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Opinions of Monday, 26 May 2014

Columnist: Louis J. Arnold Walsh

Q and A, with a Ghanaian Atheist

Q and A, with a Ghanaian Atheist

I’m an Atheist and a member of the Humanist Association of Ghana. Some of my friends have a problem accepting that fact although we get along nicely. I’m being thrown questions every now and then and most a times it’s the same questions re-worded. So, I present a few of those and my responses.

Christian: Louis, as an Atheist, you don’t believe in God, why is that?

Louis: Well, my Atheism is that there’s no God, no Gods for me to even consider believing in one. Nothing exists until it is demonstrated to exist and so far no religion has provided evidence for the existence of a supernatural-all-powerful God/Gods.

Christian: As an Atheist, who decides what is moral? Who set those standards?

Louis: I don’t like that word moral, I prefer the words right and wrong. Honestly, is it that difficult to decide what is right and wrong for yourself? I don’t need some holy book to tell me what is good or bad. I feel, I think, I learn (from my family, friends and experiences) – these form the basis for my decisions on right and wrong. I set my own standards. There’s no need for any God. Take a look at any indigenous tribe that lives in the forest. They treat each other with well, care for their young, go hunting together, and treat each other’s diseases yet they have no concept of Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, demons, angels, or heaven. They have no 10 commandments. They are living proof of an ethical system without gods. Just because one can't tell you exactly where their actual love or desire to help people comes from certainly doesn't automatically mean the Christian God is the source. One needs far more evidence than that especially when millions of people on earth live impressive lifestyles without the assumption that any God is real. I consider a behavior "wrong" when it harms someone, rather than because "God says so."

Christian: What about the billions of Christians, who get their morals from the Bible, what do you think of them?

Louis: Actually, what Christians don’t realize is that they have better morals than God. The problem is they haven’t realized it yet. I do admit the Bible has some good teachings, but that is not extraordinary in any way giving that better teachings existed (and were documented) centuries before the Bible was written. Like Prof. Richard Dawkins said, “Christians have a preconceived idea of morality and then they look in the Bible for a scripture to support that view.” The fact that Christians fixate on the few good things in the Bible and ignore all the bigotry and hate clearly shows that Christians do have better morals than their God. If the Bible is the supposed source of absolute morality, why are Christian parents not stoning their children for disobedience? Overall, I say there’s nothing moral about the Bible since the Bible defines morality in terms of a person’s religious beliefs rather than in terms of attitude toward others. For example, a non-Christian man could kill hundreds of innocent people and keep women as sex slaves during his lifetime but if this man accepts Jesus into his heart, he will be taken to Heaven and rewarded eternally. By contrast, a woman who devoted her entire life to charitable work but who refuses to accept Jesus will be barbecued for eternity in God’s celestial oven. That’s according to Christian doctrine. In my opinion, that is very wrong.

Christian: Do you believe in life after death?

Louis: No, I don’t.

Christian: Why not? What happens when people die? What happens to the soul?

Louis: Again, there’s no evidence for any life after death experience or for a soul. When people die, the loose consciousness and they decompose in their graves or wherever they are buried. Science has explained how humans experience consciousness and it is because they possess sense organs and brains to process nerve impulses. When a person dies, the cells that make up its sense organs and brain die also. If the brain and the sense organs die and cease to function entirely, then there’s no consciousness. Besides, am sure you have no memories of where you were before you became a foetus in the womb, so what makes you think you’ll have memories of where you’ll go after death. There’s no evidence whatsoever for any soul living forever in heaven or hell. The best comment anyone can say about life after death is, “I don’t know.” To foolishly believe without any evident images that were crammed into your head before you could think is idiotic, and that takes fear not knowledge.

I’m going to end by saying I encourage you to go out, whoever you are, and whatever religion you belong to: read about your own religion, and read about someone else’s religion too. Maybe you will realize that you have wasted years listening to someone scam for your money, or maybe you become convinced that you have found the true answer. But at the very least, you will know a little more about the world. As the motto goes, knowledge is power. To acquire knowledge, I recommend the scientific method. One big difference between science and religion is that with science, we are allowed to find new evidence that disproves previous ideas. Science provides the best model that explains the current evidence and the model changes as our understanding improves. Religion denies truth, in spite of the evidence.

Louis J. Arnold Walsh

(Member, Humanist Association of Ghana)

Email; arnold.jeffrey@ymail.com