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Do atheists find meaning in life from inventing fairy tales?

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From Richard Weikart at the Federalist:

The 2018 study in question by David Speed, et al, “What Do You Mean, ‘What Does It All Mean?’ Atheism, Nonreligion, and Life Meaning,” used surveys to try to figure out if atheists find meaning in life or are nihilistic. This survey defined someone as nihilistic if he or she upheld the position: “In my opinion, life does not serve any purpose.”

This study found that atheists and non-religious people are not nihilistic, because they claimed that they did have a purpose in life. This is an interesting finding that seems to refute the oft-repeated charge (levied by religious folks) that atheists are nihilistic.

However, there is a problem with this finding. The survey admitted the meaning that atheists and non-religious people found in their lives is entirely self-invented. According to the survey, they embraced the position: “Life is only meaningful if you provide the meaning yourself.”

Thus, when religious people say non-religious people have no basis for finding meaning in life, and when non-religious people object, saying they do indeed find meaning in life, they are not talking about the same thing. More.

Study. (public access)

Didn’t fairy tales used to be Hollywood’s specialty?

See also: Can science survive long in a post-modern world? It’s not clear.

Comments
FYI: I am aware that any conversation with jdk is bound to be silly. :razz: Helping jdk with 78: Why can’t it be the purpose is the other helpful E coli E coli live inside of us helping us digest food- the helpful E coli- see benefits of E. coli- so that would be the purpose I was talking about the bad E coli is due to random mutations The E coli that makes us sick arose via random mutations. And now that I think of it it's purpose would be an impetus to study life at the cellular level so we can figure why it may be harmful and how to properly prevent future harm.ET
March 31, 2018
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FYI: I am aware that the conversation with ET is silly! :-) Also, his sentence in 78 doesn't make sense.jdk
March 31, 2018
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And here is another prime example of evolutionary thinking hampering science. Whereas, Darwinists presuppose Bacteria to serve no purpose, it is now known that bacteria (and other microbes) have served a vital purpose in preparing the primordial earth for more advanced life forms to appear on earth.
“Microbial life can easily live without us; we, however, cannot survive without the global catalysis and environmental transformations it provides.” - Paul G. Falkowski – Professor Geological Sciences – Rutgers Microbial Mat Ecology – Image on page 92 (third page down) http://www.dsls.usra.edu/biologycourse/workbook/Unit2.2.pdf Biologically mediated cycles for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, and iron – image of interdependent ‘biogeochemical’ web http://www.sciencemag.org/content/320/5879/1034/F2.large.jpg
As well, it is now known that bacteria are also essential, both ecologically and biologically, for higher life forms to continue living,,,
Engineering and Science Magazine - Caltech - March 2010 Excerpt: “Without these microbes, the planet would run out of biologically available nitrogen in less than a month,” Realizations like this are stimulating a flourishing field of “geobiology” – the study of relationships between life and the earth. One member of the Caltech team commented, “If all bacteria and archaea just stopped functioning, life on Earth would come to an abrupt halt.” Microbes are key players in earth’s nutrient cycles. Dr. Orphan added, “...every fifth breath you take, thank a microbe.” http://www.creationsafaris.com/crev201003.htm#20100316a How Microbes Make Earth Habitable - February 10, 2016 Excerpt: Nitrogen-Fixing Bacterium Does Solo Performance,,, Plankton Maintain Carbon Cycle,,, Diatoms Promote Diatomic Oxygen,,, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2016/02/how_microbes_ma102600.html NIH Human Microbiome Project defines normal bacterial makeup of the body – June 13, 2012 Excerpt: Microbes inhabit just about every part of the human body, living on the skin, in the gut, and up the nose. Sometimes they cause sickness, but most of the time, microorganisms live in harmony with their human hosts, providing vital functions essential for human survival. http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jun2012/nhgri-13.htm We are living in a bacterial world, and it's impacting us more than previously thought - February 15, 2013 Excerpt: We often associate bacteria with disease-causing "germs" or pathogens, and bacteria are responsible for many diseases, such as tuberculosis, bubonic plague, and MRSA infections. But bacteria do many good things, too, and the recent research underlines the fact that animal life would not be the same without them.,,, I am,, convinced that the number of beneficial microbes, even very necessary microbes, is much, much greater than the number of pathogens." http://phys.org/news/2013-02-bacterial-world-impacting-previously-thought.html#ajTabs
Moreover, Darwinian presuppositions have proven to be useless in understanding the behavior of microbes:
Doubting Darwin: Algae Findings Surprise Scientists - April 28, 2014 Excerpt: One of Charles Darwin's hypotheses posits that closely related species will compete for food and other resources more strongly with one another than with distant relatives, because they occupy similar ecological niches. Most biologists long have accepted this to be true. Thus, three researchers were more than a little shaken to find that their experiments on fresh water green algae failed to support Darwin's theory — at least in one case. "It was completely unexpected," says Bradley Cardinale, associate professor in the University of Michigan's school of natural resources & environment. "When we saw the results, we said 'this can't be."' We sat there banging our heads against the wall. Darwin's hypothesis has been with us for so long, how can it not be right?" The researchers ,,,— were so uncomfortable with their results that they spent the next several months trying to disprove their own work. But the research held up.,,, The scientists did not set out to disprove Darwin, but, in fact, to learn more about the genetic and ecological uniqueness of fresh water green algae so they could provide conservationists with useful data for decision-making. "We went into it assuming Darwin to be right, and expecting to come up with some real numbers for conservationists," Cardinale says. "When we started coming up with numbers that showed he wasn't right, we were completely baffled.",,, Darwin "was obsessed with competition," Cardinale says. "He assumed the whole world was composed of species competing with each other, but we found that one-third of the species of algae we studied actually like each other. They don't grow as well unless you put them with another species. It may be that nature has a heck of a lot more mutualisms than we ever expected. ",,, Maybe Darwin's presumption that the world may be dominated by competition is wrong." http://www.livescience.com/45205-data-dont-back-up-darwin-in-algae-study-nsf-bts.html Darwin vs. Microbes - video https://youtu.be/ntxc4X9Zt-I
Bottom line, Darwinism is not science but pseudoscience, and in so far as Darwinism is taken seriously, it hampers real science.bornagain77
March 31, 2018
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What? Why can't it be the purpose is the other helpful E coli and the bad E coli is due to random mutations?ET
March 31, 2018
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But some does. Is that their purpose?jdk
March 31, 2018
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Yeah cuz all E coli make us sick.ET
March 31, 2018
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To make us sick?jdk
March 31, 2018
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Allan Keith:
The purpose of any design is only what the designer put into it. The object itself has no inherent purpose or meaning.
Total nonsense. The Antikythera mechanism had a purpose and meaning.
If the purpose of the creator was to create the conditions for life to arise and then to see what happened after that, with no intervention, then we would have no more inherent purpose or meaning than E. coli.
Question begging. Only ignorance says E coli don't have a purposeET
March 31, 2018
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Allan Keith Life itself may have no other purpose than to amuse a twisted creator who has no more feeling towards that life than we do for the grains of sand on a beach. Well, OK. Why would we think it's not?tribune7
March 31, 2018
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ET,
Oh my. All of our experience says that when a designer designs something intricate and complex it has a purpose. No one would think that the Antikythera mechanism was made for nothing.
The purpose of any design is only what the designer put into it. The object itself has no inherent purpose or meaning. If the purpose of the creator was to create the conditions for life to arise and then to see what happened after that, with no intervention, then we would have no more inherent purpose or meaning than E. coli. We would exist for the sole purpose of amusing the creator. Satisfying his creator.Allan Keith
March 31, 2018
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Oh my. All of our experience says that when a designer designs something intricate and complex it has a purpose. No one would think that the Antikythera mechanism was made for nothing.ET
March 31, 2018
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JAD,
(1) If an eternally existing, transcendent mind (God) created the universe it has a purpose and meaning.
The one does not necessitate the other. The creating being would have a purpose in doing so, but that doesn’t mean that the creation has a purpose of its own. Life itself may have no other purpose than to amuse a twisted creator who has no more feeling towards that life than we do for the grains of sand on a beach.Allan Keith
March 31, 2018
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jdk @
JAD: (1) If an eternally existing, transcendent mind (God) created the universe it has a purpose and meaning.
jdk: This is not “self-evidently true”.
You are mistaken, (1) is as clear as day.
jdk: If our only assumption is that “an eternally existing, transcendent mind created the universe”, we have no idea why it did so …
Only the willfully obtuse have “no idea.” Given a universe uniquely suitable for intelligent life, it makes perfect sense to foster the idea that the universe was created to harbor intelligent life.
jdk: I can think of a number of alternative hypotheses.
As anyone can see, all your three “alternative hypotheses” are no alternatives to JAD’s ‘purpose and meaning’, since all three include purpose and meaning.
JAD: (2) if something mindless and impersonal is the cause the universe, it is hard to say, as Hawking and Weinberg have conceded, that there is any real meaning for the universe or our existence.
jdk: … I will point out that by inserting the word “real” in front of the word “meaning” JAD elevates his theistic assumption to being the arbiter of where meaning comes from.
Wrong. Meaning and purpose presupposes an agent. A mindless impersonal rock does not have plans. Even materialists would agree. Calling this a “theistic assumption” doesn’t make sense.
It may very well be, for various reasons arising from one of the hypotheses above, that “real meaning” is precisely what each of us have to create for ourself: that no overriding, universal meaning exists that applies to human beings.
What do you mean by “real meaning” which “each of us have to create for ourself”? I do not understand. Can you provide one single example of “real meaning” that someone has created by and for her/himself?Origenes
March 31, 2018
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jdk:
It is an assumption of Christian theism.
No, Jack. It is an inference based on observations and experiences. Any intelligent designer who designs things so intricate does so for a purpose. It has nothing to do with any religion. It must be nice to be a waffler who gets to criticize other people but never has to defend anything. Those are the worst type of "critics",ET
March 31, 2018
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jdk, first off, science would be impossible if teleology, i.e. goal directed purpose, was not presupposed on some deep level. For instance, it is impossible to describe the intricate complexities of life without using words that reflect goal directed behavior
“the most striking thing about living things, in comparison with non-living systems, is their teleological organization—meaning the way in which all of the local physical and chemical interactions cohere in such a way as to maintain the overall system in existence. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to speak of living beings for any length of time without using teleological and normative language—words like “goal,” “purpose,” “meaning,” “correct/incorrect,” “success/failure,” etc.” - Denis Noble - Emeritus Professor of Cardiovascular Physiology in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy, and Genetics of the Medical Sciences Division of the University of Oxford. The 'Mental Cell': Let’s Loosen Up Biological Thinking! - Stephen L. Talbott - September 9, 2014 Excerpt: Many biologists are content to dismiss the problem with hand-waving: “When we wield the language of agency, we are speaking metaphorically, and we could just as well, if less conveniently, abandon the metaphors”. Yet no scientist or philosopher has shown how this shift of language could be effected. And the fact of the matter is just obvious: the biologist who is not investigating how the organism achieves something in a well-directed way is not yet doing biology, as opposed to physics or chemistry. Is this in turn just hand-waving? Let the reader inclined to think so take up a challenge: pose a single topic for biological research, doing so in language that avoids all implication of agency, cognition, and purposiveness1. One reason this cannot be done is clear enough: molecular biology — the discipline that was finally going to reduce life unreservedly to mindless mechanism — is now posing its own severe challenges. In this era of Big Data, the message from every side concerns previously unimagined complexity, incessant cross-talk and intertwining pathways, wildly unexpected genomic performances, dynamic conformational changes involving proteins and their cooperative or antagonistic binding partners, pervasive multifunctionality, intricately directed behavior somehow arising from the interaction of countless players in interpenetrating networks, and opposite effects by the same molecules in slightly different contexts. The picture at the molecular level begins to look as lively and organic — and thoughtful — as life itself. http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/org/comm/ar/2014/mental_cell_23.htm Evolution and the Purposes of Life - Stephen L. Talbott – May 2017 Excerpt: The idea of teleological (end-directed) behavior within a world of meaning is rather uncomfortable for scientists committed — as contemporary biologists overwhelmingly are — to what they call “materialism” or “naturalism.” The discomfort has to do with the apparent inward aspect of the goal-directed behavior described above — behavior that depends upon the apprehension of a meaningful world and that is easily associated with our own conscious and apparently immaterial perceptions, reasonings, and motivations to act. But,,, the issues extend beyond our own sort of conscious, intentional behavior. All biological activity, even at the molecular level, can be characterized as purposive and goal-directed. As a cell grows and divides, it marshals its molecular and structural resources with a remarkably skillful “wisdom.” It also demonstrates a well-directed, “willful” persistence in adjusting to disturbances. Everything leads toward fulfillment of the organism’s evident “purposes.”,,, The second source of confusion about teleology and inwardness lies in the failure to realize how weak and lamed our conscious human purposiveness and intelligence are in relation to biological activity. We struggle even to follow with our abstract understanding the unsurveyably complex goings-on in our own organs and cells,,, We need to reject conscious human performance as a model for organic activity in general, not because it reads too much wisdom and effective striving into the organism, but rather because it reads far too little.,,, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/evolution-and-the-purposes-of-life
The same 'presupposed teleology' can be found for physics. Especially in the presupposition that there should be just one overarching 'theory of everything,,, As Professor Steve Fuller puts it,, “ it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropriate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is a sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,”
“So you think of physics in search of a “Grand Unified Theory of Everything”, Why should we even think there is such a thing? Why should we think there is some ultimate level of resolution? Right? It is part, it is a consequence of believing in some kind of design. Right? And there is some sense in which that however multifarious and diverse the phenomena of nature are, they are ultimately unified by the minimal set of laws and principles possible. In so far as science continues to operate with that assumption, there is a presupposition of design that is motivating the scientific process. Because it would be perfectly easy,, to stop the pursuit of science at much lower levels. You know understand a certain range of phenomena in a way that is appropriate to deal with that phenomena and just stop there and not go any deeper or any farther.”,,, You see, there is a sense in which there is design at the ultimate level, the ultimate teleology you might say, which provides the ultimate closure,,” Professor of philosophy Steve Fuller discusses intelligent design in Cambridge - Video - quoted at the 17:34 minute mark https://uncommondescent.com/news/in-cambridge-professor-steve-fuller-discusses-why-the-hypothesis-of-intelligent-design-is-not-more-popular-among-scientists-and-others/
Atheists simply have no coherent reason for presupposing that there should even be 'one unifying rational form to all things' or a 'theory of everything'. According to atheistic presuppositions Why shouldn't the world be chaotic, utterly random, meaningless?
Stephen Hawking's "God-Haunted" Quest - David Klinghoffer - December 24, 2014 Excerpt: Why in the world would a scientist blithely assume that there is or is even likely to be one unifying rational form to all things, unless he assumed that there is a singular, overarching intelligence that has placed it there? Why shouldn't the world be chaotic, utterly random, meaningless? Why should one presume that something as orderly and rational as an equation would describe the universe's structure? I would argue that the only finally reasonable ground for that assumption is the belief in an intelligent Creator, who has already thought into the world the very mathematics that the patient scientist discovers. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2014/12/stephen_hawking092351.html
As Einstein himself stated, "You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way,,,” and further stated that, “There lies the weakness of positivists and professional atheists,,,”
On the Rational Order of the World: a Letter to Maurice Solovine - Albert Einstein - March 30, 1952 Excerpt: "You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way .. the kind of order created by Newton's theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if a man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the 'miracle' which is constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands. There lies the weakness of positivists and professional atheists who are elated because they feel that they have not only successfully rid the world of gods but “bared the miracles." -Albert Einstein
Therefore, the very success of science itself is dependent on, and testifies to, the fact that both the universe and life itself are infused with meaning and purpose i.e. teleology. You may want to claim that most scientists, regardless of teleology being essential for science, do not presuppose purpose and meaning in this universe, but you would be wrong. Studies have now found that scientists do in fact presuppose purpose and meaning in this universe:
Design Thinking Is Hardwired in the Human Brain. How Come? - October 17, 2012 Excerpt: "Even Professional Scientists Are Compelled to See Purpose in Nature, Psychologists Find." The article describes a test by Boston University's psychology department, in which researchers found that "despite years of scientific training, even professional chemists, geologists, and physicists from major universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Yale cannot escape a deep-seated belief that natural phenomena exist for a purpose" ,,, Most interesting, though, are the questions begged by this research. One is whether it is even possible to purge teleology from explanation. http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/10/design_thinking065381.html
In fact, as much as atheists may claim that they do not believe in God, the fact of the matter is that studies have now found that Atheists cannot escape a deep seeded, 'knee jerk'. belief in God:
Richard Dawkins take heed: Even atheists instinctively believe in a creator says study - Mary Papenfuss - June 12, 2015 Excerpt: Three studies at Boston University found that even among atheists, the "knee jerk" reaction to natural phenomenon is the belief that they're purposefully designed by some intelligence, according to a report on the research in Cognition entitled the "Divided Mind of a disbeliever." The findings "suggest that there is a deeply rooted natural tendency to view nature as designed," writes a research team led by Elisa Järnefelt of Newman University. They also provide evidence that, in the researchers' words, "religious non-belief is cognitively effortful." Researchers attempted to plug into the automatic or "default" human brain by showing subjects images of natural landscapes and things made by human beings, then requiring lightning-fast responses to the question on whether "any being purposefully made the thing in the picture," notes Pacific-Standard. "Religious participants' baseline tendency to endorse nature as purposefully created was higher" than that of atheists, the study found. But non-religious participants "increasingly defaulted to understanding natural phenomena as purposefully made" when "they did not have time to censor their thinking," wrote the researchers. The results suggest that "the tendency to construe both living and non-living nature as intentionally made derives from automatic cognitive processes, not just practised explicit beliefs," the report concluded. The results were similar even among subjects from Finland, where atheism is not a controversial issue as it can be in the US. "Design-based intuitions run deep," the researchers conclude, "persisting even in those with no explicit religious commitment and, indeed, even among those with an active aversion to them." http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/richard-dawkins-take-heed-even-atheists-instinctively-believe-creator-says-study-1505712 Studies establish that the design inference is ‘knee jerk’ inference that is built into everyone, especially including atheists, and that atheists have to mentally suppress the design inference! Is Atheism a Delusion? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ii-bsrHB0o
i.e. It is not that Atheists do not see purpose and/or Design in nature, it is that Atheists, for whatever severely misguided reason, live in denial of the purpose and/or Design that they themselves see in nature. I hold the preceding studies to be confirming evidence for Romans1:19-20
Romans 1:19-20 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
jdk, you also claimed that we cannot discern 'ultimate purpose' for the universe, but alas, Christianity and science also blows a hole in that false presupposition of yours.
Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw Colossians 1:15-20 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
One final note jdk, I hold that you are basically just trying to throw anything you can on the wall to see if it will stick, not because, as you yourself admit, you believe atheistic materialism to be true, but because, I firmly believe, you personally find Christianity in particular to be distasteful. That is the only reasonable conclusion I can come to after seeing just how weak, pathetic, and self-contradictory, your argumentation has actually been. You may protest that you are being 'fair', but I certainly don't see it. Your bias against Christianity literally oozes out of each of your posts, I can only hope and pray that this changes for you.bornagain77
March 30, 2018
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JAD writes, Let me restate a couple premises I made at the conclusion of my post @ 53.
(1) If an eternally existing, transcendent mind (God) created the universe it has a purpose and meaning.
This is not "self-evidently true". It is an assumption of Christian theism. It also includes other unstated assumptions that we are creations which are the focus of, and somehow privy to, that purpose and meaning. If our only assumption is that "an eternally existing, transcendent mind created the universe", we have no idea why it did so, nor any reason to think that the unstated assumptions above are true. I can think of a number of alternative hypotheses. It might very well be that it "wanted" (to anthropomorphize) to create a world that would then develop on its own according to the rules of that universe, and that the universal mind had/has no attachment to any particular result, but rather had/has a dispassionate interest in how the rules play out. It might be that the "purpose" of the creation was for a creature to evolve with astounding capabilities, which is now playing out on some other planet(s) throughout the universe, but that we are nothing more than a little sidetrack not related to the fulfillment of that purpose at all. (Or perhaps the fulfillment of the purpose here on earth will take place some millions of years from now, and we will just be a fossil remnant of a primitive creature along the way.) It might be that the mind in fact wanted for truly free creatures to evolve that would take responsibility for making their own meaning. All of these are possibilities. JAD writes,
On the other hand, (2) if something mindless and impersonal is the cause the universe, it is hard to say, as Hawking and Weinberg have conceded, that there is any real meaning for the universe or our existence.
Now I personally don't adhere to the idea that "something mindless and impersonal is the cause the universe" (as I don't adhere to any definite idea about the cause of the universe), and have no interest in representing or defending Hawking or Weinberg, but I will point out that by inserting the word "real" in front of the word "meaning" JAD elevates his theistic assumption to being the arbiter of where meaning comes from. It may very well be, for various reasons arising from one of the hypotheses above, that "real meaning" is precisely what each of us have to create for ourself: that no overriding, universal meaning exists that applies to human beings.jdk
March 30, 2018
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Let me restate a couple premises I made at the conclusion of my post @ 53. (1) If an eternally existing, transcendent mind (God) created the universe it has a purpose and meaning. On the other hand, (2) if something mindless and impersonal is the cause the universe, it is hard to say, as Hawking and Weinberg have conceded, that there is any real meaning for the universe or our existence. Those are two premises which are self-evidently true, if you are honest and take the time to think them through. So what is the point of all our interlocutors the talking points? Also @ 53 I stipulated, “I don’t begrudge anyone for finding purpose and meaning in family, friends or a career. Those are the kind of things which provide all of us real meaning but none of those things provide a basis for ultimate meaning or some ‘greater good.’” In other words, if you’re an atheist I don’t see that you have an argument. So, what are you arguing about?john_a_designer
March 30, 2018
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All religions are descriptions of reality??? They can’t all be accurate descriptions of reality, because they are so various and not consistent with each other.
Happens elsewhere, too.LocalMinimum
March 30, 2018
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jdk:
Truth, I think I have made it clear that I see materialism as a metaphysical speculation:
And yet it is.ET
March 30, 2018
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Truth, I think I have made it clear that I see materialism as a metaphysical speculation: a philosophical position that cannot be proven. I've also clearly distinguished, I think, between a very broad belief in theism as being about the ground of reality and specific religions (such as Christianity or most other religions) which posits specific Gods who interact who interact with human beings. I think the former is possible, and my preferred metaphysical ground, the Tao of Taoism, is closer to that kind of theism than it is to materialism. I think the latter are creative inventions that have very, very little likelihood of being true. Therefore, I am agnostic as to the materialism/broad theism dichotomy, although perhaps strongly inclined to believe that whatever is beyond/behind our universe is not more material substance identical to what we have in our universe. However, since I believe all particular human religions are false, I am an atheist in regards to any and all particular religions. I am not the one, by the way, calling these "fairy tales." I understand and appreciate the very important role religion has played throughout human history over a broad range of cultures, with both significant strengths and weaknesses as far as its effect on human beings. I am not denigrating belief systems by calling them fairy tales. Many things that are not ontologically true are still important to people. For instance, many people credit novels they have read or movies they have seen as enlightening and inspiring them even though the novels are obviously fiction. It does a disservice to both the creators and the audience of such works to dismiss them as "fairy tales" (FWIW, religions and belief systems was my major interest as an anthropology major many years ago: an interest which is still alive in me and a reason why I am taking the time to have this discussion.)jdk
March 30, 2018
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jdk @ 59: "And as I have explained, all religions also “invent fairy tales” in the same way..." Got it. I know your views about religious fairy tales. You have made that clear in your numerous comments throughout this website. What am I not sure of, however, is how you view a/mat fairy tales. Do you argue against them as well? Do you frequent a/mat websites to argue against their "fairy tales?"Truth Will Set You Free
March 30, 2018
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Allan Keith, as to people claiming to hear from God and yet being fraudulent in that claim,, Well, Jesus also warned us to beware of false prophets and even tells us how to discern false prophets.
Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
And Darwinian atheism has certainly brought forth much evil fruit in this world,
Origins: The Darwin Effect - Jerry Bergman - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWQT8l_VfuQ Join Origins host Donn Chapman as he welcomes professor, author and speaker, Dr. Jerry Bergman for, The Darwin Effect. Darwinism had a major influence on many evil cultures during the last century. It affected not only Nazism, but also eugenics, racism, communism, and much more. Darwin’s worldview is explained using historical facts that tell the death, suffering and evil unparalleled throughout history. How Darwin's Theory Changed the World Rejection of Judeo-Christian values Excerpt: Weikart explains how accepting Darwinist dogma shifted society’s thinking on human life: “Before Darwinism burst onto the scene in the mid-nineteenth century, the idea of the sanctity of human life was dominant in European thought and law (though, as with all ethical principles, not always followed in practice). Judeo-Christian ethics proscribed the killing of innocent human life, and the Christian churches explicitly forbade murder, infanticide, abortion, and even suicide. “The sanctity of human life became enshrined in classical liberal human rights ideology as ‘the right to life,’ which according to John Locke and the United States Declaration of Independence, was one of the supreme rights of every individual” (p. 75). Only in the late nineteenth and especially the early twentieth century did significant debate erupt over issues relating to the sanctity of human life, especially infanticide, euthanasia, abortion, and suicide. It was no mere coincidence that these contentious issues emerged at the same time that Darwinism was gaining in influence. Darwinism played an important role in this debate, for it altered many people’s conceptions of the importance and value of human life, as well as the significance of death” (ibid.). http://www.gnmagazine.org/issues/gn85/darwin-theory-changed-world.htm
And Christianity, although atheists like to falsely claim that Christianity is the source of all sorts of evil in the world, has certainly brought forth much 'good fruit' in the world that other worldviews have failed to produce and have, in many instances, even tried to destroy..
5 Ridiculous Myths You Probably Believe About the Dark Ages - 2013 Excerpt: Almost immediately after the church gained a foothold in Europe, they started introducing a widespread system of charity that distributed food, clothing, and money to those in need. Perhaps not by coincidence, the concepts of goodwill hospices, hospitals (mid fourth century), and shelters for the poor were also invented during the "dark" ages, paving the way for the public health care system. http://www.cracked.com/article_20615_5-ridiculous-myths-you-probably-believe-about-dark-ages.html 21 Positive Contributions Christianity Has Made Through the Centuries By D. James Kennedy (excerpted from "What if Jesus Had Never Been Born?") (1) Hospitals, which essentially began during the Middle Ages. (2) Universities, which also began during the Middle Ages. In addition, most of the world’s greatest universities were started for Christian purposes. (3) Literacy and education for the masses. (4) Capitalism and free enterprise. (5) Representative government, particularly as it has been seen in the American experiment. (6) The separation of political powers. (7) Civil liberties. (8) The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in more modern times. (9) Modern science. (10) The discovery of the New World by Columbus. (11) The elevation of women. (12) Benevolence and charity; the good Samaritan ethic. (13) Higher standards of justice. (14) The elevation of common man. (15) The condemnation of adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions. This has helped to preserve the human race, and it has spared many from heartache. (16) High regard for human life. (17) The civilizing of many barbarian and primitive cultures. (18) The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world’s languages. (19) Greater development of art and music. The inspiration for the greatest works of art. (20) The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel. (21) The eternal salvation of countless souls. https://verticallivingministries.com/tag/benefits-of-christianity-to-society/
Furthermore AK, I am VERY comfortable with the truth claims inherent in Christianity. I find the other worldviews to be deeply flawed. Particularly so with atheistic materialism which I find to be completely ludicrous. In fact, besides my own personal 'spiritual experience' that let me personally know that Christianity is absolutely true, I find that science itself finds its ultimate resolution for the so called 'Theory of Everything" in Christ's resurrection from the dead:
Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw
This really should not be all that surprising since it was, in fact, the Christian worldview that gave birth to modern science in the first place.
Christians – Not the Enlightenment – Invented Modern Science – Chuck Colson – Oct. 2016 Excerpt: Rodney Stark's,,, book, "For the Glory of God,,,, In Stark's words, "Christian theology was necessary for the rise of science." Science only happened in areas whose worldview was shaped by Christianity, that is, Europe. Many civilizations had alchemy; only Europe developed chemistry. Likewise, astrology was practiced everywhere, but only in Europe did it become astronomy. That's because Christianity depicted God as a "rational, responsive, dependable, and omnipotent being" who created a universe with a "rational, lawful, stable" structure. These beliefs uniquely led to "faith in the possibility of science." So why the Columbus myth? Because, as Stark writes, "the claim of an inevitable and bitter warfare between religion and science has, for more than three centuries, been the primary polemical device used in the atheist attack of faith." Opponents of Christianity have used bogus accounts like the ones I've mentioned to not only discredit Christianity, but also position themselves as "liberators" of the human mind and spirit. Well, it's up to us to set the record straight, and Stark's book is a great place to start. And I think it's time to tell our neighbors that what everyone thinks they know about Christianity and science is just plain wrong. http://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/chuck-colson/weve-been-lied-christians-not-enlightenment-invented-modern-science
Simply put AK, no other worldview comes close to substantiating such a claim as to being the ultimate truth, i.e. as to being the 'theory of everything'. Yet Jesus always claimed that he was "The Truth"! So once again, it should not be surprising that science finds its ultimate resolution in Christ's resurrection from the dead.(especially since Christianity gave birth to modern science in the first place) Thus in conclusion, I find Christianity to be head and shoulders above all the other worldviews, and am, to repeat myself, VERY comfortable in my core Christian beliefs. By the way, Happy Easter: Verse and Videos
Mark 9:31 For he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” Shroud of Turin: From discovery of Photographic Negative, to 3D Information, to Quantum Hologram https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-TL4QOCiis Turin Shroud Hologram Reveals The Words "The Lamb" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Tmka1l8GAQ
bornagain77
March 30, 2018
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Truth says in 55:
Do atheists find meaning in life from inventing fairy tales? Yes.
And as I have explained, all religions also "invent fairy tales" in the same way, although I don't call them fairy tales. But that's starting the discussion all over again, so no need to say more.jdk
March 30, 2018
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Bornagain77,
jdk, the great claim of Christianity is that we can know “about what is beyond the universe we experience” i.e. that we can know God:
I have no problem with this as the ultimate goal of Christians. The problem always arises when people claim that they do know God. What if I made the claim that I know what is in God’s heart? And further claimed that his ultimate purpose with respect to humans is to see how many disparate (and desperate) beliefs He can get them to accept, and how many wars he can get them to fight over these beliefs? You could no more prove that I am wrong than I could prove that you were. Another what if: Christian belief is that we are all sinners and that God challenges us and tests us. That he provides us with the proper path but that we often waver from this path. Is it not possible that reality is the exact opposite? That we are naturally good and that God keeps trying to get us to waiver from that path? Just a thought experiment.Allan Keith
March 30, 2018
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Materialism is inconceivable and so is evolutionism. Yet I doubt we will ever see jdk say anything negative about those.ET
March 30, 2018
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jdk @ 54: "Thus, I spend no emotional or intellectual time or energy considering Christianity a possibility worth considering." I feel the same way about a/mat mythologies such as abiogenesis, multiverse theory, objective moral standards, and Darwinian evolution. It is a complete waste of time to take such things seriously.Truth Will Set You Free
March 30, 2018
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Do atheists find meaning in life from inventing fairy tales? Yes.Truth Will Set You Free
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Quick responses to short comments to jvl at 48: Thanks. to Origenes at 52: Did you read my post about Taoism, or just reply without reading it? Perhaps you read this, and still have your question, in which case I can't add anything. On the other hand, if you didn't read it, perhaps it will explain a bit (even if it isn't a satisfactory answer for you.)
I find that Taoism, in the non-scholarly way in which I understand it, resonates with me more than any other metaphysical or religious perspective. A disclaimer: On the other hand, I am a strong agnostic. I don’t think that human beings, individually or collectively, can actually know what is behind/beyond the material world. Therefore, when I describe, and even advocate for, a Taoist perspective, I’m not saying that I “believe” Taoism is true, because (and this is a tenet of Taoism), I don’t think we can know whether it is true or not. But as a metaphor of what might be true, it seems to fit the world as I see it. My beliefs about Taoism are a framework for metaphysically understanding our experience of, and in, this world, but they are not provable, logically necessary, or even testable in the empirical sense. However, as a metaphysical belief system it makes the most sense to me of all the religious and philosophical perspectives I have studied, and it has provided me with many meaningful principles about what the universe and human beings are, and how to live effectively in the world. But ultimately, I believe in Feynman’s statement (paraphrased) that I would rather live with uncertainty than believe things that are not true. Since there is no way to know whether Taoism, or any other metaphysical/religious belief is true, I believe that my “belief in Taoism” is a useful metaphorical story, but not a literal belief about truth. However, “living with uncertainty”–knowing when you can’t know–fits in well with Taoist principles anyway, so there is a certain resonance between Feynman’s principle and the ineffable nature of Taoism, with its emphasis on right action rather than on dogmatic belief.
At 50, vivid writes,
From another thread, [he quotes me], “And, there are also many people, myself included, who have examined the claims of Christianity and consider them inconceivable.” Don’t get the sense of strong agnosticism regarding metaphysics here either Inconceivable really? This is what you consider to be a strong agnosticism concerning metaphysics?
Being strongly agnostic about metaphysics doesn't mean I think all metaphysical ideas that people have had are equally likely. As my quote above about Taoism implies, I tentatively entertain and evaluate metaphysical beliefs based on some practical concerns. Both solipsism and Last Thursdayism are logical metaphysical possibilities, but they seem so extremely unlikely that I don't waste a moment taking them seriously as a useful viewpoint. As to Christianity, I differentiate between two points. I think it's possible that some type of universal cosmic mind exists as the ground and source of material reality. (In some ways, the Tao would qualify, perhaps.) In addition, I think it's possible that that Mind is an active, conscious divine being who created our universe so that life would arise and evolve. In that sense, I think theism is a reasonable possibility, although not the one I prefer. However, the particularities of Christian theism (God's special interest with a very small group of people on earth 2000 years ago, the existence and role of Christ, the idea that only those who believe in Jesus are saved and all the rest are damned for eternity, etc. ) are obviously, to me, just one of hundreds of religious cultural inventions, and are extremely unlikely. I can't imagine that a universal ground of being would have these characteristics. Thus, I spend no emotional or intellectual time or energy considering Christianity a possibility worth considering. (Note: as I said in a response to Barry in the other thread, I used the word "inconceivable" because he used the concept in the OP. It is more accurate to say that Christianity is conceivable: just extremely unlikely.)jdk
March 30, 2018
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jdk: <> Religions may indeed be a product of pure imagination with no basis in reality. OTOH they may be a product of the human apprehension of a very real divine Ground of Being - an apprehension sometimes referred to as the 'senses divinitatis' or (tellingly) as the 'semen religionis', the seed of religion. As memorably expressed by William Wordsworth: " Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, And not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come From God, who is our home. "Charles Birch
March 30, 2018
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Weikart writes:
Thus, when religious people say non-religious people have no basis for finding meaning in life, and when non-religious people object, saying they do indeed find meaning in life, they are not talking about the same thing. If one can find meaning in life by creating one’s own meaning, then one is only “finding” the product of one’s own imagination. One has complete freedom to invent whatever meaning one wants.
I would add one word to the first sentence.* Here is the quote again:
Thus, when religious people say non-religious people have no basis for finding [ultimate] meaning in life, and when non-religious people object, saying they do indeed find meaning in life, they are not talking about the same thing. If one can find meaning in life by creating one’s own meaning, then one is only “finding” the product of one’s own imagination. One has complete freedom to invent whatever meaning one wants…
I don’t begrudge anyone for finding purpose and meaning in family, friends or a career. Those are the kind of things which provide all of us real meaning but none of those things provide a basis for ultimate meaning or some “greater good.” The famous, now deceased, Cambridge University physicist Stephen Hawking once observed, “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate-sized planet, orbiting around a very average star in the outer suburb of one among a hundred billion galaxies.” (STEPHEN HAWKING, Reality on the Rocks: Beyond Our Ken, 1995) It appears to me that a lot of atheists agree that when you honestly look at man’s place in the universe it’s really rather pointless. For example, in his book, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of the Universe, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg writes: “It is almost irresistible for humans to believe that we have some special relation to the universe, that human life is not just a more-or-less farcical outcome of a chain of accidents reaching back to the first three minutes, but that we are somehow built in from the beginning… It is very hard to realize that this is all just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe. It is even harder to realize that this present universe has evolved from an unspeakably unfamiliar early condition, and faces a future extinction of endless cold or intolerable heat. The more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless.” (p.144) I would suggest that Weinberg was trying to play, perhaps unwittingly, a subtle bait and switch game here. This paragraph appears at the end of a book which is purportedly a book about following the chain of scientific evidence back to the very first few minutes of the universe. I have no problem with that. Weinberg is a Nobel Prize winning physicist. By vocation he has the credentials, the knowledge and expertise to explain how the universe evolved. He is not, however, any more qualified than anybody else to tell us what it all means. And, at least in academia, such questions are the province of philosophers and theologians not physicists. The paragraph did not go unnoticed and Weinberg soon became aware that he had crossed an invisible boundary line into disputed territory. Fifteen years later in another book, Dreams of a Final Theory, he admits that phrase “the more the universe seems comprehensible the more it seems pointless,” had dogged him ever since. He then vainly tries to explain what he really meant. “I did not mean,” he writes, “that science teaches us that the universe is pointless, but that the universe itself suggests no point.” He then adds that he doesn’t see life as pointless or meaningless but that as scientists and people we can “invent a point for our lives, including trying to understand the universe.” He then goes on to describe the reaction of some of his colleagues to his infamous little phrase. For example, Harvard astronomer Margaret Geller, opines, “Why should it have a point? What point? It is just a physical system, what point is there?” Princeton astrophysicist Jim Peebles was willing to take the implications a bit further. He says, “I am willing to believe that we are flotsam and jetsam.” However, Weinberg writes that his favorite response came from University of Texas astronomer Gerard de Vaucouleurs who remarked that Weinberg’s phrase was actually “nostalgic.” “Indeed it was,” Weinberg concedes, “nostalgic for a world in which the heavens declared the glory of God.” He then goes on to explain. “It would be wonderful to find in the laws of nature a plan prepared by a concerned creator in which human beings played some special role. I find sadness in doubting that we will. There are some among my scientific colleagues who say that the contemplation of nature gives them all the spiritual satisfaction that others have traditionally found in a belief in an interested God. Some of them may even really feel that way. I do not. And it does not seem to me to be helpful to identify the laws of nature as Einstein did with some sort of remote and disinterested God. The more we refine our understanding of God to make the concept plausible, the more it seems to be pointless.” Weinberg’s sentiment is obviously atheistic. But is his atheism the result of what he has discovered out there in the universe? Or, does he see the universe the way he does because of the preconceptions that he has as an atheist? I would argue that it is the latter. Einstein also wrote something about the meaning of life that I think is pertinent here. “What is the meaning of human life, or, for that matter, of the life of any creature? To know the answer to this question means to be religious. You ask: Does it make any sense, then, to pose this question? I answer: The man who regards his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life.” My conclusion here is very straight forward. If God created the universe it has a purpose and meaning. On the other hand, if something mindless and impersonal is the cause the universe, it is hard to say, as Hawking and Weinberg have conceded, that there is any real meaning for the universe or our existence. *PS I would also substitute theism for religious and atheist/non-theist for non-religiousjohn_a_designer
March 30, 2018
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