1. Standard memberdj2becker
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    20 Mar '12 18:12
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life? If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found? Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end? How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier? If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong? If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?
    2. If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning, so why don’t we see more atheists like Jean Paul Sartre, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or Michel Foucault? These three philosophers, who also embraced atheism, recognized that in the absence of God, there was no transcendent meaning beyond one’s own self-interests, pleasures, or tastes. The crisis of atheistic meaninglessness is depicted in Sartre’s book Nausea. Without God, there is a crisis of meaning, and these three thinkers, among others, show us a world of just stuff, thrown out into space and time, going nowhere, meaning nothing.
    3. When people have embraced atheism, the historical results can be horrific, as in the regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot who saw religion as the problem and worked to eradicate it? In other words, what set of actions are consistent with particular belief commitments? It could be argued, that these behaviors – of the regimes in question - are more consistent with the implications of atheism. Though, I'm thankful that many of the atheists I know do not live the implications of these beliefs out for themselves like others did! It could be argued that the socio-political ideologies could very well be the outworking of a particular set of beliefs – beliefs that posited the ideal state as an atheistic one.
    4. If there is no God, the problems of evil and suffering are in no way solved, so where is the hope of redemption, or meaning for those who suffer? Suffering is just as tragic, if not more so, without God because there is no hope of ultimate justice, or of the suffering being rendered meaningful or transcendent, redemptive or redeemable. It might be true that there is no God to blame now, but neither is there a God to reach out to for strength, transcendent meaning, or comfort. Why would we seek the alleviation of suffering without objective morality grounded in a God of justice?
    5. If there is no God, we lose the very standard by which we critique religions and religious people, so whose opinion matters most? Whose voice will be heard? Whose tastes or preferences will be honored? In the long run, human tastes and opinions have no more weight than we give them, and who are we to give them meaning anyway? Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong? Where do those standards come from? Sure, our societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences for things that are not socially acceptable, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun; from slavery, to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy. Human taste, opinion law and culture are hardly dependable arbiters of Truth.
    6. If there is no God, we don’t make sense, so how do we explain human longings and desire for the transcendent? How do we even explain human questions for meaning and purpose, or inner thoughts like, why do I feel unfulfilled or empty? Why do we hunger for the spiritual, and how do we explain these longings if nothing can exist beyond the material world?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
  2. Joined
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    20 Mar '12 18:404 edits
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    never mind. Too much lampoon.
  3. Standard memberwolfgang59
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    20 Mar '12 19:01
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning ...[text shortened]... rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    Why are you only asking atheists?
    Which six of the twenty plus questions do you want answered?
  4. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    20 Mar '12 19:271 edit
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    That's a lot more than 6 questions. You could probably fill six separate threads with the 6 [groups of] questions. Nevertheless, here are my shotgun answers:

    1. I have no idea why there's something rather than nothing. Concentrating on things that matter to us gives our lives meaning. Is a piece of great music 'all in vain' because the song ends? Trust people who make sense. No circumstances would make me give up atheism if I am content with it.
    2. There is no crisis of meaning. People DO act in the interest of others. Why do theists wax poetic about how wonderfully designed the universe, the earth, and the human being are, yet reduce the same exact universe to a 'meaningless collection of stuff' in God's absence?
    3. For every Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot you can throw at me, I can throw back a Richard the Lionhearted, George W. Bush, etc. See http://web.archive.org/web/20030211060034/http://www.geocities.com/iconoclastes.geo/shame.html for a long list!
    4. Suffering is more tragic with God, because he has so much more ability to prevent it than we do. Suffering can be meaningful without God. We should seek alleviation of suffering because it's the right thing to do.
    5. I repeat: Trust people who make sense. Sometimes we get morality wrong. We have to keep trying to improve anyway. It's the best we can do.
    6. We look to the transcendent and the spiritual because we are too frightened to face the fact that we are on our own in the universe, and we're frightened of our own mortality. Unfulfilled people have usually not identified what matters to them, or they are not pursuing it.
  5. Subscribersonhouse
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    20 Mar '12 19:39
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    That's a lot more than 6 questions. You could probably fill six separate threads with the 6 [groups of] questions. Nevertheless, here are my shotgun answers:

    1. I have no idea why there's something rather than nothing. Concentrating on things that matter to us gives our lives meaning. Is a piece of great music 'all in vain' because the song ends? Trus ...[text shortened]... people have usually not identified what matters to them, or they are not pursuing it.
    Besides, you are using those examples as if Paulism AKA Christianity, was the only religion on the planet.

    The problem with theists is there are too many religions in the world for ANY of them to be anything other than BS, a man made institution designed to attract followers and therefore to build a power base. And just coincidentally keep women down to the lowest level of humanity, barefoot and pregnant, governed by different laws than for men, like in places in the world where if a woman is raped, it is her fault.

    There are way too many religions in the world for just one to be the REAL one and all the rest false religions. They are ALL false, since they are 100% man made.

    They come up with totally different creation myths, laws, commandments, what to eat, when to eat, all having absolutely nothing to do with spirituality, yet these edicts about what to eat and when to eat are supposedly coming from a god?

    I don't think so.
  6. Standard memberSwissGambit
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    20 Mar '12 19:51
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Besides, you are using those examples as if Paulism AKA Christianity, was the only religion on the planet.

    The problem with theists is there are too many religions in the world for ANY of them to be anything other than BS, a man made institution designed to attract followers and therefore to build a power base. And just coincidentally keep women down to ...[text shortened]... edicts about what to eat and when to eat are supposedly coming from a god?

    I don't think so.
    Christianity is the religion I know the most about, so naturally I use it in some of my examples.

    I am an atheist as you are, but I cringe at some of your arguments. They're just bad.

    1) Too many religions = religions are all total BS.
    Counterexamples: It's possible that one of them is totally correct and the others are wrong. It's possible that some of them are partially correct.
    2) Religions are all false, since they are 100% man made.
    Non-sequitur. Counterexample: Scientific theories are 100% man made. They are not all false.
  7. Joined
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    20 Mar '12 19:544 edits
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    I am non-theistic in my approach to such questions, because the baggage that comes with "atheist" get in the way. Having nothing else needing attention, here goes:

    1. There is something rather than nothing, except where and when there is not. If there were nothing, the question would be, why is there nothing, rather than something? Only there would be nobody asking. I agree that is not a "why" answer that will satisfy a theist and the rest of these might not either. Meaning can be found within, as you make it, if it is to be there. Human history may lead to annihilation of the species and replacement by others, or we may find a way to survive as long as the universe does. Right and wrong are not "identified," they are created by moral agents. You are obligated to trust your own opinion. You have no choice. The last question can only be answered by "I introspect, and find no belief that a deity exists." I am content with that. If the situation changes, it changes.

    Whew! 6 questions?

    2. The question assumes something not in evidence. I am not experiencing a crisis of meaning.
    3. We enshrine our moral systems in religion. Doing so gives them weight and conserves them against challenge. Not every enshrinement goes well. States that claim to be atheistic still enshrine their moral codes and most of them that survive, tolerate religion so long as it doesn't rebel. Enshrinement in religion or in the race or whatever, does not guarantee the results will not be horrific. History shows that.
    4. There needn't be a God; if all those beliefs in God or benefits of God existing are in place for those that need it, that is enough. God is so great He can work His wonders without existing; the idea is sufficient. People who need so desperately to believe in God existing like a person does, should not be prevented from doing so, so long as they don't try to make not believing that, impossible. That works both ways.
    5. Everyone's own opinion matters most to them, even the ones whose opinions differ on this very point. Human taste, opinion, law, and culture, including its inventions, are what we have. We find that living in groups beats solitary survival, so we invent moralities, etc. Law is not sufficient. we need to manipulate our own emotions to make them drive behavior when the law isn't looking and tastes aren't forceful enough.
    6. I think we make as much sense without God, as we do with God. We are yearners for more; that's what we are. But you are again assuming something, you are assuming that atheism implies materialism. Materialism is a dead philosophy. Even its offspring, physicalism, is questionable. I suspect your beliefs about atheism are in need of review.

    I suggest you read more Alan Watts.

    Edit: many other writers come to mind. Viktor Frankl is another.

    Edit: Heck. Start with William James.
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    20 Mar '12 20:081 edit
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    1 - we dont know why there is something rather than nothing, yet. that doesnt mean we should jump to conclusions that we dont know are correct, like claiming we KNOW god did it.
    there might be billions of other planets with life on, which would means our existence isnt so special. or we could be an against all odds, freak accident. who knows, not me. despite what people might want to think, the fact we dont know one thing doesnt mean that the it must be god, that would be guessing.
    does human history lead anywhere? or is it all in vain? depends on your angle. by using the phrase "in vain" implies that their was something we should have done but didnt, but as there really was no goal in the first place the question is meaningless. would you describe any of the animal species that have become extinct as meaningless? regardless of how people feel about humanity having a purpose or lack of one, this in no way is evidence of god. its the same as saying that before we knew what electricity was that lightening is from god, or before we knew about bacteria and virus's that plagues were the hand of god. explaining what we do not know by using god is just stupidity.
    right and wrong is subjective as well. humans seem to have an desire to survive, so we have learnt over the years that it is best to get along with each other or you might get a rock or spear in the back of the head, but as the world shows its much more complex than that. if we did have a super intelligent guide teaching us right from wrong dont you think the world would be more morally unified? instead we have different sets of ideas about whats good and bad that vary quiet a lot.
    i would be open to other answers if a god appeared and gave me proof of his powers. just because i would be aware of his existence doenst mean i would follow his teachings. for example if god appeared and he was the christian god and showed me his magic powers and said "will you become a christian spalfie" id say "are you still homophobic?", he'd say "yes" and id tell him where to go.

    phew....too many questions for me. but looking at the others they all have the same problem of suggesting that because we dont why something happens then saying it must be god. which is the same as pagans and aboriginals explaining everything that they didnt know using their own local deities, and thats all god is - the superstition of our age.
  9. Illinois
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    20 Mar '12 22:08
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning ...[text shortened]... rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    3. When people have embraced atheism, the historical results can be horrific, as in the regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot who saw religion as the problem and worked to eradicate it?

    It could easily be argued that no ideology, religious or irreligious, is exempt from abuse by those in power.

    Who is to say that lying, or cheating or adultery or child molestation are wrong –really wrong? Where do those standards come from?

    Right and wrong are determined by a moral evaluation of an action. One takes into account the intent of an agent, whether good or bad, as well as the consequences of the agent's action, whether beneficial or harmful. Based on the best rationale and evidence we judge the action as either right or wrong.
  10. Joined
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    20 Mar '12 23:322 edits
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing? This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers. But it is an historic concern. Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    (1) If you feel like presenting some actual reasons why, in the pursuit of answers to such "big questions", explanatory programs that invoke God are better than those that do not; then I am listening. These reasons are what, exactly? Please be specific.

    (2) I am not aware of any such crisis. I do not see how the descriptive question of God's existence is a material consideration here.

    (3) Well, the historical results can be horrific when people embrace theism, too. Not sure what your point is. Atheism can pretty much be consistent with just about anything, excepting of course the belief in god(s). Theism, too, can pretty much be consistent with just about anything, excepting of course the denial of theism.

    (4) Yes, news flash: suffering is tragic under virtually any sane worldview. Actually, though, suffering takes on a more diabolical dimension with the existence of God: it's morally outrageous that all this suffering obtains when there exists someone with the opportunity, power, and knowledge to have prevented it. On the other hand, without such a person, it is not morally outrageous; it is just unfortunate and, yes, tragic.

    (5) Yeah, you're right. The idea that a human could arbitrate truth is just crazy talk. Everyone knows that only the invisible sky fairy does that sort of thing. 🙄 I do not think many atheists will care that their view deprives them of holding that some invisible sky fairy determines truth (in some vague, mysterious way) through fiat, since that view is just ridiculous. If you want a less ridiculous view, you could just hold that truth values are objective and do not depend on any observer attitudes, whether it be those of humans or those of invisible sky fairies. But, then, any atheist can very well hold that too.

    (6) I do not really understand the problem here. You sure can explain, without any need to invoke God, human longings and desires. Have you ever read any books on this topic?
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    21 Mar '12 00:032 edits
    Originally posted by LemonJello
    (1) If you feel like presenting some actual reasons why, in the pursuit of answers to such "big questions", explanatory programs that invoke God are better than those that do not; then I am listening. These reasons are what, exactly? Please be specific.

    (2) I am not aware of any such crisis. I do not see how the descriptive question of God's existen eed to invoke God, human longings and desires. Have you ever read any books on this topic?
    Looks to be a cut and paste and a poorly thought out one at that.

    The following from #5 is a train wreck from multiple perspectives - not the least of which is the fact that most of the attempted points speak against Christianity as much as, if not more, against atheism:
    "Sure, our societies might make these things “illegal” and impose penalties or consequences for things that are not socially acceptable, but human cultures have at various times legally or socially disapproved of everything from believing in God to believing the world revolves around the sun; from slavery, to interracial marriage, from polygamy to monogamy."

    I'll be surprised if anyone gets a thoughtful response from the OPer.
  12. Subscribersonhouse
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    21 Mar '12 00:401 edit
    Originally posted by SwissGambit
    Christianity is the religion I know the most about, so naturally I use it in some of my examples.

    I am an atheist as you are, but I cringe at some of your arguments. They're just bad.

    1) [b]Too many religions = religions are all total BS.

    Counterexamples: It's possible that one of them is totally correct and the others are wrong. It's possible ...[text shortened]...
    Non-sequitur. Counterexample: Scientific theories are 100% man made. They are not all false.[/b]
    If one is correct and all the others are man made then the god who inspired that one is a limited god, not able to get its message out to everyone. If there was a real god, it could just as easily send little voices to every man woman and child on the planet at the same time as opposed to just coincidentally setting up a system where one person is told the spiritual truth and then start a hierarchy. To my mind that is not the signature of a god, just the signature of a man starting a religion, much like L Ron Hubbard, as an example.

    Lets see someone prove that ANY religion comes from a real god. If so, I will be the first to apply.

    The scientific theory analogy doesn't hold because they believe in the concept of falsifiability.

    There is no falsifiable concepts in the god concept, it remained, remains and will remain based on faith. Trust me, I talk to god.....
  13. Standard memberRJHinds
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    21 Mar '12 03:20
    Originally posted by wolfgang59
    Why are you only asking atheists?
    Which six of the twenty plus questions do you want answered?
    This reminds me of one of my teachers, who would make a test with only a few numbered
    questions, but each question had several parts.
  14. Standard memberRJHinds
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    21 Mar '12 03:28
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    Besides, you are using those examples as if Paulism AKA Christianity, was the only religion on the planet.

    The problem with theists is there are too many religions in the world for ANY of them to be anything other than BS, a man made institution designed to attract followers and therefore to build a power base. And just coincidentally keep women down to ...[text shortened]... edicts about what to eat and when to eat are supposedly coming from a god?

    I don't think so.
    You realize they all religions can not be true. So is that what brings you to the
    Spirituality Forum to search for the truth of life? Is living and dying meaningless?
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    21 Mar '12 04:331 edit
    Originally posted by dj2becker
    1. If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered,

    2. If we reject the existence of God, we are left with a crisis of meaning, so why don’t we see more atheists like Jean Paul Sartre, or Friedrich Nietzsche, or Michel Foucault? These three philosophers, who also embraced atheism, recognized that in the absence of God, there was no tran rld?

    http://www.rzim.org/community/engagingconversations/tabid/105/entryid/14/default.aspx
    how are the big questions answered with god?


    so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing?


    why would there be nothing instead of something?

    Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life?


    why did conscious life wait billions of years to arrive here? why is there no conscious life on the other planets we can observe?


    If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found? Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end?


    would it be less vain if death wasn't merely the end? why would it be vain if death was merely the end?

    How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier?


    do we really understand good and evil? or do we make this stuff up as we go along?

    If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong?


    would you trust any opinion that is not your opinion? would you trust your opinion? why should any opinions be trusted by anyone at all?

    If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?


    what makes you think atheism is an answer? what makes you think theism is an answer? what makes you think we are not open to [other] answers right now?


    that concludes my answers to paragraph 1. you can see where this is going so i shall not bother with the rest unless there an open line of dialogue.
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