Thursday, March 17, 2011

Response to a YouTube Evangalist

Today I received a message on my YouTube account from a Muslim evangelist. Here is the part of the message that wasn't a big long list of poor justifications for his faith:
“Hard questions for an atheist!
  1. were you created by nothing or did you create yourself?
  2. whats purpose of life?
  3. Apart from scientific evidence, what else would make you acknowledge the existence of God Almighty?” (sic)
    Furthermore, the video featured on his profile read as follows:
    “In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
    Questions an atheist avoids to answer correctly!
    1. Were you created by nothing or did you create yourself?
    2. Define the God you are rejecting?
    3. Do you believe in natural instinct? If so, how do they relate to Evolution?
    4. Are suffering from a God complex?
    5. Man is a worshipper by nature! Who do you worship?
    6. Everything we see around us has a purpose! Whats your purpose in life?
    Answer honestly, please!” (sic)
    Apart from my comment yesterday on edwardtarte's commentary about the distastefulness of some of the comments made about Japan the last few days have been (that man is amazing, go watch his videos!), I can't think of any reason for this guy to have contacted me with what amounts to blatant god-botting, as I have never even posted a video to YouTube (I wanted to do one for the It Gets Better campaign, but my webcam wasn't working well enough to record a decent video) and can count the times I've commented on one hand.

    Because this man is clearly spamming atheists on YouTube, I would also like to (once again) register my annoyance with this kind of overbearing evangelism. This is one of the main problems I have with religion is the fact that one of the main tenants of most religions is spreading it.

    Nonetheless, I'm going to respond to his (boringly simpleminded) questions. Here goes.

    First set of questions:
    1. Neither. I wasn't “created,” and neither were you. Humanity evolved, and more recently, my parents had sex. Hopefully I don't need to explain to you how that works and how it led to my birth. I subsequently developed from an infant into a young adult, in much the same manner as every other mammal.
    2. Well, I'd like to point out that you're missing a bit of your sentence... But the meaning of life? To live, I suppose. That's about as specific as I can get while speaking for everybody, and even there, I'm sure some (like some of those struggling with depression) would disagree. Everybody lives for different things, and I don't think that there's some grand scheme to which we're supposed to be adhering. I live for love and for family, for hope and to contribute to humanity. I live for stories and art and beauty in the strangest places. I live for good food and friends and the feeling of falling and the smell of the air before the rain. We all live for what we hold dear. Do you really have nothing to live for without your deity? If so, I pity you, for yours must be a shallow life, that you have nothing to love.
    3. Nothing. Honestly, even scientific evidence that an omniscient, omnipotent being existed it would not prove to me that said being was a deity, as a deity is something which deserves worship. See my definition of a god in response two of the next set.
    Second set of questions:
    1. See question one in the previous set of questions.
    2. A god is a omnipotent being that both deserves and requires worship. For further discussion of this, and of my reasons to reject belief in such a being, please see the end of my post Why I Disbelieve.
    3. Yes, there are certain hereditary instincts. The more sophisticated a species' brain functions are, however, the less instinct seems to play a part in things. Human beings arguably have the most sophisticated brains of any known species, and our instincts are mostly related to infant reflexes. As far as it relates to evolution, instincts are likely coded in the brain structure and function. It is clear that instincts are hereditary, and therefore have evolved over time. A wonderful example of this evolution of instinctive behavior can be seen in the studies conducted on the domestication process in foxes at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics in Siberia (featured in the March 2011 issue of National Geographic).
    4. What do you even mean by this? For the purpose of answering, I'm going to assume you meant to ask “Are you suffering from a god complex?” No, I do not “consistently believe [I] can accomplish more than is humanly possible or that [my] opinion is automatically above those with whom [I] may disagree,” nor do I “believe [I am] above the rules of society and should be given special consideration or privileges.” (From Wikipedia.) You may be suffering from such a problem, though, given your certainty that you are right in your delusions in the face of all the evidence to the contrary. Honestly, I have to question whether you even knew the definition of “god complex” when you attempted to ask this question.
    5. Actually, I don't think that humans are “worshipers by nature.” I'd say something more along the lines of “humans are wired to see patterns where there aren't actually patterns, because seeing patterns that aren't there is less detrimental to our survival than missing patterns that are there.” At best, you might be able to make an argument for humans being believers by nature, but if that is the case, then should it not follow that we would all believe in the same thing? Beyond this, one could argue that men are “rapists by nature,” but that doesn't mean that men ought to go around raping people. Because we are capable of inhibiting our impulses, we as moral beings are expected to suppress such urges. I would contend that as intelligent beings, we are obligated to not indulge in nonsensical behaviors such as the worship of imaginary beings.
    6. Everything around us has a purpose? What about my appendix? What about the vestigial caudal limbs in whales? What about body hair on humans? What about the problematic curvature of our spines? The plantaris muscle in our feet? The blind spot in our eyes? The genetic possiblitiy of horrific disorders such as anencephaly? What purpose do these serve? As for the rest, please refer to my answer to question two of the previous set.

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