reply to post by Mr_Awesome
"Non-existence on the other hand is not provable."
Please please PLEASE show us where some atheist has stated that "non-existence" is a quality! When Hawking states that we "cease to exist," he is
obviously referring to all the hallmarks of personal identity that we latch onto as the "self." He does not say that that matter/energy of which we
are composed blips into nothingness. To the extent that a person "is" their thoughts, feelings, memories and behaviors, then certainly all of those
things cease to exist in any meaningful way when we die, except for the case of others memories of us, or historical records of our existence. But
even then, all of those things will eventually be destroyed, and the energy/matter from which they were composed will change forms.
Certainly Stephen Hawking and all other scientists worth their mettle subscribe to the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, and therefore believe that
energy is neither created nor destroyed, so it's very disingenuous to state that Stephen Hawking (or "atheists"...who, specifically?) believes that
there is a literal "state" of "non-existence." There is no paradox.
"...if this is really the only life that we have then what are the odds that in
the massive expanse of time, from the beginning of the universe to the
end (if there even is such a thing), that you find yourself in a state of
existence right now?"
The odds are, I would say, 100%, as evidenced by my existence. Perhaps you privilege the present-day over the past or the future, and think it's
somehow significant or meaningful that a given entity exists in a given time-frame, but there's no reason to assume that. I'm not even sure it's
mathematically meaningful to discuss "the odds" of someone existing at a given point in time.
"It’s an amazing coincidence don't you think? I mean you haven't already
died which if you did would mean that apparently you can never exist in
any form again."
What is the supposed coincidence? A coincidence is when TWO or more phenomena appear, in the eye of the beholder, to have a striking categorical
similarity, but you're saying that it's somehow a coincidence that any one person should find themselves alive and conscious at any given point in
the life of the universe? What!? So no, I don't think it's amazing that I or anyone else who currently exists exists! Further, as I said before,
the thing we associate with personal identity will eventually all decay and disappear, but the fundamental substance, energy, remains the same.
"I exist now because I have always existed in one form or another."
So far, this is the only thing you've written which I would agree to be a truthful statement. Your personal life history hasn't "always existed,"
insofar as you were not around to experience events that took place 200,000 years before you were born, but ALL of the matter and energy that
comprises your life and such HAS always existed. The energy that comprises the atoms in your body was right there at the beginning of our universe,
and will be in existence forever and ever. It's just that the thing we think of as us - as opposed to what is REALLY us - will have transformed so
much over millennia and eons that it would not be recognizable as such.
For instance, except for the fact that I produce heat, and was born and will one day die, I don't much resemble a star. Despite this, all the
fundamental building blocks of my person were created in long-dead stars, or are the by-products of elements created in those stars. THIS is the real
amazing thing about our lives. WE ARE DEAD STARS WALKING AROUND AND DISCUSSING STUFF ON THE INTERNET!!!
"In fact I only know of existence and have never seen or experienced non-existence."
Well, "you" couldn't very well experience "non-existence," could you, or it would be existence. Still, non-existence is definitely worth
considering. I'm going to quote here the opening paragraph of one of all-time favorite books, Mark C. Taylor's *NOTS*: The question of the not is
older - dreadfully older - than theology, philosophy, and art. It is indeed, older than thought itself, for it is impossible to think without already
having thought not. To think not is not, however, to think not as such. The elusive complexity of the not can only be thought when reflection bends
back on itself and becomes reflexive. Through this inward turn, which is intended to bring reflection full circle, thought inadvertently betrays
itself by indirectly soliciting something it cannot comprehend. In a certain sense, the not is unthinkable. And yet we are always unavoidably
thinking not. The question of the not, therefore, is the question of the unthinkable that we can neither think or not think. In thinking not,
thought approaches a limited that inhabits it as if from within. This exteriority, which is interior, rends thought, leaving it forever
Having quoted that, I will admit that it took be years to full comprehend what the heck Taylor was writing about.
"I exist right now in this moment why should I assume that I don't always exist in some form?"
You're right, to assume as such would be an error. However, I'm not sure you're getting the notion that only through science, through the work of
a bunch of believers, atheists and Stephen Hawkings, can we ascertain that everything that exists will always exist. How can we be certain of this.
Well of course we can't be absolutely certain of such, as we don't know everything about everything, but certainly it's evidently true that in our
cosmos, the amount of energy is constant and finite. We are made of stuff that was present at the "big bang," and are made of stuff that will be
there when this universe reaches whatever end state it might reach, but as for the things we think of as Mahajohn or ATS or whatever, say sayonora,