I once did one of this questionnaire’ es some time ago (a daunting task, being I was typing on a smartphone at the time), but think I’ll tackle this once more. I’ve mostly left this topic in the dust, but it’s still enjoyable to pick it up occasionally. I may have grown away from Atheist’s, but the ambiguity of the subject matter is none the less pleasing to delve into. A nice distraction from the times we live in.
1.) How would you define Atheism?
I would say it to be the rejection of the notion that any deity or deities exist.
This is not the colloquial definition of the word. However, I’ve come to realize that the colloquial definition is asinine and not conducive to its task in the great debate between the atheists the theists.
In a nutshell, I do not lack belief in anything. I don’t take the existence of any deities seriously, so I reject the notion. I do not lack belief in them. The only time when that definition would be fitting would be:
a.) Before one learns about these deities from various teachers in their environment
b.) If they have never (or can never) be exposed to this knowledge. For example, animals, isolated tribes or inanimate objects.
Notice how this lacks belief definition conveniently debunks the popular “We are all born atheist” talking point. It also conveniently debunks the notion of inanimate objects being atheist as well (something known as Shoe Atheism on Reddit).
That is how I define Atheism.
2.) Do you act according to what you believe (there is no God) in or what you don’t believe in (lack belief in God)?
To be honest, I am not sure how to answer that question. It seems like gibberish.
It likely would make some sense if the one asking it has tied ethics and morality to a belief in their chosen deity (which I am guessing is the case). But none the less, not applicable.
My day to day choices are irrelevant to the deity question. Really, this could apply to most people. As anecdotal as it is, I can think of many believers that are far more unethical than I.
Though beliefs and labels often equate to morality in the eyes of many, human nature (be it good or bad) will almost always trump such restrictions. We have seen it over and over again, both inside and outside the church. The sooner we quit equating labels to morality, the better we all will be.
3,) Do you think it is inconsistent for someone who “lacks belief” in God to work against God’s existence by attempting to show that God doesn’t exist?
I used to fall into this trap. I spent a lot of time trying to prove to theists how wrong they were. But I eventually realized that in the grand scheme of things, proving and disproving does not matter. At least not when there is plenty in actual real life to worry about (like the many negatives associated with religion, among many others).
Generally speaking, I let people be as they wish to be, only breaking that rule if their beliefs are directly harmful to themselves or others. It goes against everything that I used to think (when Atheism was a big part of my identity). But I have other focuses now.
Besides, there is no lack of newly minted atheists to fill in my void in the great debate. Nothing is lacking. Short of the definition that brought them there.
4.) How sure are you that your Atheism properly represents reality?
I am not. Considering what we have to go on, only a fool would be bold enough to present solid evidence of any conclusion. And yes, that goes both ways.
The reality for me is the real world. Everything that is happening within it, from the good to the ugly. All that may or may not be in the supernatural realm only has as much consequence on this reality as humans prescribe onto it. Issues of which are also dealt with in the material reality we all share.
What lies beyond is unimportant.
5.) How sure are you that your Atheism is correct?
I am not. This is something that is shared by most atheists.
6.) How would you define what Truth is?
I hate that word.
These days, it seems that it has become so subjective that anyone on any side of any debate can use it in their context. Which is why the word tends to serve more as a red flag for me than anything else. At least in the online realm.
In most cases, I tend to lean more towards facts and evidence. Though someone’s truth or true statements may be reflected by fact and evidence, the 2 are misaligned often enough for me to question it.
7.) Why do you believe your Atheism is a justifiable position to hold?
In all honesty, I don’t call myself an Atheist. I don’t call myself anything really (aside from ambiguous).
To the question that is Do you believe in a deity or deities?, I answer simply “I don’t know”. Because I don’t. I may find answers at some point (unlikely), but even if not, it’s unimportant.
Many ideological Atheists will place me in their category by default. Whatever suits your fancy. I just wish you would be a little more accepting of diverse beliefs within the secular community because despite differing on the details, we all otherwise share a common thread. It is a lot easier to unite under the banner of secularism than to divide attempting to prove that we are all Atheists in denial.
You may call it rationalism. But I still call it growing a brand.
8.) Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?
I hadn’t even heard of the 2 before now. However, barring a misunderstanding of either (highly likely, given how simple the internet tends to boil down the most complex of topics), I am leaning towards neither. One can likely find tones of either option in my past and future responses. However, I don’t bend or align myself just to fit into a box. If I am left somewhere outside of one, then so be it.
9.) Do you affirm or deny that Atheism is a worldview?
Both. I can use myself as an example of both.
The conclusion itself is standalone, as it can be reached even before learning the term ones native language ascribes to the phenomenon. For example, I was what one would describe as Atheist for a good 6 months in high school before I learned that there was a term for it. I accepted a likely void and left it at that (I had many other matters I was coming to terms with at the time).
Later, as I moved on and grew more acquainted with the Atheist community (particularly in various Facebook groups), I gradually became more aligned with the Atheist worldview. Actually, I would call it more an ideology than a worldview.
Most atheists will deny that atheism is/can be an ideology, pointing to the fact that it is a mere conclusion. While that is the case, it is what is tacked on after this turns the whole thing into a prescribed ideology. All one has to consider alone is the absolute intolerance of all but atheist conclusion as demonstrated by organizations as high profile as American Atheists. It’s hard to comprehend how something as ambiguous as lack of a belief in a deity or deities could be taken so far WITHOUT ideological influence.
Is it a coincidence that many of the people that hold these hard-line Firebrand stances tended to morph out of strong previously theist positions?
I don’t think so.
10.) Not all Atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?
I usually use the word Theism in place of individual religions and sects, being that it is more generalized to the topic itself (as opposed to ones small slice of geographical territory). Thus I will precede the same way here.
First, the seemingly obvious. I can be as antagonistic to any theist ideology as they can be antagonistic to Atheism. Ideologies are fair game.
I myself, go a little into each category. I don’t generally antagonize theists or their beliefs just for the sake of it. If people keep their beliefs to themselves, I share the same respect. Which is why I can even have casual coffee conversations with even full-blown Trump supporters. I respect their opinions, they respect my opinions, and then we move onto other matters. Since we overlap in the vast majority of other places anyway.
However, when I see examples of the bad side of religion (everything from sexual abuse scandals to misappropriation of funds by hucksters posing as pulpit leaders), all gloves are off. I am not afraid to say such bold statements as “Invade the Vatican!”.
The United States has invaded at least 2 countries in the last 2 decades for far lesser crimes than what has been leveled against the Vatican in the present to distant past.
11.) If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?
Again, I will make this more generally applicable by replacing Christian ideology with theism. By way of using the word deity instead of God.
The existence of a deity was never much more than background noise in my life before Atheism. What brought it on my radar was a rough freshman year in high school. During the situation, I had become angry at said deity of my mind for allowing me to endure such suffering. But after some months went by and most of the rough stuff had passed, I began to accept that it was less malice or ineptitude than it was void. It was far more likely that there was nothing there than it was that I was its punching bag. So begun my secular journey.
Lose theist. Angry theist. Unacknowledged Atheist. Atheist. Something. I don’t know.
That about sums up my whole life’s journey in 11 words.
12.) Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?
I used to answer “Yes!” to this question. And I still do.
However, though religion DOES have many negative effects on the world, there will always be something else, where people are concerned. Whether it be politics, race or some other significant or insignificant detail, humans will ALWAYS find something to divide over.
13.) Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?
There are many anecdotes that I could point to in showing why I say “Yes” to this. But I’ve said pretty much everything important in the previous response.
14.) Do you believe that faith in God or Gods is a mental disorder?
No. Though this talking point has become more popular in previous years, I think it is unfounded.
People with mental disorders can be religious, and may even be drawn to such ideologies. But it is not a necessity. Even the most brilliant can be good at compartmentalizing in some areas. Such is the human mind.
15.) Must God be known through the scientific method?
In order for the concept to overcome it’s supernatural status and instead just become a natural part of reality?
Yes. And No.
Scientific research is humanities looking glass through which we see, measure and evaluate our world. As such, it’s okay to expect new additions to this knowledge base to pass these tests of credibility.
But at the same time, there is a lot to be said for criticisms of the scientific method. Not as much the legitimacy of the scientific method itself, but more the question of it is truly the only way. Or just one of several possibilities overlooked and cast aside by devotees of the status quo. Another common behavior of the human.
It’s hard to not come across as a science denialist when considering this subject with my amount of understanding of it (next to none). But it seems an important area of inquiry.
16.) If you answered yes to the previous question, then how do you avoid a category mistake by requiring material evidence for an immaterial God?
I don’t. Until I know, I don’t know.
17.) Do we have any purpose as human beings?
Reproduction. Just like everything else that can reproduce.
Since we have more than taken care of that purpose, I guess it is up to us to find other ways to fulfill ourselves.
18.) If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?
I would say that it is in our genes, much like the rest of the animal kingdom and the living world.
19.) Where does morality come from?
I would say out of necessity. When groups of people are to live together, some behaviors will become noticeably problematic to this dynamic.
As societies grow and become more complex, the various tenants of morality also change, expanding with the times. But even before leaders were chosen to govern large cohorts, it would become apparent that some behaviors were unbecoming, and I suspect that such actors were dealt with swiftly.
With a bow and arrow.
20.) Are there moral absolutes?
21.) If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?
22.) Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?
I don’t believe in the spiritual concept, but I can see it utilized as a noun for things on the extreme end of the bad spectrum.
I am careful in how I use the word. As such, the only real example that comes to mind is Vladimir Putin. Staring into those eyes is like staring into the abyss.
God help me if a plane I am on ever has to divert to Russia. As David Pakman once half-jokingly quipped (during a segment about yet another suspected Russian poisoning), I might slip on a banana peel and accidentally fall out a 20 story window.
23.) If you believe that the God of the old testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?
In my opinion, the God of BOTH testaments is terrible. Or would be if it were something that I took seriously. Which I don’t.
It’s amusing how most of the God’s and deities that humans look up to often showcase the very same character quirks and flaws as regular old human beings. Very telling.
24.) What would it take for you to believe in God?
In short, something indisputable. A situation where the experience is universal, and not just applicable to a single person or a small group.
It is indisputable that hurricanes, mountains, and oceans exist. That is all I expect. For the strongest force in at least our observable universe to prove it.
To flip the script on the obviously Christian creator of these questions, what if the God or deity that makes itself known is not the one you had prepared for?
What if he has more Jewish or Islamic leanings? What if he is a she? What if he was a he, but is now a she? I would pay to see that revelation in some churches. Boy howdy . . .
Good thing that the chance of ever even having that chance is one in whothefuckknows.
25.) What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?
See the previous reply.
26.) Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?
It must be a situation this is as apparent and universally shared as viewing a mountain from anywhere within its sight line.
It would be asinine to question the existence of Mount Everest. This is what I expect of God.
27.) Do you think that a society run by Christians or Atheists would be safer? Why?
For all intents and purposes, the United States is run by Christians (they make a majority of those in power). Many Scandinavian countries have high nonbeliever populations so I would imagine that means many also sit in their political offices.
What does this tell us? That there are about a thousand factors that are not taken into account.
In the age of high population and extremely complex tech-driven civilization, keeping it all together is a job far beyond the scope of either proposed option. Either would be hard-pressed in terms of the operations of even my little home city of just under 60,000, let alone New York City, or the United States.
I do believe that part of the role of religion in antiquity was a form of population control. There is no tyrant more fearsome than the one that you can’t even see, or the one that will be torturing you for eternity.
There was a time when such doctrines were adequate. But not anymore.
And besides, it is almost always problematic when a single ideology inherits too much power. It’s almost always led to corruption and likely discrimination.
Therefore, it’s ideal to keep things as mixed as possible. This is not always an easy feat due to the way that birds of a feather flock together (many cohorts tend to colonize around their ideological peers). None the less, one of the best ways to keep one group from garnering too much undue influence is to ensure that all group influence is diluted enough in the power structure so as to be of little consequence.
28.) Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coercion)
Even taking the almighty deity or deities out of the equation, you are only as free as the sum of all your available options. Scale that as far up as you want.
29.) If you believe in free will, do you see any problem with defending the idea that the physical brain, which is limited and subject to neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?
I don’t really believe in free will (absolute free will, anyhow). But I would defend ones ability to make choices for themselves.
I wasn’t pushed into answering these questions. It was of my own volition that I choose to respond to them.
30.) If you affirm evolution and that the universe will continue to expand forever, then do you think it is probable that given enough time, brains would evolve to the point of exceeding mere physical limitations and become free of the physical and temporal and thereby become “deity” and not restricted by space or time? If not, why not? How does one lead to the other?
My first thought is that we as a species are likely never going to be around for that long, given our track record. If delayed effects of past activities don’t doom us, then I suspect we ourselves may end up pressing the big red button. Because there are a whole lot more idiots out there than there is wise folk. And even fewer wise folk in positions of actual influence.
If any kind of evolution were to occur, I suspect it would be more related to technical (artificial intelligence?) advances than simple evolution. And even so, one likely will never (can never?) break out of the time barrier.
I am no scientist and am basing this on very lose knowledge of the subject matter. But if time travel is not possible due to light (or something along those lines), I would imagine being outside of the phenomenon of time also falls into this trap.
If you ask many in the parapsychological field, some humans have allegedly already broken that bond. I give them as much credibility as I do the average acupuncturist or homeopath. But none the less seemed worth mentioning.
It is on topic.
31.) If you answered the previous question in the affirmative, then aren’t you saying that it is probable that some sort of god exists?
That is a giant leap.
In short, no. For the time being, I find no gap (or reasoning, really) where or why such a deity (or deities) would fit, or be necessary.