Christian Medical Comment – A Doctor Writes…
I stumbled across this site whilst checking out my Twitter stream the other day, and thought I’d share these “20 Questions Atheists Struggle To Answer”. I would point out that I do consider myself an atheist, and had no problem answering these questions.
1.What caused the universe to exist?
The Big Bang explanation is as good as any, as is the idea of a continuously existing, by oscillating universe. God(s)come from where and why?
2.What explains the fine tuning of the universe?
Our universe is the way it is because of the so-called fine tuning. If constants were different, it would be a different one (like the parallel universes to our own)
3.Why is the universe rational?
Is it really that rational? It certainly helps if it is predictable, otherwise how could we function day-to-day.
4.How did DNA and amino acids arise?
With the right basic elements and right conditions, they are likely to occur, as experiments show (as a trained scientist I’m surprised you have to ask this one)
5.Where did the genetic code come from?
Similar answer to 4. The successful code is the one that survived to today. It’s called evolution.
6.How do irreducibly complex enzyme chains evolve?
7.How do we account for the origin of 116 distinct language families?
The early human race spread out from Africa far and wide. Isolated communities will develop their own local communication systems and languages, as is seen by variants of contemporary main-stream languages such as French and Dutch. There are still certain overlaps in word derivation within those 116 language families.
8.Why did cities suddenly appear all over the world between 3,000 and 1,000BC?
Presumably, as local populations increased in size and success, their villages became towns, then towns grew into cities. Obvious really.
9.How is independent thought possible in a world ruled by chance and necessity?
The world has a great deal of order and predictability, as seen by science. Independent thought is something that a vast number of sentient being show, as well as ‘pack’ behaviour.
10.How do we account for self-awareness?
It just is, therefore needs no further explanation. It is a development of high levels of sentience – that we know we have. Do other creatures have it? Perhaps.
11.How is free will possible in a material universe?
How is anything possible in a material universe? It clearly is, because we have it and the universe is still here (energy, matter, antimatter, dark matter, dark energy, etc. This is probably your stupidest question.
12.How do we account for conscience?
Perhaps we don’t need to, as it has developed from increased levels of sentience and the need to work together for mutual support and survival.
13.On what basis can we make moral judgements?
By judging what seems fair and reasonable, based on how we think others would like to be treated. Not a perfect system, but better that using Bronze Age made up rules, alleged to be handed down verbally to illiterate goatherds.
14.Why does suffering matter?
It is better for all creatures that suffering does not happen. By definition, it’s not very nice. Some would argue, that some humans become more caring if they have experienced suffering.
15.Why do human beings matter?
In many ways, they don’t as far as the Earth, Solar System or the Universe is concerned. Those three systems can continue without us.
As far as life on this planet, we do matter as we have (and continue to have) a wide ranging effect on our surroundings and the life of many creatures. As far as we are concerned, we do feel humans matter, as we are the one debating the matter!
16.Why care about justice?
It’s about projecting that same idea onto ourselves. Injustice and unfairness generally upset reasonable humans, though many seem unable to apply it in certain circumstances, particularly in defense of self, family or tribe.
17.How do we account for the almost universal belief in the supernatural?
Pareidolia, plain and simple. The human brain has basic ‘hard-wiring’ to look/listen for patterns, especially if it means spotting food or predators. It’s what’s kept generations going for thousands of years. Our ancestors that saw the long grass rustling and always thought “danger”, so ran away, tended to survive more often than those that thought it was just the wind. The pessimists did sometimes feel foolish, but their genes were successfully passed on.
This also partly explains the myriad of conspiracy theorists that abound (9/11 ‘truthers’, UFO fanatics, ghost hunters, mystics and the religious).
18.How do we know the supernatural does not exist?
The burden of proof is the other way. As there has NEVER been any repeatable, scientific evidence for any supernatural entities or experiences, I would say the ball is in your court. The JREF has a million dollars if you can prove it.
BTW, Supernatural implies above/beyond nature. If so, it should not interact or be observed within nature, i.e. the whole Universe.So, if there were supernatural beings, it would be of no consequence to us I feel.
19.How can we know if there is conscious existence after death?
We can’t, because there is no evidence to show that there is. Nobody has come back or communicated with the living. It is magical and wishful thinking. It will be like it was before we were born, nothing. It is hard to accept, but we aren’t children and we have to grow up. Make the most of what you have got now and not deceive yourself it will be better the next time around.
20.What accounts for the empty tomb, resurrection appearances and growth of the church?
Empty tomb – if it actually happened at all (and the Bible is not completely consistent in this story), then there could be lots of explanations.
Resurrection appearances – based on a series of stories written down at least 30 years after the event, probably didn’t happen as described. Also, don’t forget there are plenty of modern day mass hallucination stories.
Growth of the church – or should that be churches? Back to earlier comments really. Humans as pattern matchers, looking for answers to puzzles, ‘prophets’ making a name for themselves/money by inventing stories. Charismatic speakers sway a few, once a core group is established, they have a bigger effect on the uneducated or ‘unenlightened’, and so it grows. Add in some rituals, communal singing, socializing, and being told you are special – Bob’s your uncle!
Next questions atheists struggle to answer?
Check the comments on his blog for yourself to see how hard it was for others. (http://pjsaunders.blogspot.co.uk)