Faithful People Ask Atheists Questions They Were Always Too Scared To Ask.
Religion is a touchy subject, no matter which side of the spectrum you fall under.
Here, religious people ask questions they've always wanted to ask atheists.
1. The reason they "left".
Q: How many of you left because of bad experiences with the church or some other group (e.g school, parents, etc)?
A1: Not I. Raised in a household that was wholly indifferent to religion. My parents never said a good or bad word about it - they just didn't care one way or the other, so I ended up not caring either.
A2: I asked a lot of questions all my life, got told more than once that if I was questioning it was because I lacked faith. This created a discrepancy with my mom telling me to research and question everything so you know why you believe what you believe. In my mind, I didn't understand why god would want to keep me away from the truth if he was about love and freedom.
Hypocrisy was a factor, I saw people picking and choosing sins to hate like at a salad bar, some greater than others. As I grew up it became plain that these sins were just a tool used by Christians to ostracize and hurt people, and these Christian were taking joy in causing others pain. People at the first service said that they loved god more than people who went to the second service, because they were willing to get out of bed for god.
Tithing bothered me, I was told people tithed to the church to help reach people. My church gave the pastor a 80,000 salary and his wife 60,000. He worked maybe two days a week, all his sermons were from binders in his office, he never wrote new ones and I don't know if he wrote the ones he had. I found all this out because my brother was a pastor under him. My brother was fired for not playing the game, was told "God is sending you in another direction." More like my brother's boss wanted to hire his brown nosing friend to be music minister.
The big thing that helped me break from the dangers of religion was when I began to see it as a system of controls. Everything from the Bible and how organized religion in general operates is designed to control people. They tell you want to think/believe, tie it to your immortality (which is important if you know christians are terrified of ending up in the bad place, some will sell family to stay out of the bad place) and THEN they tell you not to ask questions. (Maybe not directly, but questions = weak faith and weak faith = hell.)
I'm not as angry as I once was. My husband won't try to put the conservative Christian restrictions on me because he wasn't raised in a church. I'm not below him because there is no god to put him in authority over me. I can be comfortable with my sexuality rather than thinking my body was something to be ashamed of. To be clear, I'm not talking about my sexuality because I'm LGBT+. It's because even straight women are taught our bodies caused the first sin in the garden, our bodies made men sin. Totally messed up.
2. Lumping lots of people into one group is pretty much always reductive.
Q: A lot of religious people get frustrated or angry because of bigoted or ignorant people in their own faith who give a bad reputation to everyone else. Do atheists have similar reactions to the stereotypical kind of atheist?
A: I very much do. It makes me upset because they set the precedent for the stereotypes people have for us. I'm generally pretty accepting of differing views, but people will automatically assume I hate all religious people.
3. Never stop questioning.
Q: Do you ever have doubts, like we do?
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A1: People who don't doubt aren't thinking. There are some atheists who are certain that some versions of god(s) do not exist. But most atheists are agnostic atheists.
A2: I have no real problem with Deism, as in, "something intelligent could have caused the Big Bang," but I think this is along the same lines as those who say the universe could be a simulation, in fact I don't see much difference at all. However, if this were irrefutably the case, I don't see why it would support the truthfulness of one religion or another. Could have just been a civilization, maybe not so different from us at one point, who climbed their way up the Kardachev scale and decided to create universes. Who knows?
4. Pick one.
Q: If you had to pick a religion, which would you choose?
A1: If Buddhism can be considered a religion, then I'd say that one, most of the followers seem like very genuine and fulfilled people.
A2: Quaker for sure. Encourages independent thought and kindness above all else. Quaker worship is a group meditation, where you sit in silence, occasionally interrupted by someone asking a question for the group to contemplate.
5. Common ground.
Q: Theist here.
For Atheists: Who is your favorite author that believes in God?
A1: Brandon Sanderson, dude's a Mormon but that doesn't stop him from writing characters on all sides with very good points in a very fair way. Also, he is hands down one of the better fantasy authors out there today.
A2: Orson Scott Card, he seems to have interesting theological beliefs, but I love the way he approaches those things in his books from the minds of his characters and not from his own mind.
6. Saint Augustine.
Q: To atheists as well as theists I would like to ask what your opinions on St. Augustine are? I always thought the idea of a Catholic saint telling people to believe science over the Bible as interesting. The church I went to always taught us to question our faith so I never had a problem with this, but I'd like to hear other people's opinions (answers continued on the next page...).
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A1: Okay, that's stupid and ridiculous. I mean, religion and science living along side each other peacefully? Preposterous! I mean, it's not like the Vatican's official stance is that evolution is real-oh wait.
A2: This actually has a historical base, through Aristotle and Plato who were heavily read into and commented on by Christian theologists: in short Christians used to (might still do) believe that by unravelling the secrets of the world, they came closer to God. That there was this 'world of ideas' that laid behind what you saw, and that it was more or less godly. If you look at nature and research it, then you can find out the plans, these Godly ideas/blueprints, and come closer to God.
Q: This may seem weirdly specific, and I guess it is, but: does your atheism affect how you view horror movies/stories/fiction?
To clarify: I not only believe in God, but also in the existence of evil spirits/demons. As a result, something like "Paranormal Activity" strikes me as much more terrifying than, say, a slasher film because of the metaphysical aspect involved. Things that involve communing with spirits are plausible to me, and have implications beyond physical death.
A1: I love horror movies. Being an atheist doesn't make them less enjoyable for me or less scary. I know from the get go what I'm walking into is fiction and isn't to be taken seriously. But it's fun to let my mind wander and to enjoy the creativity behind the film.
A2: My atheism doesn't, but my skepticism does. I don't believe in ghosts/spirits/demons for the same reason I don't believe in any gods - no evidence. So they're equally unlikely in my eyes.
That doesn't mean those movies can't scare the crap out of me, because some of them still do. That's just a sign of good storytelling.
8. Every single thing.
Do you assume that a member of a religion believes every single thing that religion preaches?
I ask because I am Catholic. I had a first communion, my family is Catholic, it says Catholic on my character sheet. However, I haven't been to church in like fifteen years other than the odd thing and I have all my own opinions and beliefs as far as social stuff goes. And as far as religion, I have more of a vague 'sure there's something up there but I don't necessarily know what and it doesn't matter' type of belief, not whatever is in th bible. I believe the bible was written a fuckton years ago by the people of that time- people who could never comprehend science as we know it now, intended to be read to others who wouldn't understand. For all we know an angel sat there patiently explaining evolution and they just didn't get it so he finally was like ok ok 6,000 years ago.. Etc.
Anyway, a few friends are atheists and they act like they know my beliefs better than me. One of them tried to tell me that while I claim to be pro choice, if it came down to it I'd never have an abortion. Because I'm Catholic. I can't speak in favour of the pope without them assuming it's unconditional love for the holy father. It's super weird and I'm actually just ranting about that, but ya the question still stands I guess, but maybe a better question is:
Do you immediately form an assumption about someone who claims to be Christian (answer continued on the next page...)?
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A1: Every single thing, no. I do, however, assume they believe the broad strokes. If someone claims to be a Christian, I assume they believe that Jesus existed, was the son of God, died for our sins, was resurrected three days later, and believes in some form of original sin, even if it's not literally a talking snake with an apple.
A2: I know they do not, and that's part of the problem. Virtually no one actually believes what their religion says, they cherrypick the parts they like and reinterpret everything else to mean whatever they need it to, no matter how strained. Then they deride the people who actually do adhere to the religion that they claim as dangerous fundamentalists. It comes off as very dishonest, like saying that you're in the army because you like saluting flags, and all those guys who actually enlist are taking it too far.
9. The big question.
How do you feel about death?
I would losely define myself as Lutheran, but hate lumping myself in with other Christians because it paints me in a light that I don't ascribe to. For me one of the only reasons I believe is because it brings me comfort over what will happen after I die... But honestly I can totally understand how it sounds like a crock of crap.
How do you feel about nothingness after death? Because to me doesn't make me feel good, even if I know I won't be conscious to experience it.
A: I'm not scared of it because, as other's have mentioned, I'll be dead and you can't experience death when you're dead cause you're dead. I am, however, supremely frustrated by its inevitability. I want to know what the human race does in the next 1000 years. I want to share in its discoveries and advancements.
Death is like when you're reading a great story but it ends suddenly in the middle of the page with no resolution. I'm not scared of a book ending like that, but it is mildly infuriating.
10. The holidays.
Q: Do most atheists still take part in the big holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah?
A1: Yep. I just don't think of them as religious holidays. (Even though they are) Christmas is fun because of presents and the pretty lights. I just skip the Jesus part.
Q: Have you ever had an experience that made you question your lack of faith?
A: Doubt isn't meant to be an occasional passing thought, but a constant concern. You should always be aware that you could be under a misapprehension and be open to changing your mind.
Do I doubt my lack of faith in a specific god? Not really. Just the concept.
12. Moral compass.
Q: What's your moral barometer?
A1: We all benefit from treating each other well.
I have empathy for fellow people and animals not because I fear retribution of a divine punisher if I harm them, I have it because I think it's the right thing to do and it's how I'd like to be treated.
A2: By treating others the way I'd like to be treated.
If the only reason someone lives a moral life is because they're afraid of punishment, I genuinely don't consider them a good person. You should want to do the right thing because it's just that, the right thing to do. We are all humans and worthy of respect.
Q: Do you use phrases like "Jesus Christ" or "Good god" or even "Bah Gawd"?
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A: Yup. It's cultural. Slang rarely has anything to do with it's source after it's creation, so I don't feel it's hypocritical to use phrases such as "For gods sake" any more than I feel it's hypocritical to say I'm going to film my cats when a physical piece of film will not be involved in the image capture process.
14. Thank you Stephen Colbert.
Q: My favourite is from Stephen Colbert, "Why is there something, and not nothing?"
A: The question is meaningless. I'll try to explain.
Your "why" question assumes causality, the idea that everything happens because of something else. It makes sense that if we can identify a reason for everything around us we should also be able to identify a reason for everything.
The problem is Einstein and his discovery of spacetime. If time changes based on our position and velocity in the universe then time must be a feature of the universe. This means we live in a 4-dimensional universe not only of up-down, left-right, and forward-backward but also before-after. This means the idea of causality only exists inside the universe.
For example, you live on planet Earth. If I ask you which way is "up" you will simply point to the sky. It's obvious. But what happens if I teleport you into deep space with no way to know your position relative to Earth and then ask you which way is up? You don't know. In fact, there is no answer. The question is meaningless because "up" is a a quality of your position on Earth and with the planet gone, "up" has no meaning.
So "why is there something" when referring to the universe is meaningless. To cause the universe you must be outside the universe and in that perspective there is no "before" or "after" which means there is no "why".
15. Not a religion.
Q: When I think of an atheist I imagine someone who just doesn't live a theist lifestyle. No church/temple/etc, no praying, night find a joke about God a little more funny than me. Overall not much different, just doesn't do a few things I do.
So why do some atheists treat their atheism like it's a religion? Taking about it often, practically preaching it, etc.
A: It's important to voice views or concerns that may be opposing to the general public, especially in terms of religious views. Sharing and challenging ideas is a key part of what I consider as being an atheist. However, I feel that there is no organizational aspect to being "atheist" it simply suggest not believing in a certain thing.
I do get frustrated when other people who identify as atheist seem to "preach" certain ideologies. It's important to have a discussion, not silence everyone with opposing views and deem them incorrect.
Whoops. That snip was just a hair too far....
Your first bad haircut probably made you want to die a little when you looked in the mirror. Imagine how the person cutting your hair must have felt. Although, maybe they didn't care at all, as evidenced by the bs excuse they gave you when you finished in the barber chair.