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?

Tags: existence

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A "reason" or "purpose" behind something implies a conscious mind.  Which in the case of "the Universe" is precisely what we don't believe in. 

In other words, accepting this idea is basically a trap.

Ah, yes I see your point. Forgive me, I am still a bit unclear about that thin line between deism, agnosticism, and atheism. I am clear in being a non-theist and unfaithful. I still need to have investigations into these basic questions.

On the contrary, I think this conversation may have been beneficial to other atheists.

Many atheists might not realize that purpose implies a conscious mind, so I am actually glad you brought this up.

It may help them see just how they are being set up when a theist accuses them of believing that "All of this has no purpose."  The correct answer IMHO is, "You're damned right it doesn't!"

** No god needed for morality

Xian absolutist morals: claiming that rules are handed down from some divinity totally misses the origin, foundation, and purpose for moral action. Morality is irreducibly social interaction -- or in the non-relgious thinking of Confucius in the Analects (Conversations) it requires social non-interaction:

15:23 Tsze-kung asked, saying, “Is there one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life?” The Master said, “Is not 'reciprocity' such a word? What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.” (trans. S.R. McIntyre. Analects. 2003)

• Why is deliberately killing a person (= an in-group member) murder? Harming others cannot be generalized; otherwise, no culture could exist.

Morality, then, is conditional; it is based on boundary conditions -- certain behaviors humans indulge in are incompatible with any social organization. Other behaviors, greed, envy, lying, social stratification -- time honored human predilections must be regulated, if certain social outcomes, like cultural well-being, are desired goals.

Morals, then, are not absolute rules. They certainly do not come from non-existent gods. Nor are they some voice from a center of human inwardness in tune with supernatural forces nor with a Freudian fiction of a super-ego.

Morality can be self-correcting, but as history shows social advances may take centuries.


A great caller discussion from Atheist Experience this past Sunday regarding morality, situational morality, and the idea if you are simply adopting your morals from an external source, without evaluating them then you are not moral at all.

Starts at 11:45 and is long over 40 minutes with one caller but worth it at the end if you enjoy Dillahunty bombast, which I do.

The Smithsonian magazine has been doing articles on this idea of morality and it's origins.  The latest issue has an excellent article on university studies of infant behavior and their responses to scenarios involving moral situations. It appears incontrovertible that our DNA is wired to a point, in terms of our moral judgement, at this moment in our sociological evolution. 

Atheist 1

Theist   0

Science cannot answer the why-question.  It doesn't pretend to.

Atheism speaks only to the lack of belief in supernatural gods.

Philosophy may attempt to answer the why-question of existence.  I'm not a philosopher, so I can't assert this with any certainty, but I would imagine it is within the scope of the field. 

The why-answer can have an effect on how we should behave (doing good, etc.) but it does not have to.  Why the universe is and how we should behave are two distinct questions.

I don't think there can be an answer for the purpose of existance. 

In my own life, I create purpose for my existance because I feel I need a purpose, but I know that my concoction is a result of ethical socialization.  It is not an objective purpose. 

 

This is a very interesting topic.  Thank you for starting this thread.  I'm eager to hear from others.

 

The why question can't be answered by any group. Theologians haven't answered any question since 1109CE when Anslem came up with his arguments for the existence of god. And Buddha said it is a useless question. In this case therefore, the why question doesn't undermine atheism nor does it help theism in any way.

The universe, just is, anyone asking for a reason for the universe is setting a trap.

To do good is beneficial to all of us. I don't want to be kept in prison so I will avoid breaking the law, same way I don't want to be killed so I will not kill even if there are people I felt like killing.

 I think science touches on the question "Why do good?". Just a little bit and indirectly. For instance: Whats going on with our minds/bodies when we feel good? Brain chemistry plays a bit of a roll here. Self image can lend to our emotional state and what not.

 Most people don't feel good after being bad however I think the thing that skews this is the other chemicals that come into play that people can even be addicted to in a sense while doing bad. The adrenaline rush that people get from fighting as an example.

 I've been exited about charity events before and other things that might be considered as "doing good" and it has a better overall effect. With the question "why do good" personal experience goes a long way and every bit counts. I don't need a scientist to tell me that there are benefits (personal and social) to running a marathon or bowling for MS. The fact is is that the better I feel, the better I act and this is better for society as a whole.

 In my opinion when people do something as seemingly insignificant as being honest with themselves this is what I would call "doing good". Imagine the great things that would happen if religious people were able to be completely honest with themselves. They have a different system with the same rewards (chemically) and they get it by lying to themselves. How long can this go on before their Psychological issues become deep seeded? I think one has to be lying to themselves in order to be as self serving as possible or even be as dickish as possible. These people are creating a cycle for themselves that only honesty will halt.

 Thats just my 2 cents

To put it as succinctly as I can: there is no "WHY," there is only "IS!"

The question of”why” has two facets.  There is "why" as an explanation of what prior conditions gave rise to an extant reality.  And there is "why" as some form of intentionality.  The context herein implied with this post is clearly one of intentionality.  That brings up the question of whose intentions we are talking about.  Again, the post seems to imply the intention of God, since there seems to be no other valid reason for even asking the question.  So, assuming that meaning... 

...Once and for all: there IS no "WHY?" as an objective reality independent of mental intention or a consequence of prior actions or conditions.  There is no shortage of quantifiable, qualitative, specific answers available for the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, and HOW of things; but none at all for WHY as an existential verity.  WHY, in this sense, exists only in the mind of a sentient being, such as a man or a god.  In fact, just posing the question of WHY as a reality outside the human mind is an a priori assumption that God exists.

Inasmuch I have never seen an iota of empirical evidence for the existence of God or gods of any kind, the question, as stated, is, for me, utterly meaningless.  As an atheist, I have no interest whatsoever in "why" questions.  I care about what IS, not about "why" it is.

LOL! I can't even begin to tell you all the ways I had that fucked up! I never cease to amaze myself with my lack of comprehension sometimes.

@ Dale Thanks for that post. Whatever I thought I had read I had it all wrong and you cleared that up for me.

I recall as a young child, after my 3rd or 4th WHY? questions in a row, my father would say, "because I said so, that is WHY".

WHY, in this sense, exists only in the mind of a sentient being, such as a man or a god.In fact, just posing the question of WHY as a reality outside the human mind is an a priori assumption that God exists.

This is an intriguing statement...it sounds harsh, almost. I can see that as soon as you ask, how the whole universe lines up and revolves around you. However, every generation will ask, and religion is right there with all the answers.

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