of questions and dumb questions

Now some of you visit quora as often as I do. Some of you don’t. That’s also ok. So today I saw this question which at first glance I think is dumb. On second reading, I still think it is dumb but it raises a very interesting question; nature of existence.

First the question

Why do we believe in the existence of atheism and not the existence of god.

My first reaction was does this investigator know what atheism is. Defined simply as a lack of belief in deities, it does seem to me atheism, if it exists, it does so only as an idea. A concept. Or as others might say, as a conclusion. In what sense then do we say an idea exists? My view is that an idea exists as long as it has been defined or expressed somewhere even if no one still holds onto it. It is not subject dependent.

What gods are, we don’t know. Unless by tying the two questions together, the investigator meant to also argue that god exists only as an idea in our minds but has no separate existence in time and space. If this is not the case, the question, I think is fallacious (equivocation?) in some way even if I can’t pin it down.

Now I come to the reason why I said the question is interesting. Philosophers have argued over the same question and identified two areas which because I am lazy I will just quote and I hope you do the reading when you have time. 

Is existence a property of individuals? and

Assuming that existence is a property of individuals, are there individuals that lack it?

Or maybe I missed something.

About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

46 thoughts on “of questions and dumb questions

  1. jeremiahmyer says:

    Even when I rejected god in my life, I never excepted the atheist idea that there is NO god. In some way I think that atheists have thrown the baby out with the bath water. It is the nature of god that I’ve always wrestled with not the existence. In my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. judyt54 says:

    Michael Nelson, the author of that article, lost my vote when I realized he has problem’s with punctuation.
    In reading it I got the feeling he was relying more on what other people said, rather than his own conclusions, although that may be way of the world, I don’t know. He also lost me after ‘substantiation’.

    And I find the entire argument about existence and beliefs in atheism to be poppycock, the kind of thing philosophy 1 majors argue about with great seriousness as they walk between classes.

    As well argue about why we are alive, or what our “purpose’ is, or why babies are born. Or, as Bill Cosby once asked. “Why is there air?”

    The only answer to existence is, to my mind, ‘because’. Because we are here, because we can ask damn fool questions, because we are alive. The proof is in the mirror. And anyone who lacks existence is probably dead.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Well, since I just woke up and I’m hung over, my brain is too tired to do much thinking on this. I will, however leave you with a quote: As George Washington once said to his gardener, Joey Thick’nhard, “Joey, I just need ya ta knows sumtin’, I exist cause I says so, ya sum’bitch!” Why this was said or in what context, no one knows, but I thought I’d share it with you this fine morning. $Amen$

    Liked by 1 person

  4. keithnoback says:

    I am with Judy. Existence is not a property to be had or not, by anything.
    Talk of existence and non-existence is just a place holder for inadequate explanations.
    Pace Bill Clinton: what is, is and that’s all there is to it.


  5. You’re overthinking this one, Mak. At best, the question was poorly worded. You don’t have to rescue it.


  6. judyt54 says:

    oh hell we’re all over thinkers. That’s what makes discussions. “Yes but…” and “what if…” ring from the rafters.

    And yes I noticed I spelled ‘existence’ wrong up there. (blushes) Im not a bad speller, just a lousy typist.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. maryplumbago says:

    I see it this way..
    I’m an atheist which simply means, to me, I don’t believe in any gods, especially any biblical ones, as those are terrible creatures. And this is something you can believe or disbelieve in.

    As for another type of god; a creative force of nature, as in some field in physics, quantum or otherwise or some force even out of time that exists….this would be science, pure and simple, and not something supernatural. And certainly not a personal god, which to me is absurd to think we are so special.
    And Judy’s right. The universe simply exists and so do we and everything else because it just does. No magic, no gods….all science.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Yes, I’m with Mary (and Mungo and Midge sometimes too), I don’t believe there’s any proof for any ‘Gods’ as humans presently present them – and it is humans who do the presenting – however, I stand fast to the idea that something else could easily be going on, as you may recall (knowing everyone collects all her words and has them tattooed upon every inch of their body in homage) I think it perfectly plausible we are all being manipulated in some huge computer game played by teenage aliens in some galactic version of Grand Theft Auto or The Sims. When petulant people are chucked about, tsunamis appear, when feeling benevolent socks last well beyond the years they should and the like. This would be science-based, not nothing-at-all-but-making -it-up-on-the spot based though.

    Mary might think me mad mind you. *beams*

    – Esme bribing the teenage aliens with Clouds tied to sticks covered in sugar

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:


      I think it perfectly plausible we are all being manipulated in some huge computer game played by teenage aliens in some galactic version of Grand Theft Auto or The Sims.

      could be true. they are days i feel this way then i try to punch a brick and feel pain & ask myself whether that which i am feeling is part of the simulation or is it real. and how do i tell the difference?

      Liked by 1 person

    • maryplumbago says:

      I’ve always liked the idea of ancestor simulation. Look up Nick Bostrom on Utube. I find the idea like the Matrix fascinating

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Barry says:

    There’s issues with the question. The first being the conflation of belief and (for want of a better word) existence. Belief that something exists, be it gods, fairies, climate change, sunsets, or the divine right right of Trump kings, has no bearing on whether or not those things actually exist.

    There’s also ambiguity in the term “believe in“. For example, if someone says “I believe in Donald Trump”, and someone else responds “I don’t”, the disagreement is not about the existence of the person who is currently the president of the United State.

    The question itself also expresses a falsehood. There are in fact a great many people who believe in the existence of god(s). In fact the majority of people alive today do believe precisely that. It’s what is known as theism. The existence of theism is as easily provable as is the existence of atheism.

    I’m quite confident, on the evidence available, that both theism and atheism exist, as does deism, animism, and pantheism and panentheism, an no doubt a few other isms I’m not aware of. None in themselves constitute a complete belief system (religion) and none of them can provide proof of whether or not god(s) exist.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Archon's Den says:

    I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that you are in/from Kenya – Yay Roger Whittaker, I met him once. My Christian osteopath, and his even-more Catholic, physiotherapist wife, just returned from a 2-week trip, trying to rescue the church, the school, and an entire fly-speck Kenyan village toward the Uganda side. (The performer Lindsay Sterling, just released a YouTube video of a performance where she tries to do the same thing.) He said that he would be very interested to know precisely where you are from. You could leave it as a comment on my site, and I will copy and erase it, if you’d like. I didn’t have the interest to write down the name of his village, but could get it after New Year’s, if you’re curious. He has a donation box in his office, labeled ‘Change For Chickens,’ collecting money to purchase poultry for the villagers to raise for food. 😀


  11. jeremiahmyer says:

    makagutu, Please forgive me if I sounded harsh, that was NOT my intention. I do not believe atheists or theists for that matter are all as a group extreme, there can be in either group, extreme individuals of course. I will say also in my experience, extremism is most likely to be found among theists. I was merely trying to give my own thought about the idea of god. In my view science and god are compatible NOT at odds, it’s not either or. The atheists I know hold science as the final answer to the greatest questions humankind has asked since the beginning of time, at least the ones I know do. I believe in science too but I also believe in the divine spark that I see in all of nature. There is room for both science and god in my opinion.


    • makagutu says:

      I see what you mean, even though I disagree. And my reason for disagreeing is simple. In terms of knowledge acquisition- science (broadly construed)- is the only means we have. god(s) mean different things to different people. And there are theologians who have opined that gods represent our highest aspirations though i don’t know why they exclude some of our basest inclinations from it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barry says:

        I don’t know why they exclude some of our basest inclinations” The simplest answer might be that our basest instincts have paved the way for all that is wrong in the world – war, extremes of inequality, corruption, hatred, bigotry, intolerance, injustice in its various manifestations, and climate change. On that basis, it’s probably true that such inclinations have not always been excluded.

        However, modern theologians such as Geering, Spong, Cupitt are primarily arguing that that is how God should be conceived of today. Belief in supernatural gods was understandable when the world was full of supernatural beings and when supernatural events were common place. Such belief is totally inappropriate in the 20th and 21st centuries when we have a different understanding of the world.

        The fact that gods mean different things to different people (even if they are merely metaphors) is in my view valuable. Science provides us with an increasingly vast array of knowledge and tools on which to make decisions and choices, but concepts such as right and wrong, fairness, justice, ethics, morality, don’t have absolutes from which to start measuring.


        • makagutu says:

          some of our basest inclinations arise from the belief that we have truth on our side. so at one point the catholics had it and anyone who didn’t believe the absolute truth, which some call god, meant you would be dispatched to meet your maker.


          • Barry says:

            The problem is there is no absolute truth. Never has been, and most likely never will be. Just as happened in Nazi Germany, Stalinist USSR, Pot Pol Cambodia, Maoist China, Argentina during the “Dirty War” period, and a host of other places in our distant and recent past, it will no doubt will continue to occur in the future.

            But these aren’t so much because of not believing in some prescribed “truth” (although it’s often made out to appear that way) but because they dared to challenge the dogma/authority of those in power.


    • makagutu says:

      and no, i didn’t take any offense


    • maryplumbago says:

      Even if there were to be a god…he/she/ it arrived into being or maybe always being through science….
      Some of science can look like supernatural stuff because it’s out of our brain’s comprehension ability at this stage of evolution, but in the end , it’s all science

      Liked by 1 person

  12. jeremiahmyer says:

    kiabooks, I do apologize in my tardy response. Alas even though I am well past retirement age I still must work to make ends meet and as such must leave my home for work. In response to your questions I really want to say first off, I’m not really interested in debate or argument, what I offer is solely MY opinion nothing more. To know how I arrived to my singular conclusions about god you need to understand that I was raised in a VERY fundamentalist church. And that god is unreasonable and goes against my “human” nature, that is that each person matters, that nature itself matters. I found that god to be unacceptable and not worthy of my concern much less my worship. and so THAT god I rejected but I did not reject the notion that gods exist. And so I began to look at what I believed to be the NATURE of god. For me “god” began in a time before what we now call time, began when the building blocks of all life began… in that primal pool. there was god. In time and though unverifiable personal gnosis, I have come to have a mishmash belief in a mix of a polytheistic and animist system. For others it’s different and to each their own and that’s good it’s what makes us human sharing this moment on our journey though time. Hope this helps answer your questions but remember it’s just my opinion. peace


    • Nan says:

      Personally, I find your “belief” rather fascinating. But then, I’m someone who feels we all have to come to terms with life and all that encompasses. I personally find belief in a supernatural entity is a misguided attempt to understand who we are and why we are here when, in fact, we’ll most likely never know.

      Liked by 3 people

  13. jeremiahmyer says:

    Science tell’s us this about the nature of time: According to the theory of relativity; space, or the universe, emerged in the Big Bang some 13.7 billion years ago. Before that, all matter was packed into an extremely tiny dot. That dot also contained the matter that later came to be the sun, the earth and the moon — the heavenly bodies that tell us about the passing of time. Before the Big Bang, there was no space or time. To me that is a time before time. As always just my opinion and nothing more.


  14. judyt54 says:

    I think what many if not most people experience is a belief in the existence of a god (or gods, if you’re into that sort of thing), not the god itself.


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