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Lies and the Lying Evangelicals Who Lie About Them - Elf M. Sternberg
Lies and the Lying Evangelicals Who Lie About Them
I'm not sure why this guy claims "No atheist can honestly answer some of these!" I'd really want to know which ones he believe I'd lie about:

How Did You Become an Atheist?
*Shrug* I was never very convinced about the stories they told me in Sunday school. None of it made much sense, and I never felt much connection to the idea of a god. I just kinda drifted into it.
What happens when we die?
Ever spend hours and hours with no awareness of what was happening? Sure you have, that's called sleep. That's what happens. The greatest disappointment about death is that you have nothing to look forward to.
What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
If I'm wrong and the Christian God is awaiting me there, I'll go down proud to have been on the side of liberty and justice, rather than kowtowing to the rampaging beast of the Old Testament who drowned men, women and children by the millions in a fit of pique, who sent wild animals to slaughter children who do what children did, and who revels in "the dashing of your little one's heads upon the rocks."

And if it's some other god, like Bacchus, well... that will be awkward, won't it?
Without God, where do you get your morality from?
From my culture. Like everyone else, including you. You got it from your parents, who got it from theirs. The message doesn't get to everyone, which is why we create governments and police forces.
If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
Buddhists don't believe in a god, and they clearly have the same answer; they do what is *right* because that's what living together is about.
If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
False premise: who says it "does." What do you mean by "meaning?" This is one of those questions that *sounds* deep, but actually has no content behind it.
Where did the universe come from?
I don't know. Which is a *much* better answer than any one that you might give me, since any answer you might have will be contradicted by the evidence we actually have.
What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Schizophrenia. The number of people who have claimed to see angels, who suddenly "get better" when given the proper medication, is astonishing. If one can hold angels at bay with one sad little molecule, that doesn't say much about their divine power now, does it?
What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
I'm unimpressed. None of them have said much that the Greek atheists weren't saying two thousand years ago. The biggest problem is that you all haven't brought us anything new. After two thousand years, you're still relying on the same tired stories, fables, and deceits you always have
If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
False premise. Not every one does. Buddhists have no god. Highly primitive human societies generally don't have much in the way a god or gods.


4 comments or Leave a comment
acelightning From: acelightning Date: April 15th, 2016 09:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I am simultaneously a classic agnostic and a Wiccan Priestess, and I've never felt there was any contradiction. But I do have to remark on the "How can your life have any meaning?" bit. Whenever people start blathering about "the meaning of life", my response is, "Why does life have to have a 'meaning'? Life just is, so live it!" I've really never understood why "life" has to have a "meaning" - I'm too busy trying to do the best I can, make things better (or at least avoid making them worse), and have fun while I'm doing it.
tagryn From: tagryn Date: April 15th, 2016 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think the question has more to do with facing one's mortality than "meaning" per se. Nothing we do will be either remembered or have made a notable difference in the world 100 years (or 1,000/10,000/etc.) from now, and that's a hard existential truth for most people to face: that all our individual actions and strivings are ultimately futile in the long run, if we're judging by how the world as we perceive it is shaped by our acting on it. No one person matters, and even if one did, it is ultimately pointless since our sensory perception of the world ends when our brains/senses/bodies die.

That realization brings a tremendous freedom - if all of our actions are without ultimate consequence or outcome, then we are free to do anything - but it also makes having any sense of purpose an exercise in maintaining the illusion that our efforts are worthwhile in any way. Otherwise, why do them? As rational* creatures, we act upon the world in anticipation of outcome, and if there is no outcome to be had, acting becomes irrational.

There is a viewpoint that there is no purpose to life, other than to maximize sensory pleasure/fun and minimize discomfort/pain, i.e. hedonism or Epicureanism. It posits that we're nothing more than thinking animals, of no more significance or consequence than an ant or amoeba, so pleasure/pain is as deep as life goes, and trying to make life out be more than that is just silly or stupid. Whether that's a sufficient answer will be highly dependent on the individual (YMMV) - for many people, that's not an answer they can live with, hence the seeking for some kind of higher purpose or meaning in life.

* - it bears pointing out that many existentialist thinkers see rationality as nothing more than our minds trying to impose structure on an external world that is essentially random and irrational, and therefore is doomed to failure. Again, YMMV.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: April 16th, 2016 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Devoting one's life to amoral hedonism may sound like a philosopher's idea of paradise, but in the real world it's damned near impossible. First of all, a person has to have someplace to live, and a way to acquire food and other basic necessities, which in the 21st century in a "first world" country means you have to earn money somehow. All those sensual pleasures also cost money, directly or indirectly. Like many philosophical theories, hedonism is just too theoretical.

Also, "the meaning of life" isn't really the same as facing mortality. Knowing that nobody will remember anything about me a thousand years from now doesn't stop me from wanting to do something that will be remembered in a week, or a year, or a decade. And my basic nature is more inclined to want to be remembered for doing helpful practical things for people, rather than for acquiring a weapon and seeing how many people I can kill before the cops kill me. I like to think that people will remember, even if only for a short time, that I once baked them a cake for no particular reason, or taught them a couple of HTML tricks to help them make their LJ entries prettier, or called them up and sang them a song when they were feeling friendless and depressed.

But what people often mean by "the meaning of life" is usually far more abstract, and often hinges on something spiritual or supernatural, such as "God". This is what I mean when I ask, "Why does life have to have a 'meaning'?" As I said, I believe that life is to be lived, not philosophically analyzed.

acelightning From: acelightning Date: April 17th, 2016 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I just found this on another friend's LJ. Musician/comedian Tim Minchin gives a commencement address at the university he attended; the topic is "The Meaning Of Life", and his message is, "There isn't any". He says it better than I did.
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