Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
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13-02-2015, 04:09 PM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
I have only one view that requires me to be an atheist.
I do not believe in any gods and reject any claims of a god due to lack of sufficient evidence.
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14-02-2015, 06:44 AM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  1. How did we get here? (Origin) How do you explain the existence of human beings on this planet? How do explain the existence of the planet itself?
The origin of our solar system is fairly well understood scientifically. Our solar system formed out of a cloud of dust, which in three dimensions under gravity will eventually flatten into a spinning disk. Our planet formed out of the disk of the solar system. When our sun ignited it pushed away a lot of the nearby gasses and we were left with small rocky worlds this far in. Further out the gas giants survived and perhaps even grew as solar winds drove matter beyond the inner solar system. The cloud of dust likely came from earlier supernova explosions which can ultimately be traced back to the early expanding universe. We can't trace things back much further than that at this time.

But the deeper question here is "why is there something rather than nothing?". How did it all begin? If there ever was a nothing how could it have changed to become something? If there was always a something how could that really be possible and what would that something look like? That is a question we can't reliably answer at this time, and nor can any theist. If we claim a god always existed then why not save a step and conclude that the universe always existed? If we claim god came out of nothing then why not save and conclude the universe came out of nothing?

(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  2. Why are we here? (Purpose) What are humans supposed to do with their lives? What is our purpose?
The trouble with apologists is that they don't care for purpose unless it is "ultimate" purpose. They don't care of life unless it is eternal life. They don't care for finite things but instead only for infinite things.

Well, I'm yet to be shown that an infinite thing exists. I'm yet to be shown an eternal life exists or could exist. I'm yet to be shown a purpose that is infinitely meaningful.

We could enslave our sense of purpose to a higher power. We could hand over the meaning and purpose of our lives to an employer, to society, or to a supposed god. But can we really live a satisfied life operating to someone else's purpose, no matter how infinite it is claimed to be?

Although my life will one day end, although my society will someday fall, although my world will some day burn, although my universe will some day die yet I live my life comfortable in the notion that I have done what I set out to do. I have made my own mark on the world. I have made my own purpose as I see fit. My finite purpose brings me finite rewards. I see this as better than a promise of infinite purpose that in fact seems to be the abandonment of one's own sense of purpose to serve another man's religious edicts.

I am happy in my life if I leave a fine legacy to my family and achieve a few small feats that change a few lives for the better while myself living comfortably and happily. My purpose is to meet those ambitions before I die.

(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  3. How do we know what is true and what's not? (Truth) How do you verify the truth of a statement or claim? What sources do you seek for wisdom, knowledge and information?
A statement of truth is a statement that makes specific testable predictions about the world with unerring accuracy within its intended scope of application. A statement that cannot be tested cannot be true in any meaningful sense. A statement that makes no predictions cannot be tested. A statement whose predictions fail is a false statement.

Science has been our most reliable path to truth so far as a species. That is:
- Brainstorm ideas about reality - really let the imagination go wild
- Discard ideas that don't make predictions - they aren't testable
- Select statements that make conflicting testable predictions - they are our opportunities for learning
- Test them and discard or modify all statements that make predictions that fail
- From the pool of statements that have so far been unerring in their predictions select the one that makes the fewest unwarranted assumptions - there are an infinite number of eligible statements that we can't reasonably distinguish... we need a way to filter wheat from chaff
- Mark this fewest-assumption unerring set of statements as our scientific knowledge, our tentative truth - it may be overturned or refined, but the only thing that overturns scientific knowledge historically has been repeating the process again

So think about a statement you consider true. Does it make testable predictions? If not - throw it away. Have you tested those predictions? If not - start testing. Is it the simplest explaination? If not - you have no justification for believing it over the alternatives.

(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  4. Where does evil come from? (Morality) How do you explain the existence of evil in the world?
Evil isn't a physical presence. If it was a theist would need to believe that god created it. Right? Sin hasn't entered this world by way of some innocent children following the advice of a talking snake and gaining the knowledge of the gods.

Why do people do bad things? They're probably either not a good person or are a good person in a bad situation. Psychopaths are probably not created by god to murder and torture but instead have some poor wiring or brain chemistry. Good people sometimes can't cope or get used to doing something borderline until they find themselves well over the border with no easy road back. Sometimes good people just don't feel responsible for the consequences of some of their actions or have some specific role in society they are supposed to take on that results in bad things happening.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Probably people don't have guardian angels watching over them or a benevolent god with their best interests at heart. A loving god that doesn't prevent rape, murder and torture would be complicit in those crimes but an uncaring universe isn't supposed to be loving. It is understood that an uncaring universe won't step in to solve our problems. Did a god send a tsunami a few years ago to kill tens of thousands of people? Probably not. It was probably the action of the earth's crust that triggered the tsunami. Did god order the genocide of entire populations or sexual slavery in the old testament of the Bible? Probably not. It was probably ordinary men deciding these actions.

How do we even judge things as good or bad? By their consequences, and by our shared values.

(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  5. How do we overcome evil? How can humanity improve and better itself? How can we achieve happiness? Is there a way to conquer the evil in this world?
1. We must live sustainably enough that there are sufficient resources to go around. Conflict is inevitable when people don't have what they need to live.
2. We should structure our society locally and globally to be as fair as reasonably possible
3. We should support and nurture each new generation to encourage their best contribution to our society
4. We should support and nurture innovation and the advancement of our society, our own self-reflection and self-improvement
5. We should punish and isolate people proportionately to the harm they do to others and to society while never forgetting that these people will likely one day rejoin society and be ready to prepare them for that moment

(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  6. What happens when we die? (Destiny) Is there an afterlife? What is it like? How does one get there?
I think the people who are confused about what happens when we die are often not confused at all about what happens to a worm when it dies or a fly or a mosquito. They are often not confused about what happens when a jellyfish dies or an elephant or a shark. They are often not confused about what happens to a dog or a cat or a dolphin.

So why are they confused about what happens to a loved one, or what will happen to themselves? I'm pretty sure the same thing happens to us as happens to these other animals.

If there is a god and an afterlife I hope to find that life was indeed a test and that by rejecting the evil god concepts I have encountered in life will be considered worthy in death for a place at his table.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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14-02-2015, 07:56 AM (This post was last modified: 14-02-2015 12:57 PM by yakherder.)
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
Quote:1. How did we get here? (Origin) How do you explain the existence of human beings on this planet? How do explain the existence of the planet itself?
Don't know for sure. The scientific method of analysis is much better at disproving a flawed hypothesis than establishing a fact, which is rationally impossible.

Quote:2.Why are we here? (Purpose) What are humans supposed to do with their lives? What is our purpose?
Our instincts form the base of why we are here. Eat, sleep, reproduce. If you are lucky enough to live in a first world bubble where that alone isn't enough to keep you occupied, then you get to choose the rest or be directed by culture. My advice is to find a cause that you feel a connection to and devote yourself to it fully with no regrets and with no need for anyone else's approval. I'm a soldier. If you want to let religion be your guide, go for it.

Quote:3. How do we know what is true and what's not? (Truth) How do you verify the truth of a statement or claim? What sources do you seek for wisdom, knowledge and information?
As mentioned above, it is rationally impossible to prove something to be, without a doubt, true. The scientific method of skeptical analysis, applied properly, is very efficient disproving a flawed hypothesis.

Quote:4. Where does evil come from? (Morality) How do you explain the existence of evil in the world?
That's a whole conversation in itself. To summarize, a lot, I don't believe in good and evil in the traditional sense. I may use the word when I know the definition is likely to be universally understood by everyone I'm communicating with, but strictly speaking I believe only in cause and effect.

Quote:5. How do we overcome evil? How can humanity improve and better itself? How can we achieve happiness? Is there a way to conquer the evil in this world?
As someone who believes that the context of civilization is itself the root of most of what we define as evil, I'd have to say that purging the world of evil would require an event of such catastrophic proportions that it put us all back to pre stone age.

Quote:6. What happens when we die? (Destiny) Is there an afterlife? What is it like? How does one get there?
Don't know, but for my entertainment I live my life as if Valhalla exists and I intend to get there.

'Murican Canadian
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16-02-2015, 07:32 AM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
Quote:1. How did we get here? (Origin) How do you explain the existence of human beings on this planet? How do explain the existence of the planet itself?
I am not obligated to explain the existence of human beings or the planet or anything else. Religion finds the unknown intolerable and makes things up to assert as known. Science examines available data and falsifiable hypotheses and (dis)proves those when possible. When it comes to ultimate origins and how life arose from non-life, those currently are not known and even the hypotheses are tentative. The rational response to that is to admit that we don't know, until we do.

Although we are not omniscient, it is interesting that theism has never produced a corrective to science, always the inverse. Anything that we DO usefully know at present concerning reality, comes from science. It is likely that what is knowable will in the future come from science, logic, and reason.

The implication of your first question is a standard "god of the gaps" argument. Personal interventionist gods are inherently unfalsifiable, and the burden of proof for the positive assertion of god rests not on unbelievers, but on believers. This means that science's inability to disprove god and its lack of burden to prove him, leaves the ball in the court of theists. The fact that no one (theist or otherwise) ultimately knows the answer to your question here, does not serve as an argument in favor of an asserted personal interventionist god, or create any "dramatic tension" to be resolved. It's in fact a virtue to learn to sit with uncertainty and let it be as it is. The only rational response to uncertainty is to (1) embrace it and (2) seek where possible to replace it with actual, substantiatable facts.
Quote:2.Why are we here? (Purpose) What are humans supposed to do with their lives? What is our purpose?
These questions also have implicit in them the notion that these questions must be answered else ... well, typically, some kind of existential, nihilistic despair. In addition, it has implicit in it the unwarranted assumption that purpose and meaning are externally bestowed for all comers rather than what actually obtains, which is that they are determined by each individual for themselves. And when you stop to think about it, that's the only way that it could be. I am a software developer. I find it challenging, fascinating and rewarding. You quite possibly would not.

That the universe is indifferent to my existence is actually a blessing compared to the notion that it cares about my existence and then fails to care for me. So the typically presented tri-omni deity only creates cognitive dissonance, claiming to provide a comprehensible, safe, nurturing environment and then endlessly tap-dancing concerning why life is not in fact all about you or me or our needs, hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Quote:3. How do we know what is true and what's not? (Truth) How do you verify the truth of a statement or claim? What sources do you seek for wisdom, knowledge and information?
Implicit in THIS question is the notion that one cannot know capital-T Truth for oneself. In a sense, this is actually true, but beside the point. The only thing worth pursuing is not Truth, or even truth, but knowledge which, when weighed skillfully, allows belief to some level of (un)certainty. Many things (the sun will rise at such-and-such a time tomorrow, a cloudless sky is usually blue, stubbing one's toe hurts) can be known to a very high degree of certainty. Others, not so much.

Knowledge comes from observing reality in as impartial and unbiased a fashion as possible. The scientific method is the best overall system for doing this yet devised, and it has an excellent track record in compensating for human confirmation bias, agency inference, and our other perceptual quirks. Wisdom is simply experience in applying knowledge in ways that minimize unintended consequences and knock-on effects. That, obviously, is gained by a combination of personal experience and learning the lessons of history.
Quote:4. Where does evil come from? (Morality) How do you explain the existence of evil in the world?
It is philosophically sloppy to ask questions and not define your terms. "Evil" is in the eye of the beholder and I have no sure notion of what your eye beholds here. As to morality -- it is subjective, not objective, even for those who claim it is objective. Morality is simply an emergent property of (on a small scale) cooperation and (on a large scale) society. The first time two humans had to cooperate or coexist in some way, morality came into existence. It is simply the implicit and explicit negotiated codes of behavior that allow people to get along and sustainably create the sorts of civil societies that most sane people want to live in.

Theists and atheists alike live by the same morality; it is just that theists overlay this morality with a layer of leaky abstractions and assertions, including the idea that god or the church invented and sustain morality.
Quote:5. How do we overcome evil? How can humanity improve and better itself? How can we achieve happiness? Is there a way to conquer the evil in this world?
What I regard as needing eradication from the world is not evil, but human suffering. Some human suffering is of course self inflicted; much of course is not (earthquakes, tsunamis, many accidents) -- and an awful lot is a mix of the two. Because I do not defer resolution of these matters to an afterlife I consider it my responsibility to do all I can while I'm alive to make my life and everyone else's better. I do this through a combination of setting as good an example for others as I know how to, encouraging myself and others to be more self-aware and mindful as well as empathetic and caring, supporting quality education, and simple applied technology.

I see humanity clawing its way out of a very deep hole of superstition and ignorance. I feel fortunate to live in an age of accelerating knowledge and consciousness and improving conditions.
Quote:6. What happens when we die? (Destiny) Is there an afterlife? What is it like? How does one get there?
The short answer is that no one knows because there is no empirical data to consider. However, all evidence points to the fact that, as someone said earlier, dead brains don't think.

While some sort of transhumanist singularity where we have the option of biological immortality would be nice (it's always nice to have options), we are time-bound creatures who really need beginnings, middles and ends to the story arc of our lives. I am nearly 58 years old now and I don't have a burning need to live to be 158. If I could do that with good quality of life then my innate curiosity would incline me to give it a whirl. But I suspect that for anyone, eventually, there would come a time when one no longer wishes to have new experiences. Not out of despair, but just from being past one's "best used by" date.

I do not fear death. I fear, or at least respect, the process of dying, which can involve much pain and suffering. But death itself ... I fear that no more than I fear the experience of not existing before I was conceived. That did not trouble me ... neither will death.

Indeed, theism inhibited me fully dealing with the reality of my own mortality. I am quite at peace with being a mortal creature, compared to my days as a believer.
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16-02-2015, 12:43 PM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(14-02-2015 07:56 AM)yakherder Wrote:  Don't know, but for my entertainment I live my life as if Valhalla exists and I intend to get there.

On the back of a burning yak.




There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. -Camus
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22-09-2015, 07:34 AM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(08-02-2015 05:07 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  Hello members of TheThinkingAtheist,

I have a project for school for which I am to interview someone outside of the Christian faith. I figured this website would be a good place to look. If anyone could take the time to answer the following questions, it would be greatly appreciated. Keep in mind that I am not here to argue with you. Instead, I am offering you a constructive platform to present your worldview. As such, I ask that you please try to keep your answers in an objective tone and abstain from profanity as much as possible (this is a school project). Thanks again for your help.

1. How did we get here? (Origin) How do you explain the existence of human beings on this planet? How do explain the existence of the planet itself?

2. Why are we here? (Purpose) What are humans supposed to do with their lives? What is our purpose?

3. How do we know what is true and what's not? (Truth) How do you verify the truth of a statement or claim? What sources do you seek for wisdom, knowledge and information?

4. Where does evil come from? (Morality) How do you explain the existence of evil in the world?

5. How do we overcome evil? How can humanity improve and better itself? How can we achieve happiness? Is there a way to conquer the evil in this world?

6. What happens when we die? (Destiny) Is there an afterlife? What is it like? How does one get there?

1. Abiogenesis is how life arose, evolution is how the diversity of life came to be including us. As for the planet itself, the nebular hypothesis explains that nicely where the solar system formed out of interstellar gasses and materials driven by the force of gravity.

2. Our purpose is our own to make, for me personally it's to try and make the world a little bit of a better place for others, ultimately though the universe in all its beauty, doesn't give a damn about us. The entire solar system could be destroyed and no one would even notice.

3. The scientific method has shown to be the most reliable way we know of to seek truth. It is self correcting and is verifiable so that others can test the information that we believe to be true, this also means that what is truth today could be overturned by new discoveries in the future as our methods and technology improve. This is the beauty of seeking truth through the lens of science. It is self correcting.
Or more simply put we can and do question everything, whereas in religion people are taught to question nothing about the dogma.

4. This question doesn't really have that simple of an answer. Morality is subjective and somewhat fluid. However there are at least some things that most cultures can agree on, such as not murdering everyone in sight. For me personally how I determine what is right and what is wrong(evil) is through the use of empathy, in other words will my action cause some type of harm to the other person? If the answer is yes, I will do everything I can to avoid that action of harming that other person.

As for the existence of evil people or really the main thing I can think of is that there is a deep seated lack of empathy within that person. Meaning that that person can't step back and see how what they are saying or doing is hurting the other person deeply, or potentially even causing the other person to lose thier life. Something I've noticed with religion though, is that empathy seems to be suspended in those with deeply held beliefs. It's almost as if having a magical sky daddy that can forgive you of the most inhumane wrong doing turns off the empathy and self accountability switch.

Don't get me wrong though anyone can be "evil" so to speak, but people that would otherwise be "good" are not that way when they have deeply held religious beliefs.

5. As for overcoming evil, I think once religions are eliminated we will take a major step forward in treating other people as equals and having empathy for each other. Is this a catch all solution? No of course not, we would still need to massively drive education and policies that would support people and help people work through issues while considering what effects thier actions will have on others. Humanity can better improve itself by constantly exploring and seeking new knowledge to know what impact we can have on the world. Happiness is a fluid concept, only each individual knows what can make them truly happy. As for your final question in this set, can we conquer evil as you put it? No, at least not completely there will always be people who just don't give a shit about others and completely lack empathy, however I think we can overall make the world a better place. I would hope that those that truly lack empathy are far and few between once religion is eliminated from the picture.

6. To be honest, I really don't know what happens when we die. The evidence we have points to nothing, we simply cease to exist. When I first deconverted this bothered me quite a bit, however after some time I realized that when I do eventually die. I won't care as I will no longer exist. Before I was born I didn't exist for billions of years and I was never bothered by that.

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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22-09-2015, 07:51 AM (This post was last modified: 22-09-2015 07:55 AM by Bows and Arrows.)
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(09-02-2015 07:15 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  All of these "school project" threads should be in their own section in order to not hafta repeat the same shit over and over again. Tongue

some might fear being busted by their parents having these discussions with *those atheists* it gives an easy excuse (school project), to explain why they are here and looking behind the curtain.

I am not saying this is the reason this poster is here, but for some it might be.


Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! The great and powerful Oz has spoken.
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22-09-2015, 08:07 AM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(08-02-2015 06:04 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  Thank you for your help.

I was wondering who was still helping. Worom! Dodgy

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22-09-2015, 08:16 AM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(22-09-2015 08:07 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(08-02-2015 06:04 PM)NotAnAtheist Wrote:  Thank you for your help.

I was wondering who was still helping. Worom! Dodgy

Oh crap whoops, I just double checked the post dates Sad

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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22-09-2015, 08:48 AM
RE: Questions about the Atheistic Worldview
(22-09-2015 08:16 AM)Worom Wrote:  
(22-09-2015 08:07 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  I was wondering who was still helping. Worom! Dodgy

Oh crap whoops, I just double checked the post dates Sad

Did you come here from DLJ's thread? I mean, no "oops" necessary as you added good info especially in light of DLJ's thread. Wink

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