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Is Atheism a Dodge?
Posted: 13 April 2012 06:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 436 ]
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Yes, shit does happen! And it can be totally random and chaotic. And yet I can still make it have meaning. So can you.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 437 ]
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traveler - 13 April 2012 06:07 AM
George - 13 April 2012 06:05 AM

What I don’t understand, though, is why in a universe where the unifying theory seems to be “shit happens,” some things, like books and songs, can have a meaning.

They don’t. At least not in your universal interpretation of meaning. They do have meaning in the sense that Free mentions; a local meaning to the “universe” of the mind.

No, it seems to me that books and songs have clearly objective meaning. Maybe we are gods. Maybe consciousness really can perform magic. Or maybe I am just losing my mind…

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 438 ]
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FreeInKy - 13 April 2012 06:09 AM

A book is a collection of pieces of paper with ink on it bound together. I can read it. Or I can make a book safe out of it. Or I can use a bunch of them to build a fort, as I did with the huge stack of Collier’s Encyclopedias my overzealous dad bought for me when I was still too young too read.

I think you’re right. Okay, so it is “shit happens” after all.  grin

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 439 ]
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George - 13 April 2012 06:15 AM
FreeInKy - 13 April 2012 06:09 AM

A book is a collection of pieces of paper with ink on it bound together. I can read it. Or I can make a book safe out of it. Or I can use a bunch of them to build a fort, as I did with the huge stack of Collier’s Encyclopedias my overzealous dad bought for me when I was still too young too read.

I think you’re right. Okay, so it is “shit happens” after all.  grin

LOL

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“I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.”—Edith Sitwell

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 440 ]
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You know what makes me sad? The fact that I am not smart enough to even begin to understand things like the chaos theory, for example. My idea of a Faustian bargain would be one year of my life per additional 10 IQ point. If you are interested, Mephistopheles, you know where to find me.  wink

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 441 ]
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“Meaning” is a property of signs and symbols. If those are human-created, then there is a precise meaning given a particular community or linguistic usage-group. A different community or linguistic group may have an entirely different meaning for a particular sign or symbol.

Objects may also have what might be termed “natural meanings”, which is the information one can derive from them. E.g., a footprint in the snow can mean that a bear has passed this way recently: the print is a sign of a bear. This doesn’t require a community or linguistic group; it means “bear” whether or not anyone knows it. But of course it can mean an infinite number of other things, too. E.g., it means that something heavy passed this way, it means that the atmosphere in the vicinity is cold enough for it to retain snow, it means that this bear’s paw had four pads, etc.

To put it another way, “meanings” are properties of things that have representational value.

So I’m not sure what it means to ask what the ‘meaning of life’ is. Life isn’t a representation of anything. I suppose one natural meaning of life is that substances got complex enough for Darwinian evolution to take place. But that’s not what’s at issue when people ask what the ‘meaning of life’ is.

One related problem with this question is why people seem to think that the existence of God makes a difference to answering this question. Perhaps it’s that God is supposed to have made us for some particular purpose. But that would be just what we’re supposed to do; it wouldn’t have anything to do with ‘meaning’, as far as I can see.

(To say that a hammer is supposed to nail nails isn’t to say that a hammer ‘means’ anything. I don’t see that a hammer per se has any meaning at all).

I suppose the question “What is the meaning of life?” is supposed to ask something like, “Why am I here?” or “What am I supposed to do with my life?” As to the first question, there is a clear causal answer as to why you are here, but that’s not the question being asked. So what is it? Perhaps more like the second question? But then it seems to me there is no objective answer to that question. If there are moral laws, then at least one is supposed to follow them, but that’s not a precise answer.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 442 ]
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Doug, those are precisely the questions that led me to study the Bible in my youth. I yearned to find meaning in my life so, because of my upbringing, turned to the Bible seeking answers. It only took about six months to figure out the Bible not only lacked answers, it is indeed a morally reprehensible collection of writings. When I read Darwin’s The Descent of Man from the Apes and Sagan’s The Dragons of Eden I began finding the answers I had sought. Reading astronomy books expanded my thinking from ethnocentric to include the entire universe. The more I learn about the universe (including this little rock we call home) the less inclined I am to accept a god hypothesis. In the overall scheme of things nothing we do on this planet will matter outside our solar system, and even that is a just a brief moment in the long history unfolding in the cosmos.

Instead of seeking meaning from without I now embrace life fully: realizing how rare it is to be able to ponder the wonders of life and the universe gives me joy. Life is hard, but the alternative is… nothing.

Religion is the dodge.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 06:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 443 ]
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DarronS - 13 April 2012 06:55 AM

Doug, those are precisely the questions that led me to study the Bible in my youth. I yearned to find meaning in my life so, because of my upbringing, turned to the Bible seeking answers. It only took about six months to figure out the Bible not only lacked answers, it is indeed a morally reprehensible collection of writings. When I read Darwin’s The Descent of Man from the Apes and Sagan’s The Dragons of Eden I began finding the answers I had sought. Reading astronomy books expanded my thinking from ethnocentric to include the entire universe. The more I learn about the universe (including this little rock we call home) the less inclined I am to accept a god hypothesis. In the overall scheme of things nothing we do on this planet will matter outside our solar system, and even that is a just a brief moment in the long history unfolding in the cosmos.

Instead of seeking meaning from without I now embrace life fully: realizing how rare it is to be able to ponder the wonders of life and the universe gives me joy. Life is hard, but the alternative is… nothing.

Religion is the dodge.

Word.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 01:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 444 ]
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Can we add pleasure and pain to the equation?
That which gives us pleasure has a good meaning and will stimulate us to pursue that which gives us pleasure.
That which gives us pain has a bad meaning and will stimulate us to try and avoid that which gives us pain.

Without this distinction life would have no meaning.

“We weep for that which was once our delight”  (Gibran).

[ Edited: 13 April 2012 02:01 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 13 April 2012 04:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 445 ]
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To put it another way, “meanings” are properties of things that have representational value.

So I’m not sure what it means to ask what the ‘meaning of life’ is. Life isn’t a representation of anything. I suppose one natural meaning of life is that substances got complex enough for Darwinian evolution to take place. But that’s not what’s at issue when people ask what the ‘meaning of life’ is

IMO the “meaning of life” is whatever context you put it in, ex. the existentialists view life as having no objective and stress free will, the physicalists see life in the minutae that surrounds us, and there are many other philosophical approaches way over my head (see Doug and others for more), in addition there are many others who see life as a basic existence. Most people focus on the epicurean, if you live in a country that affords you the ability to do so. Millions of us are in survival mode (1st step on Maslow’s hierarchy). To them the meaning of life is simple, where do I get food, clothing and shelter ‘cause it ain’t coming from god. As to life having any meaning, It doesn’t. I do , however believe that an individual can create a purpose given the physical and mental ability and that’s genetic, pre-programed by natural selection. I’m 6’7 and could have used my height to play sports, maybe professionally, but made a choice to play music instead. The choice was mine and today I’m not a multimilliionaire because of it, damn! Seriously though, no regrets. I created a purpose for my life in teaching. Nothing compelled me to do so, unless I got the altruism gene. (new book out on that one BTW). SO, the only meaning of life for me is Monty Python’s. smile


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Posted: 13 April 2012 05:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 446 ]
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  Cool, Captain.  That may be your teleology.  That’s fine. 

But let’s take it a step further and consider the teleoloy (purpose) of all humans, and one more, all living creatures including monera and protista.  It has to be to spread DNA.

Just ask the Duggars with the 20 kids.

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“A good and just God could never punish me for refusing to abandon reason.”  Mirror Reversal

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Posted: 13 April 2012 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 447 ]
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Aristopus - 13 April 2012 05:39 PM

  Cool, Captain.  That may be your teleology.  That’s fine. 

But let’s take it a step further and consider the teleoloy (purpose) of all humans, and one more, all living creatures including monera and protista.  It has to be to spread DNA.

Just ask the Duggars with the 20 kids.

But that cannot be cited as the meaning of life. Multiplication occurs at all levels (from galaxies to elements) even in non sentient objects.  These are mathematical inevitabilities as determined by the laws of nature. They function as they must.
In that perspective the word meaning is meaningless.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 448 ]
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  Cool, Captain.  That may be your teleology.  That’s fine. 

But let’s take it a step further and consider the teleoloy (purpose) of all humans, and one more, all living creatures including monera and protista.  It has to be to spread DNA.

Just ask the Duggars with the 20 kids.

What about the other three? And that’s a little too basic an example for personal meaning. I’m not all that concerned about my component parts. As to the Duggars, 18 kids too many!

Cap’t Jack

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One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

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Posted: 13 April 2012 10:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 449 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 13 April 2012 10:03 PM

  Cool, Captain.  That may be your teleology.  That’s fine. 

But let’s take it a step further and consider the teleoloy (purpose) of all humans, and one more, all living creatures including monera and protista.  It has to be to spread DNA.

Just ask the Duggars with the 20 kids.

What about the other three? And that’s a little too basic an example for personal meaning. I’m not all that concerned about my component parts. As to the Duggars, 18 kids too many!

Cap’t Jack

The Exponential Function prohibits unlimited steady growth in a confined area. If we were to follow the command “go forth and multiply”, eventually we would come to a condition where 20 people would have to die for 20 babies to be born. What cruel irony.

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Posted: 14 April 2012 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 450 ]
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The Exponential Function prohibits unlimited steady growth in a confined area. If we were to follow the command “go forth and multiply”, eventually we would come to a condition where 20 people would have to die for 20 babies to be born. What cruel irony.

Now you’re touching on one of the main themes of Mirror Reversal.  Bacteria allowed to grow uncontrolled and unbridled in a Petri dish do not finalize in a situation where one organism dies for each one being born.  Unchecked, (as you mention, “multiplicative”) population growth results in an abrupt population crash, where every individual is drowned in the combined waste products of the entire population.  In this case alcohol, but in our case cardon dioxide, polluted water and plastic. 

So, as I describe in the author’s description, humans are breeding themselves to extinction, if we can draw comparisons between the Petri dish and our beautiful planet. 

By motivating sex and reproduction, our very DNA is driving us to commit suicide.  This is common in nature because “the Law of the Jungle” evolved at random, without divine providence.  I always liked the line of G.G. Simpson, geneticist of the evolutionary synthesis, that it’s evident that humans are the result of purposeless and random forces of nature that did not have us in mind, (because there is no mind, only physical laws like natural selection.)

A good example of what I’m trying to get at is the case of sardines following nature’s impulse, schooling themselves into a tighter and tighter ball as the sharks approach and begin to nibble away at the periphery.  The tight ball only makes it easier for the sharks.

[ Edited: 14 April 2012 06:45 AM by Aristopus ]
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