Sunday, November 1, 2009

85 Questions

Luke at Common Sense Atheism has an interesting post up that I linked in the HOT5 for today. It takes a look at questions about the nature of existence. I thought I'd give my own brief answers.

  • EXISTENCE
    Why do we exist? We don't know the initial origin of life. Humans exist now because of evolution. 
    What is the best thing about existing? I can't pick just one thing. There are many good and bad things about existing.
    What is our purpose?  Why does there need to be a purpose?
    Is the world a better place for having had humans in it? Yes, from the human perspective. We have no other perspective from which to view that question.
    How can we improve humanity? If anyone in a position of power claims to be able to improve humanity, be afraid.
    What is the best advice or philosophy for living? There is no one-size fits all answer.
  • RELIGION
    What is religion? A human creation that attempts to define and give meaning to the universe.
    Why are there multiple religions?
    Because people differ and have differing ideas.
    Should religions be challenged?
    Of course.
    Is skepticism a good thing?
    Yes.
    Why do people get angry when their beliefs are challenged?
    It appears to be a natural human reaction to get irritated when someone rejects your deeply held beliefs.
    Which One Is Right? Can all religions be correct?
    None that I've seen. No.
    What does fear have to do with belief?
    It depends on the belief in question.
    Do we have a need to believe in something?
    Many people seem to, yes. But not all.
    What is spirituality?
    A concept that attempts to describe something beyond the mere physical.
  • SCIENCE
    Can religion and science coexist?
    Obviously yes, since they do.
    What’s the difference between religion and science?  
    Science is falsifiable, and constantly advanced and changed as new data becomes available. Religion is based on  faith and  assertions without evidence.
    Can a religion change with society?
    Yes.
    Was man created or evolved?
    Evolved.
  • GOD
    Is there a God?
    The evidence says no.
    What is the definition of God?
    A mythical supernatural creator of the universe.
    What gives you certainty in your belief?
    I don't have certainty.  I could be wrong.
    How do you deal with doubt?
    Embrace it. Doubting strong beliefs is a good thing.
    Who created God?
    Humans created the myth of God.
    Is God male or female?  
    It depends on the religion.
    What does God need from us?
    It depends on the religion.
    Who is/are the Messiah(s)?
    It depends on the religion.
    Who is the Devil?
    A mythical incarnation of evil.
  • FAITH
    What is faith?
    Belief based on something other than hard evidence or fact.
    What is a fact?
     Observable reality or a claim backed by overwhelming evidence.
    How can we tell which is which?
    It depends on the situation.
  • TRUTH
    What is truth?
    Reality.
    How do we determine truth?
    Science, and reason.
    Which truth is right?
    The question makes no sense.
  • SCRIPTURE
    Is the holy-book(s) literally true?
    There may be certain parts of holy books that are. For example, some holy books contain historical facts. But as a whole, no.
    What is the origin of the holy book(s)?  
    Human writings that at some point were deemed to comprise all or part of  holy books.
    How do we accept a holy book that positively portrays unacceptable behaviors like slavery, incest, murder, etc.?
    We accept it as a piece of historical literature and consider it accordingly.
    Can we take what we like about a religion/belief system and make our own version and throw out the rest?
    People certainly do.
  • MORALITY
    What is morality?
    A human being's internal beliefs regarding right and wrong.
    Is there a moral yardstick that applies to all cultures?
    No.
    Where does morality, or our “conscience,” comes from?
    Evolution , culture, upbringing and other factors.
    Is altruism or morality possible without belief in a deity?
    Yes.
  • SIN
    What is sin? 
    A religious definition of something that is offensive /prohibited by God/gods. In other words, it's a made-up concept.
    What is the punishment for sin?  
    Depends on the religion.
    Is thought the same as deed?
    Of course not.
    Does God want to test us? Why?
    Myths don't test us.
  • SEX
    Should a person have sex before marriage?
    Depends on the situation. But there is nothing magical about marriage that suddenly makes sex after it ok,  and sex before it bad.
    Is masturbation a sin?
     Of course not. Sin is an artificial concept based on myth.
    What determines sexual orientation?
    We aren't certain, but probably genetics in the majority of cases.
    Why is God interested in our sexual behavior?  
    What god?
    Should women be treated differently than men?
    In what sense, what situation?Question is way too vague.
  • FREE WILL 
    Do we have free will?
    It depends how you define free will.
    Is everything predetermined?
    Not that I know of.
    What entity predetermines fate or destiny?
    None that I know of.
  • SUFFERING
    Why is there suffering?
    Because it is part of life.
    What is best path to happiness?
    Depends on the individual.
    Does God intercede in human tragedies?
    Myths don't actually do anything, because they aren't real.
  • PRAYER
    Does prayer work?
    Define "work." Does it create psychological effects? Probably.  Does it regrow limbs, cure disease or actually get an answer from  god(s)? No.
    If so, why does God allow holocausts, and disasters?
    Myths don't do anything.
    If not, why pray?
    For purposes of self-delusion.
    Does meditation work?
    Work for what?
    How does meditation work?
    I don't know.
  • SOUL
    What is a soul? The concept that there is a mystical spiritual self  comprising a consciousness apart from the physical body.
    Do animals have souls?
    Evidence is lacking that souls actually exist.
    Does a soul have the same thoughts and feelings when outside the body? 
    Evidence is lacking that souls actually exist.
    If a soul does not carry our memories, then what is a soul since it is our memories that make us up? 
    Evidence is lacking that souls actually exist.
    What purpose does a brain serve if a soul can exist and feel without it?
    Evidence is lacking that souls actually exist.
  • AFTERLIFE
    Is there an Afterlife? 
    No one knows. But I think not.
    Where is it, where do we go after death?
    Nowhere.
    Why do we need an afterlife?
    Many people have a strong desire to believe in an afterlife, particularly that they'll be reunited with love ones who have died.
  • LIFE
    When does life begin?
    I'm not sure.
    When should abortion be allowed?
    At any time before birth. The mother should have total control over her own body, including over another life living inside her.
    Is it ever appropriate to kill another person?
    Yes, of course.
  • SUPERNATURAL
    What are supernatural beliefs?
    Beliefs about things outside reality.
    Are there extraterrestrials? Who are they?
    Maybe. We have no idea.
    Do psychics work, and if you are religious, are they allowed?
    No.
    Where do the voices in our heads come from?
    Our brains.
  • DOOMSDAY
    Will there be a doomsday?
    Unless we find away to prevent the sun from eventually going nova.
    What is the greatest danger facing man’s existence?  
    Impossible to say with any certainty.
    How do we stop conflict?
    We don't. Conflict is part of human nature.
    Should different cultures be preserved, or are our cultural differences the source of strife?
    It depends on the culture.
    Should political leaders invoke a deity in decisions or policy?
    No.

There you have it.  Some of these obviously require longer answers, but that took quite awhile even with short ones.

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