In the atheist worldview we are products of time, chance, and blind forces - there is no objective meaning and value to our human existence. Yet our deepest longing is for our lives to count for something. We intuitively know that humans have rights and dignity.Does life really have no point other than what you pretend for your own sake? Will you say, like atheist philosopher Albert Camus, that the only serious question is "suicide?" What values and purpose will you instill in your children? Will you be honest with them, or will you borrow ideas from some non-atheistic belief system so as not to disappoint?No there is no such thing as an "atheist worldview" and there are many naturalist worldviews. For all naturalists, we are wholly part and parcel of the natural world but this does not necessarily imply there is no objective meaning or value, far from it knowing that we are fully part of the natural world provides a more plausible and realistic basis for meaning and purpose than supernatural alternatives.
The longing for our lives to count for something is more easily met with such naturalistic worldviews than the type of theistic worldview that Pruett espouses. Indeed such theistic worldviews deny there is any objective meaning in anyone's lives, instead making it be dictated beyond our control or wishes by some non-existent entity whose existence can only be subjective known, making us serfs, slaves or mere cogs in the machine to serve some purpose of some imaginary being. And this is meant to provide meaning in our lives!!! Such a view makes any of our interests, projects, goals, count for nought, there is no point seeking a cure for cancer, helping a person cross the road, giving the impoverished tools to climb out of poverty, providing music or art for the enjoyment of many, communicating ideas to educate and edify, all of it means nothing, according to Pruett's theism unless one is primarily operating according to the direction of some god which has often actively sought to suppress and deny such benefits to all. What a truly impoverished and demeaning view of anyone's life. Thank goodness there is no evidence that it is true.
As usual the burden is on Pruett to provide a satisfactory answer to is own question. I don't think he can do it.
7 The Mind
In the world of atheism, where there is no soul or transcendent "self," humans are simply biological machines, and our minds are just computers made out of meat. With this in view there is really no room for something like freewill, since we are all just operating according to our "programming" and our environmental influences. And there are great difficulties in conceding that chemistry can produce something as abstract as "consciousness," or at least anything qualitatively different from what we ourselves might ultimately produce using computer technology. Are you prepared to accept the idea that no one is really morally responsible for their bad behavior and, conversely, that virtuous behavior is not commendable? In what way will you seek to convince me that I am really not a conscious and self-aware being; that it is just a complex biochemical illusion? Can you accept that computer programs may one day be just as much "persons" as you, yourself?There are so many mistaken presumptions in the preamble and then the questions do not really follow. Anyway:
Most importantly Pruett is labouring under a misc-conception that free will is required for moral responsibility. As far I know it is the opposite, that with such a conception of free will that Pruett espouses there can be no moral responsibility. So yet again it is up to Pruett to show how it is even possible to have moral responsibility with contra-causal supernatural free will.
Why should I seek to convince you that you are not a conscious or self-aware being, as far as I know you, I and everyone is and such capacities are due to being part of the natural world. The real question is why is Pruett is not using this capacity but then my whole set of answers here is addressing that. Others like Barefoot Bum can quite correctly ask why I bother.
As for computer "programs" I doubt it, as for some form of bio-electronic devices it is more likely. Then again I failt to see what being conscious has do with being a moral agent, we already have intelligent agents systems and questions of moral interactions can be applied there just as they can amongst us and such intelligent agents are no conscious. More pertinently it is beholden on you Pruett to endeavour to understand these issues before you could make explicit or implicit pronouncements on this matter. Why should anyone care what you think given the amount of ignorance displayed in your questions?
8 Supernatural Experiences
Every known time and culture is rich with stories of near death experiences, ghosts, angels, demons, prophetic dreams and visions, and miraculous healings. While some of these are certainly spurious or not well documented, others have reasonable experimental support. In addition to this, humans seem to be incurably religious; the idea of God and the spiritual is deeply entrenched in the human psyche, if not in its actual experience. What are we to make of all this? If man is simply an adapted biological organism, then how is it that we did not manage to adapt to our natural environment in this area - why are we not "naturalists" rather than theists? Can't any of this be a hint toward reality, or must we think that the bulk of humanity flirts with insanity?Really there is not very much here. I have no doubt that many have had supernatural experiences and there is a reasonable amount of research on such phenomena. However the issues is over what those experiences entail and the answer is pretty much zilch, that is there is no supernatural world we have been able to detect and test. Not even those who have such experiences can agree on these entailments and we have no independent means to discriminate over these differences.
The idea of God (that is a single omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent etc.) is not deeply entrenched in the human psych as anyone who has the slightest knowledge of history and anthropology could tell you Pruett. As could many present day Buddhists, Zen students, Adviata Vedanta practitioners and many others. How about you do some research on your questions before asking them. Is that too much to ask? Or do you have an incredibly high embarrassment threshold?
9 Case for Christ
The case for the Jesus of Scripture is extremely compelling. There is good evidence that the New Testament was written in the generation of the Apostles. We have thousands of copies of these documents in their source language, some of which go back inside of 100 years after Jesus' death. There is no evidence of significant corruption in the known manuscripts. There is no motivation and evidence for fraud among the apostles and church fathers - most died martyr's deaths. The trend of archaeology is toward validation, not denial, of what it is possible to confirm in Scripture. Even non-biblical manuscripts support various key details of Christian theology. The burden of proof is generally on the one seeking to deny historical records.What alternative explanation do you offer to the New Testament documentation and the tradition of the church, and what support do you have for your theory?Is it because of the miracles that you doubt the Scriptures? If Jesus really were God in the flesh, how would you expect Him to confirm that fact?This is surely the stupidest question yet as it does not follow in any way from the previous 8 questions. If this is a theist addressing an atheist the question would surely be about the challenge of religion per se, rather than Pruett's particular version of religion. Pruett has commit ed the typical category error common in such debates. The question should be, on Pruett's (false) assumption that the atheist has not been able to satisfactorily answer the previous 8 questions (which as anyone could tell Pruett is actually rather easy not hard hard at all) as to what possible basis can an atheist choose one religion over another? The question should be set in terms of selecting a religion that could provide better answers to those previous 8 questions that the atheist is (supposedly) unsatisfied with. Pruett cannot ask that because his Christianity with its most highly questionable evidence - and a red herring here - is an incredibly complex and messy way to answer those questions and many other religions can provide far more satisfactory answers - such as atheistic Buddhism to name one.
There is a repeat pattern here, Pruett is continually asking loaded questions where a straight answer generally affirm the bias he has built in. As usual the riposte is really to see if Pruett can answer these himself in a satisfactory manner, rather than to assume that he already has. This question 9 is interesting in this respect as it hides the huge credibility gap from the previous 8 as I hope my previous paragraph made clear. So Pruett why did you chose this religion over the others, could you please show which is the most parsimonious way to have a satisfactory answer to the previous 8, granted the need for a religious answer?. Since the only way to get to the type of answer implicit in question 9 is to ignore parsimony, on what basis can you reject parsimony and other such criterion - without question begging?
10 Rational Faith
Christians are often accused of being simple-minded, superstitious, or irrational.Really Pruett you should be wary of generalising from personal experience don't you think? There are plenty of intelligent Christians out there.
Is it so unreasonable for us to believe that the universe had a beginning because it actually was created; the laws of physics are so fine-tuned because it had a designer; people are preoccupied with good and evil because they are real things; we long for purpose and meaning because they exist to be had; life from non-life really is miraculous; consciousness and freewill seem real because they are; people are incurably religious because there is actually something real in religion; and the historical case for Jesus is so tenacious because it is actually true? If there really is no meaning or purpose to life, no objective good or evil, and the existence of "truth" itself is open to debate, by what standard will you condemn the beliefs of Christians?Since I have more than satisfactorily answered Pruett's questions, indeed far better than his own answers, and in a quite contrary way to Pruett's presumptions about what my answers would be, I have more than I need to condemn Pruett's biased, ignorant and poor reasoning and would similarly condemn anyone who endorses such thinking, Christian or not, but only to the degree such reasoning is used to cause harm to others.
Hat tip to Db0 and I will now go and read his answers.