Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Interview with an Atheist

The Barefoot Bum pointed out this person’s interview questions for non-theists and, of course, The Barefoot Bum’s response.

These aren’t questions intended to learn about the other person—they are talking points intended to argue about theism, and for that they are sufficient. But if you want to understand the other position—you have to first learn what it is saying. Live in their skin for a bit.

Why Can’t Christians get this right? Why must they always assume their own view of the world when asking these repetitive, boring questions?

“How can you impose morals on others?”
“Where did we get Free Will?”
“How does life have purpose?”
“If Christianity were true…”
“Is the most difficult thing about becoming a Christian the moral demands?”

Have we not answered these one or two (million) times?

What questions do you wish Christians would ask in these “Questions for Atheists?” Here’s a few off the top of my head:

1. You are in a High-School debate on the pro-theism team. What argument for God do you think is the strongest to put forward?

2. In America, non-theists are a distinct minority. Why do you think that is? Why do you think the percentage of non-theists is growing?

3. Why do you think atheists are distrusted in American culture?

4. As a Christian, we sometimes cringe when we hear another Christian say something. Like Pat Robertson. Or Fred Phelps. Is there an atheist who makes you cringe when you hear them speak? If so—why?

5. What do you think Christians “get right.”? What do you think they get wrong?

6. If you could have a Christian read three (3) books—what would they be?

7. Is there anything a local church could do that would make you want to attend at least twice a month?

8. What surprises you the most about Christians? The least?


  1. 1: Probably the argument from Design or the (related) Fine Tuning Argument.

    2: We're a minority because the ruling classes have used religion for millennia to sap the will of the oppressed classes. We're growing larger because more and more people are a) studying science and b) no longer inclined to accede to being oppressed.

    3: Same reason as 2)

    4: Misogynist, imperialist bastard Christopher Hitchens, when he's speaking about anything other than religion.

    5: Christians are, by and large, nice, civilized people. They get it "wrong" when they transfer their more-or-less legitimate pride at being nice people into support for their oppressive prejudices, especially against women and gays.

    6: Something by Dawkins, something by Sagan and the Bible.

    7: No. Sorry.

    8: I suppose I'm most surprised (in a philosophical sense) that most nice, civilized Christians dismiss so casually the literal meaning of the Bible; and I'm least surprised (in the same sense) when they take the literal truth seriously.

  2. ... when they take the literal meaning seriously.

  3. I've been thinking of interviewing a Christian. And my; first question would be,

    "Why do you feel you have to preach the basics of Christianity to an atheist who was a Christian for over 20 years before changing his/her mind?"

  4. Lorena,

    **"Why do you feel you have to preach the basics of Christianity to an atheist who was a Christian for over 20 years before changing his/her mind?"**

    Oh, I know this one! Pick me, pick me!

    It's because you *obviously* didn't do Christianity right, or you never would've fallen away. :)

  5. A few weeks ago a Catholic friend corralled me at a party for a couple of hours. She asked me WK's questions 1, 6, 11, 13 and plenty more not on that list.

    What was disheartening was that after I answered her questions as best as I could, she ultimately did not listen to a word I said. I know because instead of awknowledging my answers, she instead presumed an answer to question number 4 for me - the old 'you are just lazy and do not want to submit' schpiel.

    There is one and only one question - just *one* - that I wish a Christian would ask this atheist:

    Why did you leave Christianity? Unlike WK, you can use more than two lines to answer, because I am interested to know. Heck, take all the time you want to answer, because I want to understand. Why did you leave Christianity?

    To this day, not a single Christian has ever asked me that question. Even my friends are quick with assertions, and slow to simply ask.

  6. It's because you *obviously* didn't do Christianity right, or you never would've fallen away. :)Hilarious!

    What's funny is that to me, falling away means/meant to go crazy with drugs, alcohol, adultery, late-night partying, strip clubs, dishonesty (as in lying and cheating), and all that.

    For the life of me, I can't get myself to do any of that. Not even a meager cup of wine for goodness sake.

    So, this is what being "falling away" is like, Christians. Boring!

  7. I don't think most Christians (of the fundamental variety) really have questions for atheists and when they do, they are on their way to becoming skeptics. The nature of their belief system is they are right and have no need to question. Questioning would be a sign of unbelief. So, questions are really just statements in disguise, efforts to point out our obvious error not to learn what we think and why.

    Once you know absolutely, you stop asking questions.

  8. Ha! Lorena,

    Yeah for me "fallen away" just means that I don't go to church. Other than that, my life is pretty much the same as before. I don't drink. I stay at the house most of the time. I still love my wife. Wow! Big life of sin, there.