How is it possible to be an athiest?

In all honesty, how is it possible to be an athiest? I can understand the difficulty of finding which religion is the one true religion or what not, but denying that there is a God at all seems, well, foolish (no offense). You can’t have a watch without a watch- maker, you can’t have a train without an engine, therefore you can’t have a universe without a God. If there was a big bang, where did the matter come from that was floating around. What was the “engine” that gave the universe it’s initial pull? If there is an athiest, or anyone else out there for that matter, out there that can clear this up please help me.

I’m an atheist, and I’m gonna help you in two ways. First, I’m gonna move this thread over to Great Debates, where it should have been put in the first place. Then I’m gonna recommend that you go over to

and , and read everything on those two sites. THEN you can come back for more discussion, if you haven’t found your answer yet.


Even if the universe did need an intelligent force to start it off (and that is hardly proven), that doesn’t necessarily have to mean that the intelligent force was omnipotent or even that it’s still around today.

Got any proof that

[list=a][li] the universe is a watch?[/li] “You can’t have a watch without a watchmaker; therefore, you can’t have a universe without a universemaker that is an intelligent entity?” is a valid inference in a discussion about the origins of the universe?[/list=a]

One of my favorite Einstein quotes: “My sense of God is my sense of wonder about the universe.”

The universe is vague and mysterious. It it immense, and we learn entirely new things about it daily. Through science, we are on a glorious quest to discover the nature of ourselves, our planet, and the universe. We are humbled by the sheer immensity of it, but we have discovered over the centuries that mankind’s best, most consistently accurate tool for understanding our existence is science.

So some of us turn our back on books of unknown origin that tell us of beings that we cannot see but which nevertheless guide our lives and/or sit in judgement of us. We chose instead to try to use rationality, logic, and the mechanics of scientific inquiry to guide us.

Asking an atheist where the universe came from is like asking a Christian where God came from. Just because there is no satisfactory answer to the question doesn’t prove anything.

If accounting for the origin of matter is a requirement for athiests, shouldn’t accounting for the origin of god be a requirement for theists. When you assume that some creative force had to exist to create something it begs the question “what created that force?”, leading beck like a series of russian dolls.

I’m not an atheist or agnostic, but I’ll give it a go. One of the arguments that you raise is the teleological argument (i.e. the watchmaker argument). The agnostic philosopher David Hume maintained that the watchmaker analogy failed. Hume noted that we infer the existence of the watchmaker, because there is an empirical relation between watch and watchmaker. We can envision the watchmaking process. But we cannot envision the process of a divine being creating a universe. Hume maintained that the order/purpose that we might claim to see in nature is not necessarily an inherent quality of nature itself, but rather, is a perception shaped by the human mind’s tendency to impose order on chaotic sensory stimuli.

As for the cosmological argument (i.e. everything must have a cause), Hume denies that we can assert “every event is caused” as an a priori truth. Likewise, with regard to the claim that every series of causes must have a beginning, Hume did not find this assertion to be an a priori truth. He maintained that such a belief might simply be the product of the limitations of the human mind, rather than an inherent quality of the world itself.

Of course, Hume was not really an atheist, or at least he never claimed to be one. He was basically an agnostic and skeptic. He didn’t like to take sides on the grand cosmic issues. Generally, he had a lot more fun poking holes in other people’s ostensibly airtight theories.

A lot of the modern arguments for atheism stem from Feuerbach’s cultural critique of religion (i.e. we create God in our own image). Feuerbach’s cultural critique of monotheism has influenced a variety of well-known atheist writers, as diverse as Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.

Another thing; if you can’t have a universe without a universe-maker, how can you have a universe-maker without a universe-maker-maker?

I respectfully disagree (with Daivd Hume, that is). God, IMHO, is found in the details. Pi, the idea that positive charges attract negative ones, the speed of light, prime numbers… These are are the cogs and levers of the Universe. It is entirely within the scope of human comprehension that God created these most basic laws and set the Universe on its way.

There are two notions that I cling to in trying to find God:

  1. Mathematics is the alphabet with which God wrote the Universe. I think Galileo said it, but I’m probably wrong, but it reminds me that God is in the details.

  2. “I’m just finding out how God works”, a probable misquote of Gregor Mendal, a monk and father of modern genetics, when asked by Church officials if his work with pea pods wasn’t blasphemous.

So is there a God watching over us everyday? Well, if He can create a never ending number that never repeats itself…

I just hope He’s not too disaapointed when he pops in on me.

How long before somebody uses the Babelfish argument against the idea that the universe is proof of God’s existence?

Place your bets ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

Another problem with the watch-maker comparison is that it assumes god is the only thing that can create the universe. It also assumes that, if there is an unknown, that a god must be present in that unknown (IE, if you don’t know what brought the matter for the big bang into existance, then it must be because of god). Both are flawed, because they both rely on god being the “only answer” for situations when it isn’t clear what the answer is, and therefor, has no more speaking for it than any other answer.

True, but it’s also entirely possible that the “laws” of the universe are things that simply “happened”. And don’t give me any nonsense about “if you blew up a pile of metal, would you expect to get a car out of the resulting chaos”… because the universe isn’t that orderly. It just appears so because we are, essentially, watching it all happen in slow motion. VERY slow motion. If you slowed down a video clip of an explosion 'til it was running at, oh, one millionth of normal speed, the spectacle will look pretty organized and graceful.

Current theories estimate that the universe, in many trillions of trillions of trillions of years, will wind up as a dead, cold, boring wasteland, with almost all matter stuck in black holes, and no life anywhere. Sounds like a perfectly sound result for a simple random explosion to me.

It’s quite easy.

You’re walking around minding your own business. Someone comes up to you and says an Invisible Pink Unicorn exists.

You say “Fine, prove it”

They fail to do so to your satisfaction.

Replace the IPU with Quetzacoatl, Ahura Mazda, Osiris, Zeus, Pele, Vishnu, Valar, Odin, Yahweh, etc.

“I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” –Stephen Roberts

No, the “watch-maker” comparison doesn’t say that God is the only thing that can create the Universe. It only says that God created the rules by which the Universe exists. And no “watch-maker” I have ever met has denied the possibility that there might be other universes and other Gods. Its a question of scope. For all we know God is spending a good portion of His time chatting on boards trying to figure out where and why He came into existence.

As for summarily equating the Unknown with a “watch-maker” God, that’s just plain wrong. Or better that’s what Religion is. Science, as the practice of finding out how God works, has always worked to pull back the shrouds of the Unknown. We may not have liked, or been able to handle, what we found there, but we never felt the wrath of an angry exposed God.

The problem with the “watch-maker” God, as I see it , is that it fails to provide us with a definate confirmation of our place in the Universe. The Atheists think God does not exist and therefore we are the de facto rulers of ourselves and the Universe (when we get around to it). While the Religious see us a purely subjugate to this higher power (when it gets around to us).

A few quotes.
“You are never dedicated to do something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”
…Robert M. Pirsig, “Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”

“When a man ceases to believe in god, he does not believe in nothing. He believes in everything.”
…G.K. Chesterson

“The gods can either take away evil from the world and will not, or, being willing to do so, cannot; or they neither can nor will, or lastly, they are both able and willing. If they have the will to remove evil and cannot, then they are not omnipotent. If they can, but will not, than they are not benevolent. If they are neither able nor willing, then they are neither omnipotent nor benevolent. Lastly, if they are both able and willing to annihilate evil, how does it exist?”
…Epicures, 300 B.C.
“The man hates superstition But he believes in God I think that’s inconsistent I think that’s really odd When you believe in things that you don’t understand then you suffer Superstition ain’t the way”
…Stevie Wonder

Not if we are to believe in God. One argument for God is the notion of “first cause”. Take anything and trace the cause-effect trails backwards. When you get to the “first cause” you will find God.

Once the world was flat and the center of the Universe. Then we looked deeper. And we found other planets, and other stars, and atoms, and sub atomic particles, and relativity. But have we found a Unifying Theory? And once we do find it how many other things will we find? And how many of those answers will we as a species find before you die.

Afterall, isn’t that all this really is about?

Apparently the irony of your post escapes you. You attempt to deride those who believe the writings of others by posting the writings of others that you believe in.

Jeesh!! :rolleyes:

Can’t you muster an original thought or, at the very least, a derivative one?

For the record, I don’t deride those who believe in religion. I posted my poorly phrased explanation earlier, I found some quotes that explain what I was trying to say better than I could.

'Ang on there, guv’nor. Pele does indeed exist. Why, I saw him on TV as recent as yesterday, presenting the World Cup to the Brazilian team! :slight_smile: