An atheist answers 10 unanswerable questions as posed by a theist. Article I'm responding to:

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Comment by Gallup's Mirror on September 4, 2013 at 3:24am

This is a classic. The theist finds some bit of ignorance and pins God to it. Genuine ignorance is best, but wilful ignorance will do.

Crackpot: How do you explain X?
Me: I can't.
Crackpot: (Triumphantly) See? It HAS to be God! It's the ONLY explanation!
Me: Why does it have to be God? After all, in millions of scientific investigations, ever has the supernatural ever turned out to be the explanation for ANYTHING. Why can't it have a natural explanation we don't understand yet?
Crackpot: Um...

Thus begins theist's hunt for the "unanswerable question", which is a fool's errand from the outset. Even if the atheist really can't answer any of the questions below, the theist still ends up with nothing. We can answer all the legitimate ones and smile at the meaningless ones (such as Noah and the global flood) so either way there's no challenge here at all. But I accept anyway.


1. Why are we here on Earth?

The matter in the universe evolved towards increasingly complex structures: atoms and stars self-assembled out of fundamental particles that originated in the Big Bang. The first stars produced heavier elements like carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, then exploded and released them into space. The forces of gravity subsequently collected these elements allowed for the formation of newer stars and planets like our own. Life began on earth with the spontaneous origin of self-replicating organic molecules (the building blocks for what would become biological evolution) which over billions of years became tiny virus-like or bacteria-like cells, which gave rise to simple life, then complex life, and all life on earth, including humans. That's why we're here on Earth according to the best evidence that is currently known.

2. What is the purpose of life?

From a purely biological standpoint: survival and reproduction. From a metaphysical standpoint, that's up to the person who is living his or her own life, provided it doesn't prevent others from doing the same. (Take, for example, slamming a loaded passenger plane into a skyscraper).

3. If intelligent design and the Bible aren’t correct, then how did humans end up being the masters of every other species on Earth?

Are we? One might say bacteria are masters of the earth. (They outnumber us trillions to one, live on us, inside us, eating us alive and after we die, and we could never eradicate them even if we wanted to.) Besides, the conclusion does not follow the premise. Why couldn't humans be masters of the earth and intelligent design and the Bible be completely wrong? (They are, after all.)

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on September 4, 2013 at 3:25am

4. Why didn’t bears or deer or trout or monkeys or tigers or dogs or squirrels develop intelligence and the ability to speak in thousands of different languages and the ability to build solid structures and the ability to civilize and the ability to master any environmental challenge?

Why do you think animals don't have intelligence or the ability to build solid structures? Lots of them do. Monkeys make tools. Squirrels build nests. Bears and dogs dig dens. Animals also communicate in thousands of different ways-- threat displays, chemical odors, how high the tail is held-- that humans do not. Thanks to evolution animals live virtually everywhere on earth-- the south pole, the deepest deserts, abyssal ocean trenches-- in places where humans can only exist as tourists. But humans are masters of any environmental challenge and animals are not? Even while wars and pollution threaten virtually every part of the world we live in? I wish humans would be civilized and master our environmental challenges, but we're not even close.

5. Also, where did government come from? You don’t need to answer that one, all historians know the Bible is correct historically, even about Noah’s flood due to recent archaeological evidence. So government was formed by the people of Israel. If no God, they created on based on… Nothing?

All historians know the Bible is correct historically about Noah's flood? The international scientific community considers the story of the global flood to be a load of superstitious nonsense because there is not a shred of evidence that it ever occurred.

Government originated with the discovery of agriculture starting as early as 20,000 years ago. Roaming foragers became fixed farmers as communal, classless living vanished. Ownership of land, plants, animals, and goods became the norm: the beginning of classes in society. Settlements, towns, cities, and people to rule them. That's where government came from. It happened independently in many different parts of the world across several thousand years, from Papua New Guinea, to China, to Africa, to Mesopotamia. 

6. If the universe was entirely empty space except for a small mass of matter that created the universe by spontaneously exploding and steadily expanding throughout empty space… What caused that small mass of matter to explode?

Another theist classic: the big bang needs a cause and the cause is God. So by the same premise God needs a cause. So what caused God? Did God have a God? And did God's God have a God? And did God's God's God have a God? Here the theist protests that God needs no cause: an exception that destroys his own premise that the big bang needs a cause. (By the way: that paragraph above does not describe the big bang by a long shot.)

7. Have you ever seen the beauty of a newborn child in his/her mother’s arms? In that moment did you not experience the feeling that My gosh, there really is a God?

Sure I have seen that beauty and no I did not experience that feeling.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on September 4, 2013 at 3:25am

8. If God was created by mankind as an explanation for life and the events that make it up and mankind is by nature evil, as Rousseau said, why didn’t mankind worship themselves or a power of evil?

The question contains a built-in premise that mankind is evil by nature and must engage in some kind of worship. I do not accept either premise any more than I accept the premise that humans can shoot laser beams out of their eyes after eating peanut butter. The question is meaningless.

9. If God was invented by humans, then why do so many Biblical stories involve his punishment of humans that went astray? Wouldn’t humans rather create a God that allows them to get away with whatever they want?

Given the myriad interpretations of the Bible and the 40,000 denominations of Christianity alone, and all of the wars, persecution of homosexuals, justification of slavery, subjugation of women, mistreatment of children, and rivers of blood spilled in the name of God (Yaweh and others) throughout human history: of COURSE humans created a God that lets them get away with whatever they want. The Bible never means what it says, it always says what YOU mean.

10. If Jesus really wasn’t the Son of God, and he didn’t really rise from the dead 3 days after his crucifixion, why did a group of men and women that had been hiding in an attic for those 3 days suddenly come out and start preaching about this man in a way that they were willing to suffer gruesome deaths for?(And don’t give me anything about mankind needing an explanation in their minds, any simple “explanation” would be quickly dropped when a man is about to be sawed in two, stoned, crucified, burnt alive, or beheaded.

The Bible contains the story above, so the Bible is the claim that it happened, not the evidence that it happened. Assuming (quite generously) that these people existed and died as they did, it does not prove Jesus was God, was killed and came back to life, it only proves they believed he was God. There are thousands of people in modern times who are members of cults and who willingly follow similar leaders to the point of gruesome deaths. Think of those who were poisoned for Jim Jones and burned alive for David Koresh: this does not prove those men were gods.

11. You say God doesn’t exist. Why does each person have a conscious then? Why does every person have a knowledge deep within them of right and wrong?

No. You say God exists. I ask for evidence. You have none, so I don't believe you. The claim is yours, not mine.

We have consciousness because of the brain. Destroy the brain and the consciousness ceases to exist. If you doubt that consciousness depends on the brain, why are traumatic brain injuries so harmful to consciousness: which is essentially memory and association? Human altruism is a product of human evolution: a troupe of primitive pre-humans engaging in behaviors that helped rather than harmed each other increased the chances of survival for all. Don't fight. Don't kill. Don't steal. Don't be mean to Mum and Dad. (But it was okay to do this to outsiders: the roots of "the infidel".)

12. What happens to us after we die?(I don’t mean our physical body, I know that decomposes back to the dust(another phrase out of the Bible) but I mean to who the person is)

After we die, the destruction of our brains causes the irreversible cessation of our consciousnesses. With that, we as self-aware persons cease to exist.

Comment by matt.clerke on September 4, 2013 at 7:27pm

1. Why are we here on Earth? 

2. What is the purpose of life?

What does my lack of an answer tell you?.. Why do you think you're answer is truer than no answer? Ultimately, no one knows what the purpose of life is. Current evidence points to there not being any purpose greater than reproduce because we can.

Comment by Thomas Patrick on September 4, 2013 at 8:55pm

1. Who put the "Bop" in the Bop-shoo-bop-shoo-bop?

2. Who put the "Ram" in the Ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong?

Answer: A variation on the Kalam Cosmological Argument.

Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause.

Premise 2: The "Bop" and the "Ram" began to exist.

Conclusion: The "Bop" and the "Ram" must have a cause. The cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, and infinitely powerful. Therefore: Jesus.


Comment by Logicallunatic on September 4, 2013 at 10:22pm

Theists should realise that every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic. What are the chances the next one will be?

Comment by VioLENTpreechr on September 5, 2013 at 11:30am

These types of questions never cease to amaze me.  It continues to demonstrate the close-mindedness of the religious.  I think religion should be banned.  It repeatedly harms people and keeps them brainwashed.  

Comment by Norm Keller on September 5, 2013 at 8:10pm

Why are we here in earth is an easy one. We lack sufficient velocity to escape gravity.

As for the ram....

If a ram is a male sheep, and an ass is a donkey, why is a ram in the ass a goose?

There's a question worthy of an answer!


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