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Community => Life As An Atheist => Topic started by: Mr. IXTUS on January 17, 2019, 07:58:20 PM

Title: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Mr. IXTUS on January 17, 2019, 07:58:20 PM
I am a Christian and Bible teacher (8th-10th grade) at a preparatory school.  I will be posting here mostly on behalf of my 8th grade Apologetics students who have questions for atheists like you!  In light of that I thought about adopting a screen name like "Legion" since we are many, but then I thought better of it . . .

Anyway, just be aware that when posting I will be representing more than just my own thoughts.  In fact, almost never my own thoughts. 

Here are a list of questions for you and we would be very grateful for any you are willing to answer!

1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

11) Why do you believe what you believe?

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?


Enjoy!
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 17, 2019, 08:45:07 PM
Those are a lot of questions! :lol: I'll try my very best to answer.

1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

Not my whole belief system, but as much as is appropriate yes. For instance, scientism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientism) doesn't necessarily add value to the discussion of topics outside the actual realm of science (materialistic universe). If something exists that science cannot ever observe, weigh or measure then talking about that in a scientific light is just wrong. It would be a misuse of the scientific method.

For instance, you can study believers' brains and see what areas are more or less activated under which circumstances but you can't say science disproves all supernatural gods. 

As for god (s), I just don't see how believing in any of those adds value to the discussion either. I never believed in any gods. As Carl Sagan pointed out, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and that's what I want from believers in the supernatural.

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

I don't care much one way or the other, whatever religion taken to its extremes is toxic to society in my eyes. Monotheistic religions seem to be less tolerant than polytheistic ones, so I would count those among my least favourite. Deism is less harmful, I guess.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

Not that I know of...there are secular schools.

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

I was always an atheist.

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

Being free from the thought shackles of religion is how I want to live my life. I abhor others telling me what to think, and especially threatening me to think a certain way or I will suffer eternal torment.

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?

As I mentioned before, I was always an atheist. Life has ups and downs, just as it does for everybody.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

When you die, you cease to exist. I am reminded of a quote by Mark Twain which expresses what I think very well:

“I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

I think, we as a species, are 'cursed' with the knowledge that we will die and so desperately seek a solution to it, but that doesn't necessarily make the solutions true.

8 ) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?

Because they believed they would get a payoff in the afterlife, I would assume. Adherents of other religions also die for their beliefs, doesn't make those beliefs any truer.

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

The flagella evolved from a pore. It has been well described by biologists and is not a mystery. The 'motorised' flagellum is just something creationist apologists like to use without understanding what they are talking about.
 
10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

I don't know why people seek gods. Maybe as a crutch during hard times? Maybe they need a father figure who will guide them? Maybe they want to believe they have some purpose in life? I guess there could be a variety of answers to that question.

 :whew: More later.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 17, 2019, 08:48:22 PM
I am a Christian and Bible teacher (8th-10th grade) at a preparatory school.  I will be posting here mostly on behalf of my 8th grade Apologetics students who have questions for atheists like you!  In light of that I thought about adopting a screen name like "Legion" since we are many, but then I thought better of it . . .

Anyway, just be aware that when posting I will be representing more than just my own thoughts.  In fact, almost never my own thoughts. 

Here are a list of questions for you and we would be very grateful for any you are willing to answer!

1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

11) Why do you believe what you believe?

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?


Enjoy!

Copied to prevent deletion and revision.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Buddy on January 17, 2019, 09:43:45 PM

1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

I wouldn't say I even have a belief. Science is a process of learning about our world, not a religion.

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

No least favorites, no favorites. Some have interesting stories, but that's it.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

Public Schools???

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

I was raised going to a Baptist church occasionally, realized religion is BS, the rest is history

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

Sure, why not?

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?

Yep. I have bodily autonomy as a woman so that's nice.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

Don't know, don't care.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?


9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagellum#Motor
 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flagellum#Motor)
10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

People who don't have anything better to do so they like to read stories.


12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?

I can't speak for all atheists.

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?

I have a huge issue with how women are portrayed in Christianity.


17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?

My purpose in life is getting all out of it that I can. Driving fast cars, spending it with my family and cats, and climbing the career ladder at the bank I work at.

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?
 
 It's not so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution)

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?

There is a lot of shit wrong all over the world. It's human nature.

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?

Hell yeah, I ate the last of my boyfriend's ice cream.

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?

Because apes didn't become human. We had a common ancestor and we branched off on the evolutionary tree. This is elementary school stuff.


26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?

Don't be a dick unless someone is a dick first.


Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tom62 on January 17, 2019, 09:52:57 PM
1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?
Not at all. I base my non-belief on not believing the claims made by theists for which there are not a single thread of evidence.

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?
Least favourite religion is for me Islam. Most "favourite" is Buddhism. 

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?
Not that I know of.

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?
When I was 13. Reading the Bible.

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?
It allows people to make moral and ethical decisions, based on compassion and logic.

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?
Nothing much has changed.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?
Death is not a problem to be solved. There is no solution to it.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?
Because they were crazy?

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?
Why should I have to do that? I'm not a biologist and about that topic there is enough information from reliable sources available on line.

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?
Because they were brainwashed to do so, from an early age onwards.

11) Why do you believe what you believe?
Because there are facts and evidence for it, which makes religious believes unbelievable.

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?
No, not all atheists.

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?
Because there is no proof for it.

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?
Gods were invented by men, which means that they are just imaginary beings with the same flaws of men.

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?
Everything.

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?
No, there is no need for it.

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?
Enjoy life with family and friends, be gentle, help others, don't hurt other beings. 

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?
I would be highly amazed, because all historians agree that this is nonsense.

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?
Why don't you look it up in a biology textbook?

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?
Please define your concept of "nothing"

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?
No

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?
Yes, some of us do, but not to a "higher being.
 
23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?
Because the alternatives so far are less believable.

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?
Apes didn't became humans. Humans and apes shared a common ancestor. BTW: Biologically speaking humans are apes.

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?
That there isn't any evidence, that any of the claims made by Christans about God, is actually true.

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?
The golden rule.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Recusant on January 17, 2019, 10:18:16 PM
Various members have more or less politely answered questions, Mr. IXTUS. I have a couple for you. Does your school teach children that Creationism is true? Is it the school's position that evolution can't reconciled with a literal reading of the Bible and therefore it's "just a theory" and cannot be true? I ask because a few of the questions imply that at least some of the students in your class believe this.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Sandra Craft on January 18, 2019, 01:34:26 AM
While I don't think I can improve on any answers already given (I'm much less eloquent and informed than others here), I'll take a crack at this.  Will need to make a nice, hot cup of tea first.


1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?
As has already been pointed out, science is not a belief system -- it's a tool for examining and learning about the material world.  I can't say I have a belief system, other than I think "live and let live" is generally a good idea. 

As to "why not God?", because gods are defined as supernatural and I see no reason to accept the hypothesis that the supernatural exists, particularly when even those who believe in it agree there's no evidence for it and there's no way of testing it to ever make it anything more than a wild guess. 

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?
No, they all seem much of a muchness to me.  There's good and bad elements in all of them, and they all seem to go thru phases where one element predominates over the other.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?
I've never heard of any.  Altho I have heard of some atheist parents homeschooling because they object to Xtian influences in their local public schools.

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?
I didn't become an atheist so much as I finally realized I was one and that was why no religion ever "took" with me, despite my trying a few out. 

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?
I don't think it necessarily is, any more than it's necessarily a good idea to be a Xtian, or Muslim or any kind of whatever.  I think it's a good idea to be a decent person, and whatever framework you want to use for that is fine.

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?
Yes.  More accurately, when I stopped trying to force religious beliefs on myself everything suddenly made sense and it makes me happy when things make sense.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?
There is no "solution" to death.   Death is not a problem -- it is, in balance with birth, an essential component of life.  Life would not exist without death so taking it out of the equation does not seem to me like a good idea, even if it were possible.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?
People martyr themselves for a lot of reasons.  Look at Heaven's Gate, Jonestown or the Third Reich, come to that.  A lot of people were willing to sacrifice their lives for them but that doesn't make those things good, or right, or true. 

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?
Since I'm not a science type, I can't but I'm willing to bet real money you can find any number of books, or Google any number of sites, that can.

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?
I read a book once called "Why God Won't Go Away: brain science and the biology of belief", by Andrew Newberg and Eugene D'Aquill, that had some very interesting ideas on this.  I strongly suggest reading it, it's not a long book and is written for non-scientists. 

As for myself, I don't explain it (tho I think Newberg and D'Aquill were onto something) I just know I don't seek any gods.

11) Why do you believe what you believe?
Evidence in some cases, personal experience in others, and some things (like my family and friends loving me) I take on faith.

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?
I have no way of knowing that, but my guess would be that the answer is no.

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?
I have no idea whether the Big Bang happened or not, altho the evidence so far inclines me in it's favor.  I don't think a god caused it because I've seen no evidence gods exist at all.  Provide evidence for gods, or at least some very compelling reasons to believe without evidence, and I'll consider it.

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?
You mean aside from the whole no evidence thing? 

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?
This really is not an answerable question because Xtianity and atheism aren't equivalent -- Xtiany is a claim that X is true, atheism is the opinion that the supernatural elements of this claim are not supported by evidence. 

As far as the non-supernatural elements of Xtianity, I have no problem with most of them.  Jesus, if he actually existed, had a fine and in many ways radical progressive philosophy -- at least if you ignore the contributions of Paul, which I do.

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?
I don't know, but I can't see any reason why it should other than the human fear of death and vanity in thinking we're essential enough to be immortal.  Fear and vanity aren't compelling reasons to believe anything.

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?
Can't say I have one, or feel that I need to have one.  I just enjoy being alive and, like many, have enough empathy to want others to enjoy it too and if I can help with that, I will.

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?
I'm sure in some ways it is, but that no more validates its supernatural claims than the discovery of Troy validates the existence of the Greek gods.

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?
That's what the theory of natural selection explains: Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~mcclean/plsc431/popgen/popgen5.htm).  Even in a Xtian school, you should be learning about this in biology class.

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?
I have no idea.  I'm not a scientist or anything close to it, and in any case the data on the Big Bang is still coming in.

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?
Check out a few books about social animals, particularly our nearest relatives, the chimps and bonobos.  You'll find morality and rules of behavior did not start with us and are not exclusive to primates.

To answer the question more directly: there is morality because we create it.

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?
I don't know about all atheists, but I do.  Just not of supernatural entities.

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?
Can't answer science questions, but I'm certain there are others who can.

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?
Oh dear, you're not covering evolution at all in biology classes are you?  Apes did not become human, we're members of the primate family, which includes apes.  DNA is the evidence for this.  It also helps that we can look at humans and other primates and see the obvious resemblance, just as we can look at zebras and other equines and see the obvious resemblance there.

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?
I don't know whether or not the god hypothesis is true, I know that without evidence there's no reason for me to accept the claim that any kind of god is real.  Come up with evidence (i.e., something that is observable, testable, repeatable and falsifiable) and we'll talk.

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?
I'd agree that the Golden Rule is a very good starting point.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Recusant on January 18, 2019, 04:38:09 AM
Since I insisted on asking my own questions, it's only polite to provide answers.

1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

It seems you are asking about atheism. I would first ask you to understand that atheism is not a belief system. It is nothing more than a term to describe a lack of belief in deities. There are many different belief systems that are not built around deities, including varieties of Buddhism as well as Humanism.

In answer to the questions, to the extent that I could be described as having a belief system, it is based on rational inquiry and the search for sound evidence. It is my opinion that the evidence supporting belief in the Christian god is ambiguous at best.

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

Religious belief can convince people to do good things or harmful things. This is true of all religions. I don't have a favorite religion or a least favorite religion.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

I'm not aware of any atheist schools that would be equivalent to a Christian school.

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

The more I learned, the less it seemed that the Christian god I'd been taught about was real. I also read the Bible.

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

I don't think it's good idea or a bad idea to be an atheist.

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?

Yes, but I don't think that atheism is why I am happier.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

There is no solution. I will be dead, that's all.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?

I don't know whether the stories about the deaths of the apostles are true or not. I wasn't there, and people make up stories all the time. Many people have died for many different religions, I suppose because they think that's a good thing to do.

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

There are many different combinations of proteins that are effective in the functioning of flagella in different species of bacteria. If the flagellum was designed, it would make sense to use that design in every species that has a flagellum, but what we find is that flagella work differently in different species, and can be formed differently as well. While every detail is not yet understood, the evolution of the flagellum is not as mysterious as some people would like to claim, and people who study flagella continue to learn more about how they evolved.

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

People like to have explanations for things. Gods provide convenient explanations. "Why is the sky blue?" "God made it that way." That is a convenient explanation and it may be true. However, people have learned that what actually makes the sky blue is the interaction of light waves with the atmosphere in a process known as Raleigh scattering. The blue part of sunlight hits the atmosphere, gets absorbed by the gas molecules and it then radiates from them. Other parts of the light spectrum pass right through the atmosphere without interacting as much with it. A god may have used Raleigh scattering so that we see a blue sky, but it seems that no gods needed to get involved.

Of course there are other reasons, but I'm trying to keep my answers relatively brief.

11) Why do you believe what you believe?

When there is verifiable evidence for something, I tend to believe it.

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?

I don't think so. I know of at least one atheist who believes in the "tired light" hypothesis.

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?

There is no evidence that a god caused the big bang.

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?

In Bible stories the Christian god can be very cruel and vindictive. For instance he got displeased and drowned almost all of the people on Earth, even the little babies who'd never done anything wrong. Drowning is a very unpleasant way to die. I think it's wrong to drown people because you're displeased, and even more wrong to drown innocent babies.

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?

Since I have not encountered any clear and unmistakable evidence for gods, I find myself unable to believe that gods exist. There have been many, many gods in the history of our species, with many different attributes, none of which appear convincing to me. The Christian god's attributes are as unconvincing to me as those of any of the other god's.

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?

I think that it is possible that this Universe is one aspect of something that may be eternal, but I don't know if that's actually the case.

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?

My purpose is to try to live a good life by helping my family and friends while getting some enjoyment along the way.

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?

I'm pretty sure it would change my mind if it were shown that the entire Bible was historically accurate.

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?

The interaction of species with the environment is what drives evolution.

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?

It depends on how you define "nothing." Some scientists say that it could be that there has always been something--that "nothing" is not an accurate description of the conditions which gave rise to the Universe. There is no evidence that the Universe was created, in the sense that something made it.

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?

There have been many systems of moral law. I think these are an inevitable consequence of our nature as a social species. If we're going to live with each other, we need to agree to certain principles.

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?

If they're good people who've done wrong they do.

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?

The singularity of the Big Bang is only a place-holder for "unknown." It's not something I feel a need to believe in, nor do I think that it was necessarily made. I am unaware of any justification for the assumption that there was a "before" as we understand it. Stephen Hawking described it like this: "Asking what came before the Big Bang is meaningless…. It would be like asking what lies south of the South Pole."

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?

There is an abundance of fossil evidence showing that our species evolved on the African continent. Our DNA shows that we share the same ancestors as the great apes.

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?

It's complicated but I'll just say that I read the Bible (at least twice in its entirety) and found many of the stories unbelievable.

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?

To simplify: Try your best to do no harm. It's right to avoid doing harm, wrong to purposefully do harm.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Mr. IXTUS on January 18, 2019, 03:31:02 PM
Thank you all for your responses thus far!  I will compile these and present them to my students.  I will likely give them a writing assignment responding to your responses and eventually post those here.  I'm not sure what that turn around will be like, but stay tuned . . . 
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: No one on January 18, 2019, 05:32:25 PM
Have you presented these inquires to Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious forums? Or are we special?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Ecurb Noselrub on January 18, 2019, 07:15:54 PM
I have to applaud the measured, reasonable, and polite response of the members here to these questions. I'm on another thread where the poster would have been pilloried as a moron.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Mr. IXTUS on January 18, 2019, 07:48:49 PM
Various members have more or less politely answered questions, Mr. IXTUS. I have a couple for you. Does your school teach children that Creationism is true? Is it the school's position that evolution can't reconciled with a literal reading of the Bible and therefore it's "just a theory" and cannot be true? I ask because a few of the questions imply that at least some of the students in your class believe this.

For the most part I think you would be correct about the stance of the students themselves. As far as Creationism, you'll see a spectrum of views below. I think anyone can agree that evolution cannot work with a literal (as in historical) reading of Genesis.  I doubt whether a more symbolic reading of Genesis could harmonize either since chapter one portrays a creation in harmony and evolution is about red-tooth-and-claw.  then again there is a certain majesty to the "circle of life." I certainly wouldn't say evolution cannot be true simply because it is a theory. I only contend that it remains a theory, not settled fact or history.

This group of students comes from churches that are generally evangelical and/or charismatic (in some of my other classes I have a few Catholics and even some internationals with no christian background whatsoever).  For the most part those churches hold to a six day creation view as far as I can tell.  The school holds to the same view, however the policy is to present multiple views on the issue, and for the teachers to avoid saying their own so as not to overly influence them one way or the other.  In my case I can quite honestly tell them I have held to all the possible views at one time or another that still retain Genesis 1-11 as God's word.  The question comes down to whether it is to be understood as plain history or something more like a parable (true in the lesson it teaches but not an actual event in history, like the prodigal son).  So we go back and forth, and that is a good thing I think on an issue like this (same with things like the rapture, Calvinism-vs.-Arminianism, etc).

Nonetheless, being Christians, we would certainly rule out (by argumentation) evolutionary models that are entirely without God.  Even a theistic evolutionist needs a first cause.  So we wouldn't shy away from pointing out the areas of evolutionary theory that remain unobservable and therefore both unfalsifiable and unprovable. Example: the transition from inorganic material to live creatures, the changing from one fundamentally unique form to another, the origin of objective morality, etc.

Hopefully that all gives you a picture of the academic atmosphere here.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Mr. IXTUS on January 18, 2019, 07:51:24 PM
Have you presented these inquires to Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and other religious forums? Or are we special?

I am planning to move on to other sites as i move through those subjects.  So you are special, just not in that way :D
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Sandra Craft on January 18, 2019, 09:14:10 PM
I certainly wouldn't say evolution cannot be true simply because it is a theory. I only contend that it remains a theory, not settled fact or history.

Oh dear.  I've been wondering how well educated the teachers at your school are in science and scientific theory, and there's a red flag already.  definition of scientific theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory)

I'm assuming you do not consider the theory of gravity to be "not settled fact or history"?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 18, 2019, 09:48:12 PM
The level of wilful ignorance is terrifying.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Mr. IXTUS on January 18, 2019, 10:36:13 PM
I certainly wouldn't say evolution cannot be true simply because it is a theory. I only contend that it remains a theory, not settled fact or history.

Oh dear.  I've been wondering how well educated the teachers at your school are in science and scientific theory, and there's a red flag already.  definition of scientific theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory)

I'm assuming you do not consider the theory of gravity to be "not settled fact or history"?

I am getting better at clicking your links to articles.  You are using the word "Theory" like it means "settled fact or history."  I use to mean something that is not necessarily settled. The article you cite describe all theories more the way I am using the word: some are very well established (gravity) and some not so much.  I am saying evolution falls in the second category, where from time to time theories come and go.  Besides that I am also saying there are areas which I mentioned about the theory which cannot be tested, which vexed Darwin as he admitted in Origins, and are still difficulties today. 
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: joeactor on January 18, 2019, 10:40:26 PM
Nonetheless, being Christians, we would certainly rule out (by argumentation) evolutionary models that are entirely without God.  Even a theistic evolutionist needs a first cause.  So we wouldn't shy away from pointing out the areas of evolutionary theory that remain unobservable and therefore both unfalsifiable and unprovable. Example: the transition from inorganic material to live creatures, the changing from one fundamentally unique form to another, the origin of objective morality, etc.

Any science that contains God is no longer science.

And evolution is a process, therefore, it needs no first cause. Perhaps you're referring to abiogenesis (theories about how life can arise from non-living chemicals or structures).

Also, you may want to impart the scientific definition of "theory" to the students. It's very different from the common linguistic meaning. Here's a link: https://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html (https://www.livescience.com/21491-what-is-a-scientific-theory-definition-of-theory.html)

... and another that may be helpful: A Simplified Version of The Scientific Method - https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/steps-of-the-scientific-method (https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/steps-of-the-scientific-method)

Any eighth graders should already be well versed in these ideas.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bluenose on January 19, 2019, 12:01:18 AM
1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?
No, I just don't believe that which is postulated without evidence.  Science does not require belief, merely acceptance of the evidence.

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?
I don't like any religion that seeks to impose its rules on others, whether that be by violence, coercion, or by seeking to influence lawmakers to make laws based on religious beliefs.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?
There is no such thing as an "atheist" school, there are secular schools.

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?
I realised it was all just bullshit

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?
It's better to base one's ideas on reality than fairy tales

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?
Yes

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?
Death is not a problem to be solved, it is simply the inevitable end result of having been alive.  Being dead is exactly the same experience as that from before you werre born.  In other words it is an absense of experience, asking what it is like to be dead is a meaningless question as there is nothing to experience.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?
There are any number of possible explanations for this, no one else saw the "resurrected" Jesus, so maybe the apostles just lied to stay on the gravy train - nothing supernatural about it just humans doing what humans are known to do, lie when suits them, or maybe none of it ever happened at all and Jesus is just a myth, or at least all the things ascribed to him are myths.  Who knows?  I don't care.

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?
It's a bacteria with a "motorised" flagella. Oh, you mean how did it evolve? Well there are examples of the evolutionary path of flagella. This is a very bad ID argument.  For more information see this article (https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13663-evolution-myths-the-bacterial-flagellum-is-irreducibly-complex/)

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?
I don't have to, they don't

11) Why do you believe what you believe?
I don't

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?
The big bang is the currently best explanation for the beginning of the universe.  I accept that explanation until and unless a better one is discovered.  No belief required.  Whether other atheists "believe" in it or anything else is not something I can comment on.

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?
Lack of evidence

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?
Non-existent beings can be neither right nor wrong. A meaningless question

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?
Atheism = acceptance of reality, christianity = mythology

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?
The universe might be eternal, but the evidence is not yet in

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?
The purpose of my life is what I choose to make of it.  There is no external objective purpose.

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?
Not going to happen.  World wide floods, talking donkeys...

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?
I don't "believe" in evolution, I accept that it is real.  The answer to the second question is natural selection acting upon genetic diversity.

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?
Creation out of nothing happens all the time, look up quantum fluctuation.  What happened at the big bang is not entirely clear. We don't have to know all about something in order to know something about it. I don't know is an acceptable answer to any question.

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?
All morals are human constructs.  What is right or wrong is whatever we collectively decide is so

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?
All the time, when we have done the wrong thing to someone else, just not to some big daddy in the sky. 

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?
Based on our current understanding the singularity is an artefact of the geometry of space-time.  Asking what happened before the big bang is entirely analogous to asking what is north of the north pole.

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?
Humans are apes.  The evidence for the evolution of earlier forms to humans is overwhelming, that some people refuse to acknowledge that evidence is their weakness, not atheists'.

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?
Nothing, except the absolute absence of any evidence that it is real.  Eventually lack of evidence is evidence of lack.

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?
I follow the societal norms, I obey the law, if I think the law is wrong, I still follow it but I seek to have it changed. There is no objective standard of right and wrong.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 19, 2019, 12:40:52 AM
As was already mentioned, 'theory' has a different meaning in scientific discourse. You might want to know what you're talking about before passing it on as valid knowledge to your students.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Sandra Craft on January 19, 2019, 01:01:03 AM
I certainly wouldn't say evolution cannot be true simply because it is a theory. I only contend that it remains a theory, not settled fact or history.

Oh dear.  I've been wondering how well educated the teachers at your school are in science and scientific theory, and there's a red flag already.  definition of scientific theory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_theory)

I'm assuming you do not consider the theory of gravity to be "not settled fact or history"?

I am getting better at clicking your links to articles.  You are using the word "Theory" like it means "settled fact or history."  I use to mean something that is not necessarily settled. The article you cite describe all theories more the way I am using the word: some are very well established (gravity) and some not so much.  I am saying evolution falls in the second category, where from time to time theories come and go.  Besides that I am also saying there are areas which I mentioned about the theory which cannot be tested, which vexed Darwin as he admitted in Origins, and are still difficulties today.

Did you notice the word "scientific" in front of theory?  Scientists use the word theory in a very specific way, and if you're talking about a scientific theory you use that word in the scientific sense.  When you talk about something that's not necessarily settled yet, that's a hypothesis.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Caliasseia on January 19, 2019, 02:35:32 AM
Oh this looks as if it is going to be good ...

Let's take a look at this, shall we?

I am a Christian and Bible teacher (8th-10th grade) at a preparatory school.  I will be posting here mostly on behalf of my 8th grade Apologetics students who have questions for atheists like you!  In light of that I thought about adopting a screen name like "Legion" since we are many, but then I thought better of it . . .

Anyway, just be aware that when posting I will be representing more than just my own thoughts.  In fact, almost never my own thoughts. 

Here are a list of questions for you and we would be very grateful for any you are willing to answer!

I wonder how many of these puported "questions from 8th graders" are copy-pasted from a creationist website? Again, inquiring minds would like to know. But, let's continue, and break out the dissection kit (an essential possession for any invertebrate zoologist) ...

1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

That's two questions in one. But I'll let that laps slide for the moment, as it's more important to head to the substance.

Item number one. I dispense with "belief" altogether, the reason being that all too often, supernaturalists demonstrate that "belief" consists of nothing more than uncritical acceptance of unsupported assertions. This is, of course, in direct violation of the proper conduct of discourse, which demands that all assertions be subject to whatever tests can be devised to determine their veracity or otherwise. In the absence of such tests, assertions possess the status "truth value unknown", and remain in that limbo until relevant tests are devised and conducted. Indeed, this is one of the valuable lessons we learn from science, which succeeds precisely because it tests assertions to destruction. Those assertions failing the relevant tests are discarded, except for pedagogical purposes, while those that pass the relevant tests, form the basis of scientific theories.

I accept science as a valid and rigorous enterprise, because it manifestly works as such, and has manifestly delivered goods that the authors of mythologies were incapable of even fantasising about. The authors of your mythology (though they were not unique in this matter - this applies prtty much to all authors of pre-scientific mythologies) knew nothing about the existence of the continental land mass you are currently residing upon, they knew nothing about large parts of the biosphere, they knew nothing about the fundamental forces of nature, and while compiling their mythology, presented therein assertions that have been found to be plain, flat, wrong, the moment scientists started investigating the relevant subject matter. Your famine-free, disease-free life surrounded by expensive electronic toys, is entirely the product of diligent scientific endeavour, and owes nothing to your mythology. Science isn't a matter of "belief", it's a matter of evidence. Do learn this elementary lesson before proceeding.

Moving on ...

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

No. I regard them all as failed attempts to provide an explanation for the universe and its contents. Furthermore, I regard them all as having exerted a malign influence upon the development of humanity. The most malign influence of all, being to propagate the insidiously dangerous idea, that uncritical acceptance of unsupported assertions is not only purportedly acceptable, but purportedly constitutes a sound foundation for policy decisions. This idea is not only flat out wrong, it has been demonstrated time and again throughout history to be lethally harmful.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

Here in the UK, where I live, the education system doesn't have "atheistic" schools as such. Religious subjects are taught even in the most secular establishment, but therein, are taught principally in the context of comparative mythology.

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

The biggest influence on my early life, was a work called The Children's Encyclopaedia, edited by one Arthur Mee. All 10 volumes are still resident in my home. Mee wrote this work, in collaboration with a fairly substantial team of educational specialists, with a specific aim in mind (bear in mind he was alive in the Edwardian era, which accounts for that aim). His aim was to prepare young children to become model British citizens, as defined at that time, which meant being wedded to God, King and Country. Unfortunately for him, in my instance, this aim failed, not least because he made the mistake of arranging for the science sections of the encyclopaedia to be within easy reach of the section on religion. The science sections were, despite being outdated today, a tour de force in the era in which they were written, and were compiled by some of the best science educators alive at the time. The message that repeatedly leapt from the pages thereof, was "you don't have to take on trust what we tell you, you can go out and discover the same entities and phenomena for yourself". That was a wonderfully revolutionary message for a curious 6 year old. Consequently, I went out, and, where possible, sought to discover if the wonders being described in those pages were right. My first microscope went a long way toward helping in that direction. Those science sections taught me, that the world can be known through diligent investigation, and that one can perform experiments to test one's ideas. One can imagine the fun I had once I obtained my first chemistry set, with that notion under my belt!

The religion section was a woeful disappointment by comparison, offering up a diametrically opposite message to the science sections. The religion section, at bottom, said "here are some mythological assertions, treat them as fact, regardless of whether real world data is saying something different". I saw that as a gigantic fraud even at six years of age. Paradoxically, I have to take my hat off to Arthur Mee, for making the business of comparison so easy, and making it manifestly obvious which of the two were more majestic and wonderful to embrace.

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

Because there is zero evidence for merely asserted mythological entities. The good part being, of course, that one can change one's mind without distress, if evidence for a god-type entity does arise in future. However, I am also aware of the fact that even defining a god-type entity in a manner consonant with the vast wealth of observation we now have, will on its own be a monumental task, and one that mythology signally fails at. Finding data pointing to a god-type entity will, if it ever happens, be headline news around the world, and result in the discoverer thereof being a guaranteed candidate for a Nobel Prize. That this has not happened yet, should be telling you something important.

Indeed, that's a misconception about atheism that I shall subject to the discoursive minigun right here and now, so that NO doubt is left as to the nature thereof, at least when considered in its rigorous formulation. Atheism, in its rigorous formulation, is nothing more than a suspicion of unsupported supernaturalist assertions. That is IT. It does not involve presenting contrary assertions, indeed, when conducted properly, atheism, does not involve presenting any assertions at all. It consists, at bottom, of "these are YOUR assertions, YOU do the work of supporting them". All we have to do is sit back and watch the usual suspects fail comically.

Indeed, I'm on record on several other forums, as stating that [1] I regard the existence question (that is, of a god type entity) as unanswered and currently unanswerable, [2] once answerable, almost certainly likely to falsify all of our mythologies at a stroke once actual data is available to examine, and [3] that any entity truly consonant with a properly constructed,  robust definition of 'god type entity' will almost certainly be so unlike anything encountered before in human experience, that the people best placed to understand it once the data arrives, will be particle physicists, because these people deal with counter-intuitive phenomena on a routine basis in their research.

In short, I don't "reject" your god, I merely reject your mythology as being competent to inform me about any actual god that exists.

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?

I don't remember a time when I wasn't an atheist. The question therefore does not apply.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

Does there have to be one? The mere fact that you assert that there does, on its own leads to the question I've just asked.

Quite simply, all the evidence available to me, points to death being, in short, the final shutdown. Power off, game over. Plus, some of the fun aspects of such topics as cardiac physiology (I learned a lot about this following my angioplasty) and the vagaries of metabolic processes (that chemistry set led me to some interesting avenues to explore in my later education), tells me that numerous mythological assertions are, quite frankly, nothing more than failed attempts at wish fulfilment. For example, quite a few of your vital nutrients, without which you will die in fairly short order, have a dark side to them, that ultimately leads to your life being finite.  For example, oxygen is a vital repiratory gas, without which you will die of asphyxiation in about three to five minutes. But that same oxygen gas you are so reliant upon, as an obligate aerobe, will wreak havoc upon critical metabolic processes, if it manages to oxidise the wrong molecules. Organisms that have efficient antioxidant enzymes tend to live longer than those with inefficient ones, but even the best are cut down eventually. As for glucose and triglycerides, all vital energy sources for our bodies, they have their own fun flip side that one learns about in biochemistry, and here, that knowledge of cardiac physiology comes into play to add to the hilarity. Because, wait for it, the part of the lymphatic system that delivers triglycerides (fats, in short) to your bloodstream, does so ... right into your coronary arteries. There are plenty of places where this connection would be far better located, say, for example, into the arteries supplying the liver, which is the organ that's on the front line for fat metabolism, but no, those fats are dumped straight into your coronaries, all the better to fur them up and precipitate heart attacks in later life. A feature we share with the rest of the placental mammals, I might add.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?

People have died for bad ideas throughout history. Doesn't stop those bad ideas being bad ideas. This is a bit like saying if Muhammad was wrong, why are so many Muslims prepared to be suicide bombers.

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

And it's at this point, that I harbour suspicions about the veracity of this list of questions. This is one of the "hot button" questions, variations on which can be found on dozens of creationist websites, though of course none of them actually cover in proper depth the scientific research that has been conducted into this topic. Speaking of which, which of the 15 or so scientific papers in my collection on this would you like me to bring here?

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

I'm not, and neither are millions of others. But I'm used to supernaturalist presumption in this regard.

Those that claim to be doing so, invariably are the products of supernaturalist indoctrination at an early age. Though I notice it's extremely rare for anyone to "seek" a god other than the one enjoying local cultural hegemony. I wonder why?

11) Why do you believe what you believe?

As I said above, I dispense with "belief" altogether. If a postulate does not enjoy evidential support, I regard it as inherently discardable.

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?

This isn't a matter of "belief", it's a matter of evidence. Such as the cosmic microwave background. Learn about it in proper physics classes.

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?

Ignoring the presumption inherent in your latest question, given the answer I gave previously, try the following. We have evidence in abundance for testable natural processes. The scientific literature provides evidence for these by the supertanker load. The evidence for your mythological magic man is precisely zero.

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?

This presumes the existence of this entity in advance, which you have yet to establish by means other than mythological assertion.

However, there is plenty wrong with mythological assertions about this entity, not least the matter that several of the assertions are mutually contradictory. The authors of your mythology were execrably bad proof readers.

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?

Atheism isn't a "truth claim", it's a suspicion of your truth claim. Do learn the difference.

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?

Best people to ask that would be the cosmologists down the corridor.

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?

Learning. Problem being, of course, that there's already too much data for one human being to encompass in one lifetime, so I have to be selective. Thanks to that nice Arthur Mee, learned to choose wisely from an early age.

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?

It isn't. I'm aware of numerous instances where actual history, and the archaeological evidence, says that your mythology was fabricated.

19) Assuming you believe in evolution

BZZZTTT! And here I'm going to lace up the titanium armoured nonsense stomping boots, fire up the minigun, and have at it.

Evolution is not a matter of "belief", it is an observed fact. An observed fact that is accompanied by possibly the best supported scientific theory in the entire output of modern science. There are, if a proper audit is ever conducted, in excess of one and a half million scientific papers containing the evidence for evolution, including direct experimental tests of evolutionary postulates. My own collection of papers in the field is woefully incomplete, but if you ever want to try and dismiss the validity of evolution, you have to ask yourself which of the 3,818 scientific papers on the subject in my collection, you want me to bring here.

what do you think caused us to evolve?

The same testable natural processes applicable to the rest of the biosphere. Inheritance plus variation plus selection.

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?

Once again, I dispense with "belief". Do learn this lesson.

As for the actual nature of the instantiation of the current observable universe, this is an active research topic in cosmological physics. I've spent enough time reading papers from some of those cosmological physicists, to know that there exist a number of options for the testable natural processes applicable to said instantiation, and NONE of them involve the fatuous supernaturalist "nothing". Indeed, the people who genuinely believe that the universe was created out of "nothing", are those supernaturalists who assert that the universe was a gigantic conjuring trick on the part of their favourite magic man. So let's put this fallacy to bed once and for all, shall we?

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?

Oh dear. You really are treading in territory you didn't prepare for, aren't you?

I'm aware of numerous scientific papers covering the evolutionary and biological basis for our capacity for ethical thought, and the emergence of the same capacity in other primates. How many of those papers would you like me to bring here?

Oh, and while you're at it, can you explain why a good number of "pastors" in various US churches, end up on prime time news being accused of various serious criminal offences? I have a nice little list of these, that's been growing since I started in back in 2010 or thereabouts.

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?

Is there an actual point to this question? I see none.

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?

Once again, read my lips ... I don't do "belief".

Furthermore, if you're talking about the cosmological singularity (a topic I doubt features heavily in the day to day conversations of 8th graders), this is again a matter of active research. Said research includes two papers by Stenhardt & Turok, in which they propose a singularity-free mechanism for instantiation of the observable universe. If your tensor calculus is up to it, I'll bring the papers here.

24) Why do you believe in evolution

BZZZTTT!

Once again, evolution is not a matter of "belief", it's an OBSERVED FACT, accompanied by a supertanker load of evidence.

if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?

We ARE apes. So much so, that Linnaeus, back in 1747, wanted to place humans and chimpanzees in the same taxonomic Genus. You can read the letter in question, at the Linnaean Correspondence, maintained by the University of Uppsala in Sweden, where Linnaeus spent much of his working life. The letter can be read in full here (http://linnaeus.c18.net/Letters/display_txt.php?id_letter=L0783). Here's the text of the relevant part of that letter, in the original Latin:

Quote
Non placet, quod Hominem inter ant[h]ropomorpha collocaverim, sed homo noscit se ipsum. Removeamus vocabula. Mihi perinde erit, quo nomine utamur. Sed quaero a Te et Toto orbe differentiam genericam inter hominem et Simiam, quae ex principiis Historiae naturalis. Ego certissime nullam novi. Utinam aliquis mihi unicam diceret! Si vocassem hominem simiam vel vice versa omnes in me conjecissem theologos. Debuissem forte ex lege artis.

This translates as follows:

"It does not please (you) that I've placed Man among the Anthropomorpha,[22] but man learns to know himself. Let's not quibble over words. It will be the same to me whatever name we apply. But I seek from you and from the whole world a generic difference between man and simian that [follows] from the principles of Natural History. I absolutely know of none. If only someone might tell me a single one! If I would have called man a simian or vice versa, I would have brought together all the theologians against me. Perhaps I ought to have by virtue of the law of the discipline."

Indeed, he was lamenting religious interference in his science in that letter. Note that he wrote that letter fully sixty two years before Darwin was born.

I'll also present an example of the science that leads to the conclusion that we shared a common ancestor with chimpanzees, courtesy of Ken Miller, starting with a nice video clip:


Here's a transcript of the relevant part of that video, which I suggest you read in full before attempting to cherry pick:

Quote
The second thing that you saw at the trial, was that when data was introduced at the trial, which I and another witness introduced from whole genome sequencing, the intelligent design advocates just literally had nothing to say. We weren't asked questions in cross-examination, the other side never brought it up, they never argued against it, they just left it. Here's an example.

Many of you may know that a few months ago the genetic code of the chimpanzee was published. Therefore we can compare our genome to these primate relatives. What do we find? I want to show you one striking finding that dates to about a year ago. You all know that evolution argues that we share a common ancestor with the great apes - the chimpanzee, the gorilla and the orang-utan. Well, if that's true there should be genetic similarities, and in fact there are. But there's something that's really interesting, and has the potential, if it were true, to contradict evolutionary common ancestry, and that is we have two fewer chromosomes than the other great apes - we have 46, they all have 48. That's very interesting. Now what does that actually mean? Well first of all, the 46 chromosomes that we have - you've got 23 from Mom and 23 from Dad, so it's actually 23 pairs - these guys have 24 from each parent so they have 24 pairs. So everybody in this room is missing a pair of chromosomes, so where did it go? Could if have gotten lost in our lineage? Ah-ah - if it got lost, if a whole primate chromosome was lost, that would be lethal. So there's only two possibilities, and that is if these guys really share a common ancestor, that ancestor either had 48 chromosomes or 46. Now if it had 48 - 24 pairs, which is probably true, because 3 our of 4 have 48 chromosomes - what must have happened is that one pair of chromosomes must have gotten fused. So we should be able to look at our genome, and discover that one of our chromosomes resulted from the fusion of two primate chromosomes. So we should be able to look around our genome, and you know what, if we don't find it, evolution is wrong - we don't share a common ancestor. So if - how would we find it?

Well, biologists in the room will know that the chromosomes have nifty little markers - they have markers called centromeres which are DNA sequences which are used to separate them during mitosis, and they have cool little DNA sequences on the ends called telomeres. What would happen if a pair of chromosomes got fused? Well what would happen is the fusion would put telomeres where they don't belong in the centre of the chromosome, and the resulting fused chromosome should actually have two centromeres. One of them might become inactivated, but nonetheless it should still be there. So we can scan our genome, and you know that if we don't find that chromosome, evolution's in trouble.

Well, guess what?

It's chromosome number 2.

Our chromosome number 2 was formed by the fusion of two primate chromosomes - this is the paper from Nature a little more than a year ago - and I put up a little of the paper, I'm sorry if it's technical but look at what it says! "Chromosome 2 is unique to our lineage. It emerged as a result of head-to-head fusion of two chromosomes that remain separate in other primates." Those of you who have not kept up with how much we know about the genome should pay attention to this because you'll be amazed at how precisely we can look at things ... the precise fusion site has been located at base number 114,455,823 to 114, 455, 838 ... in other words, within fifteen bases ... and you'll notice - multiple sub-telomere duplications - the telomeres that don't belong, and lo and behold, the centromere that is inactivated corresponds to chimp chromosome 13. It's there, it's testable, it confirms the prediction of evolution. How would intelligent design explain this? Only one way - by shrugging and saying "that's the way the designer made it" - no reason, no rhyme, presumably there's a designer who designed human chromosome number 2 to make it look as if it was formed by the fusion from a primate ancestor ... I'm a Roman Catholic, I'm a theist in the broadest sense, I would say that I believe in a 'designer', but you know what, I don't believe in a deceptive one, I don't believe in one who would do this to try to fool us, and therefore I think this is authentic - it tells us something about our ancestry.

That's before we cover such matters as the fossil record, endogenous retrovial insertions, etc., all of which constitute a huge body of evidence linking us to the other apes.

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?

What told me that the assorted gods of mythologies, yours included, were not real, was the incompetence of the mythologies.

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?

That which is consonant with reciprocity.

* Twiddles thumbs and waits *
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Caliasseia on January 19, 2019, 02:44:09 AM

I certainly wouldn't say evolution cannot be true simply because it is a theory. I only contend that it remains a theory, not settled fact or history.

BZZZTTT!

Before we go ANY further, let's settle the "only a theory" drivel once and for all.

In science, a theory is an integrated collection of explanatory postulates, covering a set of entities and interactions of interest, that has been tested empirically to determine its accord with observational data, and found via such testing to be thus in accord.

The notion that a theory in science is "guesswork" or "fabrication" is, to put it blutly, a venomous lie. The reason why evolutionary theory is called evolutionary theory, is precisely because it has been subject to a mass of empirical tests, and has passed those tests with flying colours. Again, which of the 3,818 scientific papers on the subject would you like me to bring here first?

Indeed, one of those papers, describes in detail, an experiment that can be performed in a suitably equipped school laboratory, demonstrating the validity of a proposed mechanism for allopatric speciation, which was submitted to a relevant scientific journal in 1989.

So, let's put this "only a theory" crap in its cesspit once and for all shall we?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Sandra Craft on January 19, 2019, 05:51:52 AM

I am getting better at clicking your links to articles.  You are using the word "Theory" like it means "settled fact or history."  I use to mean something that is not necessarily settled. The article you cite describe all theories more the way I am using the word: some are very well established (gravity) and some not so much.  I am saying evolution falls in the second category, where from time to time theories come and go.  Besides that I am also saying there are areas which I mentioned about the theory which cannot be tested, which vexed Darwin as he admitted in Origins, and are still difficulties today.

I'd be interested in knowing where in the article you got these impressions, because that's the opposite of what it actually says about scientific theory.  And your statement certainly doesn't conform with this, also from the Wiki article:

Quote
A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world, based on a body of facts that have been repeatedly confirmed through observation and experiment. Such fact-supported theories are not "guesses" but reliable accounts of the real world. The theory of biological evolution is more than "just a theory". It is as factual an explanation of the universe as the atomic theory of matter or the germ theory of disease. Our understanding of gravity is still a work in progress. But the phenomenon of gravity, like evolution, is an accepted fact.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 19, 2019, 07:22:53 AM
Mr.Ixtus

In the interests of open and uncensored exchange of ideas I have created a direct link to this discussion on the PVCP Facebook page.

(https://imageshack.com/a/img923/1547/niCQjs.jpg)
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: No one on January 19, 2019, 08:49:28 AM
Here we go again with this "only a theory" hogwash.  Mr. Hovind, is that you?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 19, 2019, 01:56:45 PM
1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?

Partially, because there is evidence for it and it works.
Our modern civilisation is made possible by science.

I enjoy and value the natural world and my family.  I don’t really care about a scientific explanation for my valuing children or a beautiful day.

2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?

Islam seems problematic at present.

3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?

Try Google

4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?

I don’t know if I was ever a Christian, probably not, I was very young when I concluded god was BS.  They were a young person reasons, not complex scientific ones.
There are many religions why choose the Christian one?
I was sent to Sunday school and school scripture  classes, I didn’t believe those people, Jesus never deigned to talk to me. 

5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?

You get 5% off in certain stores and a reservation on the escape ark.

6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?
n.a.

7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?

Death is the solution to life.
What is the solution to not wanting to die?
Pretending you won’t.

8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?

Misguidedness

9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?

Try Google and you’ll find the evolution of an eye is possible too.

10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?

I’m human and I can’t remember the last time sought god.
I do wish upon a wish bone occasionally.


11) Why do you believe what you believe?

The universe made me believe what I believe.

12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?

Indifferent, is it the best explanation going? Ye OK I’ll go with it, Ho hum.

13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?

‘cause I’m not indoctrinated into the cult

14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?

Which god?

15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?

honesty

16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?

no

17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?

To live.

18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?

So has the resurrection been proven to have happened?
I’d probably start practising obeisance.
How would you respond if Doctor Who was shown to be historically accurate?

19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?

Natural and sexual selection.

20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?

Don’t care.

21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?

As there is no god we make our own rules

22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?

For what? I’m nice.

23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?

It makes no difference to me.

24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?

I am a human and an ape.
What’s the problem with fundis and our ape lineage?

25) What was it that told you that God is not real?

Intellectual dishonesty.

26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?

What’s on offer?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 19, 2019, 02:55:39 PM
I have to applaud the measured, reasonable, and polite response of the members here to these questions. I'm on another thread where the poster would have been pilloried as a moron.

Give us time.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Icarus on January 19, 2019, 07:55:37 PM
Sorry Bruce, the newest member, Caliasseia,  has in fact pilloried Mr IXTUS  decisively and and unmercifully.     

In my welcome to Ixtus in the new member section, I warned him that there are some very bright people here and that we are not a militant lot except when reality is attacked.  I also mentioned that we have functional bullshit filters.

I do suspect that Mr. Ixtus is a nice guy, even a well meaning though misinformed one, who has stumbled upon a group of people that are debate skilled and credentialed well beyond his pay grade. 

I will attack his position in a separate posting.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Caliasseia on January 19, 2019, 08:33:30 PM

And it's time to deal with this ...

So we wouldn't shy away from pointing out the areas of evolutionary theory that remain unobservable and therefore both unfalsifiable and unprovable. Example: the transition from inorganic material to live creatures, the changing from one fundamentally unique form to another, the origin of objective morality, etc.

Item 1. The transition from molecules to protocells is an active area of research, with a growing body of empirical data arising therefrom. So your assertion that said transition is "unobservable"is roundly false. I have several papers in my collection devoted explicitly to this topic.

Item 2. Morphological change occuring in populations of organisms has been documented time and again in the scientific literature, and has been observed taking place by, among other people, fancy goldfish keepers (of which I have been one in the past). All of the myriad morphological variations seen in fancy goldfish, were produced in the last 500 years via selective breeding. But wait ... those breeders had to wait for the requisite mutations to occur, to produce those morphological variations in the first place, before they could get to work. Another false assertion of yours roundly destroyed.

Item 3: Numerous papers exist documenting the underlying molecular evolutionary biology responsible for our development of the capability for ethical thought. How many of these would you like me to bring here?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Ecurb Noselrub on January 21, 2019, 12:51:47 AM
Caliasseia should not be a “Padawan Learner”.  He was one of the heavyweights on the Dawkins site. Beware the blue butterfly. 
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Ecurb Noselrub on January 21, 2019, 01:42:43 AM
Thank you all for your responses thus far!  I will compile these and present them to my students.  I will likely give them a writing assignment responding to your responses and eventually post those here.  I'm not sure what that turn around will be like, but stay tuned . . .

As a fellow Christian, please allow me to suggest that you would be better off accepting evolution and then simply saying that it was part of God’s plan.  He programmed the world to evolve.  Evolution has no bearing on Jesus or the resurrection, which is where you should be focusing your efforts.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 21, 2019, 05:57:30 AM
Caliasseia should not be a “Padawan Learner”.  He was one of the heavyweights on the Dawkins site. Beware the blue butterfly.
LOL. It's an automatic term based on post count :D
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Caliasseia on January 21, 2019, 06:51:08 AM
No need for special privileges. I am new to this forum, after all. :)

However, does anyone know what the character count limit is for a single post here? Only over at RatSkep, it's 75,000 characters. Though even that largesse didn't stop me having to post multiple part expositions ... :)
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 21, 2019, 07:48:56 AM
No need for special privileges. I am new to this forum, after all. :)

However, does anyone know what the character count limit is for a single post here? Only over at RatSkep, it's 75,000 characters. Though even that largesse didn't stop me having to post multiple part expositions ... :)

There is no maximum limit.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Caliasseia on January 22, 2019, 01:28:08 PM
That's going to be fun to put to the test :D
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Mr. IXTUS on January 22, 2019, 09:11:34 PM
ALL:
Well, sorry to say we are shutting down this project.  My administration was indeed aware of my posting here, however there has been a complaint to the school from a moderator.  Therefore they have asked me to pull the plug and I agree.  If it's going to cause a problem then it's not worth it.

I thank you for the answers you have given.  It is actually quite valuable and useful material to present to the students. I apologize to any who were expecting a response from me for the unfinished conversations. 

MODERATORS:
Please delete the "Mr. IXTUS" account, and this thread if you see a need.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: joeactor on January 22, 2019, 09:16:05 PM
ALL:
Well, sorry to say we are shutting down this project.  My administration was indeed aware of my posting here, however there has been a complaint to the school from a moderator.  Therefore they have asked me to pull the plug and I agree.  If it's going to cause a problem then it's not worth it.

I thank you for the answers you have given.  It is actually quite valuable and useful material to present to the students. I apologize to any who were expecting a response from me for the unfinished conversations. 

MODERATORS:
Please delete the "Mr. IXTUS" account, and this thread if you see a need.

... An Inconvenient Truth?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Sandra Craft on January 22, 2019, 11:43:29 PM
My administration was indeed aware of my posting here, however there has been a complaint to the school from a moderator. 

Logic wasn't Mr. Ixtus' strong suit, was it?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Ecurb Noselrub on January 22, 2019, 11:49:22 PM
Is he saying a Moderator here complained to his school?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Icarus on January 23, 2019, 12:01:09 AM
Did one of our moderators complain to this guys school?  If so, please justify or explain the reasoning for said complaint.   I am admittedly naive about such things. Well maybe Ixtus is just trying to jerk our chain.....????

Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 23, 2019, 12:38:50 AM
Complaint? As far as I know, nobody complained about this thread or Mr. IXTUS to the school. The fact that Mr. IXTUS was posting questions and claiming it was for a school project was brought to their attention.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: xSilverPhinx on January 23, 2019, 12:40:59 AM
My administration was indeed aware of my posting here, however there has been a complaint to the school from a moderator. 

Logic wasn't Mr. Ixtus' strong suite, was it?

Talk about twisting things to seem like the victim!  ::)
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 23, 2019, 06:14:17 AM
ALL:
Well, sorry to say we are shutting down this project.  My administration was indeed aware of my posting here, however there has been a complaint to the school from a moderator.  Therefore they have asked me to pull the plug and I agree.  If it's going to cause a problem then it's not worth it.

I thank you for the answers you have given.  It is actually quite valuable and useful material to present to the students. I apologize to any who were expecting a response from me for the unfinished conversations. 

MODERATORS:
Please delete the "Mr. IXTUS" account, and this thread if you see a need.

This thread will remain as our members have put a lot of thoughtful work into it.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 23, 2019, 06:23:43 AM
Is he saying a Moderator here complained to his school?

I did not complain to PVCS. I posted a link to this thread and stated that a person claiming to represent PVCS had turned up at HAF. While I personally don't like HAF being used as a research source for Christian apologists Mr.IXTUS didn't break any rules and so no complaint was made by me or any other member of staff as far as I am aware. I expect my posts on their Facebook page stirred up a few difficult questions.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bluenose on January 23, 2019, 09:59:18 AM
Tank, I saw your post on their FB page and in no way could it be considered a complaint.  I thought the post was really enquiring whether the OP on this thread actually was operating with the imprimatur of the school.  I suspect he was not, but like many of his ilk when called out he acts the victim.  Oh, well...
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 23, 2019, 12:08:35 PM
Tank, I saw your post on their FB page and in no way could it be considered a complaint.  I thought the post was really enquiring whether the OP on this thread actually was operating with the imprimatur of the school.  I suspect he was not, but like many of his ilk when called out he acts the victim.  Oh, well...

I do think the school knew what he was doing, it's not uncommon. I think they just didn't like the fact that a) I checked and b) added a link to the thread to prevent distortion and/or revisionism.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Ecurb Noselrub on January 23, 2019, 02:11:15 PM
Tank, I saw your post on their FB page and in no way could it be considered a complaint.  I thought the post was really enquiring whether the OP on this thread actually was operating with the imprimatur of the school.  I suspect he was not, but like many of his ilk when called out he acts the victim.  Oh, well...

I do think the school knew what he was doing, it's not uncommon. I think they just didn't like the fact that a) I checked and b) added a link to the thread to prevent distortion and/or revisionism.

That is a satisfactory explanation. Thanks.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Caliasseia on January 23, 2019, 07:54:11 PM
I suspect that the mention of numerous scientific papers destroying his assertions also scared him off ...
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 23, 2019, 08:04:26 PM
I suspect that the mention of numerous scientific papers destroying his assertions also scared him off ...

When did facts ever really mean anything to anybody that fixated on their faith?
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bluenose on January 23, 2019, 10:33:18 PM
I suspect that the mention of numerous scientific papers destroying his assertions also scared him off ...

The mistake the creationists make time and time again is to assume that the supporters of the scientific view are as ignorant of the science as they are. If they only though about it for a moment they would see the problem with this.  But of course, thinking about it is the one thing they want to avoid at all cost.  ::)
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 24, 2019, 12:35:44 PM
I suspect that the mention of numerous scientific papers destroying his assertions also scared him off ...

When did facts ever really mean anything to anybody that fixated on their faith?

When they go their way.
When they've spent a long time making them up.

I'm interpreting Caliasseia's comment as ironic, it's got ... after the last word.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Sandra Craft on January 24, 2019, 12:42:04 PM
ALL:
Well, sorry to say we are shutting down this project.  My administration was indeed aware of my posting here, however there has been a complaint to the school from a moderator.  Therefore they have asked me to pull the plug and I agree.  If it's going to cause a problem then it's not worth it.

I thank you for the answers you have given.  It is actually quite valuable and useful material to present to the students. I apologize to any who were expecting a response from me for the unfinished conversations. 

MODERATORS:
Please delete the "Mr. IXTUS" account, and this thread if you see a need.

This thread will remain as our members have put a lot of thoughtful work into it.

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's answers.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 25, 2019, 01:38:18 PM
I'm really late to the party, but this could not be resisted.

apologies if some Words start With Capital letters where they should not - my autocorrect must think I'm in Germany or what have you ::)

I am a Christian and Bible teacher (8th-10th grade) at a preparatory school.  I will be posting here mostly on behalf of my 8th grade Apologetics students who have questions for atheists like you!  In light of that I thought about adopting a screen name like "Legion" since we are many, but then I thought better of it . . .
Always happy to educate the young.

Quote
1) Do you base your whole belief (or non-belief) system on Science?  If so, why, instead of God?
I base mine on skepticism. In few Words, it means that if something matters to me, or even interests me, I do not believe what I am being told about it without corroborating evidence, and I am open to be proven wrong and changing my mind in light of new/better evidence. My world view is an agglomeration of "to-the-best-of-my-ability-to-proves"

Quote
2) Do you have any least favorite religions? Most favorite?
This is a broad question, as "favourite" can mean many things with varied implications. I find Hinduism interesting, but then I like reading about the Christian Crusades too. Does it make those my "favourite" religions? In some respects, yes. In others, not at all.

Islam, especially in its Wahhabist and Salafist forms, is probably my "least favourite" among the more widely practiced religions. I could more-or-less write a book on the whys of it, but if you start in all the obvious places, you are unlikely to assume wrongly.

Quote
3) Are there any Atheistic schools, the same way there are Christian schools?
I do not know. Public education in my country is secular, meaning that while we learn about religion, there is no intentional religious lens in what we learn and how. I suppose a self-proclaimed Atheist School would fall withing that description.

Quote
4) Why did you become an Atheist? Or: What made you switch from being a Christian to being an Atheist?
I was never religious to begin with. Oh, I may have held some superstitions as a small child, like for example believing that Terminators from the original movie were real things walking among us, but that had more to do with me still learning to differentiate between fact and fiction at that age (around six) than positive conviction.

Quote
5) Why do you think it’s a good idea to be an Atheist?
It's neither good nor bad. It's a good idea to be skeptical, because it makes it more difficult for you to act on misinformation or believe in falsehoods, but Atheism… It is not an end-goal, it's a natural consequence of knowledge, critical thinking and certain personality traits.

What I'm saying is, you don't become an Atheist because its' a "good thing." Rather, you realise that you are one because you do not believe in gods. Therefore, whether it's good or bad is quite beside the point.

Quote
6) Do you feel happier since you became an Atheist?
Always an Atheist, so this question is not for me. Still, I am... Content. In itself, I don't think my Atheism figures into my happiness one way or the other, any more than my left nostril does.

Quote
7) If you are hungry you eat, and if you are thirsty you drink, but when you die, what is the solution to death?
I would gladly spend a lot of time discussing this specifically, as it is a very interesting question. Short answer; today - there is none. Everyone you know, yourself included, will die one day. Maybe the solution lies in transferring the human mind into a quantum computer? Maybe some DNA-repairing serum? There are a lot of cool ideas out there.

Consider this, though; if you could live forever… Would you want to? Forever is a long time. Imagine after having done absolutely everything worth doing to the point of tedium, you wake up in the morning and... What? You still have eternity ALL AHEAD of you.

Quote
8) If the resurrection (of Jesus) never happened, then why did the Apostles and many more Christians die for it?
If the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction never happened, why did thousands of US troops and many many more Iraqis, not to mention those from allied forces on both sides, die for those?

Sometimes people are wrong. Sometimes they misinterpret things. Sometimes they lie to further an agenda. And sometimes people believe them. Sometimes, those same People are willing to sacrifice their own lives to further their cause, whether they know it to be valid or not. That is down to our tribal nature, I think.

Quote
9) How would you explain a bacteria with a motorized flagella?
They evolved that way in order to out-compete other life forms in their biospheres.

Quote
10) How would you explain the fact that humans are always seeking God?
It's not a fact. I am human, and I do not. Argument refuted. If you are asking how I explain that so many people believe in various religions? Tribal nature. We gravitate towards things that are larger than our own selves. our societies act like superorganisms, and imagining a common brain, actively dictating how it all comes together can be an attempt at understanding it through projection of self. "I make my arm move. Who makes the "I" move?" It's a fallacious line of thinking though, easily debunked if you think about it.

Quote
11) Why do you believe what you believe?
Because I have not come across valid reasons not to. It really is that simple.

Quote
12) Do all Atheists believe in the Big Bang?
I do not know. Speaking for myself, I accept the current expansion model of the Universe, commonly referred to as the "Big Bang" theory.

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13) If you believe in the Big Bang, why don’t you believe God caused it somehow?
I already answered a part of this question above. Why do I not believe God did it? Tell me which God, and I will tell you why. In general, it's because I have no valid reason to believe that.

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14) Is there anything wrong with God?  If so, how can you prove He is wrong?
That depends on your understanding of God. *I* do not believe such entities exist as described, and know of no evidence of such entities that could exist (this is a variation of the sufficiently advanced Technology being indistinguishable from magic argument) There is nothing wrong with not existing.

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15) What did you find to be more true about Atheism than Christianity?
Atheism has one proposition; "I do not believe in gods." If indeed you do not believe in gods, saying that you are an Atheist is by definition a true statement. If you are thinking about something else, you will do well to rephrase the question.

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16) Do you think that any sort of eternal something must exist?
Low energy photons. From what I understand, even after the Universe dies a heat death, they will still be there - forever.

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17) What do you feel is your purpose for living.  Or: what is the purpose of your life?
To leave a sign of my passing - a footnote in history books, if you will. I don't need statues or streets named after me - nothing like that. What I mean is, I want to contribute to the World in as meaningful a way as I am willing and able.

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18) How would you respond if the Bible was shown to be historically accurate?
I would respond by changing my mind about the historical accuracy of the Bible.

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19) Assuming you believe in evolution, what do you think caused us to evolve?
Natural selection. Adapt or perish. We adapted, and here we are.

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20) In light of the Big Bang, do you believe that the universe was created out of nothing?
I do not know. I hold no beliefs one way or the other, when it comes to what the Universe was made *out of.* May have been colliding membranes of the… M-theory, was it? May have been "nothing" of one sort or another. I. Do. Not. Know, and neither do you.

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21) Is there anything wrong anywhere? If so, how can we know unless there is a Moral Law?
There is such a thing as "objective morality," if you limit the scope of objectivity. The Universe doesn't care - people might. In most societies, killing a person is considered immoral. What about combatants at war? Witches in Nigeria? The death penalty? Abortion, for that matter? What about space aliens who see humans as merely a source of food? Morality arises from social contract we partake in. The larger its scope, the more "objective" a set of morals becomes. The reverse is also true. There is no "cosmic moral law" that can be clearly identified, however. Some have made the argument that it's about the well-being of conscious creatures, but... That view too has its flaws and inconsistencies, a shining example of which being the following question; "What if my well-being is contingent on your suffering, and your well-being is contingent on my suffering?" Which one of us gets the moral high ground?

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22) Do Atheists ask for forgiveness?
If I wrong you and recognise having done so, I will say "I'm sorry."

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23) Why do you believe in the singularity if you have know idea what came before it, or how it was made?
Believe in it, I do not. What I do, is accept the model of the origins of the Universe, which has said singularity in it. I accept it because at present time, it appears to be a valid model of the Universe. It is mathematically sound and has corroborating observational evidence, which can be verified at will. I do not know if "what came before it" is even a valid concept - at least within the spacetime we inhabit.

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24) Why do you believe in evolution if you have no factual evidence that apes actually became human?
I accept the evolutionary theory as accurate precisely because it is one of the factually strongest scientific models to date. We understand evolution better than we do gravity.

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25) What was it that told you that God is not real?
Nothing. I came to the conclusion through reason, skepticism and knowledge.

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26) What standard of right and wrong do you hold to?
I agree to aid you if I can expect you to aid me. I agree not to hurt you if I can expect you not to hurt me. From there, the common law provides a more detailed framework.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 25, 2019, 02:11:54 PM

Consider this, though; if you could live forever… Would you want to? Forever is a long time. Imagine after having done absolutely everything worth doing to the point of tedium, you wake up in the morning and... What? You still have eternity ALL AHEAD of you.

Go back to bed, set the alarm a billion years hence.
There might be new things.
No? do a memory wipe and do it again or go back to bed.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 25, 2019, 03:12:13 PM
That is the most valid response to this question I have recieved in the history of ever.

My follow-up is this, though; if you have to resort to memory wipes (And I grant you the ability to do that for free) then what's the point of living forever?


EDIT: An honourable mention to the scope of eternity; you go to sleep for six billion years, after having spent the last googolplex to the power of googolplex being bored, having spent the preceding googolplex to the power of googolplex doing everything you find even remotely worth doing. You have created and destroyed Universes, you have loved and hated, won and lost - forever. And so you wake up from your slumber… What does the next googolplex to the power of googolplex years bring? The one after that? The googolplexth one after that again? Remember, the eternity is still all ahead of you.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Tank on January 25, 2019, 03:16:56 PM
That is the most valid response to this question I have recieved in the history of ever.

My follow-up is this, though; if you have to resort to memory wipes (And I grant you the ability to do that for free) then what's the point of living forever?

Depends if the memory wipes are selective. You could choose to keep a core thread of your existence and then redo loads of other stuff.
 
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 25, 2019, 03:21:58 PM
Sure, but the question stands, if you think about it. Say I could selectively wipe my knowledge of how to create a Universe, then re-learn it over the course of four trillion years. That's a coping mechanism. As in, it's not as much a valid reason to want to live forever as it is a way of… Avoiding living forever when in reality, you have no other choice.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 25, 2019, 03:50:29 PM
In this scenario am I a super being or just me?
If I'm super me you can't conceive of what I get out of out living forever.
If I'm just me, fast forwarding, seeing if there's action, fast forwarding to see the end, that appeals.
There's always galactic snooker, takes along time to finish a game of that.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 25, 2019, 05:04:21 PM
See, I don't have to conceive what you can get out of it as a superbeing, so by all means, be one in this hypothetical. I cannot comprehend a googolplex years, either. What I can do, however, is put an infinity sign behind the number of times you have done whatever it is I cannot conceive of to the point of tedium, then point out that your eternity has not even truly begun yet.

So, you have been sleeping and forwarding and sleeping again for googolplex to the power of googolplex to the power of googolplex years. Then what? Will you be satisfied with that existence *forever?*



On the off-chance any of the kids from the school find the Facebook link and read this... We do sort-of laugh these concepts off and don't make too serious a discussion out of it. It's OK if considering eternity and existing for eternity freaks you out - it freaks me out too, though I enjoy the thought experiment. It's also OK if you cannot understand the numbers with which I operate - far greater than that of every single atom in the known universe. As I admitted above, neither do I. You may also find it interesting to learn that this thought experiment was actually conceived in the way I present it (I do not claim the original idea, though I thunk it up myself) when for a school assignment a long, long time ago, I attempted to see if I could do better than religion in presenting realistic motives a god might have to create humans and actually care about what they do. What I came up with, was that they were another in an infinite string of solutions to the literally endless boredom of an eternal.

EDIT: I'm gonna see if I can find that paper and post it here. I'm not sure if it survived the four-five moves since I wrote it, but I was, and still kind of am, proud of how dystopian it turned out.

EDIT 2: Oh, and the "Godly motives" from above? They made for interesting fiction, and fiction they were. Don't even think about Scientologizing my stuff! Yes, I'm looking at you!
(http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Aufkleber-smiley-see-you-Sticker-Tuning-Oldschool-9cm-fun-face-yellow-/00/s/NTY2WDU2Ng==/z/8g0AAMXQVT9S6m16/$_35.JPG)
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Icarus on January 26, 2019, 02:43:19 AM
Find that paper Asmo.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 26, 2019, 01:11:36 PM
See, I don't have to conceive what you can get out of it as a superbeing, so by all means, be one in this hypothetical. I cannot comprehend a googolplex years, either. What I can do, however, is put an infinity sign behind the number of times you have done whatever it is I cannot conceive of to the point of tedium, then point out that your eternity has not even truly begun yet.

So, you have been sleeping and forwarding and sleeping again for googolplex to the power of googolplex to the power of googolplex years. Then what? Will you be satisfied with that existence *forever?*

I will be as a tree, do you think trees get bored?
You're a short term organism, there are other ways to be, om.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 26, 2019, 08:15:23 PM
Say your heart beats once every million years. A million years as you perceive it is still but an instant, compared to eternity. It doesn't matter if you measure moments in seconds, or in lifetimes of the Universe. Eternity always lies ahead of them. Whatever your perspective, eventually you will look back on the immeasurable time past, and realise that compared to what lies ahead, it is no time at all.

Being a tree... I refer you back a few posts, where memory wipes were suggested. My issue with trees is the same. If you do not find coping mechanism argument compelling, consider that as you are now, you will already get an eternity of not being conscious by virtue of having a finite lifespan.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 27, 2019, 10:06:00 AM
My follow-up is this, though; if you have to resort to memory wipes (And I grant you the ability to do that for free) then what's the point of living forever?
 
You don’t necessarily have to grant me memory wipes, my memory is kinda self wiping already.
You say “coping mechanism” as if I’m some sought of slacker. 
Tails, fur, eyes, claws, opposable thumbs, sleep and forgetting are all coping mechanisms.
If my existence is pleasing to me, I’ll be happy to continue.
I think I may be more resistant to ennui than you.
I don’t have to look at the infinity of time ahead of me.
I take it a billion years at a time, that’s my philosophy.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 27, 2019, 10:46:38 AM
I tried not to be obvious in trying to lead this discussion here. Succeeded too, I think.

Living forever, while retaining your reasoning and memory capabilities, would not be the blessing those who like the idea paint it to be. Here, today, however, I want to live a little longer precisely because I have some [finite] goals and wishes I want to see realised, I have knowledge to obtain... Things to live for. When I no longer have those, then death... Is welcome to become my final new experience.
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Bad Penny II on January 27, 2019, 10:59:03 AM
I tried not to be obvious in trying to lead this discussion here. Succeeded too, I think.

Living forever, while retaining your reasoning and memory capabilities, would not be the blessing those who like the idea paint it to be. Here, today, however, I want to live a little longer precisely because I have some [finite] goals and wishes I want to see realised, I have knowledge to obtain... Things to live for. When I no longer have those, then death... Is welcome to become my final new experience.


But you don't experience death, you just stop being alive.  :en route:
Title: Re: 26 Questions for Atheists from a Class of 8th Graders . . . gird thine loins!
Post by: Asmodean on January 27, 2019, 02:29:13 PM
No, you will not experience being dead. There is a subtle difference there. Subtle, but a fair chunk of "reasoned" fear of death lies within it.