im new to atheism and i had a few questions about general beliefs
how did we get here?
why are we here?
how do we know what's true and what is not?
Why is there good/evil?
how do we overcome evil?
how do we become happy?
what happens when we die?
I was kindda thinking the same thing. Why are we here? Rape, pillage, and plunder! Infestation! Because Adam was lonely and god took one of his ribs to make him a companion! Because, this place is a waiting room for heaven, where you are judged for being human! Etc,etc.
how did we get here?
1. Why are we here?
Inasmuch as we are consciously self-aware as well as aware of others, we ARE here, unless you happen to subscribe to one of the "all is mind" philosophies, which I do not. However, as to the "why", that presumes a teleological purpose for existence, and further presumes a "being" that imposes that purpose. For most people, that "being" would be one of the gods. Of course, from a purely mechanical point of view, the theory of evolution, as others have pointed out with far fewer journeys into verbosity, seems to be the best answer.
2. How do we know what's true and what is not?
Usually, that which has been proven factual over time is considered "true", and that which has languished for such proof is considered false. Anything that is in harmony with physical reality is true and that which is not is fallacious. But I suspect that the question is aimed more at MORAL and/or ETHICAL truth, and that I fear is more in the realm of subjective evaluation. What is true for some may not be so for others. Truth in morals and ethics is a difficult bull to ride, and much of what is written about it is just that, BULL!
3. Why is there good/evil?
Good and evil are value judgments. If something is appreciated, approved and valued, it is considered good, while the unappreciated, disapproved and under or disvalued is consigned to the unacceptable, from slightly bad to the really evil, depending upon how strong the abhorrence.
4. How do we overcome evil?
We best overcome evil by recognizing the negative influences and aspects of living and refuse to become involved with them at any level Globally, history is replete with examples of resisting evil through armed conflict, but it may be questionable whether such has ever really "solved" the problems. Sure, we defeated Nazism, but at a tremendous cost. Was it worth it? My confidence is not high in that regard.
5. How do we become happy?
We are responsible for our own happiness, and not depend upon others to make us so. I do not know of anyone who has pursued the maximization of their values, inclusive of their goals, desires, contentment, tranquility and minimization of conflict, stress and stupidity. This last appears to be the most difficult for most of us.
6. What happens when we die?
The physical nature of death is well-known. We cease consciousness and the body decays. Since no one with any verifiable credibility has returned to life after first experiencing death (and not the near death experience reported by many without a shred of evidence other than personal testimony), any conscious existence post this life is imaginary, fantastical and speculative. To obtain any believable descriptions of life after death, you will need to consult one of the many religious faith systems currently in existence. Personally, I have gotten much more valuable information out of Aesop's Fables or Dr. Seuss.
Very eloquently stated :)
OK, before getting smart about the whole "why are we here" question, I should have asked weather the answer would make any difference in your life? We are here and that should be enough! Answering a question like that isn't for the person asking ..........it is for a person that controls your existence. Only you can answer it.........unless you believe another type of being controls your existence!
1)how did we get here? That question is still being worked on. We have the evolution part nailed down pretty good. And we are making progress on figuring out how life can spontaneously emerge.
2)why are we here? "Why" is an meaningless term that implies a decision-maker.
3)how do we know what's true and what is not? Simple, we test and observe. Remember, we will only get the truth with a "t". We won't know everything in its entirety about a subject. It is up to us to ask better questions. If someone gives you the truth with a "T", they are either deluded or lying.
4)Why is there good/evil? See #2 about "why". If you must know, good/evil is what we have defined it to be. In this sense we are the ones making the decision.
5)how do we overcome evil? We don't perform those actions that we deem as evil. It would be rather difficult to persuade others to not perform those actions if they don't feel that the action is evil. The real trick is finding a way to define good/evil in a way that everyone can accept. I don't think that is going to happen.
6)how do we become happy? We set difficult goals that we can reasonably meet, and we work towards those goals. When we have success at achieving those goals, our brain chemistry kicks in with endorphins. If you don't truthfully recognize what you can and can not do, setting those goals is going to be a little difficult. So the first step to happiness is learning how not to lie to your self. Second, you must recognize that that the endorphins only last so long. Keep working on your goals. Also don't set goals that are contingent on another person's actions. Remember those must be reasonable.
7)what happens when we die? That's it! It is the same as before we were born.
Joe, I'm guessing that you are a new atheist. I finally became one after years of studying the bible. Let me give you the basic simple questions that every human asks.
1. Who am I?
2. Where did I come from?
3. Why am I here?
4. Who are all these others?
All that is needed to sidetrack you in life is for someone to convince you that they have the real answers to those above 4 questions. Usually this involves the making of money, identifying with a group, and the spreading of the other guys beliefs. In religion someone profits in this world now and they tell you that you profit in an "afterlife." Some aspects of the 4 questions above can be found in every area of society, but nobody has all the answers. Man creates good and man creates evil. You overcome evil by not doing evil, and this also is a societal question.
How do you become happy? By doing something that you like to do, and finding that it benefits both you and others. Read and study and you will find that we are not here to please some sky god.
Joe, I quit Catholicism's certainty for agnosticism's uncertainty. Existentialism's There are no excuses helped. I found answers to many questions in books of quotations. In fifty years no lightning struck nearby and I quit agnosticism for atheism. Here are my attempts at your questions.
1. How did I get here? My parents had sex.
2. Why am I here? My mom gave birth.
3. How do I know what's true and what is not? If I need to know, I test it.
4. Why is there good/evil? Those are four-letter words. Good means I like it. Evil means I dislike it.
5. How do I overcome evil? Live longer than those in your life who do what you dislike.
6. How do I become happy? By doing what I enjoy for someone who pays me to do it.
7. What happens when I die? The fun I'm having stops.
I have hopes, such as I don't want a painful death.
I wish you well in your journey.
These questions sound like theist questions, so I'm very suspicious. It may be that our answers will be taken out of context and posted elsewhere to show how stupid atheists are. However, I'll repost with my answers to the 3 questions I passed on before, in case the questions are legitimate, and, because there is already plenty of material on Atheist Nexus that can be abused by theists.
"how did we get here?" Evolution, probably started by combinations of molecules that started replicating themselves. There is no evidence that a "god" created us.
"why are we here?" No reason. Those molecules certainly had no reason. Why does there need to be a reason?
"how do we know what's true and what is not?" Science.
"Why is there good/evil?" If evil is god's no-no, then evil doesn't exist because god doesn't exist. If by evil, you mean horrible things people do, I think some people have a lack of empathy. The more empathy a person has, the more good they do, and the less "evil". Empathy doesn't come from a god, but probably from evolution, with the help of parents and peers that have it. The made-up god of the old testament has no empathy most of the time, and made-up jesus often lacks it as well, because the people that made them up had very little.
"how do we overcome evil?" The greatest evil in this world is religion. How do we overcome religion? Reason and logic, but mostly Science! Science works! The more science comes up with answers to the problems we face, the more it will impress young people (and intelligent older people), getting them to reject religion. Support scientific studies.
"how do we become happy?" Base our lives on reality.
what happens when we die? Nothing. The big sleep without dreams. The same as before we were born. However, science will shortly overcome death.
Your questions as a new atheist deserve thoughtful and informative answers, especially since you are now a part of the most hated minority in the world.
Q.1: How did we get here?
A: While no one knows ultimately how the universe came to be, there are several theories in Quantum physics that violate no known established laws of nature, about how the universe could have come to be (1), The universe always existed in one form or another [i.e., energy/matter]. According to the well established 1st law of thermodynamics, neither energy nor matter can be created nor destroyed, but energy can become matter, and matter energy. Since energy/matter cannot be created, and the universe is composed of energy/matter, it follows that the universe was not created. Another, more recent, theory, is (2), The Big Bang, the massive explosion that formed our universe, was caused by the implosion of a hyper-dimensional supermassive black hole, which on its side of the hyper-dimensional divide was an implosion, but on our side of the divide it was an explosion of energy/matter. Everything else existing in the universe in either theory (and these are only two of many theories), nebulae, stars, galaxies, planets, and all life on earth, were generated through the process of spontaneous symmetry breaking.
Q.2: Why are we here ?
A: If, by your question, you mean, what is our purpose as intelligent living beings, the answer is that is we have no intrinsic purpose imposed upon our lives from some transcendent source. The only true, natural purpose of living things, is to procreate and continue our genetic line. But as intelligent and creative living beings, we can create our own purpose, our own happiness. What do you find meaningful and important in life ? Family ? Art ? Helping others less fortunate than yourself ? Take your pick. Any one of these, or any other number of things can be purposeful in themselves. To quote Robert Byrne; "The purpose of life is a life of purpose".
Q.3: How do we know what's true and what is not?
A: The best method that mankind has ever discovered for discerning truth from falsity is the scientific method (i.e., observation and experimentation). Science, unlike religion, is self-correcting. Scientists are not ashamed to admit an error if better empirical evidence is presented that fit the facts better. This is how science has advanced as far as it has so far. Religion, however, will never admit of mistake. As far as religious believers are concerned, their holy books are written in stone, and are not subject to, or in need of, change.
Q.4: Why is there good/evil?
A: The concepts of good and evil do not exist in reality, if by good/evil you refer to God being the source of good, and the Devil being the source of evil. There are, however, things that are good in themselves, such as being nice to other people and treating them how you would like to be treated simply because it is the right thing to do in itself. There are, however, exceptions to this golden rule if you will, such as defending yourself from an attacker. What we call evil comes from two sources, and neither of them have anything to do with any devil. (1), man-made evil, such as criminal activity, or the creation of weapons that can destroy all life on earth several times over, and (2), natural evils, otherwise known as natural disasters (which are the blind workings of mindless, uncaring, unfeeling nature). Famines, diseases, and birth defects that ravage the bodies of people the world over would fall into this category.
Q.5: How do we overcome evil?
A: The answer to this question is not an easy one. There will always be criminals as long as there is greed, poverty, and mental illness. And until the day that we learn how to control the weather and other natural disasters, and find the cure to every birth defect and disease, there is no simple answer. All one can do is to do his or her best to make their little corner of the world a little bit better.
Q.6: How do we become happy?
A: See answer to question 2 above.
Q.7: What happens when we die?
A: I will answer by quoting the great Mark Twain. "I do not fear death, in light of the fact that I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it". When you die, what made you the person you are now, in life, ceases to exist. You did not exist before you were conceived in your mother's womb and then born, and after you die, you will go back to that same state of non-existence. There is nothing to fear from death because you will no longer exist or be aware in any way.
Most of your questions have been answered but I will give a single line answer. Please stop philosophizing and be a realist like a true atheist. You will find answers yourself.
- We got here via elements carried by meteorites from Mars (according to one theory) and thence we evolved via natural selection.
- Why do you assume there’s a reason we are here?
- Science tells us what’s true regarding the material universe and the social organism determines what is true according to its current values.
- There isn't “good and “evil”, as such. Merely what best promotes well-being (which we deem to be “good”) or that which hinders it (which we deem to be “evil”.
- We overcome moral evil by removing anti-social individuals from society. We overcome natural evils such as earthquakes via scientific methodology inasmuch we can do anything at all.
- We become happy by fulfilling the role natural selection has fitted us for.
- When we die we decompose, just as ALL life-forms do when they die.
On the dying part....
Not looking forward to it and all indications are that there is nothing hereafter
I am curious.. do you think Atheism is a belief system/religion?