turnbullac wrote:You guys are aware that if the universe is governed only by the laws of nature, and as these laws are irrefutable, then obviously there is no god, and also there can be no free will.
Ah, the old "Atheism=Determinism" argument. I was wondering when somebody was going to bring that one up. The problems are that it makes some pretty general, overly simplistic (and even unknowable) assumptions about the nature of consciousness, personality, intent, and even causality itself.
As the Empiricist philosopher David Hume pointed out, the entire notion of "free will" is self-contradictory no matter how you look at it. For one's "will" to be truly "free," it would by definition need to be indeterminate
, unconnected to any outside influence at all. But we run into a similar dilemma in that case as well: if one's actions are indeed indeterminate—free of influence or causation from previous events—then they would by definition be totally random. If one's "will" is independent and one's actions random, then where does that leave the question of individuals' identity or personality? These are real, logical paradoxes that exist within philosophy. The questions of consciousness, personality, and intent have been debated for millennia, but we still have no definitive answers as such.
But as always, bringing a god into the equation does not resolve the contradiction but merely posits another logical contradiction to replace it. A reductio ad absurdum
is a logical fallacy when the proposed solution is equally fallacious as the conundrum it's posited to fix.
turnbullac wrote:Thus your entire life was predetermined from the moment you came about, actually even way way before you ever existed, and there is absolutely no way to change its course without changing natural law, which simply cannot be done.
No such conclusion logically follows from any premises of rational atheism.
Fatalism (the belief that all events are "predetermined") still presumes the existence of prediction and/or preordination, therefore some supernatural intelligence to have already done the determining. Atheists by definition dismiss all notions of such things.
turnbullac wrote:Yeah, as humans we can fool ourselves into believing we have choices in life, but if nature is what it is, and as long as it its rules cannot be broken, then there really isn't any way to stem it's course, as it has been since the big bang and as it continues into whatever.
We have choices. We make choices every day of our lives, even when we don't realize we're making them. The choices we make (and the squishy, sparky mechanisms by which we make them) are just as much a part of the mechanics of the material Universe as a religious person might consider them part of the "Mind of God." Call that condition "free will" if you prefer, or chalk it up to the laws of nature doing their thing. It still doesn't necessarily require gods.
turnbullac wrote:So therefore in the end, all of our efforts, all of our accomplishments, all art, music, society, all of our relationships are simply illusions that our selfish human brains have developed over the course of evolution to make things more comfortable.
Well when you put it like that, it sounds like a total bummer. Thanks a lot, man. I don't know how I can manage to go on being an atheist without being hopelessly depressed all the fucking time
At least your faith keeps you from dwelling on depressing-ass shit like that. I mean, that idea would never have occurred to you if you'd never had any religious instruction, right?
turnbullac wrote:Nothing else but a simulacrum and no more real than a shadow. Actually when it comes down to it, even faker than a shadow, actually because at least shadows are a demonstrable result of physical and natural causes.
At a basic, physical level, all forms of art are literally nonexistent until we apply our senses to them. "Illusion" is quite simply all they are. Subtract the sense of hearing, and what is music, really? Nothing more than just the air puffing out and vibrating in certain patterns. Without vision, a painting is merely a bunch of different substances stuck to a surface. It's our perception, our consciousness, our interpretation, that gives them meaning and brings the magic.
Yet our current understanding of consciousness is so very incomplete, we simply don't have answers to even the most fundamental questions. Most of what we know about consciousness has been gleaned little by little, from studying its effects on the patterns of physical activity within our brains. While that gap is admittedly rather large, history's shown that there's just no rational excuse for shoving our make-believe gods in there, as a placeholder in lieu of a justified explanation. As others have pointed out before, citing the fact that we don't know all the answers as a justification for jumping to the conclusion of "God did it" is an argument from ignorance.