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Atheist Q&A
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Via ERV, here are my answers to a short list of questions for atheists:

Q1. How would you define "atheism"?

Lack of belief in a god or gods. I used to call myself an agnostic, but finally gave in to "atheist". Technically, most atheists are agnostics, in that you can't claim definitively that something doesn't exist. But as Richard Dawkins says, I'm agnostic about god in the same way I'm agnostic about leprechauns.

Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?

Yes. I was taken to church fairly regularly, and was baptized, I believe when I was 10. The church was the Disciples of Christ, or just the Christian Church, and my church was pretty moderate, at least for Lockhart, Texas.

I started to have some serious doubts when I was 13. My reading began to broaden widely at that age, and I started dipping into a lot more science and philosophy, and I got a lot more skeptical and skillful at finding inconsistencies.

Q3. How would you describe "Intelligent Design", using only one word?

Unscientific.

Q4. What scientific endeavor really excites you?

The attempt to understand how the brain gives rise to the mind, obviously. And attempts to simulate and replicate cognition in inorganic substrates (i.e. computers and robots).

Q5. If you could change one thing about the "atheist community", what would it be and why?

I've written pretty extensively on that subject. Despite what Hitchens says to the contrary, I'd like for atheists to be more organized, for both social and political reasons.

Q6. If your child came up to you and said "I'm joining the clergy", what would be your first response?

That would depend. If they were five, I'd have a few more years to try to talk them out of it. If they were an adult, there's not much more I would be able to do at that point, so I'd just try to be loving and supportive.

Q7. What's your favorite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?

I don't really think any of them are very good, obviously.

Q8. What's your most "controversial" (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

That would probably by my support for the Iraq War. And the fact that I will occasionally vote Republican. Atheists in general tend to be politically and socially liberal. I'd like to see a bit more diversity. Hitchens also supported the Iraq War, but it's hard to tell whether he really believes in something or is just making an argument in order to be contrary.

Q9. Of the "Four Horsemen" (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?

Sam Harris. His book The End of Faith was the best of the new atheist books. It was clear, direct, and incisive.

Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?

The Pope. That would be quite a coup.


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