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10 questions I want answers for

So I’ve been considering the multitude of things that cause me to believe in a greater power, and I’ve stumbled over a fairly large number of questions I would want to see answered persuasively before I converted to atheism.  I happen to know that there are things that no atheist can logically explain without bringing some form of higher power into the picture.  So here they are: Feel free to comment with your own questions or your arguments for or against each of these questions as viable objections.

1. Why do humans appreciate beauty?


2. Why is the natural world beautiful?

3. Where did the order in nature come from?

4. How do atheistic scientists explain simple things like magnetism and what it takes to create life?

5. How frequently does complete chaos, given time, result in order of the highest degree?

6. As generated from sludge by a series of precise yet random chances, people seek something more. They seek completion. What in their chemical and biological makeup makes them want that?


7. Humans are always in search of new things to make them “whole.” Why?

8. It is common knowledge that at its root, selfishness is wrong. Why?

9. Why do humans have such a strong desire to see justice served?

10. Can the human desire to see justice served be a cultural thing, despite the fact that it has unfailingly and clearly crossed geographical, historical and ideological boundaries?

 

 

 

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7 Responses to “10 questions I want answers for”

  1. How do you “happen to know” these things? Have you actually tried to find answers?

    Answers

    1. Look around you and you will notice that ugly things are always associated with pain, death, and sickness. On the other hand, things associated with comfort, health, and vigor are beautiful. In other words, we’ve developed an appreciation for beauty because a creature who likes ugly things is less likely to survive. See the heading “Awe and Wonder” in this article.

    Actually, a much better question would be why humans seem to enjoy destructive behaviors. There are good answers to that as well, though.

    2. The natural world just is; it is not beautiful. It’s easy to think it’s beautiful because we feel awe when we consider it. And, as one would expect, we feel that there is just about as much pain as there is beauty in nature.

    3. There is no order “in” nature. We take all the essentially random realities around us, and since we have evolved with intelligence as a survival mechanism, we make mental models of the physical realities around us. For example, say you pour a bucket of marbles on the floor and wait for them to stop rolling. If you’re smart enough, you will probably be able to come up an equation or model that predicts the location of most of the marbles, given the locations of a few of them. Our mental models of the universe around us are based on the same idea.

    Before you answer this one, you should read this excellent article about it. You can find the same idea in C.S. Lewis’s example of the painting, in Ch. 12 of Miracles.

    4. First, those are not simple, although they may be basic. Second, pretty much all scientists (even creationist ones) understand those things the same way. They just disagree on their origin (did a god design magnetism or has it always been around?).

    5. Define chaos, and define order.

    6 & 7. What do you mean by “something more”? If you mean God, you’re fooling yourself. You desire God because you were raised to. But if you want, you can easily give up that desire. Perhaps, however, you mean relationships, and the desire to help people. Most people really do look for relationships (like dogs) because people are social creatures. that just means they work better in groups. See this article.

    8. Self-interest is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. One person may really enjoy writing fiction, even if no one reads it. That’s fine. Another person may enjoy helping orphans. That’s wonderful. The only problem is when someone enjoys hurting someone else. That’s bad because, as I said, humans are social creatures and most naturally find destructive behavior repulsive.

    9 & 10. Probably because it makes them feel safer. Notice that the strongest boy on the block is never as interested in justice as the shorty. In fact, you can hardly find an example in any culture in any time of a group of people refusing to commit an injustice when it would benefit them.

    Questions

    I have ten questions too. No need to answer them if you don’t want to. They’re not really challenges as much as points of personal puzzlement.

    1. Regeneration. Does Christianity work? You can find just as many (probably more) Christians doing really bad things and leading really bad lives as you can find good Christians. In fact, being dogmatic about something or believing one’s self to be “saved” often makes a person haughty and insensitive.

    2. Redemption. How can one person (even a God-man) die in the place of another person (let alone a million)? The cross is a symbol of two wrongs (killing the innocent and freeing the guilty) supposedly making a right.

    3. Judgment. Why is God so insistent on punishing people? Why add the suffering of punishment to the suffering already caused by sin?

    4. Sanctification. What is a righteous life? Is it holing up in prayer and meditation, dying as a martyr or missionary, or just being happy doing your own thing?

    5. Epistemology. How do we know anything about God? How do we know God? If we trust the Bible, why? If we trust the church, shy? If we trust personal experience, why? People have trusted all these things and been horribly deceived and done horrible things.

    6. Sovereignty. If we know that all things work together for good to those that love God, God must be in charge of all things. Then how can we make real decisions?

    7. What is “The Kingdom”?

    8. Evil. Yes, the old problem. It ties to no. 6.

    9. Hamartiology. What is sin? If it is violating your nature, how can it exist (a sparrow can’t swim, but a human can sin)? If it is following one’s own will rather than God’s does that make god arbitrary?

    10. Teleology. What is man’s purpose? People say it’s to glorify God. What is his “glory,” and how can we give it to him?

  2. My serious answer,

    1. Why do humans appreciate beauty?
    Because God is a God of beauty and He made us in his own image.

    2. Why is the natural world beautiful?
    Because God is a God of Beauty and he likes pretty things.

    3. Where did the order in nature come from?
    Oh, I don’t know, God?

    4. How do atheistic scientists explain simple things like magnetism and what it takes to create life?
    They don’t, they have very feeble explanations. 😉

    5. How frequently does complete chaos, given time, result in order of the highest degree?
    According to evolutionists once, according to biblical creationists, (like me) NEVER!

    6. As generated from sludge by a series of precise yet random chances, people seek something more. They seek completion. What in their chemical and biological makeup makes them want that?

    God, God has planted a need, and a longing to be complete. BTW, God makes that completion.

    7. Humans are always in search of new things to make them “whole.” Why?

    Because of 2 things
    1) They don’t know God, and therefore are not “whole.”
    2)They are sinful, and are looking to please sinful nature

    8. It is common knowledge that at its root, selfishness is wrong. Why?

    Why is selfishness wrong? Cause God says so. Why is it common knowledge? Becuase we hate it when people are selfish towards us.;)

    9. Why do humans have such a strong desire to see justice served?

    They Don’t always, only when that justice helps them. Or, because God is a God of order, and justice, and we are made in God’s image.

    10. Can the human desire to see justice served be a cultural thing, despite the fact that it has unfailingly and clearly crossed geographical, historical and ideological boundaries?

    Nope, tis a GOD thing.
    😉
    Hope you don’t mind my very opinionated opinions.

  3. 1. We exist. This is the reason we have religion. We want to know why. We find beauty by comparing one thing to another. Everything in our life is a comparison. Our living standards compared to someone elses, night and day, white and black, etc. We find beauty in things because we compare them to things we do not consider beautiful.

    2. The same reason. I would also add prominence. I don’t think there is anything beautiful about central Texas, because I live in the greener east Texas.

    3. This argument is tired and overdone. There isn’t a whole lot of order in nature. Tornados, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. are disasters caused by the earth putting itself through hell. Our galaxy is better at creating black holes than planets. If there is a god who’s focus is on earth and humanity, why isn’t the earth the center of the solar system.

    4. No idea. I am not a scientist, and I am not going to research it for this blog.

    5. Another tired argument. The reason you question why you exist, is because your brain has evolved to the point that it can question why you exist. There is a very small chance that life can be created anywhere in the universe. That doesn’t mean that there has to be a creator. It just means you are a product of this small chance.

    6. You weren’t generated from sludge. That is a dumb argument. It is a creationist argument. Once again, you seek completion because you question existence. This is caused by your brain being developed enough that you can rationalize this question. Does a gorilla have religion. No. Why do you? Evolution of the brain. Your brain is large enough to recognize that death is inevitable. This is why religion exists. To look for something beyond death.

    7. Not going to answer. Not true. See number six if you need a reason.

    8. Because after thousands of years of community building, we realized that many times the selfishness of one person imposes on the freedoms of another, so we began to create laws against it in these societies. I have children. They are the most selfish beings on earth. Kids have to learn to care about other people. They cry when they do not get a present on someone else’s birthday.

    9. Because it has been beaten into our heads what right and wrong is. When someone does wrong we want them to suffer for it. Especially when these crimes are against huimanity (rape, murder, etc.). The crimes that do not affect other people (smoking marijuana) are debated among people. We can’t even agree what justice is. There are people who spend their life fighting the death penalty. Your question is flawed.

    10. It is barely cultural, and more through evolution of thought. Remember that cultures spread through other cultures. We canot argue that everyone sees justice in the same way. In Islam, kill the raped woman. In Christianity, kill the raper.

  4. Interesting thoughts! Thank you all for taking the time to ponder these things. I’ll respond a little bit more later.

  5. All right – here responding to asl001.

    1. I find it highly unlikely that a random process like evolution would ingrain into all people the interesting trait of curiosity.
    This art of comparison – where did this come from? Just because we find comparing things to be interesting does not necessarily lead to our appreciation a beautiful plant or landscape. Some things are beautiful in and of themselves (and we can recognize that), even if we have very little to compare them to.

    2. Does it depend on the person, then? That could make sense. But that raises another question. Evolution leaves no room for uniqueness. How, then, are people so vastly different? Even people raised in the same country, in the same city, in the same family, during the same time period. How did people come to be so unique?
    3. This isn’t meant to be an argument. I’m just pointing out several things that persuade me that what I believe is correct.
    If you’ll pardon me, I have no idea what you mean by the earth “putting itself through hell.” Volcanoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. are natural disasters. They happen because we live in an orderly world that is sometimes upset by disorderliness. If anything, they underscore more than ever the order we are surrounded by.

    4. Please, don’t.
    5. Again, not an argument. Just a question. But your answer doesn’t seem conclusive. My brain has evolved so far that it can see quite clearly that evolution is a ridiculous option? That seems a bit of a non-sequiter.
    6. Please, no ad hominem. There are few things I can stand less. So we look for something beyond death – great point. Why? Why does it matter to us? Is this just because we are so evolved? I find that difficult to believe, especially considering that we have a fear of death so strong we will do almost anything to avoid it.
    7. Not true? Ask any famous person who “had everything” who committed suicide.
    8. Selfishness disrupts human activity and makes things harder on others? Why is this wrong? What about survival of the fittest?
    9. And in Deepest Africa, where it is still commonly assumed that a man shouldn’t just have any woman he likes, he needs to work for her, and he needs to commit to her? Where did this come from? Cultural norms? My point is that this has been beaten into our heads, but even before it has, we wish to see it carried out. Ask any three-year-old who witnesses an unkind action committed against his companion. My question is pertinent. I want it to be answered firmly.
    10. So there are entire cultures where it is consensus that it is all right to let people get away with things that are quite clearly seen as wrong in every culture?

  6. I have to respond to Matthew’s answers… wow. I’ll try to answer both your questions and respond to his answers with one fell swoop.
    Here goes:
    (Matt said)
    1. Look around you and you will notice that ugly things are always associated with pain, death, and sickness. On the other hand, things associated with comfort, health, and vigor are beautiful. In other words, we’ve developed an appreciation for beauty because a creature who likes ugly things is less likely to survive. See the heading “Awe and Wonder” in this article.

    Actually, a much better question would be why humans seem to enjoy destructive behaviors. There are good answers to that as well, though.

    (My answer)
    Beauty is life. All that God created was declared good, right? So, yes, that that is healthy is usually seen as beautiful. But sunrises are not “healthy.” (They may even be more beautiful on a stormy day, impending doom – which would make you sick) So, nature in its most raw, powerful form, fresh as though God made it this morning, is often seen as breathtaking. He declared it good, and we are made in His image. We know good work when we see it.
    If you thing its just our evolved natures that see health as beauty, then I can answer you this (esp as I know you are a Lewis fan) and you can just refer back to it in every question when it comes up (and it will) A dog only sees the finger when you point at the food. All fact, no meaning.
    Scientists may laugh at those who see something in what is otherwise mundane, but those who see are the ones that move the world.
    Assuming you enjoy seeing destructive behaviors says a lot about you.

    (Matt)
    2. The natural world just is; it is not beautiful. It’s easy to think it’s beautiful because we feel awe when we consider it. And, as one would expect, we feel that there is just about as much pain as there is beauty in nature.

    (me)
    There is no such thing as beauty if you can’t appreciate it. A flower is just a plant to a man who cannot see, smell or feel. See number 1.

    (Matt)
    3. There is no order “in” nature. We take all the essentially random realities around us, and since we have evolved with intelligence as a survival mechanism, we make mental models of the physical realities around us. For example, say you pour a bucket of marbles on the floor and wait for them to stop rolling. If you’re smart enough, you will probably be able to come up an equation or model that predicts the location of most of the marbles, given the locations of a few of them. Our mental models of the universe around us are based on the same idea.

    Before you answer this one, you should read this excellent article about it. You can find the same idea in C.S. Lewis’s example of the painting, in Ch. 12 of Miracles.

    (Me)
    Wow. No order “in” the universe. You ever seen it? The fact that 2 plus 2 is four is a truth on the basest of levels and that in and of itself is proof of order. The universe without order would be chaos, ie 2 plus 2 is 4 today, 73.238274 tomorrow. (ref. No 5)
    Secondly, do I actually need to point out the logical fallacy in what was just said about ‘…no order in nature, but we evolved with intelligence…’ there is no intelligence if there is no order. If that is the case, then everything you just said means nothing and these letters are just random black marks.
    On the other hand, DNA is a perfect example of order. Non-repetitive, reproductive, order at that. It takes intelligence to write a book (though genius to write a good one) would it take less to write the multi-volume set that is in our genes? There is Someone writing something.

    (Matt)
    4. First, those are not simple, although they may be basic. Second, pretty much all scientists (even creationist ones) understand those things the same way. They just disagree on their origin (did a god design magnetism or has it always been around?).

    (Me)
    (Electro/)Magnetism is one of the four forces (not Midoclorians). Basic yes, simple, no. But I do believe you completely skirted the question. Did God make it create it or not? Notice each of these questions builds off the previous one, so if one is skirted, then the rest fall apart (including the ones previous.)

    (Matt)
    5. Define chaos, and define order.

    (Me)
    Thank you, President Clinton.
    The arrangement (or in chaos, the lack of) or disposition of people or things in relation to one another according to a particular sequence, pattern or method.
    Now, here is the clincher: ‘Evolutionary’ scientists say that life rose from chaos over all that time (which tends to get longer and longer the more detailed we find life to be) but if you ask an Astrophysicist, (and I will deftly not get into the long earth theory, as I think its bunk. But for purposes of this particular example:) the big bang seems so mathematically organized that if it was off in ANY degree, galaxies would not have formed, not to mention life. So, life arose from chaos, or was there order from the absolute, very beginning? If there wasn’t (even scientifically) we get nothing in the end. Entropy is the constant, not organization.

    “I was taught at school, when I had done a sum, to “prove my answer.” The proof or verification of my Christian answer to the cosmic sum is this. When I accept Theology I may find difficulties, at this point or that, in harmonising it with some particular truths which are embedded in the mythical cosmology derived from science. But I can get in, or allow for, science as a whole. Granted that Reason is prior to matter and that the light of that primal Reason illuminates finite minds, I can understand how men should come, by observation and inference, to know a lot about the universe they live in. If, on the other hand, I swallow the scientific cosmology as a whole, then not only can I not fit in Christianity, but I cannot even fit in science. If minds are wholly dependent on brains, and brains on biochemistry, and biochemistry (in the long run) on the meaningless flux of the atoms, I cannot understand how the thought of those minds should have any more significance than the sound of the wind in the trees. And this is to me the final test. This is how I distinguish dreaming and waking. When I am awake I can, in some degree, account for and study my dream. The dragon that pursued me last night can be fitted into my waking world. I know that there are such things as dreams: I know that I had eaten an indigestible dinner: I know that a man of my reading might be expected to dream of dragons. But while in the nightmare I could not have fitted in my waking experience. The waking world is judged more real because it can thus contain the dreaming world: the dreaming world is judged less real because it cannot contain the waking one. For the same reason I am certain that in passing from the scientific point of view to the theological, I have passed from dream to waking. Christian theology can fit in science, art, morality, and the sub-Christian religions. The scientific point of view cannot fit in any of these things, not even science itself. I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” — The Oxford Socratic Club, 1944. pp. 154-165 CS Lewis

    (Matt)
    6 & 7. What do you mean by “something more”? If you mean God, you’re fooling yourself. You desire God because you were raised to. But if you want, you can easily give up that desire. Perhaps, however, you mean relationships, and the desire to help people. Most people really do look for relationships (like dogs) because people are social creatures. that just means they work better in groups. See this article.

    (Me)
    Who is fooling who? For one, plenty of people desire God without having been raised to. If you aren’t desiring God, its because you have already replaced that desire with some other “god.” Probably money, job, hobby, girls, and most certainly, yourself.
    Secondly, once you have met God, really, met God, “giving that up easily” is the silliest thing I have likely ever to have heard of.
    And you just referred to yourself as a dog… nice.
    Anyway here is the thing that I have come to realize. God made us (for sake of my argument) Then we are His to begin with. But that means that my personality was also created by Him and I basically ran away before He could fill me. Which is why I feel something lacking in my life. (AND THOSE WHO DON’T, I WOULD OFFER TO DO THEIR JOBS FOR THEM OR WATCH THEIR KIDS OR SOMETHING SO THAT THEY CAN TAKE A WEEK OFF BY THEMSELVES FOR A LITTLE SELF REFLECTION – UNLESS THEY DON’T LIKE THE COMPANY) Like a glass of water (He is the Living Water) and it brings consciousness. I had just enough to know that ‘I am’ (“ye are like gods”) and so ran away not quite full yet.
    I have been looking to fill myself up with something my whole life. Been putting in beer, whiskey, whatever I could get my hands on, now I’m just muddy water. God wants me to give myself back to Him and empty myself. Which will be painful. And then He is going to scour me inside and out so He has a clean vessel. The one He originally made.
    Then, here is the good part, He will fill me up again, full. I will finally be a whole person – in fact, the person I was meant to be. Me, my own personality, not the thing I have messed myself up to be. So in turning back to God in Christ, I am not giving myself up without getting something back. What God takes with His left hand, He gives back a hundred fold with His right. So the only “real men” you know are real Christians. I would challenge us to be real Christians or die trying.

    (Matt)
    8. Self-interest is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. One person may really enjoy writing fiction, even if no one reads it. That’s fine. Another person may enjoy helping orphans. That’s wonderful. The only problem is when someone enjoys hurting someone else. That’s bad because, as I said, humans are social creatures and most naturally find destructive behavior repulsive.

    (Me)
    I won’t pretend to be intelligent, nor will I stand for naivety (particularly willful). Doing something you like is not the definition of selfishness. Selfishness is the doing of something YOU like at the expense of OTHERS.
    Your desires are given you by God. If they are perverse, its not God who perverted them, but you. One has taken any one virtue and twisted it out of proportion to
    the others. Wanting to eat food certainly isn’t evil. Wanting more than you need is, particularly if your neighbor is starving.
    God is relational, in fact even describes Himself as such in the Trinity, and wants us to be the same (the only thing in creation that wasn’t good was for Man to be alone, remember?) If you are selfish, you disregard the image of God in your neighbor. That is the ultimate atheist.

    (Matt)
    9 & 10. Probably because it makes them feel safer. Notice that the strongest boy on the block is never as interested in justice as the shorty. In fact, you can hardly find an example in any culture in any time of a group of people refusing to commit an injustice when it would benefit them.

    (Me)
    Ah… NAZIS? They seemed to kill just so they could rule…
    Yeah, we don’t seem the bully screaming for justice because he is too blockheaded to realize it (or too smart to call attention to it (as Matt seems to have overlooked it)) he just screams, “unfair!” They take whether it is just or not, but won’t have to same done to them. They don’t usually scream it, because they don’t usually need it. But consequently ignore it easily too.
    9: Because we are made in the image of God, and if nothing else, value others and ourselves. We may claim we don’t see clearly right and wrong until someone has clearly done something against US (or one we love, admire, grunt at as member of same tribe).
    10: Clearly not. It is, as is the whole law of God written on our hearts – even the “pagans” as Paul says, giving no excuse to those who ignore it.

    I’m itching to answer to Matt’s questions too…

  7. I answered Matt’s questions up on my blog. Douzo yoroshiku.


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