By Rational Logic ~
Time and again common questions are asked of non believers by Christians. I answer these in this section. Note, many of these questions contain a personal perspective so answer from non believer to non believer will vary.
1) Are you absolutely sure there is no God?
No. When you dig deep into the philosophical nature of knowledge (Which the phrase “are you sure” implies) we cannot honestly say we absolutely know anything. You might be very convinced, but that doesn’t mean you know in an absolute sense. This question also reeks of a pascals wager inference which basically says you should believe in God just to be safe. If you believe and there is no God, no harm done, if you don’t believe and there is God then you spend eternity in hell. There are massive problems with Pascals Wager that I explore in detail in other sections.
So while I am not absolutely sure there is no God, I am fairly confident there isn’t one. Certainly not the God Christians propose, as there is no evidence for such a God. Claims made by Christianity can be falsified (Shown to be untrue). The same goes for any of the Abrahamic Gods.
2) What happens when you die?
That’s it, you die. As far as we can tell, once a person dies they are gone. Their consciousness ceases, and their physical body decays.
3) What if you are wrong and there is an afterlife?
Much like question 1, I’m not absolutely sure there is no afterlife, but if there is then I’d be pleasantly surprised. If the afterlife existed and also a hell then that would prove that the God who created said hell is an immoral dictator who punishes people eternally for the simple crime of not believing on bad evidence. If that is the sort of God you wish to worship, then so be it. At that point I could only rest knowing that I had been honest with myself and others to the best of my abilities.
4) Where do you get your morality from?
Not the Bible! I get it from the same place as anyone else which is the human ability to feel empathy towards others, and ability to make conscious informed decisions about what is good and right. We can see what happens when a person lacks empathy – they commit terrible crimes, or hold horrific views of others while justifying it as moral because an ancient book says its bad. Homosexuality is probably the best and most visible case of a dichotomy between emphatic morals and biblical morals, though there are many other cases. The problem with this question is the inference that only God can give people morals. Yet Christians do not stop to think that this lowers humans to worse base morality than other animals. If God is the only thing that gives you a moral compass then you are, but a puppet on a string who is at the mercy of what ever mortal code God imposes at any time. And if God is the only thing keeping you from being immoral then you already are immoral!
5) If there is no God can we do whatever we want?
This is very similar to question 4 with the inference that without God there is no absolute morality therefore killing and raping isn’t objectively wrong. Again, if you think this then you are already lost – even if you are a born again Christian! We can’t do whatever we want, nor should we. Most people have the innate ability to imagine and feel what it would be like being raped or killed and so knows that is a terrible thing that they wouldn’t wish on anyone. What is interesting though, is what people who claim to have God on their side are capable of. Hitlers religious views are shrouded in the mists of time. This real opinions lost to history. But we do have his writings, and in them he indicates strongly that he believed, at some stage, in the Bible God. It is likely as he became more unhinged he replaced God with himself. Religious to the end. An important fact to note here is that belief in any God has never stopped bad people from doing bad things, just as non belief has never stopped good people from doing good things.
6) If there is no God how does your life have meaning?
This question makes me sad, because it implies that the only thing giving people who believe in God any meaning is their belief. They care not whether that belief is true or not. My life has more meaning since not believing in God. Why is this? Well If there is no God how does your life have meaning?instead of believing I am a predestined son of God going to Heaven for Gods glory one day, I realize that I have but one lifetime to experience life itself. To be the best person I can, to care about others, to live and let live. Once you realize this life is the only life you get, it makes it all the more meaningful. We don’t sit around waiting for God to come take us to heaven. We enjoy life and embrace if for the few short years we have.
7) Where did the Universe come from?
Do you mean the local observable universe, or all possible universes? The cosmos as a whole? We don’t really know, and if there is one thing people hate its not knowing. Our best current science indicates our universe came into space and time from a singularity 13.7 billion years ago. Had any thing existed before, will anything exist again? We just don’t know, and I don’t know is sometimes the best and most honest answer to give. The implication of this question is that it all had to start somehow, and the Christian answer to that is God. However if we apply the same logic then we have to ask the question: Where did God come from? At this point most people will do some hand waving and declare that God doesn’t need an explanation, he always existed. This is special pleading. If the question of where did the universe come from demands an answer, so the the question: Where did God come from?
8) What about miracles?
There are no genuine recorded miracles that can be confirmed, that are not explainable by natural causes. The Biblical stories are just stories without any way of verification. Personal testimony and witness is one of the worst for of verification. Why? Because the human mind is susceptible to all manner of dysfunction that makes people think, see, and hear things that are not real. Also miracles are report across all religions, not just Christianity. We cannot therefore isolate Christianity and declare it is special. How does the Christian respond to other religions miracles? Strangely enough the same way a non believer responds to Christians claims of miracles – doesn’t believe until verification is provided. If you believe in miracles then ask yourself; why has God never healed an amputee? Cancers are healed, keys are found, people are saved. Yet a limb never grows back. Why? Because all other ‘miracles’ occur naturally, even if they are improbable. Improbable is not the same as impossible. For a miracle to be confirmed it would have to be impossible to occur naturally.
9) How come every society has religion?
Rather a strange question considering that if God was real, and has truly revealed himself to everyone as is claimed in the bible, then one might wonder why there are other religions. The real answer however lies in evolution, and mans discomfort with not knowing. The evolutionary side comes in with the ability for humans to formulate answers to questions we can’t answer. We hate not knowing, so we come up with an explanation. If a natural one is not readily available we will create a supernatural one. Lightening: Bolts from Zeus, earthquakes: God is angry. Crops failing: punishment for not pleasing a God. As time has progressed, so has religions. Religion shows up outside a belief in a particular God: political ideology comes close to religion at times, as does cultural movements. Humans find it advantageous o gather around others who share the same beliefs -this creates a bond in societies where everyone knows what everyone else believes in. When this is taken away people get extremely uncomfortable. That is why societies across the world have created religions.
10) Do you really believe the world would be better off without religion?
I find this a complicated question. Religion has done much harm – and the religious need to acknowledge that. However, religion has also done much good. Some people need a religion in order to function in their daily lives. It gives their lives meaning. Certainly the belief in a higher power has taken people off the streets, and given them purpose and meaning. Given the resources and numbers available to religion this is perhaps not surprising. The day may come when secular resources are just as well equipped for dealing with peoples needs and religion ceases to play such an important role. I certainly think that if fundamental literalist religion disappeared the world would be better off. These are the religious views that allow people to fly planes into buildings, and deny science in the face of facts in order to cling to a literal interpretation of their particular holy book. These versions of religion certainly do much harm and humans would be better off without them.