An Atheist Answers

I recently looked at a tweet in my timeline:

I am an atheist. Let me see if I can answer these questions. I will do my best to not turn the question around but actually answer the question to the best of my ability.

Quoth I:

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?
2.       What happens when we die?
3.       What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!4.       Without God, where do you get your morality from?
5.       If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
6.       If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
7.       Where did the universe come from?
8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
9.       What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

I answer these below.

How did I become an atheist?
I’m not sure I was ever that religious. I was taken to church on Christmas Eve by my mum. I did, at times, attend Sunday school and I read a cartoon version of the bible. So I was certainly exposed to church and religion as a child but I was never really indoctrinated. When the Gideons came in to school and gave me a bible I ate each page so at the age of 12 I wasn’t that fussed by god and stuff. When I joined the Air Cadets I made a pledge to God, The Queen and Country but wasn’t that fussed about the God bit. I attended church as part of the ATC and have been to funerals to say goodbye. I don’t think my default position was ever God, I was looking for evidence and never found it. [that’s not actually true, one Xmas eve midnight service I was almost called to God because the church looked beautiful but then I was very drunk and although the church was pretty that doesn’t mean God exists]. Whenever I think about religion and God I get angry at how it suckers up people who lack a certain train of thought, it preys on everyone. It is quite obvious to me that there is no rational evidence for the existence of God. If it is discovered I will happily believe. Until then, the burden is on those who believe to convince me with rational evidence.

What happens when we die?
My heart stops, my brain functions die away as the oxygen is used up and I cease to exists. After that my body will slowly disintegrate and I will become part of the Earth again.

What if I am wrong and there is a heaven and a hell?
I guess this depends on which brand of religion wins the great battle. If it’s christianity then I’m sure that God will forgive me and understand my questioning and accept me into heaven. If it’s another brand then surely the compassion preached by religion will accept my mistakes. Can I really be sent to heaven for questioning the lack of evidence for God? Perhaps the more fundamentalist Christians and Muslims will condemn me to ever lasting pain and torture.
I would like to point out that while I have answered the question my answer to the previous question pretty much rules out the existence of any afterlife. The afterlife is just a human invention to easing the pain we feel when those close to us die.

Without God where do you get your morality from?
As much as I grew up and currently live in a country with a largely Christian culture I don’t need to be told that to kill someone would be wrong. I also don’t need a book to tell me right from wrong. My personal morality is probably quite different from the overarching social morality which exists within the laws of the country in which I reside. I can reach my own conclusions about morality by thinking about it. My general rule is to not do harm to others.

If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?
No, no and the knowledge itself is it’s reward. A longer answer: Our social laws exist outside of religious instruction. As a member of society I accept the law of this land and the morality it implies. I don’t always agree with it but I accept it. There was once a time when the law was “god given” but to be honest it was just the interpretation of god’s law by a human being and so open to problems [it was once acceptable to kill witches, evidence of witches having supernatural powers is remarkably skant and so it is no longer legal to kill witches, a triumph of reason over god]. I do not want to murder or rape. I want to do no harm to others. I don’t need god to tell me that. I also reap my own rewards of doing good, I tend to be treated well by others. I don’t need the promise of life-every-after to make me do good things, I can’t imagine anything much worse than living forever.

If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
My meaning comes from trying to learn and understand the cosmos but more so from the love I get from my children and getting a thank you from someone.

Where did the universe come from?
I don’t know and to be honest I’m not that bothered by that. I do find it amusing we seek answers to the questions WHY and HOW when sometimes you shouldn’t think in those human terms. In science terms we know that the big bang is our best explanation of the START of the universe but not the WHY and HOW. I will just say that if God did create the universe then why does that mean that I have to follow the writings of some dessert people from two thousand years ago?

What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
What about miracles? When miracles are investigated they turn out to have very Earthly origins. Humans are brilliant at fooling themselves all the time. People can claim to have a Jesus connection or having seen saints or angels but I don’t think they fully understand the working of our minds/brain. People can claim everything they want. Until they can show demonstrable evidence I’m not interested. I feel as though I have a connection with Thor, am I ok or deluded? If I grew up in India you would be asking if I felt a connection to Shiva or other gods. It’s quite cultural.

What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
These guys are necessary to help people learn to think rationally and see the problems of religious arguments. They pretty clearly try to explain why beliefs are wrong, they don’t try to mock those who have those beliefs.

If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?
Not every society has religion, Buddhism can be considered a religion but it is devoid of our notion of god. Some religions have many gods. Some gods have been supplanted in common culture. Which god are you talking about? Humans are story telling great apes who concocted tales of supernatural beings to explain the things to which we had no answer. Over the last 2000 years we have made leaps and bounds into understanding so much of the wonder of our world that the notion of answering Why? and How? with the answer God should be dismissed entirely.


I am not an eloquent writer or purveyor of ideas so my arguments may not come over as the subtlest or best worded. I have tried to answer these particular questions to the best of my ability and in a small space. I have also tried to keep to the question and not end up writing at a tangent to the subject. I have also tried hard not to question the particular beliefs that have lead to these questions.

I don’t expect people who are strongly religious to accept my answers, but I have answered these questions as honestly as I can. I am unsure what particular conclusions I am meant to find but they probably aren’t the ones the website writers wanted.

The final word comes from the Ricky Gervais character Derek: