Thursday, July 2, 2015

Questions for materialist atheists

Steven Weinberg
There is a website (10 questions Christians must answer) that offers 10 questions to believers in Christianity. If they consider and meditate these questions deeply, they are supposed to convince themselves that their religious beliefs are absurd, that the best they can do is convert to atheism. This website (and others like it) gave us the idea that these contributions are double-edged, as the same procedure can be used for the opposite purpose: one can also be skeptical towards materialism. Therefore we are proposing here a few questions and offer a link to the atheistic page to give the reader the chance to compare both approaches impartially and draw their own conclusions.

1.      Consider this assertion: Nothing exists but those things with which science can experiment. Do you believe this because of scientific reasons, or it is a dogma for you?

2.      Many materialists believe, with Steven Weinberg [1], that the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless. Do you really believe that everything is pointless? In that case, why do you get up in the night when your child is ill?
3.      Science seems to have discovered many things about the universe and the world around us. But some materialist thinkers, like Stephen Hawking [2], say that objective reality in unknowable. Do you believe that scientific discoveries are real, or are they just mental constructs of man? In the second case, why does technology work?
4.      Science has discovered that nature is subject to surprisingly simple laws, if they are expressed in mathematical form. Materialist philosophers believe that there is no need to find an explanation for the existence of the laws. They are just there, with no reason. Do you agree with this assertion? Do you have scientific reasons to believe it, or do you believe it without reason? In other words, is it a dogma for you?
5.      The evolution of living beings takes place through a combination of chance and necessity. Materialists say that this proves that there cannot be design in evolution. In our experiments on artificial life (a branch of computer science that simulates the behavior of living beings with a program) we use a combination of chance and necessity, parallel to that in biological evolution. It is evident that our experiments are designed. Knowing this, do you still affirm that biological evolution is not designed? Do you believe it for scientific reasons, or is it a dogma for you?
6.      Materialism affirms that we are not free, that we are programmed machines, that whenever we act or think, we have no option but to act or think as we actually act or think. Are you a materialist because you have meditated and found reasons for this position, or because you have been programmed to accept it?
7.      Materialists assert that in nature there are only efficient causes, that there are no final causes or purposes. You are a part of nature. How then can you have purposes, how can you set goals and work to achieve them? Or is that just an illusion? In that case, why should we work to achieve anything, if everything is decided beforehand?
8.      Is man just an animal, as materialists say? If we analyze the matter carefully, we can see that the differences between man and the animals are overwhelming [3]. Are you sure that man is just an animal? Why do you believe that? Is it a dogma for you, or do you have reasons to believe it, apart from having read about it?
9.      To come to the conclusion that God does not exist, have you studied carefully the Christian idea of God? Or perhaps, following Richard Dawkins [4], do you think that, as God does not exist, you don’t have to lose your time studying what other people say about Him? In other words: Is the inexistence of God a start point for you, a dogma?
Antony Flew
10.  One of the most important atheist philosophers of the twentieth century (Antony Flew, 1923-2010) changed his mind in 2004 and published a book [5] explaining the reasons for his decision. Have you read Flew’s book, or  will you take care not to read it, so that your atheistic convictions won’t be in danger?

[1] Steven Weinberg, The first three minutes, 1977, Basic Books.
[2] Stephen Hawking, L. Mlodinow, The grand design, 2010, Transworld Digital. See http://populscience.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-grand-design.html
[3] Manuel Alfonseca, Is man just an animal? http://populscience.blogspot.com/2015/06/is-man-just-animal.html
[4] Richard Dawkins, The God delusion, 2008, Mariner Books. See http://populscience.blogspot.com/2014/08/the-dawkins-delusion.html
[5] Antony Flew, There is a God: how the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind, 2008, HarperOne.

Manuel Alfonseca

Juan Carlos Nieto

1 comment:

  1. Victor Reppert has added a post to his blog based on this post. It has given rise to a debate with 42 comments up to now. This is the address, if you are interested:
    http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com.es/2015/09/10-questions-for-materialist-atheists.html

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