I was asked to do an interview for a school project. Since it was already typed, I figured I’d post it. The questions are in italics and my answers in normal.
1. What exists? In other words, what kinds of things are really real? Only matter? What about non-material things and abstract things (such as mind, spirit, ideas or numbers)? What kinds of non-physical things might exist?
Everything that is real as some evidence. Numbers are representations to do math, but they aren’t the only method possible (we could do something that isn’t base 10 for instance) Mind and spirit you’d have to define what you mean. They are products of your brain, but there is no evidence they are a separate thing.
2. If you believe that there is a non-physical dimension to reality, do you tend to think that either the material or the non-material is more important than the other? Why? Or do you believe that they equally important?
No….everything real has physical evidence.
3. Has the universe always existed, or did it come into existence at a specific point in time?
You’ll find I’m far more of a science freak than most atheists. I actually can talk about things in quantum mechanics and have at least some understanding
This Universe clearly had a beginning called the Big Bang. We can see and even map the energy in radio waves.
That’s not to say the energy that came from the Big Bang did. The Big Bang was a quantum event, and those do generate matter and energy without cause (see the Casimir Effect) But it is equally possible the energy just always existed. We don’t have enough data yet.
4. Do you believe there is a design or purpose to the universe? Why or why not?
Nope. I see no evidence of any design. There are physical laws. Personally, since they all break in quantum mechanics, I doubt they are the same in other universes, if there are other universes. I’d make an educated guess and say there probably are.
5. Do you believe that history is working toward a goal of some kind? If so, what do you
believe it is?
6. Is knowledge possible? If so, how do we know anything? Please explain your thoughts a bit.
• Option 1: I believe we learn everything from our experiences in the world – by seeing, tasting, touching, smelling, hearing.
• Option 2: I believe we know some things just by thinking logically; we don’t need to perceive everything through our senses; we can know some things independently of our experience. If this is your point of view, can you give some examples of things you know in this way?
• Option 3: I have a third point of view, which is . . .
It obviously is.
Perhaps it would help if I defined evidence. Evidence is something you can measure and examine. We gain knowledge only by examining evidence and drawing conclusions from it.
7. What is the most important thing in life?
Whatever you want it to be.
8. Does every society have some sort of value system? If so, where do you think it comes from?
Sure. It comes from evolution like everything else about us.
“Morality is but the herd-instinct in the individual.”
Think about that for a second and you’ll see he got it right. Everything we do is about having the species as a whole survive. Survival is exactly what evolution selects for.
9. Do human beings have a built in sense of right and wrong? If so, where does it come from?
See the above answer.
10. Are any values absolute? In other words, are there some values that every person – no matter what culture (s)he lives in / no matter what period of history (s)he lives in – should believe in? Can you offer some examples?
The thing with what is moral, it is entirely dependent on the situation. You will see that it always has common goals, namely to have as many of our species live as possible. But no matter what you want to pick, there are situations were you can construct it so that anything is better than an alternative.
11. How do you personally decide what is right or wrong?
See the above. You do the best you can. Basically you live the way you want everyone else to live.
12. Is there such a thing as tragic moral choice? In other words, are we sometimes placed in a position where we have no choice except to do evil? If so, can you give an example or two?
Again see above. You might do things you regret later. But generally that’s because you weren’t working with all the information.
13. How would you evaluate this statement: All truth and values are relative (This means they are not absolute, and that they are conditioned by individual or cultural factors). Why do you agree – or not agree – with the statement?
That is obvious from what I’ve already said.
14. According to Situation Ethics, there are no rules that are to obeyed in every situation, and there are times when we have to break the rules (even one of the Ten Commandments) in order to do the loving thing. In the end, the only rule we always need to follow is law of love. How do
you evaluate this point of view? Is it right or wrong? Why?
Again an obvious agreement.
15. Does God exist? If you answered yes, what do you think God is like? Is God . . .
• Personal? If so, what does that mean?
• Impersonal? What does that mean?
• What other words would you use to describe God?
16. If you believe God exists, how do you think people come to know God? If you do not believe God exists, how do you account for the fact that so many people do believe?
If you answer yes to 15, or even maybe you aren’t an atheist. There is no god. There never was.
I could write a book about why people think that. But the reasons boil down to two things.
1- We are wired by evolution to be afraid to die. Religion is a way of saying you don’t really have to.
2- Over active pattern recognition. False positives are better for survival than false negatives. Is that a big cat under that tree. Say no and be wrong you are dead. Say yes and be wrong you are inconvenienced. We are hard wired to see patterns, even ones that aren’t there….which is why the ability to measure the evidence is important.
17. What is the Bible? Do its teachings play any role in your daily life?
Most Christians have never read the Bible. Polls say it’s only about 10%. Most atheists have. Christians have a weird idea about what the Bible even says.
I don’t see a loving God in it at all. I see a self-absorbed, murderous tyrant.
18. How would you evaluate the claim that down deep all religions are basically the same?
They all believe silly things. It’s just a different flavor of silliness. I mean I get a kick out of hearing the Christians make fun of the Scientologists for thinking there were aliens here. I mean the Bible says a donkey talked and a guy lived inside a fish for three days. I give the reasonableness edge to the aliens.
19. What does it mean to be human?
• Are we really distinct from lower animals, or are we part of a continuum?
• How do we differ from lower animals?
• Do you believe that humans have a soul (or are a soul)? If so, please explain what you mean.
We are just a clever ape.
Souls aren’t real either. There isn’t a shred of evidence for any such thing. Just tell me….where is it located? No answer means it ain’t there.
20. Has the modern theory of evolution discredited the Christian faith? If so, how? Also indicate which of the following options best represents your own views. Please explain your answer just a bit.
• I believe in Theistic evolution (the view that God guided the process of evolution).
• I believe in Naturalistic models of evolution.
• I believe God created the world in six 24 hour days.
• I believe in creation, I reject evolution, and I accept the truth of the Genesis account; but I think that the Genesis record was intended to convey spiritual truth rather than a scientific account of origins.
Absolutely. It means the Bible got how we got here wrong.
I don’t really get the positions that try to twist that around either. The Catholics accept it. But the story in the Bible is different in time, order, and mechanism. It says the Sun was created the day after the plants for petes sake.
Jesus also spoke of Adam a few times. So he believed the story that we know for a fact is wrong.
“When one reads Bibles, one is less surprised at what the Deity knows than at what He doesn’t know.”
— Mark Twain