Atheism to Nihilism?

ohmyscience
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Atheism to Nihilism?

Atheists has a difficult time argueing for or defending any meaning of life. Doesn't that often lead to nihilism? In my opinion it does because we almost know for a fact that the universe is indifferent. Even if we are naturally inclined to be guilty about lets say harming someone or stealing, doesn't that also mean that guilt is something that can argued against since it is not a logical to be guilty? I'm by no means of saying that atheism is nihilism only that it leads to it. What other conclusion can there be if atheism does not provide an valuations?


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Quote:Atheists has a

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Atheists has a difficult time argueing for or defending any meaning of life.

No it doesn't.  First, it's not the place of atheism to argue for such a thing.  Atheism is not a philosophy.  It is only the state of non-belief in a deity.

Second, if any particular atheist has trouble arguing for meaning in life, it is because he has fallen victim to a fallacy.  He has created an equivocation by assuming the theist definition of meaning, which cannot be correct if there is no god.  In other words, OF COURSE an atheist can't argue for meaning in life if the definition of meaning involves the existence of god!  As it turns out, it's not difficult at all for an atheist to argue for meaning.  Where theists are unhappy is that there is no "higher meaning."  All there is involves this life, with no promise of anything afterwards.  This is not a lack of meaning, but a lack of mythology.

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Doesn't that often lead to nihilism?

Only if you don't believe that natural selection has imbued humans with natural drives.

Anyone who arrives at nihilism from atheism is either naive or dense.

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In my opinion it does because we almost know for a fact that the universe is indifferent.

I don't know if you're naive or dense yet.  Why would you think that what happens in, say, the Andromeda galaxy has anything to do with whether or not you can find any meaning in life?  The person determining meaning is you, not the universe.  Do you get up in the morning?  Do you eat food?  Do you try to find love?  Do you love your family?  Do you have a hobby?  You have lots of meaning in your life.  What you don't have is the promise of anything after you die.  So what?  You have stuff you want to accomplish while alive, even if it's very mundane.

Quote:
Even if we are naturally inclined to be guilty about lets say harming someone or stealing, doesn't that also mean that guilt is something that can argued against since it is not a logical to be guilty?

You could try, but you'd be demonstrating ignorance of natural selection, sociobiology, and evolutionary psychology.  The reason we have emotions like guilt are tied to something called the Commitment Model, which explains the mathematical advantage to a particular strategy of balancing self interest with reciprocal altruism while engaging in something akin to the classic Prisoner's Dilemma.  To put it very simply, we developed emotions precisely because we wouldn't be altruistic if we didn't have them.  Those of our ancestors who didn't have emotions were out-reproduced by those who did, since the advantages of community are so extreme for us.

Quote:
I'm by no means of saying that atheism is nihilism only that it leads to it. What other conclusion can there be if atheism does not provide an valuations?

You're completely ignoring the possibility that science can provide valuations.  You're thinking that nihilism results if we don't have an absolute standard, but that's another theist fallacy.  Our morality, like our natural drives, are subjective, but they are not arbitrary.   In the real universe, everything works within its own closed system.  To be human is to be bound by emotions pitted against rationality.  It is to desire sex, food, and power.  We have survival instincts.  We have feelings for our kin and friends.  All the philosophy in the world doesn't change that.  We can certainly choose to act as if we are not bound by our instincts, but only so far.  In other words, our course is subjective, but not arbitrary.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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ohmyscience wrote:Atheists

ohmyscience wrote:

Atheists has a difficult time argueing for or defending any meaning of life.

I don't know what life you have but I have no problem argueing for or defending any meaning of life. Just check out my sig "Life is beautiful, and those who beleive in afterlifes fail to understand this.' If you cannot appreciate the great chnce of life, without having to resort to a god,that's pretty sad.  You think being created on a whim by a god who then makes you jump throught hoop so as to not suffer is meaning in life, then hope you like being miserable.

By your screenname I'm guessing you're a atheist or a particularly sarcastic theist.Either way,where are you getting this stuff?

Psalm 14:1 "the fool hath said in his heart there is a God"-From a 1763 misprinted edition of the bible

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ohmyscience wrote:Atheists

ohmyscience wrote:

Atheists has a difficult time argueing for or defending any meaning of life. Doesn't that often lead to nihilism?

 

That is the propaganda of peachers who use fear to get you to join their religion so they can seperate you from your money.

So if you're a thiest, what is the meaning of life? I'm a slave to an invisible man that never speaks to me so I have to have a religion tell me what the hell he wants. Seems that being a slave should lead to nihilism.

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen


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interesting

I have been a life long atheist and never been inclined to nihilism. I sure can defend my meaning of life, which is simply to enjoy every moment, to learn from every experience good and bad, to further not just myself but those of my family and if possible the society in which I live in. It benefits them all if we collectively share our knowledge and experiences. So that the future of my child and that of the people I know will hopefully be more enriched because of it. The meaning is up to you, if you wish to be nihilst then fine, but that would be your decision. Being an atheist just means not believing in any deities/gods/supernatural beings. It does not mean being a nihilst.The philosophies of one person does not necessarily mean it is the philosophy of everyone else that as a common belief.


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As others have already

As others have already stated, atheism does not equate to a lack of meaning. It merely leaves you to arrive at meaning yourself. A tennis ball in a basket above the dog food has no meaning. Take it out and throw it for the dogs, though, and it has meaning. That action, the simple throwing of a ball for a happy dog, gives meaning to the tennis ball, and so to the world. Not much, but a little.

Add that up over the lives and years, and you have some seriously important meaning. Millions of dogs chasing millions of tennis balls, billions of people caring about each other and their dogs -- all of this is meaning, if you want it to be.

My philosophy is simple: we're all in this together. Logically, it's my duty to leave the world a better place than I found it, because "all of us" is not just those who are alive today, but those who will be alive tomorrow. It's my privilege to enjoy my time here as much as possible. To me, that's sufficient meaning.

Notice none of this has to do with atheism. It all has to do with one thing: I like being alive. I like that I can enjoy my life. I can only enjoy my life if others allow me to enjoy my life. In fact, it takes a bit of active participation from a few people to help me enjoy my life. In return, I try to help them enjoy their life. It's the mutual enjoyment that is rewarding.

Now, abstract that to the rest of the world. If everyone enjoyed their lives, there'd be much less pain (emotional and physical) and wanting. Pain and wanting lead to an unenjoyable life. An unenjoyable life leads to things like nihilism. This is true whether you are a theistic or atheistic. People who want, people who suffer, they are the ones more likely to kill, steal, or otherwise harm other people.

So, to maximize my enjoyment, it makes sense to help maximize the enjoyment of life for everyone, not just those whom I love.

In the end, even simple concepts like, "The meaning of life is to enjoy it," leads to a true moral framework, and not nihilism.

I believe theism distracts from this. Theism gives the illusion of a moral center, without justification of that morality. Remove the artificial construct of divine morality, and you must either replace it with something rational, or descend into chaos (or a nice blend of the two). Most people will replace it with something rational. From what I've seen, it's often a variation of the "We're all in this together" trope.

I know morality and meaning are not the same, but I believe morality is derived from meaning. It's entirely up to you to choose your meaning, and live your life by its implied morality. For a theist, that meaning and morality is given them without rationality or reason. For an atheist, both meaning and morality must be derived subjectively.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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For quite a few years I kept silent on the subject of meaning in life. I realize now, that this was because I simply didn't get it, I could not see what the theist and others were going on about. I saw it as ignorance on my part, so I remained silent.

I've come to realize that I saw nothing, because nothing was there. Being the sock puppet for a cosmic puppeteer does not imply purpose or meaning.  I laughed at myself when I realized why I hadn't gotten it... I had simply been too fucking busy LIVING my life, building my own 'meaning' and 'purpose' on a daily basis.

It is laughable and I feel like an ass.

 

LC >;-}>

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Quote:I've come to realize

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I've come to realize that I saw nothing, because nothing was there. Being the sock puppet for a cosmic puppeteer does not imply purpose or meaning.

Theists so often ignore the second sentence.  Actually, a lot of atheists do, too.  If you feel motivated to get out of bed, you have meaning in life.  Theists propose that there's a "higher meaning" than just living, but what makes you believe that's true?  What evidence is there?  Sure, when someone has died and left a "legacy" we can say that their life has meaning beyond themselves, but that's just wordplay to state the obvious.  Everyone affects other people, and it's either going to be good or bad, and whoever survives them will remember.

In the end, sure -- the earth will die, along with all its inhabitants.   But what do you care?  It doesn't change a damn thing about whether or not that hot girl at your office thinks you're cute.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Ve beleef in nossing!

Ve beleef in nossing!  Ve'll cut off your Chonson, Lebowski!

 


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couldnt nihilism be a good step?

For those who asked if I was atheist, I am. And perhaps I'm not aware of what nihilism means but I didn't think it would be regared with such disdain. Isn't nihilism what wipes out any objectives values. Most of you have said that that we chose our meaning in life without any objective justification. So do I, I admit there are no absolutes in life but I still have friends and family that I love. But if you asked me why I love to live I can't really give a good answer other than something like I am physiologically inclined to do so, its enjoyable, and that I am addicted to it. Perhaps I was wrong to link atheism and nihilism together. I was just curious how many people here wanted to admit that they had to acknowledge the lack of absolutes. A lot of my atheist friends have values and they acknowledged they can not defend it rationally. Just because you live life like its beautiful or wished for equality doesn't mean you have to defend your position because I don't think you can. I always thought nihilism was a step necessary to take. Nihilism has spawned art and music of the 20th cent. and has impacted much of the way we live. So why would it be a bad thing to advocate it, so that people would now have to live their lives through their own inventions.


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Quote:And perhaps I'm not

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And perhaps I'm not aware of what nihilism means but I didn't think it would be regared with such disdain.

It's a really common theist argument, and a bad one.  Pardon the disdain.

Quote:
Most of you have said that that we chose our meaning in life without any objective justification.

And that's where your reasoning fails.  There are objective values.  Objective is not the same as absolute.  If I'm hungry, I have an objective reason to go to the store and buy some food.  While I'm there, I have an objective reason not to tackle the cashier and try to steal all the money out of the drawer.  I have a deep emotional desire to have companionship.  That gives me an objective reason to seek a mate.

Just because you don't have the same objective reasons that I do doesn't make either of our reasons any less objective.  It just makes them non-absolute.

Quote:
But if you asked me why I love to live I can't really give a good answer other than something like I am physiologically inclined to do so, its enjoyable, and that I am addicted to it.

And just what is wrong with any of that?

We're biological organisms with built in, unavoidable emotional responses.  Why don't you consider that on objective reality?  If you do, then why do you claim that there aren't objective justifications for actions?

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Perhaps I was wrong to link atheism and nihilism together.

Completely wrong.

Quote:
I was just curious how many people here wanted to admit that they had to acknowledge the lack of absolutes.

Absolute and objective are completely different.  To suggest that a lack of a single objective for humanity implies a lack of objectives for individuals is an error of division. *

Quote:
A lot of my atheist friends have values and they acknowledged they can not defend it rationally. Just because you live life like its beautiful or wished for equality doesn't mean you have to defend your position because I don't think you can.

And this is an appeal to ignorance.  Do you suppose that the limits of your understanding are the real limits of human understanding?  Or is it possible that you've just never spent significant time studying what science says about what humans really are?  It's entirely possible to live life without ever questioning your values.  Does this mean you don't have them?  Of course not.  You do have values, so obviously nihilism is false.  If it was true, then any choice you made would literally be arbitrary.

Human emotions are not just evolutionary extras.  They're an integral part of why societies form.  This is all part of something called the Commitment Model, which explains in great detail why human society works.  It's mathematically stable, and guess what?  It's also individually irrational to adhere to it.  Yet, we all adhere to it for the most part.  Why?  Emotions.  Emotions are the evolutionary reins that keep humans on the track of civilization.  They often make us do irrational things, but we must remember that they are only irrational from an individualist point of view.  Individualism is about as outdated as dualism in science.  The Selfish Gene concept forced us to realize this.

Quote:
Nihilism has spawned art and music of the 20th cent. and has impacted much of the way we live. So why would it be a bad thing to advocate it, so that people would now have to live their lives through their own inventions.

No... Nihilists have done those things.  They had meaning and value in life.  They just didn't acknowledge it.  Nihilism as a philosophy is nonsense.  Theism as a philosophy is also nonsense, and theists have accomplished art and music, too.

Be careful not to equate philosophy with reality.

 

 

 

* The fallacy of division is the opposite of the Fallacy of Composition. It consists of assuming that a property of some thing must apply to its parts; or that a property of a collection of items is shared by each item.

"You are studying at a rich college. Therefore you must be rich."

"Ants can destroy a tree. Therefore this ant can destroy a tree."

 

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I believe that you're

I believe that you're entirely confused about what nihilism is.  It's typically described as a general mood of despair at the pointlessness of existence.  You say that it 'wipes out any objective values', but I believe you mean to say that it entails the belief that there is no objective morality and that existence therefor has no meaning.

What people here have been doing is to describe how nihilism is completely absurd.  One of the key characteristics of nihilism is the belief that god does not exist (therefor there is no morality) and that if god did exist it would not be morally necessary to worship it.  I don't think that any of the people here believe that just because there is no god there is no morality and values are wholly distinct from morality.  Nihilists may have values.  In truth there is no totally objective morality and existence really has no objective purpose.  I fail to see why nihilism would need to be a result of this as a subjective morality and subjective purpose to life can be considered.  Further, subjective morality doesn't need to run into the problem of people defining their own morals absolutely because society requires us to agree upon certain things in order to function and some of those things are morals and it should be obvious that even what society generally agrees is moral is not truly objective because morals do shift and change over time and are constantly tested.

Nihilistic art is an inherently meaningless phrase.  If we are to call something art then it must be a creation and if we ascribe a meaning to that creation such as calling it nihilist then it simply cannot be nihilist.  That the art can be said to describe nihilism isn't particularly meaningful because such attempts at illustrating nihilism have the tendency to end up illustrating that one is always accountable to oneself and this accountability (as per the nihilist belief in the absence of morals) is anathema to any 'true' nihilism.

What you should take from this is that while the concept might be interesting itself, it simply doesn't hold up in practise and it is essentially an impossible way of conducting oneself within society or, indeed, of conducting oneself at all.  If at the end of the day you are still alive to say that you are alive the very purpose of your life should be crystal clear.  I, like the other people who have posted here believe, however, that just being alive is not enough and we, in our various and distinct ways, create our own purpose and meaning in life and we do our best to live within our societies such that we may contribute to our own happiness and all the necessary things entailed therein.

Edit: Hambydammit, I think by objective the poster doesn't necessarily mean absolute, but some morality upon which other people can agree.  Of course, you're right that there are no moral absolutes, but I don't think that any morals can be wholly objective in the sense that the poster means.  Oh, you're so much more concise than me! Sticking out tongue

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Thomathy, it may seem like a

Thomathy, it may seem like a small point, but I want to make sure it's clear because it's crucial to understanding why nihilism fails so utterly.

Morality precedes philosophy.  It must, or we would never have lived in societies, which are completely necessary for the accumulation of enough knowledge to codify philosophy.  In other words, when you say "society requires us to agree upon certain things in order to function," you're putting the cart before the horse.  Society exists because we innately agree upon certain things, and we do function.  Society has certainly progressed because it has allowed us to form more complex relationships, but we must not miss the point that the initial relationships we formed were based on reciprocal altruism and game theory -- in other words, morality.

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Quote:Edit: Hambydammit, I

Quote:
Edit: Hambydammit, I think by objective the poster doesn't necessarily mean absolute, but some morality upon which other people can agree.  Of course, you're right that there are no moral absolutes, but I don't think that any morals can be wholly objective in the sense that the poster means.  Oh, you're so much more concise than me! Sticking out tongue

Thanks!

Objective: having an empirical, falsifiable basis.

Absolute: pertaining to all members of a set.

 [edit:  while I'm at it:

Subjective: having multiple valid conclusions]

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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I see we're working off of

I see we're working off of two different sets of definitions for objective and subjective.  I wasn't using the terms in the way that you were, though I realize that I should have.

I didn't mean to make it out to seem like I think that the 'cart' goes ahead of the 'horse'.  I understand that we function the way we do as a prerequisite to society.  I was just picking up from that point onward, society then progresses as it does and allows us to form more complex relationships, as you say.  As it is I had just been reading your essay on human sexuality...

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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I'm gonna try a little I AM

I'm gonna try a little I AM GOD AS YOU thing here...

 

if I AM GOD AS YOU and if GOD is everlasting........the universe as we know it......then I AM the universe AS YOU........WE make all decisions of meaning.......of purpose and non-purpose......if YOU say you have purpose, so do I........and so does all.......as the only conscious bits we know exist, WE ARE the purpose..........the universe aware and purposeful in and of itself.

 

Is that right?

"We are the star things harvesting the star energy"
-Carl Sagan


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YES YES , YOU are "Saved" !

YES YES , YOU are "Saved" ! Preach this "good word" far and  wide ! 


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still have much to learn,

still have much to learn, but could not do myself AS ALL any less the code now cracked


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  Celebrate !   

  Celebrate !   


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Now, Always! celebrate is

Now, Always! celebrate is not a verb...not even a word...celebrate=life! 


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Fix my words said a wise

Fix my words said a wise Buddha!   

 ... oh yeah, here's that "angel" friend I so adore, and often send. 

"Wisdom of the Buddha" 8 min,   


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Oh boy...so now I am suppose

Oh boy...so now I am suppose to be depressed nihilist, who can't see any purpose in his meaningless life.

I thought that all atheist are immoral hedonist, Satan-seeds and mass-murders. God damn it I am lost now.

If anybody week mind leads him to nihilism, I can only ask you to start his life education again. This time without deluding himself about afterlife.

Ecrasez l'infame!


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is it possible?

Maybe I am misunderstanding the term, does nihilism necessarily mean anguish and depression? Is it possible to regard no absolutes and meaning in your existence and still be a lively and an interactive person? Maybe I am not familiar with the term. If someone could elaborate and help me out here I would like to read up more on what nihilism is. Any philosophy books or novels would be much appreciated


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YOU miss the point......YOUR

YOU miss the point......YOUR meaning is THE meaning of GOD AS YOU......AS YOU choose!


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I'd say it is possible

ohmyscience wrote:

Maybe I am misunderstanding the term, does nihilism necessarily mean anguish and depression? Is it possible to regard no absolutes and meaning in your existence and still be a lively and an interactive person? Maybe I am not familiar with the term. If someone could elaborate and help me out here I would like to read up more on what nihilism is. Any philosophy books or novels would be much appreciated

The only place and time where you will be able to find meaning is in the here and the now. Don't know about any books, but I think the term might "Nihilist" might apply to me.To me, "vanishing into nothing" implies eventually not even being there to have any memory at all of ever having existed. Which would lead to a question beyond "Does God exist", namely: "Do I, for all intent and purpose, exist".

I could imagine thoughts like these leading to angst (it did for a while in my case). But thing is, reality is reality. It will nt change because we want it to be different. And what we know for certain that we exist now and here, that we can experience life, that we can learn, love, find contentment.

And maybe that is all there is, but it is enough.


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ohmyscience wrote:Maybe I am

ohmyscience wrote:

Maybe I am misunderstanding the term, does nihilism necessarily mean anguish and depression? Is it possible to regard no absolutes and meaning in your existence and still be a lively and an interactive person? Maybe I am not familiar with the term. If someone could elaborate and help me out here I would like to read up more on what nihilism is. Any philosophy books or novels would be much appreciated

Don't worry,  I understand nihilism in subjective way. Nihilists reject everything which actually gives me fun in life and are very  pesimistic, so if they are right I obviously would be depressed. Lucky for me I reject nihilism as possible life stance and sane way of thinking Eye-wink

Ecrasez l'infame!


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ohmyscience wrote:Maybe I am

ohmyscience wrote:

Maybe I am misunderstanding the term, does nihilism necessarily mean anguish and depression? Is it possible to regard no absolutes and meaning in your existence and still be a lively and an interactive person? Maybe I am not familiar with the term. If someone could elaborate and help me out here I would like to read up more on what nihilism is. Any philosophy books or novels would be much appreciated

No, what Nihilism means is a broken concept.  It's not attainable and it doesn't function.  It is pure garbage.  Did you even read what Hambydammit and I wrote?

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Quote:Did you even read what

Quote:
Did you even read what Hambydammit and I wrote?

I often wonder if anyone reads what I write.

From Wiki: Common assertions of nihilism

  • Objective morality does not exist; therefore no action is logically preferable to any other.
  • In the absence of morality, existence has no higher meaning or goal.
  • There is no reasonable proof or argument for the existence of a higher ruler or creator.
  • Even if there exists a higher ruler or creator, mankind has no moral obligation to worship them.

1. Objective morality is different from absolute morality.  Science has clearly demonstrated that humans do have innate moral instincts, so this is demonstrably false.  If it is claimed that morality is contingent on human existence, and so does not exist apart from us, the counterargument is that the claimant is committing a reification error -- treating an abstract as if it were material.

2. As per (1), morality does exist, and so this is nonsense.  Furthermore, the existence of "higher meaning" is not properly defined, and is meaningless as a term.  You might as well say, "In the absence of morality, existence has no transcendental shrinkage."  Furthermore, the nonexistence of a "higher goal" does not have any correlation to the existence of ordinary goals, which we can easily demonstrate.

3. It's true that there's no proof of a creator.  So what?

4. This is also true, but again, so what?

The most obvious problem with any claim of nihilism is the paradox that would result from its truth.  If nihilism is the belief that there is no such thing as truth, how can one hold to nihilism, since it is necessarily not truth?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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ohmyscience
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Thanks for the clarafication

That was informative. Thanks a lot for clarifying that up for me. I was always wondering how there could be a truth that denies all truth. Now that I think about it, it does seem absurd.


Hambydammit
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Quote:That was informative.

Quote:
That was informative. Thanks a lot for clarifying that up for me. I was always wondering how there could be a truth that denies all truth. Now that I think about it, it does seem absurd.

Thanks for tolerating the grumpiness with which your question was met. 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

http://hambydammit.wordpress.com/
Books about atheism


HisWillness
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Louis_Cypher wrote:I've come

Louis_Cypher wrote:

I've come to realize that I saw nothing, because nothing was there. Being the sock puppet for a cosmic puppeteer does not imply purpose or meaning.  I laughed at myself when I realized why I hadn't gotten it... I had simply been too fucking busy LIVING my life, building my own 'meaning' and 'purpose' on a daily basis.

Exactly.

Saint Will: no gyration without funkstification.
fabulae! nil satis firmi video quam ob rem accipere hunc mi expediat metum. - Terence


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On Atheists &

I AM GOD AS YOU
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I love you Static .....

I love you Static ..... those are the words of a buddha, that I try to pass on. What is big, what is small? !  When they asked him, what about a god, he laughed.

Hey dude, be a rock star and spread that "good word" !  

I will send this vid everywhere ..... 


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Louis_Cypher wrote:Being the

Louis_Cypher wrote:

Being the sock puppet for a cosmic puppeteer does not imply purpose or meaning. 

 

Great descripition of the Christian life. My new nickname for God: Señor Wences

Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success. --Mark Skousen