I'd like to ask a few general questions about Atheism

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xenoview's picture
The necromancers are coming

The necromancers are coming out of the wood work.

Matt's picture
1: I don't believe in gods.

1: I don't believe in gods.
2: You could answer this yourself by looking at a dictionary, but it just means not believing in gods.
3: If it got any simpler I'd have to dribble it.
4: Because there's no evidence to believe in gods, and letting fairy tales control your life is stupid.
5: Which one? There's currently over 1000 gods being worshiped by humans. Are you arrogant enough to assume that YOURS is the correct one?
6: Probably more than you do.
7: Yes but there's not enough space here. Read a damn book.
8: See above.
9: The "missing link" is a lie invented by religions to attempt to discredit the theory of evolution. Not the first time they've lied to protect their position.
10: Read a book.
11: See above.
12: Because religious people do so much harm. Because they propagate lies as truth to control human behaviour.
13: Interesting question. First you show me what proof you have that Zues doesn't exist, then I'll use your method. In short, you can't logically prove a negative, the onus lies on the one making the claim to prove it. Prove he DOES exist.

Joe19981980's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?

I am a person that does not operate on the premise that belief creates reality. Belief and imagination are the beginnings of discovering truths. Not the end. Just as logic is the beginning of wisdom but not the end of it. Atheist is simply a label that others have given to define a person that does not have a belief in god or god's.

2. What is Atheism by definition?

First of all, it is not a belief system. It would be an error to think that a person that has no belief in god or gods, or a person that does not think belief shapes reality; has a belief system. People like us have a "lack" of belief in the metaphysical as truth/reality. We do believe in things however, such as humanity's goodness, belief in the self, etc...... We simply do not have a belief system in god's or god etc. Perhaps some would suggest that science is our belief system as I have heard that stated. But this is also in error and a misconception. Science is not a belief. Science is a tool by which humans can use that tool to gain new information about the world around us. Science is often incorrect but this is not a problem. Science loves when it's wrong because it's an opportunity to learn something new. Just because the nail gun is better at making fences than the hammer; doesn't mean the hammer is wrong or the science that created it is flawed. Just means we found a better tool and found new ways that things can work. This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?

A label given by others to people who have a lack of belief in gods or god/the metaphysical as objective truth.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)

My parents gave me options and it's what I chose. They gave me the Koran, the bible, and books on philosophy such as Socrates, Epicurus, Plato, Kant, John Serle, Ayn Rand, Thomas Hobbes, etc. The list goes on. As I read more of philosophy, the more religion didn't make any sense to me. It is often said that it takes more faith to be an Atheist than it does to be a theist. I disagree with that. I think it takes more faith to believe in magic man living in the sky that spoke words and made all this, and created a woman from a rib bone, parted the sea, talked in the form of a bush but yet today the best he can manage is to appear on someone's piece of toast or in a wisp of cloud.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?

I know what the bible says yes. I have read it.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?

I am unsure how to answer this succinctly as I have read the whole bible of course. I suppose the shortest way I could answer this if you're kind of asking what my opinion of the biblical god is would be from the words of Epicurus: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?"
- Epicurus

If you're asking of my knowledge about the biblical god........well.........I'd have to write you a book.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?

Biggest question from people that don't understand evolution is "If evolution is real then why are there still monkey's?" That can be explained this way and it's easier to understand when you see a visual representation of it. I'll try to give you that here below. But first, evolution is about mutation of the genetic code over vast amounts of time. The trouble people have grasping it is that the human mind cannot fathom large numbers in a visual image. You can think of a picture to represent the number 3 or even 5 or 6, but when we say "visualize 1,000 or what does 1 million look like" the mind can't do it. It's a very, very long time and a very long process. The variations and mutations are subtle and not instant. You don't just go from a primate or a chimp giving birth to a full blown human being. That's not how it works. Evolution is kind of an instinctual intelligence that is not self aware. Our bodies adapt to the environment we live in. For example, African Americans have darker skin because of being exposed to constant heat/sunlight in the African sun for generations and generations. Europeans do not. They didn't need to adopt that trait. They are not in fact different races of humans as race is a social construction. Race does not in fact exist. There is only the human race and humans look different depending on the environment their common ancestors had to adapt to. So why are there still monkeys? Well, for the same reason why there are still wolves but now there are dogs. For the same reason why there are white humans and black humans. Say 5 monkeys, and we label them all as yellow. Say all 5 female mate with all 5 male but we label the male's blue. If one of the blue males has a genetic mutation, there's a chance at least maybe one of his offspring will not be yellow or blue. Maybe he'll be green instead. Now suddenly there are yellow monkeys, blue monkey's and one green monkey. That one green monkey may go on to make more green monkeys. He may have a higher chance of doing so. Certainly a higher chance than the other yellow and blue that do not have that mutation. So, the others branch off and remain yellow and blue monkeys and only make yellow and blue ones, but the one's descended from the green one will have that green mutation. Those green will also pass on the green trait to others they mate with. But if some of the yellow and blue never mate with the green, then they'll remain a linage of always yellow and blue. In other words, those will remain monkey's, and if we equate the green mutation with something that's a more "human" trait, then those will go on to eventually become..........homo erectus, the neanderthal, etc. Your missing links. The human ancestors that are not quite human but not quite primate either. Eventually after millions of years of gene mixing, you get a whole new species. US. And then we have to label that life form as something different than the former because it's not a monkey, and it's not a neanderthal, etc. That's the most basic way I can explain it. Most think only of Charles Darwin when it comes to evolution. Darwin was on the right track but he didn't have the right theory about how the process worked. He didn't have all the evidence he needed for even a partially valid theory. We know this. So he's not the end all to beat all when it comes to understanding evolution. We know more today than he did back then. Keep in mind and I'll mention this because it's important. Most don't understand what "theory" means. They say, "Evolution is just a theory" so they can dismiss it as not being correct. Okay, here's the difference between theory and hypothesis. An Hypothesis is when you make an observation like "rain" and wonder "What causes that." And then you draw a conclusion that it must be caused by a magic man in the sky pouring water on people's heads. Or that thunder is angels in heaven bowling. There's no objective or physical evidence to make that conclusion a fact. A theory is where you HAVE evidence, actual physical evidence that is reproduced, tested, and repeated that proves the conclusion is truth. For example, Evolution is a fact because......as humans we share 96 percent of our DNA with primates. Sometimes humans are born with vestigial characteristics like tails. A genetic throwback. Etc. These are facts and evolution is the "theory" as to why these things occur. The theory or even parts of it may be wrong as we discover new facts and new evidence, but the facts and evidence to support it being truth exist. Therefore, since that cannot be denied, evolution is real. It exists. It is a fact. There is no evidence for example to support that thunder is angels in heaven bowling. For that you'd have to show angels, show heaven, and then show them bowling and producing the thunder. To date, this has not been proven true. Neither has god or god's. Therefore, god is an idea, but it remains in the realm of hypothesis and as an Atheist I suspect it always will.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?

See 7. I combined the question.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.

See also 7. I explained that also as best I could for your understanding.

10. How did life start?

The evidence of early life on this planet began in the ocean as the land was not yet hospitable for complex life. Over billions of years of time, it evolved and adapted to new environments. We all share a common ancestor as far back to that single cell life in the ocean.

11. How do we have DNA?

This is a complex question. I don't want to keep writing you books. From what I understand there has been discovered life that does not contain DNA. Recently but I haven't read up on it any more than this. The basic answer.........RNA is actually older than DNA. RNA gave rise to DNA as RNA evolved. Nucleic acids like RNA existed as base elements and molecules. In the primordial oceans. Our biological life incorporated it as a part of our biological structure. Perhaps you should ask a science teacher to explain it as I do not know how to sum this up and give it to you in layman terms. I also don't know how to do it without writing you a book.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?

First, again; we do not believe it is true. We do not have a belief that it is true any more than we have a belief that it isn't. We "think" that it isn't and we think that there is no reason to believe or think that it is. There is no objective evidence to support the claim or to make the hypothesis into a theory. As I explained the difference in the aforementioned question previously. The Agnostic side of me would say it is wise to say "I know enough to know I don't know." Agnostics get a bad rap from both sides because they're seen as people who can't or are too afraid to make a decision. I don't think that's true. I think they are just wise enough to say to the theist that "you don't know God is true any more than I do" and to the Atheist, "You don't have a definitive answer any more than they do or I do." Lack of evidence only proves one thing. That you have a lack of evidence. But I do lean Atheist when I suggest the probability is very remote that there is any sort of god that created everything and loves us. For too many a reason to go into detail here.

Second, I do not protest against the religious per se. Personally anyway. I like to debate the topic and I like to talk about the idea, yes. But most of us here are idea people. Because of that, that's what you'll get from us for the most part. Humanity is growing as a collective out of it's infancy phase. Hence the increasing rise in Atheists and Agnostics. On the large scale humanity is growing up. Just as kids on a small scale eventually grow out of dragons, faeries, unicorns, Santa, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy. For some Atheists that are more militant, I would say they attack religion for the same reason a doctor would use chemotherapy to kill your cancer if you had cancer. And if you were a doctor and saw a cancer, would you live with it? Would you try to form a symbiotic relationship with it and try to co-exist? No. You wouldn't. Especially when there is now a cure for that disease. You'd cure the disease. They see it as a malignant growth on the collective body of humanity that must be eliminated. They would want it eliminated faster than society is ready to give it up sometimes. I prefer to say that as long as the religious can refrain from killing each other over who's imaginary friend wrote the coolest stories, and can refrain from demanding the rest of us need it and feel the need to inject it into everything politics and school related; then they should grow out of it in their natural course of due time. That's social evolution. If it's forced, it will be violent. And I'm not for that.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?

First, what I'm about to say is not meant as an insult. It's meant to be helpful. Do you know what logical fallacy is? Read up on this and learn "how" to think as opposed to "what" to think. Religion teaches you "what" to think because it's designed to prevent you from learning "how" to think. In fact, it will tell you "what" to think "God is the answer" and discourage the "how" to think, quite often by saying "just look to God and rest your mind of all those questions." But on to the answer for your initial question. First, one cannot prove something doesn't exist. You can only prove existence. Nothing isn't what you think. There is always "something" but it's difficult to describe something that looks like nothing. For example, can you describe what Oxygen looks like? Well, since it's a gas we happen to be able to breathe and is essential for living, it looks like nothing but we don't give it much thought. But if you open your hands and say "here is nothing" well.........it's not really nothing because there's "something" there. And if you can show proof there is nothing, then you've proven that the "nothing" exists and it "is" in fact "something." Hope you're not confused yet. Even empty space in outer space isn't "nothing." If you imagine yourself spinning in space and then subtract all the physical matter from the universe, you might say......well.......now there is nothing. Wrong. If that's true, then what is the substance you are spinning in? SPACE, and if you're spinning in space, you are spinning in something. It exists therefore it's something. You can't prove a negative with positive evidence. You can only prove existence. Next is the fallacy of burden proof shifting. "You can't prove God doesn't exist, therefore God does or could exist." First of all, the burden of proof lies on the one making the assertion. Atheists did not assert God exists therefore we do not have to prove he does. We also do not have to prove he doesn't and it's logically impossible an in reality impossible to say "here is physical evidence of non existence" as I explained above. The laws of our universe do not work that way. But the statement that I cannot prove he doesn't exist therefore he exists is akin to this: "There is a teapot floating in space between the earth and the moon. And because you can't prove it isn't there, that means I'm right and it's there and it exists." Do you see how absurd that sounds? Sounds really silly doesn't it. Now substitute the teapot with God and see how even more silly it sounds. "There is a God in heaven that exists and because you can't prove it isn't true, it therefore exists." It's the same thing as the teapot and sounds just as illogical and absurd. The religious hold the burden of proof in proving their assertion is correct. We do not as we have made no such assertion. And since one cannot prove non existence, we cannot prove he doesn't either. But we don't have to because it's logically impossible and very silly to suggest that one can do so. Existence however, "Can" be proven. If you have the evidence to prove it. The religious to date........do not. And no amount of believing something to be truth will ever change reality. Reality "is" what it is regardless of what we believe or how we feel about it. I can believe all day that the tree is blue but I can't believe enough to make it reality. Additionally in closing, proving that someone cannot prove non existence does not make something exist. You cannot prove an affirmative or a reality simply by saying that someone has a lack of evidence to prove it's non existance. All you do there is prove that you have a lack of evidence. Thank you for being curious and thank you for coming to ask these questions. The more we understand about each other the better we'll get along I think. That's half the battle. Understanding. I had fun answering the questions you presented. Hope this finds you well.

Tudor Jinga's picture
1. I don't believe in any

1. I don't believe in any gods or supernatural forces or beings.
2. Lack of belief in the things listed above, I guess?
3. I think the sentences above are as simple as possible.
4. Basically, science (and curiosity). Up until 5th grade, I had been a very religious person, taking my mom and my grandmom as examples (eastern orthodox christianity), but from 6th grade on, I started watching educational and scientific videos about prrety much every subject. I learned of other points of view and I gradually turned into an atheist over time. So, it was logic and reason that got me here.
5 and 6. A bit. I have never read the Bible myself, however I did attend religion classes at school and read a few passages of the book. It just did not feel right to pay more attention to the bible (and christianity) then any other religion, as there are about 4200 of them on Earth.
7 and 8. I probabilly could basically, but I'd rather let an expert do it. Here's a nice video I found to be pretty good in this domain, but you can obiouslly search for information yourself too: https://youtu.be/c_jyHp3bmEw (if the link does not work, just search "The 12 days of evolution" on Youtube).
9. From what I can remember, the video gets to that as well.
10. We don't know. We know that all of the 9 million species alive on Earth today (+ the many who went extinct) evolved from the first inferior life form that appeared billions of years ago, but we don't know exactly how that organism formed (and what the bridge between alive and not-alive is).
11. Natural selection? Was present in the first organism? I do not know much about this one, altough you can look it up online.
12. Depends how you define "protest". If by that you mean the way we think, then we obiusly have a reason to protest religion (we are atheists after all). If you mean protesting religious people trying to indoctrinate us whit their way of thinking, then that makes sense too (we respect each other's way of life to a certain point). However, at least in my opinion, I think it is ok to be open-minded and have a civilized disscusion about religion, with logic, reason and proof as the only ways of changing your opinion, not by any force-full or violent means, or by just blindly trusting your parents or other people.
But humans are humans, and there will always be rude atheists, just as there are rude religious people.
13. It is not necesarilly about proof, but about lack there of. You see, there is no objective proof granted by science (which tries to determine the absolute truth itself as far as I know) that there is a greater power (at least not the type that christians and many other religions consider). If there is a god, it (and it's way of being) should be detectable in nature.
Also, many people see certain events as signs of the divinity, while others, like myself, see them as natural things explained by science or just pure coincidencies. But the last part of that is subjective, I guess, and nobody can objectively be right in this regard, and therefore it is not good enough proof for the existence of a god, in my opinion.

I hope this is a good enough answer. It was fun writing this down and organizing my thaughts, anyway (even if nobody reads this).

xenoview's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
Because I have a lack of believe in any gods.

2. What is Atheism by definition?
Lack of belief in any gods.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?
See #2.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)
When I realized all my time spend praying to any god was a waste of time.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?
Yes

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?
The biblical god is a monster. It committed and commanded mass murder, raping of young girls, and slavery of said young girls and other people they bought.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?
A simple definition is the passing of helpful or harmful genes to offspring.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?
See #7.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.
A Missing Genetic Link in Human Evolution. see link
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/a-missing-genetic-link-in-hum...

10. How did life start?
I don't know.

11. How do we have DNA?
We get it from our parents.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?
There is a lack of evidence of any of the human created gods. My protest is the harm religious leaders do to their followers. They do all the thinking and the followers do as their told. The leaders con the followers out of their money. The followers are taught to believe in faith and not question the leaders.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?
If the biblical god is real, why doesn't it reveal itself to everyone and preform several miracles, like healing all amputees, ending world hunger, stop the spreading of diseases and cure them with infections, and bring world peace. So far no god has revealed itself to me.

EDIT

old fart 42's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
I have no faith.. which is to give credence without evidence. i give credence to something when credible corroborating independent evidence exists. No such evidence exists for any god or divinity. Thus until credible, independant corroborating evidence comes forth. I give no credence to any god. The bible, torah, qu ran are all claiming the existence of a god.. but no independent credible corroboration exists.

2. What is Atheism by definition? A theism...a combination of two words...theism (belief in god(s)) and the negating prefix A ... thus no belief in god.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand? see answers 1 and 2.. if you can't understand that then there is no point in any further dialogue.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.) I wasn't compelled, coerced or under any duress. Basic logic. If you come to understand that Santa does not exist... then applying the same basic tools of observation, logic and comprehension on how the world really works. then it logically follows that none of the religions are portraying anything resembling the truth and are fiction and cons on the same order as the Santa myth but with the added self serving motivation of money and power.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God? Yes, I've read the Bible and was raised with 2 Jesuit priests (one of whom rose to the equivalent rank of bishop within the Jesuits) so I've had plenty of first hand exposure to that fallacy
6. What do you know of the Biblical God? He can't possibly exists.. The bible claims to be written by the creator of the universe yet nothing in it matches what we observe of the universe..but it does match the ignorance and superstition of the early bronze age shamans that invented it
7. Can you explain evolution to me? That would assume I know what are you reasoning skills, your level of basic knowledge and then I could adapt the discourse to your level... I don't so I won't
8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me? For a given environment, the best adapted members of a species survive. Some variations do not create problems and create variety. Those variations that are a handicap reduce the rate of survival. Example Until the development of penicillin, there were many strains of syphilis. Today 50 years later, those strains that do not resist penicillin have mostly died out and penicillin resistant strains are those that are found.
9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution. The process of fossilisation is a rare process... (we rarely find bones in the forest... nature's scavengers do a good job of recycling the dead.) So it is more surprising that so much of the previous life forms have become fossils for us to find. It is simplistic to think the fossil record should be a encyclopedia with every book and page available for us to find.
10. How did life start? Don't know. But the bullshit stories in both chapter 1 and the contradictory story supplied in Chapter 2 of genesis cannot be the truth. If it can be found it will be elsewhere...
11. How do we have DNA? Don't know... but we have people working on that And the Bible is silent on that... odd that the creator of the universe just couldn't be bothered to include such a fundamental part of biology in his book but talks about unicorns, necromancers the earth having 4 corners or is that the early bronze age shamans just didn't have a clue but could dream of unicorns necromancers and a flat earth ?
12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much? Because the biblical god thumpers want to control the rule of law, who gets elected, who is good , who is bad... what is taught in school, what women can and cannot do all based on an ancient book of lies....
13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God? Wrong attitude... the burden of proof rests with the proposer's of the biblical god... If you argue that there a leprechauns, little green men from Alpha Century 2, or purple dragons that lay golden eggs, then you have the burden of proof of their existence, The default position, is until proven otherwise, there are no leprechauns, little green men from Alpha century 2 or purple dragons. or biblical gods that nuke cities, send floods, plagues and kill children

devout christian's picture
an atheist is nonbelief of

an atheist is nonbelief of god or gods, it is a non theist,I became a atheist when I noticed a couple of things in my life taking place with no valid reasons for this happening to me. I noticed that my prays were not being answered in time of great need. I was doing almost everything that Christians were suppose to comply with. I know somethings of the biblical god that you refer to above, but the catholics who I was once a confessing catholic have more then the books of there protestant neighbors. the sacramental system is way different since the split in the church in the 1500s. This biblical god is suppose to comfort you, well I never felt his presence through what the church sees as a holy spirit.Also the church was becoming about money to education in its parochial schools to its places of higher education, they were starting to take 2 offerings for the same mass.I heard a priest say that one dollar bills donations will just not cut it any more, We would have to dig deeper into our pockets to please the church.And there were some other things going on there which I will skip, I think you get the picture that I'm painting.I can`t prove that there is not a biblical god, but why all the suffering among us?I am not an atheist who supports protest against religious folks or any kind of organizations, since I live in the USA I believe in the constitution and the bill of rights article one says that people have a right it is not state sanctioned the government doesn't pick one religion over the other but it does entitle you to assemble privately.As for your concluding question how life started I thing with the help of science and you speak of the dna evidence I think that some where down the road we may come up with a satisfying answer.I think that it may very well be something towards the end for some aspects of religion.

Tikbalang's picture
1. I am free from religious

1. I am free from religious laws. I can think for myself.

2. Does not believe in a god. If anything that is supernatural, I think it's the role of the skeptic

3. "I believe that Satan would rise and free us from stupidity"

4.A From a Korean Painting of exaggeration of hell. I watched the whole video. Supposedly to feel scared, but instead i felt like "This is bullshit", I was still catholic at that time. Then I saw Drunken Peasants, hosted by four stoner atheists, making fun of religion and crazy people; at some point, they had more sense despite being high and drunk.

4.B. In our history, before the spanish people came, our ancestors were fully hardworking and motivated. When the spanish people came, introducting Catholicism to the natives. Our country was under ownership of spain, become slaves.

5. In my catholic years, based from the interpretation of teachers and priests, yes

6. (Catholic) God is a good father who loves me unconditionally. (Atheism) Fictional and bipolar

7. Changes of an organism based on environment and climate from time to time

8. Take basic biology class, don't take it from a christian school (from experience, they didn't teach us)

9. No in-between that connects from species 1 to species 2

10. Mystery

11. Proteins, i don't know the rest

12. Separation of church and state, freedom of religion (including to those who doesn't)

13. Does not shown despite everyone said he's everywhere

xenoview's picture
Necromancy at work!

Necromancy at work!

IDofES's picture
I know it s an old thread.

I know it s an old thread. But hell why not answer since it's reappeared.

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?

I hold no belief in any god.

2. What is Atheism by definition?

A = without + theism. So without theistic belief.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?

Without belief in god < that's what I usually go with.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)

Don't know / remember what the "what: was. But I simply found I could no longer retain a believe in the Christian god.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?

At one point I thought I did. But the biblical god is so lose weave I've no idea that it is.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?

See above

7. Can you explain evolution to me?

Probably not - I understand it but not enough to have the confidence to explain it.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?

See above

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.

What missing link? I don't know of any!

10. How did life start?

Don't know - but don't know does not mean you can fill the gap with whatever supernatural beliefs you happen to favour!

11. How do we have DNA?

Don't know - but don't know does not mean you can fill the gap with whatever supernatural beliefs you happen to favour!

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?

Because people believe - and the belief, IMO, does more harm than good at both the personal level and societal level.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?

Assuming a all knowing, powerful, & everpresent god - the argument from natural evil proves such a god does not exist.

chimp3's picture
1. 2. 3. ?

1. 2. 3. ?

We can simplify and answer all three : No belief in god(s).

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)

No compulsion. I was questioning religion at 11 years old. The believers answers did not suit me. I heard John Lennon's "Imagine" in 1972 and used it as a guided meditation. "Imagine there is no heaven or hell". My world did not crumble. I was well on my way.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?

Yes. Other Biblical Gods too.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?

If you mean the God of the OT and NT , he was a figment of the imaginations of a bloodthirsty war culture. Therefore he is a bloodthirsty war god.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?

In a simple way , Random mutation and natural selection is the mechanism which has resulted in all life forms on earth. Living, dead, and extinct.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?

See above.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.

Archaic question. Science has found many of our past cousins and common ancestors.

10. How did life start?

No one knows. Various speculations make sense but do not require supernatural interventions.

11. How do we have DNA?

Evolution.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?

Argument is healthy. Religious beliefs are only ideas and all ideas are subject to critical analysis. The world is full of people who believe their religion gives them the right to rule over, persecute ,murder, and enslave members of other faiths or atheists. These tyrants must be contained by rational argument and secular political institutions.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?

I do not need proof. I am not convinced by the theistic idea. Belief in gods is not the default state for my worldview.

Randomhero1982's picture
1.What exactly do you mean by

1.What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?

There is a standard definition you can find in a bible, personally though I would say I am an atheist because I don't believe the evidence in a god or gods, and the burden of proof has never been met and most likely will never be.

2. What is Atheism by definition?

A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?

Theism or theists make an assertion that there is a god and yet they have no proof other then their particular book which is a logical fallacy.

Religion In my opinion is just something used to control people, and it's relevance is geographically based... if you are born in the US you are likely Christian, in Arab stats.. your likely Muslim.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)

I was lucky to have no religious indoctrination during my youth and so when I was older and at senior school I was quite a sceptical thinker already and when religion was put forward, it seemed gravely far fetched with no proof to back it other then "well it's true because it says so in my book!"

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?

Yes of course i am aware of a god as I am the hundreds of others such as Thor.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?

That there is no testible proof of his or her.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?

Evolution is the change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Evolutionary processes give rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms, and molecules.

Repeated formation of new species (speciation), change within species (anagenesis), and loss of species via extinction throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth are demonstrated by shared sets of morphological and biochemical traits, including shared DNA sequences. These shared traits are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct a biological "tree of life" based on evolutionary relationships, using both existing species and fossils. The fossil record includes a progression from early biogenic graphite, to microbial mat fossils, to fossilised multicellular organisms. Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped both by speciation and by extinction.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?

It is possible for the DNA of an organism to occasionally change, or mutate. A mutation changes the DNA of an organism in a way that affects its offspring, either immediately or several generations down the line.

The change brought about by a mutation is either beneficial, harmful or neutral. If the change is harmful, then it is unlikely that the offspring will survive to reproduce, so the mutation dies out and goes nowhere. If the change is beneficial, then it is likely that the offspring will do better than other offspring and so will reproduce more.

Through reproduction, the beneficial mutation spreads. The process of culling bad mutations and spreading good mutations is called natural selection.

As mutations occur and spread over long periods of time, they cause new species to form. Over the course of many millions of years, the processes of mutation and natural selection have created every species of life that we see in the world today, from the simplest bacteria to humans and everything in between.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.

There is no missing link, we share a common ancestor that was a primate and have evolved from there on... The only issue is the starting point of abiogenesis which isn't conclusively proven, however it is far more logically then an imaginary cosmic sage waving his wand.

10. How did life start?

I'm not a biologist so I can only speculate, but I would assert that it started via abiogenesis.

11. How do we have DNA?

From evolution

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?

I think atheists simply just call for equal treatment really, religion is a movement that gets special treatment.

It should never be allowed to be state sponsored, avoid tax, be a reasonable excuse for immoral actions, influence education or politics.

It should be completely separate from all education and state matters, after all it isn't even proved other then anecdotal evidence.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?

This is a common question from theists, but it's a logical fallacy! If you make extraordinary assertion then you must provide extraordinary evidence to support your claim which religion has never done. It soley plays the "well it says on my holy book" card.

Anything proven with little to no evidence, can be dismissed as easily.

Agnostic Prophet's picture
I am not going to answer all

I am not going to answer all your questions, I'm just gonna pick out the one on evolution.

There are many people who don't believe in evolution because, apparently the evidence just isn't convincing enough for them. Fossil records, residual structures, DNA analysis and so on just aren't enough.

Alright, well lets strip it down to a basic common sense level. I am not talking scientific theory, I'm talking about basic, self evident laws on nature that there is no room for disagreement.

First off heredity exists. You inherit the genes from your parents, and genes determine your characteristics. This may be your blonde hair from your mum and your green eyes from your dad. You with me so far? Good.

Secondly mutation exists. Whilst genes are being past on from your parents, errors can often occur giving you some unique characteristics that didn't come from your parents. Nature is riddled with examples of this.

Finally natural selection. Organisms that have advantageous characteristics, meaning they they are better equipped for their environment are more likely to survive long enough to reproduce than organisms that don't, and thus more likely to pass these favourable characteristics on.

These are indisputable laws of nature.

Now put them all together amd what do you get?

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Bovski's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
An Atheist is someone that doesn't believing a deity get a dictionary.

2. What is Atheism by definition?
A person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?
There is No GOD

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)
There is No GOD

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?
I take it you mean the Judeo/cChristian/Muslim God then yes and what a horror he was I'm glad he is dead.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?
What apart from the Genocides by and for GOD. Yes he killed a lot more people in the Bible than Satan even though he got Satan to do some evil shit.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?
Evolution is based on natural selection when you breed you offspring have slight mutations normally this doesn't amount to much. Though sometimes it can have a profound effect sometimes good, sometimes bad & sometimes both. examples CCR5-Δ32 good (bubonic plague & HIV Immunity), Down's syndrome (bad), HBB gene both(can cause sickle cell disease though can also offer some protection you from malaria)

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?
Yes I can would you listen?
There is a book by a guy called Charles Darwin you probably haven't heard of him as it's quite a modern book compared to your normal reading but well worth a look its called "On the origin of Species by natural selection".

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.
What missing link evolution is an on going process it varry rarely happens in huge jumps without outside influence.

10. How did life start?
You need to be more specific what life ?1 on earth your life ?2
1)Most probably as a mixture of chemicals in hydrothermal vents that eventually became self replicating.
2)Most probably on the back seat of a car.

11. How do we have DNA?
DNA is the basis of life on earth and was probably formed in hydrothermal vents as previously stated.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?
Muslim conquests, the Spanish inquisition, the persecution of Atheists by theists, Galileo Galilei.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?
What proof do you have that there is a Biblical God.
The first problem you have with proving there is a god is the Bible if god is infallible why did he need to drown nearly everyone if he had made them perfect in the first place.
When you look at the book of Genesis clearly the oldest book by quite some way the people that wrote it based their years on the lunar cycle this is why people lived so long do the maths Methuselah was 74.5. There are way to many of these inconsistencies in the bible for it to have been written by an infallible deity.
Also the spelling errors on the 10 commandment's kind of give it away that mosses was a fraud.

Stephen Hawkins's picture
On 4. What compelled you to

On 4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)

Every single person on the planet now and in the past was BORN an Atheist, you don't become one. Later an increasingly smaller percentage of those people are brainwashed into a religion that they are exposed to (normally by their parents), Many of those who were brainwashed also later see through their conditioning to return to atheism

Peter's picture
One additional comment about

One additional comment about your #12 - If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?

Most Atheists do not protest against religion. I would even dare to say that most Atheists don't give a fuck about religion as such. Your god tells you to wear pink pants on your head every thursday? Please feel free to do so!

What many atheists protests against - and at this point i'd like to stress that atheism is not a uniting, identity-giving ideology! - is the habit of religious organisations and groups to force their religion on others.
Wear all the pink panties you like, but don't try to force me to do the same!

So most protest is not about religion at all, it is about equal rights and the abolition of privilege.

Ruari's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
I dont believe in any god, gods, demigods or prophets (people who believe they have supernatural powers specifically).

2. What is Atheism by definition?
The belief that there is no god/gods thats all atheism stands for. Other than that athiests don't necessarily share other beliefs or opinions.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?
No belief in god/gods its already simple the difficulty is people struggle to understand what is different from the teachings/ ideals they were raised with (This is true for many complex issues and not just among religious people). What makes understanding even harder for many thiests is how many religions demonize those who don't believe leading to them making little to no effort to understand (this isn't true in all cases but unfortunately is common).

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)
My mum isn't particularly religious (shes spiritual and picks and chooses from multiple religions that agree with her morals) but my farther was (strict catholic nearly became a priest). My dad died when i was around 1 but my mum loved him so when i grew up she used to tell me religious stories from multiple religions but also tell me many specific stories to do with christianity (she also took me to church for christmas easter and my school went to church around once a month). When i was growing up i didn't really understand the concept of religions and quite honestly thought they were moral stories (like the scorpion and the frog) it was'nt until i was around 11/12 when a woman at church asked what i thought of god i realised people believed in them so for awhile i thought all the stories were factual and that minotaurs and dragons existed. Then in education i realised (via a combination of history, science and religious studies) that this wasn't the case. I was agnostic for awhle while i learned more about religions in school 14-16 but then came to the conclusion that it wasn't true and i didn't believe in any god. Personally i think the main thing that made me realise i was an athiest was being taught multiple religions throughout my childhood.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?
I know i fair bit I've read multiple passages from the bible been taught a considerable amount about christianity and attended church. Saying that I wouldn't say im an expert. I would like to ask which biblical god I'm guessing the catholic but with the number of christian (and other religion) denominations it can be confusing I will say i know a decent ammount about the catholic god and church of england (yes they are the same however i had a debate with a christion friend and they said the church of england god was'nt the same as the catholic one I don't know if that was just their view or not though).

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?
I know multiple stories from both the old and new testament.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?
Evolution is a gradual process (It takes a very very long time) in which one organism changes into a new different organism typically better adapted to survive in its environment. To put it scientifically a change in genetic composition of a population during successive generations results in the development of new species. Evolution occurs according to darwin's theory (which currently has the most evidence and is currently the most accepted) via natural selection acting on the genetic variation among individuals of a species. These variation arise due to mutation, migration, and genetic drift.
If your looking for scientific evidence of evolution look at Darwin's finches.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?
A gradual process by which one species changes and adapts becoming a new one (by gradual we are talking tens of thousands to millions of years).
A member of a species develops a trait that increases survival for example a cat gives birth to 1 large kitten and 5 small kittens. As they grow up the largest one is able to take down bigger prey so doesn't starve (whereas fewer smaller survive as they struggle to take down prey).
When it comes time to mate the large cat attracts more mates as it is stronger and can fight off rival males.
When the large cat's kittens mature they are also large.
Now tens of thausands of years go by and the cats get larger with each generation and to accomadate there larger size there bodies alter until finally they are two distinct species the original small cats and the larger big cats.
This is simplified and maybe not the best explained but thats my best attempt to explain it. also stating logically comes across kinda rude.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.
Multiple steps in human evolution ahve been found I don't know the name of them all apart from homo habilis, erectus and neandathalensis but genetics have found relations between our DNA confirming they are our genetic ancestors and were not human.

10. How did life start?
I don't know there is research investigating this so hopefully one day we'll have a scientific answer.

11. How do we have DNA?
Thats a really complex question which i don't have the relavant knowledge to answer it I had a lecture on it in my first year at uni but that was awhile ago. I suggest you look at reserch papers.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?
Thats a complex question but for me personally Its about teaching others I believe everyone deserves to be able to make an informed decision on religion and its incredible common that people are only taught the religion they're brought up with.
However its not just that I think religion can sometimes (not always) encourage people to be violent towards others or believe they are superior or just give people an excuse to be cruel punish or injure others. For example the whole idea of a hell is not only montrous but ridiculous whats the point of torturing someone for eternity whats the benifit anyone with an ounce of empathy who really examines what hell is described as can see its totally immoral.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?

The burden of proof is on the person making the assertion. Basically prove to me your god exists. If god appeared to me now I'd believe in him (after ensuring i was'nt hallucinating).

Sans Deity's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
-Claims for god's existence do not have evidence to support it, so I don't believe the claim.

2. What is Atheism by definition?
-Lack of a believe in a god/gods.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?
-Theists claim god exists but don't provide proof, so atheists do not believe their claims.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)
-Looking up arguments for god and counter arguments for god. Arguments against god were compelling. (Former Christian of 20+ years).

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?
-Yes.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?
-The bible tells of a god that created everything, with a focus on humans. Humans disobeyed god, so he killed all except 8 in an flood. Humans kept disobeying god so he sent his son down to preach for 30 years then die. HIs resurrection is the foundation for Christianity, and Jews don't believe it.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?
-Better question for a biologist, but here goes: Species reproduce, each time the offspring is a little bit different (mutations). Sometimes these differences are beneficial to survival, and they are able to reproduce to pass these differences to their offspring. This happens over and over again until the species evolves to adapt to their specific environment. Sometimes species will branch off into two different lines of offspring, and those two lines of offspring will have a common ancestor. Every living species on earth can be traced back to a common ancestor. The more alike species are (humans and chimpanzees), the more recent their common ancestor. The more different the species (humans and snakes), the further back the common ancestor will be. This hypothesis (now a theory) was posited in 1859 by Charles Darwin and has remained the best explanation for what we see today in biology for over 150 years, and that is incredible. Evolution is also the basis for many sciences we trust today, namely medical science.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?
-Don't know what the difference is with this question vs. question 7.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.
-Better question for a biologist, but logically speaking, every "missing link" we find will create two more "missing links", one on either side of the "missing link" we just found. From what I understand this is just a red herring to disprove evolution, but could be incorrect. Again, ask a biologist.

10. How did life start?
-We don't know. Our evidence is that we have life, it appears to have evolved over billions of years, but how it started.....no one knows. Science continues to find clues every day.

11. How do we have DNA?
-Better question for a biologist, I have no clue.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?''
-Because we don't live in a bubble independent of each other. We live in a society where what we believe impacts everyone else. In the US, Christianity very much affects policies at the highest levels of government, such as abortion laws and teaching pseudoscience in schools (intelligent design, which is not science by any stretch of the imagination).

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?
-Burden of proof is on those making a claim for god, not the atheist. Atheists will remain atheists until evidence is brought forward.

Sheldon's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
I mean I don't believe any deity or deities exist.

2. What is Atheism by definition?
Someone who doesn't believe any deity or deities exist.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?
See 2.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)
I have seen insufficient evidence demonstrated for the existence of a diety or deities, and the arguments presented are logically fallacious.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?
I have read the bible, so know what it claims, and some apologetics.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?
The bible makes demonstrably erroneous claims, and insufficient evidence can be demonstrated to support the claim for it's existence.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?
All life has shared or common ancestry, and evolved slowly over billions of years to produce the diversity of life we now see.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?
It's explained by the scientific theory of evolution, scientific theories are the pinnacle of scientific thought. It carries a weight of evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, and after over 150 years of intense scientific scrutiny it remains a scientific fact.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.
I don't know what you mean sorry? Human evolution like all other living things is evidenced beyond any reasonable doubt, as far as I can all objections to it are motivated by unevidenced religious beliefs.

10. How did life start?
I don't know.

11. How do we have DNA?
This is above my pay grade, but here are some scientific thoughts.
https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528795-500-dna-could-have-exist...
http://evolutionfaq.com/faq/how-could-dna-have-evolved
The fact is DNA exists, and we know all life evolved, we don't have a complete knowledge of anything, that's not how science works, but the basic fact of species evolution is beyond any reasonable scientific doubt.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?
I care that what I believe is true, and don't care to have people who believe in unevidenced deities lecturing everyone on how they should live, and what they should believe. much of religious dogma is pernicious because it is derived from archaic human societies that were unjust and even barbaric by contemporary standards.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?
Proof is the wrong word, but I have the same reason that I have to not believe invisible unicorns don't exist, I have no reason to believe they do until someone demonstrates sufficient evidence.

Lisa Williams's picture
1. I reject the Gods depicted

1. I believe the Gods depicted in religious scriptures to be false and simply a man-made construct

2. The belief that there is no God e.g. the world wasn't created by a superior entity

3. Not abiding one's life to a religious scripture to please the creator illustrated in that scripture

4. I don't want to associate or glorify something which puts myself and humanity down to a level which obliges me to worship an evil God that gave me life to suffer and die.

5. I am taking Philosophy at education level and am currently reading the Bible, so yes.

6. He cannot write a book free from flaws and, based on the Bible, is extremely short-tempered and lusts for violence and death.

7. The concept that all organisms have adapted to their environment over the years due to mutations in the genes.

8. Look at 7

9. Just a quick search on Google shows that the 'missing link' is non-existent according to a few websites.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/evolution/7550033/Missing-link-b...

10. Nobody knows. We have hypotheses including primordial soup and the Big Bang, but nobody knows.

11. Chemicals - deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is a complex structure of chemicals, just like everything else.

12. Religion poisons everything. It leeches off people's fear of death and indoctrinates young children. It is evil, dictatorial and needs to be eradicated if we are to live in a society free of violent divisions.

13. How can something be disproved if the matter at hand hasn't been proved? The existence of evil and the theory of evolution show that the characteristics attributed to the Christian God are not true hence questioning validity.

Michael's picture
1. It means I believe in one

1. It means I believe in one less god than you (unless you’re a Hindu or something, then I believe in lots less gods)
2. Atheism is literally A theism (the A being short for anti)
3. I believe in one less god than you
4. There is no rational, logical, reasonable argument for the existence of god and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest the existence of a god
5. Yes, I’ve studied the bible extensively
6. I know he was a prick all through the old testament, then he gets all warm and fuzzy for the new testament
7. Not in a short answer like this, but here’s a link that can: https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_01 I would note however, that evolution has NOTHING AT ALL to do with atheism. Atheism is simply not believing in god(s). THAT’S ALL.
8. See answer 7
9. See answer 7
10. What the hell does that have to do with atheism?
11. What the hell does that have to do with atheism?
12. Because religion attempts to dictate morals and laws, by pressuring politicians, school boards, etc. based on the authority of a claim of a god whose existence they can’t even prove
13. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If I claimed I was Napoleon, I would be thought crazy unless I could provide conclusive proof to support this claim. Theists claim there is a god yet they have no proof. I do not need to prove god is untrue, the theist needs to prove he is, since the theist is the one making the claim. All I am claiming is that there is no evidence to suggest the theists claims are accurate.

theism_suckz's picture
1. What exactly do you mean

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?
A: I know that nobody has ever produced any falsifiable evidence for the existence of any god.

2. What is Atheism by definition?
A: A philosophical position arising from the observation that nobody has ever demonstatred the existence of any god.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?
A: No.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)
A: The realisation that I had been lied to, coupled with realising that nobody had ever demonstrated the existence of any god.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?
A: Yes.

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?
A: Said God is a psychopath with genocidal anger management issues.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?
A: Yes: it is a mechanism that explains the diversity of life on this planet.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?
A: No.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.
A: What "missing link"?

10. How did life start?
A: I have no idea. Look up "abiogenesis".

11. How do we have DNA?
A: That question is ambiguous. I do not answer ambiguous questions.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?
A: Because of the harm done to society by god mobsters.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?
A: The Biblical God took six days to make the world, unlike the observed 9 billion years. 6 days is not 9 billion years. Proven!

conordublin's picture
Hi Alice - I'm new here but I

Hi Alice - I'm new here but I am a little disappointed that people have been a bit rude or patronising in their answers to you. I think your questions are honest so I'll have a go at some honest answers. Sorry if its a bit long:

1. What exactly do you mean by "I am an Atheist"?

I mean that I do not believe that any deity or supreme being really exists.

2. What is Atheism by definition?

Atheism is the absence of belief in any god or gods.

3. Can you simplify the definition of Atheism so anyone would understand?

I think it is simple enough as a concept. People over centuries have prayed to and believed in many gods and many religions – Zeus, Thor, Mithra, the spirits of ancestors. Most people now do not believe that any of these gods are real. Atheists do not believe that any god exists, including the Christian god. He just isn’t there.

4. What compelled you to become an Atheist? (feel free to skip this if its too personal.)

Its not too personal but it is a bit one-sided. It would be just as fair to ask you what compelled you to believe in an invisible sky-being who listens to your thoughts. In my own case, my family mildly followed a traditional lifestyle but never forced belief on me. I have thought about the matter a lot and I just do not find any realistic evidence to make me think any of it is true.
I have no problem with someone else believing it, any more than I object to them believing in UFOs, homeopathy or Zeus. I just don’t believe it to be at all true.

5. Do you know about the Biblical God?

Yes, I was educated as a Catholic

6. What do you know of the Biblical God?

Like all other gods & belief systems, the biblical god is a human invention that came about as people attempted to understand where the world came from, to understand and write our shared sense of morals and values, and to provide a code or standard by which to live.

7. Can you explain evolution to me?

At its heart it is not that complicated, although you have to be willing to set aside any determination to value pre-existing beliefs ahead of empirical evidence.

When animals reproduce by mating, the DNA molecules from male and female combine to produce a new individual that will inherit characteristics from both parents. Normally that works very well but just occasionally that process of genetic copying will make a small mistake. This could be caused by anything but for some reason this genetic copying is sometimes a little less than perfect. That is called a mutation and it is this that really provides the engine for evolution.

An animal with a mutation will have a slight difference from its parents, and crucially when it has off-spring of its own they will inherit that tiny change from it. Most mutations make very little difference, some will be harmful to the animal and some will be helpful to it as it tries to survive in the environment. Take for example a mutation that makes the eye develop more rods and cones than normal which results in the animal having slightly better night-vision. The key is that the successful mutations – those that help the animal – mean that this individual is more likely to mate and have offspring. Hence the next generation will inherit that positive genetic change.

To get your head around it fully you have to appreciate just how long it takes to happen. People have been selectively breeding farm animals and domestic animals for a few thousand years. Only allowing animals with the variations that we like to mate and have offspring means over some centuries we get farms cows that produce ten times more milk than they need and can’t survive in the wild, or we get race horses or we get blood hounds. That’s artificial selection. Natural selection does the same thing but by accident, and it has been doing it literally for hundreds of millions of years. Hence the complicated natural world around us.

8. Can you LOGICALLY explain evolution to me?

That’s the same question as above isn’t it? Although with a hint that you might be resisting an answer if it doesn’t fit with your existing beliefs.

When animals mate their off-spring will have some tiny, random differences. Some are harmless, some make the animal less likely to survive and breed and some will be helpful. The helpful ones are much more likely to be passed on to the next generation and hence they build up over – and this is the key – a very, very long period of time.

9. Tell me about the missing link in human evolution.

Well, there isn’t one really. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle that you are assembling – you only have a few fragments but you are doing your best and are finding more bits all the time. Right now you have a huge hole in the middle of it and I say ‘aha – your jigsaw theory has gaps you can’t explain’. Now imagine you find a few more pieces and fit them in, and instead of one huge hole in the middle of your jigsaw you now have two smaller holes. ‘Aha!’ I say again…’ your theory is even more full of holes than it was before!’.

The argument about ‘gaps’ or ‘missing links’ is a bit like that. It is also a bit frustrating for people trying to figure it out when every time they admit there is something they don’t know, opponents call on that as proof that what is known must be wrong.

As an aside, how come religion always claims to know everything? To me science is quite a bit more humble before nature.

10. How did life start?

Human knowledge so far is not quite as clear on how life got started in the first place. Life first emerged about 3 billion years ago. How that happened is not yet fully known (although be careful; just because something is not yet fully understood by science it does not mean that God did it). The leading theory at the moment is that in ancient oceans, possibly around hydrothermal vents, complex chemistry caused by the heat and minerals from those vents caused ever more complicated chemical reactions. Hydrocarbons formed and reformed in extremely complex chains, until eventually by chance a molecule formed that was able to make copies of itself. That molecule multiplied and multiplied.
The thing about chemical and later gene copying is while it turns out to be very, very good at copying itself it is not quite perfect. Hence variation, mutation and natural selection.

11. How do we have DNA?

DNA is an interesting molecule because when it forms it naturally takes the shape of a double-helix. Imagine a sort of zipper that is twisted like a corkscrew. Now imagine slowly opening that zipper; every time a tooth comes free from its opposite pair, a matching ‘tooth’ from the surrounding chemicals clicks into its place. As the zipper unwinds, tooth by tooth, each individual tooth fits perfectly into a matching loose molecule in the environment. The result when you have finished unzipping is two identical zippers; each has one side from the original and the other side made up tooth by tooth from the surrounding environment as each one, jigsaw-like, bonds chemically with its match from the environment. The DNA molecule has made an exact copy of itself.
Those DNA molecules can function like computer code. By assembling atoms and molecules in a sequence set out like a punch-card in the order of the DNA strand, it can make proteins & enzymes and can become ever more complicated.

And behold – it’s a gene.

We have DNA, as do all living things from oak trees to bacteria to monkeys, because DNA turned out to be so effective at this job. There may have been other copying-molecules billions of years ago but DNA proved best at the job so it was the one that prospered and is now in the nucleus of the cells of every living thing on Earth.

12. If what you believe is true, that there is no Biblical God or god of any kind, then why do Atheists protest against religion so much?

I’m not aware that they do but in any case even if all atheists were rude that would not make God any more true. There may be cultural variations but there are at least as many religious people complaining about atheists as there are the other way around. Both are human beings. And when competing religions start complaining about each other it gets really nasty.

I guess for me I have no problem with people believing whatever they want to believe provided they do not try to force me to act on those beliefs as well. A refusal to teach a science class properly on the grounds that a lot of evidence appears to conflict with the bible would be one example of that for me. But at the same time, I don’t try to insist that any Sunday School has to also say to kids ‘Science says this is all a fantasy kids, like Santa Claus’. Mutual respect would appear to be the key.

13. What proof do you have that there is no Biblical God?

This is an old one. You cannot logically prove a negative. If I declare to you that I am the reincarnation of George Washington, there is actually no logical way in which you can prove that to be false. But that is not the same as saying there is a good reason to believe it is true.

To understand the analogy, I would perhaps challenge you by asking what proof you have that Zeus is not the father of the gods and does not live in Mount Olympus?

You might reasonably say that you look all around you in the world and in the cosmos and you do not see a single shred of credible evidence for it anywhere, apart from a two thousand year old scroll that has been translated hundreds of times and seems to say some very strange things. Lots of people seem to think its true but they don’t seem to have any evidence either.

So you say to yourself that you will keep your mind open to future evidence, you will bravely face evidence if it challenges your beliefs, and you will certainly be a nice and courteous person to anyone who does seem to believe it, but for now you cannot honestly say that you believe in Zeus and Mount Olympus.

Congratulations, you’re an atheist.

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