Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Question about Atheism

  1. Feb 2, 2007 #1
    I mostly believe in God because it seems more probable to me than the "Big Bang" theory. As a Muslim, I believe it's my responsibility to know what other people believe in. I have looked in Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism, and now it's my turn to look at Atheism. My question is, in Atheism, What happened before the big bang? What made the first physical matter? What made energy? light? fire?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 2, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    What made or came before God/Allah?
  4. Feb 2, 2007 #3
    ....mmm i'd say things existed forever....then again...what created god(s).
  5. Feb 3, 2007 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    You can find some of the answers to your questions here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M-theory
    Well excpt for the fire, fire is just a self-sustaining oxidation process accompanied by heat and light.

    We really do not know what was here if anything before the big bang but we are getting more data all the time. The term "before" doesn't make sense if time started with the big bang either

    Why do you think god is more probable than the big bang?
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2007
  6. Feb 3, 2007 #5
    I'd also read "The God Delusion" by Dawkins along with some of the reads that are suggested within that book.

    I liked it best out of all the "atheist" books... probably the best place to start for someone who hasn't looked into atheism as it covers most of the theist arguments and presents the scientific point of view to those arguments. From morals and values, to evolution and the big bang (obviously it doesn't go too deep into any subject).
  7. Feb 3, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Raza, many atheists do question what the real truth is, etc. I think that many haved looked critically at religion, especially as it has changed over time, and have come to the conclusion that it can't have been true because it has changed so much, or they have come to the conclusion that religion has negative effects generally.

    Atheism isn't about the Big Bang, in fact it has almost nothing to do with it. The Big Bang is just a theory without the negatives of religion, it doesn't have to be justified against religion because religious theories are disqualified.

    So I think the position of most atheists is that religion just doesn't make sense. I'll use a Christian example. Suppose God is all powerful, he can do whatever he wants. Then why would he make this world? He could counter any need or urge he had. Why should God care if some ant on a ball of rock prays or not?

    I think atheists also see that most religious people use religion in strange ways. For instance an earthquake happens and many die, but one of the survivors says "thank God I'm alive". It seems rather callous to suggest that God would let you live but others die. Why shouldn't God have prevented all deaths?

    Also there is the matter that religion allows people to be manipulated. People will do what they can to evidence their belief, so like a boyfriend who says "if you love me, you'll have sex with me" they can be manipulated by fundamentalists. Suicide bombers profess to be following Islam. Whether or not it is the real Islam, there is still the matter that they think it is, and I think that says something about religion, that it can be used in that way.

    So faced with these reasons, I think atheists reject religion and religious theories, not because they are demonstratively untrue but because the effects of that belief appear to be very negative, to the degree that religious belief seems irresponsible.

    Many atheists don't try to persecute others but rather want to be allowed their autonomy. They would rather have the state follow secular values so as not to favour any religion. Science has no opinion on religious matters, it proposes theories that help explain the world but can't disprove religion. The Big Bang is a theory that science proposes but it's not something to believe in, it's something to accept as useful, whatever the truth may be.

    So perhaps there is a balance between two things, the belief in the existence of some God and the recognition of the effects of religion. For most atheists, I think the effects of religion weigh heavily enough to favour a secular society which only means that one may believe what one wants to believe but should not force that choice on others, that one should not prejudice the choice of others. Religious freedoms are respected in a secular society, but they are not allowed to prejudice other people's freedoms.

    Of course, if one firmly believes in some religion, they are going to want to evidence their belief because the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and what type of Christian or Muslim or whatever would you be if you didn't act accordingly? If those religions tell that one should spread the word or whatever, how could one call oneself Christian or Muslim if they didn't do that?

    So in this sense, it is probably a bit fantastic to expect that religious people would come to respect secular freedoms. We could only expect them to do that if it was consonant with their religious beliefs. For this reason, some statists would rather have the state take the place of religion, because to them allowing religious freedoms will inevitable have the effect of having people speak out against secular values. If secular values can't be had while religion flourishes, they then seek to institute a new religion.

    So I don't think one should think of Atheism as another religion; it is something altogether different. Atheists choose secular freedoms over religious monopoly. Atheists differ in their political aims of course, but in general I think it is a reaction to the nature of religious belief, that it might preclude respect for secular values.
  8. Feb 3, 2007 #7
    Verty, my hat if off to your lucid and coherent description. I will add my two cents.

    Neither religion nor atheism is a "decision" to believe or disbelieve, it is simply a conlusion based on personal affinities. People, religious and atheists alike, trust what gives them a feeling of certainty. In order to feel this way, we must be able to relate to our beliefs. I think that for many (most?) people, a humanized god is the closest thing to daily experience and therefore the most manageable model even though it does not really bear strict analysis. But most people have little time, training or inclination to do this. It is what everyone can understand: someone who listens and speaks to you through prophets or otherwise. For other people, what makes sense is a rational analysis of what is observed. What is illogical and unnatural to them is to have faith in what people said or wrote after a dream hundreds of years ago. These people start with facts and reach a conclusion instead of starting with a conclusion and making facts fit in, a different and opposite approach. But in the end, religious and atheists alike believe what they believe because they feel good about it.
  9. Feb 3, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    You think you have posted some "deep" questions here, don't you?
    How have you gotten into your mind that those questions can be answered at present?

    And, how did you get the idea that these question can be answered without bothering to meticulously build up a scientific culture that after, say, some millenia MIGHT be able to answer them?

    And wherever have you received the notion from that there exists some shortcut that makes science unnecessary for answering these questions?

    And, BTW, please include in your next post your calculation of probabilities that led you to regard "theism" as more probable than "atheism".
    If you can't do that, stop loaning feathers from maths to make your credulous beliefs look better.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2007
  10. Feb 3, 2007 #9
    I think atheism has to do with the big bang, at least the idea of the big bang as the origin of the universe. How does atheism have to do with that? It argues against one of the metaphysical possibilities - that of an intelligent/conscious origin.

    Like arildno im curious if/why the topicopener believes theism to be more probable than atheism.
  11. Feb 3, 2007 #10
    I am a creationist, and I do beleive in God and ID, but I also love science and the power it has. The main thing for me is that I just look at the world and think of how wonderous it is with all the complex systems and how lucky I am to be here. How lucky I am to be "me" and have my own mind, soul, feelings and emotions. Some people think that athiests are bad people...we'll they are not and some of them are the nicest people in the world. Same to go with Christians and people who beleive in God. It's just the few people that give both sides a bad name. Anyhow, I came across this the other day and it kinda sparked my sense of humour. I am not trying to be a jerk or putting anyone down by this. It's just something that makes you think of how crazy it is that we are here today...no matter your beleif. It does take a poke at evolution, but that's not what I'm trying to do.

    The truth in this story may wander from how an evolutionist believes the world was created, but I'm aware of that possibility.
  12. Feb 3, 2007 #11
    That magic rock ape story looks like the creationist equivalent of the flying spaghetti monster. Each of them ridicules an idea through extreme oversimplification.
  13. Feb 3, 2007 #12


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    And what does "magic" mean, triden?

    The only ones dealing with that sort of stuff are superstitious individuals like religionists.
  14. Feb 3, 2007 #13
    There were atheists long before the Big-Bang idea was propounded. Atheism does not depend on a particular theory but on an approach to reasoning.
  15. Feb 3, 2007 #14
    I know thats why i said the big bang as in 'the origin of the universe'. Theories may vary, but atheists do rule out an option for the origin.
  16. Feb 3, 2007 #15
    Then I misunderstood you, sorry. I guess with or without BB, the origin of the universe is such a big question that it has to influence people's belief or disbelief in a deity.

    Religious people find an answer by postulating a magical being that existed for eternity before it decided to create something. Atheists wonder where that magician might have come from and what she was doing for eternity before creating anything. Some bypass the middle man and conclude that the universe must have existed for all time.
  17. Feb 3, 2007 #16
    If you are saying that everything must have had a cause, including the big bang, then what caused God? And if nothing caused God, then isn't it simpler just to say nothing caused the big bang?

    As far as we know, nothing caused the big bang. The big bang was the beginning of space and time, so there was nothing before it because time did not exist. There are theories of a multiverse with an infinite amount of universes like this one, but I think it's pretty far from being proven.
  18. Feb 4, 2007 #17
    Sorry for my late reply.

    I don't know. I like to think of it as teaching a dog on how derivatives works, it simply won't happen. Our brains are not sophisticated enough to know that or to even comprehend that .

    I find it hard to believe that life was an accident and plus, I found many interesting evidences in the Quran that intrigues me.
    For example:
    "And it is We Who have constructed the heaven (universe) with might, and verily, it is We Who are steadily expanding it." (Qur'an, 51:47)

    I think that you are talking about Agnostics. They believe in a supreme being who made the earth but do not believe that this God has a religion.

    I am sorry, but I seriously don't know what you are talking about.

    I thought that you got the term "flying spaghetti monster" from South Park but once I googled it it, it's a popular term used by atheist.

    Please not that I am not trying to deprecate a believe, I was simply asking the question that never gets answered in numerous documentaries I've seen about Evolution.
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  19. Feb 4, 2007 #18
    1) that's kind of a cop out, and one that doesn't make much sense coming form a religious person -- If your argument is that these things are too complicated for us to arrive to a conclusion, then you should not believe in a god either because that, in itself, is a conclusion (and one with much less evidential support at that).

    2) agnostics don't believe in a god either. agnostics believe the there is not enough evidence to either prove or disprove a god, therefore they are both equally valid points of view.
    the line between agnosticism and atheism is very blurred though; most agnostics trust science more than religion and many will admit that there is probably not a god, and many atheists will admit that there is the possibility of a god... but it's still very unlikely.
    what you are describing sounds more like deism.

    3) an internet forum is probably the worst place to understand atheism... things tend to get heated and out of hand, or it turns into a pissing contest.
    so if you want to learn more about atheism, the best is to read books on evolution, history of the universe, astronomy, genetics, etc. and understanding those sciences better, or read books like the god delusion or end of faith (which i didn't like as much) on atheism... there are also DVD series like "cosmos" by carl sagan or "the joy of science" from the teaching company that look at the basics of the scientific method. these last two look at the very basics of the sciences, but sometimes it's good to go back to basics; it helps you put together many of the more complex concepts you might already know and organize them better in your mind... there's a point where it all "clicks" in and you wonder how you could ever believe in something as simplistic as a "god" when the universe is so much more beautiful and interesting than that.

    (I realize that last part might sound scary to someone with religious beliefs :surprised )
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2007
  20. Feb 4, 2007 #19


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Science doesn't answer teleological questions. There is not and will never be a scientific answer to that.

    I was indeed talking about Atheists. I think I have explained as well as I can, so I'll not add any more.
  21. Feb 4, 2007 #20
    There are two possible outcomes:

    There is a God or there is no God. Either way it's a scary thought.

    As someone who believes in God, I feel "secure" in my future and am not scared of death. The idea of dying one day and ceasing to exist would literally suck...and I know that won't happen to me. I have utmost confidence in it.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook