Todd Pitner is a Christian who has posted his questions to atheists over at his website.

I answer those questions now.

Questions For Atheists (*) REGARDING:

*…and seekers, agnostics, fence-sitters, non-Christians and lapsed Christians

TRUTH
1. What or whom do you consider to be YOUR chosen intellectual starting point, your supreme authority for knowledge, your final standard for truth? Why?

I accept empiricism. The idea that knowledge only comes to us through one or more of our five physical senses makes perfect sense. The only way to show empiricism faulty is to provide empirical evidence of such, and as soon as you do that, you are biting the hand that feeds you. If empirical evidence is not the best way to discover truth, then how do you know empirical evidence of empiricism’s limitations is reliable?

2. Would you consider turning skepticism on itself and examine your own assumptions?

Yes.

3. If God exists, could Christianity be exclusively true?

no, because without further definition, “Christianity” constitutes nothing but a mess of conflicting groups and splintered denominations all pointing the finger at each other and crying “heretic”, often using the same bible to do so. Apparently then, the meaning of biblical words is no more definite than the words of the 2nd Amendement, upon which higher courts disagree. In 2002 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Silveira v. Lockyer, 312 F.3d 1052 (9th Cir.2002) conducted a scholarly examination of the second amendment and concluded that individuals do not have the right to keep and bear arms. In 2008 the US Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) conducted its own scholarly examination of the Second Amendment and concluded that individuals do have the right to keep and bear arms. The idea that words can always successfully convey their true meaning, is false. Hence, just because something is written in the bible does not mean it is possible to recover the original meaning intended by the author.

MATTER IN MOTION
1. Is the material reality the only reality (are we just material creatures in a material world and nothing more)?

It would appear so, but even if non-material reality existed, all that would matter is how convincing the evidence for it was. When carefully read, all scientific discussion about non-material reality is highly theoretical, nobody pretends they can demonstrate any such thing.

2. Is reductive materialism synonymous with reason and science? Why?

Yes, because science by definition requires repeated experimentation, tabulation of repeated results, and then hypothesis based on the pattern of repeated results. So by definition, science cannot pretend to prove anything that is non-material. How indeed would you investigate a non-material thing? As far as “reason”, this is more ambiguous, since a case could be made that belief in non-material things is rationally justified even if false. For example, the only thing holding a family together is Christian faith.

AFTERLIFE
1. What happens after we die?

The same thing we see happening to other people after they die.

2. Do you KNOW there is nothing more beyond death? How?

Yes, because there is good evidence that human beings are solely physical, brain damage causing mind–malfunction destroys mind/body dualism, and in that case, there is no more reason to believe there life after death for humans, than there is life after death for bugs. If mind/body dualist arguments are convincing regarding humans, why don’t these also prove that bugs have a spiritual side?

3. Isn’t the Christian’s hope for heaven a better bet than the atheist’s hope there is no hell?

“better” is a subjective value judgment, and in my judgment, the question is loaded since it assumes atheists “hope” there is no hell, when in fact we regard the teaching of a literal hell to be akin to fairy tales. We no more “hope” hell isn’t real, than we “hope” that Cinderella never divorced.

4. If God does exist as Biblically revealed, would hindsight on Judgment Day render Christians inappropriately prejudiced or gullible?

yes. If the bible god is real, it certainly isn’t because of the evidence. You might as well ask whether the guy who won a single hand of blackjack, was stupid to have bet the family farm on that one hand, seeing now that he ended up winning. Yes, he was stupid in spite of getting lucky.

SUPERNATURAL
1. Is there a supernatural realm, a reality that lies outside sense perception and outside the reach of modern science? If not, how do you know?

Yes, a reality that is not subject to human sense perception could exist, but there’s no reason to worry about it if the arguments in favor of it are plagued by unsupported assumptions and hasty generalizations.

2. Is God a byproduct of wishful thinking? Why?

Yes, because the evidence indicates that god’s utility does not lie in what he can demonstrably do, but in the comfort the idea of god gives to people.

MIRACLES
1. Can bona fide miracles happen? If not, why not?

The word “miracles” is left undefined, when in fact that is a major problem for Christians. If by “miracle” you mean some unexplained thing, then yes, because unexplained things happen all the time. If by “miracle” you mean “act of god”, now the question is requiring the atheist to presume the existence of god. That’s the dilemma for miracles. If you define it without mentioning god, you get nowhere in your apologetics. If you define it to include or imply god, then it is a loaded question requiring the atheist to part with her denial of god, in which case the parties cannot agree on how to define a term critical to their disagreement.

2. If a Supernatural Transcendent Causal Agent does exist, with or without our acknowledgment, and if He (let’s say) was so powerful that He could think all Universal matter, space, time and energy into existence from nothing, wouldn’t creating life, parting the Red Sea, turning water into wine, healing the sick, revealing His nature through Divinely inspired Biblical authors and raising a Loved One from the dead be child’s play? (Yes or No)

Yes.

SCIENCE
1. Is science the only means of gaining reliable knowledge? Why?

Yes. Nobody has demonstrated that they can discover truth without using some sort of scientific method, and those who claim non-scientific access to knowledge either end up giving the world information already known, or information that turns out to be false.

2. Is belief in God a byproduct of ignoring science? Why?

No, because belief in God brings a comfort to a person regarding things that science cannot answer, such as whether there is ultimate purpose to life. The fact that many scientists believe in god means not much more than that many Catholic priests have sexually molested children.

3. Does faith in God mean one has to relinquish science and reason?

No, Christianity comes in various shapes and sizes, and if you still respect science and logic, you can be a liberal Christian who affirms faith in Christ without bible inerrancy.

4. Can scientific claims be faith-based?

Yes. Faith inheres in all scientific claims since all theories of knowledge (epistemologies) ultimately start from axioms. But the common denominator of faith doesn’t constitute an admission that the faith required to believe in the existence of trees is just as blind as the faith required to believe Jesus rose from the dead. There is no such thing as absolute proof, but there is such a thing as people believing things that are most likely nonsense.

ORIGINS 1. Do you believe that the Universe expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past and continues to expand to this day?

No, and neither did the author of Genesis. God’s work of creation in that book would never have been understood by its originally intended recipients as god causing a massive explosion.
2. Rewinding back to the origin of the Universe, how much matter can be put into zero spatial volume?
Irrelevant.
3. If a Supernatural Transcendent Causal Agent does NOT exist, what brought the Universe into existence?
Nothing, the universe has always existed as a place where stars are born and die. its size is infinite, thus, infinite matter for creating stars and planets.
4. Can you provide EMPIRICAL evidence for ANYTHING spontaneously appearing out of nowhere?
No, and neither can the creationists, who believe god creating everything “from nothing”.
5. What is your best explanation for the origins of intelligent life? Why?
Strata never deviate from the pattern of the simpler creatures at bottom, and man at the top, so it appears intelligence in life grows stronger as time wears on.
DESIGN & ORDER
1. If there is no God, how do you explain the high degree of design and order in the Universe?
The same way I explain why several pennies tossed onto the floor land in the precise way and relation to each other that they do, in a pattern not likely to be achieved again in millions of years…physical laws.
EVOLUTION
1. Is the theory of evolution THE refutation to divine creation? Why?
Not necessarily, some Christians are theistic evolutionists and see no problem inserting evolution into Genesis 1 and 2.
2. Is the theory of macro-evolution a scientific fact? How do you know?
Yes, because I have studied it and found it true.
3. Aren’t our genetic components exactly the same as mice, not apes?
No.
Wouldn’t that make our common ancestor more likely to be a mouse based on evolutionary theory?
No.
4. In relation to all other ‘descendents’, why are the following ‘Cultural Big Bangs’ unique only to the human species?
a. Creating and wearing clothing
b. Creating and wearing jewelery
c. Creating and using advanced tools
d. Creating and dancing to music
e. Creating and cherishing art
f. Linguistic evolution
g. Creating symbols and writing languages
h. Writing about the future
i. Succeeding agriculturally
j. Celebrating birth
k. Burying the dead
l. Worshiping God(s)
Because humans have a higher developed emotional and intelligence capacity.
FOSSIL RECORD
1. How do you account for the Cambrian Explosion? What is your evidence?
Too speculative to say, but millions of years of “explosion” cannot be reconciled with the bible.
2. Can you provide specific evidence for species-to-species transitional forms in the fossil record?
Yes. Google “tiktaalik”
ARCHAEOLOGY
1. How do you account for the vast archaeological documentation of Biblical stories, places, and people?
The bible authors inserted true history into their mythical tales and fables.
INFORMATION
1. Regarding the information encoded in DNA, if a supernatural transcendent Almighty God did not author it, what did? How do you know?
I’m not a scientist, I cannot say, but if human dna complexity requires intelligent designer, well, experience also teaches us that the designer must be at least as complex if not more so than the designed object, in which case god has complexity that, under your logic, requires a design inference. If you arbitrarily stop inferring higher intelligence from complexity merely because you arrive back at god, you aren’t a true believer in the theory that design always requires a higher intelligent designer.
2. Do you object to the notion of Intelligent Design because of your lack of religious values?
No, I object to the creationist theory of ID because creationists themselves don’t go where it logically leads, to their god’s complexity necessarily implying a higher intelligent designer.
THE IMMATERIAL
1. Are there subjective or immaterial experiences and entities? How do you know?
No, because “immaterial” appears to be incoherent given that what you want to say can only be couched in the negative.
2. In an all-material Universe, how do YOU account for the immaterial Laws of Logic, Science, Math, Morality and Uniformity of Nature?
That’s sort of like asking “If god doesn’t exist, why is water wet?”
3. What or whom is your final reference point required to make facts and laws intelligible?
education and empiricism
4. Is love material?
Yes, it is emotion and concern arising from physical brain reactions.
Beauty? Consciousness? Logic? Reason? How are they empirically measured? How much does the number nine weigh?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, consciousness only occurs when there is a functioning physical brain, logic would mean nothing if there was no material, and reason only occurs due to a functioning brain. Numbers are theoretical postulations created by material minds to aid in quantifying our surroundings.
5. Where does thought come from?
From the brain. Take away the brain, take away thought, injure the brain, injure the thought process.
Is there a non-material mind that transcends the physical brain? How do you empirically know?
Anything “could” be, but the evidence is very clear that the mind is nothing but a function of the brain, and if mind-body dualism logic be properly adhered to, you’d have to posit that bugs have a non-material side of life that survives death.
6. Can you empirically observe your mind (not your brain)? If not, does it exist?
Yes, just like you observe power generated from a functioning muscle.
EVIL
1. Do you acknowledge the existence of evil (at least in your practice if not in your beliefs)?
Yes, because I make value judgments in life.
2. When you complain about the problem of evil, aren’t you presupposing God?
No, I am presupposing the validity of my own value judgments.
3. If God does NOT exist, can ‘good’ and ‘evil’ exist? If yes, by whose ultimate authority and how is each empirically measured?
As long and good and evil are not defined as absolutes, no more authority for defining them need be given than the subjective judgment of the individual.
MORALITY
1. What is the basis for the common moral values Christians and non-Christians, as a whole, seem to share?
The desire of most humans to avoid unnecessary suffering.
2. Per the atheist worldview, is society ‘really’ evolving for the better? Why?
Atheism says nothing about society’s evolution toward anything ‘better’. The atheist who would answer directly, must draw not on atheism, but her subjective morals.
3. Would you agree with this statement: “Child pornography is immoral even though morality cannot be proven scientifically in a laboratory experiment?”
Yes, but why are you asking me? How is your case strengthened if one individual agrees with you that child pornography is immoral?
If so, what is the genetic source of morality if humans have descended from apes?
We did not descend from apes, apes and humans branched from a common ancestor. Common outrage against child pornography is sourced in the common desire to avoid unnecessary suffering.
4. HYPOTHETICAL SCENARIO: Immediately after marrying, you and your wife attempted pregnancy. You tried conceiving for two years with no success. Requiring surgery, your wife was put under anesthesia nine months before your first child was born. While unconscious, the doctor decided to have his way with your wife. His male staff assistant watched, waiting his turn. Each unleashed their gift of procreation in her prior to completing the minor surgical procedure. That night, the two of you took full advantage of the fact she was ovulating. Unbeknownst to either of you, the doctor’s sperm out swam yours. Your wife never knew she was raped while unconscious, nor did you, and no other human being ever found out – there were no consequences to this act except the celebrated arrival of a beautiful, baby boy named after his Father. QUESTION: Was it absolutely wrong for the doctor and his assistant to gang-rape your wife? Why?
Those who would say it is absolutely wrong, are only using “absolute” non-literally, since there is no absolute set of rules that gang-rape violates. They more correctly mean the gang rape violates their personal morality.
5. Where does the non-believer’s conscience get its authority from?
That is a confusing question. Conscience arises from a functioning brain, but “authority” usually means allowance by an official.
6. In an all-natural, all-material world, how did ‘oughts’ evolve from physical matter? When, and how do you know?
Oughts arose from intelligence. The more intelligence, the more likely the organism will make subject calls. When I say a man ought not to rape a woman, I am only speaking my mind, while knowing there is no absolute set or morals somewhere that rape violates.
GOD
1. If you ARE God’s creation, isn’t it true your present attitude is unfair to Him?
Yes, and he has only himself to blame for creating creatures that cause him unfairness. If welfare mothers are not wise to just keep having kids, god was not wise to bring into being problematic people that he could just as easily have left without existence.
Insulting, actually? And you thus have very good reason to deny His existence because you deserve punishment for your utter disregard?
You leap from “god” to “atheists deserve punishment”. That doesn’t follow logically. First show that the god who exists, if any, wants to punish atheists.
2. Are you willing to follow the evidence where it leads, and consider the “cumulative case” for God’s existence? If not, why?
Yes.
3. Are you right about God? How do you know?
The same way I know I’m right to deny the existence of the tooth fairy.
4. If you are not right about God, do you know how to GET right with God?
why should the mere existence of a god that I deny, automatically imply that I am in trouble for so denying?
DISBELIEF IN GOD
1. What do you consider to be the single most compelling reason to believe God does NOT exist? Why?
the same reason to believe the loch ness monster doesn’t exist. The arguments in favor are inconsistent, unsound, and testify more to humanity’s love of mystery and their general dislike of critical thinking. Belief in god removes a shitload of undesirable complexity.
2. If God does exist, do you have a subjective desire that He not exist? Why?
No, no more than a subjective desire that space aliens not exist.
3. Are there any practical benefits to atheism? If so, what are they and why?
Yes, under atheism, life is far more rare than under theism, so an atheist can attribute more value to life as a rarity, than a theist can.
4. What would it take for you to believe in God’s existence?
Couldn’t say, since “god” is an incoherent concept.
5. If you found the Biblical God does indeed exist, would your life change for the better or worse? Why?
I deny the validity of the question, the “biblical god” possesses mutually contradictory properties.
BIBLE
1. Have you ever actually read the Bible?
Yes.
2. If the Biblical God DOES exist, could a lack of Biblical knowledge explain good atheism?
I deny the validity of the question, the “biblical god” possesses mutually contradictory properties.
3. Would you be willing to read the Gospel of John, just once, as if it were true and Jesus was smart?
Would you be willing to read the book of Mormon, just once, as if it were true and Moroni was smart?
PROPHESY
1. Since absolutely no Bible prophecy has ever failed (and there are hundreds), how can one realistically remain unconvinced that the Bible is of Divine origin?
You deliberately tried to create animosity there, since you know perfectly well that atheists can rebut, and as a result are not impressed in the slightest with, the apologetics tool called “biblical prophecy”
2. How do you explain David’s graphic portrayal of Jesus’ death by crucifixion (Psalm 22) 1000 years before Christ lived?
I see nothing unnerving about a religious dying Jesus repeating words he knows from his holy book, still less gospel authors telling the crucifixion story in a way that makes it line up with certain statements in that Psalm.
3. How do you explain that the prophet Daniel prophesied the exact YEAR when the Christ would be presented as Messiah and also prophesied that the temple would be destroyed afterwards over 500 years in advance (Daniel 9:24-27)?
I deny the legitimacy of the question since the prophecy is ambiguous and even Christian scholars disagree that it was a literal prediction. Which decree?
4. How could any mere human pinpoint the precise birth town of the Messiah seven full centuries before the fact, as did the prophet Micah?
How could a mere man like Joseph Smith restore the gospel without help from god?
CHRISTIANITY
1. Are there any practical benefits to Christianity? If so, what are they and why? If not, why?
Yes, it makes life easier to understand and accept.
2. Is there a difference between “Christianity” and “Religion”? If so, what is it? If not, why?
None, Christians who distinguish belief in Jesus from “religious” are just parroting talk-points used by pastors to make Christianity look innovating.
3. Do you fully understand WHAT Christians believe?
Yes.
4. Do you know what the Gospel is?
Yes, it is whatever Jesus said must be done to get saved: legalism. Matthew 5:20, Matthew 19:17.
JESUS CHRIST
1. Who do YOU say Jesus Christ is? Why?
Nothing but a religious nut. Is this the point where you start sounding like a Jack Chick tract?
2. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, why?
Because aside from Paul, all NT evidence to Jesus rising from the dead is hearsay, and although historians normally don’t automatically exclude hearsay, they do when the hearsay is testifying to things that defy common experience. At least I do. And Paul said his experience with Christ was a vision. Visions don’t count.
3. What are the implications for YOU if Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?
What are the implications for YOU if the Muslim version of hell is true?
4. Are you fully familiar with the body of historical evidence relating to the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
no, because the NT data, from which it ultimately derives, is contradictory, hearsay, and confused.
JUST CURIOUS
1. If caterpillars could talk, would they argue against the cocoon-of-the-gaps with their butterfly friends?
Depends on whether they could remember coming out of their cocoons.
2. If there was a Big Bang, where did the bullets come from? Who pulled the trigger and who manufactured the gun?
n/a. I don’t believe in the big bang.
3. How does science weigh morality?
Probably by repeating an experiment.
Does ‘goodness’ expand when frozen or rise when heated?
No, as would be the case for any subjective value-judgment.
4. If man is just an evolved animal, why have we never observed another species thrilling in the beauty of a sunset or a picturesque mountain view?
Maybe because you don’t have a cat.
5. While you’ve most likely heard, “Forever’s a long time to be wrong,” have you ever considered it’s also a “long time to be right?”
No, “forever” is just fantasy lyrics from some bad pop music of the 80’s
Do you know The Gospel (Good News)?
Yes. It is “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 5:20 NAU)
As reflected in the questions above, non-believers are not immune from accountability.
Shouldn’t you wait for the answers?
We invite you to, at minimum, read through these challenges and think, “What is The Gospel According to Me?” Can you answer all these questions and maintain your disbelief with full intellectual integrity?
Can you deny the legalistic version of the gospel preached by Jesus, and continue avoiding it as you evangelize?
We pray that many of these inquiries might nag at your atheism. If you feel so bold, we invite you to submit a full answer-set to todd(at)iLoveAtheists.com. Please note, if in your response you deem it necessary to swear or be verbally offensive, all your submission will be deleted and access to site content denied thereafter. Thank you for respecting this request.
Jesus and Paul used cuss words of their day, what’s the matter?
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