If there is no god, then where did we come from?

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When an atheist is involved in a debate with a theist, they will often ask this question or similar. The typical answer is simply "I don't know". Often times the theist will not be satisfied by this answer and say the person has no reason to be an atheist. They go further to assert that something cannot come out of nothing. My typical answer is, "So where did god come from?". Then they say that god didn't need to be created with no real explanation as to why.

To an atheist this answer seems satisfactory. There are a lot of things that are beyond our scope of understanding, but that doesn't mean everything beyond our knowledge came from some supernatural being. This is the best explanation I can come up with. I attempt to explain this but like mentioned earlier they don't accept it.

If you have experienced something similar how do you respond to the question in the subject line?

Little green men. It allows for their possible "intelligent design" theory while not assigning supernatural characteristics to the creator.

Considering no one has come forth to claim responsibility for humanity, I think it's safe to assume that whatever did (if you believe the theory) probably doesn't give too many shits about us.

When I'm feeling particularly snarky, I'll usually quip this inquiry; "Why does it matter?" And then the discussion will usually devolve into worship as an appropriate means of thanks for existence.

Of course, this doesn't seem to apply to little green men. How sad for them.

I actually specifically avoid asking that question (where did we come from) as I know your question and know that any answer will be hypothetical and apply to both of us. I tend to find metaphysics to be a dull subject though, for roughly that reason. Every question is best left avoided as the answers all suck. Every argument is either full of wholes or inconclusive. It is a subject that is simply too far beyond our abilities in every manner. Also the reason behind my agnostic stance. The arguments all suck at that level.

You're right on. We are the result of natural laws that can be traced back to the big bang. Anything before that is answered with "I don't know". If they try to insert their god at the big bang ask them "how do they know?"

If the Theist's argument is specifically that nothing can come from nothing, except their god, then that is special pleading. They are creating a condition (that we don't even know is true or not, especially in light of quantum mechanics) and then exempt their deity from it. A common response is "how do you know it's not the universe that always existed in some form rather than your god?". If they use the cosmological argument directly, ask them how they got from "something always existed" to "that something was an entity, was a god", because there's no logical connection between those two statements.
I'm assuming that's what "where did we come from?" is referring to, at least. If not: Mention evolution. If they are a YEC that won't get you anywhere (except to them admitting to deny basic science), but at least you'll know not to waste your time. If they are a Theistic Evolutionist, ask them to somehow support the notion that evolution was kickstarted by their god rather than natural processes (or another god for that matter).
Last but not least: "I don't know" is an intellectually honest answer. Gaps in knowledge are not proper justification to shove the supernatural into them. It's quite literally the "god of the gaps"-fallacy when you do. Remind them how natural phenomena like ebb and flow, lightning, fertility etc. were all attributed to gods at some point or another, until the natural explanations were discovered. "I don't know" is perfectly legitimate to say and much more so than just assuming your particular taught god to be responsible for the current unknowns.
Additionally, ask them why they would insert their god rather than another religion's, since there's no evidence for either. The lack of an explanation for a natural phenomenon does never point in the direction of a particular god (and, in my view, never in the direction of gods, period).
These are some of the standard responses. Depending on their own answers, the discussion can develop from there.

The problem is that to answer this question you need to go into quantum mechanics, and that involves a lot of words with more than 3 syllables, which can be problematic for Creationists who are used to a 1 syllable 3 letter answer to everything they can't be bothered to try to learn.

Okay, that last part was a bit mean. But quantum physics is not something that is terribly easy to understand and most of it contradicts 'common sense'. If the person you are talking to lacks the proper background, you may as well be speaking gibberish which makes it very easy for science deniers to ignore.

The problem actually is 'common sense'. Common sense isn't always correct. In this case, it is the tendency to apply our own human schema to everything. Take the watchmaker argument: when we see a finely organized structure, we assume that it was created because we see such things produced by people all the time. Since we do everything with purpose and organization (we have reasons for everything we do, however weak or strong) we assume that everything must work that way- and it doesn't.

renegade7:
The problem actually is 'common sense'. Common sense isn't always correct. In this case, it is the tendency to apply our own human schema to everything. Take the watchmaker argument: when we see a finely organized structure, we assume that it was created because we see such things produced by people all the time. Since we do everything with purpose and organization (we have reasons for everything we do, however weak or strong) we assume that everything must work that way- and it doesn't.

Agreed on the "common sense"-thing, but the complexity-argument doesn't even hold water if we used human scales. When we design things, they may be complex, but we often try to make them simple. A rubber ball is much less complex in terms of structure than a natural rock, yet the ball is the designed thing. We don't stick additional, atavistic things on items we design for no good reason. We tend not to make things more complicated than they need to be. Complexity as it is clearly is not the measure by which we determine whether something is designed or not.

Leave a soaked piece of bread in the sunlight, mold and bacteria grows.. pretty much the same with us, we are a bacteria with a super complex organic brain. Religion is a cop out to what science cannot resolve . . yet. Give it time. it will be figured out.

If you by 'we' mean 'the universe' and not 'we, as a species', then no, I don't know. No one can currently, satisfyingly explain how nothing can come out of nothing (ex nihilo nihili fit) without also breaking causality.
I have seen many attempts, videos, some lectures, etc, but in the end, one can always ask 'Uh, and where did THAT come from?'

Either the universe does not have a cause, or it does not respond to causality in the manner the contents of it does.
Which is really not surprising, there are many things within our universe which behaves differently, depending on in what form it is. Water, for example, behaves very different, depending on what state of matter it is in.
We have just never (alright, fine, I'm not beef on my quantom-physics, so maybe there) discovered anything yet that can ignore causality.

Saying that you don't know isn't really a reasonable response if you're an atheist (assuming that you also believe in evolution, which is likely). Therefore I give a short explanation of evolution, say I'm not entirely sure how life came about yet, but it was likely due to geochemical processes that will be understood in my lifetime, and that it seems a better explanation than suddenly coming out of nowhere.

Ando85:
When an atheist is involved in a debate with a theist, they will often ask this question or similar. The typical answer is simply "I don't know". Often times the theist will not be satisfied by this answer and say the person has no reason to be an atheist. They go further to assert that something cannot come out of nothing. My typical answer is, "So where did god come from?". Then they say that god didn't need to be created with no real explanation as to why.

To an atheist this answer seems satisfactory. There are a lot of things that are beyond our scope of understanding, but that doesn't mean everything beyond our knowledge came from some supernatural being. This is the best explanation I can come up with. I attempt to explain this but like mentioned earlier they don't accept it.

If you have experienced something similar how do you respond to the question in the subject line?

The best answer is: And where did God come from? I mean if it's so inconceivable to be an atheist while not being able to say where "everything" came from than being a theist while not being able to claim where God came from is just as inconceivable.

generals3:

Ando85:
When an atheist is involved in a debate with a theist, they will often ask this question or similar. The typical answer is simply "I don't know". Often times the theist will not be satisfied by this answer and say the person has no reason to be an atheist. They go further to assert that something cannot come out of nothing. My typical answer is, "So where did god come from?". Then they say that god didn't need to be created with no real explanation as to why.

To an atheist this answer seems satisfactory. There are a lot of things that are beyond our scope of understanding, but that doesn't mean everything beyond our knowledge came from some supernatural being. This is the best explanation I can come up with. I attempt to explain this but like mentioned earlier they don't accept it.

If you have experienced something similar how do you respond to the question in the subject line?

The best answer is: And where did God come from? I mean if it's so inconceivable to be an atheist while not being able to say where "everything" came from than being a theist while not being able to claim where God came from is just as inconceivable.

That's all that ever needs to be said on the matter.

/thread

Every religion cops out about the origin of humankind, something always comes out of nothing at some point. The Greeks had a serpent lay an egg (=universe), the Norse had something about a cow (forget the specifics), the Egyptians had the earth and the skies copulating (out of nothing, too), the Japenese have their kami to begin with, Christians have God having always been there... so on and so forth. No religion or mythology ever clarifies around this vacuum, something is always there first before everything else. The human mind has a hard time imagining something without origins but I'm ready to believe everything is a convoluted chemical reaction to some primal blending in a void. Like the aforementioned mold on bread example. Somebody will always ask "so where did the gases and the chemicals come out of?", to which I have no answer except potentially "other gases and chemicals". Science has consistenly traced the history of evolution through these. I'm ready to spare a few ontological details.

Johnny Novgorod:
Somebody will always ask "so where did the gases and the chemicals come out of?", to which I have no answer except potentially "other gases and chemicals". Science has consistenly traced the history of evolution through these.

As Sagan said, we're basically "star stuff". Hydrogen is forged into heavier elements at the center of stars. As those stars die, these heavier elements are expelled into the universe and can then become the building blocks of life.
Of course, even when we know that, there's still a regress with an eventual unknown going to happen ("Where did the hydrogen come from?" "The Big Bang." "Where did the Big Bang come from?" "A singularity." "Where did the singularity come from?" "...we can't look beyond the Big Bang, so we don't know"), so the principle is certainly right regardless.
But as you demonstrated, the same regress is faced by every Theist as well. The only way out of it for the religious is to claim their god doesn't need to be caused, which is inconsistent with their whole argumentation and premise.

atoms, something like a fourth of the periodic table of them.

I'm gonna go with a giant cosmic panda.[1] Or waffles? Maybe we're all just waffles, looking for our syrup. Just searching and that's all we ever do. -nom-

[1] Seems legit >_>

My answer is we don't know yet. But even if we never figure it out, it's not rational to simply make up an answer. God is a made up answer.

My response is: "Oh yeah, I didn't think of that. Well I'm convinced - Praise Allah, Zeus, Thor, Ra and Vishnu!"

I elaborate quite a bit on the standard, we don't know answer. There are a whole crap load of things that we didn't understand that we attributed to God(s). Lightning, storms, famine, any form of natural disaster. We understand how these work now and there's nothing supernatural about them. Why should this pattern change?

Usually with "What do you mean? I came from my mother. Humans evolved over millions of years. Life originated as amino acids reacting too each other at the bottom of the ocean. This question is really vague, and the best I can do is give you what science says. Even the scientific answer is just the best answer we have right now, that we have not proven wrong. So ultimately I don't know, at the same time, I'm not claiming a fairy did it either. If I had all the answers life is going to be boring."

I tell them that something in another dimension made a program to emulate a different kind of universe of which we are part of. I'm still an atheist, as such belief requires no supernatural[1] explanations, right?

[1] Or is it supernatural if it's one level closer to the "real" reality than this universe's "natural"?

Ando85:
If you have experienced something similar how do you respond to the question in the subject line?

I just give people a dead eyed stare under they get the idea they should fuck off and stop bothering me with stupid questions.

The only intellectually honest answer that comes even close to being "correct" is "I don't know". No-one in this known universe knows. Not even bloody Stephen Hawking knows.

But one theory that I've never seen anyone touch upon is that maybe there never was a beginning in the first place. Or maybe it's just a constant, never-ending loop of "the universe came from this, and that came from that, and that came from that, etc".

However, again, I don't know. No-one knows. I'm not even sure I should fucking care anymore, since nothing in this goddamn fucked-up universe makes sense.

Relish in Chaos:
The only intellectually honest answer that comes even close to being "correct" is "I don't know". No-one in this known universe knows. Not even bloody Stephen Hawking knows.
.

Not to sound childish, but that really depends on how you define 'knowledge'. As per the Scientific Method? Then no, no one 'knows'. As per some other paradigm? Well, yeah, then people can know.

Olrod:
... Thor, ... and Vishnu!"

Thor was a warrior god; while he did weild a Hammer which does symbolise creation, he rarely if ever is depicted as a creator.

Vishnu is the preserver, Brahma is the Creator.

The more you know... /shootingstar

Olrod:
My response is: "Oh yeah, I didn't think of that. Well I'm convinced - Praise Allah, Zeus, Thor, Ra and Vishnu!"

Why would you worship Thor? The only thing he does is send thunder down your ass and burn your farm down, he's not even the main, praise Odin, you heretic!

Sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Our creator is sex and we do a good job worshiping that.

taciturnCandid:
Sex. Lots and lots of sex.

Our creator is sex and we do a good job worshiping that.

I, too, subscribe to the "we are the result of sex" theory. Now it is just a theory so maybe I am here due to spontaneous generation. Either way I wouldn't call my parents gods.


Beyond this, hydrogen atoms combine to form higher elements and more complex molecular structures until eventually the spiral we now know as DNA is created on a temperate, water-rich orb, and thus we have life. No higher creator did this, just the right combination of physics, climate, and blind luck.

I'll just leave this here. He phrases it much better than I ever could.

Amino acids + heat ==> protobionts
Protobionts + Some method of inheritence (In our case, DNA) ==> Cells
Cells + time + evolutionary pressure ==> Multicellular organisms
multicellular organisms + evolutionary selection for intelligence ==> Sapiance

This question right here is what turned me into an agnostic from an atheist

DevilWithaHalo:

Olrod:
... Thor, ... and Vishnu!"

Thor was a warrior god; while he did weild a Hammer which does symbolise creation, he rarely if ever is depicted as a creator.

Vishnu is the preserver, Brahma is the Creator.

The more you know... /shootingstar

The Thor thing is plausibly more complicated than that; some continental versions of Thor seem to have him in Odin's place, iirc. (There are also valid folkloric and archaeological theories that Freya and Frigga were once the same goddess. This breaks most Heathens' brains, and we'll declare *that* shit non-canon! :)

OT: I think the mismatch here is that each "side" is motivated by a completely different question. Most Christians willing to have that debate don't really care much about "how" questions, and most Atheists willing to have that debate tend not to be interested in "why" questions, so they end up at an impasse.

Ando85:
When an atheist is involved in a debate with a theist, they will often ask this question or similar. The typical answer is simply "I don't know". Often times the theist will not be satisfied by this answer and say the person has no reason to be an atheist. They go further to assert that something cannot come out of nothing. My typical answer is, "So where did god come from?". Then they say that god didn't need to be created with no real explanation as to why.

To an atheist this answer seems satisfactory. There are a lot of things that are beyond our scope of understanding, but that doesn't mean everything beyond our knowledge came from some supernatural being. This is the best explanation I can come up with. I attempt to explain this but like mentioned earlier they don't accept it.

If you have experienced something similar how do you respond to the question in the subject line?

It's not really true that "I don't know" is a satisfactory answer for an atheist but that's the state of things right now.

What's really annoying is the "it's either god or nothing" thing.
If all you can think of is "god made us" or "we came from nothing", you have no imagination. I always answer that with something like "there's either a 3 headed goat or a half eaten doughnut".

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