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Why do atheists assume that non-existence is a real thing?

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posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:05 PM
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Let’s look at what is provable and what is not provable.

Existence is provable... I’m here, you're here... we exist... obviously.

Non-existence on the other hand is not provable.

Notable atheist Stephen Hawking's stated his opinion that this is the one and only life that we will ever experience and when it is over we will cease to exist, however he doesn't provide any proof for this state of non-existence, which paradoxically he thinks exists.

So 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?

I mean just think about it. One of our lifetimes is a blink of the eye when compared to the entire timeline of the universe and yet astonishingly you find yourself existing right now in this moment. Wow... 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. And you haven't not been born yet, which would mean that you had never existed before but might at some point. To think of all the time that will pass (perhaps even an eternity) after your life and to consider all of the time that has passed before your life, to actually exist here and now in this moment is truly astonishing. Could you even calculate those odds?

But actually I don't think it is a coincidence at all and I would say that I exist now because I have always existed in one form or another. In fact I only know of existence and have never seen or experienced non-existence.

I would like to add that the forgetfulness of the limited physical brain does not constitute evidence for non-existence... such as 'i dont remember before I was born, why would I remember after'.

I can only prove existence and cannot prove non-existence and if I exist right now in this moment why should I assume that I don't always exist in some form?

edit on 17-5-2011 by Mr_Awesome because: typo




posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:07 PM
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to be brief... because many people are uncomfortable with quantum physics to say the least LOL

The reality is none of us can ever "know" 100% what is next until we get there.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:10 PM
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Depends what you define as "me". When you die your atoms and molecules will no doubt be recycled by organisms on earth and parts of "you" will indeed live on. As for conciousness existing after death, you're right, it can't be proven that there is non existence but also there is no proof ( scientific) that there is (existence). I'd say wait untill you're dead then make up your mind

edit on 17-5-2011 by Hopeforeveryone because: typo

edit on 17-5-2011 by Hopeforeveryone because: that made my brain hurt



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:12 PM
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I agree no one can know for sure what is next until they get there. I just don't see any reason to just assume that non-existence is the next logical step.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:15 PM
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reply to post by Mr_Awesome
 


It all just comes down to belief really. I think people should believe what they like as long as it doesn't harm anyone or interfere with other people believing what they like. If it makes someone happy to think theres nothing -good for them. If it floats your boat to believe in heaven or something similar then good luck to you.

Now if everyone believed that - what a nice world we'd live in



edit on 17-5-2011 by Hopeforeveryone because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:17 PM
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I don't agree with the contention that all atheists deny that the nature of consciousness is elusive and broadly unknown. Atheists simply reject the idea of a god in the traditional sense, which I think is a reasonable thing to assume in this day and age. Personally I consider myself an atheist and openly admit that research into quantum physics casts doubt onto the nature of consciousness and life itself. If the Multiple Worlds Theory is right there is some chance that our consciousness cant die.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:19 PM
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If consciousness is infinite, then you are that consciousness and so am i.
But, in finite flesh and finite time.
The flesh divides the consciousness, giving each and everyone of us a different point of view.

When you die, you become a part of the infinite consciousness again.

Consciousness will always be reborn within a finite being as long as we reproduce finite life.
edit on 27.06.08 by spy66 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:20 PM
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reply to post by spy66
 


Perhaps! I suppose we shall see...



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:24 PM
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reply to post by Mr_Awesome
 


Hawking isn't the smartest man on the planet. He's the type of guy that will enjoy memorizing a text book or doing math problems, without understanding the context on these things. Critical thought or expanding his consciousness is extremeley difficult for him. I have the feeling he is Autitistic on top of his other disabilities. Kind of like Rain Man.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:27 PM
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reply to post by v0ice0freas0n
 


Its true that there is different kinds of atheists and not all believe in non-existence definitively, but many do believe this and I would say it is a baseless assumption to make. Personally I am hoping that what Spy66 said is correct and I feel that is most likely but there is only one certain way to find out and im not ready for that yet.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:48 PM
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I know that we can't prove the existence of ourselves or the universe before ourselves were born, but I believe we have proof that other people didn't exist before they were born.

Phew, for a minute there I lost myself...



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:55 PM
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reply to post by Planet teleX
 


Well I think we can only prove that the physical person didn't exist before their birth and after their death. But we can't prove that the consciousness which inhabits those people never existed before they were born or that it ceases to exist when the physical body dies.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 07:57 PM
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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 incomplete.

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, baby!



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 08:01 PM
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reply to post by Ksorum
 


Are you suggesting that a man whose mind has explored some of the most profound mysteries of our universe is somehow lacking an expansive mind? Have you ever READ Hawking's popular works, or know anything about his personal history? I would gather the answer is "no," because then you'd realize that every single thing you just stated about Stephen Hawking is categorically false.

Wow.

Just...

WOW.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 08:13 PM
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Originally posted by Planet teleX
I know that we can't prove the existence of ourselves or the universe before ourselves were born, but I believe we have proof that other people didn't exist before they were born.

Phew, for a minute there I lost myself...
Yes, the only proof a person who clings to this world can uncover is more proof of this world. In this sense, you can't see what you don't open your eyes to, because you do not see it and are unwilling to try. The point of spiritual wisdom is to open your "inner eye" to see the world that's normally invisible to you - think of it as developing a kind of infra-red to see beyond what our eyes allow us to - but it takes a willing heart to do so, just as it takes a willing heart to embrace Atheism or any other belief. We are beings of free will, after all.

This is why it's good to embrace both ways of seeing. That is the truly intelligent and wise person!



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 08:59 PM
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reply to post by mahajohn
 


My understanding was that Stephen Hawking’s believes that our consciousness will be switched off when our physical body is destroyed and in doing so we will never be conscious again in any form. But we don't really understand what consciousness is and if it is produced by the physical brain or if it temporarily inhabits the physical body and then moves on when the body perishes.


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 use coincidence for lack of a better word… perhaps miracle would be more suited. Anyway I’m trying to say that if you believe that our consciousness ceases to exist when we die then you have to admit it is amazing that you are here now experiencing something and not already dead or yet to be born. Or maybe you are experiencing something now because you always experience ‘something’ whether in a physical body or something else.


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!!!


Yes exactly! It is amazing. So why couldn't that dead star that we use to be, have consciousness? I know that the physical body will die and is temporary. My point is to say that there is no reason to assume our energy or consciousness dies with our body, as is evident by the fact that my consciousness exists right now. It would be miraculous that I am in a state of existence right now when compared to the vast timeline and future timeline of the universe. Basically if non-existence is real then I am amazed that I haven’t been and gone already in which case I would just not exist at all and never exist again.

edit on 17-5-2011 by Mr_Awesome because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 09:06 PM
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reply to post by Mr_Awesome
 


I've always found it quite interesting how mental illness or organic brain damage influences the debate in conciouness and continued existence. We can all assume that to all observable purposes conciousness is a product of the brain as damage to the brain alters the way conciousness functions. Even drugs alter the way we think and experience the world. Say you take a bullet to the brain is it the brain damaged self that ends up in an afterlife ? My question would be

1./ what exactly is this "conciousness"
2./ What part of this continues after the brain dies.

It's a real tough one.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 09:22 PM
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Originally posted by Hopeforeveryone
reply to post by Mr_Awesome
 


I've always found it quite interesting how mental illness or organic brain damage influences the debate in conciouness and continued existence. We can all assume that to all observable purposes conciousness is a product of the brain as damage to the brain alters the way conciousness functions. Even drugs alter the way we think and experience the world. Say you take a bullet to the brain is it the brain damaged self that ends up in an afterlife ? My question would be

1./ what exactly is this "conciousness"
2./ What part of this continues after the brain dies.

It's a real tough one.


If you ask your self; Who controls you.
Is it your brain or is it You?

Your brain doesn't control anything you do. Your brain acts on your command.

In the army we learned to program our brain to do specific functions by visualization. Visualization is a much faster and easier way to program your brain to do specific physical functions. Then it is to do hundreds of physical repetitions. Because before you can do something physical, your brain has to learn how to preform the physical function.

The clue to understanding this is that You know how to do the functions before your brain does. But the brain does all the calculations to get your physical moves right and accurate.


edit on 27.06.08 by spy66 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 09:29 PM
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reply to post by Hopeforeveryone
 


Well im not so sure about the assumption that the brain produces consciousness. Mental illness or injury is an affliction of the physical body which could just be the vessel that our consciouness experiences things through temporarily. For example I view the internet through my computer but if my computer is damaged it may impede my experience of the internet, but my computer is not me and I can get a new one when my current one stops being useful.

Good questions.. I too would like to know the answers.



posted on May, 17 2011 @ 09:42 PM
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reply to post by Mr_Awesome
 


Your first mistake was listening to Hawking. Next time he trys to give you the lowdown on everything, ask him if he knows what enlightenment is, connecting to the Oneness, the All or whatever anyone wants to call it. If he has never been there himself, he really knows squat and is talking out of his field. The Universe is far bigger than working high-order math problems that always must be adjusted to give an answer to current acceptable thinking (or a tad beyond).

I wonder, has he studied spirituality via his math tools?



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