The folks over at Christian Skepticism are trying to stump atheists with stupid questions designed to catch atheists in some kind of epistemological trap. Here are the questions:
1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
2. How do you know that you exist (without being circular)?
3. Where does human self-consciousness come from?
4. How do you know that your senses are reliable (without being circular)?
5. What is truth?
6. What is the cause of everything?
These types of questions are examples of men with too much time on their hands. Jim Lazarus at The Consolations has some good answers. But really, there is no need to get philosophically technical with any of these questions. Many overthink things to an illogical degree. My answers?
1. Because there has always been something. Who cares why? Nothing is not a conceivable concept because we are here already and that’s what you deal with.
2. I exist because others see me and interact with me. It’s not possible to posit a place where there aren’t others to see and interact with. Another moot question.
3. Self consciousness is a product of the evolution of the brain.
4. First define reliable. Reliable to live? You do the best with what you see, hear, taste, and smell. For those who don’t have all five senses, you do the best with what you do have.
5. Truth is conformity to fact or actuality. I exist is a truth that cannot be disputed.
6. To know the cause of everything is not necessary to live life. It’s a moot question.
Overall it’s a pretty fruitless exercise and is meant to trap rather than engage in real debate. To me, existence is it’s own truth and futile arguments about why we know what we know or why we do what we do is usually an attempt by one group to gain or obtain power over another group. In this instance the point is to trap the atheist and submit to Christian dogma and philosophy. The solution? Don’t play the game. Or, if you do play, don’t play by their rules. Because usually, you must accept a basic premise before you can engage in debate. If neither side accepts the others’ premises, then no debate is possible. End of debate.
23 thoughts on “Stupid Christian Skeptic’s Questions”
The only Christian skepticism that can be asked of Atheists or Christian haters resides in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Philosophy has little or nothing to do with direct Christian faith, although it can be a useful tool for the believer to solidify his understanding of some spiritual issues.
Faith is accepting something as real or true, despite proof, either absence or presence of.
What atheists and Christian haters always avoid, and will forever avoid, is a direct assault on the very teachings of Christ Jesus himself, as contained in scripture, quote for quote.
They will make long arguments against the organized religion of Christianity, the Person of Jesus – historical, theological, or mythological – or the Fallacies, Crimes, and Hypocrisy of some modern Christian churches/organizations. They will not, however, directly debate the principle of his teachings, directly quoted, unless they twist or distort them in some form or fashion.
I am not saying that they cannot be argued against, based on individual faith, even though I find them to be without fault or blemish. (It is as simple as: you believe the man, or you don’t.) I am simply speaking from direct observation and personal experience.
If you debate Christianity, you have to debate the principle of what Christ Jesus taught, directly quoted, using all the tools and disciplines of debate; reason, logic, and argument.
As to the conclusion of that debate, it’s a matter of pure faith whether you believe the man to be the Son of God or not.
Good points made. I don’t really see the point in debating like this, over this. You choose to believe what you believe.
tobeme, I think the point the debaters want to make is one of power, like I’ve described. To have “won the day” with winning an argument seems silly. One could endlessly debate philosophy and never come up with answers. You’re right, people choose to believe what they want.
Good points as well, Jay. It’s true that most will not directly challenge what Jesus said, but some have. Either way, it does come down to whether the faith we have rests on reasonable evidence or not. I believe that there has to be some kind of reasonable evidence to base your faith on or you can believe just about anything you want: Barney is real, the Star Trek universe really exists. The question for ANY debate should be whether our faith is resting on reasonable evidence and what is that reasonable evidence? Unfortunately, no one will agree on the premises of the debate ahead of time (such as God’s existence) so therefore debate is futile. Thanks for the thoughts.
If neither side accepts the others’ premises, then no debate is possible. End of debate.
“If neither side accepts the others’ premises, then no debate is possible. End of debate.”
That’s a bit like saying “If I close my mind, and you close your mind, then we can’t talk”. Well duh! You can’t argue with a brick wall.
I’d like to think that evolution serves to promote being open-minded. But, maybe the caveman who invented fire had to do so secretively, lest his cavemates beat him to death for evoking the burning ghost.
If you want the Truth, you have to face facts that might frighten you. It is that fear that drives us out of the nursery cave and into the world. Christians face the cross. It’s not about being “special”.
So, the debate really boils down to those who want to examine the truth with open eyes, not those who are content to screw thier eyes shut and suck their thumbs. =)
Faith is accepting something as real or true, despite proof, either absence or presence of.
Jay is exactly correct in this statement. Faith is not proof of anything. Faith is not absolute truth either, because it cannot be proven. Faith is an arbitrary decision, no matter if it is Muslim or Morman, or Hindu. Since it is not based on absolute proven facts it can only be arbitrary, and each person has his feelings or experiences to confirm his faith to him or her, therfore nobody can claim to have the one and only truth. Faith is basically a feeling, or a denial of reality.
As to the teaching of Christ, nobody will attack the basic teachings of love and acceptence of others, who would? The problem is that we don’t even really know if Christ really taught this stuff or if the sayings attributed to him, were in fact even his sayings, because these things were written many years after his death and not by the authors name which is on each book. Again it can’t be proven, so it comes down to an arbitrary faith. You can choose to believe it, but you can’t claim that it is absolutly the truth.
For me it came down to one central issue. Is the Bible really the word of God, or simply the word of men? There came a point in my life where the obvious problems with the Bible, the things it supports, the contradictons, the errors, the scientific errors, the selection of the canon itself, and the obvious tinkering with the interpretation of it, (the doctrine of Hell), overrode my faith that this could possibly be the word of God, or even from God. When I started looking at it as the flawed docuement from flawed, even misogynistic men, that it was, suddenly my faith in it went out the window, and freedom of thought took over.
Keep the faith if you desire, but keeping your faith in something/anything in which the supporting document, (the Bible), has this many proven problems still doesn’t make it the absolute truth, any more than having faith that some copper tablets nobody ever saw actually contained the new word from God.
IF you really believe the statement you made about faith, then you have no reason to ever debate it with anyone, or even try to offer any proof of its truthfullness.
Personally I can only have faith in something for which there is proof that it is true, and yes that can still be faith. There are plenty of things in this world that have a lot of evidence and proof of their existence or truthfullness. I have faith in our military. I have faith in bridge bulders. I have faith in planes, trains and automobiles. I have faith that my heart will still beat tomorrow. I have faith in my doctor.
However if I decide to have faith in Zeus and all the other Greek Gods, then that is an arbitrary faith with no proof that they ever existed, but just as good and just as proveable as believing in Jesus. How can you deny that my God Zeus will not get me to heaven? I have faith!
You miss the point. If the theist claims to start a debate ASSUMING that God exists and the atheist claims to start the debate ASSUMING that God does not exist, then neither can accept the other’s premise and the debate ends. What’s so hard to understand about this? It’s not closing your mind to the truth unless the theist REFUSES to entertain the notion that God does not exist or the atheist REFUSES to entertain the notion that God does exist. That’s when minds are closed. But both cannot start on this debate unless both agree to the assumptions. It’s simple debating rules that’s all. You are starting the debate here with a closed mind that ASSUMES God exists already, therefore no debate with you is possible unless you open your mind to the fact that God may very well not exist.
“Faith is not proof of anything. Faith is not absolute truth either, because it cannot be proven. Faith is an arbitrary decision, no matter if it is Muslim or Morman, or Hindu. Since it is not based on absolute proven facts it can only be arbitrary, and each person has his feelings or experiences to confirm his faith to him or her, therfore nobody can claim to have the one and only truth. Faith is basically a feeling, or a denial of reality.”
And you are exactly right. When people say they have faith on reasonable evidence, such as Jay and other apologists, they are saying that it’s reasonable evidence FOR THEM. What’s reasonable evidence for them may not be reasonable evidence for others, hence trying to convince others will not work. You make an excellent argument for the other points as well.
Good to “see” you again! 🙂
Your answer to #3 leaves me wondering how you think this could have come about. It’s got me stumped, but maybe you can educate me.
Maybe I can, maybe I can’t. It’s not my job to educate you, only throw things out there for consideration. Self-consciousness comes from becoming self-aware. It’s a process of evolution. It’s a right brain/left brain construct. See the link for more:
(http://www.julianjaynes.org/evidence_summary.php) As for where the brain comes from? The question serves no purpose.
“Faith is an arbitrary decision, no matter if it is Muslim or Morman, or Hindu.”
Arbitrary in what sense? If you mean that people wake up one day and say “Gosh, Mohammed was a prophet!”, then I think that statement is erroneous when applied to the general population.
Faith in something or someone is not arbitrary, if you believe in choice and free will. Faith is the choice that speaks best to what is in the heart of the person choosing.
For example, atheists tend to be very angry at life, so their faith is in rejection of its creator. I doubt their faith is arbitrary.
I believe Noogatiger needs to answer his own quote.
As for angry atheists, I don’t believe atheists are very angry at life anymore than Christians are. I’ve known some VERY angry Christians who despise life and can’t wait to leave this world for their idea of heaven.
Sorry for misquoting. As for Christians hating life, it does say in the bible,
“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
However, “hate” in that context does not mean a rejection of life itself, but of worldliness and the decietfulness of riches, in comparison to life with God.
The world is, in Christian eyes, the cross that must be endured. Hate towards fellow man is what is wrong, while enduring their hate to teach salvation is right, as it is taught. i.e. hate the trial of the cross, but not ithe cross itself.
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.”
Otherwise, God gave men life just to encourage suicide.
The atheist’s anger at life is different. Theirs is a rejection of suffering. i.e. how can God make a world in which there is such horror? To reject all suffering as meaningless is to reject that, despite the horror of it, it has a purpose. In otherwords, “Life is terrible, so God is stupid.”
It always comes down to people putting themselves in one of two positions: allowing man to judge God, or allowing God to judge man.
Sorry, Jay, generalizations about groups of people are usually not very accurate and come from deep seated fears about said people. I disagree with your view about atheists and Christians.
First of all it was you who gave this definition:
“Faith is accepting something as real or true, despite proof, either absence or presence of.”
Therefore without proof that what you believe in is true, then it is simply an arbitrary decision on your part to believe it, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter what your experiences are, or mine, or anyone elses.
Muslem people have experiences, so do Mormon people, and Quakers, and pagans, and Hindus and even people who believe in Voo-doo.
“Faith is the choice that speaks best to what is in the heart of the person choosing.”
A little different but still requires no proof, therfore it is arbitrary. Based on your feelings we agree, but without some proof of its validity it is still arbitary.
In my heart, based upon my studies, my experiences and my heart I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is not from God. It is a book by men, about men, and the God they made up. Who is to say that my conclusions are wrong? I have more proof for my position than you do for your faith.
So since you admit you can’t prove it, why spend time trying to prove it?
P.S I am an agnostic/atheist. I am very happy. I have a happy family life, and three great kids. People just think I am being angry when I tell them that the things they have faith in have no basis in fact. Of course Jay admits this.
It’s fine to disagree. I’m one of the few who thinks generalizing groups tends to be accurate, as once you ascribe to a group idea or mentality, you have surrendered your individuality.
Often, people who ascribe to a set of beliefs aren’t thinking for themselves. Thus you have blind zealots of religion, and disenchanted cynics of antiestablishment.
I’d prefer to be wrong.
“In my heart, based upon my studies, my experiences and my heart I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is not from God. It is a book by men, about men, and the God they made up. Who is to say that my conclusions are wrong? I have more proof for my position than you do for your faith.”
What is proof? Proof is commonly defined as a set of independently verifiable results commonly accepted as being accurate. For example, if Einsteinian physics are true, then we can make nuclear weapons. However, if Newtonian physics do not work at an atomic level, then Newtonian physics must be wrong. Yet, it works.
Furthermore, quantum physics do not abide by Einsteinian laws either. So, which physical laws are proof of how things are? It depends on the perspective from which you judge. A quark cannot comprehend a proton any more than a proton could comprehend a celestial body, based on the limits of each’s set of physical laws. Yet, they exist.
So, proof tends to be relative to perspective. In that sense, there is no “more” or “less” evidence one way or the other – just “more advertised” or “less advertised”. Would it not be arrogant to assume you have all the variables, knowing this?
You say that a decision of faith is arbitrary, yet you base your own faith on your experiences and studies? That seems intentional rather than arbitrary. And, faith in nothing is still faith.
“I am an agnostic/atheist. I am very happy. I have a happy family life, and three great kids.”
I did not say that Atheist are unhappy. I said they tend to be angry about life’s unfair nature, and cling to what happiness they can before it is stripped away. They have faith only in what they can control, yet ultimately know they have no real control in a universe that, according to them, abides by causality.
Children are killed by drunk drivers, wives die of breast cancer. Through it all, the atheist who suffers sees himself as victimized by a cruel universe, and in their heart of hearts, they blame the idea of God. That doesn’t mean they aren’t happy while they are in their comfort zone of control. Most people are, whatever faith they ascribe to.
It’s all about control, and who you’d rather allow to have it: An omniscient creator, or a powerless victim of circumstances.
“generalizations about groups of people are usually not very accurate and come from deep seated fears about said people.”
“… most men hate women with powerful personalities. We are bitches, cunts, and any other despicable name you can think of. We are imasculators for refusing to bow to them, to do their bidding. They hate the very women they themselves create through their own abusive actions and hierarchies. Then, paradoxically, they cannot understand why women are angry.”
When perspective changes, proof changes.
You are absolutely right Jay. When perspective changes, proof does indeed change. I don’t require any proof except my own experience. I do have very, very deep-seated and legitimate concerns about men, especially fundamentalist men like yourself. But at least I admit that I do, which is what my whole post (that you took a snippet from) was about. The quote you chose to pull out as a weapon is fascinating, because it proves my point about your incessant need to be “right” and your refusal to be open-minded in this “debate.” I can see that any more “discussion” is wasted on you. No hard feelings Jay dear, but I’m done. 🙂
Bottom line is you said that your Faith requires no proof. In fact you have no proof there is no proof, and the only proof for you is your feelings. Therefore it is an arbitrary decision.
Feelings are not proof.
Heartfelt ideas are not proof.
Proof of things may actually change by the perspective of the viewer, but at least natural proofs are verifiable by some means no matter the perspective, otherwise they are not proofs.
PS. I don’t have any faith, not even in no faith. I don’t know if there is a God or not. I await further proof.
So unless you have proof, then any faith in any God is an arbitrary decision. Sure it may be based on your feelings, or emotions, or experiences, I can’t deny that, but all of those things are as subjective as the person who has them.
Oh, and I am not angry about lifes unfair nature either. I accept that it is this way, because it’s just life. Not some God doing this crap to us.
I appreciate your willingness to take on the arguments of the obtuse, but I’m not allowing Jay to comment any longer. His “responses” have degenerated into psychoanalysis of those he’s debating rather than dealing with the issues on the table for discussion, a fairly common tactic. Thank you for being more patient than I am though! 🙂
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