What is the meaning of life?
Posted: 28 April 2010 10:37 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I recently was on a panel for the question “What is the meaning of life?”  I gave an atheist response, and there was also a Christian and Muslim response.  This was followed by a 1 hr. Q&A.  The event was held in a Mosque.

FYI, here’s my presentation:

Microsoft Powerpoint format:
http://www.meetup.com/Westside-Science-Religion-Discussion-Group/files/

Adobe Acrobat (free reader available on the internet):
http://files.meetup.com/1279214/meaning-of-life.pdf

Feel free to read, download, and make comments here.  Most of the questions were for me because I don’t think they knew many (or any) other atheists.  So it was a “witnessing” opportunity.  I had fun answering their general questions about atheism.

...Bernie
http://www.meetup.com/Westside-Science-Religion-Discussion-Group/
http://www.meetup.com/Vancouver-Science-Religion-Discussion-Group/

PS: No, I don’t speak for all atheists.  I realize some may agree, and some would disagree.

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Posted: 29 April 2010 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Bernie,

In your sentence where you say:

If we take care of Earth, life as we know it may continue for another few hundred million years before the Sun fries us.

you need to change “few hundred million years” to “few thousand million years” (billions).

Also, I am not sure what you mean by:

The universe… was here 12 billion years before you came along.

If by “you” you are referring to life in general, the universe was here 10 billion years before “we” came. If by “you” you mean the individual who is reading this, then the universe was here 13.7 billion years before the reader came along.

Another number to look at is in the “Young Earthers” slide. Those who think the universe is six thousand years old, are off by a factor of 2,300,000 instead of 2,000,000. But here, I assume, you are just rounding it up. I think that’s fine.

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Posted: 29 April 2010 07:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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From my point of view, the “there are no gods” doesn’t even factor into the equation of how I want to live, the same as “there is no Santa Claus.”  I think that your presentation, at least from the slides shown, would have been stronger if you focused only on what you believe and not what you don’t believe, if you have a similar viewpoint as I do.

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Posted: 29 April 2010 12:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Hi George- yes, mostly it is rounding.  The big deal is in a worldview of seeing the universe as thousands, rather than billions, of years old.  As for how long life has to live on Earth before the Sun fries us, it is probably all speculative anyway.  But the big idea is that it could be many more millions of years, compared to Christians who may think that Jesus is going to return today or tomorrow, so why bother trying to preserve the Earth.

Hi TromboneAndrew- I tried to balance the presentation, RE: being more upbeat.  The challenge was presenting something in only 10 minutes.  My first draft had twice as many slides.  My final draft still had too many slides.

I think the most powerful statement in there is to the effect “Since there is no God(s), there is no ultimate meaning in life” (although we can create meaning for our temporary lives).  I think this is something even many atheists don’t contemplate.  But I think contemplating this ‘big picture’ can help us to appreciate and experience the moment better. 

...Bernie

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Posted: 29 April 2010 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Bernie_Dehler - 29 April 2010 12:39 PM

Hi TromboneAndrew- I tried to balance the presentation, RE: being more upbeat.  The challenge was presenting something in only 10 minutes.  My first draft had twice as many slides.  My final draft still had too many slides.

I think the most powerful statement in there is to the effect “Since there is no God(s), there is no ultimate meaning in life”

Yeah, 10 minutes is not very much time at all.

Food for debate:

What do you mean by “ultimate meaning in life?”  My first thought is that there is such a thing without God, and that life’s purpose is to live.

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Posted: 29 April 2010 01:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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TromboneAndrew said:
“What do you mean by “ultimate meaning in life?”  My first thought is that there is such a thing without God, and that life’s purpose is to live. “

RE: Ultimate meaning:

I mean that if you look at the big picture (the last 12 billion years of history and the next 12 billion years of future, long after the Earth is fried by the Sun), nothing really matters.  Even beyond that, after the zillions and zillions of years when the universe finally dies, nothing matters.  After that, there is no recollection of Hitler or the worst (or best) thing that ever happened.  So in the grand scheme of things, nothing matters at all.  But in this temporary ‘living period’ that we are in, things matter greatly, because we exist and make consequences for others, for many years to come.

Feel free to argue… I welcome further thought on this subject.

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Posted: 01 May 2010 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Regarding the meaning of life. Several viewpoints are presented but, to me, the important one is how does it apply to an individual. Although it was a side topic in the book “Looking Out for Number One” by Robert Ringer, he suggests that the primary meaning in our lives is to be happy. This sounds simplistic on its face but he goes into detail about the myriad things that we define as happiness. To a starving child it may be a meal, to a masochist it may be humiliation, to a religious person it is their relationship with the deity of their choice. Those choices are as varied as there are individuals and some of them are very surprising.

Ultimately, the things we can control in our own lives and our ability to use that control to attain a personal definition of “happy” seems to me to be the driving force in our lives.

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Posted: 30 April 2011 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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And how would the existence of god alter the “ultimate meaning of life”?
If create an ant-farm, does that alter the meaning of life for the ants?

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Posted: 01 May 2011 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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My usual comment as an atheist, when questioned about this is that meaning does not exist without a sentient being so there is no intrinsic meaning outside ourselves.  Each of us defines the meaning of his/her life by his/her actions. 

I’m not sure why you modified the word “life” with “temporary”.  It might lead a theist to assume that you’ve accepted a “permanent” life, that is, an afterlife.

Occam

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Posted: 01 May 2011 04:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Write4U - 30 April 2011 02:53 PM

And how would the existence of god alter the “ultimate meaning of life”?
If I create an ant-farm, does that alter the meaning of life for the ants?

smile

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Posted: 27 June 2012 12:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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When I was researching the material that would eventually become the basis of my book, The Hidden Truth:  A logical path through compelling evidence to discover the nature of reality and the meaning of life, it became clear to me that life certainly has purpose and meaning.  And that purpose and meaning is well beyond esoteric and intangible concepts such as “to love God” or simply to test our strength in belief in [fill in any religion].  We are born on this Earth to serve a purpose and experience some aspect of life, though it may take decades – if ever – for the average human to come to identify their own purpose in life.  And still that purpose may not even be defined well enough for the meaning to be apparent to us (i.e. our normal waking conscious self) from our Earth-bound perspective.  Rather, our purpose in life was defined by our self and for our self before life ever began.

This likely sounds like a religious, faith-based statement, but I would like to argue that the statement is based on some rather rigorous, scientific evidence.  The precept for understanding the meaning of life requires first an understanding of the nature of reality.  This is because there is more to reality than meets the eye.  For example, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and conclusions of the Space-Time Continuum led scientists to an early realization that life in a three-dimensional world was only an impression of reality from a larger four-dimensional description of space-time. An odd scientific conclusion of the four-dimensional space-time continuum was that all time continued to exist in a single point, Now, and thus humanity experienced only an impression of forward time progression by the movement of conscious experience through the continuum.  Some sources quoted in my book noted this was required in order for humans to be able to gain experience through cause and effect, which is attributed to an illusion of the forward progression of time.  At a rigorous scientific level, even physicists noted they could not explain this phenomenon satisfactorily at a human level other than to note the theory has been proven mathematically.

This is not a conclusion we would normally conceive in everyday life.  But it goes farther, in that physical reality itself has an underlying matrix.  While quantum physicists were trying to find the smallest components of physical reality by smashing atoms against one another, they came to an astonishing conclusion that physical components of reality were not actually comprised of physical components; i.e. Physical atoms are actually nothing but energy, as highlighted by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc².  Through a series of scientific findings I discuss in my book, we also see that energy is equivalent to light, and light is equivalent to consciousness, thus showing that physical reality has an underlying support structure: a universal consciousness of which we are an important part.  The scientific evidence on which this assertion is based is presented in my book, the first half of which is available for free online at http://www.thehiddentruth.us, if you’d like to consider the evidence further. 

Once the nature of reality is understood, the meaning of life becomes clearer at a macro, societal level.  We, as humans, were born for a purpose.  That purpose was to experience.  The “what” of the experience is the micro-element, which is highly individualized according to our own needs.  This realization can provide amazing stress relief if you consider it long enough, such as through meditation.  For example, there is nothing wrong with you or your situation.  You are exactly as you (the soul) intended you (the human) to be.  Thus, there really is no reason to compete with anyone else.  You should merely strive to achieve and experience life for the experience and learning opportunity it represents uniquely for you.  Life is not a race.  He who dies with the most toys, still dies, though he dies without an everlasting benefit since tangible objects cannot be taken to the next plane of reality or enjoyed at the soul level for all eternity.  Conversely, he who dies with loving friendships formed in life and great learning experiences from life on Earth provides his soul an everlasting benefit that can never be taken away.  Which would you prefer?

Fortunately, as my book points out, these assertions don’t have to be taken on blind faith like religions would insist must be applied for their own dogma.  You can consider the scientific evidence provided on which they are based, and then follow the suggestions provided in the book to test their validity for yourself.  There is no knowledge like first-hand knowledge and such is available concerning the true nature of reality and the meaning of life if you truly want to know.  My book is an easy-to-follow first step in helping readers arrive at a clear understanding of the nature of reality and the meaning of life, but the second step of proving those assertions to a person’s own satisfaction is left up to the individual.  I hope you’ll share in that quest for knowledge with me.

Wade, author of The Hidden Truth, at http://www.thehiddentruth.us.

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Posted: 27 June 2012 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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The Hidden Truth
As I understand your posit you are using that phrase (and dissembly) to indentify Determinism.

Question: Do you believe in Free Will?

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