The Atheist Thirteen Ten Twelve

PJ links to one of those internet "memes"*, ten questions about atheism. I don't call myself an atheist, but rather an agnostic. But to borrow an idea from Richard Dawkins, if I had to put myself on a scale from 0 to 1000, where 0 means "I'm absolutely certain there's no god" and 1000 means "I'm absolutely certain there is a god", I'd put myself at 1, so hopefully, I'm qualified to answer. Here come the questions.

Q1. How would you define “atheism”?

The certainty that there is no god, whatever he/she/it is called.

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

My parents were both Protestants, but not too enthusiastic about it: We went to the church on Christmas Eve only. In Germany, however, there is religious (Christian) education in school, so you grow up believing that god's existence is true just like 2 + 2 = 4 is true. I realized there is no good reason to believe in god while walking down the street at age ten or eleven. It was a pretty cool feeling. I still got confirmed at age 14 because I wanted the money.

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

Fraud. What they actually mean is creationism, so they should say so.

Q4. What scientific endeavour really excites you?

I think genetics hold great promise, though I'm not really an expert in that area. What really excites me is when social scientists can tackle an important problem using a randomized trial, which is rare.

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

The vast majority of my friends and acquaintances are atheists or agnostics, but I don't think of this as "the atheist community" for the simple reason that the topic hardly ever comes up. I really wish all people who ask me to help them when they move would have their preparations finished properly when I arrive. Boy, this gets on my nerves big time.

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

If they told me they'd join the Nazi party, I'd probably smack 'em in the face, but joining the clergy? Not that bad. I'd probably ask about their exact career plan.

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

"Big bang and all, o.k. But where did that first atom come from, eh?"

"And where did that god bloke come from, eh?"

Q8. What’s your most “controversial” (as far as general attitudes amongst other atheists goes) viewpoint?

Nation states don't have the moral right to restrict the influx of persons into their territory.

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

Never heard of Hitchens or Harris. I've also never read any of Dawkins' or Dennett's books, but both come across as affable and thoughtful people. As Dawkins' superposh accent gets on my nerves, I'll go for Dennett.

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

Whoever is going to cause the biggest damage based on his or her theistic beliefs. Osama Bin Laden or whoever (if anyone) is in charge now comes to mind.

Now name three other atheist blogs that you’d like to see take up the Atheist Thirteen gauntlet:

Of all of the blogs I read, only PJ's is openly atheistic, and not only is it already linked to above, but also, the questions were already answered there. So this is a bit of a dead end. [Update: Wait a minute, that's not correct at all. Overcoming Bias comes across as a pretty atheist blog. Elizer Yudkowsky, in particular, seems to hate religion. And Matthew Baldwin once called himself something like "an agnostic-but-for-all-intents-and-purposes-an-atheist". So there you go.]

*God (ha!), I hate that word. It sounds ugly. And as Steven Pinker pointed out, the analogy to genes doesn't work. People push ideas around in their head and actively change them; that's not true of genes, is it?

No comments: