9 Questions That Atheists Might Find Insulting (And the Answers)

A post from Greta Christina on AlterNet …

9 Questions That Atheists Might Find Insulting (And the Answers)

Thanks for sharing. Very good, especially the retorts.

Speaking for myself, I don’t really find any of those questions offensive. They reveal much more about the asker’s ignorance than they do about my sensibilities. In fact, I’m somewhat amused by several of them.


Q. Have you even read the Bible?
A. No. It’s too long. I’m waiting for the movie to come out on DVD.

I don’t really find any of those questions offensive

I don’t find them offensive either. I do find having to repeat them tiresome at times, especially when the person you’re having a discusssion with just refuses to listen or think |-O

Q. Have you even read the Bible? A. No. It's too long. I'm waiting for the movie to come out on DVD.



Good write up. I actually welcome inquiry - sincere or hostile - into my atheism … it happens seldom enough.


You may be interested to know that much of it has already — but only the nice bits, not the ones that reveal the OT god’s sociopathic narcissism. You will find the DVDs at your local CUM Books or the (disturbingly large) god section of any Reliable Music Warehouse. Trouble is, you’ll fill a shopping trolley if you mean to have a complete set of DVDs. And that’s not even counting the standalones and once-offs like that syrupy nadir of ennui, The Greatest Story Ever Told.


The first CUM bookshop I saw was in Greenstone Mall in John’s Beg. I thought it was a porno store and wondered why so many old ladies were going in and out. I went closer and found it was actually far more offensive than porn. I’ll give the DVDs a miss. I saw that rubbish of Mel Gibson’s (can’t remember what it was called) and that put me off for life.

Wasn’t she married to the Sheikh of Araby?


Yes, but they got divorced when she discovered that he won’t eat a Canadian breakfast and that his casual around-the-tent djellaba contained both wool and cotton.

And proper decorum requires that one refer to her by her full name, i.e. “Syrupy Nadir of Ennui”.


I’ve heard some of those before.

The first one about morals, Is actually a good one, because it gives the chance to ask

“Is an action morally good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is morally good?”

Should keep them busy for a while.

This question is known as Plato’s Euthyphro dilemma. The reasoning involved is most interesting.

A. Yes. 3 times in two languages. Have you?

…most fucking haven’t!

“Do you believe in Allah? I mean have you even read the Quran?”

Meanwhile… I don’t get offended by questions like this. People are ignorant, that’s the problem. However, I can (and have) act insulted just to point out their prejudice.

Yes, I’ve seen some christian apologetic trying to make the case that it is a false dilemma, because the nature of God is good, and that would have been fine,
but the the old testament God did commanded some things I think at least is morally questionable.

See, this is exactly the type of ham-fisted non-reasoning that makes theodicy and apologetics so ridiculous (and incidentally far more offensive to a working brain than those nine questions). On the assumption that this purported god is the source of everything, including morality, the only way that it can be a false dilemma is if our perceptions of good and evil are mistaken in such a way that what we call “evil” isn’t really evil. (It was made by this wonderful god; how can it be evil!?) And yet by our standards evil clearly exists in the world. If our perceptions are thus mistaken, we must then remain silent about whether this god is good or evil because our moral sense cannot be reliable. Conversely, if our moral sense is accurate (and we have no reason to suppose that it isn’t) then Plato’s Euthyphro dilemma remains intact (and as yet unanswered) for any creator-of-everything god with the attributes supposed of him. Indeed, if this god is, moreover, a “monopole” of good as the apologist asserts, the question of how evil originally arose, together with our sense of it, becomes intensely more pressing.


This is probably the argument I’ve found the most futile to have. Because:

a) It’s the OLD testament dummy, I follow the new testament.
b) He is God, he is good, so if he does it then it’s good. Humans however are unable to discern and therefore we should listen to HIM!
c) Slavery? No jesus didn’t say anything but it’s implied, duh, “love thy neighbor?!”
d) Ten commandments? Those are in the old testament?

I’ve even seen (d) go circular.

A is wrong because the ten commandments says it is.
No, B’s in the old testament so that’s invalid.
Ten commandments in the old testament? Well Jesus did say he’s here to affirm the law. So A is still wrong.
No B is still invalid… old testament… Jesus…

smacks forehead into table

Does the assumption that this purported god is the source of morality not in fact represent the voluntarism horn of the Euthyphro dilemma? It appears to me that the dilemma can only be inexhaustive if two further possibilities are considered: that morality does not exist or alternatively that divine commands do not exist. The absence of either good or evil would presumably imply the absence of morality.

I think we might be aiming in much the same direction, or perhaps I’m misunderstanding you. The Euthyphro dilemma is strictly ancillary to the central ontological questions concerning morality and our sense of/for it: If this god made morality, did he arbitrarily construct an internal categorisation scheme or use a pre-existing external one, possibly absolute? The reason the dilemma cannot, in my view, be a false one is our conviction, based on experience and observation, that evil properly exists, which is a very curious thing to happen to a purported creator-of-all god with the assumed character of supreme benevolence. We should feel good in the presence of good and indifference at all the rest, not having the slightest sense of horror at horrific stuff (which should never occur in the supposed circumstances — indeed, could never unless this god put it there to begin with). In this case a curtailed kind of morality would still exist, although it would be one that we will find hard to imagine from our present frame of reference. On the other hand, if you remove the assumption of “divine command” then you’re completely free and clear of the dilemma anyway because our morality must have a different origin, and anything god might have to say about it doesn’t affect that origin.


I do not disagree with your view, but am more comfortable with testing for a false dichotomy, hence the question if the Euthyphro dilemma is exhaustive in covering all possible scenarios. It would appear to me that the non-existence of morality or alternatively the non-existence of divine command could hypothetically be the only other scenarios. I very much doubt if religious critics of the dilemma would find either of these alternative scenarios palatable.

I was considering the apologist’s argument which contended “that it is a false dilemma, because the nature of God is good”. The essence of that argument is that it is a false dilemma not because it does not exhaust the possibilities but because in reality there supposedly aren’t any options to choose from. That is, the apologist’s position is that it’s a false dilemma because the two possibilities on offer are an artificial distinction, a position that is absurd in view of certain unavoidable hidden assumptions and implications, as I have tried to show.

There is of course another way the dilemma can be false (which is where you’re coming from if I follow you correctly), namely that there are more options than the two considered. Here’s one such scenario that would render it false: God creates us with total freedom to decide and/or evolve our own morality without threat of any interference or guidance and a strict undertaking to respect the result*. Anything he reportedly said on the matter must then be a fiction because whatever he did say would constitute interference of one kind or another since his very position as creator voids such neutrality. But this hands-off approach obviously does not accord with the remainder of the believer’s canon and is thereby excluded from consideration.


*ETA: Can he selectively switch off his omniscience at will? Omnipotence guarantees that he must be able to do so, already knowing the outcome!