How can a non-Materialist Atheist explain the Universe's creation without God(s)?



If we define Atheism and Materialism as follows:

"Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods." [1]

"Materialism: the theory or belief that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications." [2]

Can an Atheist NOT be Materialist? Or Atheism necessarily leads to Materialism?

A Materialist Atheist is able to explain the Universe's creation using Darwinism; however, how a non-Materialist Atheist can do explain the Universe's creation **without God(s)?**

Please note that the question is NOT "is there a non-Materialist Atheist ?", but also the question is how can a non-Materialist Atheist explain the Universe's creation without God(s)?




Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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Possible duplicate of Can someone be an atheist and subscribe to substance dualism at the same time?

– Alexander S King – 2018-12-07T19:49:08.173

2I am atheist and neither reductionalist/materialist, nor dualist. I actually think both transcendence and positive metaphysics are absurd for the same reason. – Philip Klöcking – 2018-12-07T19:51:39.083

Also - see Schopenhauer

– Alexander S King – 2018-12-07T19:52:20.293

The realm of the supernatural is not just constrained to gods and deities. – ritlew – 2018-12-07T20:02:20.423

@Alexander S King , I modified my question. – Questioner – 2018-12-07T20:07:43.407

The new form of the question is still about positive metaphysics, i.e. stuff that we cannot frame in meaningful language. The universe exists. Theories about its coming into being are interesting, but necessarily inconclusive and ultimately futile, albeit human, all too human. Why should I even care? Living is hard enough if you only ponder pragmatic questions. – Philip Klöcking – 2018-12-07T22:36:59.840

Now it is very similar to

– Alexander S King – 2018-12-07T22:41:50.433

I think it's rare.. I think most people who self identify as atheists do so because they walked a particular intellectual path. A path which naturally goes via monism. But one can easily believe the universe exists in a non material way.. and still not ascribe it's creation to god. Further most atheists when it comes right down to it.. are potential deists.. that is.. they may be prepared to accept the universe was created by an electron.. they just don't subscribe to the beliefs laid out in any organised religion. – Richard – 2018-12-07T23:31:07.977

The Samkaya philosophy (more than 2500 years old) did that. – Swami Vishwananda – 2018-12-08T08:35:33.227

3Darwinism does not explain, or attempt to explain, the creation of the universe or even of the earth. It is a theory of the development of life on earth. This is no criticism of Darwinism; explaining the creation of the universe/ earth is not within its remit. – Geoffrey Thomas – 2018-12-08T08:55:42.140

If the final question is “the question” then you should edit (out) the question immediately following the quote block; maybe turn it into a statement if ow/why you’ve come to ask about creation (if that’s appropriate) – Dave – 2018-12-08T12:58:38.350

A materialist cannot explain existence any better than a flat-earther can explain astronomy. This is proven by history if not by five minutes of analysis. But an atheist need not be a materialist. There are plenty of origin-theories that do not require a creator God. The Perennial philosophy would be the obvious example,.A 'materialist-atheists' will be unable to make sense of metaphysics and creation but an atheist stands a chance. . . . – None – 2018-12-08T13:15:33.807

You can just conclude that existence is necessary since if existence doesn't exist, then it's not existence, but rather nonexistence. – EternalPropagation – 2018-12-08T15:07:48.210



The question infers that the universe was "created" at some point in the past, though offers no proof of such a "creation". Even if such a "proof" was proffered, there is no evidence supporting a definitive cessation to "creation"; that is that such a "creation" is not continuously ongoing right now.

Darwin was attempting to "justify" the appearance on this planet of certain species, namely, the amalgamation of Neanderthal and Denisovan hominids (before the advent of DNA) into "human_kind_"; as distinct from the original humans on this planet. That is, where he came from; while at the same time attempting to place his kind at the top of the food chain as the premiere of "creation".

An atheist does not need to prove that "god" or "gods" do not exist, nor "justify" anything else concerning "creation" or "materialism"; neither to another atheist or an individual who believes in a single "god" or multiple "gods".

The premise that an atheist would attempt to "justify" "creation" presumes that they are in some form of discussion with an individual who believes in "god" or "gods"; though to do so is a fruitless dialogue, if each party truly believes what they profess before the dialogue commences.

Omitted from the question is the concept of "spirituality", which does not rely on the "belief" or definitions "atheist" or "materialism"; certainly not within the scope of those "western" definitions of those terms.


Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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+1. Precisely right about Darwin. He was not trying to explain the creation of the earth, let alone the universe. – Geoffrey Thomas – 2018-12-08T11:42:10.430


Philosophical Buddhism has no belief in gods or of God. It's usually counter-posed to the Abrahamic religions as an atheistic religion.

Nevertheless, it's not a materialist religion. It makes similar ethical claims to the main religious traditions of the West.

Mozibur Ullah

Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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Atheism pertains to God or gods. It doesn't rule out any other form of belief. An atheist may well believe in psychic phenomena, for example, or some form of spirituality. (I've known some.) Anything is possible for an atheist to believe except stuff that's specifically divine. Religions like Buddhism and Taoism do not require gods.

Darwin's work was about the origin of species, not the creation of life or the Universe. I found Krauss' "A Universe From Nothing" to be very helpful on how a universe could occur without any sort of creator, in a form a materialist could accept.

Why would a non-materialist atheist have any problems with such "creation" of the Universe? A materialist explanation does not rule out non-materialist stuff like forms of spirituality or psychic abilities.

David Thornley

Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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Atheism is just lack of god, It doesn't imply anything else, now we can say that a lot of atheists are materialists which is common but not a must, anyway it depends on each person philosophy for example I don't think the universe has to be created in the first place, I mean that path (the search of how it was created) is traditionally followed by scientist and non scientist religious and non, but for some people (like me) that makes no sense because we don't believe the universe was created and that also implies (at least in my case) that it won't end.

So I don't have to explain how it was created because for me it was NOT created, it just existed and will exist forever.

Just my way of looking the world, I respect other points of view.


Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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Both definitions are shallow, naive and incomplete from philosophical standpoint

Materialism - everything is matter. But how do you perceive this matter, and does this matter has some attributes to differentiate it from (non-existing) non-matter ? Obviously, Oxford dictionary could be useful for general public, but is for choice for philosophical discussions. Somewhat better definition of materialism would be as theory or view that explains everything by involuntary movement or modification of matter. I.e. matter is everything, it has no conscience or mind (these are just illusions created by moving matter), it moves and changes by certain objective laws and rules. Note that in this worldview there are no sentient beings at all, they are just philosophical zombies that appear intelligent but are just automatons in reality. This worldview is completely compatible with atheism, because there are no beings, therefore there are no gods.

As for atheism, Oxford definition begs the question what is this God or gods we are talking about ? Is it supreme being, or just superior to us (in intellect, power etc..), does it have to be omnipotent and all-knowing , does it have to be creator of our world (universe, multiverse ...) ? For example, if you create a virtual world (game) for certain beings, and they spend large part of their lives in it, would you be some kind of god for them ? Especially if you could do them some favors in your game (give them wealth, power, better looks etc ...) . But if your definition of atheism is restricted solely to negation of all-powerful being, then it is still possible to be non-materialist. There are different religions and philosophical schools that do not have such being in their belief, therefore they could be called atheistic in this regard, yet they are certainly not materialistic.


Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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The only real 'out' for the atheist in regards to the creation of the universe is to believe either the universe is eternal or it came into existence uncaused. Both have their problems.

As for an eternal universe, I think the constantly expanding universe is one of the more well documented and well supported ideas in modern physics. I think holding to a static universe at this point in time would be not in line with the facts. You can even call it unscientific.

As for it being uncaused the problem that youhave then is that concepts of causality are so ingrained into our universe that they are beyond every day. You dont ever see something coming of nothing. We as people have the ability to cause events, but still the concept of of nothing comes nothing is now truer than ever.

Even when the magician pulls a rabit from a hat, the magician is still the cause of this rabbit spontanous existence. If causality even holds to the realms of fantasy than it shows you how ingrained it is in our existence.

You may say that just because the physical universe operates under causality does not mean that universe was created under it, to that I would say what evidence could you possibly have to the contrary? I would rather hedge my bets with the universe as I see it every day.

So then if you find an eternal universe impossible. You also dont have enough faith to believe in uncaused events, then I fear you are left with the unavoidable coclusion that the universe does have a cause.

Neil Meyer

Posted 2018-12-07T19:42:16.467

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