An accidental blog

"If God is sovereign, then his lordship must extend over all of life, and it cannot be restricted to the walls of the church or within the Christian orbit." Abraham Kuyper Common Grace 1.1.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Rocky's favourite questions to ask atheists

My friend Mark "Rocky" Roques has complied a list of 30 questions to ask atheists (any others?)

Rocky’s Favourite Questions to ask Atheists

1. Would you agree with Desmond Morris and Richard Dawkins who assert that sexual promiscuity is normal and natural among Alpha males?

2. Would you agree with Nietzsche that exploitation and cruelty is the fundamental fact of human existence?

3. Would you agree with Prof Eric Pianka that humans are no better than bacteria?

4. Would you agree with Susan Blackmore who argues that Darwinism leads inexorably to the conclusion that our existence is illusory?

5. Richard Dawkins has stressed that goodness and evil cannot exist in a Darwinian universe. In the light of Auschwitz would you agree with him?

6. Emotivists, like Alfred Ayer, argue that ethics boils down to human expression of feeling? If a society of committed cannibals expressed positive collective feelings about torturing and then eating people, would this be ok?

7. Suppose that the majority of people living in the U.K. voted for the death penalty for ‘gingers’. Would you go along with this?

8. Cultural relativism flows directly from Darwinian assumptions. The cultural relativist asserts that it is intolerant to judge cultures that engage in systematic cannibalism and torture. Would you agree with this position?

9. Would you agree with Bertrand Russell when he argued that cannibalism is a duty for some people?

10 Would you agree with some atheists that consensual cannibalism is perfectly valid?

11. Would you agree with evolutionary psychologists who argue that rape and infanticide are normal and natural because that’s how some humans have been hardwired by natural selection to behave?

12. Is it possible to be an ‘authentic’ cannibal?

13. Is there anything wrong with a consenting man marrying a consenting goat? Should we change the law so that humans can legally get married to animals?

(May 1998 - The Jerry Springer Show had an episode titled "I married a horse". The show was ultimately not aired by many stations on the planned date, apparently due to concerns about the acceptability of broadcasting an episode in which a man admitted to a long term emotional and sexual relationship of this kind. The man and his horse later participated in a British documentary on the subject.)

14. Is there anything wrong with an open marriage? It is very popular with Hollywood stars like Will Smith. Shouldn’t we abolish Christian marriage?

15. Is there anything wrong with polygamy? Isn’t it only natural for strong, aggressive males to enjoy the sexual delights of the well-stocked harem?

16. Is it possible to object to the Hindu practice of burying widows alive when this moral conviction has evolved very successfully in that particular culture? (Eyewitness accounts have observed children burying their own mothers in the early 19th century)

17. Nazi scientists used to experiment on "sub-humans" like Jews and gypsies. Should we object to this in the light of the simple fact that we are no better than bacteria?

18. The full title of Darwin’s famous book is this – On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In the light of this frank title is there anything wrong with racism?

19. Would you agree with Richard Dawkins’ assertion that moral notions of responsibility are illusory because all human behaviour is determined by the impersonal laws of physics?

20. Is it possible to believe in both rationality and a view of science that reduces everything to Physics? In other words doesn’t science worship destroy rationality?

21. In his disturbing novel The Wasp Factory Iain Banks presents us with an Anti-hero, Frank Cauldhame who delights in torture and murder of both humans and animals. The novel is written in such a way that this way of life is intimately connected to evolution by natural selection. Question – Would you agree with Banks’ gruesome worldview and if not where has he gone wrong?

22. How would you respond to Nietzsche’s challenge that if you get rid of the Christian God you must also get rid of Christian morality?

23. How would you respond to philosopher Patricia Churchland who argues that Darwinism radically destroys science’s ability to produce true statements. We believe things because they help us to survive. Natural Selection couldn’t give two figs about the truth.

24. When scientists begin breeding human-chimpanzee hybrids, do you think we should grant them the same rights as human-beings or can we simply treat them like slaves and instruments? What is the moral basis for how we relate to hybrids?

25. Are you a hard-headed atheist like Nietzsche or a mystically inclined one like Richard Dawkins? (Nietzsche says - go with the cruelty of evolution and Dawkins tells us that we have the power to rebel against our selfish genes and embrace altruism and goodness.)

26. What is the moral basis for love and tolerance? (Good question to ask when Christians are accused of being intolerant.)

27. Politicians like Tony Blair are often telling us that terrorist atrocities are ‘unacceptable’. Would you agree with him about this?

Could you explain what is meant by this term ‘unacceptable’? Who are we speaking about here? All human beings? All rational human-beings? All British people? Or just stamp collectors in Burnley?

28. In 2004 a woman in the Netherlands got married to herself! Perfectly legal in Holland. Is there anything wrong with this? If marriage is a social construct then why not? What about a marriage with three people in it? Two gay men and a lesbian. And there are growing numbers of people who would like to get married to dolphins and their pets. Isn’t it intolerant not to allow such conjugal bliss?

29. Missionaries like William Carey, James Chalmers and Amy Carmichael fought such social evils as suttee, cannibalism and religious prostitution. Were they wasting their lives? Were they being intolerant of indigenous ‘customs’?

30. Would you agree with Columbine killer Eric Harris when he wrote the following?

just because your mummy and daddy tell you blood and violence is bad, you think it’s a f-g law of nature. Wrong, only science and math are true, everything else, and I mean every f-g thing is man made.” (From one of Eric’s notebooks)


Paul said...

I'm uneasy.

What does Rocky take the point of these questions to be?

Baus said...

regarding #7...

What's a 'ginger'?
I take it that it's not referencing a cookie (or biscuit, you'd probably say)?

Macht said...

Ginger kids?

Steve Bishop said...

Mark responds:

“Paul, to answer your question. I have been into many schools in England teaching people about worldviews and i am constantly coming across young people who embrace emotivist, cultural relativist and social darwinist views of ethics. It's important to be able to relevantly engage with these students and that's where the questions help. They can be asked in a gracious way which isn't aggressive or bolshy and in my experience young people enjoy thinking about these kinds of issues. It is also a way of challenging the logical positivist views that are still very popular. The expression 'ginger' refers to people who have ginger hair.”


Paul said...

Thanks for the context, which makes me less uneasy. They would be excellent questions to ask, in the right way, of course.

I would not be uneasy at all as long as people are made aware of the very best of contemporary naturalist thought.