So one of our beloved trolls on TA has actually been asking some important questions. I asked myself the same questions once and my answers led me to becoming an atheist. So I'm posting the reason behind my strong atheism as well as my response to some of his more significant questions.

The origin of the universe

The more research you read and the more deductive reasoning you are exposed to, the more it appears that every complex structure originated though logical processes from a more simple state. Applying this trend stretching back you can arrive at the problem of the origin of the universe.

Comparisons

For atheists, the problem is thus:
Nothingness > Universe

For Deists, there still lies a problem:
Simpler form? > God(s) > Universe

Deists use the argument that their god(s) exist in a domain that is without time as time is purely of our universe. In my statement to Angelo I used an analogy to demonstrate the paradigm of functional dependence can be separate from time:

"Just because before the universe, time did not exist does not mean that there could be no natural origin. The lack of existence of time does not rule out a sequence of origins.

Think of it this way: As a child you must have built pyramids out of blocks; the largest blocks at the bottom with increasingly smaller blocks placed on top. When the structure is complete, it is timeless. Despite its static/unchanging state, one block still rests atop another and another going on down. The different sized blocks are structurally dependent on a sequential order and are in a stable state in which time has no relevance."

Angelo's response: "A sequence of events implies time."

Events, by our language do imply time. However, the paradigm I'm trying to expose you to is that functional dependency can be independent from time. This paradigm is actually present in the theistic argument: The god(s) exist without time. They can engage in an act that creates time and the universe. The universe is therefor functionally dependent on that act and the god(s) despite existing in a state that is without time.

For a deist, using god(s) as a solution to the question of the origin of existence doesn't really answery the question. This is because that the next logical question is "where did the god(s) come from?" They use the argument that the domain of god(s) is without time and therefor they always existed. So then a more pressing, rephrased question is "why?" This argument implies gods are always the default state of existence. This kinda means that there are an infinite number of gods everywhere. Also, if you define a god as self-aware then it is definitely not a simple structure. In contrast, the atheist is left only with the problem of explaining the process from which nothingness creates our universe. So we should therefor apply Occam's Razor and work on the simpler explanation that a logical process can create the universe.

Following the Yellow-Brick Road to the Beginning

To determine what kind of logical process created the universe we have to first understand what the next simpler state is. We can do this by stripping away everything that composes the universe. Traditional naturalistic explanations focus on the origin of matter and energy. The problem is that matter and energy are not all the universe is composed of. We still are left with the dimensions and the rules governing how matter and energy behave. If the universe were a chalkboard, this amounts to only explaining where the chalk came from. There still lies the whole empty board that requires an explanation. So therefor the primitive state lacks both matter and energy as well as the dimensions and all the rules governing them. This is a state without rules or definition. There is a thought experiment from existential philosophy that demonstrates what a truly undefined state is:

Suppose we have a box. We may not open it or shake it. We have no way of knowing what is inside it. I can tell you whatever I want is inside it; superman, an elephant, anything. As long as we do not open it, I would be correct. In its unopened state, anything and everything can be said to exist within it.

This picture of nothingness is fundamentally different from the empty space traditional paradigms may draw on. Nothingness is a definition-less state of pure chaos in which everything and anything exist because essentially there is no common observer to provide definition. Our universe is just one possibility.

So why don't I see superman? Complex logical structures require a set of rules that can provide enough stability for them to form. These rules are a common thread that binds a universe together as one cohesive unit. Superman has no relevance in our universe. There never was a Krypton in our timeline. Superman's only contextual relevance in our universe is as part of a fictional story. If we look at this question in a more figurative sense as "why don't we see chaos?" Then the answer is, we DO actually. Quantum theory focuses on scales of our universe which are so small that observability becomes tenuous. It describes the structured manner in which chaos bleeds through in the presence of waning definition.

This Atheistic paradigm therefor provides the most logical explanation as nothingness is the most primitive state. It both requires no further explanation and yet is entirely logical.

Complications from the Contrast with the Theistic Paradigm

Coming from the theistic paradigm, there can be complications when changing to a godless paradigm. The common ones that many deists get stuck on are as follows.

What is the reason for our existence?

The purpose behind something can be determined by observing its function. The only common function that all life works towards is to continue. This may seem bland at first, but the more you look at the world this way the more it starts to color everything as you start to take threats to life more seriously and follow the task of logically addressing them in their full scope.

Why does evil exist in this world?

It doesn't.

Not good enough? Ok, good and evil are values we arbitrarily ascribe to aspects of life. The positive and negative effects of anything are never so pure. When we use such absolute labels we loose sight of the complete picture. We can describe an act or a person as evil, but when we do that we could be overlooking the root causes of problems that may need to be addressed. If stealing is wrong, then is a man who hasn't the means to feed himself or his family, who resorts to stealing food, evil? In the full scope of this situation, the choice never really existed. Yet, by using such absolute labels, we make it appear as though it did.

From Angelo: "Why is human life more valuable than animals? One species of animal kills another, for food, but nobody cares. We kill animals, and its alright. Why do we kill each other, and it is not alright?"

Human life is not more valuable than animals. We just treat it that way from a special class of instinctive social ethics; our sense of community. Most of us do not identify animals as part of our community, so we are not bothered by using them for our needs. This special class of ethics has been integral to our survival; working together forming cooperative communities. We don't always see killing each other as wrong. We sometimes see it as right when we find ourselves in conflict with another community.

From Angelo: "If God does not exist, the life of humans is of as much worth as an amoeba."

From an absolute perspective, correct! However, due to that special class of social ethics, to other human beings, no. We place value on each other. Context is everything here.

From Angelo:(If I were an atheist...) "Since i could not expect anything after death, i would have to expect everything good in this life."

The concept of getting everything you want in an afterlife doesn't even agree with our psyche. Our desires form from unmet needs and the complications of attempting to meet those needs in a universe that is entirely ambivalent to us.

From Angelo:"And death is the most terrifying thought one can have, because after it, a big, black void will be."

It's actually only terrifying if you lie to yourself that life is permanent.

From Angelo:"If God does not exist, evil has definitively won over goodness. People like Hitler, Pol Pot, drug dealers, etc. definitively won. They made what they wished, killed millions, and in the end will not have to pay for what they did. Justice will never be done!!"

This is why we should act quickly to stop problems that exist today, so that we have justice within our lifetimes. And we should take preventive steps against problems occurring. On the flip side of the coin, if destructive and malevolent people were just going to be judged in the end, why bother stopping them at all? People died in WWII bringing Hitler's reign to an end. If the victims are just going to go to paradise and the offenders will be punished by a higher power, then why bother interceding at all? If it is because it would be wrong to do nothing in the face of suffering, then shouldn't a morally superior god stop them? This argument proves that if there are any gods, they are amoral.

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Comment by Unseen on October 4, 2011 at 1:35am

@Ron V   Well, then paint scientists with the same brush. Every revolutionary idea in science runs a gauntlet in which most scientists defend the status quo idea until the burden of defense becomes unbearable. That is how science corrects itself while not going off half-cocked.

 

Religion ain't got anything like that. How often do you see religions admitting "Okay we got it wrong." At least the Catholic Church (strangely, the most primitive in many ways while at the same time the most intellectual of major Western religions) has done that a few times. When was the last time a Protestant sect or even Wicca admitted that it had been peddling horse puckey?

Comment by Ron V on October 4, 2011 at 1:35am

"Answers related to the cause of the universe are not scientific, but belong to meta-physics, philosophy, and religion"

 

Not true- quantum cosmology is but one example.

I also refer you to:

Barrow- The Origin of the Universe

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Godless/Origin.pdf

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Briefs/Nothing.pdf

 

Comment by Pope Beanie on October 4, 2011 at 1:40am

Why is it impossible to count to infinity?

That's such a silly argument. That would be like arguing against the existence of infinitely small moments of time, just because we can't count them. Yet an infinite number of infinitely small moments of time are occurring even as you read this. For example, how can you explain that a ball falls halfway to the floor, then halfway of that distance, then half of that, infinitely? We can't possibly count the number of infinite halfway points, yet the ball will always hit the floor, proving that the inability to count to infinity does not hinder time.

Would you also say that God couldn't count to infinity, or that God could not have existed forever? What can you be so possibly sure about first cause

 

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