Chemical Existence

thegaudyshoe
Posts: 6
Joined: 2011-11-24
User is offlineOffline
Chemical Existence

Okay, this isn't an irrationality that relates directly to organized religion, in fact, it can often come about more in the minds of those who reject notions of god, afterlife, special meaning to life, etc. I present it, however, because it is an irrationality that can prove counter-productive to one's case against these aforementioned concepts. Better to have one's position rooted solidly....

The idea is that we're just chemicals, we're just the result of these complex chemical reactions, that things like our identity and our feelings are just the end result of electrochemical processes. The reason this is illogical is the qualifying word "just". As if something was being diminished by this being the case. But there's no basis in reality to think that these facts subtract something. They don't.

 

The fact that unsubstantiated beliefs are unsubstantiated is enough to discredit holding these beliefs. Acting as if the chemical and biological realities of existence somehow subtract away value or meaning from life doesn't accomplish anything, and it is itself unsubstantiated, as there isn't actually anything else with which to make the comparison.


EXC
atheist
EXC's picture
Posts: 3139
Joined: 2008-01-17
User is offlineOffline
I think the reason to say

I think the reason to say "just" is to reject the notion that we have a soul or spirit. There is no evidence for this. I think as atheists, we can assign what ever value or meaning we want to life or anything. Who is tell me what value I assign to life if I'm 'just' a chemical process?

One atheist may assign tremendous meaning and value to life another very little. But who is to say one is wrong the other right? Assigning meaning and value is an individual thing.

A Christian already has his value and meaning of life set for him. Life is of no value except to get into heaven. The meaning of life is just to trust the bible as interpreted by religious leaders. They are like sheep that have their value and meaning of life pre-assigned by their master.

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


thegaudyshoe
Posts: 6
Joined: 2011-11-24
User is offlineOffline
EXC wrote:I think the reason

EXC wrote:

I think the reason to say "just" is to reject the notion that we have a soul or spirit. There is no evidence for this. I think as atheists, we can assign what ever value or meaning we want to life or anything. Who is tell me what value I assign to life if I'm 'just' a chemical process?

One atheist may assign tremendous meaning and value to life another very little. But who is to say one is wrong the other right? Assigning meaning and value is an individual thing.

I see your point, in terms of why someone would use the qualifier "just" in this way, but I don't think I'd agree that assigning meaning is strictly an individual thing, in the sense that there certainly seems to be an objectivity within which we can take things into consideration. For example, this objectivity is precisely why it's so possible to refute the existence of a Christian god - by putting into examination how the belief arose in the first place and what kind of substantiation it has. I think this same thing can also apply in how others, including atheists, assign value and meaning to things.

 

Quote:

A Christian already has his value and meaning of life set for him. Life is of no value except to get into heaven. The meaning of life is just to trust the bible as interpreted by religious leaders. They are like sheep that have their value and meaning of life pre-assigned by their master.

 

Actually, I think Christians also decide on an individual basis what kind of value and meaning to assign their life and other things, simply that this generally happens much more within the context of Christian belief and Christian society. To demonstrate this, take what you said about how, for them, "life is of no value except to get into heaven". I think a great amount of Christians would, in fact, have assigned much more value to life than simply this. I think that a lot of them probably enjoy things that life has to offer and thereby value it on that level as well.

 

 


Ktulu
atheist
Posts: 1830
Joined: 2010-12-21
User is offlineOffline
I see what you mean.  I

I see what you mean.  I think it's a semantic issue.  I would formulate it as: We are "nothing other then" ... This would be used to force the point across, as you have pointed out, that there is "nothing other then".  Of course there is no basis in OUR reality to think that these facts subtract something, however in a theist's reality, one is "diminished" by being "nothing other then" electric/chemical reactions.  Their "reality" implies this alternate "other then" which they fail to define short of ambiguous "supernatural" or "spiritual" or what have you.  

As it has been pointed out, meaning and value of life are completely subjective properties.

 Edit typo

"Don't seek these laws to understand. Only the mad can comprehend..." -- George Cosbuc


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10688
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
The fact remains that we are

The fact remains that we are only, or "just", chemicals interacting. That we are does not mean that the chemical reactions do not result in something more than just a chemical reaction (or at least, so we'd like to think), it just means that the basis of life as we know it is chemical. Not supernatural, not mechanical, not philosophical, etc. Just chemical.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


butterbattle
ModeratorSuperfan
butterbattle's picture
Posts: 3718
Joined: 2008-09-12
User is offlineOffline
Hi, welcome to the

Hi, welcome to the forum.

thegaudyshoe wrote:
I see your point, in terms of why someone would use the qualifier "just" in this way, but I don't think I'd agree that assigning meaning is strictly an individual thing, in the sense that there certainly seems to be an objectivity within which we can take things into consideration. For example, this objectivity is precisely why it's so possible to refute the existence of a Christian god - by putting into examination how the belief arose in the first place and what kind of substantiation it has. I think this same thing can also apply in how others, including atheists, assign value and meaning to things.

Claims that can be directly matched to observable reality are not the same as assertions about values and meaning though. The latter case asserts "oughts" as truths and has no objective reference. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


Atheistextremist
atheistSilver Member
Atheistextremist's picture
Posts: 5102
Joined: 2009-09-17
User is offlineOffline
Hi there Gaudy Shoe

 

I look forward to your avatar. And I agree with you. It seems to me an appeal to negative consequence to deploy the word 'just' in relation to our biochemical nature. I read somewhere that humans are 93 per cent carbon, oxygen and hydrogen. The other 7 per cent of our 'stuff' constitutes those 60-80 elements that make up the Earth's crust. This is just as what we would expect it to be and profoundly amazing, if you ask me.  

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck