Questions for atheists
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23-09-2013, 08:24 AM
RE: Questions for atheists
Megan, I think the guys are throwing way too much at you all at once for you to absorb. They didn't come up with all that in the 2 minutes it takes to read it either.

I think this conversation would be a lot more useful to you if you asked one simple question and people stuck to one simple answer.

That is a recurring issue here when nice theists drop in - everyone tries hard to communicate their views all at once and it is totally overwhelming and the theist leaves.

What it shows though is that we all are open to communications and welcome interested parties, and do understand, we don't care to convert or anything like that. We have a Christian admin, and while we all think that his Calvinism is nuts, we love him here. So we don't discriminate so much on the basis of religion, we like good people here, regardless.

We have a section for atheism and theism - a good place for all to communicate about the differences.

Anyway, I think this would work a lot better if you asked a question that people will answer - you will notice that we come from all walks of life and have quite divergent views.

I do hope that the "too much information" doesn't drive you off, I think you would do well here. The theists that get driven away on purpose are usually abusive to us, and you don't fit that type at all.

So, I hope you will stick around for a bit and we can all understand each other better.

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23-09-2013, 08:52 AM
RE: Questions for atheists
(23-09-2013 07:29 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  Megan, I wonder if you are interested in the biases I see in the questions here. I suspect you are writing your paper for a theistic program of study and that the questions were put forward by a teacher who follows a "presuppositional" approach to apologetics. I'll go through question by question and perhaps this will shed some light.

The Presuppositionalism I thought was fairly obvious in the questions, also.
Even teachers who think they are not "doing" that, almost cannot help themselves.
I won't name names, but even in the best Ivy League places, I've seen it happen, (although there are a few remarkable educators who carefully avoid it).

I also hope Megan sticks around. She seems like a delightful change of pace from the usual drive-by trolls we get. And Dom's "one question" is a great idea. (In fact it maybe is also an idea for a weekly or monthly type of posting ??) It may give her an idea of all the diverse opinions on any one subject we have here.

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23-09-2013, 08:56 AM
RE: Questions for atheists
(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  Hi everybody! I am new here... I joined because I would really love some answers from you. I am writing a paper on worldviews and I have 8 questions to ask...I would really appreciate it if one of you could take the time to answer these!

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  1) what is prime reality? (the thing from which everything else comes)
Example: God

I don't know what everything came from; however I can say with some certainty that the original matter and energy from this universe originated from a singularity (however, some now consider that a 4 dimensional black hole caused it)

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  2) what is the nature of external reality?
Example: external reality is the universe which God created out of nothing.

I'll be honest; I don't really get this one.

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  3) what is a human being?

A human being is an ape with highly advanced tool usage capacity.

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  4) what happens at death?

All biological functions cease irrevocably; all remaining energy is lost as heat and materials are recycled back into the Earth by decomposers.

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  5) why is it possible to know anything at all?

That question is, I believe, faulted: Should one believe that it is not possible to know anything, then they are saying they know that and are contradicting themselves...

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  6) how do we know what is right and what is wrong?

I wont pretend to know morality; but my best guess is that most creatures (well, at least most mammals) evolved the capacity for empathy which forces us unconsciously to form connections with others forcing us to avoid hard to ourselves by not harming those we have connections we, thus we have 'right' and 'wrong' as words to positive and negative feelings which come from social actions.

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  7) what is the meaning of human history?
Example: history is a meaningful sequence of events that lead to God's will.

There is no meaning to human history as far as I can see: If one sees it as a meaningful sequence of events, then they are falling victim to Hindsight "Of course it was always going to end like that, look at how the past events all arranged themselves for X to happen".

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  8) what person, life orienting core commitments are consistent with your worldview?

... I dun get it...

(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  Thank you SO much to anyone who takes the time to answer these questions!
Megan Smile

That was fun; now I really need to go to bed...

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23-09-2013, 09:11 AM
RE: Questions for atheists
(23-09-2013 08:52 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  
(23-09-2013 07:29 AM)Hafnof Wrote:  Megan, I wonder if you are interested in the biases I see in the questions here. I suspect you are writing your paper for a theistic program of study and that the questions were put forward by a teacher who follows a "presuppositional" approach to apologetics. I'll go through question by question and perhaps this will shed some light.

The Presuppositionalism I thought was fairly obvious in the questions, also.
Even teachers who think they are not "doing" that, almost cannot help themselves.
I won't name names, but even in the best Ivy League places, I've seen it happen, (although there are a few remarkable educators who carefully avoid it).

I also hope Megan sticks around. She seems like a delightful change of pace from the usual drive-by trolls we get. And Dom's "one question" is a great idea. (In fact it maybe is also an idea for a weekly or monthly type of posting ??) It may give her an idea of all the diverse opinions on any one subject we have here.

I'm not sure I read as much presuppositionalism in the questions as much as I read leading questions. But I can see what you are getting at.

What I mean is that I don't think the person who wrote them was really trying to set up a presuppositional defense of the questions, but was trying to use the questions to lead to either the answers "I don't know" or non-answers that avoid the subject entirely. (like question 2. I have no idea how to answer that because I think it is leading towards an answer.)

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23-09-2013, 09:24 AM (This post was last modified: 23-09-2013 10:58 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Questions for atheists
(23-09-2013 09:11 AM)TheBeardedDude Wrote:  
(23-09-2013 08:52 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  The Presuppositionalism I thought was fairly obvious in the questions, also.
Even teachers who think they are not "doing" that, almost cannot help themselves.
I won't name names, but even in the best Ivy League places, I've seen it happen, (although there are a few remarkable educators who carefully avoid it).

I also hope Megan sticks around. She seems like a delightful change of pace from the usual drive-by trolls we get. And Dom's "one question" is a great idea. (In fact it maybe is also an idea for a weekly or monthly type of posting ??) It may give her an idea of all the diverse opinions on any one subject we have here.

I'm not sure I read as much presuppositionalism in the questions as much as I read leading questions. But I can see what you are getting at.

What I mean is that I don't think the person who wrote them was really trying to set up a presuppositional defense of the questions, but was trying to use the questions to lead to either the answers "I don't know" or non-answers that avoid the subject entirely. (like question 2. I have no idea how to answer that because I think it is leading towards an answer.)

Survey questions are often asked to produce answers which have "the usual" refutations "available". In this case in normal Apologetic discussions, at a fairly "beginner" level, IMO. Embedded in the way each question is asked, is a pre-programmed response, or small response range, to narrow the thought to a narrow (actually boring, very beginner) level of discussion. Survey / sampling techniques are quite a high art, and in taking surveys I drive the takers nuts, as I will never answer the way they want. They really aren't questions real live atheists/agnostics think about (any more).

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23-09-2013, 09:57 AM
RE: Questions for atheists
Welcome to the forum Smile
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23-09-2013, 10:12 AM
RE: Questions for atheists
1) what is prime reality? (the thing from which everything else comes)
I don't know.

2) what is the nature of external reality?

3) what is a human being?
An evolved primate species.

4) what happens at death?
You die. Your heart, brain and body cease to function.

5) why is it possible to know anything at all?
Define "know"

6) how do we know what is right and what is wrong?

7) what is the meaning of human history?
Why does it need meaning?

8) what person, life orienting core commitments are consistent with your worldview?
Worldview?
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23-09-2013, 10:36 AM
Smile RE: Questions for atheists
(22-09-2013 12:34 PM)Megan Wrote:  Hi everybody! I am new here... I joined because I would really love some answers from you. I am writing a paper on worldviews and I have 8 questions to ask...I would really appreciate it if one of you could take the time to answer these!

1) what is prime reality? (the thing from which everything else comes)
Pre-Big Bang; a densely compacted ball of every element that is in existence.
2) what is the nature of external reality?
Example: external reality is the universe which God created out of nothing.
"A Universe From Nothing" I think there is a book about that by Laurence Krause.
Read it if you are truly seeking answers to the above questions.
3) what is a human being?
Volumes have been written. Short answer: an animal species
4) what happens at death?
I think your asking do we exist after death? We find out when we die
5) why is it possible to know anything at all?
We have a brain.
6) how do we know what is right and what is wrong?
Right and wrong are ideas that are developed by society for the benefit of the majority.
7) what is the meaning of human history?
When accurately recorded, our history can & has led to improvements in society and sometimes the prevention of repeating past mistakes
8) what person, life orienting core commitments are consistent with your worldview?
No one person. I try to avoid hero worship if possible.
I am committed to a reality based on what is before me and not what I hope is.


Thank you SO much to anyone who takes the time to answer these questions!
Megan Smile

"A man should look for what is, and not he thinks should be"
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23-09-2013, 12:49 PM (This post was last modified: 23-09-2013 01:36 PM by DLJ.)
RE: Questions for atheists
Sorry I'm late to the party.

I got held up in all the excitement and traffic disruption caused by the F1 and Justin Bieber.

What's a girl to do? Sigh!

I was drafting my response to the OP as a critical analysis of the questions but then I read Hafnof's post.
I can't do better.
Megan, please submit that one.

Reading through the various, sometimes varying and sometimes similar opinions, I was struck most by this line...

(22-09-2013 09:24 PM)Megan Wrote:  ...
I will say before anything else that I am very, very strong in my faith and will not be swayed.
...

I honestly think that this is the saddest thought I have ever seen expressed on TTA.

And to express it at such a young age with so much potential ahead of you; so much to learn, so much evidence to sift through.

We have crusty, old grumps here who even now, in their dotage, can be swayed by debate, discussion, reason, logic and evidence.

I'm one of them.

I was reminded once again of the antithesis of that thought:

“The offer of certainty, the offer of complete security, the offer of an impermeable faith that can’t give way, is an offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk - all the time - that I don’t know anything like enough yet; that I haven’t understood enough; that I can’t know enough; that I’m always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn't have it any other way...
take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.”







I'd like to add, if I may, a small extension of Haffy's comment regarding question 5):
If an interventionist god or gods existed, we would not know anything.
Not for certain.

No result of any scientific experiment would be valid as we would not know whether the gods influenced the result or not.
No more Nobel Prizes.
No point trying to find out.
No point in continuing your education.

An interventionist god cannot exist in a predictable world.

A non-intervening deity? Yes.

Christianity debunked in 10 seconds.

No need to thank me. Any time.

Big Grin

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23-09-2013, 12:53 PM (This post was last modified: 23-09-2013 12:58 PM by Reltzik.)
RE: Questions for atheists
Totally agreed with Dom's last post. Megan, I suggest that if you are interested in sticking around after you're done with your paper (perhaps to continue asking us questions for your own education, rather than for a grade), that you keep your questions short and simple. What you've been provided here should properly take a month to digest. For that matter, it's just scratching the surface. Any one of the questions you asked could not properly be answered with a sentence or a short paragraph. You'd need several pages to simply provide a summary of the answer, and entire books could be written on them. The short answer format can't begin to convey what our attitudes are or what we're trying to say.

This board does have a tendency to respond to theists who show up with hostility. That is largely because the theists who do show up are usually more interested in trying to prove us wrong than in hanging out and asking and exploring questions. Actually, that part would be forgivable. People tend to leave Christianity for atheism because they are seeking truth and discover that Christianity doesn't have it, and a discovery that it DOES have it, while shocking, would still be welcome. The problem is that in trying to prove us wrong these same theists largely employ demonstrably flawed argumentation that has long ago been debunked, in a confrontational manner, usually accompanied by a wide variety of insults and cheap shots, that fits entirely too well with the discriminatory abuse that we are exposed to in our day-to-day encounters with the pushier members of Christianity. (In some cases that abuse has been severe, destroying families and livelihoods, and you may wish to step gingerly around some of its worst victims.) If you aren't going to employ those tactics, and you don't seem likely to, then you'll be welcome here.
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