Question and Answer Page


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18th August 2000

I read some of your answer, could you expland to me, why do you answer the question your ask by spelling God with a capital G. if you don"t believe their is a God. Christians spell their god with a capital 'G'. If they spelt their god 'A-l-l-a-h', I would use that spelling.

16th June 2000

what are a lot of the things that atheist beleive in and what's the difference between atheism and agnostic?

An atheist is someone with no belief in a God or Gods. An agnostic feels that finite beings such as us are unable to know if an infinite being can exist or not.

5th June 2000

hi, my boyfriend is an atheist, i'm not any religion really, and i was just kinda wondering what atheism is all about. i know you guys dont believe in god, but what do you believe in (if anything)? It would be great if you could help me on this, thankyou

An atheist is simply someone without a belief in a god. Many atheists believe different things. There are all kinds of atheists, just as there are all kinds of theists.

13th June 2000

Are there any local meetings etc in wolverhampton

You could ask the secretary of the Coventry and Warwickshire Humanists - Roy Saich 01926 848450

6th May 2000

Dear sir.

Do you believe in objective truth? Why or why not?

Yes, I do, although we may find it hard to get at most objective truths. Interestingly, there is an article called Belief and Unbelief where the author complains that unbelievers are only interested in objective reality.

5th May 2000

Do you know the standard Christian rebuttal for the proposition that a perfect God has no logical need for worship and prayer? What is the theological basis for this self-abasing and apparently useless occupation? Also, is God expected to be more helpful to, say, cancer patient A , for whom people are praying, and to ignore the suffering of cancer patient B, for whom no prayers are being said?

Many thanks

David Fox

The standard Christian response is that worship is something Christians do out of gratitude rather than something God wants for his own needs.

As far as I can see, God is supposed to take less care of people for whom nobody is praying.

3rd April 2000

I want to get the detail list of the contradiction stated in Quran

I do not carry a list of contradictions on my site. Try the 'Answering Islam' web site.


I just have one question. Do you have a good reply to the theist comment "God is like love, you can't see him or prove him, but you can feel that he is there"?? I dont. Please help me with this one.

Love is something which can be proved.

If I said you loved six year old boys, your libel lawyers would demand that I produce overwhelming proof of this or pay substantial damages.

Can God be proved in court, the way that love can?

25th March 2000

Since you don't believe in god or an eternal afterlife, how can you believe anything that you read in the holy bible?

Some events in the Bible have been historically confirmed eg the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC or the existence of places like Rome, Cyprus, Spain, Jerusalem, Crete etc etc. So there is independent confirmation of some Biblical places, events and names.

19th March 2000

Sin is associated with God and if the there is no God it is obvious there is no sin - so what is preventing you from having sex with your mother?

I have no desire to have sex with my mother and I'm sure the feeling is mutual.

Does God prevent people having sex with their mother? It does happen sometimes, so does that prove there is no God to prevent it happening?

25th February 2000

First of all I would like to thank you for a very informative website it threw up lots of interesting links worth reading.

Secondly I read this this morning and wondered what you would make of it. It is an article from this weeks New Scientist, 24th Feb 2000.

http://www.newscientist.com/features/features.jsp?id=ns22273

I probably should say I am a christian so that you know where I am coming from and if I had a particular question related to this article it would possibly be, does it give you any hope?

Hope about what in particular? My hopes tend to do with people close to me, society and the condition of humankind in general, none of which were mentioned in the article.

I notice you are involved in the biology of medicine. I have hopes that people will one day cure cancer. How does the article affect your view of your research or study? Surely biology is quite unaffected by whether or not matter is composed out of quarks or superstrings or random 'monads' , as the article suggests it might. Your work is at an entirely different level of organisation of matter.

Similarly, my hopes for human beings are quite unaffected by what particular fundamental particles we are made out of. Whether we are made out of monads or are created from the dust from the ground as Genesis 2 has it, we are still human beings, with human hopes and aspirations.

11th February 2000

why don't you believe in God,, or a God?

Because I have seen no convincing evidence.

Why do you not believe in Zeus, or Thor or Odin or Apollo, or Hercules?


I have always been curious what an atheist's idea is of life after death. Will there be any or will a new state of matter emerge? I have watched many debates and read several articles but no one has brought it up. Thank you.

Scott Duvall

There are atheists who believe in life after death, but I do not believe the information needed to make our personality can survive the disintegration of the body housing it.


dear Sir My wife and I recently separated, we have been having marital problems for some time.we were making progress until our neighbours interfered and encouraged us to join their church while we were very vulnerable. We lost an awful lot of friends and the respect of our families. I now harbour a barely concealed anger and hatred towards religion, especially the Christian religion, this is because I am convinced that had they not interfered we could possibly be together today, as we lost so much respect and self-esteem. I would like to know if it is normal to feel like this and also do you think I should go for counselling as I am very verbally agressive to religeous people. p.s, these were fundementalist christians, not normal ones.

I'm sorry to hear about your recent separation.

I would try not to harbour resentment towards religion, although naturally you may find this difficult advice at present. Negative feelings will not help you to feel better. You might well find counselling useful, if it helps you to understand better what has happened to you and what you want out of your future life.

It may be too late to make the past the way you wanted it to be, but you can try to make the future the sort of future you want.


4th February 2000

My fiance and I are due to get married in September, yet as a committed athiest I am finding real trouble in accepting the fact that I have to confirm my commitment to some divine being.

I feel it would be extremely hypocritical of me to carry out this act, and wish to be sincere in my commitment to my partner on such an important occasion.

The wedding has been booked (not at a church) and I have to choose a minister. Is there an athiest minister (excuse the paradox, but I can't think of a better phrase!) who could carry out the ceremony without any reference to religion of any kind?

My sister recently had a non-religious wedding ceremony, which went extremely well, with some very nice readings and songs.

You could try http://www.humanism.org.uk/frceremo.htm which has details of non-religious ceremonies.

25th January 2000

Though this is not an open message forum, but a place to ask Mr. Carr specific questions, I hope that he will allow me to briefly address the responses to my earlier question: "If a God exists, why would he use a fallible human instrument like a book (the Bible, Quran, etc) to inform his creations of his ideas and desires?"

The first response by an anonymous poster says that we "cannot expect the Lord to communicate with everyone in the world..." Why not? Would that be too difficult for the almighty? Would it use up too much of his valuable time?

But in the rest of that sentence, he gives us a reason why God would not want to do this: "If he did then it would be obvious to all of his existence and would defeat the purpose of God testing us to see if we believe in him." Surely this reason is nonsensical. Why does God need to test anything, does he not know whether we believe in him or not?

What the poster is really doing here is equivocating the meaning of the phrase "believe in God". In one sense, it means to believe in the existance of God, but in the second and more important sense it means to trust God and to follow him. Satan presumably "believes in God" in the first sense, but does not "believe in God" in the second; that is why Satan is not an angel in Heaven anymore. Christianity teaches that we need to "believe in God" in the second sense, because it is necessary for our salvation; "believing in God" in the first sense only certainly doesn't do the trick. If God wants to test us for anything, it would be for the second meaning of the phrase, not the first.

Moving on to the most recent poster, Brett Bender, he claims that "God didn't [implying 'has never'] communicate with the human race directly because of our feeble minds." This seems to be in direct contradiction of the first poster, since even he admtted that God certainly has done so to certain individuals in the past. Indeed, the Bible itself says that such direct communications have happened, like between God and Moses (who BTW saw God's backside...)

The other problem with Mr. Bender's response is that it assumes our minds are too feeble for God to communicate with directly. Can God not speak audibly in (American) English from out of the sky? I'm sure my "feeble" mind could comprehend that. And indeed, why would God make his creatures so inadequate that he coulnd't communicate with them directly in the first place?

I have always maintained that mythical Gods act remarkably like non-existant beings, and this topic demonstrates that quite well; non-existant beings cannot communicate with us directly either.

If anyone would like to discuss this topic further (since I'd hate to take up more of Mr. Carr's personal question section) please feel free to email me at theophage@geocities.com

Daniel Clark

19th January 2000

In response to Daniel Clark's question...God didn't communicate with the human race directly because of our feeble minds. God is a higher level of being that we will never understand until we reach the gates of Heaven. That is one reason why he sent his son, Jesus, to communicate with many followers of Christ. It is also why he sends angels to give messages to people, such as Mary. So until we reach Heaven, or if we do at all, we will never fully understand Gods meaning for what he does. ESPECIALLY the Bible.

Brett Bender


Hello.

Is there any chance you could comment on the translation of the greek word "mello" in a future article? I understand from http://members.xoom.com/grgaud that this word means "about to", occurs in 107 places in the New Testament and has been deliverately mistranslated by every single available translation (expect the Youngs Literal Translation) in the majority of cases.

Furthermore, the word occurs in passages where Jesus talks about his imminent second coming which never took place, but I have failed to find a serious study of the different variant readings in the manuscript library and how they affect the escatological meaning of the passages in question.

I am not an expert on Greek, but as far as I can tell, the word 'mello' should be translated 'about to'.


I'm an atheist and believe the Bible to be errant. But the other night my friend cited 1 Corinthians 2:14 and said that I am reading the bible to be errant because I don't have spiritual eyes and that I have not been touched by God somehow. Now, I could simply dismiss this as BS, but what would be some proofs in proving this assertion as BS?

He also mentioned some translation errors of the Bible that would explain why some regard the Bible as errant. Again, is there any fallacies in this argument?

1 Corinthians 2:14 is often cited to show that non-believers don't understand because they don't have spiritual understanding. It is just a cop-out to say that. It is an admission that the Bible does not make sense to non-believers.

I agree there are translation errors in English Bibles. That does not mean all errors are only translation errors, nor does it explain why God is unable to supervise a correct translation.

11th January 2000

I will like to know some errors in the bible

Monie

There is a global flood, for one thing, and 900 year old men.

There is a link to a Biblical Errancy site from my Christianity page. This lists many errors.

7th January 2000

In the Christianity essay entitled "Paul - a follower of Jesus" you say that I Timothy was not written by Paul. Why do you believe I Timothy was not written by Paul? And do you believe II Timothy was written by Paul? If not/so, why?

Sincerly, Matt Barber

The style of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Titus are so similar that everybody agrees they were written by the same person.

There are many reasons why most scholars think 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus were not written by Paul. It should be pointed out that people did forge letters in the name of Paul, as 2 Thessalonians shows, so it is not absurd to ask if we have forged letters.

They use 848 different words. 306 of them are not used elsewhere by Paul. This means that over one third of the words are not words Paul normally uses. The majority of these non-Pauline words are used by Christian authors of the second century. Of the words Paul does use, some of them are used differently to his basic teachings. For example, 'righteous' in Titus 1:8 means 'being a moral individual', while elsewhere one of Paul's main ideas is that being moral does not make you righteous before God - being righteous is a gift from God, not something you attain by being moral.

These letters are also not quoted by Christians for a long time. Indeed the first known collection of Paul's letters does not contain them and our very early manuscript p46, does not have room for them - 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus are not in our earliest manuscript of Paul's letters.

The letters also attack 'false knowledge' ie Gnosticism. Christians assure sceptics that Gnostic heresies had not developed in Christianity while Paul was alive.

In 2 Timothy,Paul says he has left Trophimus at Miletus. However, Acts 21:29 has Trophimus accompany Paul to Jerusalem and there is no evidence Paul ever went to Miletus again. Indeed, Acts 20:25 'prophesies' that Paul will never see people in Miletus again. ,p> 2 Timothy implies that Paul was alone in his previous imprisonment while Philemon makes clear that Timothy himself was with him.

Similarly, 1 Timothy is supposed to be when Paul has gone into Macedonia and Timothy was left behind to teach in Ephesus. This seems to corresponds to Acts 20:1-3, where Paul goes from Asia to Macedonia. By Acts 20:4, Timothy is again with Paul, yet 1 Timothy 3:13 assumes Timothy will stay in Asia until Paul returns. Note that Paul spent only three months in Greece before returning - very little time for Paul to get from Ephesus to Macedonia, send a letter to Timothy in Ephesus telling him to stay, Timothy to almost at once disobey and get to Macedonia in time to accompany Paul in the return trip.

28th December 1999

Although I do not believe in a deity I sometimes wonder if religion did not at some point act as a cosmic brake on the more ferocious aspects of human nature and if it was consigned to the dust bin of history would there not be an outbreak of anything goes hedonism or amorality,as ordinary people would feel there is no judgement on them.What do you think?

A.Cruse

There seems to be little doubt that rulers and authorities have used divine sanctions to enforce obedience to laws and to hold societies together. Just look at the divine right of kings or the way Roman Emperors and Japanese Emperors taught people to regard them as semi-divine.

Whether there would be an outbreak of immorality would depend upon exactly how religion was consigned to the dust bin of history. If it happened quickly through a revolution, then history has shown that societies get into trouble. If it happened slowly through education , and in the right circumstances, then there need not be outbreaks of immorality.

Japan and Scandinavia are not very religious societies, yet crime is not as rampant there as in the Bible-belt of America.

28th December 1999

If a person is "brainwashed" with various forms of organized religions and their respective dogma, teachings etc... and yet somehow has managed to remain objective about his or her beliefs through education (individual readings etc...), is it really possible for that person to make a complete break with all that they were trained to believe. What I mean to say in a less circuitous manner is, can a person really escape what they were taught and what they really have a hope for? If so, how? More education and readings and discussions? When it gets right down to the nitty gritty, I think we must have hope in something. Perhaps because I am less educated, informed, or intelligent, I choose to believe that we must act responsibly towards our fellow human companions, and not really expect anything beyond this existence. It would be great if that were possible. How can anyone know what is next? It may in fact be a journey that is simply beyond desciption or imagination. It may also be extreme nothingness.

I don't think people can make a complete break with what they have learned. There education is something that has helped to make them what they are, even if they later reject it.

21st December 1999

Your answer is very good. But your answer is not complete. To what useful purpose was abstract thought evolved. We may view it now as a selective advantage only because we feel it is an advantage but can we really superimpose it onto the whole scheme of natural selection. (By the way I am a believer in an orthodox religion as well as in the concept of evolution and big bang etc.)

We no more 'superimpose' abstract thought on to the whole scheme of natural selection than we superimpose abstract thought on to the law of gravity or music theory or the germ theory of disease.

Natural selection is based primarily on observed characteristics of species.

Abstract thought does seem to be useful for survival. Since the scientific revolution began, the human population has expanded to 6,000 million.

Abstract thought is surely vital for survival. Being able to work out the difference between 'There is a bear around here' and 'There was a bear around here' could be very useful for survival in certain circumstances.

But the difference between these is only the difference between the abstract symbols 'is' and 'was'.

Surely other species are capable of abstract thought. A dog can recognise the concept of 'cat' and how it should behave towards a cat, while still being able to distinguish the abstract concept of cat from the particular cat that is shares its family home with and who is its friend.

I imagine other species also show recognition of abstract concepts, memory and thought. Animals are capable of working out things, evidence of some ability to form some sort of abstract concepts.

13th December 1999

I am currently debating with a Christian who suggests that I should read "letters from a skeptic" in order to answer the questions I have presented regarding the bibles hypocrisies, absurdities, and contradictions. Before I read it however, I would like to know in advance what the view point of the book is from another atheist's opinion and any arguments I can make in advance.

Please offer your comments if you have any.

I am not aware of the work 'Letters from a skeptic', so I don't really know what the viewpoint is. I am very willing to help, if I am able to, with any specific questions that the Christian might pose.


help, I dont believe in god , however , my wife does, this is her choice which I respect. the problem starts with our kids at school. I think they are being brainwashed of sorts, I tell them my views but my wife thinks this is very wrong.

How do I put it to them that their gran and grandad and heaven dont exist.

I can't really advise you.

This is something you have to sort out with your family. It depends upon the age of the children whether or not a belief in Heaven is going to hinder or harm them. After all, many children believe in Santa Claus and it does them no harm.

I would say though, that I would never put my principles ahead of family harmony. As you point out, you respect the rights of your family members to believe what they want to believe.


If a God exists, why would he use a fallible human instrument like a book (the Bible, Quran, etc) to inform his creations of his ideas and desires? Why would he not communicate with people directly? That would stop the possibility of mistranslation and misunderstanding of what God means, because you could presumably ask him about certain particulars when he told you about them, or at the very least God could communicate in such a perfect way that you would instantly understand.

If our salvation is important enough to impart the information in the first place, wouldn't God want that information imparted perfectly?

Daniel Clark

http://members.theglobe.com/theophage

I agree


Regarding Mr. Daniel Clark's question, I thought God did communicate directly with people. They were the prophets and messengers of God. One cannot expect the Lord to communicate with everyone in the world, and If he did then it would be obvious to all of his existence and would defeat the purpose of God testing us to see if we believe in him.

In my opinion, whether a holy book is true or not isn't simply determined by its originality and authenticity, as with say the Quran. What should determine this is its scientific accuracies and relevance to society and whether a holy book truly can provide a way of life and a system for society unlike any man made system.

Where can we see this successful society run under the rules of a holy book? Afghanistan? Saudi Arabia? The only theocracies I now of are the Muslims from about 622 AD, which led to the Sunni/Shia split in just a few years and the Jewish state of Jerusalem which collectively went mad in 70 AD and 130 AD, resulting in its disintegration.


5th December 1999

If we are created only in accordance with the rules of natural selection it goes against those very rules that human brains would develop to contemplate existence and question its origins. Nature is extremely cautious in what it allows to develop, such thought processes clearly do not contribute to our ability to live - thus it is completely useless on the selection scale and would not have been allowed in the slightest.

Your thoughts please Sir.

Why is this a problem? It is no more a problem for natural selection than the ability of a seal to balance a ball on its nose. The ability of a seal to balance a ball on its nose in a circus is not something directly selected for in the wild, so presumably God must have given seals this ability.

It is no more a problem for natural selection than our ability to juggle, or play darts or golf.

Once we have brains capable of abstract thought (which is something that is a selective advantage), we are capable of using that ability in many ways.


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