My biggest question about atheism
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 3 Votes - 4.33 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
15-01-2014, 02:43 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 12:55 PM)WitchSabrina Wrote:  Hi LookingFor:

Might I suggest that since you have been raised with and live with religion that credits God as the basis of all things - to leave the question of "what came BEFORE the Big Bang?" with the answer of "we don't know" is decidedly dis-satisfactory for you? I submit that when you have *God* as the underlying reason for all things that is the answer you most readily reach for. It's a faith And a habit.
And I submit that because it is faith and habit for you to always default to the "must be God" reaction that the answer you'll get here most often of "We don't know if anything came before the big bang. We cannot know that. Yet." isn't going to sit well.
You come here with a decent question that many here also have. Questions - always ok. Answers tend to be more difficult to come by.

meanwhile - welcome to this little corner of the interwebs. May your interactions here only bring you Many Many more unanswerable questions!Cool

I appreciate the thoughtful responses of everyone. I'm somewhat surprised by the number of responses I got so fast. I also appreciate that most were very constructive and civil.

WitchSabrina, you are right, the response of "we don't know yet" is somewhat unsatisfying. I'm sure scientists and atheists are probably equally unsatisfied with it, which is why they keep trying to find the answers.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The infinite ever-existing universe argument was never very satisfying to me either. To me, it sounds like the atheist version of "God did it"...a bit of a cop-out, as it seems to be an unprovable theory.

I've heard the argument before, but it doesn't seem to jive with all the other evidence. I like to consider myself a smart guy, but I'm definitely no scientist. That having been said, my understanding is that the same evidence that causes scientists to take the big bang theory as accurate (ie. the expansion of the universe) also provides strong evidence to the fact that there was a start to everything (ie. when the universe started expanding).

Moreover, the theory of an ever-existing universe also strikes me as unsatisfying because it doesn't seem to accord with everything else in that universe. Planets have a life cycle, stars have a life cycle, and of course, the smaller things down on earth all do as well. I'm sure you can understand why it would strike me as odd to have an ever-existing universe when everything within it seems to have life cycles (even if some of those life cycles are extremely long).

I'll certainly take a look at some of the material that the posts have referred me to, maybe there is some sort of answer in there, but the ever-existent universe idea just seems fundamentally flawed to me. Taking a universe full of things with life cycles and trying to take the whole as being ever-existent feels to me like trying to add finite numbers together to get infinity. It feels like the gap has to be solved by something of a different nature. But, for all I know, that may just be the limits of science at present. I suppose I could just have "faith" that science will figure it out eventually, although that definitely presents it's own irony.

My issue that has always bothered me with atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, is that it seems to defy logic to dismiss the idea of a creator outright while not being able to offer an alternative that is any more provable. I understand that it is doesn't make sense to automatically attribute any unknown to God (the "God Gap Argument"), but I do not think that applies to creation. My impression (maybe because of human kind's current scientific limitations) is that the question of creation is not simply unknown, but unknowable. That goes along with my own personal view of a God who set everything in motion, but doesn't micromanage day to day activities of human kind.

Anyways, this post is not meant to be argumentative, just sharing my perspective, and maybe giving a bit of insight into why some inquisitive minds still have difficulty with the idea of atheism. I very much appreciate the thoughtful responses to my query. I have found the discussion very mentally stimulating and I have been provided with some more reading/watching material that I'm sure I will enjoy.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-01-2014, 02:59 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 02:43 PM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  Moreover, the theory of an ever-existing universe also strikes me as unsatisfying because it doesn't seem to accord with everything else in that universe. Planets have a life cycle, stars have a life cycle, and of course, the smaller things down on earth all do as well. I'm sure you can understand why it would strike me as odd to have an ever-existing universe when everything within it seems to have life cycles (even if some of those life cycles are extremely long).

I'll certainly take a look at some of the material that the posts have referred me to, maybe there is some sort of answer in there, but the ever-existent universe idea just seems fundamentally flawed to me. Taking a universe full of things with life cycles and trying to take the whole as being ever-existent feels to me like trying to add finite numbers together to get infinity. It feels like the gap has to be solved by something of a different nature. But, for all I know, that may just be the limits of science at present. I suppose I could just have "faith" that science will figure it out eventually, although that definitely presents it's own irony.
Well, there are cyclic models of an eternal universe, so there's that. Consider

[Image: 7oDSbD4.gif]
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-01-2014, 03:04 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 02:59 PM)Vosur Wrote:  
(15-01-2014 02:43 PM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  Moreover, the theory of an ever-existing universe also strikes me as unsatisfying because it doesn't seem to accord with everything else in that universe. Planets have a life cycle, stars have a life cycle, and of course, the smaller things down on earth all do as well. I'm sure you can understand why it would strike me as odd to have an ever-existing universe when everything within it seems to have life cycles (even if some of those life cycles are extremely long).

I'll certainly take a look at some of the material that the posts have referred me to, maybe there is some sort of answer in there, but the ever-existent universe idea just seems fundamentally flawed to me. Taking a universe full of things with life cycles and trying to take the whole as being ever-existent feels to me like trying to add finite numbers together to get infinity. It feels like the gap has to be solved by something of a different nature. But, for all I know, that may just be the limits of science at present. I suppose I could just have "faith" that science will figure it out eventually, although that definitely presents it's own irony.
Well, there are cyclic models of an eternal universe, so there's that. Consider
Cycle FTW ClapClap

. . . ................................ ......................................... . [Image: 2dsmnow.gif] Eat at Joe's
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Slowminded's post
15-01-2014, 03:07 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
Quote:The infinite ever-existing universe argument was never very satisfying to me either. To me, it sounds like the atheist version of "God did it"...a bit of a cop-out, as it seems to be an unprovable theory.

To the contrary: the premise that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed is well-grounded in science. Note that I never said "eternally existing universe." I simply referred to mass-energy as always existing. This is not an "unprovable theory." It is science. Mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed. You started this thread asking for a scientific explanation of an effect without a cause. I challenge your question: mass-energy is NOT an effect. The EXPANSION of mass-energy is an effect. But its existence, even at the Big Bang, is assumed. It's not creation ex-nihilo (from nothing). It is expansion OF something that already exists, albeit in a far different state from what we observe today.

To say that mass-energy was never created is a logical progression from "mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed." If it cannot be created, then it was never created. Thus it always existed.

This is FAR LESS a "cop-out" than "God is the creator and the uncaused cause." We have no evidence God exists. We do have evidence that mass-energy exists, and a well-grounded law that it cannot be created or destroyed. So, again, I challenge your presumption.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes TwoCultSurvivor's post
15-01-2014, 03:15 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 02:13 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  My first question is, how do you define spiritual? When you use it, I mean. Every time I manage to pin someone down on what they mean when they use the word spiritual, it seems their definition is different. I'm not looking for some officially correct concept of the word, just what you mean by it. You're trying to communicate a concept about yourself when you use the word... could you expand on that, please?

...


(Also, for the record, what's your definition of atheism? There's half a dozen or so different definitions floating around out there, and what one person means when they use the word isn't the same as what other people mean.)

Hey Reltzik, I think you posted while I was writing my last message, but I figured I would respond to a couple of your queries.

By spiritual, I really mean that I believe in the presence of a God, but I'm not a big fan of a lot of organized religion. I think spiritual is the general term to use for someone who believes in the presence of a God (whether through a specific religion or otherwise). It is the umbrella term, in my mind.

As for me personally, I refer to myself as spiritual because I grew up in a Christian household, but I disagree with a substantial amount of the beliefs promoted by the organized religion. For the most part, I prefer to try to figure out my answers to things such as morality using reason. My general view is that God gave us reason and intelligence so that we could use it. My biggest issue with the church is the idea of blind faith and the dangerous consequences it can lead to. So, I just like using the term spiritual because it doesn't pigeon-hole me into a specific religious world view. Like I say, not trying to convert anyone, just trying to respond to Reltzik's question.

As for atheism, my understanding of the meaning of an atheist is someone that believes that there is no God of any sort (ie. no greater creator being). Agnosticism being the middle ground of "there may be a God or there may not", either through a belief that the answer is unknowable or through a lack of caring about the issue. Definitely let me know if you disagree with the above.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-01-2014, 03:22 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 03:15 PM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  Hey Reltzik, I think you posted while I was writing my last message, but I figured I would respond to a couple of your queries.

By spiritual, I really mean that I believe in the presence of a God, but I'm not a big fan of a lot of organized religion. I think spiritual is the general term to use for someone who believes in the presence of a God (whether through a specific religion or otherwise). It is the umbrella term, in my mind.

As for me personally, I refer to myself as spiritual because I grew up in a Christian household, but I disagree with a substantial amount of the beliefs promoted by the organized religion. For the most part, I prefer to try to figure out my answers to things such as morality using reason. My general view is that God gave us reason and intelligence so that we could use it. My biggest issue with the church is the idea of blind faith and the dangerous consequences it can lead to. So, I just like using the term spiritual because it doesn't pigeon-hole me into a specific religious world view. Like I say, not trying to convert anyone, just trying to respond to Reltzik's question.

As for atheism, my understanding of the meaning of an atheist is someone that believes that there is no God of any sort (ie. no greater creator being). Agnosticism being the middle ground of "there may be a God or there may not", either through a belief that the answer is unknowable or through a lack of caring about the issue. Definitely let me know if you disagree with the above.

There is strong atheism (which you have described) and weak atheism, or agnostic atheism.

Many people here are agnostic atheists. That is, I have no belief in any gods, but I don't claim there aren't any.

There is no evidence for the existence of any gods, but the existence of some sort of god cannot be disproven.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like Chas's post
15-01-2014, 03:41 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
Let's pretend you are in a bubble of steam with liquid water all around and that steam bubble is expanding.
Where did that steam come from ?

Is the water in a pot on the stove, in a bowl in the microwave, in a natural hot spring, near a volcanic vent ?

We trace the beginnings of our universe back to a point of massive scales of energy.
Like adding a high enough amount of heat to water, you get steam.
Perhaps adding a massive amount of energy to something, you get an expanding universe ? I don't know. None of us do....YET.

My question to you would be, what makes you think there was nothing before universe ?
Was there nothing before your own birth ?
Was there nothing before the earth formed from gravity and dust ?

Only in theology do you get something magically created from absolutely nothing.
You might as well say that nothing must create something in order for there to be balance.
That makes as much sense as saying a god is composed of something that can't be created.

If you say that your god has always been, then it can't be created.
If it can't be created then it doesn't exist.
Therefore your god doesn't exist.

The universe exists and it exists in a certain way. It's expanding. Galaxies moving further and further away from each other. And not just expanding, but accelerating faster and faster.

When we don't have an answer to a question, we say "We don't know"
That is the honest thing to do.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-01-2014, 03:43 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 02:43 PM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  My issue that has always bothered me with atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, is that it seems to defy logic to dismiss the idea of a creator outright while not being able to offer an alternative that is any more provable. I understand that it is doesn't make sense to automatically attribute any unknown to God (the "God Gap Argument"), but I do not think that applies to creation. My impression (maybe because of human kind's current scientific limitations) is that the question of creation is not simply unknown, but unknowable.

As Chas was getting at, you're conflating terms.

Atheism and agnosticism aren't mutually exclusive. Atheism is simply the opposite of theism. A theist believes in one or more goes; an atheist doesn't. Anything more than that is over-defining the term.

Agnosticism is not believing that your stance is knowable or provable (as opposed to gnosticism). So, an agnostic atheist lacks the belief in gods, but doesn't assert that there are none, as it is unknowable. A gnostic atheist would assert that there are no gods. So, when you say "agnostic", you likely mean "agnostic atheist", and when you say "atheist", you likely mean "gnostic atheist".

I consider myself an agnostic atheist.


(15-01-2014 02:43 PM)lookingforanswers Wrote:  That goes along with my own personal view of a God who set everything in motion, but doesn't micromanage day to day activities of human kind.

Do you believe in a personal god that cares about you and your well being or do you believe it only created things and is no longer involved?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes RobbyPants's post
15-01-2014, 03:48 PM
RE: My biggest question about atheism
(15-01-2014 03:07 PM)TwoCultSurvivor Wrote:  
Quote:The infinite ever-existing universe argument was never very satisfying to me either. To me, it sounds like the atheist version of "God did it"...a bit of a cop-out, as it seems to be an unprovable theory.

To the contrary: the premise that mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed is well-grounded in science. Note that I never said "eternally existing universe." I simply referred to mass-energy as always existing. This is not an "unprovable theory." It is science. Mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed. You started this thread asking for a scientific explanation of an effect without a cause. I challenge your question: mass-energy is NOT an effect. The EXPANSION of mass-energy is an effect. But its existence, even at the Big Bang, is assumed. It's not creation ex-nihilo (from nothing). It is expansion OF something that already exists, albeit in a far different state from what we observe today.

To say that mass-energy was never created is a logical progression from "mass-energy cannot be created or destroyed." If it cannot be created, then it was never created. Thus it always existed.

This is FAR LESS a "cop-out" than "God is the creator and the uncaused cause." We have no evidence God exists. We do have evidence that mass-energy exists, and a well-grounded law that it cannot be created or destroyed. So, again, I challenge your presumption.

I'm curious about the mass-energy idea. Like I said, I'm definitely no scientist. I'm educated, but in entirely different areas. You may have to explain a bit to me what you mean by it, ideally in layman's terms.

I think I understand a little about mass energy being the energy of a body at rest. I'm having a bit of difficulty wrapping my head around the concept that you are trying to convey (not your fault, just my lack of education in the area), but I'm not sure how mass-energy closes the loop here. It really seems like more of a concept. Like saying math or numbers can't be created or destroyed.

You also mention that it expands. Is this like the way that the universe expands? Is there more today than there was at the big bang? You also used the term "assumed", as in it is "assumed" to have existed at the big bang. Is it an assumption or a provable fact?

Anyways, just a bunch of questions that come to mind. Definitely would be intrigued by an explanation.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
15-01-2014, 03:51 PM (This post was last modified: 16-01-2014 05:45 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: My biggest question about atheism
The question is : "what and how was Causality "caused" if Causality (ie the Principle) was not ALREADY in place. The "cause" question is ultimately meaningless. Even *if* a cause MUST be posited, it does not lead to a god. An omnipotent deity could have created a race of robot universe creators which were given the property of autonomy.
And last, but not least, (ad nauseam), a deity which "acts" *before* space-time is created, is a meaningless, (and self-contradictory) sting of words.
Sounds like your god is a "place holder" for and until you find a better explanation. THAT is not religion. Religion is a *relationship* with a deity. If you REALLY had one of those, these questions would be irrelevant.

Nothing is answered by the (posited) existence of a god. A god who exists, does not *not exist*.
That means, for as long as the deity "existed" it participated *of necessity* in only part of a total Reality which by definition would be REQUIRED to be larger than itself.
It can't be the creator of THAT, and still be required by definition to participate in it. Reality in total remains unexplained.

We may not know what were the initial conditions which caused the Big Bang, but that does not justify cooking up a deity to fill in as an explanation.
Why is that ? Some say a deity is "logical". That woud be fine, but .... the universe has been proven NOT to be "logical". Relativity, Uncertainty, some complex math is
not logical at all, and at a fundamental level , the universe has been proven to NOT be "intuitively logical". Therefore to extrapolate on the basis of what human brains, (which evolved to operate only in a small "bandwidth" of Reality) find as "logical", is dangerous, and invalid. What is needed is EVIDENCE. There is none for any god. That leaves us at this point with many questions. Having unanswered questions does not justify making up some answers. Science is NOT "entirely based on" causality. Apparently you have never studied the scientific method.

"When it comes down to the bare bones of it, everything in the universe of which I am aware has a cause. Science is entirely based around this concept. The scientific method is simply a method for finding facts through repeatable cause and effect experiments. There doesn't seem to be anything in it that would explain the start of the cause and effect chain that resulted in our existence." Soooo...in the absence of a better answer, you plug in a god, to fill the NEED. You NEED to have answer today.

"Creator" makes even less sense than no creator. Creation is an action. Actions require time. "Acting" in the absence of space-time, is meaningless.

BTW, read Lawrence Krauss' "A Universe from Nothing". The total energy of the universe is ZERO. Gravity can have a negative energy. Before you ask the question "why is there something", best to go make sure, in total, there really is "something".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
Those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music - Friedrich Nietzsche
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Bucky Ball's post
Post Reply
Forum Jump: