Atheistic Morality and Existence

The greatest hubris of the theists in the 21st century, and all times, is to declare that their own creation is the dictator of morality. “That god is the only measure of what is good and what is evil is an absolute, as man cannot measure himself,” is how one person I’ve talked to about the matter put it. To speak this way, however, is wholly illogical and unnecessarily complex in terms of the mental gymnastics required so as to come to this conclusion. The premise that the conclusion is based upon comes from many failed atheistic moral arguments, which are far too complex and the counter arguments also too complex to go into now. What I would like to discuss, however, is how atheistic morality can be achieved by any rational person.

A lot of philosophy likes to make the assumption that existence is good. One could easily pose the question “what if existence is not good?” and oftentimes the religious simply tout the good of existence as axiomatic, but that’s intellectually dishonest, as one can prove existence is good. Start by declaring existence is. There are mountains, there are roads, there is you and I. One can refut this by declaiming that we cannot truly know of existence is truly extnant; however, this has no impact on the argument or any argument whatsoever. Our perception of existence is true, as we experience it on a day to day basis. Therefore, to the mind, existence is regardless of whether it truly is or not. For example, if I say there is an apple on my desk, I see an apple on my desk and all other individuals can see, feel, and taste said Apple, even if the Apple is a hallucination created by all individuals the world over, the cognitive impact is identical to that of a true apple. Therefore, to the mind, the Apple is extant.

Now we know that existence is, we can denote that it is good by attacking the counter argument that it is bad. To assume existence is bad assumes that there must be something other than existence. Now assuming that this is a possibility, from whence can the regard that this possibility is good derive? We cannot know a lack of existence because we, by nature, exist. As a result, to conceptualize a lack of existence is impossible because the lack of existence then exists and, as a result, what happens in the mind is an altered state of existence sans those accidents we believe are integral to existence. In other words, we cannot conceptualize a lack of that which is. Therefore, a lack of existence cannot exist inside existence and thus cannot be understood, impacted, or related to anything that does exist.

Now, positing that the reciprocal nature of the universe is true (that it undergoes crunches and expansions) then the universe always has been. We cannot say the universe “exists” without determining what we mean by universe. If we determine universe to mean the sum total of all its constituents, then the universe has always existed. If we suppose the universe is the container for the constituents, then the universe can not be described in terms of existence and a lack of existence as a result of the fact that the container is not bound by the laws it contains. Assuming the former definition and understanding, then there has never been, at any point, a fixed duration wherein there has not been. That is to say, lack of existence has not been extant at any point in time, nor can it be because that which it is not cannot be.

Herein lies the first issue with stating that existence is bad and, by proxy, that the only alternative must be good. There is no way to determine if a lack of existence is even possible, as it defies all that at present moment is possible. Such an idea lies outside of all present realms of possibility as a lack of existence can not exist in existence and, because we’ve established the universe will always exist, a lack of existence can, therefore, never exist because there is matter in all places and all times inside the universe. Or, without contradictory language, a lack of existence is not possible because it’s limiting converse always will be.

However, the question then arises, if a lack of existence does not exist, what is its nature? If we suppose that such an idea exists outside of that which can be and then assume that all that can be is, then does a lack of existence exist outside of all that is? That is to say, does a realm of existence (or rather non-existence) exist wherein the nature of existence is opposite to that which presently is? Does the fact that existence exists affirm a lack of existence because of the fact a lack of existence does not exist? Or rather, because a lack of existence lacks existence, does it exist in the realm previously described? Is non-existence, existence in the realm wherein existence exists in a manner converse to existence?

So put simply because that existential ramble probably went over a lot of people’s heads, what I just described essentially boils down to is existence subjective? Our traditional conception of existence is based upon existence as it presently exists and as it may be presently known. However,  because a lack of existence lacks existence, it in and of itself is the embodiment of that which is described, it is. Or in other words, a state of non existence itself exists in a state of non existence. Thus, a state of non existence exists, but in an odd pseudo-existence that may only exist perpetually in the mind of men. The question at this point is to whether the conceptualization of a lack of existence is tantamount to one that is true. I suppose not, as the conceptualization of a state of non existence is substantially contained within the mind. It is a concept of a state and it is the concept, not the state, that exists.

What then must be asked is whether a state where nothing exists exists in itself undoes that which it is. That is to say, if a state of non existence exists within a state of non existence, then there exists something within the state and thus it is not a state of non existence. However one must then ask if the existence of the state within itself is equivalent in its existence to that of something else. To say that existence of nothing is equal to the existence of something, as to say the two are equivalent is then to say that something might as well be nothing. However, we can easily tell this is not true as we have already demonstrated that a state of nothing does not exist. Therefore, “nothing” does not exist whereas “something” as in “all things” do exist. Thus within the confines of the universe there is an inherent difference between something and nothing.

However, the metaphysical implications of a state of non existence, itself being non-existent within the confines of the universe, suggest that a such a state must, by definition, exist outside of the universe. I might even suppose that non-existence is what is, literally, outside of the universe. This, then, is paradoxical as the universe is infinite, but as with the properties of non-existence, this is to be expected. It is not as if anyone or anything could possibly go to this “state” and perhaps this is what is most confusing about it. People often surmise that nothing exists “outside” of the universe because the universe contains all that is. However, to suppose that a state of non-existence exists outside of universal confines denotes that it is not possible for a state of non-existence to exist within it, which has been proven. Thus, when I say that “a lack of existence is not possible” I mean to say that it cannot exist within the universe.

What does all this mean? One: existence exists. Two: non-existence cannot exist inside existence. Three: the existence of non-existence is not equivalent to the existence of existence. It is a pseudo-existence, as it can only exist within itself.

So as this relates to morality, to the individual that posits that a lack of existence is good, a number of questions arise. First, one must address the issue of contingency. A state of non-existence can only exist within such a state therefore denoting that such a state is contingent. That is to say, it is only possible given certain factors; factors which, given what I have previously rationalized, either cannot come into being at all or are in a perpetual state of non-existence that itself does not exist. Therefore, to claim that a state of non-existence is better than existence is to claim that something can never be is better than all things. However, assuming that the individual posits that the very matter of being is worse than not-being then their argument still holds weight. It is at this point that I would respectfully ask the individual to kill themselves, such that they could attain the state of non-being that they hold so highly in regard. Of course this wouldn’t get me anywhere, but the reaction would be interesting.

Then one must ask how this individual how they conclude that something that is inherently paradoxical is better than that which has no paradox. Let me explain this, as it took me a great deal of thinking to get here. Non-existence at this moment does not exist. Thus, the understanding of non-existence is as it is and the ideal of it being contingent upon it not existing is as it is. However, this truly means that non-existence is contingent directly upon existence as, if there is no existence, then there is non-existence. And thus, if non-existence is, then non-existence exists. This, therefore, is not non-existence but rather a different form of existence wherein there is nothing inside contained. As with the universe, it is a case of the container and that which it contains. This is fully understood when we understand what non-existence is: a state where nothing exists, even the state itself. In existence, the state of non-existence does not exist but is in the pseudo-existence as described wherein it is within itself thus fulfilling its own defining properties: the state of non-existence itself does not exist. Assuming there is no existence, what is, then, is a state wherein there is nothing. This state, however, does exist and, as a result, this single conceptualization of how things are in such a realm completely denies the realm of its own non-existence. This state, however, can not exist as the universe, existence will always be.

Thus: non-existence can only be possible when there is existence, and always will be. Therefore, how can that which is inherently dependent on that which is supposed, ie. alleged, to be bad, be good? How can an inherent derivative of bad, be good? This ultimately the paradox of the goodness of non-existence. Issues arise from here. How can that which contradicts itself be inherently better than that which does not: how can no conclusion be better than conclusion? Further, because non-existence is dependent upon existence, how can a dependent be better than that which it is dependent upon? Dependence denotes by definition inferiority.

All this in mind, the only viable conclusion is that existence is that which is greatest possible meaning it must be, by definition, greater than its inferior counterpart which is dependent upon it meaning existence is good. Thus, if existence is good we as individuals seek preservation of good, then individuals must seek the preservation of existence. Whence cometh morality. What a theist mask ask then is our reason for the preservation of good, and the answer is rather simple. All that is, all that ever has been, and all that ever will be is good. To go against all that is and ever will be is the epitome of evil. All things good and moral, than are those things that in no way harm the existence of another or the self. Existence being broad, of course, as a great many acts can be understood to be mentally and otherwise physically brutalizing without directly harming existence; however, such actions do harm against the existence that presently is. Conversely, all vice and “sin” consist of those things that work against existence. To commit such vice is to admit that not only that you are working against all of reality, but that you would be fine with someone killing you as well.

Music: an Epiphany 

I feel like I’ve just been liberated. It’s overblown and bombastic to speak like that, I know, especially at the beginning of what I hope can be a rather short post. Regardless, though, I feel like I’ve undergone some sort of transformation, a reforming of thoughts and of sorts. Music for me always used to be something outside of myself. Prior to my introduction to vaporwave I never really enjoyed music for music’s sake; rather, the music I had listened to I listened to for the sake of nostalgia. I listened to 60s and 70s smooth rock, funk, Motown, and related works because these were the pieces of music I was raised on. Your «horses with no names» and your «summer breezes» were always such delights to listen to, but only because they reminded me of emotion. They did not elicit any new emotion in me, but rather just brought me back to a piece of mental fabric interwoven into the strands of the many guitar chords and piano plucked triads of their harmonies. 

Vaporwave transformed the meaning of music for me into not a reminder of past, but of transmutation of past and present emotion into an experience that was in and of itself independent and yet at the same time intimately connected to all other events in my life. For me, vaporwave became a means to contemplate past experience and come to higher understanding through the emotions that it would elicit. I was drawn heavily towards the funk and ambient vaporwave styles, which eventually drew me to chillwave and to a larger extent synthwave. I still regarded these, however, as all exiting under the same umbrella as they all elicited similar emotion. The 5 and 7 chords this music uses so heavily and the resulting harmonies are perfect at creating that unique dream-like, hazy feeling that I grew to love. 

I stopped listening to classic rock, funk, and much more when I became introduced to vaporwave, as I felt that the connection I had with them was artificial, and based in a shadow of what vaporwave gave me. That was, however, until recently. I began to listen to this music on YouTube again, going through related videos to pick out songs I knew. Eventually, I made the decision to pick an unknown song, and something had changed. I found myself in love with the style of Elton John, whom I’d never listened to as a child but whose beautiful piano melodies and vocal harmonies absolutely sounded amazing. Then I found myself going through entire Fleetwood Mac albums when I’d only listened to a few of their songs before. Before I knew it I was listening to Kansas, CCR, Jimmy Hendrix, Bob Dylan, and so many other classic artists I’d never heard before. It didn’t matter what genre it was, it was all just so damn good. 
Then before I knew it I was having some more recent material recommended, the «black parades» and «mr brightsides» of the harder rock of the early 2000s. I listened to them. I loved them. Then I listened to 21 pilots – they were great – then to Panic! At the disco – also great. Then because I heard a similar rhythm in one of their songs, I listened to an old 1970s japnese jazz album I heard once while browsing for YouTube, and I loved every single second of it. To be able to go from one song to the next, one stylistic choice to another, and have everything sound so amazing was just one of the most incredible and liberating expuernces I have ever had, and I’ve realized why. Each song and the harmonic choices that it’s respective genres utilize evoke different emotion. Each song is another connection to another emotion, another state of thought, another way to knit the knot of thought into a beautiful piece of clothing that can be worn again and again because they beauty of it overwhelms and totally inundates the senses is sheer beauty. 

To go from the warm, milk-and-honey narrative of Cat Stevens’ Peace Train then listen to Childish Gambino’s Sweatpants back to back adds even more complexity. Going from one state of remembrance to another, one ideal of contemplation of the past immediately to the next and to bridge the gaps that each creates, was incredible. And as I listened to Gambino’s rap, I thought something else: the lyrics. 
I just gave myself a new level to completely re listen and re experience all of the music I had just listened to. I found myself thinking about how the singers used rhetorical devices to create narratives, how cadence impacted the delivery of the narratives, how personification was used to articulate abstract ideas, and how all of this play so amazingly well into a neat little package that brought me so much information. 

I can never look at music the same, and I’m more than thankful for it. 

The Arguments for God, and How they Fail

During my endeavors in the 4 week creation of my religious analysis of Life of Pi, I encountered a great many arguments for various interpretations of the novel online. Of course the vast majority of these came from reddit and so were in no way academic or legitimate in nature, but regardless the arguments shifted my attention towards God once more. For any who don’t know, I used to hold steadfast belief in Catholicism. The operative words in this sentence being used to. While I still participate in the religion ritually speaking, that is to say, I still take the host and confess my sins, I avow in my heart no belief in God whatsoever. This isn’t to say I’m an atheist, however, as being an atheist requires just as much faith as being a thiest does. For me, if something requires a personal assent of the will without any evidential, empirical evidence, then I simply cannot hold myself to it.

Being raised in a home which practiced a religion that so greatly celebrates logic in reason in lieu of evidence, I became acquainted with the basic five arguments for the existence as posited by the medieval Catholic philosopher Aquinas. For the longest time I held these ways as incontrovertible proofs for God’s existence; however, as I aged, I found holes in these arguments that were relatively easy to poke and so my thirst for logical proof of the Divine grew. In the previous week alone I found about 30 philosophical arguments for God, including the 5 ways, and so (as this blog is an ongoing elucidation of my thought) I kind of want to go through them, just to see what I’m up against.

Aquinas’ five ways are thus: motion (or in the source that I’m using, change), causality, contingency, degrees of perfection, and governance (design). I’ll start with change. This argument (grossly simplified for the sake of saving time and the effort of my hands) is as follows: things move and change, change cannot take place without that which enacts a change upon another, the universe is the sum total of these changes, therefore the universe is in change, therefore something outside the universe caused the change, therefore God. The great problem with this argument, and with it’s sister argument in islam, the kalam argument which will be addressed later, is that it’s based on a large assumption, that that which contains is the same as that which is contained. Really, this is the problem with all of Aquinas’ arguments. Aquinas assumes that the universe as a concept is the same as an object within the universe. This creates a host of problems, as the universe isn’t an object at all but rather a state, a container.

I’ll create an example. Let’s say there’s a steel, air-tight box. Inside this box is only helium gas and nitrogen gas. Aside from this, let’s say there are conscious beings inside the container also. These beings cannot escape the container and can only ever know what is inside the container. Thus, these beings can only make conclusions based upon their limited knowledge and interaction between themselves and the two elements, helium and nitrogen. However, what they do not know is that their container is made of steel, and that on the opposing side of this steel lies hundreds of other elements. These beings can only ever understand elemental physics and chemistry as per what limited information has been provided to them, just as we can only understand causality as it’s laws exist in our limited experience with the universe. Ergo, we cannot necessarily assume that a first un-moved mover began to move the universe, as the universe is the container, not the contained. We inside the box cannot know that the universe began to move, because we cannot know that it adheres to the same laws of causality that those objects inside the universe adhere to. If the theory of the great crunch is correct, then there would essentially be an infinite set of crunches, condenses of the universe into an infinitely dense singularity, and big-bangs, expansions of this singularity. If this were so, then this argument would completely fall apart as no unmoved mover would need to move that which has already been moved.