Can there be a coherent nontheistic metaphysics?

Bob Carabbio

Well-known member
The problems theists throw at atheists are often metaphysical in nature - broadly, the two categories are:
  • why is there something rather than nothing?
  • why is there order rather than disorder?
The first point is self explanatory. Why is there a universe, or indeed anything at all, rather than absolute nothingness - not even timespace?

The second point subsumes arguments from logic, mathematics, epistemology and causality (and by extension, induction).

I'm wondering if nontheists have good responses to these questions. Is there a coherent nontheistic metaphysics that accounts for being and order? And if there is, what are the implications for theism?
Easiest thing in the world: WE DON'T KNOW!! Problem solved.
 

Whatsisface

Well-known member
All Life here from exclusive nonlife is more a miracle than bodily resurrection and requires far more faith. So all this stuff about rejecting Christianity because of supernatural events is just more atheist BS.
No, it's not because atheists don't see life as supernatural in origin.

If you take away something non living from the body, the iron in your red blood cells for eg, that body will die. If you put the iron back in it won't. This is an example of life relying on non life.
 

Harry Leggs

Well-known member
No, it's not because atheists don't see life as supernatural in origin.
Life from exclusive nonlife is a supernatural claim. It is supernatural because we know life only comes from life which is natural and observed. This is not rocket science.
If you take away something non living from the body, the iron in your red blood cells for eg, that body will die.
It will die anyway. It is just a question of when. Hair is dead. Removing hair will not kill.
If you put the iron back in it won't. This is an example of life relying on non life.
Do not know what your point is here. You are in the sphere of blind faith and beliefs in miracles which make bodily resurrection seem like no big deal by comparison.
 

Whatsisface

Well-known member
Life from exclusive nonlife is a supernatural claim. It is supernatural because we know life only comes from life which is natural and observed. This is not rocket science.
The body is made of atoms. Are atoms alive?

It will die anyway. It is just a question of when. Hair is dead. Removing hair will not kill.
Irrelevant to the point. Life is dependant on non life.

Do not know what your point is here. You are in the sphere of blind faith and beliefs in miracles which make bodily resurrection seem like no big deal by comparison.
That life is a miracle is an assertion on your part. Prove it.
 

Harry Leggs

Well-known member
The body is made of atoms. Are atoms alive?
Don't know off hand and you really have no point. Looks like you are making certain assumptions about life which does not necessarily follow. For example, the origin source of life would be living and not dependent on nonlife or life.
Irrelevant to the point. Life is dependant on non life.
OK so? That does not get you to all life here from exclusive nonlife. If the effect is living then the source is living. Those are your sins of omission. Your mother was not a corpse when you were born. She was a living being. Grasp the concept.
That life is a miracle is an assertion on your part. Prove it.
Life from exclusive nonlife is not natural or observed. Because it is not natural or observed then the claim is supernatural. So don't switch the burdens. The burden is on you, not me. Like i said you are in the sphere of blind faith here. Biological life is exclusive to this planet which makes it rare indeed and dependent on a host of exacting circumstances. So if you believe life is not a miracle then we should expect to find life anywhere like dirt on mars. That is not what we find. So i don't know what you are attempting to convey here and i cannot be expected to prove a thing to a closed mind or tone-deaf or lacking comprehension. The fact being you do not want to believe certain things so you chose not to in spite of all the actual which counters your dogmatic assumptions. You can do that now but sooner or later reality slaps us all in the face.
 
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Lighthearted Atheist

Well-known member
The problems theists throw at atheists are often metaphysical in nature - broadly, the two categories are:
  • why is there something rather than nothing?
  • why is there order rather than disorder?
The first point is self explanatory. Why is there a universe, or indeed anything at all, rather than absolute nothingness - not even timespace?

The second point subsumes arguments from logic, mathematics, epistemology and causality (and by extension, induction).

I'm wondering if nontheists have good responses to these questions. Is there a coherent nontheistic metaphysics that accounts for being and order? And if there is, what are the implications for theism?

'Why' is an entirely philosophical question. Atheists are usually more interested in objective, scientific questions like 'does God exist'. This is an objective question that can be answered objectively.

The question of 'why' is not as easy to prove - or as interesting. I mean, you can ask the question 'why is that mountain here?' but that does not mean there is an answer :)
 

Whatsisface

Well-known member
Don't know off hand and you really have no point. Are you making certain assumptions about life which does not necessarily follow. For example, the origin source of life would be living and not dependent on nonlife.

So, you don't know whether atoms are alive or not? To think they are is blind faith. The point you are just brushing under the carpet is that atoms are not alive according to you, because they don't come from life. We are made totally of atoms, life from non life.

OK so? That does not get you to all life here from exclusive nonlife. If the effect is living then the source is living. Those are your sins of omission. Your mother was not a corpse when you were born. She was a living being. Grasp the concept.
I understand my mother was alive. That doesn't prove that life must come from life at the beginning of life on Earth.

Life from exclusive nonlife is not natural or observed. Because it is not natural or observed then the claim is supernatural. So don't switch the burdens. The burden is on you, not me.
You are making a claim, you have a burden of proof for that claim.

Like i said you are in the sphere of blind faith here. Biological life is exclusive to this planet which makes it rare indeed and dependent on a host of exacting circumstances.
This is a statement of blind faith.

So if you believe life is not a miracle then we should expect to find life anywhere like dirt on mars. That is not what we find.
This is a naïve statement, as no, we would not expect to find life anywhere.

So i don't know what you are attempting to convey here and i cannot be expected to prove a thing to a closed mind or tone-deaf of lacking comprehension.
Yes, it seems you don't understand the point I'm making whether you agree with it or not. It's a simple point. I wonder why you don't get it?

The fact being you do not want to believe certain things so you chose not to in spite of all the actual which counters your dogmatic assumptions. You can do that now but sooner or later reality slaps us all in the face.
You shouldn't make assumptions about other people. You will often be wrong, as in this case.
 

Ficciones

Active member
'Why' is an entirely philosophical question. Atheists are usually more interested in objective, scientific questions like 'does God exist'. This is an objective question that can be answered objectively.

The question of 'why' is not as easy to prove - or as interesting. I mean, you can ask the question 'why is that mountain here?' but that does not mean there is an answer :)

I don't think things are so cut and dried. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that discusses what there is and what it's like in the broadest sense. Physicalism and dualism are metaphysical positions. Theism and atheism are metaphysical positions. There are metaphysical presuppositions, often unexamined, behind any body of thought.

As to "why" - this is a question that can have a teleological answer, or a non teleological answer. We can say why a mountain is there with an explanation drawn from geology, but whether there's a purpose in the sense of some agency and conscious purpose behind it is another thing entirely.

So what I'm asking is: are being and order susceptible to nontheistic answers that are not teleological, in the sense of explaining a mountain being there? And if so, what would they look like?
 
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Harry Leggs

Well-known member
So, you don't know whether atoms are alive or not?

That is what i wrote.
To think they are is blind faith. The point you are just brushing under the carpet is that atoms are not alive according to you,
That is not what i wrote. If atoms on the moon then where is the life on the moon?
because they don't come from life. We are made totally of atoms, life from non life.

Already responded. It is an interesting rationalization for your blind faith. Hardly convincing since your mother was not a corpse when you were born so there is something more going on there than atoms.
I understand my mother was alive. That doesn't prove that life must come from life at the beginning of life on Earth.

It beats out nonliving as exclusive source for all living. That is all it has to do.
You are making a claim, you have a burden of proof for that claim.
A living first cause for life here? The burden will never be met here because folks like you cannot or will not follow the evidence and facts since all evidence and facts is subordinated to your prior commitments which is unscientific. That problem here is with you, not the evidence.
This is a statement of blind faith.
If you do not believe biological life is exclusive here then show where biological life is elsewhere. Mars or moon? Take your pick. Biological life here is based on the facts and it appears you do not know the difference between blind faith and observed facts.
This is a naïve statement, as no, we would not expect to find life anywhere.
You was the one who challenged life as a miracle as simply an assertion on my part and i responded with rarity and circumstance. If life is not a miracle then why not expect to find life on the moon? We find dirt and dust on the moon. You are the one who asserts life is from nonlife and is dependent on nonliving like atoms and minerals. so? There is plenty of nonlife on the moon, so where is the life?
Yes, it seems you don't understand the point I'm making whether you agree with it or not. It's a simple point. I wonder why you don't get it?
The only point i am seeing here is your failure to substantiate your assumptions
You shouldn't make assumptions about other people. You will often be wrong, as in this case.
You did not identify the assumptions i made so your response is vague.
 
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Whatsisface

Well-known member
That is what i wrote.
Without justification.

That is not what i wrote. If atoms on the moon then where is the life on the moon?
This makes no sense, I'm not the one claiming atoms are alive.

Already responded. It is an interesting rationalization for your blind faith. Hardly convincing since your mother was not a corpse when you were born so there is something more going on there than atoms.
Name one thing in the body that is not made of atoms.

It beats out nonliving as exclusive source for all living. That is all it has to do.
In your opinion, that you haven't justified.

A living first cause for life here? The burden will never be met here because folks like you cannot or will not follow the evidence and facts since all evidence and facts is subordinated to your prior commitments which is unscientific. That problem here is with you, not the evidence.
That you think this is a bias on your part.

If you do not believe biological life is exclusive here then show where biological life is elsewhere. Mars or moon? Take your pick. Biological life here is based on the facts and it appears you do not know the difference between blind faith and observed facts.
The logical mistake you are making is that just because I can't show life exists elsewhere, doesn't mean it doesn't. Particularly considering that the universe is so huge, so the same sorts of conditions that allow for life on earth will be replicated elsewhere.
You made the claim that life is exclusive to earth, you justify it. I notice you haven't so far.

You was the one who challenged life as a miracle as simply an assertion on my part and i responded with rarity and circumstance. If life is not a miracle then why not expect to find life on the moon? We find dirt and dust on the moon. You are the one who asserts life is from nonlife and is dependent on nonliving like atoms and minerals. so? There is plenty of nonlife on the moon, so where is the life?
Oh dear, really? The conditions on the moon are not hospitable to life, as they are on earth. The moon is just rocky with no atmosphere or water. These things alone will mean life could not get started on the moon.

The only point i am seeing here is your failure to substantiate your assumptions
Yes, I know that's all you see.

You did not identify the assumptions i made so your response is vague.
You said that I don't want to believe certain things which is wide of the mark. In any case I could just as easily make the same accusation of you.
 

Lighthearted Atheist

Well-known member
I don't think things are so cut and dried. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that discusses what there is and what it's like in the broadest sense. Physicalism and dualism are metaphysical positions. Theism and atheism are metaphysical positions. There are metaphysical presuppositions, often unexamined, behind any body of thought.

As to "why" - this is a question that can have a teleological answer, or a non teleological answer. We can say why a mountain is there with an explanation drawn from geology, but whether there's a purpose in the sense of some agency and conscious purpose behind it is another thing entirely.

So what I'm asking is: are being and order susceptible to nontheistic answers that are not teleological, in the sense of explaining a mountain being there? And if so, what would they look like?
I like the way you look at this - interesting. I still think that a geological explanation of the mountain explains how it got there, not why. A mountain has no purpose. It just is.

But I can see your side too - cool - thanks for sharing a different view :)
 

Ficciones

Active member
I like the way you look at this - interesting. I still think that a geological explanation of the mountain explains how it got there, not why. A mountain has no purpose. It just is.

Maybe a good how dissolves a why. Like if you ask why fish crawled out onto dry land, and gave it a good "how" centered causal explanation, you'd lose the need for a "why", a teleological explanation.
 

Tiburon

Active member
It's pretty basic.....
evolution assumes that everything came from 2 atoms, which accidentally collided at some point, in some unknown past, and then experienced a dramatic explosion, which resulted in all we see.
No order, just random interactions, which presents us with today.
So..... where did reason come from?
I think CS Lewis described it well.....
Evolution assumes nothing of the kind. If this is your summation of the 'big bang' then you have some studying to do.
 

Tiburon

Active member
Easiest thing in the world: WE DON'T KNOW!! Problem solved.
No. The easiest thing in the world? "GOD DID IT".
"WE DON'T KNOW" still leaves it open for us to investigate.
When you say "GOD DID IT", end of story. No need to look any further.
 

Whatsisface

Well-known member
It's pretty basic.....
evolution assumes that everything came from 2 atoms, which accidentally collided at some point, in some unknown past, and then experienced a dramatic explosion, which resulted in all we see.
It assumes no such thing. It deals with the diversity of life after it got started, not with how the universe got started.
I take you are attempting to describe the Big Bang, in which case you have it utterly wrong, which makes me wonder at your claim to have studied physics.


No order, just random interactions, which presents us with today.
So..... where did reason come from?
I think CS Lewis described it well.....

“Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen, for physical or chemical reasons, to arrange themselves in a certain way, this gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But, if so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way it splashes itself will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to Atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an Atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I cannot believe in thought: so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God.”​

A lot of people can't trust their thoughts because a lot of people are very wrong about a lot of things.

CS Lewis is hoist by his own petard. If the result of there being no God is that you can't trust your thoughts, how would you know whether atheism might be true or not, because how would you know you could trust your own thoughts or not?
 

docphin5

Well-known member
Care to expand on that?
I cannot speak for Harry Leggs but there are many classical theists who infer a creator from nature and also investigate how he did it. The classical theists were very much interested in cosmogenesis and wrote extensively on it using reason and philosophy (science). They even postulated matter was made from elements. It wasn't until maybe the sixth or seventh century that the Roman church shut down thinking and investigation in preference for, "Just believe what we tell you". The church hasn't changed much since then but the world has.
 
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rossum

Well-known member
I'm wondering if nontheists have good responses to these questions. Is there a coherent nontheistic metaphysics that accounts for being and order? And if there is, what are the implications for theism?
As in so many cases, Buddhism follows its own approach. The universe is defined as "All that Exists" (ATE). Hence any existing gods are a part of the universe, not outside it. By definition nothing can exist outside the ATE universe. The ATE universe includes an immaterial part and a material part, the STEM universe of science. In Buddhist cosmology the immaterial part of the universe always exists, and has always existed. The material part is seem as similar to the oscillating universe of some modern cosmologies: "the breathing out and breathing in of Brahma".

None of the elements of the ATE universe are unchanging and none are eternal. Some are longer lived than others, but all have a start, a duration and a cessation. This includes all gods. They have very long lifetimes, but they are not eternal. When one god dies, another god will step in to carry on that role: "The King is dead. Long live the king."

The universe is not driven by the gods, they are powerful but not that powerful. If anything drives the universe it is cause and effect, or karma in Buddhist terms. Actions have consequences. The existing universe is the consequence of past actions.

Is Buddhism nontheist? It can be. The gods are not important. You can follow one, or more, if you wish but that is a personal choice. A god might help you win the lottery. The Buddha would see that as irrelevant. Maybe a good analogy would be following, or not following, a football team. It is an option, but not a requirement.
 
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