How do atheists find meaning in a purposeless universe?

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

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

Post by Skip » Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:06 pm

Since any system in terms of life or biology is only very partly described, truncated and provisional, while no true comparison possible with other systems of similar scope or scale, any remark about it being efficient or not becomes meaningless in itself.
Not in the way sthitapragya was using it - from the other end. Read the argument like this:
"All purposeful systems with which I am familiar strive for efficiency. All the systems I know operate within the universe.
Every component in the purposeful systems I know has an assigned purpose, which it is able to fulfill.
To design components that do not know what their purpose is; that spin uselessly and wear out without ever performing their task, would be wasteful. The design of such a universe would be inefficient.
That notion contradicts what I have observed about purposeful designers.
It would also negate the assigned purpose of the components that fail because they don't know what they're supposed to do.
I am a component in the universe. I have not been told my assigned function. I see many, many other components who have not been told.
Therefore, I conclude that the universe does not have a designer; that it is not a purposeful system. "

Looking for efficiency and basing his conclusion on that factor, made sense to sthitapragya.
You have another approach to probability.
But how we arrive at a purpose, meaning or whatever "in the universe", whether we perceive or conceive of the universe as being purposeful or purposeless, is by the same process: choosing. Whether we base our choice on mathematical formula, rolling dice, connecting dots in the night sky, trying to reason it out or listening to folk tales doesn't make all that much difference. We still choose.

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

Post by Jacobsladder » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:36 pm

Skip wrote:
Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:06 pm
But how we arrive at a purpose, meaning or whatever "in the universe", whether we perceive or conceive of the universe as being purposeful or purposeless, is by the same process: choosing. Whether we base our choice on mathematical formula, rolling dice, connecting dots in the night sky, trying to reason it out or listening to folk tales doesn't make all that much difference. We still choose.
All that seems to do is transferring the discussion of the nature of purpose to a discussion of the nature of choice. But perhaps there's some overlap possible here. How to arrive at any purpose -- the moment of receiving or realizing one? And how different would that be from arriving at choice: the moment of having or realizing one is or has been choosing anything?

The question on the existence of free will always has been tied to having purpose as much as choice. Perhaps one can only experience or generally assert purpose when some degree of freedom to choose or to guide action would be allowed?

Would it still make sense to assert any free will as an actually existing thing in a purposeless universe?

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

Post by Skip » Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:40 pm

Jacobsladder wrote:
Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:36 pm
All that seems to do is transferring the discussion of the nature of purpose to a discussion of the nature of choice.
Wouldn't having a definition, or image of purpose be prerequisite to finding one?
But perhaps there's some overlap possible here. How to arrive at any purpose -- the moment of receiving or realizing one? And how different would that be from arriving at choice: the moment of having or realizing one is or has been choosing anything?
If there is a creator who assigns purposes and meanings, this ought to be moot: he should bloody well communicate what he wants.
Would it still make sense to assert any free will as an actually existing thing in a purposeless universe?
If you have the experience of exerting will, it doesn't matter whether it's really free or just appears that way.

There is no need to complicate this. Your meaning is what you make of it.

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

Post by Jacobsladder » Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:00 pm

Skip wrote:
Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:40 pm
Jacobsladder wrote:
Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:36 pm
All that seems to do is transferring the discussion of the nature of purpose to a discussion of the nature of choice.
Wouldn't having a definition, or image of purpose be prerequisite to finding one?
That's not a given. For example if one would argue for the possibility of a purpose forming simultaneously with the act of finding. The same relationship might be there between meaning and connection. Are you connecting because it's meaningful or is it meaningful to you because of all the connections forged with the object of meaning, now and in the past? In any case that would imply meaning "forms" only when connections run deep enough. It could be the same as with purpose forming as soon as the quest starts, which generally starts way before any ships leave the harbor, or before any conscious, explicit act of defining it.
But perhaps there's some overlap possible here. How to arrive at any purpose -- the moment of receiving or realizing one? And how different would that be from arriving at choice: the moment of having or realizing one is or has been choosing anything?
If there is a creator who assigns purposes and meanings, this ought to be moot: he should bloody well communicate what he wants.
In my view purpose and meaning appear where communication takes place: exchanges and connections. In other words, anyone feeling or knowing he's connected to a creator will experience that as meaningful, as meaning giver. It has nothing to do with requirements on what a creator would or should be doing. Then again, if someone would state God is the origin of all meaning, we'd have to arrive logically at Spinoza's God, as some form of pantheism perhaps.
Would it still make sense to assert any free will as an actually existing thing in a purposeless universe?
If you have the experience of exerting will, it doesn't matter whether it's really free or just appears that way.

There is no need to complicate this. Your meaning is what you make of it.
If a hardened prisoner believes that he's living in freedom, it does matter to know if he's really free or just imagining it. For example he might want to know if its possible to acquire freedom or to find out if there are degrees or if he really desires it.

That means inquiry is key here, not assuming that what we call something is actually the case and immovable, undebatably so.

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

Post by Skip » Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:54 pm

Jacobsladder wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:00 pm
[Skip - Wouldn't having a definition, or image of purpose be prerequisite to finding one? ]
That's not a given. For example if one would argue for the possibility of a purpose forming simultaneously with the act of finding.
So: It doesn't matter whether you had a purpose all along or not; it doesn't matter that you don't know what you're looking for - whatever you find instantly and magically becomes your purpose.
Everybody has one as soon as they find it. And everyone knows their Maker as soon as He speaks to them.
That's all good then.

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

Post by Jacobsladder » Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:08 pm

Skip wrote:
Mon Jul 10, 2017 8:54 pm
Jacobsladder wrote:
Sat Jul 08, 2017 10:00 pm
... the possibility of a purpose forming simultaneously with the act of finding.
So: It doesn't matter whether you had a purpose all along or not; it doesn't matter that you don't know what you're looking for - whatever you find instantly and magically becomes your purpose.
That's not what I meant to convey. It was meant as attempt to counter your question if having a definition, or image of purpose would be a prerequisite of finding one. And that might not be the case. Or in other words, the idea of a purpose could come later and what was sought after, the activity called (questionably) "looking for" – could have had whole other motivators.
Everybody has one as soon as they find it. And everyone knows their Maker as soon as He speaks to them.
That's all good then.
One could still supply a purpose to someone or something else who might not realize it. So clearly some over-arching purpose could exist in a certain context without someone going through the motions ever finding it out.

Now back again to this you wrote earlier:
If you have the experience of exerting will, it doesn't matter whether it's really free or just appears that way.
All you know really is that you had an experience called "exerting will". What it really consisted of remains a matter of further inquiry, study, dialog, introspection, theorizing and perhaps even testing in some scientific sense. That is, for those people who think it matters that something might be different from what one is used to call it, as their private or even cultural definition.

That, basically, sums up my point made in my first entry in this thread: "to even start discussing about any efficiency grade of a system, one should first know the system, its purpose and intricacies". And I now expand it: to even start discussing about any purpose of a system, one should first know the system and its intricacies. Only by such knowledge, forged by connections and relations, the purpose would take form. And I see it as function appearing here, not as verbal or written knowledge. This also connects to the topic of choice: the ability to respond to things in some significant way.

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

Post by Skip » Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:34 pm

Jacobsladder wrote:
Sat Jul 15, 2017 4:08 pm
That, basically, sums up my point made in my first entry in this thread: "to even start discussing about any efficiency grade of a system, one should first know the system, its purpose and intricacies". And I now expand it: to even start discussing about any purpose of a system, one should first know the system and its intricacies.
Then, since we can't do the latter, we shouldn't have done the former.

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

Post by Melchior » Thu Jul 20, 2017 2:45 am

Huh?

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

Post by thedoc » Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:11 am

If your universe is purposeless then it has no meaning. If your universe has a purpose then it is up to you to find the meaning. Each person will have their own meaning, and one persons meaning will not be another persons meaning.

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

Post by Sir-Sister-of-Suck » Fri Jul 21, 2017 6:35 am

I think many atheists have an issue in conflating purpose with anti-purpose - that is to say, they conflate a sort of existential nihilism with existential pessimism. Probably more applicable to the topic of morality, but just because 'nothing is objectively wrong' does not mean 'everything is objectively right'.
Last edited by Sir-Sister-of-Suck on Fri Jul 21, 2017 8:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Dubious » Fri Jul 21, 2017 9:09 am

Forgoing any idea of Purpose, the Meaning takes care of itself...or at best becomes a mere contrivance of the imagination as required by theists.

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

Post by seeds » Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:39 pm

Skip wrote:
Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:06 pm
All purposeful systems with which I am familiar strive for efficiency. All the systems I know operate within the universe.
Every component in the purposeful systems I know has an assigned purpose, which it is able to fulfill.
To design components that do not know what their purpose is; that spin uselessly and wear out without ever performing their task, would be wasteful. The design of such a universe would be inefficient.
That notion contradicts what I have observed about purposeful designers.
It would also negate the assigned purpose of the components that fail because they don't know what they're supposed to do.
I am a component in the universe. I have not been told my assigned function. I see many, many other components who have not been told.
Therefore, I conclude that the universe does not have a designer; that it is not a purposeful system.
Skip wrote: If there is a creator who assigns purposes and meanings......he should bloody well communicate what he wants.
Those are all excellent points, Skip.

Nevertheless, I suggest that our “assigned function” and momentary purpose within the universe has indeed been communicated to us (albeit through a somewhat flawed and sketchy instruction manual).

And that function is: “...be fruitful and multiply...”

And that’s basically it, Skip, that’s our assigned function while in the universe.

Everything else taking place on the inside of this “closed bubble of reality” is merely a support system to help us perform that function.

However, the catch is that our corporeal fruitfulness is not our “ultimate” purpose.

Furthermore, the problem with your conclusion to your complaints is that it represents a reflection of a self-imposed dilemma.

For indeed, the atheists’ closed-minded refusal to entertain the possibility that our ultimate purpose could be transcendent in nature (as in “above and outside” of this universe) is what severely limits their options for any alternative explanations for the valid issues you have raised.

One such alternative explanation (of which I have suggested in other threads) is that the ultimate (and transcendent) reason for our existence is so beautiful, so amazing, and so wonderful that if it was not hidden from us, then we would seek it out prematurely (as in a painless suicide) and thus completely destroy the means through-which humans are awakened into life on this orb.

(For a deeper clarification of what that means, see this post here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=3561&start=1845#p297277)

And therein lies the reason for the universe appearing to have no overtly perceivable Designer.

The Designer of the universe cannot reveal the ultimate truth and purpose of the universe to its inner “components” without negatively affecting the “transcendent purpose” for which the universe was designed.
_______

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

Post by Harbal » Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:24 pm

seeds wrote:
Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:39 pm
And therein lies the reason for the universe appearing to have no overtly perceivable Designer.
So the fact that the universe appears to have no overtly perceivable Designer is proof that the universe is the product of an unperceivable designer? No doubt your assertion, which appears to have no overtly perceivable logic attached to it, is subject to the same principle.

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

Post by Dubious » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:27 am

seeds wrote:
Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:39 pm

For indeed, the atheists’ closed-minded refusal to entertain the possibility that our ultimate purpose could be transcendent in nature (as in “above and outside” of this universe) is what severely limits their options for any alternative explanations for the valid issues you have raised______
Sometimes I wonder what it is in the mind of theists that causes such an inflation of human self-importance. It can only relate to the supernatural yearnings human wish-fulfillment is capable of.

If the universe was designed for intelligent life such transcendentally absurd arguments only manage to prove that we really aren't designed for it. A far more intelligent albeit mundane version of our existence in this universe would be to last as long as we can within it and see where the journey leads purposely renouncing all such massive teleological absurdities as not relevant while our explorations are in progress.

In short, lets see what we can see is the best we can do without the impediment of any such near Eschatological preconditions hosted by us predetermining the port of arrival. It's the best any and all reflective creatures can accomplish without the ingredient of a Big Bang Overlord mandating its version of purpose.

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

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:32 pm

thedoc wrote:
Fri Jul 21, 2017 5:11 am
If your universe is purposeless then it has no meaning. If your universe has a purpose then it is up to you to find the meaning. Each person will have their own meaning, and one persons meaning will not be another persons meaning.

You are confusing two things; personal purpose and a "the" purpose of the universe. These things are not on the same page, beyond comparison, and mean different things.

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