# Why do we exist?

I am very confused over the fact that the existence of human beings,animals,the solar system,time and the universe as a whole has no meaning.Scientifically speaking I feel that there is no God.So why should I exist?These thoughts depress me.please help,I feel no responsibility towards the world because I dont want to be part of any religion any nation or even time.

theres alot of answers, but nobody knows which is right

verty
Homework Helper
Have you read "Man's search for meaning"?

I am very confused over the fact that the existence of human beings,animals,the solar system,time and the universe as a whole has no meaning.Scientifically speaking I feel that there is no God.So why should I exist?These thoughts depress me.please help,I feel no responsibility towards the world because I dont want to be part of any religion any nation or even time.
If you're looking at life from a purely scientific aspect of matter in motion, then I would contend there is no perpose in life besides your own personal enjoyment. That is one of the main reasons I'm so much in favor of religions, because if you contend that we are nothing but a giant cosmic chance, then you rob life of everything that gives it permanent value. There is no reason why you exist, it simply happens. You're and everyone else is a giant accident. With no metaphysical truth, there are no morals and purpose to life. The only conceivable purpose would be to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Unfortunatly, that type of ethic is extremely destructive: look at governments and corporations who exploit thousands of people just because it it suites their pleasure.
Ultimatly, you need some sort of metaphysical truth to give meaning to all of life, and a genuine reason why you should exist. If you want to discount all religions and beliefs in god, then be prepared to deal with the logical consequences.

Evo
Mentor
I am very confused over the fact that the existence of human beings,animals,the solar system,time and the universe as a whole has no meaning.
Why do you think that? Be specific.

Scientifically speaking I feel that there is no God.So why should I exist?
Why do you feel a need for some 'being" to exist that has power over you? Are you incapable of thought? Are you incapable of emotion? Can you not enjoy the things around you? Can you not be a good person unless someone tells you a mythical being that you have never seen or heard will condemn you to unspeakable horrors unless you be good? You do not need a mythical creator in order to enjoy being alive.

I don't get it. I just don't get it. What prevents people from being rational and understanding that they do not need to fear punishment from an invisible source? And that they can enjoy what is around them without being told that it is ok to do so?

Why do you feel a need for some 'being" to exist that has power over you? Are you incapable of thought? Are you incapable of emotion? Can you not enjoy the things around you? Can you not be a good person unless someone tells you a mythical being that you have never seen or heard will condemn you to unspeakable horrors unless you be good? You do not need a mythical creator in order to enjoy being alive.

I don't get it. I just don't get it. What prevents people from being rational and understanding that they do not need to fear punishment from an invisible source? And that they can enjoy what is around them without being told that it is ok to do so?
There is no doubt that even without a divine being you can enjoy life to its utmost. The presence or absence of a God does nothing to negate the enjoyment of physical life, so there really is no dissparity there.
However, it is another matter entirely to live morally with no god. I think perhaps you are appraoching this matter differently than I am, Evo, because I don't think you have to have fear of punishment in order to be good. Religious theology doesn't demand a blind fear to live morally, and the reason people are good isn't because they're trembling in fear of hell.

The problem arises because the nature of good and evil are entirely metaphysical. Honestly, how can killing somone be called scientifically wrong? It simply is a fact: I shot so and so. However, if there is a divine presence (by this I do not mean to say exclusively a god, but merely a spirtual existence that is not purely physical), that action can now be condemned as violating the spirtual laws of the universe.

Simply put, if there is no piritual nature then we are nothing more than a lump of mass with self-conciousness. While that certainly doesn't detract from temporal physical enjoyment and emotions, it does preclude us from any sense of eternal morals. This is, I think, the reason why so many people choose to believe in a god, because they can't deal with the logical ramifications of atheism.

verty
Homework Helper
Simply put, if there is no spiritual nature then we are nothing more than a lump of mass with self-conciousness. While that certainly doesn't detract from temporal physical enjoyment and emotions, it does preclude us from any sense of eternal morals.

Doesn't this imply that the possibility is all that is required? Having recognised the possibility, why not then proceed to experience 'temporal physical enjoyment and emotions'? Our lives are temporal and physical after all, whether or not there is 'spiritual meaning'.

And having accepted the possibility, there is no more reason to believe Santa Claus the arbiter of morals than any other fantasy. It doesn't get you any closer to religion. Religion is simply wrong.

... which is why I like how Viktor Frankl introduces the concept of 'supermeaning', a meaning that means as much as one needs it to mean but no more. It is no religion.

Evo
Mentor
However, it is another matter entirely to live morally with no god.
It is not necessary to believe in a god to know right from wrong. A group of people can make laws and decide if it's good or bad to kill or steal or inflict injury on another person without any god or supernatural beliefs ever being invented.

turbo
Gold Member
The ethical man does what is right. The moral man does what he thinks his god will let him get away with. Keep your eye on the moral man or he will screw you over every time.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
It is not necessary to believe in a god to know right from wrong. A group of people can make laws and decide if it's good or bad to kill or steal or inflict injury on another person without any god or supernatural beliefs ever being invented.

Ah, but is 'a group of people making a decision' sufficient to define right from wrong? I can come up with a long list of groups of people making decisions that are not right.

Even if you expand the defintion to an arbitrarily large group and get a consensus, that still doesn't make it right.

EM_Guy
DaveC426913
Gold Member
The ethical man does what is right. The moral man does what he thinks his god will let him get away with. Keep your eye on the moral man or he will screw you over every time.

This is a discussion I've had many a time. What is the difference between ethical and moral? I guarantee we won't have a consensus even in this forum. Some consider morals more fundamental than ethics.

Astronuc
Staff Emeritus
chandubaba said:
So why should I exist?

Evo
Mentor
Ah, but is 'a group of people making a decision' sufficient to define right from wrong? I can come up with a long list of groups of people making decisions that are not right.
Members of a religion are a group of people. Just because they write up their rules claiming that it's the will of some God or Gods or spirits or whatever they worship doesn't make it right. What it all boils down to is that a group of people have agreed to follow a list of rules. Some religions include human and/or animal sacrifice, is killing in the name of some god ok?

Also, an individual can be cruel or they can be caring. But, if you live where you have to interact with other people, there is usually going to be some standard which the overall community expects everyone to adhere to.

There is no doubt that even without a divine being you can enjoy life to its utmost. The presence or absence of a God does nothing to negate the enjoyment of physical life, so there really is no dissparity there.
However, it is another matter entirely to live morally with no god. I think perhaps you are appraoching this matter differently than I am, Evo, because I don't think you have to have fear of punishment in order to be good. Religious theology doesn't demand a blind fear to live morally, and the reason people are good isn't because they're trembling in fear of hell.

The problem arises because the nature of good and evil are entirely metaphysical. Honestly, how can killing somone be called scientifically wrong? It simply is a fact: I shot so and so. However, if there is a divine presence (by this I do not mean to say exclusively a god, but merely a spirtual existence that is not purely physical), that action can now be condemned as violating the spirtual laws of the universe.

Simply put, if there is no piritual nature then we are nothing more than a lump of mass with self-conciousness. While that certainly doesn't detract from temporal physical enjoyment and emotions, it does preclude us from any sense of eternal morals. This is, I think, the reason why so many people choose to believe in a god, because they can't deal with the logical ramifications of atheism.

I disagree with you position that fear of civil anarchy is itself a justifcation for blind faith in a personal god. I hold that any person in community *can* act morally in a traditional sense without a believe in a personal god.
Why?

1) Each person in a community will act it s best morally because he/she want others to treated him/her as such.

2) A rational person would pursuit higher meaning such as friendship, happiness, learning, love.., over instant gratification, because a rational person would value those non-material things more than material things. ( assuming material resources is equally distributed in a community)

From this two axiom, i don t see why society cannot act morally.

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I am very confused over the fact that the existence of human beings,animals,the solar system,time and the universe as a whole has no meaning.Scientifically speaking I feel that there is no God.So why should I exist?These thoughts depress me.please help,I feel no responsibility towards the world because I dont want to be part of any religion any nation or even time.

There might not be a purpose as in there is an "intention", or objective for the universe. I highly doubt that there is no *meaning*.

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vanesch
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
I disagree with you position that fear of civil anarchy is itself a justifcation for blind faith in a personal god. I hold that any person in community *can* act morally in a traditional sense without a believe in a personal god.
Why?

1) Each person in a community will act it s best morally because he/she want others to treated him/her as such.

2) A rational person would pursuit higher meaning such as friendship, happiness, learning, love.., over instant gratification, because a rational person would value those non-material things more than material things. ( assuming material resources is equally distributed in a community)

From this two axiom, i don t see why society cannot act morally.

Indeed, morality is man's equivalent of altruistic behaviour in the animal kingdom: keeping to the rules benefits, in the long run, to the group, and hence, on average, to every individual.
But of course, fluctuations occur which can make it individually and temporally advantageous to be "immoral", and that is why each time there is "morality" (that is, a set of rules of which it is assumed that it benefits to the group), there is also a tendency to cheat, and a tendency to oppress OTHER cheaters.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
Members of a religion are a group of people. Just because they write up their rules claiming that it's the will of some God or Gods or spirits or whatever they worship doesn't make it right. What it all boils down to is that a group of people have agreed to follow a list of rules. Some religions include human and/or animal sacrifice, is killing in the name of some god ok?

Also, an individual can be cruel or they can be caring. But, if you live where you have to interact with other people, there is usually going to be some standard which the overall community expects everyone to adhere to.

I know. What I'm saying is that, just because a community decides on a standard that they expect everyone to adhere to, that does not make it morally right.

EM_Guy
DaveC426913
Gold Member
There might not be a purpose as in there is an "intention", or objective for the universe. I highly doubt that there is no *meaning*.
Yes. Chumbawumba, isn't it more wondrous that we are here to define our own meaning, than that some all-powerful dude tells us why we're here?

It is the ultimate act of free-will. The one thing that does make our lives meaningful.

arildno
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
I am very confused over the fact that the existence of human beings,animals,the solar system,time and the universe as a whole has no meaning.Scientifically speaking I feel that there is no God.So why should I exist?

Please remember that there are even fewer reasons for why you should not exist. If the weight of reasons had decreed that, you wouldn't have been around here, would you?

I disagree with you position that fear of civil anarchy is itself a justifcation for blind faith in a personal god. I hold that any person in community *can* act morally in a traditional sense without a believe in a personal god.
Why?

1) Each person in a community will act it` s best morally because he/she want others to treated him/her as such.

2) A rational person would pursuit higher meaning such as friendship, happiness, learning, love.., over instant gratification, because a rational person would value those non-material things more than material things. ( assuming material resources is equally distributed in a community)

From this two axiom, i don t see why society cannot act morally.

I do not hold with the idea that fear of anarchy is reason to believe in god, I simply said that I think many people do believe in god because they can't stand to live without morals. It certainly is not a position I agree with, and I think I should make that clear.

Secondly, your two suppositions are not true. In the first one, a person will do in public what they want done to them. However, without any real eternal morals, there is no reason why they shouldn't do something considered "immoral" if it can be gotten away with. As for your second point, I see no reason why a rational person would value anyone's life above their own, if there are no eternal morals. Why would immaterial things be valued above material things? Your assumption is completely flawed, because there is no community where resources are equally distributed.

Let me state my position in a simple question. Ethics and morals are not physical, and have no place in matter. Matter is simply that, stuff that is and moves. The laws of ethics and morals are irrelevant to it, because they are immaterial. Therefore, if all we are is matter in motion, i.e. no divine nature of any kind, there are no morals and ethics. If this is the case, why should I not do everything in my power to get what I want? What is wrong with murder and torture and rape and stealing? Sure it harms a community, but why the hell should I care, if I benefit from them, and stop other people from doing them to me?

This is a very callous aproach, and I am sure one that not all atheists would agree with. However, it is the logical result of atheism, and cannot be ignored simply because atheists do act morally. I would contend that the reason they act morally is not because atheism is compatable with morals, but because atheists still have a conscience, and they simply have faith that murder, etc., is wrong, even though they cannot explain why.

Evo said:
Members of a religion are a group of people. Just because they write up their rules claiming that it's the will of some God or Gods or spirits or whatever they worship doesn't make it right. What it all boils down to is that a group of people have agreed to follow a list of rules.
The religious belief in morals does not start with what people agree on, but with the axiom that God exists. From thence, it is philosophically deduced what comprises God, and therefore what the rules of morals are. I haven't the space to expound on it here, expecially since it comes dangerously close to discussing the banned topic of specific religions. However, for a good overview of its claims, I would recommend Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica, since it deals primarily with this a priori system of deduction.

Moreover, the reasoning that morals can be made by a group of people is a fallacy. With this idea, morals are nothing more than common opinion, and that opinion is subject change. For example, would you have say that because everyone accepted it, that slavery was morally acceptable in Roman society? To say that morals are public opinion, you have to say yes, slavery was acceptable. However, if it was acceptable then, what made it wrong during the civil war? After all, the original abolishonists were almost all Christians, and based their beliefs of Christian morals. However, if morals derive not from a god but from the public, then there is never a good reason to change morals. The only reason the understanding of morals have ever changed is because of religion.

Quite simply, if morals are the result of public opinion, then they do not exist.

turbo-1 said:
The ethical man does what is right. The moral man does what he thinks his god will let him get away with. Keep your eye on the moral man or he will screw you over every time.
If this is meant to suggest that religious morals are only acted on because of fear, then it is gravely wrong. Whether you consider him god or not, Jesus laid out the foundation of modern morals when he said, "If you love me you will keep my comandments". Once again, irregardless of if you are a Christian or not, this is the fundemental basic to the modern understanding of morals. They are based around the desire to please someone you love, rather than fear of someone who is more powerful than you. Religious morals are not inherently linked to fear, and to say they are is ignorant.

very said:
Doesn't this imply that the possibility is all that is required? Having recognised the possibility, why not then proceed to experience 'temporal physical enjoyment and emotions'? Our lives are temporal and physical after all, whether or not there is 'spiritual meaning'.

And having accepted the possibility, there is no more reason to believe Santa Claus the arbiter of morals than any other fantasy. It doesn't get you any closer to religion. Religion is simply wrong.

... which is why I like how Viktor Frankl introduces the concept of 'supermeaning', a meaning that means as much as one needs it to mean but no more. It is no religion.
If there is a spiritual essence to our existence, then there is more to live for than mere 'temporal and physical enjoyment and emotions'. If we are spiritual and live on after death, there is that eternal after-life to consider, and that is more than physical pleasure. If I choose to believe in a god, I certainly won't walk blind into death, having only lived for the here and now, not knowing what will happen next, and not even caring. Right now, I'm not arguing for or against the existence of god or a true religion: my only key statement is that without these, there are no morals or eternal meaning to life. Whether you believe religion is analogous to belief in Santa Claus is irrelevant to the discussion.

EM_Guy
Evo
Mentor
Moreover, the reasoning that morals can be made by a group of people is a fallacy. With this idea, morals are nothing more than common opinion, and that opinion is subject change.
Yes! That is EXACTLY what they are!

For example, would you have say that because everyone accepted it, that slavery was morally acceptable in Roman society? To say that morals are public opinion, you have to say yes, slavery was acceptable. However, if it was acceptable then, what made it wrong during the civil war? After all, the original abolishonists were almost all Christians, and based their beliefs of Christian morals. However, if morals derive not from a god but from the public, then there is never a good reason to change morals. The only reason the understanding of morals have ever changed is because of religion.

Quite simply, if morals are the result of public opinion, then they do not exist..
I have never heard such a strange interpretation of what "morals" are. I don't mean to offend you, just that your view doesn't make sense to me. You seem to believe that "morals" are universal, unwavering truths spoken by a god.

Yes, Romans believed that owning slaves was morally correct. Morals change with public opinion. Morals are not unchangeable, they are not (generally) universal, they are unique to societies, therefore, what is "moral" in one society can be "immoral" in another society. What is considered "moral" today, can be "immoral" tomorrow.

So you completely disagree with the commonly accepted definition of morality? I'm at work, so excuse me for referring to a published definition.

The Definition of Morality

The term “morality” can be used either

* descriptively to refer to a code of conduct put forward by a society or,
some other group, such as a religion, or

*accepted by an individual for her own behavior or
normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

1. Descriptive Definitions of “morality”

“Morality” is an unusual word. It is not used very much, at least not without some qualification. People do sometimes talk about “Christian morality,” “Nazi morality,” or about “the morality of the Greeks,” but they seldom talk simply about morality all by itself. Anthropologists used to claim that morality, like law, applied only within a society. They claimed that “morality” referred to that code of conduct that is put forward by a society. This account seems to fit best those societies that have no written language, where often no distinctions are made among morality, etiquette, law, and religion. But even for anthropologists “morality” does not often mean simply “code of conduct put forward by a society.” Often, morality is distinguished from etiquette, law, and religion, all of which provide codes of conduct put forward by a society.

Etiquette is sometimes included as a part of morality, but it applies to behavior that is considered less serious than the kinds of actions to which morality usually applies. Law is distinguished from morality by having explicit rules, penalties, and officials who interpret the laws and apply the penalties, but there is often considerable overlap in the conduct governed by morality and that governed by law. Religion differs from morality in that it includes stories, usually about supernatural beings, that are used to explain or justify the behavior that it requires. Although there is often a considerable overlap in the conduct required by religion and that required by morality, morality provides only a guide to conduct, whereas religion always contains more than this. When “morality” is used simply to refer to a code of conduct put forward by a society, whether or not it is distinguished from etiquette, law, and religion, then it is being used in a completely descriptive sense.

When “morality” is used in this descriptive way, moralities can differ from each other in their content and in the foundation that members of the society claim their morality to have. A society might have a morality that is primarily concerned with practices not related to other persons, e.g., which days must be devoted to certain rituals, and might claim that their morality, which is concerned primarily with ritual, is based on the commands of God. Or a society might have a morality that is concerned primarily with sexual practices, and claim that their morality, which has this concern, is based on human nature. Or a society might regard morality as being concerned primarily with practices that minimize the harms that people suffer and claim that their morality, which has this concern, is based on reason. Many societies have moralities that are concerned with all of the above and that are claimed to have all three of the above foundations. But, in this sense of “morality,” regardless of its content, or the justification that those who accept the morality claim for it, the only universal features that all moralities have is that they are put forward by a society and they provide a guide for the behavior of the people in that society. In this sense of “morality,” morality might allow slavery or might allow some people with one skin color to behave in ways that those with a different skin color are not allowed to behave. In this sense of “morality,” it is not even essential that morality incorporate impartiality with regard to all moral agents, those people whose behavior is subject to moral judgments, or that it be universalizable in any significant way.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/morality-definition/

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Dawguard said:
If this is the case, why should I not do everything in my power to get what I want? What is wrong with murder and torture and rape and stealing? Sure it harms a community, but why the hell should I care, if I benefit from them, and stop other people from doing them to me?

This illustrates one of the big problems with naturalistic accounts of ethics. If we assume that there is no independent objective sense of what is moral, then it seems like we can't motivate people to abide by morality.

Any good account of morality needs a discussion of what sanctions it could provide. Why are people bound to believe that some act is good, and why are they obliged to follow through with that act?

turbo
Gold Member
If this is meant to suggest that religious morals are only acted on because of fear, then it is gravely wrong. Whether you consider him god or not, Jesus laid out the foundation of modern morals when he said, "If you love me you will keep my comandments". Once again, irregardless of if you are a Christian or not, this is the fundemental basic to the modern understanding of morals. They are based around the desire to please someone you love, rather than fear of someone who is more powerful than you. Religious morals are not inherently linked to fear, and to say they are is ignorant.
Well, this ignorant person held a double-major in English Literature and Philosophy. You entirely miss the problem that plagued Jesus. He taught his followers to act ethically and when ethics clashed with morality, to choose ethical action. This got him in a whole lot of trouble. Morality is externally motivated and culturally dependent. Ethics are internally motivated (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) and Jesus thought that all men have the capacity to understand what is right and wrong, absent the law, and act as appropriate. As you might expect, the priests and the people who interpreted Judaic law were pretty ticked off by this attitude. Remember, Judaic morality required that people be stoned to death by their neighbors for a variety of offenses - if Christ's ethics were adopted, such a sentence could not be carried out. His teachings elevated ethics over morals and empowered his followers to assume a personal relationship with their god, one not requiring a middle-man. The historical Jesus was a radical.

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DaveC426913
Gold Member
Morality is externally motivated and culturally dependent. Ethics are internally motivated (do unto others as you would have them do unto you)
Above is one definitive distinction between ethical and moral that I've been looking for. I do not know if it is widely held. I do not know what *I* mean by the words, so I'm not one to judge if it is the correct distinction.

I'd be interested in creating this as a poll. Question: Do I need to other widely held definition-distinctions? Or would it be sufficient to post the above as simply a true/false poll?

Opinions?

I am very confused over the fact that the existence of human beings,animals,the solar system,time and the universe as a whole has no meaning.Scientifically speaking I feel that there is no God.So why should I exist?These thoughts depress me.please help,I feel no responsibility towards the world because I dont want to be part of any religion any nation or even time.

Personally, I am not a huge fan of religion. However, I do believe in GOD. It is important to understand the very fundamental divide between the two terms. GOD is defined as a supreme being- the creator of eveything. Religion is humanity's feeble and limited attempt to understand that being.

Historically, we know that people are easily decieved and we do not have all the answers. We know that humanity is no where close to understanding all there is to no. Therefore, I find it arrogant that people view religion as the answer.

Like I said before, while I view religion (I point this remark more towards organized religion) unfavorably, I still believe in GOD. How? Well I use science.

Science has constantly opened our eyes to the universe. Especially when religion was supressing knowledge and ruled from keeping the people ignorant.
Example, Capernicas (sp) claimed the universe didnt revolve around the Earth, but instead the Earth revolved around the sun. The church sentenced him to a lifetime of house arrest for his claims.
Science came along and opened are eyes to the truth..

Anyway, science tells us that the universe may have started with a BIG BANG. Well, I'm sure everyone asks themselves "what was there before that?" That is where I insert a "GOD." (even though, I know this is a bit of an empty assumption, I always keep in mind that perhaps something does not necessarily have to come from something.)

To put it to its most basic level, religion is the attempt to explain where we came from. When I look at religion, I see that explaination taken extremely further than we are entitled to take it. All the claims are dubious to some extent.

The point is, science does not prove there is no GOD. Anyone who using science to make the claim that GOD does not exist is just as bad as those who claim without a doubt that GOD DOES EXIST.

In the end, the only reasonable and logically assumption is to believe that there is a possibility that GOD exists and it is possible there is no GOD Anything else would be a practice in empty assumptions.