it, assuming that scientific evidence had been peer reviewed. Things of this nature, however, are unlikely to be proven true.
On the other hand, while religious people may shift in their perspectives of how their religious beliefs are true, there are fundamental aspects of each particular religion which cannot be questioned. For example, a Christian cannot deny the divinity of Christ. A Muslim cannot accept the divinity of Christ. These are just two examples, but there are many for each religion. Some concepts are unacceptable to the religious.
2) If you pray, why do you do this? Do you believe that God is on your side? Doesn’t all the bad things in your life give you a reason to be skeptical of praying?
“I don’t pray.”
The concept of prayer has many problems. First, if an omnipotent being created the world, why would the request of a non-omnipotent being be useful? Are you smarter than God? Did God not take into consideration what you are requesting? Either God is not omnipotent or prayers are meaningless. Second, what happens when people pray for opposite things that are equally fair? Such as, let our people win this war. Does God take sides in a war? This seems pretty petty. Although, we do have evidence in the Old Testament and the Koran that God does take sides…. so, God is admittedly petty (man, that sounds really offensive. This is the problem with discussing religion. Sorry about the straightforwardness of that last sentence).
3) What do you make of people who believe other religions or other sects of your same religion, often more strongly that you do (ie, enough to fly planes into buildings)?
“They are all believing in something based on faith. I am not.”
The religious response to this tended to be that there are many ways to God or that they accept other people’s opinions. If you read the Abrahamic holy books (I’ve read the Bible and am now 33% of the way through the Koran), you will see that this statement is not actually possible. I cannot speak on behalf of other religions. Perhaps others can enlighten us. Both the Bible and the Koran (the Koran especially) state that there is only one way to heaven and all others will be banished to hell. I’m reading the Koran right now, and if someone reads it honestly, you will notice that the worry about people becoming infidels or not believing in Islam from the beginning takes up maybe a quarter of the book. I’m not exaggerating. It’s unbelievable. I don’t think that this is a good topic for Muslims to dispute because I’ve been reading it on my Kindle and have highlighted every time this is mentioned. I think I’ve run out of storage space 🙂 . So, the nice liberal statement that there are many paths up the mountain to heaven is, to be blunt, a falsehood.
4) Do you notice the parts of life that you do not get to enjoy because of your religion?
“There is nothing in my life that is not permitted except that which my conscience or laws do not permit.”
So, it that way, some things are limited, but these are better for me in the long run. I wouldn’t want to live in a society where anyone could kill me at any moment, so I will gladly give up the freedom to kill others. Also, I have considered the scenario of a cruel billionaire coming to my house and saying: “I’ll give you a million dollars to stab your cat to death.” I truly believe I couldn’t do it. It’s frustrating to know I’m limited in that way, but it’s true. This is also a good thing. It demonstrates that morality is something deep inside of us; something that we are partially born with and is partially nurtured by our upbringing. There’s no real reason I should care about the well-being of an animal that just costs me money. But, that is an overly simplistic way of viewing the world. The fact is, humans need love and affection. This give and take of love is a limiting factor, but also something to be proud of.
5) If you believe in heaven, do you really look forward to the idea of living forever? Think deeply, not superficially, about this. Of course, I don’t want to die, just like you, but living for eternity is a different can of worms altogether. After millions of years, how can anything be interesting anymore?
“I don’t believe in heaven. I don’t want to live forever; however, I would like to live longer than the current human lifespan 🙂 Hurry up medical science!”
Some atheists tell me that they aren’t afraid of death. I doubt this. The only people I believe might not be afraid of death are those who are so deluded to believe that they will receive a great reward after death. I have had the 72 virgins/angels discussion before. Whether or not this is what the Koran is saying (I am starting to think it is true, from what I’ve seen in the Koran so far), is irrelevant. You don’t make young boys blow themselves up by talking about rivers of milk and honey. You tell them they are going to have sex with more women than they could ever hope to attain in this world. If you doubt this, then don’t ever try to be a con artist: you would fail. You have to understand basic human psychology in order to understand suicide bombings. There are also other benefits of suicide bombing jihad. You and your family are given free passes to heaven. If it is not solely a selfish endeavor, this is also the equivalent of a “get rich quick” scam – in this case, get your family into heaven quick scam. I do believe that these people “love death more than [we] love life.”
6) Do you like the fact that God can know everything you think? Do you feel embarrassed about some thoughts you have? (I know I do!)
“I don’t think God or anyone can hear my thoughts. I am happy with this fact.”
There are many things that go through a human’s mind everyday without the intent of the thinker. We do not control everything that happens in our brains. This is getting closer and closer to being an undeniable fact due to the contemporary study of neuroscience. People don’t like to think this. People always want to be in control. However, it is actually quite liberating because you now understand that if you think something very strange, disgusting, or cruel, you can’t be blamed for that. If you act on any of these thoughts, then you must be blamed for that – that is completely different. I will give you a personal example, to the detriment of my character – this is how firmly I believe that I am not responsible for the thoughts that cross my mind. I was using the toilet today, and I suddenly had the curiosity of what eating feces would be like. I disgusted myself, to be honest. Should I feel shame for thinking this? No. I didn’t lift up the toilet seat and act on my passing thought. I am not to blame for this strange and disgusting thought. Think carefully today about every thought that goes through your mind and remember the strange ones. There will be many. In fact, you probably forget about the vast majority of them without realizing it. These thoughts are not a commentary on your personality. Not worrying about these thoughts will lead to a much more stress-free life.