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josie's avatar

There is no God. So what?

Asked by josie (22950 points ) September 28th, 2010

[I tried this under a different question. @blackberry, and @Winters “train wrecked” it. That’s OK, I don’t know much about @Winters, but I have always figured @blackberry was a good guy. So, no problem.
But I like the question. So I am rephrasing it.]

There is no God.

If there ever was one, he must have gone away. He stopped leaving evidence of himself long before men had an organized epistemology. The only evidence of God is the left over narratives of the Ancients, none of which were even written down until thousands of years after they originated, plus the lingering “belief” that there simply has to be a God, because it is such an easy way to explain the occasionally unexplainable.
But these things are not evidence. I have participated in state administrative hearings that had tougher evidentiary standards than that.

Some people might say that without God there is no morality.
But that is not true.
Individual morality exists without divine guidance; if you make too many choices that are contrary to your nature, and to laws of nature, you will at best be unhappy, and at worst be dead. People are capable of figuring this out without the supernatural.
And morality in a social context really is not morality. All civilizations, even those that are not God centered, have established similar standards of behavior in order to curtail murder, thievery, rape and other human tendencies that are universally regarded as undesirable in a social structure.

I went to church when I was a little kid. I liked church quite a bit. It was a great place to be around lots of people with common goals and values, plus it was a super way to get plugged into organized, voluntary charity, which I think is important for healthy self-esteem and good for the community. But none of those things have anything to do with the presence or absence of God and when I got old enough to think about it, I realized there was no God, so I stopped going (I actually miss that part of it, and I have considered going to church anyway. But so many people that I know would wonder what the heck I was doing there. It would be too hard to explain. So I get my social fix elsewhere, and I do volunteer work for charity organizations that are more secular).

Before we go further-I do not care if someone chooses to “believe” in a supernatural all knowing, all-powerful, and all present being. That is your business. As long as you do not take your mysticism and religious altruism to Washington D.C. and make it the Law of the Land, you will get no criticism from me. In fact, I will be your protector if you need me. I know how to do that. I am certainly not your enemy.

So what is actually gone, when God is gone? What goes missing at that point, besides tradition (and I will not deny that tradition is important)? If you are like me, do think you have lost something? If you are not like me, what do you fear losing?

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41 Answers

Frenchfry's avatar

Well I like the fact there is a heaven. I will eventually see my parents and family. Kill God. No Heaven. No seeing my family again. It gives me hope and I like the fact that I have someone watching over me. ( Guardian angel) I choose to believe in him.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

So what? It means we are all ultimately responsible for our own individual actions. No one is going to come along and save us. We are going to have to work things out for ourselves.

GeorgeGee's avatar

I’m not religious, but I do find it curious that biblical accounts of creation and those of the best minds in physics are getting closer and closer. In the beginning there was nothing, then God/Big Bang created the universe, creating the stars in the sky and the sun and the earth. According to physics there was no time before the big bang. Then there was time, so time basically expanded outward from that moment. So creation in 6 “days” sounds about right. Maybe if we substitute the word “entropy” for “God” we could all agree?
In the beginning, entropy created the Universe…

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

You’re correct, morality can exist without a God. But knowing that God exists facilitates morality.

I am not a religious person, and being of Asian background, I have never subscribed to the Western Christian concept of God. However, I believe God or whatever you want to call Him, exists. I don’t need the Bible or Christianity to tell me this. My spirtual side has faith in this power. I don’t need scientific evidence to prove God exists, because science is a part of God, and all the evidence in the world is part of His creation.

I don’t care what anyone else thinks, and I don’t push my faith on others. Everyone has to decide for himself what he believes. From my personal experience, I know God exists. There are just some things you cannot explain with rationality or evidence.

Religion, books, churches, etc. are all man-made Western things. All the religions of the world are man-made creations. I don’t follow any of them, but I do have faith in “God” (which is not necessarily Christian-based).

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Nothing worth having is lost, because anything valuable in religious beliefs are valuable for secular reasons. I do not believe that there are gods of any kind, and I find the lack of such beliefs to be far more productive and conducive to being a good person than when I held such beliefs in the past.

Harold's avatar

If there is no God, then you have to believe that we came about by a biological accident. Some people may feel happy with that, but I would rather know that I was carefully designed by a loving God.

If there is no God, then death is final, and there is no hope for those who are approaching death. I value the hope that belief in God gives me.

Without God, it is potluck as to whether you have morality or not. There is no system to model morality on.

Feel free to disagree with me, and I know my answer will attract the same tired old arguments about God in the old testament not being moral, but I believe that God is indispensable.

TexasDude's avatar

Well, there won’t be any consequences for my actions anymore so I’ll just start murdering and pillaging as I please.~

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard : Yeah, you go right ahead and try that and see how it works out for you.

;-)

@Harold : I don’t believe that god invented morality. It’s quite possible to have morals without there being a god at all. I would suggest reading a little Spinoza.

Raptor_Jesus's avatar

If a society, especially one with weapons as vast as ours, has to suddenly go through the Death of God, it could either be incredibly amazing or horribly devastating. People can either go, “this is the only life I get, so I should make it as fun and happy as possible!” That’s what I want. I want people to learn that life without God is good. No hating people with no reason. But, our society could crumble. We could turn to Active nihlism, I think is the term for it. We could all just start killing each other. So, I want us to finally hit the death of God, I want everybody to give up God, but I’m scared at the same time of what will happen.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

So nothing. I never thought there was a god, anyway.

wundayatta's avatar

The idea of a God matters much less than people think. You can still have churches and communities and traditions and rituals and history and an intellectual heritage and a sense of how people should treat each other (morality) without the idea of a God.

Having a God allows you a focus to bring all these things together. Of course, you carry that focus around long enough, people begin to forget it’s purpose and start to think it is a real entity that they can relate to in the real world, not in their heads. Worse, people start competing over who has the best idea of a God.

Even worse, people use their idea of a God to justify taking the land of people who don’t have their idea of a God. People would steal each other’s land anyway, but saying it’s God’s will offers a seemingly more moral authority for the theft.

So what?

So not much. So everything. It is an expression of all that unites people—and all that tears us apart. It is humility and self-centeredness at the same time. It’s a mess is what it is.

Pandora's avatar

So what is actually gone, when God is gone?
All the repeated God related questions on Fluther.
Just a second ago I saw another question reading something similar to yours only it was.
There is a God. So what?
Humm, sounds familiar only different. : /

poisonedantidote's avatar

aaaargh!!! someone please stab me in the eye to take away the pain.

I tried, I really tried to ignore this. but I can’t.

@josie “there is no god” – that is a positive claim, you have now placed burned of proof on your self and must demonstrate that there is indeed no god, a thing you cant do unless we define what we mean by god, and thats not possible either as everyone will have different ideas.

@Frenchfry “Well I like the fact there is a heaven” – It is not a fact, far from it. it is an unsuported claim, or at best a belief, sorry, the word fact just does not work that way.

@GeorgeGee “but I do find it curious that biblical accounts of creation and those of the best minds in physics are getting closer and closer.” they are not getting closer, in the bible god speaks the universe in to existence, thats basically an incantation, spells, magic and stuff. about as far from science as you can get. genesis says the moon is a light and that the sky is a solid object. if science disagrees with any religious ideas at all, it is the biblical creation story. more so than any other religious story.

@MRSHINYSHOES “But knowing that God exists facilitates morality.” It is impossible to know there is a god, the best you can do is believe.

@Harold “If there is no God, then you have to believe that we came about by a biological accident.” the word accident implies an outcome contrary to the desired one. with no god there can be no accident as there can be no intention.

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard so the only thing that keeps you from rushing out and killing is a belief in god? nice.

ok, i can sleep now. rant over, you can now all reply and inflict further damage on my brain. :P

just kidding guys, but not really

TexasDude's avatar

@poisonedantidote, I was attempting to make a point through sarcasm, but it looks like you might have missed that.

poisonedantidote's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard very well then, i shall forgive you…. this time :p

TexasDude's avatar

@poisonedantidote, apology accepted. Go forth and sin no more.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Harold “Without God, it is potluck as to whether you have morality or not. There is no system to model morality on.”
I have to disagree with you there. The Oxford Dictionary defines morals as “Of or relating to human character or behaviour considered as good or bad; of or relating to the distinction between right and wrong, or good and evil, in relation to the actions, desires, or character of responsible human beings; ethical.”
Good and bad actions are considered such because they are either good or bad for humans. Either a deity dictated what is good for us, or it was discovered by a combination of evolutionary instincts and critical reflection on what is best for people. Assuming the god in question is innately moral, there is no difference in the outcomes, since the deity must have gone through the same considerations a human would in their critical consideration of morality.
There are many secular theories of morals/ethics, so there are plenty of systems to model morality on. While I don’t think any of them are quite adequate, you cannot say that religions offer the only systems to model morality on.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. God or no God is pretty irrelevant until you are dead. If you believe and you follow the Bible and die you won’t ever know you were bamboozled into following something that was not real, however, your life here might be one of batter quality because following the Bible would have been a manual for a life with less chaos and strife. Should you not believe there is a God and die to discover there is a God, now you have a conversation that is relevant and will be quite interesting. Certainly one I would hope never to have.

I do as the Bible say and give a person to option to believe or not. I won’t attempt to beat them over the head with the Bible or ram God down their throat. It is what it is and I believe many people will be shocked at the moment of death, but if there was no God none of us will ever really know it.

truecomedian's avatar

Nietczhe said “God is Dead” and created a big stir. I look at the world and all the people that are better than me and find proof of God in the hierarchy of man. If you look at most religions, there is a hierarchy there, in the structure of the religion. Like why wasn’t I born some poor little kid in Africa that starves to death? If you believe in reincarnation the answer would be because I already was. Maybe there is a hierarchy in the spirit world, like greater and greater spirits leading up to a really powerful diety. Proof of God can be seen in nature, but maybe we are all wrong and the truth is something beyond our comprehension. That’s easy to propose. “I dont know”, thats what Bill Maher said in that movie he made. I feel that some people are born knowing more than others of the place we’re at before we are born. Makes for an interesting life, interesting in the Chinese curse way, “may you live in interesting times”.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@poisonedantidote When you believe something exists, you “know” it exists. It’s only when you “think” something exists then it may be impossible to know it exists. I believe God exists because of the personal experiences that I’ve had in my life, and that is enough for me to know He exists, from my very belief through experience.

whatthefluther's avatar

Cool….looks like I am good to go, then. I mean, I never ruled out the possibility but at the same time, I never predicated any of my thoughts or actions on a god’s existence and I believe I have been and shall continue to be honorable and good, compassionate and respectful without knowingly or intentionally harming another. And, I’ve never been hung up with what might or might not happen following life as we know it. I always figured the way I lived my life would be as acceptable to a god as it was and is to me. Perhaps that makes me my own god, not inconsistent with the religious folk who claim god is within us. So, assuming you are cool with me having my say and carrying on, see ya…...Gary/wtf
identical response to the question, “There is a god, so what?”

Harold's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh -Maybe not the only system to model morality on, but certainly the best. By saying morality is decided on what is good or bad for humans, we are saying there is no definitive standard, as what is good for some humans is bad for others. There needs to be an external standard that is above and beyond humanity, so that there is consistency in what defines right and wrong. 100 people critically reflecting on the same situation will never come up with the same answer as to what defines right and wrong.

@poisonedantidote – anything that is not intentionally planned is random in its outcome. That is what I meant by accident. I prefer not to believe that I am a random outcome.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Harold The best by what standard? Certainly what is good for some humans is bad for others, but that does not mean there is no definitive standard. The definitive standard is what is best for humans in general. That means we both have the flexibility to incorporate new ideas, and the structure to deem certain acts or thoughts immoral. On the surface, a virtue in one person can be a vice in another, but if each person is acting with the intent of doing what is best for people, and if each person is open to the idea that another person may have more ethical ideals than themselves, isn’t that an appropriate basis for an ethical society?

An external standard above and beyond humanity may give consistency in definitions, but for that to be a successful system, that external source of morality would need to continually provide clarification and amend their mandate in the same way judges must continually make decisions based on what is consistent with the law. However no such process is in place. Even if a supernatural source of morality were adequate, it would still be subject to human interpretation and misinterpretation. With that in mind, wouldn’t a system devised by humans, moderated by humans, and applied by humans be more applicable to the human situation?

Harold's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh – The best by the external standard that is infinitely more wise than anything humans can come up with. Your concept of a definitive standard is far too vague and open for misinterpretation for my liking. Intentions cannot be an appropriate basis for an ethical society- there is an old saying that goes “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” This is quite true, to my way of thinking. When the intentions of two equally well-meaning people are diametrically opposed, what then defines the correct decision? The strongest? The most influential? Consensus? Sorry, consensus does not always bring the best outcome- you only have to look at politics to see that!

It is true that people can misinterpret Divine wisdom for their own ends, but that is only further evidence that man cannot be relied upon to develop an adequate and moral code of ethics. Whilever this earth lasts as it is, there will always be those who choose to pervert what God has set in place to suit themselves, but that does not mean that the standard changes. It is clear to those who want to see it. We don’t know what is best in an eternal context, but God does, and I am happy to let Him set the rules.

GeorgeGee's avatar

@poisonedantidote, don’t misquote me, that’s just stupid. The theories are indeed getting closer. The predominant theory prior to the big bang was that the universe was infinite and eternal without beginning nor end. With the big bang theory came the assertion that the universe HAD a moment of creation, it was not always there without beginning nor end. I didn’t say it was by god “speaking it into existence,” in fact I said we could replace the term “God” with “Entropy.” In the beginning there was entropy, and entropy saw that the singularity was in balance, and entropy was happy. If you don’t understand the wit and insight of others contributions, either ask or keep quiet, but don’t misquote us and say stupid things, it just makes you look bad.

truecomedian's avatar

I think if there is or isn’t is irrelevent and somehow irreverent as well. Just looking at my desk with my business mags, newspapers, various books, I think there is enough to keep me so busy right in front of me, that the god question doesnt pop into my head. Or I go look at a flower and decide that the structure of it is geometric and was somehow created by something, even if we did evolve, there is still the momentum of evolution that reeks of a force we as humans have only scratched the surface on. I am trying to believe in the bible, I am trying to believe in something.

Mikewlf337's avatar

I believe in God. I refuse to accept that the universe is a biological mistake. Humans in general have done so much. Built cities. sailed the seas, flown through the skies. Things in nature seem to work almost perfectly. There has to be more to life. The emotions we feel. everything about us makes me feel that we were not a biological mistake. I don’t speak for everybody I speak for myself.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Mikewlf337 While I respect your point of view, I feel you have been mislead on some points. First, no one I know of believes that the universe is a biological mistake. The biosphere (living things) is a result of abiogenesis, the mechanism of which is a large point of contention, and evolution, which is an entirely natural process that perfects aberrations.
Think of evolution as a filter. Imagine a random set of numbers from 1–100, and a filter that deletes all numbers less than 20. The next set will be 20–120, and the filter will delete all numbers less than 40, and so on. In that way random processes only provide the raw data for evolution, and while evolution is not intentionally directed, it does have direction.
The emotions we feel are also a result of evolution. In fact we know they are largely centred in the amygdala in the brain, so I’m not sure how this says to you that there has to be something more than the physical.
I respect your right to believe as you wish, but hopefully if you research these things and challenge your ideas you can develop a more complete belief system – even if your conclusions are the same in the end.

GeorgeGee's avatar

If you understand math, time, and physics, chemistry and biology, there is really no other possible conclusion than that fact that life is inevitable. It’s sort of like realizing what Sodium is and what Chlorine is… adding time and entropy, salt (sodium chloride) is an inevitable outcome. The mere fact that life exists, and that we can break it down into its component chemicals and processes, says that it is a PHYSICAL possibility. And as such, it MUST arise, given the right combination of chemicals, temperatures, and other conditions, as surely as salt must arise from the presence of sodium and chlorine under the right conditions. Moreover, it WILL arise EVERY time those conditions exist.

mattbrowne's avatar

Then we finally knew that the universe can explain itself. The universe exists because the universe exists. Jolly good.

GeorgeGee's avatar

The biggest problem is these life forms that walk around thinking they’re OH SO SPECIAL. ;P

GODincenter's avatar

If there is no God, then where did Law of nature came from? and why we have to obey or observe those laws or pretend that laws are for me or for all. No God ,No law, No Binding.
Means all are free to act as their wish, their strength and their ability. Just like animals do.
Strong pray weak, which we humans do knowingly animals do unknowingly by their instinct.
Animals do not believe and do not have to believe in GOD any way. So what???

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@GODincenter Physical laws are not concepts that had an origin. They describe the fundamental nature of the universe, which always had the same nature. The idea behind physical law is that scientific principles are generalisable to every time and location within the universe.

Humans are free to act as they wish, but as an intelligent species we are able to predict the consequences. We have evolved into a somewhat moral species because that usually renders positive consequences (believe it or not animals are moral too). Please see my post here on theism and morality.

tigerlilly2's avatar

In Philosophy, something cannot be declared a fact without evidence. You cannot give a premise that has a fallacy or no supporting conclusion. Saying that God does or does not exist is only an assumption until it can proven either way without the shadow of any doubt and neither choice can be determined with 100% support. Both ideas are theories. So take it as you will with whatever idea best suites you.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@tigerlilly2 Maybe so, but in science we assume that nothing at all exists or is related in any way until proven otherwise. While we do not have sufficient knowledge to declare either stance a fact (which would make either theists or atheists as rare as flat-Earth believers, depending on which way it was proven), but we can make our assumption the one that is more likely to be correct. Occam’s razor also tells us to choose the simpler of two options that are supported by equal evidence. We cannot understand even our own consciousness, so the ultimate intellect of a god would be the ultimate in complexity – making it the less simple choice.

tigerlilly2's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh A very well-made point, indeed! I suppose we all have our methods to debunk/support certain notions. Science is not my particular cup of tea but I do respect the logic it provides ; )

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If there was no God that would mean there would be no Satan; hence, no evil. If there is not good or evil everything is ran off logic and thus no morality. If a group of people or nation saw slaughtering a weaker nation to get what they have because it they needed their resources for their society, they would. They would wipe them out or keep the women for breeding purposes. Any child that had no purpose to further the conquering society would be put to death, less they grow up seeking escape or revenge, mush less being useless mouths to feed. It would be good business, and no different from a lion snatching a young springbok from its mother to feed its own cubs, there is no remorse, no bad feelings, the springbok is there to serve the stronger lion. If a man saw a woman he desired, whether she had a mate or not if he was strong enough to wrestle her away from him, it would happen. The world would be far different than the world we live today and not for the better as people think.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central so with no god then people cannot be moral and have a code of ethics? I beg to differ.

josie's avatar

There is no Satan either, just to clarify

mallei's avatar

I am not religious. Those with religious beliefs are fine by me unless they also believe they have some authority to force their beliefs and customs on others.
What I seem to lack without god worship is a place to turn for forgiveness for my many sins. I have to work out those issues myself.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@tranquilsea @Hypocrisy_Central so with no god then people cannot be moral and have a code of ethics? Where would they get it from? And what would make that practiced in Spain, better than what is practiced in the US, Japan, Yemen, etc? There would be some sort of ethics, but only between groups. Wiping another group out might just be good business.

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