The following contribution by Peter Bellingham, a committed Christian, was made at our Hot Potatoes open mike night on 18 January. Several listeners asked for it to be made available, and Peter said he was happy for it to be posted here. He poses some fundamental and difficult questions about the nature of man, consciousness, causation, determinism, free will and the meaning of life. Humanists may attempt to answer these questions differently from a Christian, such as Peter, but they are questions we all find a challenge.
Do I have to be human to be a humanist?
What is a human?
Is a human a certain arrangement of atoms?
Is your chair a certain arrangement of atoms?
Is a leaf a certain arrangement of atoms?
Is your dog a certain arrangement of atoms?
Are you more valuable than your dog?
Are you more valuable than a leaf?
Are you more valuable than your chair?
Is your conscious experience just the product of atoms?
Are your thoughts and choices just the product of atoms?
What turns a human into a humanist?
Is it a choice, or can cosmic radiation cause the change?
How do we know which atoms are in control?
How do you know which atoms are right?
Are you disappointed by anything in life?
Are you upset by any injustice in life?
Why be disappointed? Why be upset?
Some end up happy, some sad; why expect anything different?
Isn’t everything just the purposeless product of atoms in motion?
Is a human more than atoms in motion?
Is a humanist more than atoms in motion?
Is that why you’re here tonight, thinking?