This is part 2 of a short series that was broken up for easier readability. Part 1 is here. Click the "Read More" link to see the whole post.
12. Explain how personality could have ever evolved from the impersonal, or how order could have ever resulted from chaos.
Personality comes from our brains and hormones, both of which are strongly linked to DNA. As soon as complex lifeforms emerged, personality came forth. Anyone who's worked with animals would tell you that they have "personalities" as well.
For the second half of that question, you're assuming that there is "order" right now. If anything, order ended the moment life emerged. Planets, stars, etc. behave in predictable, completely orderly manners. Living things are unpredictable. A dog may play with the squeaky toy or may be afraid of it. A monkey may run from another creature, approach cautiously, fling poo at it, or any number of other possibilities. Inorganic things don't really do anything, & if they do, it's due to a completely predictable force like gravity. In other words, chaos came from life, not order.
A good counter-question is if either chaos or order is inherently good. I'd say neither is. After all, the most ordered of societies are dictatorships, and the most chaotic are anarchistic. Neither of those is a desirable outcome.
13.If Jesus' resurrection was faked, why would twelve intelligent men (Jesus' disciples) have died for what they knew to be a lie?
Did they now? Firstly, we have conflicting lists of the 12 disciples, secondly, not all were martyrs. Judas either hung himself or exploded, and Levi, Thaddeus, John brother of James and Simon the Zealot all died in their sleep. (Note that my source is actually a christian website) So that's five out of twelve, or almost half who can't have died for a lie. That said, the earliest textual support for the resurrection was added to the end of Mark (oldest of the gospels) long after the book was written, and the teachings of Jesus alone were heretical enough for execution under Mosaic law. So presumably, they didn't even believe in the resurrection and got executed for heresy.
14. How do you explain the fact that a single, relatively uneducated and virtually untraveled man, dead at age 33, radically changed lives and society to this day?
He didn't. If it wasn't for a rather powerful man named Constantine (the last of the "great" emperors of Rome) christianity would have likely ended up like all other messianic cults of that era. Even so, most of the world isn't christian and most of the christian part disagrees wildly on what Jesus actually said, so to say that he radically changed lives and society is inaccurate.
15. Why have so many of history's greatest thinkers been believers? Have you ever wondered why thousands of intelligent scientists, living and dead, have been men and women of great faith?
Up until recently, there was no good explanation for the origin of the universe aside from some sort of god. That didn't stop great thinkers like David Hume, Epicurus and Siddharta (Buddha) from being atheist or agnostic. That said, after the theory of evolution and the big bang theory, most of the great thinkers have been nonbelievers. Marie Curie (first female Nobel Prize winner), Mark Twain, Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein (who was rather angry that people took his quotes out of context to make him look religious), Stephen Jay Gould, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins, Ayn Rand (whose philosophy I fond deplorable, but she was influential), Karl Marx, Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse-Tyson and many more.
What great and influential scientists or philosophers of the last hundred to hundred-fifty years have been theists? Dr. Francis Collins (who accepts evolution) is one, Dr. Kenneth Miller might qualify as great...and that's all I can think of.
None of that means atheism is true, however, any more than the opposite would mean theism is true.
16. Isn't it somewhat arrogant to suggest that countless churches and people (including men like Abraham Lincoln) are all radically in error in their view of the Bible?
It's odd that you cite Abraham Lincoln as a christian, given that he never formally joined any church and attended at least one seance in the White House. That said...there are 7 billion people in the world. 1 billion have no religion, 2 billion are christian in some way or other. 5 billion people agree with atheists that the bible is NOT the word of god. So, if I'm arrogant for calling 2 billion people wrong, you are more than twice as arrogant to call 5 billion wrong.
But we can cut that further. Of those 2 billion christians, 1 billion are Roman Catholic. 300 or so million are Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox, the rest are Protestant. The Orthodox bible has more books than the Catholic bible, which has more than the Protestant bible. Are you so arrogant to call so many people who claim to be christian "wrong"? After all, at least 2 of these main branches of christianity have to be wrong.
The fact is, if you have good reason to believe something and can back it up, you aren't being arrogant when you call people who disagree "wrong".
17. How do you account for the origin of life considering the irreducible complexity of its essential components?
Dr. Kenneth Miller (a Catholic) already disproved irreducible complexity. Urey and Miller (another one, not Kenneth) proved abiogenesis, something the University of Manchester later confirmed. So that's how.
18. How can the Second Law of Thermodynamics be reconciled with progressive, naturalistic evolutionary theory?
The Second Law of Thermodynamics doesn't contradict evolution. It only applies to closed systems, which arguably don't exist. Our planet is not a closed system, we get energy from outside sources, like our sun.
A good counter question for you is how you can reconcile christianity with the First Law of Thermodynamics which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, merely altered. That seems to fly in the face of creation in general.
19. Why does the Bible alone, of all of the world's 'holy' books, contain such detailed prophecies of future events?
It most certainly isn't the only holy book with detailed prophecies. One need only look at the Qur'an to dispel that notion.
20. On what basis can the Bible (interpreted as per historic Christian orthodoxy) be challenged as a sole, final truth-standard (Galatians 1:8)?
See, that's a loaded question. If we interpret the bible according to christian orthodoxy, meaning that it's the true inspired word of god, then OF COURSE we can't dispute it! That's why we don't do that. I mean, if you were asked the same question about the Qur'an you'd balk too.
21. Is it absolutely true that "truth is not absolute" or only relatively true that "all things are relative?"
Clever. No. Truth is absolute, our understanding of it is incomplete. If we're speaking about morality, then there's a necessary grey area, however, it's still generally universal and absolute. Some atheists disagree with me, fine. Morality is what keeps society, and humanity as a whole, healthy, functioning and alive
22. Is it possible that your unbelief in God is actually an unwillingness to submit to Him?
23. Does your present worldview provide you with an adequate sense of meaning and purpose?
I give myself purpose. I have a worldview, I don't need it to find a purpose.
24. How do you explain the radically changed lives of so many Christian believers down through history?
Radically changed lives? For better or worse? Either way, every religion and several philosophies can change the lives of new followers, sometimes radically. I've known Muslim converts who used the power of Islam to get off drugs, new Objectivists who turned into unbearably selfish people nearly overnight (completely in line with that philosophy), and newly deconverted atheists who essentially gained a new lease on life. None of this proves anything aside from "making a change in your life can change your life" which is a borderline tautology.
25. Are you aware that every alleged Bible contradiction has been answered in an intelligible and credible manner?
That's just not true. The aforementioned different lists of disciples is handled by arbitrarily saying that some went by other names at different times. Another great one is the death of Judas. Did he hang himself, as Matthew 27:3-10 say, or is Acts 1:18-19 true when it says Judas ran and fell headlong, then exploded? The standard explanation is that he hung himself then fell headlong when the rope snapped, and his guts fell out then. However, that's impossible. A hanging victim whose rope broke would fall straight down, the knees would bend, and they'd almost certainly fall to one side. It's very remotely possible he'd fall headlong, but the other factor is this: why were there guts left? Rope doesn't erode quickly, and by the time he'd be bloated enough to burst upon falling, scavenger birds would have probably pecked him fairly clean.
And that's two just off the top of my head.
26. What do you say about the hundreds of scholarly books that carefully document the veracity and reliability of the Bible?
There are close to as many trying to prove the Qur'an, and I'd say the same to them as I'd say to your bible scholar books: they're wrong.
27. Why and how has the Bible survived and even flourished in spite of centuries of worldwide attempts to destroy and ban its message?
There hasn't been all that much effort to truly destroy the bible. Yes, there was a point prior to Constantine that the Romans tried to end christianity, but that was short-lived, and followed by having Christianity become the state religion of the most powerful empire of its time. Yes, there was some effort in the USSR to end your religion, at least before Stalin re-opened the churches, and there was a time when communist China did the same, before sponsoring their own christian church. Neither of those were “worldwide” however, and both were fairly short lived. While there still are some countries where openly practicing christianity is illegal, and where converting from Islam to christianity is a capital offence, it's not illegal to simply be a christian or own a bible anywhere now, and hasn't been for some time. However, even if there was worldwide persecution of christians on the scale you claim, it'd be the resilience of the believers and their craftiness in hiding their books that would preserve it.
I'll pose another counter question: the Talmud, a rabbinical book that is almost as important to Jews as the Tanakh (the old testament plus a few other books) actually HAS had the type of prolonged persecution and censorship you claim the bible has, yet it endured. Why? I'd bet your answer is similar to mine: resiliency and craftiness, but I am still interested as to why this isn't proof of Judaism.
28. Why isn't it absurd to try to speak or even conceive of a non-existent 'God' when an existing God would, by definition, be greater?
That is the single most incomprehensible question I've ever read. I'm not trying to be rude or sarcastic, I literally cannot figure out what is being asked here. As such, I'll ask for clarification and move on.
Continue on to part 3!