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Questions for Theists

By Apetivist ~

Hello to all. You can call me "Ape." (It is okay, I do not mind as I happen to be one.) I hope you get something useful from my website. I will explain more about myself below too so you can better understand where I'm coming from. Now onto the purpose of my site.

First, let us get this basic Q & A stuff resolved before we continue:
Q. Do I mean to attack believers?
A. No, I am only addressing beliefs not the people who hold them.
Q. Do I think I am more intelligent than believers? 
A. No, making a case for my or a reader's intelligence is not the point for my website. Intelligence is rather evenly spread throughout groups of people. There are no peer-reviewed scientific studies that indicate intelligence being a factor that is sufficient enough to make any difference between believers or unbelievers. We must be careful and kind to not make snap judgments on the intelligence of others based upon a belief or absence of belief. I will make another post regarding this subject later.
Q. Do I hate believers?
A. No, I was once a believer, and I have many in my present life whom I dearly love. I don't like certain personality types or perhaps specific people, but that is due to their behaviors and not due to professed belief or absence of belief (unless such beliefs encourage violence or the marginalization of others through bigotry or force of law). Regarding these types of people, I admit I feel disgust, but would not go so far and call it hate. In a way, I pity them more than anything as they are missing out on the joys of diversity and understanding people personally as they are and that goes beyond labels.
Q. Do I hate any deities?
A. No, it is hard to hate what you do not believe exists. Do you hate Leprechauns or Bigfoot? That is the way I see this question as it is framed toward atheists. If one or many deities existed, it would not have any bearing on my points, as I will point out later in the site.
Q. Do I have a personal ax to grind?
A. To be honest?  Yes, I do. I think it’s unfair to indoctrinate children before they’re experienced and informed enough to come from a background of education and understanding to know what if any evidence supports the claims and whether they have good enough reasons to accept them.
Q. Do I have questions to ask for believers about their beliefs?
A. Yes, I do. More than this page is soon to follow!
Q. Do I wish for everyone to leave their belief?
A. Not always, depending on the faith and how it manifests I have little issue at all with people holding to faith, if it isn’t an inflexible Literalist faith reflecting negativity towards people that believe differently or that promotes violence, hatred, and marginalization either by personal or collective behavior either by dogma and/or by force of law.
Q. Do I wish for some believers to become less literal in their beliefs and become more flexible and open-minded about life?
A. Yes! I think this is the goal of many liberal or moderate believers too.
Q. Do I wish for some believers (as well as other unbelievers) to become less judgmental of others?
A. Yes. We are all in the same boat together. Unless we interact kindly and treat each other with a reasonable measure of respect we are just making life worse for ourselves and others.
Q. Do I hope to show why all believers can accept the efficiency, effectiveness, and findings of the scientific method?
A. Yes. In fact, many religious people see the value in Science and do not reject its many findings.

Q. Do I wish believers to have a more mature understanding of Philosophy?
A. Yes. If anything, it will help them understand their beliefs even better and whether their beliefs stand up to logic and examination from various perspectives.
Okay, here we go.

About me:
As a former believer and minister (I deconverted 31 years ago as of 2020) of the Southern Baptist flavor of Christianity, I became interested in Philosophy that was primarily introduced to me through studies in Theology and Christian Apologetics. This led me to the basic principles of Critical Thinking (by accident, of course and I found myself startled that this was such a concept was so foreign to me as I incorrectly thought that thinking about important stuff was "critical thinking") and as a by-product of applying Critical Thinking toward the claims of my Christian faith I came to realize (through a great amount of research, as well) that they were no longer tenable.
This was not a happy discovery! I became incredibly sad as it resulted in me leaving not just the belief but also the ministry and church members I cared for. They did not meet my deconversion with understanding or open arms at all. I was callously rejected by many close friends and even some family members. Yet, eventually this all led to even greater happiness and fulfillment in my life (by saying this I am not saying the same results happen for other people). As a result of my deconversion, I understood that I should try my best to apply critical thinking and skepticism about important claims and not accept anything based on faith, appeals from authorities, or appeals to my emotion.
Note that to do this took a lot of practice and sometimes I failed in (and at times still do) in doing so and did get caught up in some odd beliefs that were popular at the time (Ancient Aliens anyone?). We must remain vigilant. It is a process and I admit I was not even nominally good at it until around 2013 due to attentively listening to the thoughts and ideas as expounded by greater thinkers than myself. Great thanks to Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra, Tracie Harris, Seth Andrews, Dr. Richard Dawkins, Dr. Hector Avalos, Dr. Richard Carrier, and especially through direct communication with John W. Loftus and David Madison, PhD. True, I'm a self-designated Agnostic Atheist, however I am even more so a Humanist. People who personally know me can attest that I care for others, no matter their beliefs. I admit we can all be correct or incorrect in our views and beliefs upon a multitude of different subjects. As a result of becoming more deeply involved into Humanism, I sincerely wish that we all could live in a more peaceful and caring society.
Regarding Religious Beliefs:
Religion permeates much of the world and has done so for possibly 400,000 years ago up to 40,000 years ago and comes in thousands of forms, many that are lost to prehistory and history. Depending on where you live you may see one religion more prolific than another. Have you ever asked why this is the case?
Here are some basic questions popularized by author John W. Loftus known as The Outsider Test for Faith. I will use the acronym OTF throughout to abbreviate the term as also used by John W. Loftus. This is a brief summation of OTF, yet I highly suggest reading Loftus' entire book for greater details and nuance.
Ask yourself, "Why are religions predominately popular based upon geographic locations?"In North America you will find Christianity as the predominate religion, in Saudi Arabia it's Islam, in India it's Hinduism, etc. Please make note that there is no such thing as a singular monolithic belief system within the above-mentioned religions, but many variations of the religions that we can call subsets. With all this in mind ask yourself, “How can people know with reasonable certainty they are born into or talked into the "one true religion"?”
Are we all fated by an accident of birth to make our way through life? All the while there is only "one true religion" that is indicative of a Creator's or Creators' plan for us and must we search through the pages of every religious book to make sure we are in the "one true religion"?
If we hear or see this "one true religion" how can we distinguish it from other "false religions"? What method do we use to make this determination? If you are a believer in any god or gods or subscribe to any religious views have you ever asked yourself these questions? If not, please ask yourself, “Why is this the case?"
Now ask yourself, "Why is there religious diversity at all?" If there were one true Creator or Creators, then would not there be only one religion? Wouldn't a responsible Creator or Creators make sure that everyone understood this divine plan? Why do religions blame humans for a poorly designed plan that does not do what a Creator or Creators intended it to do? If the plan is that all people be saved, then why aren't all people saved?
If a bridge collapses, do bridge designers blame the pedestrians that walk on the bridge? Shouldn't the blame, if there be any, be hoisted upon the designers of the bridge itself?  Especially if the result of the failure was a poor job of engineering? Many legal experts would reply with a big, "Yes!"  If this is the case, ask yourself, "Why is it that Divine Creator’s or Creators that supposedly have knowledge and abilities far beyond humans are not being held responsible for their designs or plans for failing?"  Ironically, many religious people will talk all about the value of personal responsibility but will excuse their Creator or Creators from taking personal responsibility for the lack of insight. Why the *double standard?
*Humans doing something irresponsible equals bad and perhaps deserving some punishment. A god or gods do something irresponsible equals them being given excuses or a pass from theists.  There are professional apologists (defenders of a belief) that exist solely for this purpose.

Dear reader, I wish to expose you to various thoughts and ideas that may aid in answering these questions and many others that I have planned for my website. If you think you have the "one true religion" or the proper relationship with the one true Creator or Creators of the Universe, then you should not feel challenged at all by these and upcoming questions. Correct?
Please, read and subscribe to my blog to get new posts if you wish. Please leave comments below yet also be civil as uncivil comments will be deleted. Feel free to email me at apetivist AT also please be civil there, too.
Thank you for your readership and please understand all I'm doing is asking questions and asking you to ask questions I am doing this to not only challenge theists and their claims but also to invite others to consider how they come about any belief and how they can think about them and perhaps confirm or disconfirm them with well-reasoned answers. Please, especially with more than mundane claims, question everything!

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