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.