The When, How and Why about our very existence. This is how I would grade the two general schools of thought:

              Theists        Atheists/Science
When     Wrong         Evidence and Much Discovery
How       Wrong         Evidence and Much Discovery
Why       God's Will    No Explanation

Do you think science or atheism does, can and/or will ever answer Why? Must there even be a "reason" for the Universe.I do not think "to do good" is a necessarily a valid answer for atheists; why do good? It may be a valid answer for a theist. I feel the "why" questions undermines atheism because religion offers an (albeit, a ridiculous) answer. What are your thoughts on this matter?

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Not answers, bad punchlines.  Religion is about the same as your dad saying "because I said so".  Just replace *I* with *God* and you're there.

The first "why" Dale refers to, is the one that means, "How come?". (i.e. how did this come about)

The second "why", that he is rejecting, is the one that means, "What for?" ( what purpose is this designed)

As humans, we are born with curiosity - children have it in abundance.  By pointing to God as the answer, we are stifling the inquisitive mind set in children that we so need to encourage, for discovery and development.

Yes Strega, I like the analogy. In fact that is exactly what it felt like during my catholic school days.

I understand the "What For" implies a supernatural response.

Is it true that merely asking why living things strive to survive and propagate is a similar situation? Trees produce seeds. They expend energy to do so. Ant colonies defend their queen, it's what they do.

Religion offers the bad punchline, as you say and an atheist can't even ask the question. Would you say that agnostics could ask, but do not expect any answers. And finally, would a deist be comfortable with such questions?

Whenever I attempt any conversation like this in my daily life, people usually look at me like I am crazy. I have not yet lost my curiosity to the noise.

I can only give you my opinion, Robert, and it will probably clash with other peoples.  Watch me care :)

It's the prime function of life to procreate itself.  That's what life does.  That's how the trees and ants got here - amoebas splitting and hydra growing detachable branches, and evolution and development.  So they carry on procreating.  We are hard-wired to procreate.  If you were to post a thread on a forum with the word "sex" in the title, it will get lots of hits.  We can't really help ourselves.

Here come some blatant generalities so brace yourself if you are not in my general definition :).

Atheists feel that it's all a random set of circumstances, we are evolving, we continue to evolve, and if we don't screw it up with annihilation, we will likely evolve into something that makes us today look like starfish to the future beings we become.  We are not the 'end result'.

Theists feel it is all part of a design, and that there was a creator who specifically created us as humans, and we are all acting our parts in a play that has been written for us, and that we have to prove ourselves to our God. We are the only beings that matter, or ever mattered.  We started as humans and that's where we will remain.  We are the 'end result'

Agnostics are the waverers, the followers of Pascal's Wager, the ones who say no I don't really believe in God, whilst they cross their fingers behind their backs.  They don't walk under ladders, and have 'lucky underpants' and don't really know who is right and who is wrong, so they generally agree with everyone but don't want to follow the 'instructions' in a god's rulebook.  They say "who can know", but don't feel passionately about it either way.  They don't know if we are the 'end result' or not.

Deists believe that there is a divine being, a cosmic supervisor, but not in a divine plan - they also tend not to believe the deity needs worship - in fact the deity might be totally ambivalent to their existence.  They don't have a rulebook to follow, nor do they feel they will be judged, but they do think that there was a point of creation, even if it was as long ago as the big bang.  They are usually fine with evolution, so don't believe we are the 'end result'.

The most wildly curious of the above is probably the atheist. 

Does that answer your question?

Yes! Even though you called them blatant generalities, I think you bring out some of the finer points I am fuzzy on. I am late to the dance because I was so focused on the hard sciences. For me, Pascal's Wager just seems dishonest, and Theism just seems like fantasy. I was a deist most of my life but recently I decided that I can't believe that anymore for complete lack of evidence. I do admire the distinguished deists and the age of reason. The difficulty I am having is understanding all the many subtle and not so subtle implications of non-belief; It seems VAST! Thanks..!

But they pale vs. the implications of belief in an invisible, ineffable, unreliable, and sometimes hostile and impulsive deity.

I would add about deists that deism is almost indistinguishable from the theological movement called The Death of God. While it's a movement with a number of wrinkles, one of the major ones is that God made the world (the universe and everything in it) then either died...or went away.

Is it true that merely asking why living things strive to survive and propagate is a similar situation?

I think it is. Living things are made of matter obeying the laws of physics. They exist because, randomly, long ago, some matter developed the ability to self-replicate. Over time, it evolved into the living things we see today. It only makes sense that the living things that strive to reproduce and do it well are the only living things that exist.

If there were living things that did not strive to survive and propagate, they would die out without a supernatural support system! So as I see it, the universal instinct to survive and propagate supports a God-free universe, not the other way around.

@ Blaine - thank you :)

@ Robert - my pleasure and I had to use the term 'blatant generalities' or I'd have been steamrollered for pages.

@ Stutz - that's excellent - that provides logical support for my opening statement.  Thanks, I like it a lot.

I  am sure you mean bated... unless you've been eating worms and your breath smells like them.

"..stifling the inquisitive mind set in children.."

Happily, the religion in my life just made it easier to explore ideas. As a 'catholic' kid growing up, their crazy crap was so transparent to me that it 'just could not be right'. I think kids ultimately do 'religion' to themselves, because just showing even a minor bit of independence can take you away from the fold. Their stuff is very weak actually, just ask questions and see where it takes you!

If your lucky it will not take 30 years...   

Epicurus would approve! The more I read about the Epicurean school of thought, the more I like it.

"You atheists can't accept the mystery of existence and of the creation of the universe" is an accusation I've heard levied against atheistm more than once. 

While science today loves to speculate about multiple dimensions, a multiverse, string theory, branes and so on, it IS speculation, and likely always will be. In the end, it isn't science which needs to remove the mystery with the fantasy of a gray-bearded magical sorcerer as the explanation for everything.


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