Monday, April 30, 2007

Sometimes, Atheists Try to be Polite...

Other times, we just like to laugh.

Religion 101 Final Exam

Sample questions:
Which of the following is the most compelling evidence for the existence of an intelligent and loving Designer?

1. A Caribbean sunset
2. The screams of a baby seal as it is torn apart by a shark
3. The first time your perfect new baby smiles at you
4. The speed of the Ebola virus converting an African child's organs into liquid

You are a product tester and frequently bring your work home. Yesterday, while dressed in a flame resistant suit (up to 3,000 degrees) and carrying the latest model fire extinguisher, you discover your neighbor's house is on fire. As the flames quickly spread, you stand and watch your neighbor's new baby burn to death. Which of the following best describes your behavior?

1. All-powerful
2. All-knowing
3. All-loving
4. Mysterious

Which of the following is most likely to be true, and why?

1. Romulus was the son of God, born to a mortal human virgin
2. Dionysus turned water into wine
3. Apollonius of Tyana raised a girl from the dead
4. Jesus Christ was the son of God, born to a mortal virgin, turned water into wine, and raised a man from the dead

You are eating lunch at a crowded fast food restaurant, occupied mostly by children, when suddenly a gunman bursts in, screams "Do not question or test me," and sprays the room with bullets. Ten people are killed instantly, many more grievously wounded, but somehow you escape unharmed. His ammunition expended, the gunman collapses to the floor. What should you do?

1. Call the police and wait for them to arrive
2. Call the police and leave
3. Risk death by asking the gunman why he did it, even though he told you not to
4. Fall on your knees and give thanks and praise to the gunman for sparing your life

A great sadness has come into your life which you feel you cannot bear. A friend informs you of a free counseling service which has never failed to aid and comfort many others. You call the counselor; the phone rings and rings with no answer; you finally hang up. What is the most likely explanation?

1. The counselor is sitting by the phone but not answering in order to test your faith in him
2. The counselor always stands ready to hear your pleas for help, but sometimes the answer is "no"
3. The counselor will not answer because he wants you to profit by the spiritual strength that only comes through suffering
4. The counselor is not home

34 comments:

Sadie Lou said...

I don't even know where to start. There's just many stereotypical nonsense involved in this joke that I don't even think it's worth any effort. I think what would actually make me laugh at this post would be the comments left here by the other atheists.

Jonathan Blake said...

The questions are aimed at the average religious believer in the target culture, so they necessarily involve stereotypes because each believer is different—no believer is average. It would be impossible to avoid stereotypes in a work like this.

And it's not really a joke, even though atheists may laugh at how cleverly popular religion is deconstructed. The questions should make the religious believer think about the implications of their beliefs.

I don't know you so please correct me if my analysis is wrong, but your dismissal of the questions seems to be just a defense mechanism to avoid pondering the questions and providing meaningful answers to yourself. I don't mean this as an attack. It is a perfectly human example of confirmation bias. It's what kept me in the religion of my birth for so long.

CyberKitten said...

Ouch....! Bitting!!!

Laura said...

1. Romulus was the son of God, born to a mortal human virgin
2. Dionysus turned water into wine
3. Apollonius of Tyana raised a girl from the dead
4. Jesus Christ was the son of God, born to a mortal virgin, turned water into wine, and raised a man from the dead

I still don't get how one myth is generally accepted as True while the others are dismissed as quanit little fairy tales. I think, one day, Judeo-Christian mythology will take it's place alongside the Greek Gods.

Anonymous said...

What gets me about this quiz is that the author obviously doesn't believe God is real, but apparently does believe Star Trek is real (question 8 begins "You are a Starfleet Federation explorer...").

And JB, the questions are not aimed at the average religious believer - they're aimed at the average atheist, to reassure him of his intellectual superiority over us superstitious halfwits. As Sadie perfectly correctly stated, there are way to many ignorant and superficial stereotypes in there to be sensibly engaged with in a short blog post.

Random

beepbeepitsme said...

"By intellectually deconstructing my religious beliefs you are persecuting me!" - Generic Christian Apologist.

Jonathan Blake said...

I'm not sure whether you're serious about the Star Trek thing. :) If you are serious, I don't agree that it's obvious at all. It rather seems that the author was trying to frame a thought experiment and be entertaining at the same time. Anyway…

There might be truth to what you say. Perhaps these questions were in part aimed at giving atheists a chuckle and feel their beliefs reconfirmed, but that doesn't take away from their other obvious purpose which is to provoke thought in the believer. Number 3, for example, is just another way to restate the problem of evil which I have never seen a satisfactory answer to while maintaining an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent God.

Until just about a year ago, I was a believer. Many (not all) of these questions are aimed squarely at the kind of belief that I held. So perhaps my judgment of an average believer is based on my assumption that I was average.

If there is no validity the concerns these questions raise, then why not answer them?

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie and Random:

These questions strike me as harsh, delivered in a funny way, but fair. Other than the Catholic-specific ones, I'd say most apply to the majority of American theists.

emunahpshuta said...

lol

Sadie Lou said...

I don't know you so please correct me if my analysis is wrong, but your dismissal of the questions seems to be just a defense mechanism to avoid pondering the questions and providing meaningful answers to yourself.

Hi! Nice to meet you.
Instead of indulging your question to prove I am capable of thinking in a critical manner--you could read my blog. I think my current book review would speak for me as would several of the posts on the opening page--I invite you to take a look.

Sadie Lou said...

I think what would actually make me laugh at this post would be the comments left here by the other atheists.
****

"By intellectually deconstructing my religious beliefs you are persecuting me!" - Generic Christian Apologist.

See, that's what I was waiting for! *laughing* Beep, you never fail to disappoint--that's fo' sho'.

JA said...
I'd say most apply to the majority of American theists.

uh huh.
*rolling of the eyes*
hey, I think you'd like my book review.

beepbeepitsme said...

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world? —

Sadie Lou said...

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?
--Generic Atheist Apologist

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie, eye-rolling is not useful discussion. So far, you've been dismissive, mocking, and sarcastic, but haven't said a word to support your claim that the post is "stereotypical nonsense."

I commented on your post.

Sadie Lou said...

Quite frankly JA, my little experiment worked better than I expected.
The joke you posted was all of the above:
Dismissive
Mocking
Sarcastic

I answered in kind and you call me to the mat. Quite obviously you hold me (a Christian) to a higher standard than you and your atheist audience hold each other to.
I decided to be everything you guys are with this post and it's comments: I was dismissive--no facts brought to the table. I was Mocking. I was sarcastic--and all of these were quite out of character for me.
You were quick to point it out.
:)
The title of your post should be:
Sometimes, Atheists Try to be Polite. Christian Must Always Be Polite.

Sadie Lou said...

the title of your post should not have a typo though and should read *Christians

No hard feelings--just trying to prove point.

beepbeepitsme said...

Epicurus is credited with first expounding the problem of evil. (341 BCE– 270 BCE)

He also said this: -

"Moreover, the universe as a whole is infinite, for whatever is limited has an outermost edge to limit it, and such an edge is defined by something beyond. Since the universe has no edge, it has no limit; and since it lacks a limit, it is infinite and unbounded. Moreover, the universe is infinite both in the number of its atoms and in the extent of its void." Epicurus

Not bad for a guy who lived over 2 thousand years ago.

Not sure if you could call him an atheist though, he was a Greek philosopher and the founder of the school of Epicureanism. The etymology of the word "atheist" is from around 1571CE, so, I doubt that Epicurus would have been seen as an atheist. The word, atheist came into fashion because christians needed a word to call those who wouldn't convert to their religion. :)

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "Sometimes, Atheists Try to be Polite. Christian Must Always Be Polite."

That's what happens if you claim the high moral ground.

Sadie Lou said...

That's what happens if you claim the high moral ground.

So you admit that you hold Christians to a higher standard of morality? It's perfectly okay for atheists to be condescending, arrogant, rude, obnoxious, mocking and sarcastic to Christians because we deserve it but when a Christian answers back in the same manner because you deserve it, you're going to hold me to the letter of a law you don't even believe to be binding? This was an experiment. From experience, you should know that I tolerate a fair amount of crap. I actually *DO* hold back my tongue. But I'm not in the habit of saying whatever I feel like just because it feels good. But I can clearly see where the lines are drawn for you.
Beep= Above reproach
Sadie= Beneath me

jewish philosopher said...

The ways of the Lord are mysterious, JA.

Stephen said...

The problem of evil is a problem for everyone, not just theists. I say this because atheists like to claim that life is meaningful despite suffering and death. I don't see how such a claim is feasible in a world where the majority of inhabitants barely eke out a living, and where even the lucky ones face infirmity and death at the end.

I don't claim to know for certain that God exists. I do claim that life is absurd if there is no God: there is no purpose, there is no morality, there is no hope.

My claim is merely that God may exist; and in fact I go one step beyond that by exercising faith that God does, in fact, exist. I don't believe that this world, with its random distribution of blessings and curses, is the last word on our existence.

Combined with my admiration for the Jesus of the Gospels, my faith in a life after death gives me a sense of purpose and a basis for ethics.

If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong; I'm still no worse off than atheists like the smug, sarcastic person who wrote this quiz.

I suppose one could retaliate in kind and write a similar quiz mocking the absurd worldview of the atheist. But really, what would be the point? As far as I can make out, we're all just muddling our way through this life the best we can — some of us more sarcastically than others.

CyberKitten said...

Stephen said: I don't claim to know for certain that God exists. I do claim that life is absurd if there is no God: there is no purpose, there is no morality, there is no hope.

So.. there is no purpose without God? There is no morality without God? There is no hope without God?

What nonsense! What you're saying is that *your* belief in God gives *you* these things. They are not universal truths no matter what *you* believe.

stephen said: As far as I can make out, we're all just muddling our way through this life the best we can — some of us more sarcastically than others.

Well, at least sarcasm helps to pass the time.. [rotflmao].

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "So you admit that you hold Christians to a higher standard of morality?"

No. I don't. I don't see them as being any more moral or immoral than any other group.

Christians believe that they are more moral than any other group. Therefore they claim that they have the high moral ground. If you claim to have the high moral ground, the only place to go is down.

beepbeepitsme said...

I have a problem with the theistic definition of evil. Let's face it, theists believe that evil exists outside of human beings and is capable of influencing human action. Obvously, I don't believe in evil used in that sense.

Human beings decide what is "evil" and what is "holy". I don't believe that either of these terms describe forces which are exterior to humans.

Stephen said...

• Beepbeep:
The word "evil" has a variety of meanings. Here, I'm using it in the broadest sense, referring to any ill that overtakes us. (Definition #4 here: e.g., the social evils of poverty and injustice.)

• Cyberkitten:
"rotflmao"? Very clever of you to come up with an acronym like that. See, that's why I don't like to debate atheists: they can slay me by pulling a deadly acronym out of nowhere in a flash.

You went off chasing a tangent. I don't care whether you join me in Christian faith. I'm not evangelizing, I'm just defending my faith against the criticism put forward in this post.

My point is, atheists don't have an adequate response to evil (in the sense defined above), any more than theists do. As I said the first time, evil is a problem for everyone.

From the atheist's perspective, the cosmos is a gigantic roulette wheel, dispersing benefits and harm randomly. Life is good if you're one of the lucky ones — I concede the point.

But the lucky ones make up a minority of the earth's population. What meaning does life have if you subsist on less than enough day after day, year after year, generation after generation? Where is the purpose and hope in such an existence?

If life is a continuous grind for the majority of the world's population, how meaningful is it, really, even for the lucky ones? Life is not meaningful, just lucky or unlucky.

Go ahead, roll on the floor, laugh your ass off. The joke's on you, because you don't have an answer to the problem, either.

If I'm wrong, please share your brilliant answer with the rest of us. I'm prepared to bow to your superior wisdom and abandon my Christian faith. More likely, I'll end up "rotflmao".

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "From the atheist's perspective, the cosmos is a gigantic roulette wheel, dispersing benefits and harm randomly. Life is good if you're one of the lucky ones — I concede the point."

No. Atheists just don't believe that a god has anything to do with it.

CyberKitten said...

Stephen - I believe that we've had this 'debate' before so I know it's not going anywhere. Your assertion (and that's all it is) that there is no such thing as Godless morality, purpose or hope is indeed laughable (and offensive). There are many Godless people who have all three - to say nothing of those people who believe in a different God or Gods than the one you worship.

Morality (as well as purpose and hope) are human constructs. They do not and never have originated in God. That's just a simple off the shelf 'explanation' that some people have bought into. If morality comes from God why does it change from place to place and time to time? A Universal Morality code makes little sense in my mind. Morality is cultural, not theological.

Life *is* hard then we die. The trick is learning to deal with the fact - learning to face reality rather than relying on more comfortable myths.

Stephen said...

Precisely — life's a bitch and then we die. I fail to see how atheism has anything more than this to offer.

Those may be the facts — again, I concede the point, since I can't prove there is a God.

But, if those are the facts, the only viable conclusion is nihilism. You reject that conclusion, but you don't put forward an argument against it.

CyberKitten said...

stephen said: Precisely — life's a bitch and then we die. I fail to see how atheism has anything more than this to offer.

Atheism is a skeptical position regarding the existence of God. Why should it have 'anything more' to offer? Isn't that why we have various philosophies?

stephen said: But, if those are the facts, the only viable conclusion is nihilism. You reject that conclusion, but you don't put forward an argument against it.

See my response to this comment in JA's posting above.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "But, if those are the facts, the only viable conclusion is nihilism. You reject that conclusion, but you don't put forward an argument against it."

Nah. I just don't believe in gods.

TK said...

HI...I'm the smug sarcastic person who wrote the original quiz. How about this offering for the brilliant answer requested above, courtesy of Clarence Darrow:

"Every man knows that his lfe had a beginning...if I did not exist in the infinite past, why should I, or could I, exist in the infinite future?"

beepbeepitsme said...

I existed as a gleam in my father's eye.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Webmaster. My name is Brendan and I have been a beleiver in Christ for 2 n'-a-half years. Today is the 4th of July 2007 and I am going to answer your questions.

Q1.
Good question.

Literally, the beauty of the World and the very design of our Solar System to ultimatley support the Earth itself, is edvidence of a designer. You can't have a painting without a painter. Likewise, The very idea of creation (i.e. the Big-Bang) points to a creator.

Q2.
This question showed that you are not very smart and are trying to be funny. Nevertheless, I will answer.

As most human beings know, we are not invincible ourselves, we are not all knowing, powerful or loving, and that's a fact, no matter what you might think that's science. No-one is "omniscient", which means 'to know everything'.

Also, have you ever heard of an event like this happening in your neighborhood? Or, have you made it up in your own magic little fairy-world?

Q3.
This was obviously sarcastic, but an easy answer.

If you've done your research (which I doubt) you'll find that not only the Bible holds such claims to Jesus' life.
The basic writings of Christianity are substantiated by Roman, Greek and Jewish ancient historians, such as Joseiphus, Plinny, Tasidus, Thalus and Phlaegan.

These authors say that things such as:
- Jesus lived in the time of Tiberius Ceasar.
- Jesus ws a wonder-worker.
- Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.
- Jesus was crucified.
- An eclipse and earthquake occured when he died.
- His disciples beleived he rose from the dead.
- Chritianity spread quickly as far as Rome.
- His disciples were willing to die rather than deny Him.

Q4.
This is a very radical and personal question that cannot have one answer.

Well, first of all, its a bit obvious that I'd call the police - that's common sense. And yes, I would be shaken and scared - who wouldn't be?

Afterwards at my home, I would prey to God to show my gratitude for Him because He spared my life on such a horrible day.

Q5.
(Don't worry, reader, I pin-pointed the way this person is attributing the counsellor to be God in dire situations.)

Well, if we look at this question in a mundane way, the counsellor is probably in session with a client. However, because you are attributing this question to God, we need a more complex answer.

Sometimes, we feel as if we're in a state in life we can't cope, mabey a pet or close friend has died, a relative. These times are hard for us all. I personally find comfort in prayer in these situations.

As people that understand the Bible all know, God hears all prayer. Sometimes, you will not get an answer straight away, because God knows that you know the answer in your heart, and that you need to search your heart and mind to find that answer.

Sometimes, God will answer you through you reading the Bible, which is a way I have found He answers often.

However, every once in a while. God will talk to you directly. This is an absolute graceful encounter that I have only ever truly felt twice. You get a sense of the Holy Spirit, and God talks to you in your mind. A warm, loving voice is what God sounds like.

It is a Biblical fact that God will only answer those that have faith in Him. i.e., those that truly feel a connection or a yearning to know Him.

You cannot just ask for an interview with the Queen of England and say: (snapping fingers) "Come here, queeny, daddy wants a talk with ya!", you might have to pay your respects, mabey get yourself cleaned up; it is the same with God. Think about this.

Conclusion:
Reader, do not let this self-ebolished exasparated sarcasm and disrespect to who God really is mislead you from your place with God, and His free gift, Eternal; Life with Christ Jesus our Lord.

God loves us all so, so much, that we may live with Him in Eternity. He gave His Son to die for us in our place on the cross 2000 years ago. If there was one chance in a million that that Jesus really was the Son of God and that He did die for us so that we could have Eternal life free of charge, isn't it worth your time just to look into it and find the edvidence in support of Christianity?

Amen and God Bless. Goodbye.

Anonymous said...

Thnx.! tis a good place to leave some links:

http://www.multimediaapologetics.com/

http://www.anunseenworld.com/

http://www.wayofthemaster.com/