Life's Meaning, Emotions, and Other Nonsense : )

Hi SmartLX, I still have not done any suggested reading to this point but wanted to touch on a couple things. I will paste some of your words as reference points: "It's not simply time that creates complexity, it's opportunity. On Earth before life, the air, the ground and the water threw together molecules of every kind countless times. Chemicals have a chance to react every time they touch, so countless billions of combinations got a chance. Some stuck together, and of those, some kept reacting once they had combined. Of this group, a very, VERY small percentage had the tools to make copies of themselves. These groupings, possibly just one grouping in the whole world, produced the first self-replicating organisms. So you see, nature had no intent; it wasn't trying to create anything in particular. It just tried everything at once, and at least one attempt gave an interesting result." My new words: The earth ... ground, water, and air ... at this point I still don't know how science figures those things got here. The big bang ... but what exactly does that mean, what caused "air" and water? If it did come from an explosion (that's what the bang was, correct?), something had to explode. What was that and where did that come from? Also, what multitude of molecules were here before that aren't here now? How does anyone know that and that tons combined but did not take? What caused them to be moving and able to combine? What would cause any combination to self-replicate and move forward. I just can't seem to get that to make sense from randomness. Your words: "The evolution of emotions is harder to visualise, but you can easily see the survival value of simple emotions like fear and love. You run away from things that might kill you, you protect your beloved family and procreation (sex) makes you happy. Pick a more complex emotion yourself, Celia, and see if you can think how it might help someone have a longer life, or more children. Tell me if you get stuck on one." My new words: Yes, I can see how emotions can be helpful in keeping life going; however, they also are pretty much our biggest downfall. Think of all the crap we get into and ways we ruin our lives (and others') ... emotions! So, again, I feel it is at the least a wash and therefore wonder why we would evolve such a thing with no other purpose. Even the food chain makes me sick. When I had a firm belief that God existed, that there was a point, that an afterlife of perfection was waiting for people (and I believed animals would experience that too), I could handle such things. Even though it was apparent God let awful things go on here, I felt that He was ALLOWING it and, therefore, it was ultimately okay ... that there was some sense, purpose, consolation for it all. However, coming from a view of no God, it seems we should be only instinctive (not emotional) to be more efficient (if life's goal is indeed to simply move forward). I don't want to feel horrible about a polar bear eating a seal or a wolf chasing down a baby elk or even a bearded dragon eating a grasshopper (but I do because of my emoitions). Honestly, I even feel badly about vegetables, but at least they don't have faces, so I can tell myself they don't enough going on to care. I don't see how to be in a place of enjoyment knowing that life just happened, it goes away, and who knows what all is going to happen in between ... unless one completely lives in denial and pretends it is something different. I guess some are okay with it, but I just can't seem to be. Why do humans have an seemed instinct that there is something more, that there is a purpose? Why would we develop that feeling? It is difficult not to think that there really must be something more since "most" have that inner feeling. I can relate to what you said here: "I knew that people worshipped many other gods with no more evidence than I had. Once I had explained the coincidences, there was no more reason for me to believe." My new words: I ended up around a group of people who had some really strange beliefs. It annoyed my how ridiculous they were, and it was baffling they could actually believe it; but they did. That made me take a good look at what I was believing and realize I didn't really have any more evidence than they did except that I had believed the Bible. - If there is a God, why would he not make it obvious to EVERYONE that he is there? Why would he simply work through a book that would be interpreted in so many ways, disagreed upon, have so many obvious human elements to it and not even get a copy to everyone?! That makes it very difficult to believe. My thought is that if there is a God, knowing it should be innate (which in almost seems sort of true except that we come up with so many different versions and there are no real answers to some of the important questions). Christians (and I'm guessing other religions) will say that one has to go on faith. The problem with that is, what if one accidentally develops a faith in the wrong definition of God and what his Word is? (Which so many say is true of those who don't believe the same way). Again, that does not make sense to me. I guess that is my problem, I can't come to a place that makes sense, and I can't handle that. :) I'm not going to proof read this (I'm burnt out and have things to tend to), so I apologize for any errors or redundancy. Any comments appreciated. I'm hoping eventually I will end up somewhere more peaceful.
Atheist Answer: 

As you will have noticed, Celia, formatting doesn't work in the question field. That's because it was designed for much shorter questions. We don't mind at all if you split up your thoughts into separate questions, and it might also help you organise your thoughts. For now, I'll just follow along and answer what I see.

- Do you realise that with each exchange we're looking further back in time? You meet each of my responses with, "But how did X get there in the first place?" Eventually we'll reach the stage when I simply don't know, but beyond that is not simply a gap in which gods must sit, as you'll see.

The Earth formed from a cloud of loose rocks and gases, containing nearly every known element, which was pulled together by gravity. The heaviest elements, like iron and lead, sank towards the middle. The lightest elements, like hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, stayed around the edges. The heavy clump in the middle solidified and formed the rocks which make up the planet beneath us. The aura of gases around it became the atmosphere. Some of the hydrogen and oxygen combined to form water, and rained down into what's now the oceans. The earth, air and water were now separate.

- They were not stable, though; earthquakes, mudslides, lava flows, winds, tides and rains still moved everything around, slowly and quickly. That's how the molecules of everything came together, and still come together every moment of every day.

- The likely reason that life isn't still forming from scratch is that the combinations were different back then. For example there was a lot more ammonia and methane in the air; what if those two are needed as gases? (This is very likely. In an old experiment, they shot canned lightning into a replica of the ancient atmosphere. They produced 22 amino acids.)

- Most chemical reactions occur as a result of contact and friction between atoms and molecules. That doesn't mean that all contact causes reactions, but with more and varied contact you will likely get more types of reactions. In a muddy, gassy swamp, where the earth, air and water all mix together, you've got massive potential for interesting new combinations.

- I'm not a good enough chemist to explain the origin of self-replicators. This short video shows one likely way.

- The Big Bang was when everything in the universe rapidly expanded outwards from a single point. It's often seen as the beginning of the universe, but it ain't necessarily so. The vast amount of material in that single point might have always existed, and spent some time compressing together beforehand. It might have been contributed by another universe, one of many. Or, if you subscribe to a certain part of quantum theory, it might have emerged spontaneously from a quantum "foam".

- If you use a god to explain the origin of the matter in the universe, you then need to address the origin of the god. If you declare, without evidence, that the god has existed forever, then why not declare that the universe has existed forever and didn't need to be created? As an explanatory device, gods are quite useless here.

- Not every effect of evolution must be beneficial. A new feature doesn't have to be perfect to be passed on, simply more beneficial than the alternative when all's said and done. The benefits just have to outweigh the costs.

Think of all the "crap" emotions put us through and consider how many lives are actually lost. Just how many suicides are there, anyway? Compare this with the billions of little nice things people do for each other every day, just because it makes them feel good. Consider the children who would not exist without their parents' love and devotion to each other in the face of any circumstances. The benefits of emotions outweigh the costs for most people, most of the time. That's all it takes for them to be passed on.

- Nature, as Darwin said, is red in tooth and claw. Countless animals die in fear and pain because they have been defeated in pursuit or battle by other animals who intend to eat them. To me, this makes more sense if there is no god than if a god continuously allows all this suffering. (The Christian response to this is that even the most loving animals don't have souls, and although we should be nice to them they are not ultimately important.)

- Life does just go away. This life will end for each of us. Does that make it any less enjoyable to live? Doesn't the possibility that there is no afterlife make this life all the more important? Think of the things you enjoy in life. Would you enjoy them any more or less if God has never existed all along? Why does life need to have meaning to some distant, external observer anyway? If it has meaning to you, if there is something you have to live for, that's plenty. Atheism does not lead inexorably to nihilism, as Christians sometimes charge.

- Humans think there is "something more" because there always is something more. The universe, and even the planet, has more in it than we can ever explore in one lifetime. Simply because we can, we extend this beyond the natural world and wonder about the possible existence of the supernatural. It's at this point that we may not have any grounds to continue. I think it occupies our thoughts anyway because there's no good way to explore the supernatural. It's a permanent "undiscovered country".

- You've developed a great many questions about your own faith. There are many answers the faithful and those without faith can give you, but there are no concrete answers and there may never be. The nice thing is, you don't have to be sure to be happy. I'm not sure there are no gods, but I think the chances are so low that I am content to live my life as if there aren't any. It's like going out at night despite the tiny possibility that I'll be hit by a meteorite; why bother to worry about it?

- SmartLX

proving god doesn't exist

hey all well it's been a while since i have done this so i know i've been missed lol. my question today is simply disproving the christian god ...or any god for that matter. at one time i thought that it was impossible to prove or disprove god i'm starting to rethink that. though i'll say right now that the possibility of a god is there though it is limited. but lets say hypothetically that there is a god who's to say that the christian god is the right one? maybe over half of the world population is worshiping the wrong god and are pissing the real one off! ok i know i go on these tangents a lot but i like trying to learn all about this i am interested that and when i find new stuff that proves that religion is crap i get the joy of silently laughing at what people believe... i asked the question once where is the evidence of the stuff that is talked about in the bible noahs flood. moses, jesus, etc. and i find time and time again that it isn't there so either i'm looking in the wrong places or there isn't evidence. as a side note/question my mom tells me that the gospels where written at a certain time and then i read somewhere that they were written much later so if anyone knows how i can find the true dates at which the gospels where written i'd appreciate it ohh ps.. for any one whos interested there is this site that i've been reading in and i want someone more knowelgable than me on the subject to look through it ...so someone go there and tell me what you think the addie is: http://www.godisimaginary.com/ tell me what you think thanks muchum
Atheist Answer: 

Your train of thought seems a little bit scattered. I'll try and follow along as I respond.

- In order to prove the non-existence of a god, you have to rule out not only all possible places it could be, but all possible things it could be. The study of what something is is called ontology, and the ontology of even the Christian god is terribly vague.

- The idea that the real god might not be the Christian one is the best response to Pascal's Wager. Well done coming up with it yourself.

- There is no available physical evidence for any of the figures or events you mention, only documentation in the form of the Bible and some other writings. That's why these texts are defended so aggressively. They're the last and only line of defence for Christianity, and Judaism too.

- When the gospels were written is no more settled than who wrote the things. As the link explains, Christian scholars tend towards a range of dates in the middle of the first century (20-30 years after the apparent crucifixion), while others think it was closer to the end of that century (30-60 years after).

- The God is Imaginary website doesn't really prove that God is imaginary. It does have some very clever arguments which turn scripture against itself and portray certain beliefs as very silly indeed. It's become infamous enough that evangelists have posted direct responses. This guy has written fifty proofs God is real to counter the site's fifty "proofs" God is imaginary. Not one of his is a real proof either.

- SmartLX

As an "Atheist" would you consider this hypothesis?

In a Universe where duality is observed to be the most common factor of existence, it is safe to assume that energy can only fundamentally exist in one of two states, positive or negative, when you couple this information with laws such as every particle has an anti particle it kind of makes sense, the only thing is that there is more to it, a particle that does not have an anti-particle, is its own anti-particle, this means that it exists in two states at once, which is technically impossible(on our scale) unless you take quantum mechanics into account, when you understand the fundamentals of quantum mechanics you will understand that there is really three states energy can exist in, positive, neutral and negative, which can be written as such A+B=C where C is merely the product of A and B simply existing, so to recap, Neutral doesnt really exist, yet it does exist simultaneously, Neutral IS our universe, the "housing" or vacuum that we observe around us, We also refer to this as Matter, Matter houses the energy which defines what particle it is to be, the periodic table shows us which energy levels(Ev) each element requires to be stable, if there is more, it is radiated away into the vacuum where it will be added to another particle, if it is less, then it will keep loosing Ev untill it reaches a lighter stable element. So what does this have to do with god then... Well, if everything we can comprehend is made from energy and our consciousness is made from energy, is it not then safe to assume that collectively as a consciousness, WE are god... "the whole equals more than the sum of its parts". Anyway imagine the collective mind power of every conscious being in the universe... how godly would that be... God manifests "himself" in various forms... God sustains and nourishes god cannot be created or destroyed... Thats the bullshit they tried to brainwash me with as a child. This is the ammo I have to fire in retaliation!! I am looking forward to your reply, thank you in advance :-) Howard
Atheist Answer: 

Blimey, that's a hunka hunka burnin' pseudoscience if ever I saw one. Thanks for bringing it in.

First I'll put on my fact-checking hat.
- The two most commonly accepted examples of duality in our universe are the wave-particle duality of light and the decayed/not decayed state of unobserved unstable atoms (often explained using Schroedinger's Cat), and they're not even mentioned here.
- There probably isn't antimatter equivalent to all matter, or vice versa. We observe tremendous asymmetry, for example the fact that our part of the universe appears to contain almost entirely matter and almost no natural antimatter.
- In contrast to antimatter, which we can not only observe but deliberately produce and store, negative energy is still entirely hypothetical and may not exist at all. Antimatter in fact appears to consist of positive energy.
- There's an old saying that if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics. The author of this argument apparently thinks he understands quantum mechanics.
- A vacuum may not be neutral at all, according to zero-point energy theory.
- Matter doesn't just house energy, it is energy in another form. It's really not separate from it.

Ultimately, none of this has anything to do with consciousness, so if the argument had left out everything before "So what does this have to do with god then..." it wouldn't make any less sense.

Next up, I'll put on my targeting scope and go for the central point of this shemozzle.

If consciousness is energy, just because it's made of the same stuff as everything else doesn't give it power over everything else. Our collective consciousnesses have no godlike influence over the rest of reality. Besides, we don't have a collective consciousness or "hive mind" as we understand the concept so we've got no way of combining our mental powers to physically affect the universe. All we can do is move our own bodies and get things done through ordinary teamwork. Not much of a god, are we?

Even the idea of consciousness as independent energy is a contested premise. It requires a position of mind-brain duality (that is, mutual independence) that most atheists don't share. Consciousness in any materialist view is simply a function of the brain itself, kept running by electrical impulses which have no external influence and no autonomy. It's like a computer program: wipe the computer, and it disappears.

Finally, there's a more general point to be made, so I'll go up in my mehve to see the big picture.

If when considering the world at large you feel you must posit the existence of a major hypothetical entity, like a collective consciousness or a Prime Mover or a Designer (none of which are likely necessary), you're free to call it anything you like. However, if you arbitrarily give it an existing name which also refers to an separate, well-established concept, it's an unsupported link between the two entities. It's a big problem with the Transcendental Argument and all others which end with, "We call this creator/lawmaker/intelligence/feeling/cupcake God." Even if the argument is sound, the entity you've successfully argued for may well not be your god at all, and it's a dishonest leap to assume that it is.

I hope this is the kind of ammo you're looking for.

- SmartLX

Worst Proofs-of-God

What is the stupidest proof of God you've ever been given and what was your refutation? For example, tonight I was given "you deny God, to deny something means it exists". I just told the guy I denied he was actually purple and that there was a green fairy-dragon standing next to me. He then pointed at 4 pool balls and said something along the lines of "we'll wait and see if it turns into life". Simple matter of explaining the pool balls are made of non-reacting inorganic solids.
Atheist Answer: 

Deny: "to state that (something declared or believed to be true) is not true". Dude didn't have a leg to stand on.

I don't know about the worst attempted proof I've ever heard (probably something about impossibly pretty sunsets), but here's my favourite bad one, courtesy of a well-known YouTube evangelist.

Here's a paraphrasing: If I say something will happen after an infinite amount of time, will it ever happen? No. Could there have been an infinite amount of time before the present? No, because if there were then we would never have reached the present. Therefore there has only been a finite amount of time, and God started it off.

The central problem is that infinity can end at a given instant. An infinite amount of time can have passed before the present if time extends backwards to negative infinity, rather than starting at a definite point. The same way positive infinity can start at a given number, e.g. (4,5,6,...), negative infinity can end at a given number, e.g. (...-1,0,1,2,3,4). Imagine two arrows starting in the same spot and pointing in opposite directions.

There are other issues of course. Even if the universe were finite, there are plenty of theories for its origin which do not involve gods (and often point to very eccentric properties of early time). Even if it proved a god, it provides no link to the Christian god advocated in the video.

However it's the way the argument makes a pig's breakfast of high school mathematics which really stands out to me as an occasional maths tutor. You have to wonder whether the guy genuinely doesn't get it, or he just hopes the video will reach others who don't, in which case the video is pure sophistry. Considering that he doesn't allow any critical comments, let alone official video responses, I tend to think the latter.

- SmartLX

Did Jesus really exist?

What evidence is there to support that Jesus never existed? What about all the evidence Christian historians point to?
Atheist Answer: 

First, I think it's important to understand the incredible amount of information one has to look over tediously before they can reach a conclusion of a historical or ahistorical nature. The truth is, I've been researching this subject for seven years and there are things I'm just starting to skim over now.

Now that that is out of the way, let's tackle your questions. You ask, "What evidence is there to support that Jesus never existed?" First and foremost, if you can provide me evidence to support that fairies don't exist, I'm all ears. One can't ask to disprove a negative, because there is nothing to disprove. One must look at the available evidence that already exists (or doesn't...as in this case) and determine if that evidence is sufficient to establish historicity.

To help you better understand this lets use an example given by Christians where they assume that we mythicists assume the historicity of somebody famous without evidence. Aristotle is usually totted around the most by some ignorant or misinformed person as having no contemporary evidence of his existence - as a standard if you will to suggest that Jesus should be considered to be on the same level of accepted historicity as Aristotle. However when comparing the list of evidences between the two, there is no compatibility. Here's a brief list of the differences between Aristotle and Jesus:


  • 1. Facts about Aristotle’s life are not in question. We know when he was born, when he died (384-322 B.C.E), who his parents were, (Nicomachus – father – who was a physician to King Amyntas III, and Phaestis his mother) who his friends were and who his teacher was (Plato).
  • 2. Most importantly, over 45 works are attributed TO him, although some of those are said to be dictated by some of his students in one of his many schools which he taught at.
  • 3. Aristotle never claimed to be perfect, or a God, or even a son of a God. Nobody has a dogmatic philosophy on the life of Aristotle. If Aristotle didn’t exist, nobody’s world view would change.
  • 4. Aristotle changed the course of time, coming up with several new schools of thought, including new ways to look at math, science, philosophy, politics, and ethics. His original thoughts and views helped form and shape the politics of a world.
  • 5. Alexander the Great was taught by Aristotle.
  • 6. Every Greek philosopher and scientist throughout the ages has used Aristotle as a base for their works. Including Harpalus, Hephaestion, Nicomachus and Theophrastus. Even Aquinas used Aristotle.
  • 7. All of the information we have about Aristotle does not conflict with history.
  • 8. There is no reason to doubt the existence of Aristotle, because there is such a large amount of evidence for his existence, as well as nothing that conflicts with history and historical accounts of Aristotle and his life.


  • 1. Jesus’ early life is obscure. We do not know his birth date, or even the year. We don’t have the year of his death. If you are claiming Jesus was just a man, of course nothing exists to prove a natural birth so this evidence is non-existent. We know nothing of his childhood, save at 12, and then he vanishes again. And we know his parents first names.
  • 2. Jesus never wrote one book, one sentence, not even as much as a letter.
  • 3. Jesus claimed to be all three of these attributes, and more. And over 33 million people around the world follow the idea that Jesus was these attributes and more. If Jesus was shown not to exist, his message would be lost and people would no longer be Christian (Because the definition of a Christian is to believe in Christ as the Messiah, that he died for our sins).
  • 4. None of Jesus’ supposed teachings are original. Justin Martyr also admits to Trypho that Jesus’ teachings and that of the Christians were documented earlier in the Greek philosophies of Aristotle (ironically), Socrates, and Plato. All of the teachings of Jesus can be found in religions that existed hundreds if not thousands of years earlier. In John 1:1, a similar passage can be found in Heraclitus.
  • 5. No major figure in History ever had direct contact with Jesus. No historical commentary about any major figure in history ever places them near or around Jesus in any fashion. In all the volumes of Josephus, never once does it state that Herod murdered a great multitude of infants at the birth of some savior figure. Nor does it state anywhere that Pilate killed Jesus in any Roman record.
  • 6. No great work of science or philosophy ever came from Jesus, or one of Jesus’ followers. All are void of intelligent thought, and contain evidence of following in the footsteps of servitude.
  • 7. In the trial alone of Jesus, there contains anywhere from 14-27 infractions of Sanhedrin and Roman law. This does not include a large sum of historical contradictions outside of the trial, which traverse into the hundreds.
  • 8. In every aspect of Christ’s supposed life, there is reason to question his existence because of the errors, contradictions and fallacies not only within the Bible, but concerning the utter lack of evidence concerning the events of his life.

And this is not the half of it. Aristotle not only wrote tomes of prose in his time, by his own hand, but also contemporary accounts exist of Aristotle. As Richard Carrier states on Aristotles contemporary accounts, "There is one fragmentary inscription dedicated to Aristotle still extant at Delphi that I believe was erected in his lifetime. We have substantial portions of the Elements of Harmonics by Aristoxenus, a contemporary of Aristotle, which mentions him briefly. Anaximenes of Lampsacus (not the presocratic of the same name), also a contemporary, wrote an Art of Rhetoric that survives, and it addresses Aristotle. Theophrastus was his pupil and contemporary and we have some few of his writings, but I don't know off hand if they mention Aristotle by name. Isocrates was his contemporary and sometimes opponent and he may have mentioned him, too, but again I can't say for sure if he ever actually names him in extant works. There was certainly a great deal of contemporary writing about Aristotle, but as far as I know little to none was preserved, except in later sources. TLG shows a few hundred contemporary, named references to Aristotle, which are cited or quoted by later authors." Carrier also suggested a book, "Lloyd's book "Aristotle" would probably say what else there is."

This is vital because we have NO accounts of contemporary evidence for Jesus. None. The earliest extant manuscripts for Jesus date to Paul, thirty years after Jesus supposedly died, written by a man who never met Jesus, knows nothing about him, or about any of his deeds, or miracles or speeches. Paul doesn't attribute any words to Jesus nor does he seem to - in any fashion - refer to Jesus in a physical, literal sense.

After Paul, we have a forty year gap of nothingness. At the very end of the first century CE, we have rumors (just rumors) of hearsay about a being Jesus. The earliest Gospel fragment we possess is the P52 fragment, and it's barely a scrap of parchment from what appears to be John. But it's too weak a source to use to compare. That is it. And when is this P52 fragment from? 130 CE and no earlier. That's a hundred years after the supposed death of Christ. Now here's the funny part, we have works from Aristotle that survived from 500 years before THAT, and yet we can't find one contemporary account of a man who is said to have walked on water, and preformed all these miracles, or even rose from the dead?

I hope that helps you understand a little bit as to the problems associated with the question of whether there can be a way to disprove a negative, and also with understanding what sorts of evidence is looked for when trying to determine historicity. Your second question is far easier to answer, as I have already written extensively on the subject.

At this link HERE you will find all you need to know about the supposed evidences for Jesus and why they hold no water. You can ALSO check out THIS LINK for additional information on the Mythicist position and the case against a historical Christ.

Oh, by the way....welcome to the campaign.

In Rationality,

Rook Hakwkins
Rational Response Squad Co-Founder

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