CARM has posed 31 questions for atheists (presume much?) which I found on Godless Mom‘s blog. She’s answered these in her own words, now let me give it a go!
1. How would you define atheism?
Atheism is the lack of belief in any theistic god-claims.
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)?
How can one ‘act according with a lack of belief’? What would that even look like? I don’t believe in god, but I use a language which is steeped in the belief in a god, which formed in a circumstance where belief was the de facto position and atheism was punishable. I use utterances such as ‘for god’s sake’ because this is what I heard all the time during my formative years and is what I still hear all the time. It’s an utterance, nothing more.
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?
Nope. Not at all. I think it’s entirely consistent for a compassionate human being to work against wrong where they see it, to act against harm where they see it, to stand up for others less fortunate than themselves. My action is not derived from my atheism, though. It is informed by it and enforced by it but not derived from it.
4. How sure are you that your atheism properly represents reality?
Given that there are no proofs for the existence of a theistic claim within reality I am comfortable that my atheistic position is the correct, reality-aligned position. Yes.
5. How sure are you that your atheism is correct?
This was covered in point 4. I am comfortable that theists have failed their burden of proof.
Correct and representative of reality are the same thing, by the way.
6. How would you define what truth is?
Truth is that which conforms to testable, verifiable reality. Truth is shared, not specific. Defining truth is hard, recognizing it can also be hard, though often easier than just defining it.
7. Why do you believe your atheism is a justifiable position to hold?
See points 4 and 5. Why would belief in the unjustified, the unverified, the mystical be more justifiable than the lack of belief in same?
8. Are you a materialist or a physicalist or what?
Neither of these positions is relevant to or aligned with or dependent upon atheism, nor is atheism reliant upon, or dependent upon, either. I’m not even convinced that physicalism and materialism are even different enough to any discernible to any degree that matters.
9. Do you affirm or deny that atheism is a worldview? Why or why not?
I would deny it completely. Atheism speaks only to one’s position in relation to god claims. It is simply the denial that there exists sufficient grounds to believe in a god. This might inform one’s worldview, but it does not form it. It might even be beneficial to certain worldviews, or certain worldviews might find atheism necessary. This doesn’t mean atheism is a worldview.
10. Not all atheists are antagonistic to Christianity but for those of you who are, why the antagonism?
Because Christianity is harmful, spiteful, malicious and invasive. Were it none of those things then there would be no need for antagonism.
11. If you were at one time a believer in the Christian God, what caused you to deny his existence?
I was one of a rare breed. I was an atheist, then became a Christian, then reverted to my atheistic roots. Why? Because my lip-service to the god of Christianity was just that, lip service. I didn’t honestly believe. I wanted to believe so I pretended I did. Convinced all of the Christians at the church I was attending. Got baptized. The whole nine-yards. I even had some experiences which on a shallow reflection could be argued to be affirmative of the faith I was trying to show.
12. Do you believe the world would be better off without religion?
Much better off without religion, yes.
13. Do you believe the world would be better off without Christianity?
Religious Christians, yes. Organised and monitized Christians, most definitely. Christians full stop? Probably, but only because the average IQ would necessarily rise when people stopped believing in imaginary friends and started to act as if this were their only shot at anything, the only thing they would have.
14. Do you believe that faith in a God or gods is a mental disorder?
No. I would not as I have never seen the case justifiably made that it is. I would say it’s a disease of society, something which reinforces itself, violently where necessary.
15. Must God be known through the scientific method?
Can god be known at all? If he’s to be known at all then at the very least verifiable proof should be presented, not anecdotes and hear-say. At any rate, atheism does not speak about the ability to know of god, it speaks of the ability and reasonableness of belief in gods. Being an atheist I could also be agnostic towards knowledge claims in relation to god. I can say that the existence of god cannot be known, but that I don’t believe in god as belief and knowledge are different.
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?
If god interacts with the world there must necessarily be material evidence of it. If there are no interactions then why pray?
17. Do we have any purpose as human beings?
Objective purpose? Probably not, except for purposes imbued by humans examining the evolutionary necessity of gene propagation. Even then purpose is anthropic, so to suggest objective purpose exists is actually a nonsense. Subjective purpose is all around though.
18. If we do have purpose, can you as an atheist please explain how that purpose is determined?
Subjectively, societally, individually.
19. Where does morality come from?
Evolutionary pressures offer more than adequate explanations of the sources of morality than the Christian god does. The Christian god is deeply, deeply immoral.
20. Are there moral absolutes?
There could be, depending on what you mean by ‘absolutes’. Are there moral ‘rules’ which seem to have been applied by all peoples in all times? Very few but yes. These are not indicative of god in any way, they are simply the most conducive moral ‘rules’ by which society may be structured, the most basic of building blocks for society to exist in any way we might recognize. The absence of, for example, ‘don’t kill members of our community’ results in the absence of community.
21. If there are moral absolutes, could you list a few of them?
Don’t kill members of our community is about the only absolute I can easily bring to mind, as without it there is no continued community. Rape, murder, infanticide, etc, etc, etc. All have existed in various forms in various societies throughout the world throughout time.
22. Do you believe there is such a thing as evil? If so, what is it?
Evil is a very loaded term, coming ready filled with baggage of religion and the religious. I would recognise that the thing referred to in most contexts when evil is spoken about exists, yes. Still, evil is subjective, just as good and moral are. I believe it to be evil to rape people. The bible disagrees, as have many armies throughout the centuries. I believe it to be evil to subject others to slavery, something else the bible does not agree with.
23. If you believe that the God of the Old Testament is morally bad, by what standard do you judge that he is bad?
The subjective social standards of our times. The same standards you use when you judge that it’s wrong to sell your daughter into slavery or to stone someone to death for any of the dozen or more reasons in the bible.
24. What would it take for you to believe in God?
Genuine proof. Evidence which is not easily debunked.
25. What would constitute sufficient evidence for God’s existence?
Please stop trying to shift the burden of proof onto me. I am not the one making the extraordinary claim and so am not the one needing to come up with the extraordinary proof.
26. Must this evidence be rationally based, archaeological, testable in a lab, etc., or what?
Yes, any and or all of the above could be evidence, if sufficiently well justified. Though, archaeological evidence would have to be supremely good to have any kind of persuasive power in regards supernatural claims.
27. Do you think that a society that is run by Christians or atheists would be safer? Why?
Atheists would not be running the society as atheists, they could be running the society and be atheists at the same time but they would not be running the society as atheists. However, I know what kind of rapacious, woman hating, gay beating, doctor murdering society is be run by Christians. An atheist society might well not be safer, but it couldn’t be worse.
28. Do you believe in free will? (free will being the ability to make choices without coersion).
Framed like that, yes.
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 the neuro-chemical laws of the brain, can still produce free will choices?
Ah, now you’re moving the goalposts. I make my choices free from coercion as put in the previous question. However, my choices may well be deterministic in a physical sense. This doesn’t involve coercion though, so the answer to this question does not contradict the answer to the previous question.
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 be restricted by space and time? If not, why not?
This is science fiction, not science fact. To evolve in such a way would be impossible due to the nature of evolutionary pressures (only existing within temporal, physical reality).
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?
I didn’t, phew.
There were a lot of re-stated and clearly leading questions here, but I got through it. Chalk one up to my perseverance.