I like questions


And I haven’t answered these type in such a long time so maybe I will give it a go. My response is italicized.

1. Would you say that you are (or, were) an atheist based primarily on intellectual study or based on experience? Or did you never believe in God at all? I was brought up a catholic and stayed there too long. My atheism is borne of study and experience.

2. Would you say that even as an atheist, you still have a sense of purpose and destiny in your life, a feeling that you were put here for a reason and that you have a mission to accomplish? No. I don’t have that sense or feeling. The psalmist says all is meaningless, a chasing after the wind, and that’s where I am.

3. Would you say that you are 100% sure there is no such being as God? By “God” I mean an eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing being? Certainty is impossible in this life. Having said that, I think such a being doesn’t exist.

4. Do you believe that science can provide answers for many of the remaining mysteries of the universe, including how the universe began (including where matter came from and where the Big Bang derived its energy); the origin of life; and DNA coding? No. I believe science, construed broadly, gives us the best or most reasonable way to understand the cosmos and our place in it.

5. Have you had any experiences in life that caused you to question your atheism? Has something happened to you that seemed genuinely supernatural or otherworldly? No.

6. Are you completely materialistic in your mindset, meaning, human beings are entirely physical, human consciousness is an illusion, and there is no spiritual realm of any kind? I don’t think human consciousness is an illusion. I think it is just a complex subject. I am not superstitious. We are just matter. Our experiences result from interaction with matter.

7. If you were convinced that God truly existed – meaning the God of the Bible, who is perfect in every way, full of justice and mercy, our Creator and our Redeemer – would that be good news or bad news? And would you be willing to follow Him and honor Him if He were truly God? This question is loaded and ascribes to god of the Bible attributes that it doesn’t possess or at least the Bible doesn’t claim it has. The god of the Bible is not full of mercy and justice, nor is it shown to be perfect in every way. Why should we follow a god just because one has shown to exist, if that were possible anyway?

What are your thoughts?

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

56 thoughts on “I like questions

  1. I’m an atheist cause I lack all sense of morality and enjoy the taste of fried baby!! How are you, my friend? Hope all is well with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ladysighs says:

    What are my thoughts?
    Get on your tricycle and come back here with some pictures of the fun you had. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Neil Rickert says:

    I saw those questions at Charisma News. Note that I do not normally read Charisma New, but somebody linked to them.

    I considered giving my answers in a post on my blog, but I then decided that it was not interesting enough for a post. I guess you found them more interesting that I did.

    How can Nairobi be cold? I thought you were near the equator.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tish Farrell says:

    Spot-on answers tho sorry you’re shivering, Mak. I remember well those gloomy July days, and having to light the fire in the evening.Here in Shropshire we have heat – 28C according to my PC. We are not used to it after a long chilly spring.

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  5. Nan says:

    Steve posted these same questions on his blog, along with his answers. I left the following (partial) comment:

    Since I’ve “been there, done that,” I say with assuredness that the Christian god does not exist … and from my own personal perspective as a rational thinking human being … NO gods of any size, shape, or form exist.

    Thus, to answer his questions would be a waste of my time.

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  6. I like your answers – mine would be much the same though I was brought up in an atheist/ socialist home. I rebelled in my teens and attended church for a few years then reverted to family beliefs! 🙂

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  7. Barry says:

    The problem with such questions are that to my mind the questions are requiring answers that refer to an objective reality. I don’t believe the human mind works quite like that. If I were tempted to answer such a set of questions, each answer would take several paragraphs just to scratch the surface. For example, Q1: Is an atheist one who lacks a belief in the existence of god(s), or is it one who believes there are no god(s), supernatural beings, nor supernatural realms? If it’s the former, I’m not an atheist. However, there’s the question of what one means by “god(s)”. Does one mean an objective reality or does one mean a concept created by the human mind? I’m satisfied that god(s) exist in the minds of billions of humans, and that metaphorical existence has a profound effect on how people live – often for the better, often for the worse. As to whether I ever believed in god(s), I’m not really sure. It’s a bit like asking if I believed in Santa Claus, taniwha, or that Wind in the Willows” is based on real characters and events. Certainly by the time I first remember my mother reading to us stories such as Wind in the Willows and Winnie-the-Pooh I understood that toys and animals don’t speak, wear clothes, or steal cars. But that knowledge didn’t make the stories any less “real”.

    And that’s barely scratching the surface of Q1. Perhaps Q3 would be easier to answer, as I’ve already stated my position in Q1. As to the level of confidence, I’d say I’m as confident that there is no being such as God as I am confident that there is no teddy bear that eats honey, composes poetry and has a toy pig, a toy donkey, a toy rabbit and a toy kangaroo as friends.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      Barry, I like your thinking.
      Just to say more on #1, that men have created gods is not in question. But what these are has not been coherently defined.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Barry says:

        If we take Sir Lloyd Geering’s definition of god(s) – that God is the embodiment of all that we value highly or aspire to, then I think it is always consistent. It explains why the God of the MAGA brigade and other Trump followers is so vastly different from what I envision as God, but both still consistent with Sir Lloyd’s definition.

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        • makagutu says:

          While I have no problem with this definition, for most people, their gods exist somewhere nebulous beyond their brains and is capable of doing things, like damning those they don’t agree with to hell among other things.

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          • Barry says:

            It says more about them than it does about their god(s). From my experience, it seems many atheists also have a problem with Geering’s definition and insist that I really do believe in “woo” when I personally find terms such as “God” or “the divine” meaningful, whereas for me these terms describe experiences I am not able to describe any other way. In other words, if I had lived before the Enlightenment, I might well have believed the source was supernatural/devine as what I feel is intense. However with what I know now I can assume its entirely due to brain activity.

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            • makagutu says:

              It says more about them than it does about their god(s).

              Has it not always been like this?

              From my experience, it seems many atheists also have a problem with Geering’s definition

              I can sympathise with this. Many people move from my god exist in my head to my god exists beyond my head and demands that you believe or do a or b.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. 1. A logical revelation!
    2. Having a sense of purpose and destiny is a wholesome embrace of life, a conviction that is based on uncertainty.
    3. Those who say that they believe in God and yet neither love nor fear him, do not, in fact, believe in him but in those who have taught them that a God exists and these in their turn often enough do not believe in him either.
    4. Everything is theory until disproven
    5. Of course, we all experience the unexplainable, and mythological, but most of us are feeling embarrassed to reveal ourselves.
    6. If the human collective consciousness is eternal, if there is a consciousness of the universe, and if this consciousness is eternal, why cannot our own dividual consciousness be eternal? Who does know?
    Again that is a theory until disproven!
    7. We might want to imagine our minds being free of irrational thought and all references would be purely mathematical directed would we then have any need for the concept of a god?

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  9. renudepride says:

    Glad that you clarified the myth that the deity is perfect, just and merciful. The religious text portrays him/her otherwise. Good posting! 🙂 Naked hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. shelldigger says:

    1. I tried as a younger man to believe, but the sense that religion is bullshit was just too great to overcome. Plus if you have ever observed x-ians for any length of time, you won’t want to be one.

    2. The purpose of life is to live. Hopefully I will get to do that for a little while longer.

    3. The fact that there have been thousands of different religions through history, none seemingly in agreement, and none with any evidence of their claims, gives me a 99.999999% confidence there are no gods. Which in my book is a solid No.

    4. Yes, eventually. But if not, whatever explanation science has to offer is light years better than religions handwave “cuz we said so.” “Send $$.”

    5. No.

    6. This is 3 questions rolled into one. 1. Yes. 2. Conscience I do not believe an illusion, but it does seem to be part of the human condition. Is this because of the dog? No. 3. No. Until proven otherwise.

    7. Ain’t going to happen. Rest of the question is irrelevant bullshit. Also see #1.

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  11. basenjibrian2 says:

    I am one of those evil atheists who admittedly “hates god”. Or at least the Christian concept (there are the Barry’s of the world who profess such a diluted version of the religion that I am not responding to). The god of the Bible is monstrous and your last answer responds very completely to the question. If Yahweh existed, rebellion would be the only response.

    Otherwise, your answers parallel remarkably my own. So I will just copy them verbatim!!!🤪

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      If Yahweh existed, rebellion would be the only response.

      Any other response would be madness.

      Like

      • Barry says:

        If Yahweh actually existed in the form conceptualised by basenjibrian2, then rebellion would be so obviously futile, that it be a form of madness to contemplate it 🙂

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          Hahaha. I agree with you

          Like

        • basenjibrian2 says:

          The conception of Yahweh is not mine but orthodox Christianity. There are far more fire and brimstone Christians than “I don’t really believe in Jesus but I am stil a Christian” Christians, Barry.

          Futility? Life is ultimately futile. We all die.

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          • Barry says:

            Your reply poses more questions than answers, well for me anyway.

            How are you using the term “orthodox”? If by orthodox Christianity you mean the beliefs, creeds dogmas and practices as established in the first few centuries of Christianity, then I’d argue that orthodox Christians are a minority of those who claim to be Christian today. Neither fundamentalist Christians, nor progressive/liberal Christians believe or practice Christianity as it was then. If you mean orthodox in the sense of “right belief” or “correct belief” then certainly in some parts of the world there is an orthodoxy. However that orthodoxy is not the same everywhere. Christian orthodoxy in the US is radically different from Christian orthodoxy in NZ. If by orthodox you mean a “hell and brimstone Christianity, then I can safely claim that it has never been an orthodoxy in NZ.

            Don’t forget that fundamentalism is a uniquely 19th American development that has since been exported to every corner of the globe, and unfortunately now has a toe hold in NZ. What sets it apart from more other traditions is not only is the Bible infallible (correct when it speaks on matters of faith and morals) but inerrant (correct when it speaks on any matter, including history and science). This was a backlash to Christian modernism which arose decades earlier where biblical understandings and theology must be in constant revision in the light of new knowledge in the natural and social sciences.

            I’m really not sure what you mean when you describe some christians as “I don’t really believe in Jesus but I am still a Christian” Christians. The problem comes from the use of “believe in”. For example, I believe completely in the messages conveyed by our Prime Minister about how best to manage the pandemic. But I do not believe that she has consistently kept those ideals in the forefront as her government has dealt with the pandemic. Pragmatism often gets in the way of those ideals and I often disagree with the pragmatic choices she and her government makes. However, I still believe in the ideals/values that she has promoted.

            Does belief in Jesus mean valuing the essential teachings of Jesus (whether or not Jesus actually existed), or do you mean believing in a Jesus that was/is part of a trinity, was/is wholly human and God at the same time (an impossibility in my mind)? Was he sacrificed by himself, to himself as payment for the “sins” of others, or was his teaching inevitably going to lead to to a clash with the Roman and Jewish authorities – death always being a possibility when there’s a clash of values? Was there a literal Resurrection of Jesus, or does the narrative represent a point in time when his followers realised that his message was “true” irrespective of whether or not he was still living amongst them? Each of the alternatives can rightly be called belief in Jesus, but they are certainly not the same kind of “belief”.

            If you view the essential teachings of Jesus as being valuable and worthy of following, allowing for the fact that that he was a man of his time and a Jew living under Roman occupation, then there are grounds for being identified as a Christian. Apart perhaps for his teachings on loving enemies in the same manner as you love your friends and family, his message isn’t unique, but it has had an impact on western culture, aided in a negative way by eventually becoming the official (and orthodox) religion of the Roman empire.

            As for life being ultimately futile, I disagree. The inevitability of death doesn’t make it so. Life is what one makes of it while alive.

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    • Barry says:

      Diluted?? Because it for me religion experiential and not learnt secondhand from some ancient tome, or third hand from a cleric that learnt it secondhand from an ancient tome? I think not. But then I don’t claim to be Christian, although many Christians in this corner of the world are more than happy to claim my beliefs are Christian.

      And that’s the problem with “the Christian concept”. There’s no such thing. There are a great many Christian concepts, and the version of God you associate with Christianity is represented by a small minority in these parts. You forget that in this country, our greatest theologian was awarded the Order of New Zealand for expressing the same ideas as I do (only 20 living persons can hold the Order of New Zealand). You’d really have to subscribe to idea that the Bible is literally “The Word of God” and that the events portrayed in the Bible really happened as described. The majority of Christians here don’t hold to that notion.

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      • makagutu says:

        A great many people this side of the ocean take the bible literally. You would be surprised if you were to set foot here, my friend.
        And most believe the people who have told them about god and religion

        Liked by 1 person

        • Barry says:

          I don’t think I would be surprised one bit. For much of the African continent, Christianity was brought there by Christians with an evangelical zeal, and is typical with zealots, there’s no room for diversity and nuances in belief.

          Just look at the Quakers in Kenya – about half of all quakers worldwide. they have little in common with Quakers in The UK, NZ, Australia, Canada, Western Europe and some places in the US. Sure, they share the name and the Quaker peace testimony but they share little else. They believe that the Bible is The Word of God, and interpret it literally. The divinity of Christ, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, a literal heaven and hell, and a Second Coming are accepted as fact. They have clergy, a statement of faith, creeds, call themselves a church and have religious services that differ little from any other evangelical church. They oppose gay rights, trans rights, same sex marriage, sex outside marriage etc. None of that applies to Quakers in NZ, the UK, Australia, etc where belief is a personal matter, and what makes a Quaker is the way one lives their life.

          So I see no reason that other faith traditions would not have suffered similar fates – mostly sourced from missionarys of the evangelical/fundamentalist movement that arose as a backlash to the Enlightenment in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

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          • makagutu says:

            Nuance is not possible. Hopefully over time, this streak will change and a more nuanced belief system will develop.

            Like

          • Nan says:

            Your detailed analysis of what the Quakers believe in NZ, the UK, Australia, etc as compared to what they believe in other places is exactly why the whole idea of “God” and religion simply has no validity. -IF- there truly was a Supreme Being that played a role in human lives, the natural perspective would that all would see and accept this Being the same. But as you and zillions of others have pointed out … this is not the case.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Barry says:

              Kia ora Nan. I haven’t given an analysis, let alone a detailed analysis of what Quakers believe in NZ, the UK etc. I have given a brief outline of what is not important to most of us. It is not possible to say what we believe as that is personal, based on the experiences and knowledge of each individual. While I may conclude there is no supernatural realm, the person sitting next to me at worship may be a panenthist, a Wiccan, a Buddhist, an atheist or a Christian. Each of us has determined in our own way a religious narrative that has meaning to that individual.

              I can acknowledge that some religious groupings insist that their collective beliefs are objectively true, but then the same can be said of followers/practitioners of any human endeavour. But such claims do not invalidate the endeavour, beit religion, politics, environmentalism, sport, etc. They only invalidate their claims made of it.

              As I keep repeating, religion does not rely on the existence of gods or a supernatural world. There is no objectively True religion, just as there is no objectively True form of politics, economics or environmentalism.

              If religion has no validity because there’s a diversity of beliefs and practices, then the same could be said of politics or the green movement. Primarily, politics (and the green movement) is about what type of society one would prefer to live in and secondly how that society might be brought into fruition. I would argue the same is true of religion. I will stick to the understanding of religion as I laid out in my post What is religion?, and it boils down to religion being a total mode of the interpreting and living of life. Arguing that religion has no validity on the basis of there not being a “God” that can be agreed upon, ignores the simple fact that throughout history most religions have not been based on that concept, and in fact the concept of a Supreme Being is almost unique to the Abrahamic traditions.

              A few weeks ago, we celebrated Matariki – the beginning of the traditional Māori new year. In different regions of Aotearoa, the narrative/mythology behind it is very different, as is the commencement date of Matariki itself, but no one would claim that their narrative is objectively true. Everyone acknowledges that whatever the narrative is, it has meaning to those who value it or find truth(s) in the story/myth. While there are a few fundamentalist Christians who have convinced themselves that God must be angry at Kiwis for celebrating a “pagan festival” and are awaiting the realisation of his wrath, most Christians and non-Christians alike value what Matariki represents on a religious, spiritual, and social level. Of course there a few who “worship at the feet of mamon”, who view Matariki as bad/evil because it now includes a paid holiday which will affect their bottom line. But there’s always some who value profit above all else.

              To me religion is twofold: what I experience, and what I practice. And therefore is very valid to me irrespective of your view. What you identify as religion, I perhaps identify as fundamentalism – trying to defend a set of beliefs that were appropriate in a pre-modern age. In other words, defending belief in superstition. As my favourite theologian states “superstition is any belief or practice that has outlived the context in which it was once appropriate”.

              I find my beliefs and practices are very appropriate for the context in which I find myself in Aotearoa New Zealand in the 21st century. YMMV

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              • makagutu says:

                Matariki in Kiswahili means dates.
                Did your forefathers have a distinct category called religion?

                Liked by 1 person

                • Barry says:

                  Did your forefathers have a distinct category called religion?
                  According to my brother’s genetic test results (from, I think ancestry.com) our ancestors came from Finland, Iceland and Norway, a smattering of other northern European locations, and to a lesser extent, Mediterranean France and Spain plus a bit of Irish. So you’d have to go back more than a millenium to find a time when religion wasn’t a distinct category.

                  On the other hand, the Māori ancestors of my grandchildren didn’t have a word for religion until after the arrival of Europeans in the early 19th century. But even today, what some western scholars describe as animism (a belief that objects, places, and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence) is not perceived as a religion by most Māori, but an integral part of their culture & spirituality. It can’t be separated from it. Interestingly, I see many aspects of this spirituality slowly being absorbed by the non-Māori population. For example giving legal “personhood” to environmental entities such as rivers, forests and mountains – They have the right to exist without being exploited or abused, much like any other person. And from this onwards year Matariki is celebrated with a public holiday – something that would have been ridiculed in the days of my youth.

                  Other aspects of Māori culture/spirituality (which are perceived as pagan religious rituals by a very small segment of society) such as pōwhiri, karakia and haka are now seen as an integral part of a distinctive Kiwi culture and not generally perceived as being of a religious origin, although from a Western scholarly perspective they undoubtedly are.

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    • one cannot hate something that does not exist. we might reject the idea, but hating some abstract idea does not make any sense

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