Answering the Well Spent Journey Atheist Questionnaire

So in all fairness to Matt of the Well Spent Journey Blog who took my Theist Challenge. I took his 12 Questions to ask an Atheist.  In addition he does have a very interesting summary post, on the different answers he has received from varying atheist.

1. Does the universe have a beginning that requires a cause? If so, what was this cause?

The overwhelmingly assumed cause of the universe is the Big-Bang.  As to what caused the Big-Bang, no one knows.  

2. Is materialistic determinism compatible with the intrinsically probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics?

I have to admit this question originally went over, my head, and I had to Google materialistic determinism.  So my best answer is I don’t know, because I am not familiar with the philosophical aspects of the question and how it applies to quantum mechanics.

3. How do you account for the physical parameters of the universe (the gravitational constant, the strong nuclear force, the mass and charge of a proton, etc.) being finely tuned for the existence of stars, planets, and life?

I would never say that our universe is fined-tuned for the existence of stars and planets, especially not for human population.  To say that the universe is fined-tuned for the existence of stars and planets is a slight overstatement considering the number of red-dwarfs which are stars that have never fully developed.  Or white-dwarfs which are dead stars.  Or that the fact that the universe is destined for a slow icey destruction.  Fine-tuned is a little presumptuous.  A good book on this topic is Dr. Neil Tyson Degrasse book “Death by Black Hole.”  Here are some further examples of why fine-tuned is hardly an accurate description for our universe.

  • We are on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy, so in a few million years not only will our tiny planet be destroyed, but the entire Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Because of Dark Energy, the universe will keep expanding more rapidly until the universe grows colder & colder and we all die a horrible icy death.
  • A God created this vast universe, infinitely vast, but we can only live and survive on this spec of a planet we call earth.  That does not sound like a smart idea and definitely not a perfect one.
  • Comets and asteroids, -that at any moment that one large enough could end all life on this planet. Like it did for the dinosaurs.  And there are calculations of highly unlikely but still probable impacts in 2026, 2036, and 2182.
  • A Sun that is on high side of its lifespan, so even if we do avoid Global Warming, the Andromeda galaxy collision or an asteroid collision, we won’t live that long because our sun will burn out before then.
  • That anyone planet could be destroyed at any moment by a black-hole, comet, or a random asteroid.

 

4. Why is the human mind naturally fluent in the language of mathematics, and how do you explain the eerie, seemingly unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in describing the laws of nature?

I actually have a degree in Mathematics, and I have tutored enough people to tell you that the human mind is not NATURALLY FLUENT in mathematics.  Not everyone understands it, and in using it to describe natural and physical law has taken man-kind several millennium to do that.  Yes we understand that natural law and physical laws of nature can be reflected in mathematics, but man-kind has only skimmed the surface.

5. Do you believe that DNA repair mechanisms, catalytically perfect enzymes, and phenomena such as substrate channeling are best explained by naturalism? If so, why are rational human scientists and engineers so woefully incapable of imitating the precision and complexity of cellular machinery that (presumably) arose via strictly irrational processes?

Remember degree in Mathematics, I have no clue what you are talking about.  Maybe the answer to your question is that the scientist, just don’t know yet.

6. Do you believe free will to be illusory? If so, can the punishment of crimes be ethically justified (and does the word “ethical” have any real meaning)?

No, I don’t see free will as being illusory.  And per my job, we define ethics as the reasonable action or expectation that a person would take.  (In all honesty, I am really confused as to what is the purpose of this question. )

7. Does objective morality exist? If so, what is its source…and how do you define “objective”? If not, do you concede that concepts like “justice”, “fairness”, and “equality” are nothing more than social fads, and that acts of violence and oppression must be regarded merely as differences of opinion?

I believe morality has been culturally and historically subjective.  The best example I can give you is the bible Deuteronomy 22:28-29.  If you were to ask the average person is Rape always wrong in every situation.   And the average person would say YES, but not according to the bible. One would think that the bible would condemn rape out right, but surprisingly the bible does not.  In one part of Deuteronomy the stipulation of punishment for the victim depends on where she got raped at and if she screamed loud enough.

23If a man happens to meet in a town a virgin pledged to be married and he sleeps with her, 24you shall take both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death—the young woman because she was in a town and did not scream for help, and the man because he violated another man’s wife. You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

Yet,the part that is most disturbing is this:

28If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered,29he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

That does not sound like much of punishment to me.  It does not take a rocket scientist to tell that there is something seriously wrong with this scripture.  Nonetheless, no matter what time frame, a rapist should be punished properly, it should not be with a reward of yours or my daughters hand in marriage.

8. In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

Me personally, I would say that the human life is the most precious commodity we will ever have.  So no animal life is not more valuable than the life of a human.

9. Much attention has been given to alleged cognitive biases and “wishful thinking” contributing to religious belief. Do you believe that similar biases (for example, the desire for moral autonomy) play a role in religious nonbelief? If not, what specifically makes atheism immune to these influences?

No, atheism is not a belief, it’s a conclusion after evaluating evidence.  No person no matter what they believe or not believe is immune to confirmation biases or cognitive biases.  However the missing ingredient to this premise, is that most people(atheist or theist) don’t start off atheist, they start off with a belief in god.  So there is no Cognitive biases if you start off with a belief in God, and then conclude that there is no personal God.

10. Do you believe religion (speaking generally) has had a net positive or a net negative effect on humanity. If the latter, how do you explain the prevalence of religion in evolutionary terms?

Honestly I’m still deciding on this one, because I’ve only been an atheist/agnostic for four months, I’m still withholding judgment on this one.  Check back in a few months, and I’ll let you know.

11. Is it rational for you to risk your life to save a stranger?*

Rational No, but we still do it anyway.  For if all of man-kind was rational, we would all believe in evolution, and know that unicorns, leprechauns, Bogey monsters, and gods don’t exist.  And we would all know that all religions are man-made.  But we don’t.

12. How would you begin to follow Jesus if it became clear to you that Christianity was true? What would be the hardest adjustment you would have to make to live a faithful, public Christian life?*

None, I already pretty much live my life as Christian, I’ve only been a non-Christian for 4 months, and I still goto bible study with the wife and I still go to church semi-regularly with the family.  Really the biggest change for me, would be, that at the dinner table, I would go back to being the one who blesses the food, instead of my Wife

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About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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15 Responses to Answering the Well Spent Journey Atheist Questionnaire

  1. I like your answers. I disagree on a few points, but nothing to argue with.

  2. ignorantianescia says:

    About fine-tuning, I think the important part is the extremely low probability that a universe supporting life would exist without fine-tuning, whereas your post seems to argue how fine is fine-tuning. That’s all right, but since we don’t know how abundant life is nor has anybody decreed life has to be abundant. Fine-tuning for life simply means the fine-tuning needed for life to exist, not implying an optimalisation. Furthermore, the various processes of dying stars deliver the building blocks of life, so I think stellar death is not that much of a problem.

    Anyway, for metaphysical naturalists, the most viable alternative to belief in God due to cosmic fine-tuning seems the postulation of a multiverse. A theory of everything still leaves a remarkably fine-tuned equation after all, so it can’t solve it completely.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      for me the issue of fine-tuning, is warped. Let me give an analogy…

      Analogy: Let’s pretend we have a Bed maker, This bed maker is supposedly the best, as his reputation says. However, in order for this bed maker to make his perfect bed, he must go through trial and error on 50,000 previous beds before he is able to make that perfectly fine tuned bed for sleep and comfort. Should this be bedmaker be gloried for making the perfect bed OR scolded for the 50,000 previous failures and inefficiency?

      The other part of this analogy is that if this bed-maker is supposed to be perfect, so why would be glorified for making this perfect bed, if that is supposed to be his job -building the perfect bed.

      • ignorantianescia says:

        Should this be bedmaker be gloried for making the perfect bed OR scolded for the 50,000 previous failures and inefficiency?

        I’m not so sure about inefficiency. The argument seems to suggest that there should be a certain threshold of life per volume that is met, but I’m not sue how it could be argued what value that threshold should be. Also, are we talking about density of the number of organisms, density of the numbers of species or the number of origins of life.

        Then there’s the difference between God kickstarting every instance of life personally versus life originating via abiogenesis. I can see the point of inefficiency and laziness in the first example, but wouldn’t life arising out of a finely tuned natural order be quite elegant?

      • M. Rodriguez says:

        I actually I would not describe as elegant. but more of as chaotic. Considering how life starts, I would describe it as chaotic and beautiful at times

        Let me take the example of a woman giving natural birth. A natural birth is a very beautiful thing, until something chaotic happens. And I’m implying chaotic will happen, but that for everything beautiful and elegant there is also a dangerous and destructive side to it also. Because in childbirth, so many things can go wrong either with the newborn baby or the mother.

        Another analogy I would give is the earth. Yes Mother earth is beautiful with all its elegance and nature. But in the beauty of this thing, we fail to realize that we are trapped on this planet. And we are trapped in our solar system. So if something was to happen to our home, where it becomes inhabitable. Our beautiful home becomes our deathbed.

  3. ignorantianescia says:

    (In all honesty, I am really confused as to what is the purpose of this question.)

    It is about whether people can be held accountable for their behaviour if there isn’t any free will. That is immediately related to whether punishment of crimes is ethical. Jerry Coyne for instance holds there is no free will but we should live as if there is (how that’d be possible if there is no free will eludes me). But as you accept free will, it doesn’t apply to you.

  4. graceone says:

    I personally think the fine tuning argument when studied in depth is extremely compelling. It was partly the force of this realization that impacted a life long atheist such as philosopher Dr. Antony Flew to radically rethink his position of many years.

    Also, the Scripture appears to teach that God does not intend the visible universe or our planet to be eternal.

    Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

    Hebrews 1:11 The Heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.
    Hebrews 1:12 You will roll them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

    2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      Whenever I think of the fine-tuning argument, I think of incompetence and inefficiency. like I said in my previous comment/analogy…

      Analogy: Let’s pretend we have a Bed maker, This bed maker is supposedly the best, as his reputation says. However, in order for this bed maker to make his perfect bed, he must go through trial and error on 50,000 previous beds before he is able to make that perfectly fine tuned bed for sleep and comfort. Should this be bedmaker be gloried for making the perfect bed OR scolded for the 50,000 previous failures and inefficiency?

      For a God to take glory for being able to do one part of his project of creating the earth, but allow the rest of the universe to look like chaos, looks like a Lazy God.

  5. Kitty says:

    In your answer to number seven I think you’ve misunderstood something. In the first situation, there is no rape involved. It is adultery. People would have heard if the woman screamed because she was in a town, if they didn’t it was because she didn’t scream. As well as, if you look, it says ‘slept with’ not rape. In the second situation, the woman is raped.
    When it comes to the sentences for these two crimes, I’m not sure. It may have something to do with the fact that ‘do not commit adultery’ is one of the Ten Commandments. In addition, marriage is a symbol of one’s relationship with God, one and one only. Violating that symbol is like violating the relationship with God. The second, yes the woman may be raped, but even so, in God’s eyes they have become one flesh. As well as, a woman used like that didn’t marry in the Old Testament. In a way, God was providing for her when he forced the man to pay the bride price and marry the woman because she would get no other and live alone for the rest of her life.

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      that is a nice theological answer, but if someone was to violate my daughter or your daughter or sister in the city, and she was to be stoned all because she didn’t scream, Is that a just punishment?

  6. arkenaten says:

    . In what terms do you define the value of human life? Is the life of a human child more or less valuable, for example, than that of an endangered species of primate?

    Me personally, I would say that the human life is the most precious commodity we will ever have. So no animal life is not more valuable than the life of a human.

    I would rate several of the koi in my garden pond way above quite a lot of humans past and present. And my two boxer dogs would get the nod above a darn sight more .

  7. Pingback: Just another atheist Questionaire | The BitterSweet End

  8. Pingback: Atheist Survey Results (n=23) | Well Spent Journey

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