6. If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
I’d say my family and my personal pursuits give my life meaning but this question is almost meaningless. A meaning in what way? How does a religious person define meaning? Is that ever explained? I’m a passionate person, I care a great deal about my loved ones, I donate to worthy causes, I donate blood and I work at a library – a place well suited to my interests. I don’t see why “god” and “meaning” would ever have to go together. I think we can create our own meaning for our lives by what we choose to experience, and what we choose to share about those experiences.
7. Where did the universe come from?
Scientists are trying to work that out. So far, it’s pretty fascinating stuff to learn about. I have very rudimentary knowledge of astronomy but I listen to a lot of science podcasts where this topic gets bandied about. They’ve figured out quite a bit about how it expanded afterwards, faster than the speed of light somehow, and in every direction at the same time. It must be pretty rewarding to be in a field where these are the questions to find answers for. Humbling, too, I’d expect. The universe is incredibly vast and human history has been barely a flicker compared to its lifespan.
8. 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?
The brain is easily tricked but we always look for reasons why things happen. When we can’t see how the trick is done, it’s magic. I forget who was talking about it now but it was on another of those podcasts I like, maybe Radiolab, where a magician said the worst audience for a magician is a kids party because those kids are always watching every piece of the act and figure out the misdirection every time. Most grown-ups, on the other hand, have forgotten how to do that.
People who think they’ve witnessed a miracle have either fooled themselves, been fooled by someone else, or don’t understand statistics and the law of large numbers.
People also think they have a connection to Bigfoot and have seen him. Or aliens. Or the Loch Ness Monster, or the Mongolian death worm. I’m skeptical of all things that rely on anecdote and grainy images as proof of truth.
9. What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
I don’t read them. I probably should, though. I’m supposed to know what they say, I think. Unrelated to their writings, I remember Dawkins got criticized a while back for comments made about women in the skeptical movement and downplayed the points they were making about (perceived) harassment at conferences. I wasn’t impressed. These days there’s #yesallwomen to call out other examples from all walks of life of women dealing with stupid crap of that nature.
10. If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
If there is a god, why can’t every society agree on what he or she is like? How many gods are there, just yours? Or one for every religion? Or none?
Nobody agrees on what’s right and just and humane and true. Women are cut and killed and burned with acid for trying to get an education in some parts of the world. Women and children are tortured, called witches, and killed in other parts.
Everybody puts into their belief system what they want to get out of it. Some people are rabidly against abortion and birth control. Some are so anti-LGBTQ there’s no talking to them about it because they’d rather torture or kill them than let them have human rights. A Nigerian atheist is now in a mental instution. What sense does that make? Mubarak Bala renounced Islam, therefore he is insane, apparently. I guess that’s supposed to be progress? In other times or places he may have been killed for that.
Is the idea of no gods so terrifying to people? Why is it terrifying? Is it terrifying to the author who posed the questions in the first place? I don’t know if the author is finding all these answers. Hopefully he or she has come to a better understanding of atheism and how it’s not the bogeyman under the bed that some religious leaders would have you believe.
Every society may have religion(s), but nobody will ever agree on which one is right and therefore which version of god is the only one worth worshiping.
Atheists have already decided.
And there’s more of us all the time.