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Thread: Atheism and Nihilism

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    ...uhh Bjorn's Avatar
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    Atheism and Nihilism

    Firstly, let's agree on some terms. These are definitions I generated from Google.

    ATHEISM: lack of belief in god(s)
    NIHILISM:(since there is a philosophy as well as a historical movement, let's stick with the philosophy) rejection of religious and moral principle, extreme skepticism that suggests that nothing in the world is real or meaningful


    Last night (with the help of my da boyfran) I realized that I was a nihilist. Mind you, I've been a nihilist for longer than I realized, so after the epiphany last night, all of a sudden ideas started to define themselves more clearly. The definitions of everything became sharper. I'd always known what nihilism was but never paid much attention to it because of, admittedly, the negative connotations that allowed my brain to brush the philosophy to the side while simultaneously using it to water all my thoughts.

    Also, there's the added perk of having a clearer word with which to describe my (lack of) beliefs. YAY LABELS. I'm a writer. I like 'em. :3

    Anyway, like a fool I had lumped atheism and nihilism in with one another, as if the two were kind of interchangeable (mind you, this was not a conscious decision, merely a matter of happenstance). It just didn't make any sense that someone could lack belief in god(s) but still potentially believe in spirits, ghosts, aliens, etc. It was an overly simplistic, solipsist view of things, admittedly.

    -------

    QUESTIONS: AS AN ATHEIST...

    1. do you believe in anything supernatural (ghosts, spirits, magic, etc)?
    2. do you consider yourself a nihilist?
    3. do you think that atheism and nihilism are similar? Explain.
    4. do you think that atheism leads to nihilism?

    IF YOU ARE ALSO A NIHILIST...

    1. do you think that the meaninglessness of life is actually a bad thing?
    2. do you feel like you 'reject moral principle?' Explain
    3. was nihilism something you decided upon, or had you always thought similarly and simply discovered that the shoe fit, so to speak?
    4. do you think nihilism is simply intense skepticism, or do you believe that it is the belief in nothing?


    Let's start there.
    No one tells the wind which way to blow.

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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    Nihilism is a scary concept for humans as the brain naturally tries to create meaning or connection in everything. It also conflicts with the human notion that we are not in fact insignificant. The fear of these concepts is what drives most religion and longheld spiritual beliefs. Nihilism probably is a good describer of my worldview as well.

    We are nothing. If there is any meaning in life it is what we as individuals give it but it will never be anything more than a small construction of a small mind in an infinite universe.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    As an atheist:

    1. Spirits? I am fairly certain there are things out there that are not quite entities in the way we are. I do not know what they are.

    2. Nihilist? No - I'm an existentialist. Meaning is a thing one makes for one's self, not a thing inherent in the world.

    3. Atheism similar to nihilism? No, they are not similar. One is a lack of belief, the other is a belief.

    4. Can atheism lead to nihilism? Yes, if one expects to find absolute meaning outside of one's self, but not if one is willing/able to construct meaning, without also making the claim that such a meaning resides outside of one's self.
    \

    Good questions, My Fanny.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    ...uhh Bjorn's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    Quote Originally Posted by B. de Corbin View Post
    As an atheist:

    2. Nihilist? No - I'm an existentialist. Meaning is a thing one makes for one's self, not a thing inherent in the world.

    3. Atheism similar to nihilism? No, they are not similar. One is a lack of belief, the other is a belief.
    Could you expound on #2 a bit further? How do nihilism and existentialism differ from one another, in your words?

    In regards to #3, do you think that nihilism is actually a belief? I had always cataloged it as a philosophy, or perhaps more simplistically, universal disbelief.
    No one tells the wind which way to blow.

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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    If nothing is real, why the fear, pain, injury, compassion, love and lust? Why at death's door is it so common to fear - if it isn't real?

    Nihilism has always raised paradoxes in real life. Even if none of this exists in another reality it does exist in this reality. Nature proves that existence is real. (OK, proof is a concept that may not apply but the evidence is certainly overwhelming.) If life and all of it doesn't exist then why does a splinter hurt? Why do we feel pain, anxiety, love, hate, compassion and all the other things we feel? If this is just a movie or a fictional story then why, when someone walks away they are considered mentally ill?

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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    Oh, great thread! I'll answer later when I get home.

    #nihilistrepresent
    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

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    Nihilistic Goddess Medusa's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    QUESTIONS: AS AN ATHEIST...

    1. do you believe in anything supernatural (ghosts, spirits, magic, etc)?
    2. do you consider yourself a nihilist?
    3. do you think that atheism and nihilism are similar? Explain.
    4. do you think that atheism leads to nihilism?

    1 nope
    2 nope. I do consider myself a person with bi polar. So my judgement of the world probably looks nihilist in nature. But that's just bad brain chemistry joo joo.
    3 nope. Atheists have a purpose of life in general. Along with a long list of their own morals.
    4 nope. I think it just leads to a less stressful life for some. And not for others. Depends on your uptightedness I suppose.
    Satan is my spirit animal

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjorn View Post
    Could you expound on #2 a bit further? How do nihilism and existentialism differ from one another, in your words?

    In regards to #3, do you think that nihilism is actually a belief? I had always cataloged it as a philosophy, or perhaps more simplistically, universal disbelief.

    Ok - the two answers are actually related, at least as Nietzsche's development of existentialism is concerned.

    Nietzsche had a problem with the philosophers who came before him. As he saw it, they always began with an unprovable belief (morals are good, humans are bad, or humans are good, god exists, god does not exist, humans have a soul, etc.) and then based all their thinking on a shaky foundation. He wanted to develop a philosophy that made no unprovable assumptions.

    He messed about with nihilism, but rejected it because the reality of objective meaning/non-meaning (like the existence of god) is unprovable. That means nihilism is based on a belief, and everything based on a belief (even a philosophy) is, itself, a belief.

    So he rejected nihilism as a foundation for existentialism, and used solipsism (the realization that the ultimate reality of things is outside of our human perception) instead.

    He saw nihilism as a kind of disease that would grow out of the realization that, to understand reality (as much as possible to REALLY understand it) science - which doesn't require god(s) - is more effective, which would lead to atheism, which could lead to nihilism.

    So he constructed existentialism. Existentialism, to put it in short form, could be phrased like this: Because you can't know for sure if god exists, or even if there is a god, or if there is, what god wants you to do, or if there is a better, or worse, or same, or nonexistent afterlife, etc., etc., you can't base your actions on claims to knowledge of those things. You're on your own - no excuses come from juju. Pick what is important, or right, or good, based on the best reasoning and observation you can, and then go for it.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    Quote Originally Posted by DragonsFriend View Post
    If nothing is real, why the fear, pain, injury, compassion, love and lust? Why at death's door is it so common to fear - if it isn't real?

    Nihilism has always raised paradoxes in real life. Even if none of this exists in another reality it does exist in this reality. Nature proves that existence is real. (OK, proof is a concept that may not apply but the evidence is certainly overwhelming.) If life and all of it doesn't exist then why does a splinter hurt? Why do we feel pain, anxiety, love, hate, compassion and all the other things we feel? If this is just a movie or a fictional story then why, when someone walks away they are considered mentally ill?
    Emotions and feelings are chemical reactions in the brain conditioned by evolution.

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    Nihilistic Goddess Medusa's Avatar
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    Re: Atheism and Nihilism

    Quote Originally Posted by ThePaganMafia View Post
    Emotions and feelings are chemical reactions in the brain conditioned by evolution.
    but you feel them. So to you they real for you. I know we want to pretend we are all logic. The fact we don't stick our feet over the edge of the bed at night tells me different.
    Satan is my spirit animal

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