what am i, where am i, and how the hell did i get here?

hey! my question is concerning the beginning of the existence of everything. i know that you can't lump all atheists into one group with the same beliefs, but i would like to hear an answer from somebody who doesn't believe in a god. the reason for this is because the answer from any sort of "religious" person is usually, but not always, that their god created everything. i guess i actually have two questions. first, i am wondering what do you, as an atheist, believe allowed all things that exist to exist? i know that the big bang is sometimes used to explain the creation of the universe, and if that is what happened, i can go for that, but i'm wondering about something bigger. if the big bang is what really happened, something had to exist to go "bang" right? so then what allowed that thing that went "bang" to be so that it could go "bang?" i hope that question makes sense, i just have a difficult time putting my thoughts into words. if you don't believe the in the big bang, then where do you believe everything came from? secondly, i've heard a good bit about the conservation of engery being used to discredit creationism and the idea that everything came from nothing. now, i can't disprove the laws of thermodynamics so i believe in the conservation of energy; you'd have to be a fool not to. so my question is if engergy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transferred, where did all this energy originate from before there was anything? i'm sure that both of these questions have answers and someone knows them, but i'm ignorant, so please help me out. having questions like these running around in my head all day without answers gets very frustrating! haha
Atheist Answer: 

There's no standard atheist answer to these questions. There's really no standard atheist answer to anything. There's no atheist dogma or doctrine, no supposedly inerrant textbook, no creed to recite. Atheism is just a single conclusion. You may draw other conclusions from that one, but they're your own.

And here's what so many people don't consider: there may not be an available answer to every question. We may never know it all. What more people do realise is that just because someone has an answer doesn't mean that it's correct. I'm glad to see that you doubt the god answer even without a satisfying alternative.

The Big Bang was what happened when all the matter in the universe was compressed to one point and then started expanding outwards. It's still happening, and it's even speeding up. We've worked that much out by watching some of that matter whizz apart. Before that point, we don't know what all the matter and energy was doing.

Firstly there may not even be a proper "before" if the Big Bang started time as we know it. Causality gets a bit wobbly when chronological order and displacement are not reliable.

Leaving that aside, the creation of matter or energy breaks the law of conservation. You could make an exception and say that matter can be created by some unknown process and is then permanent, I suppose. If the law is 100% true, though, then all matter and energy has existed forever. I'm fine with that.

Before the Big Bang theory the leading concept was an eternal "steady state" universe. Perhaps there's another universe like that which is the source of all the matter in this universe. Perhaps the pre-Big Bang singularity was a discrete packet of matter ejected from that other universe. Free of the confines of its origin, it relaxed and expanded.

If an eternal universe doesn't appeal to you, why not an eternal series of finite, sequential universes? As each one "dies", the matter somehow collects and starts over. Not necessarily by a Big Crunch, as the discovery of accelerating expansion put paid to that idea, but perhaps by everything draining out when some barrier or membrane finally breaks.

We can carry on this line of thinking if you like (the next step would be to discuss how the above could satisfy the second law of thermodynamics) but my point is that there are plenty of other theories for the origin of matter and energy, one being that it's eternal and needs no origin. This is no less plausible than an intelligent superbeing with the same quality.

I hope having a few more possible answers will make the questions a bit more pleasant as they run around in your head. It won't stop them from running though, because they run through the head of everybody who doesn't utterly accept some religious answer.

Contrary to what anyone tells you, we do not know our ultimate origin, or whether we have one. This doesn't stop us from wondering, observing and theorising. Which is great, because doing all that is fun.

- SmartLX


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Atheist answer to, "How did I get here?".

A general misconception of the big bang is that it "started everything" or "created matter". There is every reason to believe that matter existed BEFORE the big bang as well. SmartLX is correct in telling you that there are some things we can never know. And we should accept that.

thank you for all your

thank you for all your insightful answers and suggestions.

i think i may have sounded as though i meant offense towards atheism and that is not what i meant at all. i was just looking for an answer from someone intelligent who i knew wasn't going to say that a god created everything, even though there is no standard or concrete answer.

i still hold the idea of a creator being as an option for, perhaps not the origins of everything, but the origins of something or everything that we know. whatever the answer to our ultimate origin is, it must be beyond human comprension. it would almost certainly have to break a number of laws and rules that we hold close just to allow anything to be. existence, really, is quite absurd. oh well...

-stop exploding, you cowards!

None taken.

No offense taken at all. That was a perfectly polite question. Glad you got something out of my answer.

M Theory?

I personally like the M-theory take on the creation of the universe which also seeks to explain why matter was distributed unevenly after any big-bang moment.

It states that our universe "floats" on a higher-dimensional "membrane" along with other universes. they are usually very close - so you can go as far as you want in any of the normal 3 dimensions, not get anywhere, but travel in the right dimension and the next universe is not very far.

Basically it says that the membranes float and every now and then (last thinking I saw was few trillion years) they collide, releasing energy, and hey presto there you go.

But here's a better question...


WHY is there a universe? If there is more than one, why? WHY is there an existence at all? Why is there simply less than nothing, why is there time.... Not what caused it all to happen, but why is there anything? And "because God blahblah" is wrong... If there was a God, then again WHY is there a God, WHY is there a reality at all?

Another good question?


Good question.

M-theory sounds fascinating. I'll look into it myself.

As for your WHY question, you're right that God isn't a satisfactory answer in and of Himself. I sure don't know, and nobody else on the planet does either. This is one question where most people don't even have a theory. Of course WHY NOT is a good question too.

"M-theory looks fascinating"

It surely does ^^ I think it in some way flows on from String theory, which I've heard isn't garnering insane amounts of support.... But there are things happening that should help prove or disprove theoretical predictions... Maybe at the LHC or somesuch.

You're right though brane or M-theory IS fascinating :P To think there are other (not "alternate") universes floating mere inches in the right direction away from everything is sobering when thought of in the right mindset.

There's also another aspect of M-theory I read sparingly of, that Gravity is not an actual physical property of this universe, due to its weakness. There are a few who believe that gravity "leaks" from an adjacent brane into ours.... Interesting, but not (to me) feasible :)

Let me know what you think of Mtheory... umm somehow :P

For those who came in late

For those who came in late, M-theory is a proposed theory which, if completed, could bring together the five different superstring theories into a unified theory explaining gravity, electromagnetism and all other physical forces. It is, in other words, a potential Theory of Everything.

Like its component theories, it requires the universe to contain at least ten or eleven spatial dimensions rather than the perceived three. This is quite possible, as we might just be unable to look in the directions of the other seven or eight.

While M-theory has the potential to advance physics tremendously, it's a bit early to expect too much. It's at about the same stage as electromagnetism was around 1850, when there were still separate and only loosely linked theories for electricity and magnetism.

So what does a potential advance like this mean to an atheist? Any possible explanation of the universe that relies on theoretical but natural particles and processes is another alternative to the god hypothesis. It makes it harder for theists (and deists) to say things like, "There's no way the universe and everything in it could have come about if my god wasn't there to make it all work." The theory of evolution did that for biology (in spite of ongoing opposition) and M-theory might one day do the same for cosmology.

In the meantime, we wait, we wonder and we discuss.