How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Obvious Leo
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:59 am

Philosophy Explorer wrote:I think what Gustav is driving at here is in reference to our DNA so to that extent, we are preprogrammed.
Nothing could be further from the truth, Phil. We are emphatically NOT pre-programmed by DNA and I very much doubt that this is what Gustav was driving at. Far from being Newtonian machines humans are in fact autopoietic ( from the greek "auto" = self and "poiesis" = creating). We quite literally create ourselves.

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Gustav Bjornstrand
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Gustav Bjornstrand » Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:46 pm

Quite interesting that you speak in terms of absolutes, and absolute truths! Is this a salient characteristic of Nurse Obvious?
We quite literally create ourselves.
There is an element of truth in this, obviously. No one could deny it. Yet I suggest you turn it into something resembling a religious axiom. It is also an idealistic wish and sweats Rousseauesque optimism. And though it is likely true in some, or even many ways, it may not be as absolutely true as you claim.

But in any case, it is part of a larger narrative that you wield, just one element in an edifice of your anthropology. That anthropology is part of a modern, common, and as I say 'radical liberal' ideology. Yes indeed: Ideology. I challenge that ideology. It is that simple, really.

Your axiom does nothing to explain difference in human community, nor the vastly different levels of attainment, aspiration, and much else. Yours seems to be a politically correct ideological tenet. It has a very real function, and that function has not a lot to do with free-ranging thought.

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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:08 pm

Gustav Bjornstrand wrote:Your axiom does nothing to explain difference in human community, nor the vastly different levels of attainment, aspiration, and much else.
Yes it does because the mechanism for self-creation is one of EVOLUTION, where integrated and dynamic information systems educe from the simple to the complex. They do this by processing selection factors according to non-linear algorithms of their own specification, a process commonly known as neural network LEARNING. The quality of such learning is necessarily contingent on the quality of the selection factors which inform it because of the well-known GIGO principle (garbage in garbage out), but of even greater importance is the way in which the evolutionary algorithms themselves evolve over time. This was well understood by the great Persian philosopher/mathematicians whose philosophies of knowledge predated those of western science by many centuries. The Persians knew that wisdom could be learned but could not be taught, a simple truth which has not translated well into our 21st century education systems, almost exclusively because of the pernicious influence of religion.

"Belief is the antithesis of knowledge"....Bertrand Russell

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Gustav Bjornstrand
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Gustav Bjornstrand » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:13 pm

You do write stoned ...

Scott Mayers
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Scott Mayers » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:36 pm

How do I find meaning in a purposeless universe?
:?:

Obvious Leo
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Obvious Leo » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:39 pm

Gustav Bjornstrand wrote:You do write stoned ...
No I don't, Gustav, and I don't give a fuck whether you believe me or call me a liar because your opinion on any matter whatsoever is of no interest to me. Although I'm not without compassion for sufferers of NPD I find their limited creative output to be spectacularly tiresome. In other words you bore me and I'd rather take my chances with Bob Evenson who is probably afflicted with the same complaint but mercifully doesn't take himself too seriously. Guys like you and he are just one of the collateral consequences of forums such as this because they attract the pathologically self-absorbed as surely as flies are attracted to shit.

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Gustav Bjornstrand
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Gustav Bjornstrand » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:01 pm

I don't believe you are not telling the truth, so relax ...

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Arising_uk
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Arising_uk » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:00 am

Gustav Bjornstrand wrote:It's more of the same, Skip:

An acidic, excavating discourse the intention of which is to undermine, devalue, and degrade. It is levelled against your own self, essentially. It is 'the European grammar of self-intolerance' that Bowden speaks of. Because you have never had any one successfully define it as such - to name your disease - it is all new to you. And that is as it should be. ...
Not finished watching, but was struck that even he uses Marx with his 'groups competing for scarce resources'?
...
It is Western culture - exclusively - which has allowed for a radical new definition of woman, and has allowed for women to integrate in culture in ways that are setting the standard for the whole world. ...
As a mass movement I'd agree but a few women came to political prominence in other countries long before the West, why?
This did not come out of Vedic culture, or Chinese or Persian culture, nor out of any South American culture Aztec, Toltec of Mayan, but directly out of Greek and Roman achievements filtered through a European Protestant reformation lens. ...
Hmm... not knocking Luther but that's a long string to push back to the Greks and Romans as by 'n large this radical definition came in opposition to much of what you describe as Western culture or at least the structures in place at the time, it appears mainly to do with war and the latterly the change in working practices which would put this change more firmly in the Historical Materialist camp I'd have thought?

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Arising_uk
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Arising_uk » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:06 am

Gustav Bjornstrand wrote:... And I will say that the doctrine of fascism/neo-fascism has numerous very good ideas in it. But then so does communism, and liberal capitalism. ...
That's interesting. Care to lay a few out from each of them? As I'd be interested in which fit with which.

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Arising_uk
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Arising_uk » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:09 am

Gustav Bjornstrand wrote:European fascism arose out of resistance to and rebellion against communist and Marxist doctrines. ...
Hmm...and yet you berate others for simplistic historical explanations?

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Gustav Bjornstrand
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Gustav Bjornstrand » Sun Aug 23, 2015 1:25 am

Very much off the top of my head, I suppose 'obvious' one would say: liberal capitalism allows for a petit bourgeois culture to arise, and some wide parameters of freedom to develop. It allows people with will and desire to forge their own economic life and to establish a base by virtue of their hard work, intelligence, etc. Those seem positive aspects.

Communism I can't say too much about because I have not lived under it. But I did spend some time in Nicaragua in the late 90's and developed a friendship with an old Sandinista who spoke of going to Cuba in the early days of the Sandinista revolution. He said it was a strange but welcome experience to be in a culture in which you felt free of the sense of financial scamming. According to him people thus related more sincerely. I suppose that would be a positive aspect. In Venezuela in the early 2000s I also met old Chilean activists who'd fled Chile in the aftermath of the 70's coup and they described their involvement with Chilean Socialism as similar to a love-affair: a romantic adventure with all the heady ups-and-down of love, or a social love-affair. I can only imagine that social solidarity and working in concert for a giant cause would represent a 'positive' experience.

I have been working my way through The Doctrine of Fascism by Moussolini and find lots of interesting facets:
Like all sound political conceptions, Fascism is action and it is thought; action in which doctrine is immanent, and doctrine arising from a given system of historical forces in which it is inserted, and working on them from within. It has therefore a form correlated to contingencies of time and space; but it has also an ideal content which makes it an expression of truth in the higher region of the history of thought. There is no way of exercising a spiritual influence in the world as a human will dominating the will of others, unless one has a conception both of the transient and the specific reality on which that action is to be exercised, and of the permanent and universal reality in which the transient dwells and has its being. To know men one must know man; and to know man one must be acquainted with reality and its laws. There can be no conception of the State which is not fundamentally a conception of life: philosophy or intuition, system of ideas evolving within the framework of logic or concentrated in a vision or a faith, but always, at least potentially, an organic conception of the world.
Arising_uk wrote:Hmm...and yet you berate others for simplistic historical explanations?
When one generalises, one generally always commits a certain error. But in order to converse, without endless footnotes, we have to generalise. If I 'berate' anyone, it is with at least fairly good intentions, and not to berate the individual. If my statement is a reduction, I see no reason why I should not welcome being called on it. I am no expert in European Fascism so my statement might have been simplistic, or partial. I see one aspect of Fascism's rise as an attempt to construct resistance to encroaching Marxism and Communism, and this is certainly true in Italy. So, the statement does not seem unfair. But any statement of that sort requires filling out.
Hmm... not knocking Luther but that's a long string to push back to the Greeks and Romans as by 'n large this radical definition came in opposition to much of what you describe as Western culture or at least the structures in place at the time, it appears mainly to do with war and the latterly the change in working practices which would put this change more firmly in the Historical Materialist camp I'd have thought?
Yet my point was only to highlight that something quite dramatic and powerful occurred then, and something that - at least to my understanding - allowed for transformative changes to come forward allowing for production that has shaped and reshaped the world. I understand Europe as Mediterranean culture: Greek, Roman, and Judaic passed through an Alexandrian melting pot which comes to fruition in Northern Europe and in the Teutonic cultures that came under this cultural influence.
"...as by 'n large this radical definition came in opposition to much of what you describe as Western culture or at least the structures in place at the time".
Can you explain further?

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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by sthitapragya » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:07 am

What would be the point of looking for a meaning in something which is purposeless? All one needs to do is get rid of that irrational need to find a meaning. It is a waste of time which would be better used in living and attempting to thrive while you live. And avoid dying. That is very important for reasons which I cannot understand.

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Lawrence Crocker
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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Lawrence Crocker » Wed Sep 02, 2015 2:22 pm

From a book that I have not succeeded in bringing to the light of day:

Love, happiness, pleasures, creativity, and the perception of beauty are all real whether they are purely human or tie into something bigger. Human beings are a quite wonderful feature of the universe, even if there is nothing more wonderful and if our career is vanishingly short on the cosmic scale. Those who say that without God life is utterly empty and futile are simply wrong.
(See www.LawrenceCrocker.blogspot.com.)

In this I borrowed from Russell:
“Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting." (Bertrand Russell, Why I am not a Christian and other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects. 1957.)

Without denying that there is something like meaning in the lives of higher animals, the rich meaning of human lives and human society is a matter of the cultural evolution of our species. Blessed with a great deal of meaning from our interactions with each other and in our individual lives, humans have historically sought even more meaning – global meaning, eternal meaning, the meaning of a larger society with deities of various sorts.
In part this search has paid off. We have found what appear to be intelligible laws of nature of very wide, and possibly universal application in space and time. That much is fairly uncontroversial. Looking for the sort of meaning that would require creator deities is a more controversial project.

The world would be yet more meaningful were it a purposeful creation, especially if those purposes were not utterly foreign to us. (This non-foreignness is guaranteed by those theologies on which we were created “in the image of God.”) But we should be cautious of being too greedy.

It seems to me peculiar that so many theists think that there is no meaning or no meaningful meaning unless the story of the universe is purposeful in the way their God would make it so. It also seems to me peculiar that so many atheists think that such a purposeful universe would not enlarge meaning at all. I hope (hope being the theme of my book) for a larger meaning, without thinking that Russell was wrong in his view that both individual human lives and the career of the human species are rich in meaning.

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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by Obvious Leo » Wed Sep 02, 2015 8:07 pm

Lawrence Crocker wrote: The world would be yet more meaningful were it a purposeful creation,
Meaningful to whom? The puppet-master or the puppets?

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Re: How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

Post by sthitapragya » Thu Sep 03, 2015 7:21 am

Lawrence Crocker wrote: It also seems to me peculiar that so many atheists think that such a purposeful universe would not enlarge meaning at all. I hope (hope being the theme of my book) for a larger meaning, without thinking that Russell was wrong in his view that both individual human lives and the career of the human species are rich in meaning.
Could it be possible that your "hope for a larger meaning" means that you wish there was a larger meaning? If you found a "larger meaning", what would change?

You also need to consider that if there were a meaning to life, and we actually need to spend our lives trying to find it, it makes the system very inefficient. If I have a purpose, it would be a more efficient system if I knew what it was immediately so that I could carry it out to the best of my ability. If there was a meaning to life, it would be more efficient if I knew what it was immediately so that I could be the richer for it. The fact that I do not know my purpose and am supposed to look for it means that there is a very high risk that I might die before I discover what it is and might not be able to fulfill my purpose. It also means that there must be billions and trillions of lives lost to us who never discovered what their purpose was and died without fulfilling their purpose making their lives purposeless or meaningless, which would render the purpose of life purposeless in the first place.

It is very simple. If there were a meaning and purpose to life, you would know it. The fact that you don't means that there is none. If there really is a meaning or purpose, it would be lower rather than higher, because any purpose which has not been communicated to the doer means and inefficient system.

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