10 Good Questions for Atheists, Answered (200k views)

I am writing this post to celebrate reaching 200k views on my blog! Thanks for reading guys. I wanted to do a Q&A, however I have changed the theme of my blog, and basically the only people who want to talk to me are anime fans who are interested in talking about religion, and I don’t think I could quite get enough questions (although tell me if you disagree) so I’m answering questions from google instead – what a sad celebration.

If you google 10 questions for atheists the first result you see is from the Cornerstone Church of Kingston. I have no idea if this church is famous, well-known, extremist, liberal, fundamentalist or whatever, but I am interested in their questions, as they seemed quite representative of difficult questions Christians might ask atheists. Here are their 10 questions for people like me.

Question 1. How do you know there is no God?

I don’t. God might be real, but I don’t really see any good reason to believe that he is. To show a mistake in the question, let’s consider another question: How do you know there are no fairies? This is a question nobody can answer. The concept of God is similarly unfalsifiable.

You can’t really disprove unfalsifiable concepts, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically believe them. You should only believe things you have good reason to believe. I don’t think that we have that for Gods. I’d also extend this to many similar concepts such as fairy’s, unicorns etc.

The question assumes that most atheists are gnostic atheists, which from my experience is completely false. I would identify as an agnostic atheist which means I believe God does not exist, but I do not claim to know that God doesn’t exist. The image above explains this better if you’re looking for more information.

Question 2. Where did everything come from?

I don’t know. This is a question for physics, and not philosophy or religion. I am really interested in this topic however. A book I’m reading currently is called “A Universe from Nothing” which explains the current research into quantum physics and our universe, and it suggests how it may be possible to have something from nothing. Due to this research, it doesn’t seem crazy to me that everything came from something that was not God, rather, it seems to be what science suggests.

If you say that God is the answer, I have to disagree, as if God is the answer, we have only pushed the question back further to “How did God come to exist?”, which is still not explained. You also cannot prove that everything did come from God, and if you think you can, write your academic paper and claim your Nobel! So if you expect me to be able to explain where everything came from, I’d also expect you to be able to explain how God came into existence, or at the very least prove that the Universe was created, and so far I’ve seen nothing.

“If you cannot explain this incredibly difficult concept then our idea is automatically true even though we’ve given no evidence for it” is not a healthy way to find truth and engage in debates, so it’s probably best to move on.

Question 3. Why are there human beings?

Science has only answered half of this question. Obviously evolution gets you from the first lifeform to the human, but it has not answered the question of how did the first life start. Once again this is definitely a question for Biology rather than for philosophy or religion. We simply don’t know, and shouldn’t assume that the answer is God until we have the evidence to show it. For now I feel we should leave it with “I don’t know” until we do know. But for those who think life occurring naturally is impossible due to a low probability, let’s talk about that.

I would expect that the origin of life is an incredibly rare event, and actually quite unlikely to occur. But I find that probabilities are very easily misunderstood, and low probabilities are often confused with the concept of impossibility.

What if the probability of life occurring naturally on one planet was incredibly small, for example one in one hundred billion? Well, there are at least one hundred billion planets in the milky way galaxy, so we would expect life to occur at least once in just our galaxy. When we look out into the observational universe, this is what we see.

So despite life seemingly being completely rare, this is exactly what we would expect to see if life was very unlikely. There are also an estimated 200 billion galaxies, meaning that the probability of life occurring is much higher because there are just so many trials, taking the estimates from previously, this gives us 20000000000000000000000 planets for life to occur on, which doesn’t make the odds look so bad.

I think it’s important to research questions like these, because the truth is nobody can answer this question yet, not even Christians, as the idea that God created humans is disproved by evolution, so why assume that God created life without evidence? We’ve got to work to find the answer, even if God is the answer, we must show it to be true rather than believe it blindly without evidence first.

Question 4. What is the point of life?

I don’t really believe life has inherent purpose. I would broadly say that the point of life is to enjoy it, find your own purpose, and follow it. I think that’s quite empowering. The idea that you can choose your purpose and work towards something that you have decided for yourself is really valuable to me. You don’t have to follow someone else’s purpose or goal for your life, you’re free to decide for yourself.

My counter-question is: don’t you hate your purpose as a Christian? The idea of being put on this planet for no reason other than to worship God, have a relationship with him, tell people about him, and help people within the strict list of guidelines God gives you is an incredibly weak purpose to me. A purpose that you have found for yourself, and makes you feel happy speaks to me far more.

Someone once gave me an example using the film star wars, and the characters Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Luke had his path already chosen for him and was pushed down a path of training and learning to fulfil his destiny. In contrast, Han Solo didn’t have to do this, and could have left Luke to live his old life, but he didn’t, he was able to choose his future and his own destiny, and that to me is much more empowering.

To further add to this, one of my first thoughts when I left Christianity was a strong feeling of empowerment, because all of my achievements were not because a God helped me, or made it easier, but because I worked hard, and really am that good. If I want something, a God will never give it to me, I’ve got to stop being lazy and try to get it for myself. This is something that I really like to have, and this knowledge has helped me in life, and actually allowed me to achieve far more for myself than a God could ever have given me.

Question 5. What is a person?

I’m not really sure how to answer this as it’s a very philosophical question I’ve not thought very much about. The follow-up questions is “Why is there love?”, and in my world view it is a concept adequately explained by science, although that’s probably not what I would say to my Girlfriend.

I feel a person is an animal, with the only important difference being our intelligence and ability to communicate more effectively. I’ve never really thought anything different, even when I was a Christian.

Question 6. Why was Hitler wrong?

I can’t be expected to write every reason, as you would be reading for a very long time if I did, so I’ll just give some reasons that I know off the top of my head. He was mainly wrong for killing lots of people, waging war, torturing jews and other minorities in concentration camps, as well as circulating incredibly harmful ideas about other races. I also feel his ideology towards blond hair and blue eyes being the master race was also incredibly harmful, as it’s against equality.

The more interesting question is the second one: Is morality just a matter of opinion? It’s a good question, I don’t really believe in objective morality, but I think a matter of opinion isn’t really correct. If you perform an action, is it possible to assess whether it objectively didn’t cause people to suffer? I think it is. So essentially all that is needed for a functioning society is agreement of basic concepts such as wellbeing is good and suffering is bad for objective morality to be found. I don’t think this too hard for us to get to, and these concepts simply come from simple selfish motivations of self preservation.

This appeals to me much more than because God said so. The morality of God is absolute. If God is real then the Israelites were completely morally justified to slaughter babies and children in his name, and you just have to accept it, because only God can know true morality. I don’t like that at all. I think if morality can be debated, argued, improved, discussed and altered as more information is discovered, that is a much better foundation for a moral system, and I would much rather live in this world than the other.

Morality is very different based on the situation, and cannot be treated in simpler ways. For example subjective morality may call it a bad thing to make certain items out of metal if there is a shortage of metal in the world, but this wouldn’t make sense to do in a world with much more resources and recycling. Things aren’t always wrong or always right, objective morality removes this nuance by saying things are always right or wrong regardless of circumstances.

A Christians response to this is that the objective morality from God is already perfect, and thus the discussion and alteration is not needed. I would just refer you to the bible itself to disprove this claim. Even if we take the moral injustices that God tells his people to commit as moral, there are just moral policies which contradict, so how can either be true if morality is objective?

I suppose a counter-question to this is why were the Israelites wrong to murder and kill so many people in the bible? Of course most Christians would say that they were actually morally right, and if that’s what you’re trying to claim to me, I don’t think you have any moral ground to stand on, and you really can’t lecture others on morality and expect to be taken seriously.

Question 7. Why are you scared of death?

I’m not very scared now because I’m young. I think when I do get scared it’s because I like the idea of being able to continue my life. Death shouldn’t be particularly painful, I won’t exist so I won’t feel anything, if God is real however, I do have much more to worry about after I die. But is the afterlife of a God who will torture me forever yet claim to still love me actually worth considering? Not really.

Anyway, why are so many Christians scared of death? I don’t think it’s at all true that atheists own the monopoly of fearing death.

Question 8. Why do people need to believe in God?

I don’t think people do need to believe in God. But if you want to believe something I won’t stop you. The second question asks “Why are there so few atheists?” – Would you really call half a billion a small number? I certainly wouldn’t. “None” is the fastest growing religious group in many countries, and there are likely many more others not included in the list because they are scared of how they will be treated if they come out as atheist. It’s not really a fair statement when so many atheists are persecuted for their beliefs, and in some countries killed, as well as looked at with very negative stereotypes.

Another question; why are there so few Christians? After 2000 years and only 2.4 billion people, meaning the majority of people are going to hell if Christianity is right? This is completely against anything I would expect from an all powerful God.

If any religious claim is true, the vast majority of people are wrong regardless of what the claim is. It therefore make sense to research and try to find the answer for yourself, rather than just follow the belief which is most popular. Nobody is in a world religious majority.

Question 9. What is the Bible?

It’s a book, haha, well I guess it’s a book of many books. I don’t have much to say about this, so I’ll answer all the follow-up questions instead.

Who wrote this book? – lots of people, it wasn’t written by one person. A large amount of books actually have unknown authors, scholars can only guess, while the gospels are entirely anonymous so we have no idea who wrote those, well we do have some ideas, check here for more information.

Why does it have a common overall theme? – I don’t think that’s true. Paul’s homophobic messages seem so in contrast to what Jesus was preaching, as does the old testament, which contains so many books which are just about war and killing people, I don’t remember Jesus saying anything like that was ok. Then the whole book is supposed to be about mercy, but then ends with the slaughter of the entire human race due to God’s anger? I really don’t see a common overall theme, except that when I was a Christian I found it all boring.

Question 10. Who is Jesus?

If you want to find out why I don’t think he’s the messiah, this post here goes into much more detail explaining why. I don’t think the gospels are particularly reliable, so it’s not easy to be certain, however it seems to me that he was a charismatic prophet, who travelled around preaching. Some said he was a healer, some said Elijah, some say the son of God. Mainstream scholarship suggests that he was killed for calling himself “The king of the Jews” and not the messiah so to some extent he may have been a political figure.

Mark’s gospel show lots of people actually being unsure of his identity, so I think during his life people really weren’t sure. When his disciples asked him if he was the messiah, his response was to keep it secret. In Mark it was kept secret until standing in front of Pilate, so in all honesty I’m not certain if Jesus himself publicly claimed to be the messiah, it could have been an idea that came about after his death, although he would have likely told his disciples what he thought his identity was even if he didn’t claim it publicly.

I don’t agree with some things that Jesus said, but in general he is the main source of good from the gospels. Yet after his death all these terrible ideas of hell, eternal torture for simply not believing, the Paul letters, and apocalypse of John start to emerge. These all seem so different to everything that Jesus preached about, that I don’t see how it could have possibly come from him.

Final Thoughts

Usually when atheists answer questions, they tend to label them as stupid and ridiculous, but I think these questions are fairly good as I feel theists would actually want to know the answer. When I was a Christian the first time I properly listened to an atheist talking about their attitudes towards God was about 16 years after I became a Christian, so if I were to read these questions before then, I would likely have assumed that atheists had no good responses to these questions, which I think is completely false. So regardless of belief, If you have strong views which can be written into a question, actually ask people the question. It might be interesting what you find. If you’re a theist who has a question, but doesn’t know who to ask it to, you’re always welcome to ask me.

20 thoughts on “10 Good Questions for Atheists, Answered (200k views)

  1. 1. You may dispute the proof of God, but it is there. Fairies, not so much.

    2. This is obviously related to 1, of course, but I’ve always seen it a bit like looking at the pyramids or the Empire State building and insisting that no one built them. But to answer your point about pushing back the question, I suppose that simply leaves us in the same boat, resting on faith. Not only faith in our own beliefs, but faith that the answers will be made known in time.

    3. You say that the notion of God creating humans is disproved by evolution, and yet 1) there is no proof of that, either, ie, no evolutionary ancestry that we can trace and 2) why should God, wielder of all the knowledge in the universe, be barred from using evolution in His work?

    4. What is the meaning of life? Specifically, what is the meaning of *this* life? It is not simply to be here, to worship, to serve, etc. It is to show who we are. To prove ourselves, whether we will walk by His will, as best we know it, or not. It is to test us, to teach us, to train us, to refine us, to ready us for the eternities to come, to see if we can become like Him, to be entrusted with all the powers of creation. …so, yes, I am quite satisfied in my purpose as a Christian. 😉

    Speaking on what we might achieve in this life, I would say things are more balanced than having to rely only on ourselves or only on God. We are to rely on both. One man put it something like this: pray like it’s all up to God, and then work like it’s all up to you.

    5. …now that is a loaded question, isn’t it? For present purpose, I am going to simply say that we are simply animals with intelligence. We are spiritual royalty, the children of God and potential joint-heirs with Christ, to become as God is and gain all that He has.

    6. While there is absolute morality, I would disagree with the notion that just because God says so means that there is nothing more to it, nothing to add or further develop. I mean, Christ did exactly that when he taught the higher principles of the New Testament. Humans, both as individuals and as a society, learn things one step at a time, line upon line and precept upon precept. You may rely on God being right, but I have always been encouraged to understand *why* He is right. To ask questions and learn more, to discover and understand more. God has had to bring His children along step by step by step, always having to deal with our proclivity for extremity.

    Why were the Israelites right for slaughtering people at His command? Just take a look at what happened when they did not. They fell into the idolatry of their neighbors and engaged in absolutely horrific behaviors, including, in the worship of Baal, engaging in wild orgies while the babies which resulted from previous orgies were screaming and burning on the altar. I’d call that a fairly sufficient reason.

    7. True, atheists do not have a monopoly on fearing death. The happy part about Christianity, though, is that we know death isn’t all bad. Sure, a lot of people of all religions have gotten very caught up on the potential for eternal damnation, but that is an overblown possibility. God does not torture us forever. It is the inescapable knowledge of our own wrongdoings which torments us, for a time. And even that, with few exceptions, has an end to it, provided in His loving mercy by our older brother and Savior.

    8. I am simply going to say that God’s plan covers all of humanity in fairness and mercy, with provision made for all of those who, by no fault of their own, happen to have no chance to hear His gospel in this life.

    9. That seems like a confusing question to have in a discussion with an atheist. As in, not sure why they’d bring it up, since atheists will either know about the Bible already… or not. But, still, to answer: the Bible is a collection of volumes written and compiled by numerous people who followed a specific tradition. Much of it deals with a history of God’s dealings with Man, with the declaration of His gospel and witnessing of the Savior, with statements of His doctrine, and with prophecies. It has been translated many times, and altered in places, so many confusions and questions are understandable to have. Thus, in my church, the importance of a clarifying second witness in the form of the Book of Mormon.

    10. That, right there, illustrates the importance of discussion, of honest questions, and especially of continuing revelation from God to Man through His servants the prophets, to help us understand Him.

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    1. Hi Merlin, thanks for taking the time to respond to all the questions that I talked about! These questions were really interesting to me so I’m glad you think the same. As your comment is quite long, my response is long too, but I hope you’re surprised by how much we actually agree, I know I was.

      1. I wouldn’t dispute that there is evidence. There certainly are religious texts and testimonies, which although I may not consider sufficient proof, I still count as evidence. Just like me simply stating that the evidence is not good enough won’t convince you, you saying that there is proof is not good enough to convince me. As this is already so long, I think we should save this for another time.

      2. Applying the idea of looking at the pyramids and insisting that they didn’t have a builder appeals to your common sense, but we have repeatedly found that science, especially quantum physics, which is the kind of physics necessary to answer this question, is very unintuitive, and not what you would first think based on common sense assumptions. When we see the pyramids we can be confident that they are a creation, I don’t see how you can have the same confidence towards the universe being a creation.

      I don’t have faith in the universe occurring naturally. When I ponder the question my answer is simply that I don’t know. Using faith is believing one idea over the other despite not knowing, which is something that I don’t want to do when I believe the correct answer is just that we don’t know yet.

      3. Your response to the first question made it sound like evidence is an important factor for your belief in God. If evidence is so important to you, it really confuses me that you don’t accept evolution. We have so much evidence for it that it is one of the best theories in science, with the word “theory” being used in the same way as you would say “The theory of Gravity”. I’m not sure what sources you are using, because we do have an evolutionary ancestry that we can trace with few gaps, our fossil record is massive and growing, and evolution has so much predictive power. Based on fossils we can use the theory of evolution to make predictions of what fossils we would expect to see in specific places, and when we do the research, we find those fossils! If evidence is what you are looking for, what more do you want? I highly recommend you get your information on evolution from more trustworthy sources. I’ve noticed so many lies and deception surrounding evolution that it seems most people who don’t believe it don’t actually understand what the theory suggests, so I understand why you might not accept the theory, but I can only encourage to you research it from propper sources further, or at the very least through debates about evolution as this question seems really important to you.

      Your second question is a really good one. God definitely could use evolution in his work, I’ve never thought that the existence of evolution has ever really disproved God. In the UK basically every Christian believes in evolution as well, so I really don’t see a conflict. Although God could be involved in evolution, evolution is also a completely natural theory which works whether a God is helping the process or not, that was the main point really.

      4. It shouldn’t really be up to an atheist to tell Christians what their purpose is haha. All I can say is that I’m glad your purpose isn’t just that.

      5. I know right haha, I was surprised by how much we agreed on this.

      6. It’s great to have an understanding of why something was wrong, rather than listening to God. I’m so surprised to see you say that we have no absolute morality, we are completely agreed on this!

      For the people the Isreilites slaughtered, in the list of things you gave me I only thought burning babies was wrong. I respect people’s right to religion, as well as to have orgies (as long as they are consensual it is not my business). I’m sure you know the phrase two wrongs don’t make a right, murdering people for killing others is still murder, which is the kind of justice I would expect from an uncivilised society, but not an all-knowing god. Also consider that history is written by the victors,which means the claims made by the Isreilities towards their enemies should be taken with a grain of salt.

      7. Yeah I really like your view of heaven, I wish more people had a similar attitude as you. There is a book that I’m quite interested in reading called “Heaven and Hell: The History of the Afterlife”, as you’re someone who also doesn’t hold the traditional view of the afterlife, you might also be interested in reading about how hell got warped into the idea that it is today.

      8. I have no objections to this. Now that you have said this, I am interested in your attitude towards Non-resistant nonbelievers. These are people who have heard and seen the evidence, but they are sincerely and honestly not convinced by it without any attempts at self deception and dishonesty. I believe that I am a non-resistant nonbeliever, so I’m genuinely interested if they are treated differently to resistant nonbelievers.

      9. Yeah I agree, that one was a bit confusing for me haha. We are also in the same boat towards the bible as we both agree it needs an update. I know some places where it has been altered, but I am sure I don’t know as much as you do about how much the bible has been tampered with.

      10. I agree, it is important, and not just important, but really interesting too!

      Thanks for your thoughts, I love thinking about these things, and your comment also showed me areas where I could have been clearer about my meaning in the original blog post, so it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 1) If I might pose a question for consideration: how does a blind man know that the sun exists? I mean, he obviously cannot see it. Yet he can surely feel its influence and come to know of its patterns quite well. And this besides the presence of countless witnesses.

        2) One of the basic principles I have been taught by science is entropy, that everything decays, degrades, breaks apart, etc. falling into the simplest forms of matter and the silence of thoroughly spent energy. We see it in play in miniature all the time, in ruins, abandoned buildings, and more. Everything which we build up will, if not continually maintained, eventually crumble to dust. Everything in nature does the same, from organic bodies to rocks to entire planets. Enough time goes by, and all the stars will eventually go out, their fuel and their heat utterly spent. And yet, there is order and balance at every level of the cosmos, in spheres so large and so small that humans have yet to even conceive of them. For such order and beauty to emerge from a universe where everything, left unattended by intelligent hands simply, falls into entropic simplicity… well, I think you see where I’m going with that. 😉

        3) I can’t help but giggle a little when people compare the theory of evolution to the theory of gravity, because surely some physicist somewhere is feeling that this would mean that we have very little understanding of evolution. Seriously, we know astoundingly little about gravity. But, moving on.

        I believe I need to clarify my meaning slightly. I *do* believe in the theory of evolution, especially as it pertains to the creation of all the plants and animals in the world. What I meant was that we do not have proof of *human* evolution, specifically. We do not know *our* evolutionary background, and we can’t seem to find it despite finding both remains which are younger and fossils which are much, much older. And yet, there remains an insistence that we evolved from monkeys. Not entirely unreasonable, I will admit, but for people to have such an emphasis on physical proof while simultaneously believing something which there is no physical proof for… well, there seems to be a certain inconsistency there, ya know?

        (skipping 4 and 5 because we’re good there)

        6) I believe I said that there *is* absolute morality. However, not only are we mortal humans having to progress towards it so very slowly, instead of already being there, but simply accepting God’s word for it without trying to understand, well, that will shut down any further conversation and stagnate our progress just as surely as simply rejecting God’s word for it because we don’t already understand.

        As for the whole burning of babies thing, that wasn’t something the Israelites claimed about their enemies. It’s something that our historians now claim about the Israelites. It was *their* sin before God. This is what offended God in their worship of Baal instead of Him, and why he responded to Elijah’s call with a pillar of fire from heaven, to demonstrate his power to the Israelites. Interestingly, though they put the priests of Baal to death after that incident, the conversion Elijah expected to happen did not last. It hardly lasted even five minutes. That’s when the Lord educated Elijah, showing him various demonstrations of great power, culminating in nothing more than a still, small whisper into his heart. And that, not pillars of fire, or shaking earth or tempests, is what converts people. This is also what instructs us on His morality.

        7) Thank you! 🙂

        8) Eh, I say just live and let live. If everyone did just that much, the world would be infinitely better off.

        And ending there, because I think we’re good on 9 and 10, too. 🙂

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        1. 1) Most blind people do actually have some vision, it’s just very blurry, so they could see it as well. If nothing else, they can feel the shine on their body, maybe buy some plants and put one inside a cupboard and one outside in their garden to see if there is a difference, maybe get a solar panel and compare the differences in energy. Sure they could just believe what those around them say, but if they wanted to make certain they could make predictions for experiments and implement them to prove that the sun is there. Due to these reasons I don’t think the situation is very comparable to God. Sure you could just take people’s word for it, but when you go out there and do the research and experiments, you don’t find the same thing, at least in my experience.

          2) The entropy you are referring to is the 2nd law of thermodynamics which states “entropy of an isolated system always increases” considering that the Earth is not in any way isolated at all, with us having access to the sun and CMBR, and this law specifically relating to thermodynamics, it’s not hard to see how this order and balance could come about naturally. The universe is a system of systems, hence the order and balance, and why it can exist while ultimately ending in heat death.

          We do have natural explanations for these systems occurring, scientists aren’t scratching their heads wondering about how anything even exists at all, saying that the entropy of everything should increase. It’s only under specific circumstances that the 2nd law of thermodynamics holds, so we wouldn’t expect it to be true outside these circumstances.

          3) The point is you wouldn’t dispute that gravity exists, but since you do believe in evolution there’s no point really saying it anymore.

          I see what you’re getting at, too many people disbelieve evolution for religious reasons so I hope you can see why I made that mistake. Could you clarify what you mean? Because it seems like we do have decent (although it might not be fully complete) lineage from apes (not monkeys) to humans with Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Ardipithecus ramidus, australopithecus afarensis, australopithecus africanus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo neanderthalensis and then Homo sapiens. To me it doesn’t seem like we have no physical evidence for our evolutionary history at all. When you say that these fossils are really old, that’s also what we would expect. Evolution predicts incredibly gradual changes over millions of years, hence we wouldn’t expect to find our entire evolutionary history only looking at the most recent fossils.

          If it’s pointed out to me that I believe something without physical proof, I will drop the belief. It doesn’t make sense to me to think “Well I believed this thing without physical proof, I guess I’m going to believe a different thing without physical proof as well”

          6) My bad, I didn’t read that sentence correctly. The reason why I don’t really believe in absolute morality is that morality would have to be a property of the universe, rather than a value existing inside the mind of an individual. If God is well reasoned, and wants the reasons for his morality to be found, it stands to reason that we would be able to find these objective moral values naturally right? Like they exist outside of God? Completely agreed that just doing it because God said so is a system that would fail.

          I see what you mean. I forgot that bit, and was mainly talking about their killing of other races. It now feels like you’re saying “The Israelites had to kill all those people otherwise they would have started killing babies”, which just makes the Israelites look like terrible people. We don’t forgive murders just because their killing stopped them from killing babies, I don’t get how you can justify their actions in these ways.

          A huge pillar of fire seems more likely to convert me, after all I have heard stories from people claiming that God has touched their heart. I guess we’re all different.

          Looks like we’re still good on a lot of things, which is nice 🙂

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        1. For me, I would prefer to say that we have no good reason to believe that there is anything other than the natural universe. This is mainly because I have no idea how we would disprove the supernatural or prove that the natural universe is the only thing there is. How can you be certain that the natural universe is the only thing there is?

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            1. Hi GROG, thanks for clarifying. We agree that humans created the imaginary. Simply being imaginary doesn’t necessarily mean the idea can’t be true. Take for example hypotheses in physics; they exist in the imagination until proven correct, for example the neutrino (although existing) was considered an imaginary concept until it was proven correct. There was no good reason to believe the neutrino was a scientific fact before it was proven correct, but there was also no good reason to conclude that it definitely didn’t exist. I would put the supernatural in the same category, as things exist based on existence outside the mind, not origin inside the mind.

              I may have missed the point you were originally saying, if so please correct me, but the question of proving the supernatural is outside of the mind isn’t really what I mean. I don’t think you can prove the supernatural with all the scientific tools available that we have, I also don’t think we can disprove it, as we simply don’t have the tools to do that. Using the example from above, I think concluding it’s definitely wrong because it’s imaginary isn’t necessarily a good line of reason as there have been many cases in the past where this argument would have resulted in an incorrect conclusion being found.

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              1. “for example the neutrino (although existing) was considered an imaginary concept until it was proven correct.” But there was some indication that the neutrino was “needed”. Same as the Higgs boson. There is no indication that heaven exists and no one is looking for it. Do you really think that the place where God is suppose to be actually exists? I think neuroscience can tell us where this imaginary realm is. GROG

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                1. I’m trying to say something completely different to what you think I’m saying. Of course I don’t think that heaven exists, just that heaven is unfalsifiable. I agree with your point about the neutrino, some imaginary ideas are more reasonable to believe than others, but what I was really trying to say was that just because it’s imaginary, it doesn’t mean it automatically can’t exist, that’s all.

                  “It’s wrong because there is no evidence and it comes from the imagination” does not falsify the concept of heaven, as if it did exist we wouldn’t expect to find evidence for it in the natural world, and we also agree that being imaginary doesn’t automatically make it false, like the neutrino before it was proven.

                  Think of Russell’s Teapot, which is a thought experiment which can be applied to the concept of heaven. It claims that a flying teapot is orbiting around the sun, and is of course so small that we can’t see it. There is no good reason to think that the teapot actually exists, but we can’t prove it’s false as that technology doesn’t exist. It just means that the person who is making the unfalsifiable claim has the burden of proof to prove it. We don’t have to disprove the flying teapot to disbelieve it, rather the person saying the teapot exists has the responsibility to prove it exists.

                  I think heaven is the same. Holding a burden of proof that heaven doesn’t exist just seems strange since the concept is unfalsifiable, rather it’s better to just not accept it, and wait for the person with the burden of proof to present their case.

                  Knowing this you may wonder why I’d spend so much time focussing on such a small difference. It’s mainly because I’d rather you have this conversation with someone who basically already agrees with you rather than a theist who may focus on this too much and ignore the other things you’re trying to say.

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              2. You say, ” We agree that humans created the imaginary. Simply being imaginary doesn’t necessarily mean the idea can’t be true.” Imaginary is imaginary. If something exists, imagination is not involved. Imagination creates that which doesn’t exist, like the supernatural realm the faithful call heaven. If there is another dimension, another “universe” it too is natural. There may be super big, powerful, whatever out there, and if so, it is natural.
                There are those still superstitious enough to withhold their agreement because as one well known astrophysicist put it, “There still might be a chance (that gods exist).” How can we respond to those who are still superstitious? Fear and superstition have led to the imaginings of unseen agents like demons and fairies since the beginning of time. It seems we can’t let go of that fear that there still might be a chance. GROG

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                1. Please try and understand what I’m saying, it feels like you’re responding to something that I didn’t even say and that you’re not listening.

                  It’s not fear at all that makes us say this. The reason why saying “God definitely doesn’t exist” is a mistake is that you are taking up an unnecessary burden of proof that you do not need to take. If you claim God doesn’t exist, you need to demonstrate it. But God is unfalsifiable, and cannot be disproven, in the same way you cannot disprove unicorns, fairies and bigfoot.

                  “Imagination creates that which doesn’t exist” is refuted by the neutrino example. We can create things in our imagination which do actually exist, so simply being imaginary doesn’t mean it’s automatically false, meaning you have not disproven God. Do you understand that?

                  Just because we can’t disprove it doesn’t mean that we should believe it. As the claim is unfalsifiable we don’t have any good reasons to believe it until someone gives evidence, with the burden of proof being on the person making the claim that God exists.

                  I’ll tell you the example of the teapot to make this as clear as possible.

                  Imagine someone has come up to you saying that there is a flying teapot orbiting the sun. There is no way you can disprove this, as it’s too small to see via telescope, and you don’t have access to the information of every single object surrounding the sun. But just because you can’t disprove it doesn’t mean you should be superstitious and believe it, but you also don’t need to disprove it in order to correctly not accept it. If a claim is unfalsifiable they need to convince you that the flying teapot exists, not the other way around. There is no need to disprove it, you only need to say that you’ve not been given good reasons to accept it.

                  Saying that God doesn’t exist is exactly like saying the flying teapot doesn’t exist – unnecessary as it’s not your job to disprove it, but their job to convince you.

                  We don’t have to be fearful and superstitious to accept that a concept is unfalsifiable, we don’t have to disprove something in order to not be superstitious, we don’t accept things until we have evidence to convince us. Until then we just don’t accept it, that is not the same as being superstitious and fearful, it’s just common sense.

                  I was never trying to say that there is a chance that God might exist, just that God is unfalsifiable, and taking up this burden of proof is completely unnecessary.

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                  1. “Imagination creates that which doesn’t exist” is refuted by the neutrino example. We can create things in our imagination which do actually exist, so simply being imaginary doesn’t mean it’s automatically false, meaning you have not disproven God. Do you understand that?”
                    Imaginary things are imaginary. In your minds eye you can “see” something that you know is real and that it is located outside of your imagination. If I say there is one universe and you say there are two. I think the burden of proof is on your claim. GROG

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                    1. The one who claims that something exists (when there is no evidence) must provide such in order to validate their claim. I’m perfectly happy with one universe, but when someone tells me they know there is another realm somewhere, out there with divine entities in residence, I tell them I believe they are crazy. I know people like that. GROG

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    1. Thank you! In my experience it’s more that I’m really not satisfied with the answer. Yeah it’s like everyone has their own ideas on what God is. I’ve found that if I make a post criticising one idea about God, and a theist convinces me that it’s wrong, it’s only because their version of God is different to what most would consider to be God. It’s not my job to find the true God for theists, rather talk about what most people actually believe, so I don’t mind if someone’s interpretation of God is different (for example if a Christian says they don’t believe in hell I’m actually quite glad) but it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to completely change your idea of who God is based on someone’s unique interpretation.

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