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An Honest Question Addressed to ATS Atheists

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posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 09:11 AM
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I'm back in the cypher my friends and foes,

So, my brain was just running with thought processes regarding consciousness and free will and the lack there-of.. who has it, who doesn't, and why. So as I pondered.. in stillness, I realized, or should I say remembered, that we are the only "conscious" being on the Planet Earth. Allow me to define "conscious" as a biological or otherwise entity of unknown composition that has what we commonly call "free will", the option to make any decision, to do anything we want, whether motivated or not, at any given moment.

Other beings of lesser evolved state and lesser intelligence, such as .. *thinking of an example* .. a Chimpanzee, our nearest "cousin", doesn't share this free will, and this perplexed me. I've seen experiments where Chimps and other Apes can be trained to beat simple puzzles on touch screens regarding shapes and colors, as in .. match this to that, which shape looks like this, etc. And if they get it right, they get a piece of food dispensed to them, which conditions them to continually increase the speed at which they can solve the simple puzzles, the scientists said they can even do it faster than a human being. But this is evidence that the human being sits back and thinks, ponders, and evaluates consciously, where the Ape lacks this ability, thus not studying, just trial and error until they get the pattern down to get food the fastest, just as a squirrel quickly learns the quickest way to dig up a nut, and the safest place to bury one. Animals are dominated by the need to eat above all. Only a human can allow themselves to starve to death by choice, other animals do this from illness, injury, or massive climate change.

So then, it is suffice to say that Apes do not have a "consciousness" of free will like Humans do, not even a primitive form. They are totally and utterly controlled by simple patterns which make us almost want to pity their inability to make independent decisions. We are controlled to an extent by patterns, but battle patterns with our free will. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but we have the ability to affect and change by choice. So I rest my case on us being the only scientifically proven beings on Planet Earth with a "conscious" defined as free will.

Now that I've established this, I'll continue with the question.

If we were not just the only conscious, free willed beings on Earth, but the entire Universe, would this not make us so utterly unique, statistically to the point that we'd be the most unique thing in existence?

Essentially, we can't answer this, most firmly believe there is life in the Universe not on this planet, yet .. many think it would be basic life forms. My Mother's Husband, an Atheist College Educated Aerospace Engineer with a hobby of Astronomy, has the opinion that there is not a single, not one, intelligent race of beings equal to our intelligence or greater, in the entire Universe. Needless to say I disagreed. But if this were true, this viewpoint which may be popular with some Atheists is flawed at its' very foundation. This is because if we are indeed the only free willed beings of the flesh, physical form of matter, in the entire Universe, this makes us unique beyond imagination, beyond statistics, the numbers would be unreal considering the estimated number of galaxes and solar systems and suns in this ever expanding Universe.

So, this brings me to my point, and what I'd like your opinions on. If it was so, and I know we may never know the truth, but *IF* mankind is the best thats' out there, which you must admit is a theory shared by some Atheists, not all, but some, and mankind is the only being in the Universe with free will, would this not lend itself to the concept that we were created, or our evolution was tampered with? Why only us? Why no where else? The vastness of the Cosmos is incomprehensable! So how could that be? It defies logic! It goes against Physics and even mainstream Scientific theories!

So I say, if we are indeed the only free willed beings in the entire Cosmos, which is an opinion I could learn to share with Atheists alike, then we have been made unique not by anomaly, coincidence, or natural evolution, but we were made this way, for this planet, by something. Perhaps Mother Gaia herself reared us to be her surface custodians, and she is about to kick us out of the house for being lazy pigs. But thats another thread..

Yes, I am tying Atheist theory to Creationism in a manner which both Atheist and Creationist can say, the only free willed beings of the physical which exist in the Cosmos are human beings. I think that would settle alot of confusion, and allow the two opposing viewpoint groups to learn to tolerate each other's differences more.

"So what do you think about all this Marvin?"

"Man, I don't even have an opinion."

"Well come on, you gotta have an opinion, I mean, did God come down from the sky and stop a bunch of bullets from.. *BANG*""

"Oh *expletive!*, I just shot Marvin in the face!"

[edit on 4/22/2008 by runetang]




posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 09:26 AM
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You seem to be grouping together beliefs and believers in groups that don't necessarily match. I know of Christians who believe in Extra Terrestrial life, and I know of atheists who don't. The two are not split down the middle.

As for your observations of other great apes, I'd say the great apes have just as much free will as we do, however their culture and physical abilities don't allow them to build up a culture as complicated as humans. If chimps could talk, for example, then their culture could mature much faster, as ideas are spread and learning takes place. That's what really seperates us from our cousins - slight changes in our physiology that allow us to do some remarkable things, such as talking and grasp more abstract concepts.

Even if we are the most highly-developed "sentient" beings in the universe, that doesn't mean to say we are, and will forever be, the only ones out there. There might be countless civilisations out there who have yet to reach a period of industrial revolution (as humanity did in the 1600s/1700s), but they'll reach it one day.

There are no theological implications in your question, to me at least. We can be the rarest thing in the universe, but still be here through natural processes. I'm comfortable enough in our existence without having to explain it away by stacking up various leaps of faith on top of each other.

One should not equate the very unlikely with God, for that surely is a great indicator that someone doesn't understand, and is grasping for something they can understand that will satiate their curiosity.



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 09:33 AM
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One flaw I see here is that "advanced" species are defined by their free will. Is free will an "advanced" trait?

Consider that a flock of 1000 birds can fly together, turn on a dime and find their destination without even thinking about it. Is that not advanced? Is that even considered what you would call a "simple pattern"? Humans need ropes and cordons to stand in line at the movie theater and GPS to find their destination.

Is it possible then that humans, because of their ability to reason, have the greatest disadvantage on the planet? Are perhaps the LEAST developed species? We are far less efficient than the average animal. Human bodies are ultimately very weak. Without shelter, clothing, sun screen and weapons to kill food - we would be in big trouble.

In terms of function on the planet, do humans have any more or less value than birds?

Let's say that I am Warren Buffet. I am worth 80 billion dollars. I gave to charity, started foundations and tried to improve the quality of life for others. In the end though, maybe I had a child or two, but aside from that I have accomplished nothing more than the birds have - which is to mate and carry my genome into the future to try and sustain my own species.

At this point - money and fortune - big houses and such are just man made things with a perceived value. Does the universe care about what car you drive or the fact that "free will" can let you drive where you want - or if you decide to sleep in in the morning?



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 09:42 AM
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Koko the gorilla is proof of freewill and thought amongst some animals.

Koko speaks via sign language and one day expressed desire for a cat. She picked a tailless cat and called it "all ball"

one day the cat escaped and was hit by a car, koko expressed sadness.

cry, sad, frown. sleep cat, was some of the things she signed to her friend and trainer.

koko on PBS


alex the african grey parrot has also expressed concious and free will.

these are both examples of animals being trained to communicate and NOT trained just for a scripted response.



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 10:20 AM
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Right, I understand all of this..

I myself was thinking about Dolphins, and how they communicate with sound underwater in a freely 'communicative' manner. So perhaps the truth is in the middle, as always.

Maybe free will has different stages, levels, and so forth. While the example of the 1000 birds in a flock mean nothing, as if you disturbed them they'd scatter in all directions and be unable to find each other again, split into smaller groups, and travel in different paths than they would have if not disturbed. Also, they follow each other, a simple instinct, ants have the same capability, this means nothing of free will. Free will is this. Can one bird in that flock, on its own accord, for no apparent reason, decide to just leave the flock, stop, and go fly over to some other state, sit on a fern tree, and fall off of it backwards to see if it can regain flight before hitting the ground? thats free will. I could go climb a tree and fall off of it backwards, on purpose, to see how i'd land, just for the point of seeing how i'd land. stupid, i know, but a free will decision nonetheless.

But yet, we have examples of some primitive animals, specifically this one ape, and some observations of chimp/ape communities, that there is -some- level of free will in the sense that they play together, and verbally communicate very pimitively, and with body language. So then, a lesser form of free will. But, can Koko, or a Chimp decide on their own accord, for no apparent motivation, to go for a walk over to the nearest gas station, assuming they were let out of their cage, just to take a nap on the concrete parking lot? Stupid, i know, but something a human being could choose to do if they truly wished to do so.

So it really seems that free will has different levels of advancement. I'll admit this may lend itself to evolution theory, but then again, there is a large missing leap between the -extremely- limited and simple so call "free will" of a Chimp, or Koko, or that Parrot, and the Human being's free will to do ANYTHING, ANYTIME THEY WANT, for any reason whatsoever. Nothing can touch that on this planet, that cannot be refuted.

And I am not saying that in the future more advanced "free willed" beings wouldnt exist or evolve, I am speaking about the here and now, at this moment in time.



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 10:59 AM
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It seems to me you're anthropomorphising chimps and their behaviour. You have to understand chimps and gorillas aren't people. They have different wants and needs out of life. Of course a chimp could decide to go lie down and take a nap on a parking lot if they wanted to. Chances are they wouldn't feel comfortable doing that (just as you'd sensibly not want to go take a nap in a jungle full of chimps), so using it as a metric of "free will" seems a bit useless, as in a directly-comparable test you'd fair just as well as they would, and we know you have free will.

We have seen chimps in the wild playing, using tools, teaching others to use tools, etc. We've even seen them hunt and eat other chimps (and not for dietary reasons). It seems like they have as much free will as we do, they just express it differently.



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 11:19 AM
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Originally posted by runetang
If we were not just the only conscious, free willed beings on Earth, but the entire Universe, would this not make us so utterly unique, statistically to the point that we'd be the most unique thing in existence?


1) You can't have both free will and an omnipotent entity guiding everything in the universe. It's a simple paradox that cannot be resolved. It's like being asked to pick a card from a stacked deck. You're "free" to choose any card the dealer has arranged for you to choose.
2) Uniqueness does not equal being intelligently created. Even if humans are a unique species, so are dogs, or spiders, or slime mold.
3) Since we don't know how many intelligent creatures there are in the universe, it's impossible to "statistically" determine how special we are. There could be ten thousand alien species out there smarter and better than us, and we're just a red-headed stepchild.

But I guess the bottom line is that you can't even adequately explain (or perhaps even comprehend) what you say you believe in, so it seems silly to ask atheists why they don't believe in it.



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 12:08 PM
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Originally posted by runetang


Other beings of lesser evolved state and lesser intelligence, such as .. *thinking of an example* .. a Chimpanzee, our nearest "cousin", doesn't share this free will, and this perplexed me.


Are you sure about that?


So then, it is suffice to say that Apes do not have a "consciousness" of free will like Humans do, not even a primitive form.


My knowledge of animal psychology is certainly not profound: just a few courses in college many years ago. Nevertheless, psychologists generally recognize that mammals, especially the high apes, are not only conscious of a free will, but are able to think abstractly.



So I rest my case on us being the only scientifically proven beings on Planet Earth with a "conscious" defined as free will.


But that hasn't been proven at all. In fact, many philosophers will argue that humans completely lack free will.




My Mother's Husband, an Atheist College Educated Aerospace Engineer with a hobby of Astronomy, has the opinion that there is not a single, not one, intelligent race of beings equal to our intelligence or greater, in the entire Universe.


On what basis does he hold that belief?



So, this brings me to my point, and what I'd like your opinions on. If it was so, and I know we may never know the truth, but *IF* mankind is the best thats' out there, which you must admit is a theory shared by some Atheists,


Actually, that is usually a Christian viewpoint instead of an atheist one. The Christian generally argues that God made man to be "special", whereas the atheist does not have that belief. Also, for the record, I'm not an atheist.


Why only us? Why no where else? The vastness of the Cosmos is incomprehensable! So how could that be? It defies logic! It goes against Physics and even mainstream Scientific theories!


Not really. Think of it this way: Regardless of whether or not there are more intelligent species, somewhere there has to be the most developed. So regardless of who it is, somebody is going to have to ask the question: Why us? That much, at least, is a mathematical certainty.


So I say, if we are indeed the only free willed beings in the entire Cosmos, which is an opinion I could learn to share with Atheists alike, then we have been made unique not by anomaly, coincidence, or natural evolution, but we were made this way, for this planet, by something. Perhaps Mother Gaia herself reared us to be her surface custodians, and she is about to kick us out of the house for being lazy pigs. But thats another thread..


It may be that we have free will. It may be that we do not. It may be that we are unique in the universe...or maybe not. But none of these issues can either prove or disprove that we were "made by something" intelligent and self-conscious. Personally, I believe we were....but pointing to a "free will", which may indeed be imaginary, cannot establish it as fact.



posted on Apr, 22 2008 @ 08:53 PM
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Originally posted by Nohup
But I guess the bottom line is that you can't even adequately explain (or perhaps even comprehend) what you say you believe in, so it seems silly to ask atheists why they don't believe in it.


Gee, I feel like Julius Caesar being verbally pummeled by the daggers of the Senate. I can't possibly engage all of you, but I will address this statement I quoted here, because I think you came off .. less than friendly, where as I worded all of my replies and the orginal post carefully as to not make anyone of any particular belief, like Atheism angry or miffed since I was asking Atheists the question, so that I wouldn't get statements like this. But I guess if you want to take it "there" , to accuse me of not being able to explain my own belief, I will accept the challenge to do so. Not that you'd understand me, or that I'd even understand you, does this make you or I correct? you or I more intelligent? Nay. It makes us different, with different opinions.

First off, I do not believe in a single omnipotent being, that controls everything, commonly referred to as "God", the "he", as if it were a male being in the Universe somewhere controlling everything. No, that is the naive impression given unto those who observe the Theology from the outside, not fully understanding. I too used to think of God as a single omnipotent being, before I became spiritual and began to understand that it couldn't possibly be that simple.

Secondly, no one religion is correct. They are all pathways to the same end. You are a product of your deeds. It matters not whether you knew of the living Christ, or if you didn't, if you lived like Christ, you've obviously done the "right" thing, as in being as loving and caring to all others, as opposed to cruel and mean to them, giving them pain and torture. You have the choice. So therefore, I am not an archetype Christian. If you must label something that cant be labeled correctly, put an incorrect label upon me to better attempt to understand me, but you will have erred from the start. Yeshua, Jesus, was a flesh and blood human man, he was not God incarnate. This takes nothing away from him.

Third, onto my "belief". God is not a being, my opinion is that like all things, you cannot have something out of nothing, right? So just as the big bang doesnt quite add up, neither does an omnipotent being creating all matter. Therefore, something had to occur for this matter, the universe, to exist. God, as we call it, had to .. for lack of a better term, shatter itself of its' physical form, to use this matter to create with. Therefore, God is no longer a single being, perhaps at one point, but if God was a single entity, it was before the creation, therefore in a timeless state, something we cannot comprehend as human beings. Can you agree that there are things beyond human capability to understand? If not, you'd be lying to yourself and to me. How things came to be is one of them. There is no single correct answer. Yet, something did occur. A paradox indeed.

So then, if God is not a physical, made-of-matter being, God is the creation. You hear the sayings .. God is in everyone, or God is all around, or God is love? That is the beginning of the rabbit hole, at the bottom of it is the truth. We are all made of God essence. God gave his matter to create ours, to allow this to exist. And why? To experience all which can be conceived. Can you agree that if the universe is limitless, that anything imaginable could be out there, existing, somewhere? Not agree, but can you refute it and prove it incorrect? How can you prove incorrect what you know nothing of? So then, electricity is energy is life. Our bodies have electricity, if they didn't, we'd be dead, our hearts would not pump, our brains would not function. We have energy inside of us, the same kind that comes from stars and suns, on a much lesser scale. God experiences all that can exist through each of us, we are the nerve endings of God. God could not have the cake and eat it too, because like all things, even God has to abide by the rules. Rules? you know ... the so called laws of physics? I'm sure there are laws of physics we have yet to understand as well, does this mean they do not exist?

So how does "being good" and "love" tie in, if God is everything? Just like the texts say, God doesn't want his creation to suffer, because God suffers too, because God is the creation. Therefore, the love, the morals, the knowledge of what is good and right, these things which we know in our very hearts are true, to the cores of our beings we know what is right and what is wrong. What is so called good and what is so called evil. Well have you noticed when you express love to another, that it often cheers them up, making them more apt to express love? And then does that person not go and act more positive, more loving, to those around them? More helping, more caring? Taking care of the unfortunate, the least of us? We're like domino's, except they dont knock each other over, they stand each other up. The force which propels us in our cores of ourselves to express this love is what people call God. Over time, you can even plot this on a graph, more love will change and influence more people, which will do so to more people, and eventually, even if it takes 10,000 years, the human race will become universally affected. If not, we will all perish, it's really that cut and dry with me.

[edit on 4/22/2008 by runetang]



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