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my big atheist questions
11-04-2008, 10:25 PM
Post: #1
Toungue my big atheist questions
hi I've got a few questions to ask that have been bugging me for a while now. Someone may have already asked these questions so I appologize in advance if you see repetition. Hopefully I can address them properly...

Let's pretend for a while that I'm an atheist. This would mean:
I don't believe in God, which means I don't believe the universe was created, which means I don't believe the universe has a cause, and therefore, I don't have a cause. (no purpose)

Knowing that I don't have a purpose and my existance is no more than a mere accident, why should I be happy? Why should I associate myself in any way with any morals or ethics?

If I'm destined to be nothing more than "dirt in the ground", as many atheists would like to say, and that there is 'absolutely no chance that there is anything after death', is there any particular reason I should try to do anything while I'm alive? Why should I strive to 'live a good life' when there is no reward for all I've done? Why should I avoid breaking any laws when there is no punishment for my bad deeds? This may sound a bit extreme, but, since there's no consequence, wouldn't it be 'acceptable' for me to do what Hitler did, because I'll just be dirt in a coffin and nothing more?

I understand that atheists are free to enjoy their 'independent morals and ethics', as I would call them, which may be self-made or even being derrived from a religion. Sounds fun and all, but what I want to know is this: would I be obligated to tolerate another person's morals and ethics, since every person would have their own independent ones?

Let's keep pretending I'm an atheist for this example. Let's say that I believe killing is wrong, but some serial killer out there believes it is good. Why should I care how he feels if our morals are absolutely independent of each other? He's simply following his moral while I follow mine. What confuses me is the lack of of an absolute truth...if I were an atheist, couldn't I just change my morals around so they fit in with my mood? 'Do not covet thy neighbor's wife' sounds good today, but tomorrow I can change my mind and covet away like there's no tomorrow...

Lastly I'll point out that those are just a few of the reasons I can't bring myself to become an atheist. It just seems so depressing trying to accept myself as a 'cosmic mistake with no cause or purpose and being destined to become a heap of dust after about 75 years.'

If you actually read all of this, thank you for your patience. Discussions are welcome and encouraged.
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11-05-2008, 10:48 AM
Post: #2
RE: my big atheist questions
If you were an athiest, coveting (or any other faith based rule, law or principle)would be a moot point. You could do what you wanted since you would have no particular set of rules to follow, aside from federal, state and local laws.

To me, that would be such a bleak life.

Justice -- When you get what you deserve.
Mercy -- When you don't get what you deserve.
Grace -- When you get what you don't deserve.
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11-05-2008, 11:08 AM
Post: #3
RE: my big atheist questions
I used to be an atheist (now I know there is a God). Even though I assumed everything was ultimately pointless, I still found lots of interesting people to meet and projects to do. I didn't find life bleak at all. Most atheists and agnostics agree on at least the basics of ethics. They get together with one another like religious people do.

And, there isn't one set of ethics for religious people. There is a Christian set, a Muslim set, etc. Even within Christianity, people can't agree on exactly what the rules are and have fought wars over the varying interpretations.

It is possible to be happy and moral on either side of the fence.
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11-05-2008, 11:32 AM
Post: #4
RE: my big atheist questions
I didn't mean to imply that there were only one set of ethics for religious people -- that's why I used different words (rule, law, principle). Every group has it's own.

Reading your post, Messenger, makes me realize that my statement, of my personal opinion, was very limited to my faith. However, my fatih is such an integral part of my life, I can't make a distinction of life without it. Now, that's not to say that I'm someone who has to pray before every single thing I do, but my faith is such a massive part of my life that I cannot imagine how I would get through deaths of friends and family, tragedies, sit through surgeries, sickness and various other things without something to hold on to. Otherwise, I'd think that there was no point in living. That's what I meant by bleak.

I really try very hard to never push my faith on others, judge them for theirs or think I'm better than anyone else because of what I believe. I've never considered living without my faith, so for a brief moment, when I tried, it was just ... bleak. Perhaps that's the wrong word, especially since I've never considered the possibility.

Wow ... food for thought! Smile

Justice -- When you get what you deserve.
Mercy -- When you don't get what you deserve.
Grace -- When you get what you don't deserve.
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11-05-2008, 11:40 AM
Post: #5
RE: my big atheist questions
Excellent post Alison. Very thoughtful and from the heart. Thank you.
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11-05-2008, 01:18 PM
Post: #6
RE: my big atheist questions
I will try to answer your questions as honestly as possible. Please understand though that there is no atheist book of beliefs, so don't take my answers as true for all atheists. Hell, probably not even *most* atheists. Wink

JonathanT Wrote:hi I've got a few questions to ask that have been bugging me for a while now. Someone may have already asked these questions so I appologize in advance if you see repetition. Hopefully I can address them properly...

Let's pretend for a while that I'm an atheist. This would mean:
I don't believe in God,
True.
JonathanT Wrote:which means I don't believe the universe was created,
Eh...not necessarily. Personally I feel the big bang theory is the best explanation we currently have to explain the beginning of our universe, and whatever happened prior to the big bang is irrelevant. This does not exclude the possibility of *creation* or *a creator*.
JonathanT Wrote:which means I don't believe the universe has a cause, and therefore, I don't have a cause. (no purpose)
I don't really believe a creator is necessary to have a cause, and even if the universe as a whole has no cause that doesn't mean individuals also have no cause.

JonathanT Wrote:Knowing that I don't have a purpose and my existance is no more than a mere accident, why should I be happy?
Happiness is it's own reward. Atheists get no less emotional and physical pleasure from being happy as do those of faith.
JonathanT Wrote:Why should I associate myself in any way with any morals or ethics?
Because morals and ethics are constructs that, when followed, make one *happy*. When someone goes against their personal code of ethics, they tend to feel bad...this is true of atheists too.

JonathanT Wrote:If I'm destined to be nothing more than "dirt in the ground", as many atheists would like to say, and that there is 'absolutely no chance that there is anything after death', is there any particular reason I should try to do anything while I'm alive? Why should I strive to 'live a good life' when there is no reward for all I've done?
The motivation comes from the feeling of personal gratification one feels when they accomplish something. Just like happiness, this feeling is it's own reward, apart from the actual tangible benefits the accomplishment may itself provide. And living a good life provides a very real sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and general well-being that does not require a posthumous reward to enjoy.

JonathanT Wrote:Why should I avoid breaking any laws when there is no punishment for my bad deeds?
Breaking societal laws actually does have the possibility of punishment. Breaking religious laws...personally, no motivation to follow them. However, going against my established ethics makes me feel miserable, which is good negative reinforcement to avoid doing so.

JonathanT Wrote:This may sound a bit extreme, but, since there's no consequence, wouldn't it be 'acceptable' for me to do what Hitler did, because I'll just be dirt in a coffin and nothing more?
I'll get back to this one when I address the killing thing...

JonathanT Wrote:I understand that atheists are free to enjoy their 'independent morals and ethics', as I would call them, which may be self-made or even being derrived from a religion. Sounds fun and all, but what I want to know is this: would I be obligated to tolerate another person's morals and ethics, since every person would have their own independent ones?
In large part, yes. More below...

JonathanT Wrote:Let's keep pretending I'm an atheist for this example. Let's say that I believe killing is wrong, but some serial killer out there believes it is good. Why should I care how he feels if our morals are absolutely independent of each other? He's simply following his moral while I follow mine.
My view is that everyone should be free to pursue whatever makes them happy that does not directly harm another. Humans are social creatures...we have survived the odds by working together to overcome serious problems (shelter, food, etc.). When one does direct harm to another (like killing) it harms society as a whole. Not only does it reduce the number of people available to contribute to society, but the fear and suspicion it creates causes much greater damage by making it more difficult for people to work together. On an individual level, being killed obviously makes it difficult to pursue your own happiness. Smile

JonathanT Wrote:What confuses me is the lack of of an absolute truth...if I were an atheist, couldn't I just change my morals around so they fit in with my mood? 'Do not covet thy neighbor's wife' sounds good today, but tomorrow I can change my mind and covet away like there's no tomorrow...
As I said before, going against ones morals generally makes one feel bad. Which is enough reason for me not to do so.

JonathanT Wrote:Lastly I'll point out that those are just a few of the reasons I can't bring myself to become an atheist. It just seems so depressing trying to accept myself as a 'cosmic mistake with no cause or purpose and being destined to become a heap of dust after about 75 years.'
If that's how I viewed myself I would be depressed too! I prefer to think of myself as a completely unique example of the most advanced species on the planet after millions of years of improvement by way of evolution. With no afterlife to look forward to, it makes every day of this life more vibrant and special. As I have no idea when I will die, it creates in me an incredible drive to experience as much as possible in the one and only life I have.

JonathanT Wrote:If you actually read all of this, thank you for your patience. Discussions are welcome and encouraged.

Ditto. Big Grin

If ignorance is bliss why aren't there more happy people?
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11-05-2008, 10:45 PM
Post: #7
RE: my big atheist questions
Quote:Personally I feel the big bang theory is the best explanation we currently have to explain the beginning of our universe, and whatever happened prior to the big bang is irrelevant. This does not exclude the possibility of *creation* or *a creator*.

This intrigues me. I've learned through the sciences that the Big Bang is indeed a 'great pointer' to creationism, but I'm suprised to finally meet one who remains in disbelief...

Quote:I don't really believe a creator is necessary to have a cause, and even if the universe as a whole has no cause that doesn't mean individuals also have no cause.

But then what did chance put us on Earth for? I've seen the numbers that describe the likelihood of our automatic initiation into existance: our chances were far beyond unlikely. What I'm trying to get at can be summed up in this philosophical piece I wrote: here

Quote:The motivation comes from the feeling of personal gratification one feels when they accomplish something. Just like happiness, this feeling is it's own reward, apart from the actual tangible benefits the accomplishment may itself provide. And living a good life provides a very real sense of accomplishment, self-worth, and general well-being that does not require a posthumous reward to enjoy.

Yes, but how are you anticipating your death and all the events that will occur after it? I'm not trying to discourage you in any way, but life does and will come to a screeching holt at some point, friend.

So what you're saying is you focus on life and only on life, not ever considering what lies behind death's door?

Quote:My view is that everyone should be free to pursue whatever makes them happy that does not directly harm another.

If this were an absolute moral, I'd 100% agree with you. It sounds great. But the problem is, sadly, not everyone will have that plan in mind. As you have implied, everyone should have independent morals and ethics, so there's clearly going to be a lot of opposition.

(also, what about pursuing whatever makes a person feel happy that does not indirectly cause harm? There are many small chain-reactions that take place daily that effect people one might not even know!)

Quote:With no afterlife to look forward to, it makes every day of this life more vibrant and special.

Very interesting. As you could probably tell by now, I'm pointed in the completely opposite direction...An afterlife (in my case, a place of pure harmony with God and all my loved ones) is what gives me my motivation to live an abundant life according to God's words.

This discussion is more interesting than I thought!
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11-06-2008, 06:57 AM
Post: #8
RE: my big atheist questions
Quote:
Yes, but how are you anticipating your death and all the events that will occur after it? I'm not trying to discourage you in any way, but life does and will come to a screeching holt at some point, friend.

So what you're saying is you focus on life and only on life, not ever considering what lies behind death's door?

Comment: Why should the appearance of an end prevent you from living it, does a time limit on a party stop you from attending? Life is a beautiful thing and the ending of death is motivation to enjoy, if christians truly believe in life after death why are they always so sad at funerals. You're meant to know inside that youll be up in heaven hanging with them soon so why the long face.
Personally I think the view that while our conciousness ends our physical body drifts apart and forms over things had a profound beauty to it. One day the air I breath may be at the heart of a star or the bottom of the sea. The whole of life as an interacting complexly developed system of links and cycles is an amazing marvel.
I also take relish in providing comfort to others, based on both upholding a traditionalist view of decency and enjoyment in helping aid people develop even in a small way, weaving a fabric of the rich tapestry of social and environmental influences around me.
Seeing things without illusions doesn't mean that beauty dissapears it just becomes more rich, tangible and real motivating me more and more to preserve it.

my atheism is just like your religion
only i subtract 1 one more god
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11-06-2008, 07:03 AM
Post: #9
RE: my big atheist questions
additionally dont you think (i dont actually think this is true i just dont think your arguments well considered) that im a better human if a dont require a god to live a more purposeful life and act morally without fear of divine punishment

my atheism is just like your religion
only i subtract 1 one more god
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11-06-2008, 10:16 AM
Post: #10
RE: my big atheist questions
JonathanT Wrote:This intrigues me. I've learned through the sciences that the Big Bang is indeed a 'great pointer' to creationism, but I'm suprised to finally meet one who remains in disbelief...

Not really disbelief...I was trying to point out that the two ideas are not mutually exclusive. I'm also not convinced a big bang was the start of the universe, I just think it's the best explanation science can provide at this time.

JonathanT Wrote:But then what did chance put us on Earth for? I've seen the numbers that describe the likelihood of our automatic initiation into existance: our chances were far beyond unlikely. What I'm trying to get at can be summed up in this philosophical piece I wrote: here

You're assuming that life itself must have a purpose for it's existence. I don't think it does. I actually feel there is no greater purpose for life...it just *is*. Which leaves everyone free to define their *own* purpose in life.

JonathanT Wrote:Yes, but how are you anticipating your death and all the events that will occur after it? I'm not trying to discourage you in any way, but life does and will come to a screeching holt at some point, friend.

So what you're saying is you focus on life and only on life, not ever considering what lies behind death's door?

Of course I have considered what "lies behind death's door." A lot, in fact. And my guess is...*nothing*. No events to prepare for, no trumpets, angels, pearly gates, or flames of eternal torment. Nothing. I am well aware of the inevitability of death...why dwell on something you can not change? Especially when there are so many other things worth dwelling on in life.

JonathanT Wrote:
Quote:My view is that everyone should be free to pursue whatever makes them happy that does not directly harm another.

If this were an absolute moral, I'd 100% agree with you. It sounds great. But the problem is, sadly, not everyone will have that plan in mind. As you have implied, everyone should have independent morals and ethics, so there's clearly going to be a lot of opposition.

(also, what about pursuing whatever makes a person feel happy that does not indirectly cause harm? There are many small chain-reactions that take place daily that effect people one might not even know!)

Of course there will be conflicts of interest. That's why we, as a society, have laws. They are there to help ensure equal opportunities for everyone, and to reduce direct harm.

I did not address indirect harm specifically because it can not really be predicted or avoided. As such, I don't think it is relevant. And trying to think of any conceivable harm that might arise from every decision or action you take is just silly. Smile

JonathanT Wrote:Very interesting. As you could probably tell by now, I'm pointed in the completely opposite direction...An afterlife (in my case, a place of pure harmony with God and all my loved ones) is what gives me my motivation to live an abundant life according to God's words.

This discussion is more interesting than I thought!

The only purpose for life I see offered by most religion is to worship god. That's it. We were created and given free will, just so we could worship him (or her, or it, or whatever). To me, this is not an abundant life.

If ignorance is bliss why aren't there more happy people?
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