Some atheist Q&A (via PJ):
Q1. How would you define “atheism”?
A lack of belief in Gods. The term can also be used to denote a positive belief that there are no Gods or a belief that the existence of a God or Gods is highly improbable, but I’m probably most comfortable with the first definition. It’s simple, it’s inclusive and it makes no claims as to the non-existence of God.
Q2. Was your upbringing religious? If so, what tradition?
Not overtly. One parent is atheist and I could never figure out the other’s religious viewpoint. Probably some kind of agnostic Protestant. As a young child, I thought a lot about whether there was a God – but found it too difficult to work out whether God existed or not. I think part of my problem was that not only did I believe nothing could come from nothing but I also found it hard to believe that God and/or the universe could have always existed. At the time I decided that there was no God, on the basis that belief in God struck me as being quite similar to belief in the tooth fairy and that as one was invented by adults it was likely that the other had been too [not great reasoning I admit, but then I was only about 8-years-old]. As a teenager searching for meaning, I gave supernatural religion another try but it seemed somehow unsatisfactory. I eventually decided that, since there was no good reason to believe in God, the most sensible course of action was not to believe in God until I found good reason to. I’m still waiting.
Q3. How would you describe “Intelligent Design”, using only one word?
Dishonest. [It is creationism, just rebranded and presented as if it were scientific]
Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?
Q5. If you could change one thing about the “atheist community”, what would it be and why?
Is there an atheist community? I thought organising atheists was like herding cats.
Q6. If your child came up to you and said “I’m joining the clergy”, what would be your first response?
I tend not to answer hypothetical questions as I am often surprised by how I react to situations.
Q7. What’s your favourite theistic argument, and how do you usually refute it?
“Nothing can come from nothing” and I suppose my immediate response in that case would probably be to question where God came from.
Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?
Don’t know if this is controversial, but: Dawkins is wrong and religion is not actually a delusion. [A delusion is an erroneous belief that is held in the face of evidence to the contrary – and we don’t have evidence that God doesn’t exist, I therefore consider that believers are ‘thinking wishfully’ rather than deluding themselves]
Q9. Of the “Four Horsemen” (Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris) who is your favourite, and why?
Dawkins – those of his books that I’ve read so far have been excellent. Actually, the God Delusion was possibly the least impressive of these, but it was still in a different league to Alister McGrath’s Dawkins Delusion.
Q10. If you could convince just one theistic person to abandon their beliefs, who would it be?
Them’s my answers. Now, I have to name three other atheist blogs that I’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet: http://orandath.blogspot.com/, http://www.theipu.com/, http://humbuggery.net/.