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The Assertion That Atheism Logically Requires The Philosophical Acceptance Of Nihilism And The Rejection Of Moral Absolutism


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#1 motherengine

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Posted 16 May 2015 - 04:50 PM

Preface:

My central conscious motivation for this is to formulate a stronger argument as I do not think that the essential claim is unsound.

To clarify my argument I am utilizing the follow definitions:

Atheism:

[Oxford Dictionaries]

Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

[Merriam-Webster]

a disbelief in the existence of [a?] deity

Nihilism:

[Oxford Dictionaries]

The rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.

[Merriam-Webster]

the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value

-and a subsequent either/or position:

Also:

For the sake of this assertion and argument I am taking the following position:

An atheist is not simply someone who is rejecting a belief in a god/deity, but someone who has formulated a belief concerning the human condition (e.g. Question: How did we get here? Answer:: Accidentally). This relates to fundamental difference between atheism [I know] and agnosticism [I do not/cannot know].

And so; The argument for the assertion:

If there is no god/deity (are no gods/deities) then human existence is accidental.

If human existence is accidental then there cannot be objective meaning and/or value to anything (i.e., the meaning and/or value of everything is conceptual and not universally validated).

If existence is accidental then moral belief is not rational; there can be no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘should’ or ‘should not’, only appeals to a commonality of non-rational belief in ideals. And all appeals to righteousness are irrational.

All of this follows directly from the rejection of a belief in a god/deity (which would include the deification of subjective consciousness).

So then:

A rejection of a deity is a rejection of a universal purpose, as that is what belief in a deity directly implies. Rejection of a universal purpose is the essence of basic nihilism (as opposed to sociopolitical nihilism), which is the belief that values have no intrinsic meaning (via validation from a universal consciousness).

Moralizing, in any manner whatsoever, is either non-rational or outright irrational if morality is believed to have no objective value.

Accidentally acquired morals can only be appealed to non-rationally/irrationally (unless one incorrectly believes them to not be accidental).

Without God all things are absolutely permissible, as all things, being accidental, are therefore left to any and all to independently decide the worth or value of.

Now then:

Does this position arise from a confusion of terminology or definition; is it wholly linguistic in nature or semantically flawed?

Is the position critically incorrect/logically unsound?

I will appreciate and contemplate any rational response.

#2 phillip1882

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Posted 28 May 2015 - 07:49 PM

athiests agree that we got here mostly by accident, but there are a range of beliefs regarding whether morals are absolute or not.

for example, Kant argued the categorical imperitve. something is immoral if everyone applying the same moral principle would lead to an unfavorable outcome for the species. for example, theft is immoral, because if everyone stole, we would not have property rights and therefore no techological progress.

so, just becuase our origin might have been accidental, doesn't make us any less thinking rational beings capable of acting morally and applying those morals universally. athiest just dont believe there is a ultimate punishment waiting for them after they die.



#3 pgrmdave

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Posted 29 May 2015 - 11:43 AM

athiests agree that we got here mostly by accident, but there are a range of beliefs regarding whether morals are absolute or not.

for example, Kant argued the categorical imperitve. something is immoral if everyone applying the same moral principle would lead to an unfavorable outcome for the species. for example, theft is immoral, because if everyone stole, we would not have property rights and therefore no techological progress.

 Keep in mind that Kant's reasoning requires a universal value system - if technological progress is good, and theft leads to a lack of technological progress, then theft is bad.  But there's no universal way to determine whether technological progress is good or bad.  Well, you could say that technological progress helps extend peoples' lives - then you have to show that there's a universal way to determine that extended life is better, etc. etc.



#4 motherengine

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Posted 13 June 2015 - 11:33 AM

just becuase our origin might have been accidental, doesn't make us any less thinking rational beings capable of acting morally and applying those morals universally. athiest just dont believe there is a ultimate punishment waiting for them after they die.


An atheistic thinker can be rational and moral and attempt to apply ethical standards to affect the behavior of others, but what does this have to do with the proposed philosophical connection between atheism and nihilism?

Edited by motherengine, 13 June 2015 - 11:34 AM.


#5 Moontanman

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Posted 13 June 2015 - 07:00 PM

An atheistic thinker can be rational and moral and attempt to apply ethical standards to affect the behavior of others, but what does this have to do with the proposed philosophical connection between atheism and nihilism?

 

 

Atheism does not make the claim "there is no god" I'd like to know why you get to define something and then make assumptions from that definition, but even if it did and everything was accidental purpose has evolved. We are social animals and behaviors that support our social structure are what is defined as moral. Atheism has no connection to nihilism for that reason...  

 

Atheism is simply the doubt or disbelief in a deity, ie not enough evidence for the existence of a deity has been presented to convince me there is such a deity.  It is not a statement that no such deity exists, it is not a statement that everything is random nor is it statement that no gods exist.

 

You start out by creating a strawman then by fighting that strawman you also imply that accidental and random are the same thing when clearly they are not....


Edited by Moontanman, 13 June 2015 - 07:13 PM.


#6 motherengine

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Posted 16 June 2015 - 10:39 PM

Are you deliberately trying to attack all of my posts? Just curious.

 

Atheism does not make the claim "there is no god"


Atheism doesn’t makes claims. And where did I make the argument that atheistic thinkers claim god does not exist (though, in fact, some do). My argument concerns the idea that there is no god.
 

I'd like to know why you get to define something and then make assumptions from that definition


I used dictionary definitions as a basis for a speculative philosophical argument. The "why" is because this is my post; you can dislike it all you want.
 

but even if it did and everything was accidental purpose has evolved.


Accidental purpose, huh? Isn’t that an oxymoron?
 

We are social animals and behaviors that support our social structure are what is defined as moral. Atheism has no connection to nihilism for that reason...


So atheism has no connection to nihilism because human animals have behaviors that support a moral social structure? Maybe you are not understanding that my question concerns reality objective to the human condition in relationship to human philosophical positions sans a moral perspective; i.e., human animals can be as moral as we want/need to be, but if our morality is accidentally acquired then the value of such a thing is both imaginary and temporary. Is this false?
 

Atheism is simply the doubt or disbelief in a deity, ie not enough evidence for the existence of a deity has been presented to convince me there is such a deity.  It is not a statement that no such deity exists, it is not a statement that everything is random nor is it statement that no gods exist.


Thus my post is dealing with philosophical implications of disbelief and is not based on the ‘fact that atheists claim there is no god'.
 

You start out by creating a strawman then by fighting that strawman you also imply that accidental and random are the same thing when clearly they are not....


Where is the straw man? I think that you are attempting to distort my argument into a straw man and attack it instead of the actual argument.

Merriam-Webster:

Random- without definite aim, direction, rule, or method
Accidental- happening in a way that is not planned or intended

If you don’t like the definitions I am using you can use your own dictionary; or better yet, ignore this post and create your own with your own definitions. I promise not to waste your time if I don‘t like the definitions you use.

Or you could explain, succinctly, how something in a universe without purposeful design could have ultimate value or worth? You can argue for subjective worth, but then how does your temporal subjectivity define absolute reality?

Or you could just assume that I am a fool and stop attempting to argue against my positions.

Edited by motherengine, 16 June 2015 - 10:55 PM.


#7 Moontanman

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Posted 17 June 2015 - 10:32 AM

Preface:

My central conscious motivation for this is to formulate a stronger argument as I do not think that the essential claim is unsound.

To clarify my argument I am utilizing the follow definitions:

Atheism:

[Oxford Dictionaries]

Disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

[Merriam-Webster]

a disbelief in the existence of [a?] deity

Nihilism:

[Oxford Dictionaries]

The rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.

[Merriam-Webster]

the belief that traditional morals, ideas, beliefs, etc., have no worth or value

-and a subsequent either/or position:

Also:

For the sake of this assertion and argument I am taking the following position:

An atheist is not simply someone who is rejecting a belief in a god/deity, but someone who has formulated a belief concerning the human condition (e.g. Question: How did we get here? Answer:: Accidentally). This relates to fundamental difference between atheism [I know] and agnosticism [I do not/cannot know]

.
 
 Here is where you make your first false assumption, atheism is not "I know" I am an agnostic atheist, it means I do not accept current evidence for god but I do not claim to know one way or another. You can be either an agnostic atheist or a gnostic atheist. Being a gnostic atheist is as unsupportable claim as being a gnostic theist.

And so; The argument for the assertion:

If there is no god/deity (are no gods/deities) then human existence is accidental.

here is where you make your second mistake, there can be other possibilities, the question is not a simple two possibilities answer. We don't know is the only reasonable answer.

If human existence is accidental then there cannot be objective meaning and/or value to anything (i.e., the meaning and/or value of everything is conceptual and not universally validated).

This is your third mistake, if human existence is accidental that does not indicate that objective meaning and or value is not valid.

If existence is accidental then moral belief is not rational; there can be no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘should’ or ‘should not’, only appeals to a commonality of non-rational belief in ideals. And all appeals to righteousness are irrational.

Moral beliefs can both be accidental (in your rather loose use of the term) and rational.

All of this follows directly from the rejection of a belief in a god/deity (which would include the deification of subjective consciousness).

No, since your assumptions are false this does not follow.

So then:

A rejection of a deity is a rejection of a universal purpose, as that is what belief in a deity directly implies. Rejection of a universal purpose is the essence of basic nihilism (as opposed to sociopolitical nihilism), which is the belief that values have no intrinsic meaning (via validation from a universal consciousness)

Moralizing, in any manner whatsoever, is either non-rational or outright irrational if morality is believed to have no objective value.

Accidentally acquired morals can only be appealed to non-rationally/irrationally (unless one incorrectly believes them to not be accidental).

Without God all things are absolutely permissible, as all things, being accidental, are therefore left to any and all to independently decide the worth or value of.

Now then:

Does this position arise from a confusion of terminology or definition; is it wholly linguistic in nature or semantically flawed?

Is the position critically incorrect/logically unsound?

I will appreciate and contemplate any rational response.

I think my response is completely rational value and the idea of right and wrong have evolved along with our social nature. Behaviors that hurt the group tend to die out while behaviors that have a positive effect are selected for.

No god or universal consciousness is necessary.

and no I am not on a vendetta against you, I am a long term member of this forum and I think the mods can confirm i am not a troll.

#8 motherengine

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Posted 22 June 2015 - 07:39 PM

Here is where you make your first false assumption, atheism is not "I know" I am an agnostic atheist, it means I do not accept current evidence for god but I do not claim to know one way or another. You can be either an agnostic atheist or a gnostic atheist. Being a gnostic atheist is as unsupportable claim as being a gnostic theist.


What you are seeing as a “mistake” was an intentional wording in order to relate my assertion. I didn’t post this for you in particular, so your particular views do not somehow negate the reality that other people do hold such views. My position is philosophical, not personal.
 

here is where you make your second mistake, there can be other possibilities, the question is not a simple two possibilities answer. We don't know is the only reasonable answer.


Objectively and ultimately there can only be an either/or scenario: Human existence is accidental or on purpose. Our lack of knowledge would not alter this. And if I go on the supposition that nothing can be known and so should not be discussed, then there are no assertions to be made about anything ever.
 

This is your third mistake, if human existence is accidental that does not indicate that objective meaning and or value is not valid.


Are you deliberately misunderstanding what I have posted? What objective (to conscious entities) meaning could possibly exist in an accidental universe? Where is the validity beyond the essence itself?
 

Moral beliefs can both be accidental (in your rather loose use of the term) and rational.


No they cannot. We can rationally discussion our moral beliefs, but the beliefs themselves are not rational. And what exactly is a more refined use of the term 'accidental'?
 

No, since your assumptions are false this does not follow.


There are people who believe that there is no god and that human existence is part of accidental processes. It seems as though you are trying to distort my argument as if I created it with you in mind.
 

I think my response is completely rational value and the idea of right and wrong have evolved along with our social nature. Behaviors that hurt the group tend to die out while behaviors that have a positive effect are selected for.

No god or universal consciousness is necessary.


The process you are talking about is not a rational one but a non-conscious development throughout the evolution of the species with many contrasts between differing cultures. Just because we can examine such processes, and our examinations can affect them, does not make the processes themselves rational.

A god is necessary for our morals to be objectively valid, let alone one set of mores being more valid than any other. If our morals are accidentally acquired what gives your ‘right’ more validity over mine; an appeal to majority?

You are ignoring the assertion of there being a philosophical connection between atheism and nihilism and only concentrating on the manner in which the assertion has been structured. You may think that my wording hurts my assertion but you have yet to give me a reason to think that this may be the case.

Edited by motherengine, 22 June 2015 - 07:56 PM.


#9 layman

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 04:07 AM

basically you're saying if one lacks belief in all the definitions of god they know of, then they automatically have to accept that there is no arbiter of what is moral, which then makes morality moot.

they cannot get around that.

that's how i understand your post.

you also have to define god.

if i were an atheist arguing that i do not have to reject morality as well as accept that there is no universally validated meaning to life.

 

i would say the following.

 

 

nothing can be accidental. that is just a term science uses, like chance, for the lack of better ones but even one in a gazillion squared is not accidental. but more importantly once a system is created, accidental or not, there is nothing accidental about it's potential. there is nothing precluding it from developing values if the system does in fact have that potential.

 

we can easily be, as one theory goes, a mere simulation being run by advanced humans on a advanced computer who are seeking to understand their own origin. in that case would they be god? no one has defined them as such and yet they are the creators. i don't have to accept them as gods, particularly if they are related to me genetically, same as my parents aren't gods but there would be universally validated meaning and value to our existence as well in that case. and it could conceivably be proven by science.

 

that scenario seems to be immune to any atheist rules because i don't see how atheism can rule out something science, not philosophy, says is plausible as well as there is no definition of god not to believe in.  hence I can be atheist but not nihilistic.

 

further in terms of morality:

 

the universe has meaning simply because we say it does and that is actually a fact that cannot be gotten around and it not just semantics to ask, if we(life) don't speak for the universe then what does? we are not any less natural than rocks and water and gravity. they are condemned in a manner of speaking, to be and do as they must, same as we. we contemplate life for the same reasons water is wet and the moon orbits the earth. what results from that is a force as natural as all the known forces. a skyscrapper is in reality as natural as mount everest.

 

our quest for meaning is not an aberration of thinking, it's a natural product of the system's potential.

 

how can anyone's thoughts ever be separate from the system, better still how can anything ever violate the system?

 

if we cannot violate the system then all things including thoughts are valid because they represent the system's potential.

 

thoughts are akin to color. they don't really exist, however it is a representation of what really does.

 

if we are just cogs in an accidental machine then our products are universally validated. not just some people's but all people's products. including morality and the ability to conceive and define gods as place holders for our very real conception of us, the universe.


Edited by layman, 23 June 2015 - 04:20 AM.


#10 layman

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 06:56 AM

let me pose this.  what if one concludes that every thing is moral. does the concept of morality then cease to exist?

 

not sure if this is just word games but if one decides that morality doesn't exist then isn't that which governs their behavior from that point on is what becomes their moral code, whether they frame it that way or not?

 

that suggests nihilism can't even exist.

 

a nihilist doesn't have a "moral" code just because he says so. not good enough. we need proof that "morality" whatever it is, can actually be extracted from the system. if it is BS then it doesn't really exist and can in theory be removed from the system.

 

proof would be all people could actually be without this sense of "morality" rearing it's head in some form whether we recogize it as such or not.

 

a nihilist must be saying that the sense of morality we feel is a total conditioning and not intrinsic to the creation.

so then we should be able to get rid it. which most definitely means should be able to define it clearly.

 

i don't see how that is possible.  emotions come out of us, how can we not help making decisions based on them?

and i mean we have no choice, like we think in theory we can separate out our emotions but they will always influence us and there is one's moral code. you cannot strip it out just because an intellectual exercise says you can.

 

no human can act in a way which will not betray what can be construde as a moral code. save mentally defective minds.

that means morality cannot be removed from the universe. where there are humans morality will arise. 

scientifically speaking, a human is a creation by the universe. all things follow natural law and no thing can violate it.

we are an object with properties just like all matter. we function according to our design. we are designed to procreate and thus have to make a decision. how does this object make that decision? it uses tools, like emotions, like morality. whether it knows it by name or not. in short, it's just in our nature, yes just like gravity can't help warping space.

 

if your assertion were true then atheism would automatically make the case for nihilism. that is burden that atheism has no business bearing.



#11 Moontanman

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Posted 23 June 2015 - 03:24 PM

What you are seeing as a “mistake” was an intentional wording in order to relate my assertion. I didn’t post this for you in particular, so your particular views do not somehow negate the reality that other people do hold such views. My position is philosophical, not personal.


I never assumed it was personal, you simply do not understand what atheism means.
 
 

Objectively and ultimately there can only be an either/or scenario: Human existence is accidental or on purpose. Our lack of knowledge would not alter this. And if I go on the supposition that nothing can be known and so should not be discussed, then there are no assertions to be made about anything ever.


No, humans evolved, evolution is not accidental...
 
 

Are you deliberately misunderstanding what I have posted? What objective (to conscious entities) meaning could possibly exist in an accidental universe? Where is the validity beyond the essence itself?


You have yet to demonstrate the universe is accidental or that conscious entities had anything to do with the universe.
 
 

No they cannot. We can rationally discussion our moral beliefs, but the beliefs themselves are not rational. And what exactly is a more refined use of the term 'accidental'?


You have not demonstrated that morals are accidental or irrational, in fact the evolution of morals is not only rational but also not accidental.
 

There are people who believe that there is no god and that human existence is part of accidental processes. It seems as though you are trying to distort my argument as if I created it with you in mind.


People believe lot of things the existence of a god has no bearing on the accidental or nonaccidental nature of human existence.
 
 

The process you are talking about is not a rational one but a non-conscious development throughout the evolution of the species with many contrasts between differing cultures. Just because we can examine such processes, and our examinations can affect them, does not make the processes themselves rational.


Nor does it make them irrational, rationality is something we humans assign and may or may not be valid.
 

A god is necessary for our morals to be objectively valid, let alone one set of mores being more valid than any other.


A god is not necessary for morals much less for them to be objectively valid, morals by your own assertion are not objective but have to be subjective.
 

If our morals are accidentally acquired what gives your ‘right’ more validity over mine; an appeal to majority?


You have yet to establish that morals are accidental and yes in our society the majority do indeed decide what it moral.
 

You are ignoring the assertion of there being a philosophical connection between atheism and nihilism and only concentrating on the manner in which the assertion has been structured. You may think that my wording hurts my assertion but you have yet to give me a reason to think that this may be the case.


Atheism has one tenet, the lack of belief in gods, it does not assert there are no gods, atheism simply follows the null hypothesis, you are trying to attach other things to the term that have no bearing on it...

#12 motherengine

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 08:52 PM

I never assumed it was personal, you simply do not understand what atheism means.


Atheism is a lack of belief in a universal creator. Some people deny the existence of a creative force, some people outright reject the idea, some people don’t know about the concept, some people claim that they know that no such force exists. These would all be atheistic thinkers. I could be labeled an agnostic atheistic thinker. I know exactly what atheism "means".
 

No, humans evolved, evolution is not accidental...


So it was on purpose? It was decided? Though what intention did we evolve?

From Merriam-Webster

Full definition of ACCIDENTAL
1
: arising from extrinsic causes : incidental, nonessential
2
a : occurring unexpectedly or by chance
b : happening without intent or through carelessness and often with unfortunate results

We are intrinsic to the process of evolution. We are a part of it. What caused the process?
 

You have yet to demonstrate the universe is accidental or that conscious entities had anything to do with the universe.
 
You have not demonstrated that morals are accidental or irrational, in fact the evolution of morals is not only rational but also not accidental.


How would I do that? Why do require me to do that? My assertion is PHILOSOPHICAL. What is your definition of accidental?

How so? Please enlighten me with a demonstration.
 

People believe lot of things the existence of a god has no bearing on the accidental or nonaccidental nature of human existence.


Human existence would not be accidental if their were a conscious entity who intentionally created us.
 

Nor does it make them irrational, rationality is something we humans assign and may or may not be valid.


We assign rules rationally (sometimes). Did humans assign our morals rationally, or at all? All available evidence seems to suggest that our moral evolved arbitrarily and separate from our reason.
 

A god is not necessary for morals much less for them to be objectively valid, morals by your own assertion are not objective but have to be subjective.


If a god hardwired us to feel that killing is wrong then the belief that killing was wrong would be objectively valid.

You seem contrarian; as though you are arguing less against my assertions and more against aspects of my wording.
 

You have yet to establish that morals are accidental and yes in our society the majority do indeed decide what it moral.


Appeal to majority? Evidence of statement? I doubt that even two people can be found who agree on all things morally.
 

Atheism has one tenet, the lack of belief in gods, it does not assert there are no gods, atheism simply follows the null hypothesis, you are trying to attach other things to the term that have no bearing on it...


No I am not. Atheism does not assert anything. Atheistic thinkers assert many differing things depending on personality, experience and the “lack of belief in a god”.

You are completely ignoring my assertion that ultimate value objective to the human condition is dependent on some form of universal consciousness, i.e., a god.

Edited by motherengine, 25 June 2015 - 08:55 PM.


#13 motherengine

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 09:50 PM

basically you're saying if one lacks belief in all the definitions of god they know of, then they automatically have to accept that there is no arbiter of what is moral, which then makes morality moot.
they cannot get around that.
that's how i understand your post.


It would not make morality “moot” but rather draw into question the validity of one person’s moral view versus another person’s moral view, as all moral views/beliefs would be equally ‘correct’.
 

nothing can be accidental. that is just a term science uses, like chance, for the lack of better ones but even one in a gazillion squared is not accidental. but more importantly once a system is created, accidental or not, there is nothing accidental about it's potential. there is nothing precluding it from developing values if the system does in fact have that potential.


I use the term 'accidental' to mean not intended by any conscious entity. Therefore I suggest the possibility that human morality is accidental, i.e., not formulated by a conscious agency objective to the human condition.

 

we can easily be, as one theory goes, a mere simulation being run by advanced humans on a advanced computer who are seeking to understand their own origin. in that case would they be god? no one has defined them as such and yet they are the creators. i don't have to accept them as gods, particularly if they are related to me genetically, same as my parents aren't gods but there would be universally validated meaning and value to our existence as well in that case. and it could conceivably be proven by science.
 
that scenario seems to be immune to any atheist rules because i don't see how atheism can rule out something science, not philosophy, says is plausible as well as there is no definition of god not to believe in.  hence I can be atheist but not nihilistic.


Who made them? Are they universal creators? Were they intentionally created? Its the same question with the same potential answers concerning ultimate value and meaning.

And science cannot, as of yet, rule out the god theory.
 

the universe has meaning simply because we say it does and that is actually a fact that cannot be gotten around and it not just semantics to ask, if we(life) don't speak for the universe then what does?

our quest for meaning is not an aberration of thinking, it's a natural product of the system's potential.
 
how can anyone's thoughts ever be separate from the system, better still how can anything ever violate the system?
 
if we are just cogs in an accidental machine then our products are universally validated. not just some people's but all people's products. including morality and the ability to conceive and define gods as place holders for our very real conception of us, the universe.


1- Then that meaning is temporary and will rot and become extinct with us?

2- What is an aberration of thought? Who decides?

3- If nothing can violate the system then are all moral views/beliefs of equal value in a universal sense (even delusional and nihilistic beliefs)? Incidentally this is what I am suggesting.

4- Again, does value live and die with thinking creatures? If the eternal universe has no meaning or value beyond thinking creatures then how would our temporary spark of value be absolute? Wouldn’t it just be a temporal aspect, a momentary flicker of meaning in the meaningless dark. Do you believe we have the potential for immortality? Do you think that once a thing exists it can define all cosmic reality? Is value a single paradoxical aspect amidst an abyss of meaninglessness? If there is no voice but ours then we are speaking the ultimate truth? Are then all truths of equal value? Who decides?

What of the universe beyond us? Are you suggesting that we are the universe as opposed to an aspect of processes within?

Thanks for the 'on central topic' reply.

Edited by motherengine, 25 June 2015 - 11:03 PM.


#14 motherengine

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Posted 25 June 2015 - 10:40 PM

what if one concludes that every thing is moral. does the concept of morality then cease to exist?


Of course not; this post could not exist if that were the case.
 

not sure if this is just word games but if one decides that morality doesn't exist then isn't that which governs their behavior from that point on is what becomes their moral code, whether they frame it that way or not?
 
that suggests nihilism can't even exist.


Nihilism can exist as a moral belief (e.g., “The system is so corrupt that it needs to be destroyed” is a moral proclamation dependent on some belief in ‘right‘ and ‘wrong‘). Nihilism, in terms of a belief in ultimate meaninglessness, can exist whether there is ultimate meaning or not. But if our morality is a byproduct of evolutionary processes then I would suggest that nihilism would simply be a position of acknowledgment that these processes are not ordained and therefore without ultimate meaning to the cosmos, leaving us to fend for ourselves (with all of the sticky moral implications of therein).
 

a nihilist must be saying that the sense of morality we feel is a total conditioning and not intrinsic to the creation.
so then we should be able to get rid it. which most definitely means should be able to define it clearly.


Not at all. A nihilistic thinker can suggest that even if morality is intrinsic to nature it has only subjective meaning and value as opposed to an absolute or eternal meaning or value.
 

emotions come out of us, how can we not help making decisions based on them?
and i mean we have no choice, like we think in theory we can separate out our emotions but they will always influence us and there is one's moral code. you cannot strip it out just because an intellectual exercise says you can.


Of course not. We are emotional creatures. But some of us are, paradoxically perhaps, capable of thinking dispassionately concerning our condition as well (even if the motivations of such thoughts are emotion-oriented).
 

morality cannot be removed from the universe. where there are humans morality will arise.


Unless all moral creatures become extinct. I agree with the second part.
 

scientifically speaking, a human is a creation by the universe. all things follow natural law and no thing can violate it.
we are an object with properties just like all matter. we function according to our design. we are designed to procreate and thus have to make a decision. how does this object make that decision? it uses tools, like emotions, like morality. whether it knows it by name or not. in short, it's just in our nature, yes just like gravity can't help warping space.


Yes, morality is most probably universally acquired; but does this give it absolute universal value? Does it give all things equal universal value? A problem arises when one is exposed to opposing moral views. Which view is ‘correct’? The most beneficial to a society? What of societies with opposing moral rules? Does the universe care about our moral rules and our societies?
 

if your assertion were true then atheism would automatically make the case for nihilism. that is burden that atheism has no business bearing.


I disagree. As an agnostic-atheistic and nihilistic thinker with moral views I find it philosophically interesting and of personal and social value.

I appreciate your thoughtful post.

Edited by motherengine, 25 June 2015 - 10:41 PM.


#15 Moontanman

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 09:31 AM

I would suggest that all morals are subjective, evolution is not random and neither are evolved morals, atheism is not nihilism because it is possible to be an atheist and have morals, I believe you maybe confusing anarchist with atheist or something.

 

Atheism is a stance on one issue only, the existence of gods, nothing else can be asserted from that one premise.

 

Nihilism by your own definition encompases far more than simply a lack of belief in a god or gods, you have made the positive assertion, please tell us how the two philosophies are the same in anyway other than lack of belief in gods...  

 

An atheist is not simply someone who is rejecting a belief in a god/deity, but someone who has formulated a belief concerning the human condition (e.g. Question: How did we get here? Answer:: Accidentally). This relates to fundamental difference between atheism [I know] and agnosticism [I do not/cannot know].

 

 

 

This is a straw man and shows your own lack of knowledge about both atheism and evolution... 



#16 layman

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Posted 26 June 2015 - 03:50 PM

Of course not; this post could not exist if that were the case.
 

Nihilism can exist as a moral belief (e.g., “The system is so corrupt that it needs to be destroyed” is a moral proclamation dependent on some belief in ‘right‘ and ‘wrong‘). Nihilism, in terms of a belief in ultimate meaninglessness, can exist whether there is ultimate meaning or not. But if our morality is a byproduct of evolutionary processes then I would suggest that nihilism would simply be a position of acknowledgment that these processes are not ordained and therefore without ultimate meaning to the cosmos, leaving us to fend for ourselves (with all of the sticky moral implications of therein).
 

Not at all. A nihilistic thinker can suggest that even if morality is intrinsic to nature it has only subjective meaning and value as opposed to an absolute or eternal meaning or value.
 

Of course not. We are emotional creatures. But some of us are, paradoxically perhaps, capable of thinking dispassionately concerning our condition as well (even if the motivations of such thoughts are emotion-oriented).
 

Unless all moral creatures become extinct. I agree with the second part.
 

Yes, morality is most probably universally acquired; but does this give it absolute universal value? Does it give all things equal universal value? A problem arises when one is exposed to opposing moral views. Which view is ‘correct’? The most beneficial to a society? What of societies with opposing moral rules? Does the universe care about our moral rules and our societies?
 

I disagree. As an agnostic-atheistic and nihilistic thinker with moral views I find it philosophically interesting and of personal and social value.

I appreciate your thoughtful post.

you make good counters, i can address them point by point but i'd like try to explain my approach.
right now i'm trying to see everything just in terms of scientific based fields and the rule that physics can explain it all, the entire universe.


 the universe is an area, a box lets say, and its totally filled with a master field(comprised of several fields) and this field is composed of units of energy called quanta.

there is no "what created that?" because then it just becomes turtles all the way down. it's not meaningful. it's not needed to know what made the system to know what the system can make or what it is made out of.

whatever the system can make, is law within the system. if a system has the potential to make a particle, then that particle is law. if it can make something that can dissolve that particle then that too is law. they both stand and are real in the sense that the system has the potential for both.
so even if a particle doesn't "exist" manifestly so to speak, because the other law dissolved it, it is still real and exists and is expressed as the potential of the field. it doesn't really go away.

one could say it exists informationally. accepting that potential things are actually real in a sense, is key to making the rest of my thinking logical. analogous to potential energy vs kinetic energy, it's there, just not apparently so.

 so i imagine this universe as a system, a grid of 64 x 64 quanta lets just say. just like a body of water molecules. we are observing from outside of the system and have some magical way of observing that doesn't influence the system.
 it's 1 second after the big bang.
 
at that point in time, all that stuff represents all things, including all meta physical things like morality and names, etc.

we see that rules govern the evolution of the system. these rules arise from the interaction of the intrinsic properties of the fields that make up the master field, ie; an electromagnetic field has it's properties and a gravitational field it's own, if they interact, a rule arises, if they don't, another rule arises. That determines the total things the system can potentially make.

with such a system, everything that happens within it, is the system interacting with itself.

if i argue with you, it is the universe arguing with itself.

morality only exists because a system (human) can be created within this universal system that can conceive a notion and call it morality. conversely a similar system can arise to dispute that notion entirely. both are right, because both arise from the universe, the same authority.

there is an arbiter of things, it is the universe itself and if the universe gives rise to something that rejects the universe's standing as that arbiter, then it too is valid because it is the universe questioning itself. 

 

that is the logic of the system as observed from outside of it. it is objective.

when confining one's thinking to only explaining things through physicality, to make sense of meta physical things, they can only be seen as drivers of physical action.  the universe is trying to get some where and "thinking" is just one force it's using to get there, just like it uses other forces.

thinking is likely not elemental to the system, like there like isn't a physical field that maps out to "thinking". but none the less it is a driver of action so it is a force of some kind. in that way we can't say hitler was wrong, but we can and did say we disagree, and because we disagreed  enough, we stopped it and because we stopped it, it was the universe that said it was "wrong", even though it remains potentially true that we can in fact be like hitler.

that can be translated to the universe talking to itself, it's saying "hey we should do things 'this way'.....mulling it over and replying 'no we shouldn't".
and so it then does become "wrong" to be like hitler because the system decided.

in short, we, like everything, are mere agents for the manifestation of the system's potential. it decides if it wants morality to be or not, if it wants black holes or not and so on, based on the physical properties intrinsic to the system's fields.

that means that for real, everybody is right.  and that equates to no one is wrong.

when you picture that contradiction in a field full of potential, it gets expressed as physical action. the field physically evolves.

that means any idea that can be thought of is going to be championed by someone, someone is going to be proclaiming it the truth and it will be until the system decides otherwise and even then it will be true potentially since the system was able to express it in the first place.

our thinking and debating is in itself meaningless because we will eventually think of everything than can ever be thought. we are compelled by the contradiction to keep scratching at the meaning of it all without realizing by scratching we are fulfilling the meaning of it all. we help to manifest the system's potential into actuality.

now, where did the system come from? that is entirely another subject. if it's a being that has created the system, or whether some other system begot this system to give it it's initial properties and "meaning", is immaterial to what the system is, once it is initiated.

that to me says the universe doesn't have to have a "god" but it has inherent meaning by virtue of it's existence and the potential contained therein.
if one say my morality exists but is of no validity then they are saying something the system created is not valid.
that is not possible.

in looking at things that way, it deposes the need for logical but ultimately philosophical arguments.
what is philosophy if it is not an interpretation of the system........which is in itself a physical express of the system.
I am for philosophy to learn how to operate within the system, but not for it to try to explain what the system is.



#17 AnssiH

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Posted 02 July 2015 - 01:03 PM

There seems to be many painfully sloppy assertions made in this thread, but since it seems to pretty much derail from post #2 onwards anyway, I'll just comment on the OP... First, don't worry, I'm not reading in any ulterior motive to your post as most people here seem to. I understand you are thinking about whether these philosophies have direct connections.
 
About whether atheism requires the rejection of moral absolutism; yes, of course.
 
About whether atheism requires nihilism; that's true or false depending on what do you mean by nihilism exactly. Whether one is using a theistic or atheistic ideology, that doesn't say much about what do they think about moral questions, or what do they think is the meaning of their lives. But if by "nihilism" you mean a person doesn't think its sensible to think there's some kind of universal "meaning" decided for us, then yes of course atheism is nihilism.
 
I always hear these arguments about how theistic morality is objective, and how atheistic morality is based on man-made laws. I'm afraid both of those arguments are completely confused about the matter...
 
Obviously theistic morality is as subjective as any other idea of morality; every single theist is using their own judgment as to what they consider "really God's will". Round up 10 people who believe in objective morality, and you get exactly 10 different ideas of what that objective morality "ought to be".
 
I can't believe professional apologists actually spend hours and hours talking about how if there's an anthropomorphic God, then that God could have opinions and if we could know what those opinions are then we could consider them as objective morality. I think it's hard to get more meaningless than that. Even if it was possible to "know" any of the above ideas, it would still be up to each individual whether to think of those opinions are morality or not. (I mean, phew, there's some radical ideas in there... :)
 
But I digress.... The point I wanted to raise was, whether it is a theistic or an atheistic person, each one of us gets our morality from our idea of what kind of society we would like to live in, and what actions we expect would lead into that type of society. This btw is also the source of a very penetrating "holier-than-thou" attitude that most people have; we all trust our selves to be good; it's just all the others we don't trust. That's why many people spreading theistic ideology actually have atheistic personal ideology; they just don't believe most people can be trusted to be good when left on their own devices.
 
As part of our world conception, we really do have the capacity to imagine ourselves in the place of others. We call it empathy, and it arises simply as part of how do we generate expectations regarding the actions of other people (a very useful ability to have in social environment).
 
So, imagine seeing a complete stranger in distress. Do you help because you are required by law? No! Or because your mother told you so? No! Because you think God wants you to? No! No sane person does that. And yet everyone seems to think that everyone else is doing that? Come on.
 
A normal person capable of empathy can imagine themselves in the position of the other person; they understand what that other person is experiencing. They understand that they would appreciate help in the same situation. They help because by doing so they are promoting the kind of society they would like to live in. The relief of the other party is also reflected onto the mental state of the helping person. And their social status get rewarded by the positive attitude of all the other people around them, who give the positive attitude for the exact same reason; what they saw reflects the kind of society they would like to live in. At the same time varying degrees of selfishness and other circumstances can prevent a person from helping someone.
 
It's really that simple. I honestly don't understand why people always get so confused about morality...
 
You might be interested of reading directly related posts;
 
 
 
-Anssi