Intelligent Design

Answers to the Big Questions

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In this post I will be continuing my discussion of “meaning.”  In its entry on “meaning” Wikipedia lists the “big questions.”  Theists will necessarily answer these questions differently from materialists.  Below is my best estimate of how the questions will be answered by the two groups.

Theist’s Answers

Followers of different theistic traditions will answer the questions differently.  The following is from a traditional Christian perspective.

1.  What is the meaning of life?  In the Christian tradition this question is perhaps best answered by the Westminster Shorter Catechism:  Q1. What is the chief end of man? A1. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

2.  What’s it all about?  See 1.

3.  Who are we?  We are creatures created in the image of God and therefore endowed with unlimited worth.  We are partially spirit and partially material.

4.  Why are we here?  See 1.

5.  What are we here for?  See 1.

6.  What is the origin of life?  God created life.

7.  What is the nature of life?  Life is created and sustained in being by the creator.

8.  What is the nature of reality?  God created and sustains in being all things

9.  What is the purpose of life?  See 1.

10.  What is the purpose of one’s life?  See 1.

11.  What is the significance of life?  Each life is a gift from God, and we live our lives in the context of our relationship with God.  We exist to fulfill a purpose, and our actions have eternal consequences with respect to that purpose.  Our every act and thought either advances or impedes that purpose.

12.  What is meaningful and valuable in life?  See 11.

13.  What is the value of life?  Since we are created in the image of God, life has infinite inestimable worth.

14.  What is the reason to live?  See 1.

15.  What are we living for?  See 1.

Materialist’s Answers

1.  What is the meaning of life?  There is none.

2.  What’s it all about?  Nothing.

3.  Who are we?  We are a bag of molecules that believes falsely that it is conscious.

4.  Why are we here?  We are a cosmic accident.  There is no reason.

5.  What are we here for?  Nothing.

6.  What is the origin of life?  Blind unguided natural forces combined with chance and acting in deep time are responsible for all things, including life.

7.  What is the nature of life?  Life has no intrinsic nature.  Living things have no inherent value.  A living body has no more worth than an inanimate bag of chemicals.  Our false belief in our consciousness does not endow us with worth.

8.  What is the nature of reality?  Everything can be explained by the interaction of particles in motion.

9.  What is the purpose of life?  There is none.

10.  What is the purpose of one’s life?  There is none.

11.  What is the significance of life?  There is none.

12.  What is meaningful and valuable in life?  There is no ultimate meaning or value in life.  We make up stories to the contrary, but we know those stories are false.

13.  What is the value of life?  There is no value of life.

14. What is the reason to live?  There is no reason to live unless one count’s our subjective desire not to die as a reason.

15.  What are we living for?  We have no purpose.

 

97 Replies to “Answers to the Big Questions

  1. 1
    Ian Thompson says:

    Why does God need more glorifying?
    God is already glorified, I should think.

  2. 2
    tjguy says:

    God doesn’t “need” glorifying, but it is right and natural for created creatures to give glory, thanks, and praise the their Creator, Savior, and King.

    Just as citizens of a country honor the King and it is right to do so, just as employees honor the CEO and support him and it is right to do so(usually), so it is right and natural for us creatures to exalt the Creator!

    In fact, NOT to do so is wrong. This is the fundamental sin – robbing God of the glory due His name and worshiping man and self instead. We take God’s place and run our own lives and live it for ourselves. We give Chance the credit for the beauty of nature and the origin of life. Besides being false, it is morally wrong to do this.

    This highlights the worldviews that we each hold. It also reveals that both of us take our worldview and the answers to these questions by faith. These answers cannot be proven by science.

  3. 3
    Daniel King says:

    1. What is the meaning of life? Life has whatever meaning you find in it.

    2. What’s it all about? It’s about living!

    3. Who are we? We are persons.

    4. Why are we here? Because we are part of Nature.

    5. What are we here for? To make the most we can of the gift of life

    6. What is the origin of life? “Blind unguided natural forces combined with chance and acting in deep time are responsible for all things, including life.” OK, why is that as a problem?

    7. What is the nature of life? It is what it is.

    8. What is the nature of reality? Live and learn how to distinguish truth from claptrap.

    9. What is the purpose of life? You’re free to find your own. Ignore those who seek to impose their purposes upon you.

    10. What is the purpose of one’s life? Ditto.

    11. What is the significance of life? Ditto.

    12. What is meaningful and valuable in life? That’s for each of us to discover.

    13. What is the value of life? If your life is joyous, enjoy it. If it is miserable, seek help.

    14. What is the reason to live? See answer to 13.

    15. What are we living for? See answer to 13.

  4. 4
    Neil Rickert says:

    The purpose of life is life.

  5. 5
    StephenB says:

    What is the purpose of human existence? It is to know, love, and serve God in this world and be happy with Him in the next. Without that knowledge, all other knowledge is ultimately worthless.

    The problem with materialism is not simply that it denies truth, value, and freedom. It’s true perversity manifests itself in a lust for power that seeks to destroy truth, value, and freedom.

    The Theist, who embraces reason and the natural moral law, strives to build a well-ordered society that preserves human dignity and promotes the common good. It exists as a life giving agent.

    The materialist, who disdains reason and the natural moral law, seeks to destroy the social order and become a law unto himself at the expense of human dignity and the common good. It can exist only as a parasite.

  6. 6
    Daniel King says:

    What is the purpose of human existence? It is to know, love, and serve God in this world and be happy with Him in the next.

    Ah, the nostalgia. As I remember that question right at the beginning of the Catechism, it went this way:

    “Why did God make me?”

    The answer was, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and forever in the next.”

    Beautiful! (But you’d better get it right, word for word, or Sister would not be pleased.)

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Neil Rickert:

    The purpose of life is life.

    You disagree with the claim that only humans decide meaning and purpose?

    Would you say that to answer the question, where does life come from, answers the question, where do meaning and purpose come from?

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    Daniel King:

    1. What is the meaning of life? Life has whatever meaning you find in it.

    I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you believe you.

    I find no meaning in your life. You find meaning in your life. But given that the meaning of your life is found only in the meaning others find in your life, who care what you think?

  9. 9
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King

    Ah, the nostalgia. As I remember that question right at the beginning of the Catechism, it went this way:

    “Why did God make me?”

    The answer was, “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and forever in the next.”

    Beautiful! (But you’d better get it right, word for word, or Sister would not be pleased.)

    LOL. Should I provide a lesson in logic for our struggling materialist friend? Sure, why not?

    To ask, “Why did God make me,” is to ask about the purpose of my existence. Why = purpose.

    Didn’t the good sister convey that information to you? Who was your teacher– Whoopi Goldberg?

  10. 10
    Daniel King says:

    LOL. Should I provide a lesson in logic for our struggling materialist friend? Sure, why not?

    To ask, “Why did God make me,” is to ask about the purpose of my existence. Why = purpose.

    Didn’t the good sister convey that information to you? Who was your teacher– Whoopi Goldberg?

    What are you on about? That was in first grade.

    My nostalgic remembrance obviously went too far over your literalist head.

    Lighten up and enjoy the gift of life!

  11. 11
    Daniel King says:

    I find no meaning in your life. You find meaning in your life. But given that the meaning of your life is found only in the meaning others find in your life, who care what you think?

    You have some nerve judging my life. And you’re incoherent (as usual) to boot.

    Mind your own business. Thanx.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Box says:

    A quotation from ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’, by (atheist) A.Rosenberg (always good for a laugh)

    How about the psychological need to fill the vacuum with meaning and purpose—something religion is supposed to provide? The Purpose Driven Life is not a best seller for nothing. Even so adamant an atheist as Richard Dawkins has succumbed to the delusion that a substitute for religion is required and available from science. People ask Dawkins, “Why do you bother getting up in the morning if the meaning of life boils down to such a cruel pitiless fact, that we exist merely to help replicate a string of molecules?” His answer is that “science is one of the supreme things that makes life worth living.”

    Richard Dawkins gets misty-eyed when he thinks of the general theory of relativity or the symmetry of the double helix or how the invisible hand works to make everyone better off. So what? Why should we be like him? More important, does Dawkins have an argument or a reason or a basis to claim that science makes life worth living for everyone, or only for some people, or just for those smitten by science or scientism, or perhaps exclusively for Richard Dawkins?

    It’s hard to see how science itself could provide any argument for the supreme or intrinsic value of science or anything else for that matter. That something really is valuable or has meaning is never any part of science’s explanation of why we value it. In fact, its explanation of why we value things also explains away the notion that they have some intrinsic value, independent of our wants, preferences, tastes, and so forth. We saw why this is so in Chapter 5. The argument works just the same for values that are supposed to make life meaningful as it does for norms. That goes for my values as much as yours or Dawkins’s. Science can explain why we value things, but the same goes for values we reject as wrong. That’s why scientific explanations of what we value cannot justify those values or serve as a basis to enforce them on others. Since science is the only possible source of justification, if it doesn’t work to justify values, nothing does.

    Nice nihilism undermines all values. This also goes for the silly idea of the existentialist philosophers, who realized that science rules out meanings or purpose and so insisted that we each had to create them for ourselves. In pursuit of this misguided idea, there emerged existentialists of many different kinds: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Zen, and every other kind of religious existentialist, as well as communist, socialist, fascist, and humanistic existentialists—existentialists for every kind of meaning or purpose that people wanted their lives to have. Existentialists didn’t see the fatuousness of trying to create something that nature had ruled out as impossible. Creating purpose in a world that can’t have any is like trying to build a perpetual motion machine after you have discovered that nature has ruled them out. Of course, it takes scientism to see this. Existentialists, like almost all philosophers, would have rejected scientism had anyone offered it to them. But secular humanism doesn’t reject science. So, if it needs to vindicate an intrinsic value, goal, or purpose, such as revealing, or reveling in, the beauty of science or the beauty of the universe science uncovers, it’s out of luck.
    Luckily for us, Mother Nature has seen to it that most of us, including the secular humanists, will get up most mornings and go on living even without anything to make our lives meaningful. The proof is obvious. There is nothing that makes our lives meaningful, and yet here we are, out of our pajamas.
    The notion that we need something to make life meaningful in order to keep living is another one of those illusions fostered by introspection.

  14. 14
    Mung says:

    Don’t judge Daniel King’s life. Oh no! That’s WRONG!

    Daniel King says we decide the meaning of his life, but then complains if we do.

    1. What is the meaning of life? Life has whatever meaning you find in it.

    But now we find that this not true.

    Color me shocked. Or not.

  15. 15
    Seversky says:

    (real) Materialist’s Answers

    1. What is the meaning of life?

    If by “meaning” you mean a purpose formed in the mind of an intelligent agent like a Creator then the existence of such a purpose will depend on the existence of a Creator. If there is no Creator then there can be no purpose. We see no compelling evidence for the existence of such a Creator and hence no reason to believe in one but neither can we completely rule one out. It’s still an open question.

    2. What’s it all about?

    See above

    3. Who are we?

    We call ourselves human beings. Each of us is an incredibly complex and utterly unique arrangement of matter and energy. We are conscious of ourselves and the world around us. That consciousness appears to be inseparable from the physical substrate of the brain. There are no known examples of a consciousness existing without such a physical basis so an obvious inference is that consciousness is in some way a product of the physical brain. We are still trying to work out how that might happen.

    4. Why are we here?

    Maybe there is no reason, maybe there is. We don’t know and there’s nothing wrong with admitting we don’t know.

    5. What are we here for?

    See above

    6. What is the origin of life?

    In the absence of any intelligent agent, it must have arisen through naturalistic means, perhaps from non-living precursors. There is ongoing research which has produced some intriguing results but the honest answer is that, as yet, we don’t really know.

    7. What is the nature of life?

    The nature of life are those properties or attributes or behaviors which distinguish a living thing from a non-living thing.

    This has nothing to do with value or worth which exist only in the mind of a beholder and cannot be derived from the physical nature of the thing valued. I hold my own life and those of my family, friends and cats to be of great value – to me. On the other hand, I have little doubt that to people from some other parts of the world we are utterly worthless. Who is right?

    8. What is the nature of reality?

    Physical reality appears to be built from matter/energy in its many forms and combinations. We are still trying to uncover the true nature of that reality.

    9. What is the purpose of life?

    See 1.

    10. What is the purpose of one’s life?

    In the absence of a Creator, there is no reason why we cannot form our own.

    11. What is the significance of life?

    See discussion of purpose

    12. What is meaningful and valuable in life?

    Whatever is valuable and meaningful to us.

    13. What is the value of life?

    See above.

    14. What is the reason to live?

    For most of us, something is better then nothing. I would rather exist than not. Tragically, there are all too many in this world for whom the reverse is true.

    15. What are we living for?

    See above

  16. 16
    StephenB says:

    Daniel King

    What are you on about? That was in first grade.

    My nostalgic remembrance obviously went too far over your literalist head.

    Lighten up and enjoy the gift of life!

    I thought that is what I was doing.

    Why do you take things so seriously.

    Go take a walk and smell the roses.

  17. 17
    Box says:

    Seversky: (real) Materialist’s Answers

    1. What is the meaning of life?

    If by “meaning” you mean a purpose formed in the mind of an intelligent agent like a Creator then the existence of such a purpose will depend on the existence of a Creator. If there is no Creator then there can be no purpose. We see no compelling evidence for the existence of such a Creator and hence no reason to believe in one but neither can we completely rule one out. It’s still an open question.

    Why do call yourself a “real materialist”? Your position is profoundly agnostic.

  18. 18
    Aleta says:

    Barry, your list of materialists’ answers is so distorted that I wouldn’t even know where to begin, even though I have addressed some of those points in the other threads on meaning. If you are going to contrast the theist and the materialist, you ought to at least honestly and genuinely present answers that a real materialist might make, not made-up stereotyped caricatures – setting up and knocking down strawmen is, I think, one of the debating techniques we’ve been urged not to use.

  19. 19
    keith s says:

    Daniel,

    Pay no attention to Mung. No one on either side of the debate takes him seriously.

  20. 20
    keith s says:

    Aleta,

    Barry, your list of materialists’ answers is so distorted that I wouldn’t even know where to begin,

    It’s a striking illustration of Barry’s inability to escape his own constricted viewpoint, even temporarily and for the sake of argument.

    He would flunk the Ideological Turing Test for sure.

  21. 21
    OldArmy94 says:

    Daniel King,

    What would you say if I told you that I found meaning in tormenting you? Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically. My greatest pleasure is the slow destruction of your life and seeing you in misery thrills me more than anything else.

    Or, to make it even more poignant, what would you say if my purpose in life, from which I derive my meaning, is to take your child (if you are a parent) or spouse (if you are married), and torture them. To take them to my dungeon and inflict as much cruelty and pain as possible is my joy. I find deep meaning in watching the tears of a 5 year old run down his cheek as he cries, “Mommy!”, as I methodically indulge in as much pain creation as possible.

    Now, tell me why MY sense of purpose and meaning is of any less worth than yours?

  22. 22
    keith s says:

    OldArmy94, to Daniel King:

    Now, tell me why MY sense of purpose and meaning is of any less worth than yours?

    Of less worth to whom? Worth is in the eye of the beholder, just like meaning.

  23. 23
    StephenB says:

    KeithS to OldArmuy94

    Of less worth to whom? Worth is in the eye of the beholder, just like meaning.

    Why not address the question as asked?

  24. 24
    5for says:

    OldArmy94,

    Sounds like you quite enjoyed writing that. Funny how you people are always obsessed with torturing children.

  25. 25
    StephenB says:

    5for to OldArmy94

    Sounds like you quite enjoyed writing that. Funny how you people are always obsessed with torturing children.

    Why not address the question as asked?

  26. 26
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    Why not address the question as asked?

    Because it was a leading question, and I don’t accept the premise.

    Here it is again:

    Now, tell me why MY sense of purpose and meaning is of any less worth than yours?

    OA94’s sense of purpose and meaning might be of less worth to Daniel, but of more worth to OA94. There is no absolute answer. Worth is in the eye of the beholder — even if the beholder happens to be God.

  27. 27
    JoeCoder says:

    Barry, you forgot a question in the list: What does God need with a starship?

  28. 28
    Aleta says:

    It is extremely erroneous black-and-white thinking to believe that if one doesn’t believe in some external, ultimate source of meaning by which to structure one’s behavior one can choose to be any way one wants to be without any limit whatsoever. This is nonsense: among other things, it is contradicted by the fact the only an extremely small number of people exhibit pathological, psychopathic behavior, for which they are soundly condemned, and millions of people who don’t believe in God lead lives that are indistinguishable from their theistic neighbors.

    We are constrained by human nature: virtually all humans want to love and be loved, want to exercise their talents and take delight in doing so, want to contribute to those around them, and so on. Despite the large cultural differences that exist in people, there is a solid common core of values inherent in us as a species. These qualities are present in children from birth, and arise from their biological nature, not from any philosophical considerations of theism or anything else.

    I am continually puzzled by this black-and-white thinking. It’s as if you believe that only philosophical beliefs are effective in determining behavior, and that you don’t take into account at all the complex biological components of our existence.

    We build meaning starting from the core of the commonality of the nature of human beings, and we build on the cultural background that has been built up over the centuries wherever we happen to live. From this comes some common wisdom about how to live both for the satisfaction of the person and for the good of the society in which the person lives. Obviously that doesn’t make anyone perfect, but the majority of people are good people who develop beliefs system that make their lives meaningful. (Unfortunately, for millions of people the difficulties of just staying alive in impoverished or war-torn conditions gets in the way of this development, but for those of us fortunate enough to live in sufficiently affluent conditions, the above is true.)

    So for those of you who think that materialists can be, and might as well be, nihilists for which anything is OK, you are just flat out wrong. To deny that God exists is not to deny the reality of the positive qualities that are central to our human nature.

  29. 29
    OldArmy94 says:

    5fer, what do you mean by “you people”?

    You are honest, Keith S, by admitting that there is no absolute answer..from the materialist point of view.

  30. 30
    OldArmy94 says:

    Aleta,

    You use words such as “good”, “condemned”, “fortunate”, and “positive” as if they mean something.

  31. 31
    keith s says:

    OldArmy94,

    You are honest, Keith S, by admitting that there is no absolute answer..from the materialist point of view.

    It’s true under theism, too.

    Even if God exists, there is no absolute answer. His opinions about what does and doesn’t have worth are subjective, just like ours.

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    Because it was a leading question, and I don’t accept the premise.

    It was a perfectly reasonable question. Any rational person could answer it.

    Here it is again:

    Now, tell me why MY sense of purpose and meaning (cruel sadism) is of any less worth than yours?

    Right. That was the question.

    There is no absolute answer.

    Are you the same person who taunts others for refusing to answer questions?

    Worth is in the eye of the beholder — even if the beholder happens to be God.

    So if one person “beholds” cruel sadism as moral and another person beholds it as immoral, there is no way to know which persons morality is of higher worth?

  33. 33
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    So if one person “beholds” cruel sadism as moral and another person beholds it as immoral, there is no way to know which persons morality is of higher worth?

    Of higher worth to whom? 🙂

    There is no absolute answer.

  34. 34
    Aleta says:

    Stephen, I made a start at answering your question in 28. No, there is no absolute answer, but the the lack of an absolute answer does not mean that all answers are equally valid. Some answers are better than others in respect to the nature of human beings.

    For instance, human beings want to love and be loved. That is a fact that doesn’t that doesn’t need in “absolute” validation – it is an empirical truth about human beings. Social arrangements and belief systems which foster love are better than ones that don’t.

  35. 35
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    Of higher worth to whom? 🙂

    Is the serial murderer’s morality of higher worth than the morality of one who rescues drowning people?

  36. 36
    Andre says:

    Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration.

    So in Keith S’s own words if I find meaning in eating him, he has no grounds to complain?

  37. 37
    StephenB says:

    Aleta

    Stephen, I made a start at answering your question in 28. No, there is no absolute answer, but the the lack of an absolute answer does not mean that all answers are equally valid.

    If there is no answer to the question of which morality is superior, how do you know what answers are valid? What is your standard for making that judgment?

    Some answers are better than others in respect to the nature of human beings.

    Based on what scale of good, better, and best? Are there bad answers or only progressively good answers?

    For instance, human beings want to love and be loved.

    Is the morality of love superior to the morality of hate?

    Social arrangements and belief systems which foster love are better than ones that don’t.

    Why? KeithS says that there is no way to know. Do you disagree with him? If so, on what basis do you make that judgment?

  38. 38
    Andre says:

    Aleta

    Do chemical reactions concern themselves with truth or do they follow the laws of nature?

  39. 39
    Andre says:

    Aleta

    Social arrangements and belief systems which foster love are better than ones that don’t.

    Why? How do you know this?

    I think if we kill 50% of the planet’s human population we will save the planet. So is this known as tough love? Is murdering 50% for the sake of the other 50% not also an act of love? Is it wrong of me to think so? How about acting it out?

    What is love Aleta?

  40. 40
    Eric Anderson says:

    Neil:

    “The purpose of life is life.”

    Wow. That’s deep.

  41. 41
    Andre says:

    Eric what Neil really means is……

    Against all odds matter created its own purpose and magically came to life! Matter did that you just have to believe it!

  42. 42
    StephenB says:

    Eric,

    Don’t sell Daniel King short.

    Who are we? We are persons.

    What is the nature of life? It is what it is.

  43. 43
    keith s says:

    Is the serial murderer’s morality of higher worth than the morality of one who rescues drowning people?

    Of higher worth to whom? Worth is in the eye of the beholder.

    Haven’t you grokked the pattern yet?

    To me (and to you also, I hope) the rescuer’s morality is of higher worth than the morality of the serial killer.

    There may be others who disagree, including the serial killer.

    There is no absolute answer.

    Just to make sure you don’t miss the point:

    Worth is in the eye of the beholder. Something that is of great worth to me may be worthless to you. Something that is of great worth to us may be worthless to God.

  44. 44
    Jim Smith says:

    One of the problems caused by materialism is that it implies the self is identical to the physical organism. If you have a defect in the body or the brain then materialism implies you are a defective person. This is particularly a problem with mental illnesses or emotional disorders.

    On the other hand, the model that the soul is a temporary resident in the body using the brain as a tool to interact with the body and perceive the physical world, then any defects are not necessarily a reflection on the incarnating soul. It also provides encouragement for those trying to cope – if the brain is not the self then it may be possible to learn to control the brain rather than be stuck with things as they are.

  45. 45
    Andre says:

    Jim

    Very good point, one of the most comforting passages in the Bible for me deals with physical defects and the fact that they do not impede our worth…..

    Exodus 4:10-12 “Then Moses said to the LORD, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” 11The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12″Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.”

  46. 46
    gpuccio says:

    Jim, Andre:

    Beautiful! 🙂

  47. 47
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    Haven’t you grokked the pattern yet?

    Of course I grasp the pattern. You would prefer not to answer my question, I understand. I don’t blame you.

    Worth is in the eye of the beholder.

    We refuted that position on the last thread.

    And then there was this:

    KeithS

    Suppose God exists and created us. I can still regard my life as meaningful, even if the meaning I find in it is different from the meaning God attributes to it.

    Bad logic. God doesn’t “attribute” meaning to his creatures, he confers it. Their reason for being is, by definition, His decision, not theirs.

    There is no contradiction here, because meaning is subjective.

    The contradiction is nothing short of violent. If meaning is subjective to the creature, then the meaning conferred on the creature by the Creator has been obliterated.

    God, if he exists, is one more subject.

    Bad logic. God is objective to us. He is subjective to Himself just as we are subjective to ourselves.

    Do you understand your errors?

  48. 48
    keith s says:

    keiths:

    Worth is in the eye of the beholder.

    StephenB:

    We refuted that position on the last thread.

    Um, no. And you won’t be able to refute it in this one, either.

    keiths:

    Suppose God exists and created us. I can still regard my life as meaningful, even if the meaning I find in it is different from the meaning God attributes to it.

    StephenB:

    Bad logic. God doesn’t “attribute” meaning to his creatures, he confers it. Their reason for being is, by definition, His decision, not theirs.

    The meaning they find in their lives is up to them, not God. (Unless you believe that they don’t have free will, but of course you do believe that, being an obedient Catholic.)

    keiths:

    There is no contradiction here, because meaning is subjective.

    StephenB:

    The contradiction is nothing short of violent. If meaning is subjective to the creature, then the meaning conferred on the creature by the Creator has been obliterated.

    Not at all. God can continue to see our lives as having a particular meaning even if we disagree, and vice-versa.

    keiths:

    God, if he exists, is one more subject.

    StephenB:

    Bad logic. God is objective to us. He is subjective to Himself just as we are subjective to ourselves.

    Do you understand your errors?

    Bad logic. God is objective to us, and we are objective to God. God is subjective to himself, and we are subjective to ourselves. It’s symmetrical.

    Do you understand your errors? 🙂

    Good night, Stephen.

  49. 49
    StephenB says:

    Keiths, also my prior example should help here. Recall that the objective purpose and meaning of a ball-point pen is conferred on it by its creator. The pen itself has nothing to say about it. It was “meant” (meaning) to be a tool for writing. It was not meant to be a can opener, which has another purpose. If the pen subjectively decides that is purpose is to be a can opener, and if it acts on that subjective perception, it will not only fail to achieve its mission, it will destroy itself in the process.

  50. 50
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Are you still confused or are you not so sure?

  51. 51
    StephenB says:

    SB: God doesn’t “attribute” meaning to his creatures, he confers it. Their reason for being is, by definition, His decision, not theirs.

    KeithS

    The meaning they find in their lives is up to them, not God. (Unless you believe that they don’t have free will, but of course you do believe that, being an obedient Catholic.)

    Nonresponsive. Irrelevant to the refutation. You are not addressing the difference between attributing meaning and conferring meaning. Recall my example of the can opener.

    SB: If meaning is subjective to the creature, then the meaning conferred on the creature by the Creator has been obliterated.

    Not at all. God can continue to see our lives as having a particular meaning even if we disagree, and vice-versa.

    Nonresponsive. Irrelevant to the refutation.

    God is objective to us, and we are objective to God. God is subjective to himself, and we are subjective to ourselves. It’s symmetrical.

    Correct. Keep it up.

    Good night, Stephen.

    Good night, KeithS

  52. 52
    markf says:

    I started to answer Barry’s big questions from my materialist view but found they were rather repetitive –  most of them were versions of:

    A. What is the meaning/purpose/significance/worth of life?

    B. What is the meaning/purpose/significance/worth of human life?

    Meaning, purpose, significance and worth require something to impart the meaning, have a purpose, give significance, attribute some worth – as I don’t believe in any being capable of doing these things in an overarching definitive fashion the answer to all these questions is – none.

    This takes care questions: 1, 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 12 and 15.

    My answers to the others are below.

    3.  Who are we?  We are a bag of molecules that believes falsely that it is conscious.

    You can describe us in many ways – bag of molecules, advanced life form, complex system that reacts with its environment and reproduces. They are all different ways of describing the same thing.  Of course we are conscious. This is not a false belief. It is a property of particular organisations of molecules.

    6.  What is the origin of life? 

    Agreed –  unguided natural forces combined with chance and acting in deep time are responsible for all things, including life.

    7.  What is the nature of life? 

    I don’t understand the question. From the theist point of view you gave pretty much the same answer as you did to 6 – except you added “sustained”.  But the answer you supplied for a materialist was mostly about the worth of life. Which do you mean?

    8.  What is the nature of reality? 

    Again not sure what you are getting at. I certainly don’t believe everything can be explained by the interaction of particles in motion. If you are trying to ask what kind of explanation can all others be reduced to … well I don’t know the answer.

    10.  What is the purpose of one’s life? 

    This almost identical to B but refers to one specific human life. So the answer is none.  14. What is the reason to live?  My subjective desire to live is an excellent reason.

  53. 53
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Keith S 43

    Worth is in the eye of the beholder. Something that is of great worth to me may be worthless to you.

    Therefore, to be consistent, you must affirm that ID is absolutely true and correct, since some people believe it to be so.

    The fact that you don’t has nothing to do with the fact that some people assert it to be true, so therefore, ID is true (in those circumstances).

  54. 54
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I appreciate Daniel King and Seversky for taking the time to offer answers to the questions in a straight-forward way.

  55. 55
    Neil Rickert says:

    Mung #7:

    You disagree with the claim that only humans decide meaning and purpose?

    Yes, I disagree with that. You can find some sort of purpose throughout the biosphere.

  56. 56
    tarmaras says:

    Great idea for an article. As a Vedic/Indian philosophy buff, here’s my views, informed by that tradition.

    1. What is the meaning of life? Enjoy an eternal relationship with God. The highest form of this enjoyment is found in loving reciprocation with God in many types of relationship flavors, called rasa, such as neutral, servitude, friendship, parenthood or conjugal. There’s also the inimical type of enjoyment. It’s here where the material universe comes in. This “enjoyment” can take many forms, going as far as tasting estrangement/forgetfulness (animals, insects etc.) or hatred of God (atheistic humans or demoniac species).

    2. What’s it all about? See 1.

    3. Who are we? We are spirit souls, particles of consciousness, eternal, infinitesimal expansions from God’s energy (shakti). We have the same qualities as God (sat – eternal existence; cit – free will/knowledge capacity; ananda – ability to enjoy), but we don’t have the same quantity of power and we are ontologically dependent on Him for everything, whereas He is independent and self-sustaining.

    4. Why are we here? Our choice to taste the inimical/forgetful relationship with God. Another reason is so that we can exploit God’s material energy for our own purposes, according to our will. God facilitates this through his various intermediaries, in a similar fashion in which the father facilitates and helps the runaway son in the Prodigal Son fable.

    This world is called Maha-Maya, the Great Illussion or, more literally, “The Great That Which is Not”. Meaning “Not God”, in the sense that this world reflects God’s repulsions and how He defines Himself not to be, meaning asat – temporary; acit – unconscious and nirananda – unhappy. Basically, we are here because we wanted to and as long as we choose to remain here life after life, not wanting to enter a positive relationship with God, we are exactly where we should be.

    5. What are we here for? To enjoy God’s energies separately from a connection with God. To forget God. To experiment the absence of God.

    6. What is the origin of life? God as the supreme consciousness and we as infinitesimal expansions of this consciousness have existed for ever. The material universes, which errant consciousnesses embody, live for myriads of lifetimes, and then leave the birth and death cycle to reunite with God where they left off. The origin of embodied life on Earth is only an intermediary origin (repeatedly created and destroyed by God and His agents). But the forms of life, the types of mind-body configurations exist eternally in God’s thoughts.

    7. What is the nature of life? The connection between unconscious energy and the conscious soul in the material universe is done through the subtle body (consisting of the mind and prana, a type of informational field connecting mind and body).

    8. What is the nature of reality? The fundamental of reality is sat-cit-ananda, eternal, conscious and with ability to enjoy. The unconscious energy is also conscious but acting as unconscious energy in order to represent what God is not and so that it can be thus manipulated by the errant souls, under God’s supervision (in the form of the law of karma).

    9. What is the purpose of life? See 1.

    10. What is the purpose of one’s life? See 1.

    11. What is the significance of life? Each soul is unique and its personality is the sum total of choices they have been making for eternity.

    12. What is meaningful and valuable in life? Consciousness interacting with consciousness, and, even better, with the supreme consciousness in a loving relationship.

    13. What is the value of life? The value of life is the value of God, since God is life and we are part of Him. So, in other words, infinite…

    14. What is the reason to live? To enjoy.

    15. What are we living for? To taste a loving relationship with God.

  57. 57
    Graham2 says:

    W Lane Craig claims our ultimate purpose (when we get to heaven I suppose) is to praise God. Praise god ? So the good people spend all day, every day, telling God how good he is ? For ever ? What purpose could this possibly serve ?

  58. 58
    keith s says:

    Keith S 43

    keiths:

    Worth is in the eye of the beholder. Something that is of great worth to me may be worthless to you.

    Silver Asiatic:

    Therefore, to be consistent, you must affirm that ID is absolutely true and correct, since some people believe it to be so.

    The fact that you don’t has nothing to do with the fact that some people assert it to be true, so therefore, ID is true (in those circumstances).

    That makes no sense. Worth is subjective, but truth isn’t.

  59. 59
    keith s says:

    StephenB #51,

    Chanting “Nonresponsive. Irrelevant.” doesn’t constitute a counterargument.

    Do you have one?

  60. 60
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    Keiths, also my prior example should help here. Recall that the objective purpose and meaning of a ball-point pen is conferred on it by its creator. The pen itself has nothing to say about it. It was “meant” (meaning) to be a tool for writing.

    This reminds me of my exchanges with WJM on the subject of objective morality.

    I introduced the following thought experiment:

    You haven’t provided any reason for elevating God’s morality from subjective to objective status.

    It can’t be merely because he created us. Recall my hypothetical example from a few months ago, in which humans discover how to create universes and some horny, pimply-faced teenager creates a universe in his basement because he wants to watch the inhabitants having sex. No sensible person would argue that the inhabitants of the basement [universe] are morally obligated to have sex for the voyeuristic pleasure of their creator.

    I would add that no sensible person would say that the “meaning” of their lives would be to perform sexually for their creator, either.

    Do you disagree, Stephen? If so, why? If not, then what gives God’s morality (or meaning) objective status?

  61. 61
    Daniel King says:

    OldArmy94

    What would you say if I told you that I found meaning in tormenting you? Emotionally, psychologically, spiritually and physically. My greatest pleasure is the slow destruction of your life and seeing you in misery thrills me more than anything else.

    I would say that you have delusions of grandeur and should be closely watched.

  62. 62
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham2, Rather than William Lane Craig, perhaps you should seek answers for what heaven will be like from people who have actually died for a short while, been to heaven, and have come back and listen to them, to see what heaven will really be like?

    quote 6:20 minute mark: It is NEVER going to be boring in heaven!!!, I get irritated or amused when I hear about what people want heaven to be like,, ” I’m going to have a big golf course, I’m going to have hunting,,”, Hey, you are going to want to hang around with God! It’s AWESOME!!!, I mean I can not put it into words!,,,
    Mickey Robinson – In The Presence Of Almighty God – The NDE of Mickey Robinson – video
    https://vimeo.com/92172680

    “Regardless, it is impossible for me to adequately describe what I saw and felt. When I try to recount my experiences now, the description feels very pale. I feel as though I’m trying to describe a three-dimensional experience while living in a two-dimensional world. The appropriate words, descriptions and concepts don’t even exist in our current language. I have subsequently read the accounts of other people’s near-death experiences and their portrayals of heaven and I able to see the same limitations in their descriptions and vocabulary that I see in my own.”
    Mary C. Neal, MD – To Heaven And Back pg. 71

    Mary Neal’s Near-Death Experience – video (Sept. 2014 IANDS speech)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as6yslz-RDw

    “The only human emotion I could feel was pure, unrelenting, unconditional love. Take the unconditional love a mother has for a child and amplify it a thousand fold, then multiply exponentially. The result of your equation would be as a grain of sand is to all the beaches in the world. So, too, is the comparison between the love we experience on earth to what I felt during my experience. This love is so strong, that words like “love” make the description seem obscene. It was the most powerful and compelling feeling. But, it was so much more. I felt the presence of angels. I felt the presence of joyous souls, and they described to me a hundred lifetimes worth of knowledge about our divinity. Simultaneous to the deliverance of this knowledge, I knew I was in the presence of God. I never wanted to leave, never.”
    Judeo-Christian Near Death Experience Testimony
    http://iands.org/experiences/n.....sence.html

    verses and music:

    Psalm 16:11
    You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

    Luke 22:69
    But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”

    I Want to know what love is – Foreigner – music
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raNGeq3_DtM

  63. 63
    Daniel King says:

    keith s:

    It’s a striking illustration of Barry’s inability to escape his own constricted viewpoint, even temporarily and for the sake of argument.

    He would flunk the Ideological Turing Test for sure.

    There’s also http://www.yourmorals.org/ for ongoing research into moral psychology.

  64. 64
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    The meaning they find in their lives is up to them, not God. (Unless you believe that they don’t have free will, but of course you do believe that, being an obedient Catholic.)

    To be sure, an individual can find meaning in his life through the choice of a vocation or a given way of life. If that choice is a good match for his personality, character, and interests, it will certainly mean something to him. By definition, it is subjective; it comes from the inside.

    However, we are discussing a higher purpose or meaning which, for the theist, is eternal life. Obviously, that higher or ultimate purpose was chosen for him by the Creator. By definition, it must come from the outside. Thus, that person is called on to align his meaningful life choices, which come from the inside, with the higher meaning or purpose for which he was created, which comes from the outside. The creature cannot choose the ultimate meaning of his existence. He can only choose to realize it or not realize it.

    So it is with all created things. What they are meant for always comes from the outside. Returning to our examples, the can opener or the ball-point pen cannot decide on the meaning of their existence. That decision was made by their creator. The difference, of course, is that created objects do not have that same power to frustrate the aims of their creator as humans do.

  65. 65
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    So it is with all created things. What they are meant for always comes from the outside. Returning to our examples, the can opener or the ball-point pen cannot decide on the meaning of their existence. That decision was made by their creator.

    Seriously? So for the inhabitants of the pimply-faced teenager’s universe, you think the true meaning of their lives, and their true moral obligation, is to have sex for the voyeuristic pleasure of their creator?

    Come on.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    The meaning they find in their lives is up to them, not God. (Unless you believe that they don’t have free will, but of course you do believe that, being an obedient Catholic.)

    To be sure, an individual can find meaning in his life through the choice of a vocation or a given way of life. If that choice is a good match for his personality, character, and interests, it will certainly mean something to him. By definition, it is subjective; it comes from the inside.

    However, we are discussing a higher purpose or meaning which, for the theist, is eternal life. Obviously, that higher or ultimate purpose was chosen for him by the Creator. By definition, it must come from the outside. Thus, that person is called on to align his meaningful life choices, which come from the inside, with the higher meaning or purpose for which he was created, which comes from the outside. The creature cannot choose the ultimate meaning of his existence. He can only choose to realize it or not realize it.

    So it is with all created things. What they are meant for always comes from the outside. Returning to our examples, the can opener or the ball-point pen cannot decide on the meaning of their existence. That decision was made by their creator. The difference, of course, is that created objects do not have that same power to frustrate the aims of their creator as humans do.

    KeithS

    Seriously? So for the inhabitants of the pimply-faced teenager’s universe, you think the true meaning of their lives, and their true moral obligation, is to have sex for the voyeuristic pleasure of their creator?

    Come on.

    ?????????????????????????????

    “O judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts,. And men have lost their reason.”

  67. 67
    keith s says:

    Follow the link, Stephen. You’re not even bothering to read my comments.

  68. 68
    StephenB says:

    Keiths

    [objective morality] It can’t be merely because he created us. Recall my hypothetical example from a few months ago, in which humans discover how to create universes and some horny, pimply-faced teenager creates a universe in his basement because he wants to watch the inhabitants having sex. No sensible person would argue that the inhabitants of the basement [universe] are morally obligated to have sex for the voyeuristic pleasure of their creator.

    Do you disagree, Stephen? If so, why? If not, then what gives God’s morality (or meaning) objective status?

    The question as to whether the meaning conferred on the creature by the creator is moral depends solely on the morality of the creator. That fact has nothing to do with the incontestable fact that the meaning thus conferred must come from the outside, which is the point that you continue to evade. If the creator is a pervert, then the morality conferred on the creatures will be perverse. Objective morality, on the other hand, is good because it is based the goodness of God’s nature.

  69. 69
    Neil Rickert says:

    Mung #7:

    You disagree with the claim that only humans decide meaning and purpose?

    Yes, I disagree with that claim. All biological organisms behave in apparently purposeful ways.

    I thought I had already responded to this, but I must have closed the browser tab instead of posting the comment.

    where do meaning and purpose come from?

    They arise from homeostasis.

  70. 70
    keith s says:

    StephenB,

    Just so I’m absolutely clear on your position, please answer a couple of questions:

    1. Are the inhabitants of the basement universe objectively morally obligated to have sex for the voyeuristic pleasure of their hormone-soaked, pimply-faced teenage creator?

    2. Is their life’s objective meaning to have sex for his voyeuristic pleasure?

    Please answer yes or no to both questions, and then feel free to add clarifying comments if you’d like.

  71. 71
    markf says:

    #68 Stephenb

    Objective morality, on the other hand, is good because it is based the goodness of God’s nature.

    And by what standard do you judge God’s nature to be good?

  72. 72
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    StephenB,
    Just so I’m absolutely clear on your position, please answer a couple of questions:

    1. Are the inhabitants of the basement universe objectively morally obligated to have sex for the voyeuristic pleasure of their hormone-soaked, pimply-faced teenage creator?

    No. Only just laws are binding. It will not matter, however, because the creatures will not have immortal souls, so they can’t be moral agents. Their perverse creator does not have the power to create immortal souls in his creatures. Humans have rational souls and free wills only because a good God created them in His image and likeness.

    Is their life’s objective meaning to have sex for his voyeuristic pleasure?

    Let me interrupt long enough to point something out. Your fantasy is unrealistic since the omnipotent power and wisdom necessary to create and hold a universe together is inseparable from the Creator’s goodness. An evil creator, especially one whose sense of purpose is so degraded cannot, by definition, be an omnipotent creator. So, your scenario, while entertaining, is not metaphysically or logically possible.

    But let’s suppose that it was possible. The creatures you describe don’t have lives, as such. They are robots. As mechanical tools, they were meant to be exploited for an evil purpose in an evil universe by an evil creator. It wouldn’t be all that different from a torture chamber, which was “meant” to make people miserable. That is its meaning; that is its purpose. Not all meaning is noble.

  73. 73
    markf says:

    … the omnipotent power and wisdom necessary to create and hold a universe together is inseparable from the Creator’s goodness. An evil creator …. cannot, by definition, be an omnipotent creator.

    I am intrigued to see the proof of this.

  74. 74
    keith s says:

    Me too, markf.

    StephenB’s comment is full of unsubstantiated assertions like that one.

  75. 75
    keith s says:

    StephenB:

    Only just laws are binding.

    How do the inhabitants know that their creator’s laws are not just?

    More to the point, how do you know that your purported Creator’s laws are just?

    It will not matter, however, because the creatures will not have immortal souls, so they can’t be moral agents.

    Why do you consider immortality a prerequisite for moral agency?

    Their perverse creator does not have the power to create immortal souls in his creatures.

    What if he does? How will you answer then?

    Humans have rational souls and free wills only because a good God created them in His image and likeness.

    Do you have evidence for that?

    Your fantasy is unrealistic since the omnipotent power and wisdom necessary to create and hold a universe together is inseparable from the Creator’s goodness. An evil creator, especially one whose sense of purpose is so degraded cannot, by definition, be an omnipotent creator.

    Evidence and argument, please.

    But let’s suppose that it was possible. The creatures you describe don’t have lives, as such. They are robots.

    You are assuming that. Let’s stipulate that they have free will just like the kind you attribute to humans. What then?

  76. 76
    Quest says:

    I wonder whether bible scholars would agree or disagree with any of the theistic answers to the Big Questions…
    I’m not one of them; quite contrary, but the answer #1 to most Big Questions reminds me too much of the old catholic standard answer…I might be wrong but it seems too shallow and without much substance…
    To me… personally… there has to be more… perhaps more details… as to what “…the glorifying of God and being with him forever…”involves…

    We are talking about an eternity here for conscious beings…

  77. 77
    Learned Hand says:

    It’s a striking illustration of Barry’s inability to escape his own constricted viewpoint, even temporarily and for the sake of argument.

    He would flunk the Ideological Turing Test for sure.

    That was my first thought as well. I think he might be able to pass it, though, as long as he put some effort into thinking like someone else. I’m not sure he would see any point to such an endeavor.

  78. 78
    Box says:

    Is there a God? No.
    What is the nature of reality? What physics says it is.
    What is the purpose of the universe? There is none.
    What is the meaning of life? Ditto.
    Why am I here? Just dumb luck.
    Does prayer work? Of course not.
    Is there a soul? Is it immortal? Are you kidding?
    Is there free will? Not a chance!
    What happens when we die? Everything pretty much goes on as before, except us.
    What is the difference between right and wrong, good and bad? There is no moral difference between them.
    Why should I be moral? Because it makes you feel better than being immoral.
    Is abortion, euthanasia, suicide, paying taxes, foreign aid, or anything else you don’t like forbidden, permissible, or sometimes obligatory? Anything goes.
    What is love, and how can I find it? Love is the solution to a strategic interaction problem. Don’t look for it; it will find you when you need it.
    Does history have any meaning or purpose? It’s full of sound and fury, but signifies nothing. Does the human past have any lessons for our future? Fewer and fewer, if it ever had any to begin with.

    [A. Rosenberg, ‘The Atheist’s Guide to Reality’, chapter 1.]

  79. 79
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    How do the inhabitants know that their creator’s laws are not just?

    They don’t. They don’t have intellects and wills. You asked if they have moral obligations, which is a separate question. The answer is no.

    More to the point, how do you know that your purported Creator’s laws are just?

    Because they serve the purpose for which humans were created. They are the road map for achieving that which we were made for.

    Why do you consider immortality a prerequisite for moral agency?

    Moral agency is not possible without the immaterial faculties of intellect and will, and an immaterial self. Immaterial things cannot die because they do not have parts and cannot, therefore, disintegrate.

    SB: Humans have rational souls and free wills only because a good God created them in His image and likeness.

    Do you have evidence for that?

    By definition, the human intellect and will are immaterial, spiritual faculties created by God.

    SB: Your fantasy is unrealistic since the omnipotent power and wisdom necessary to create and hold a universe together is inseparable from the Creator’s goodness. An evil creator, especially one whose sense of purpose is so degraded cannot be omnipotent.

    Evidence and argument, please.

    Omnipotence and immutability are logically inseparable from moral perfection. Anything that is changeable or changing cannot be perfect since all change implies imperfection. If you are changing and moving toward perfection, it means that you are not there yet.

    Let’s stipulate that they have free will just like the kind you attribute to humans.

    I am afraid that I cannot do that. If they had free will, it would mean that they were meant to be moral agents who have the ability to choose between good and evil, and you have already stipulated that their creator selfishly designed them as slaves.

    What does any of this have to do with the fact that a created thing cannot be responsible for the reason that it was brought into existence. In order to create its own reason for being, or its own meaning, the creature would have had to bring itself into existence. Why do you try to argue that a creature can decide what it was ultimately meant for? It is an argument that cannot successfully be defended.

  80. 80
    StephenB says:

    Quest

    #1 to most Big Questions reminds me too much of the old catholic standard answer…I might be wrong but it seems too shallow and without much substance…

    To me… personally… there has to be more… perhaps more details… as to what “…the glorifying of God and being with him forever…”involves…

    A general statement of purpose is not supposed to contain all the details. Its aim is to provide direction. If you are around infinite goodness, there will be countless good things to do, have, and experience. It is not possible to be happy forever and also be bored. Recall the metaphor of having your own mansion.

  81. 81
    Andre says:

    Just to add wherever we may be going, will not have cause & effect…. Also there will be working without toil.

  82. 82
    Box says:

    StephenB,

    StephenB: Omnipotence and immutability are logically inseparable from moral perfection. Anything that is changeable or changing cannot be perfect since all change implies imperfection. If you are changing and moving toward perfection, it means that you are not there yet.

    Do you agree that the prerequisite for moral perfection is immutability wrt morality only? Second question: if omnipotence entails “overall immutability”, how should we envision such a state? Most importantly: if God is immutable is He still a person?

  83. 83
    Mung says:

    Neil Rickert: The purpose of life is life.

    Mung: You disagree with the claim that only humans decide meaning and purpose?

    Neil Rickert: Yes, I disagree with that. You can find some sort of purpose throughout the biosphere. All biological organisms behave in apparently purposeful ways.

    Glad to hear that I’m not the only one to disagree with the “only humans decide what has meaning” crowd.

    Mung: Would you say that to answer the question, where does life come from, answers the question, where do meaning and purpose come from?

    Neil Rickert: They arise from homeostasis.

    According to Wikipedia:

    Homeostasis, also spelled homoeostasis (from Greek: ?????? homoios, “similar” and ?????? stasis, “standing still”), is the property of a system in which variables are regulated so that internal conditions remain stable and relatively constant.

    What does it mean to say that meaning and purpose arise from homeostasis, if that statement is even meaningful at all?

  84. 84
    Mung says:

    keiths counsels Daniel King to just ignore me. Sage advice that.

    Let’s step through a few:

    3. Who are we? We are persons.

    According to dictionary.com: who – what person or persons?

    So to the question, what person or persons are we, DK responds, we are persons. Brilliant!!!

    4. Why are we here? Because we are part of Nature.

    If we were not part of nature we would not be here. Therefore we are here because we are part of nature. QED.

    5. What are we here for? To make the most we can of the gift of life.

    Gift? you think of life as a gift?

  85. 85
    Mung says:

    Big Question #16: Why do ID critics avoid admitting that their posts here at UD are intelligently designed?

  86. 86
    Daniel King says:

    Mung @ 84:

    Blah, blah blah, etc, etc.

  87. 87
    StephenB says:

    Box

    Do you agree that the prerequisite for moral perfection is immutability wrt morality only?

    I think that it is different for God, who is eternally and unchangingly perfect, than it is for humans, who are called on to rise above imperfection by practicing the natural virtues and then supernaturalizing them with Divine grace.

    Second question: if omnipotence entails “overall immutability”, how should we envision such a state? Most importantly: if God is immutable is He still a person?

    When I speak of immutability, I refer primarily to God’s unchanging nature. I don’t think immutability in that context rules out personhood. On the contrary, I take the Christian view, which holds that God is three dynamic persons (who God is) and one unchanging nature (what God is). Accordingly, we can have a relationship with God and each other precisely because each of us is a distinct, individual person, albeit not of equal status.

  88. 88
    Box says:

    StephenB,

    Thank you for answering my questions. That was most helpful.

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    Box,

    Thank you for your interest.

  90. 90
    keith s says:

    keiths:

    How do the inhabitants [of the basement universe] know that their creator’s laws are not just?

    StephenB:

    They don’t. They don’t have intellects and wills.

    You’re just assuming that.

    You asked if they have moral obligations, which is a separate question. The answer is no.

    You said that they aren’t morally obligated because the laws aren’t just. By what standard? And if the inhabitants can’t tell whether they are just, then how do you know that God’s laws are just?

    Because they serve the purpose for which humans were created. They are the road map for achieving that which we were made for.

    That doesn’t work, because you just told us that the inhabitants of the basement universe aren’t obligated to do what their creator made them for. You need a separate justification.

    That’s my main point. The idea that we are obligated to obey our creator simply because he is our creator makes no sense, and the pimply-faced teenager’s basement universe demonstrates that vividly.

    keiths:

    Why do you consider immortality a prerequisite for moral agency?

    StephenB:

    Moral agency is not possible without the immaterial faculties of intellect and will, and an immaterial self. Immaterial things cannot die because they do not have parts and cannot, therefore, disintegrate.

    You’re assuming both the existence of immaterial souls and their indivisibility. There are a lot of unjustified assumptions in your comments.

    Humans have rational souls and free wills only because a good God created them in His image and likeness.

    keiths:

    Do you have evidence for that?

    StephenB:

    By definition, the human intellect and will are immaterial, spiritual faculties created by God.

    By definition? No way. That is something you need to demonstrate, not assume.

    Your fantasy is unrealistic since the omnipotent power and wisdom necessary to create and hold a universe together is inseparable from the Creator’s goodness. An evil creator, especially one whose sense of purpose is so degraded cannot be omnipotent.

    keiths:

    Evidence and argument, please.

    StephenB:

    Omnipotence and immutability are logically inseparable from moral perfection.

    More unjustified assumptions.

    Anything that is changeable or changing cannot be perfect since all change implies imperfection. If you are changing and moving toward perfection, it means that you are not there yet.

    It’s possible to change while remaining be morally perfect, as long as the changes don’t affect your moral status.

    keiths:

    Let’s stipulate that they [the inhabitants of the basement universe] have free will just like the kind you attribute to humans.

    StephenB:

    I am afraid that I cannot do that. If they had free will, it would mean that they were meant to be moral agents who have the ability to choose between good and evil, and you have already stipulated that their creator selfishly designed them as slaves.

    No, I stipulated that their creator made them so he could watch them have sex. They could still have free will, in which case they could choose whether or not to obey their pimply-faced creator. In turn, he would presumably have the option of punishing them for disobedience.

    What does any of this have to do with the fact that a created thing cannot be responsible for the reason that it was brought into existence.

    I didn’t say it could be. What I said was that it could have its own sense of meaning, apart from the purpose for which it was created. Clarence the Conscious Can Opener might find his meaning in being a paperweight rather than in opening cans. There is no basis for asserting that Clarence’s “true” meaning or purpose must be to open cans, simply because he was created for that purpose.

    Likewise, the “true” purpose of the basement universe dwellers needn’t be to have sex for their creator’s pleasure, despite the fact that they were created for that purpose.

    Meaning and purpose are in the eye of the beholder.

  91. 91
    Andre says:

    Keith S

    Meaning and purpose are in the eye of the beholder.

    But we can’t be certain of that, right Keith?

  92. 92
    Andre says:

    We can’t be certain, that we can’t be certain, that we can’t be certain, that we can’t be certain…….. round and round Keith’s relativism goes…….

    Keith S does not know what life is about………

  93. 93
    Andre says:

    I have to ask is Keith S the best example of our opposition?

  94. 94
    StephenB says:

    StephenB: By definition, the human intellect and will are immaterial, spiritual faculties created by God.

    By definition? No way.

    Yes, by definition. The capacity for free will (and the capacity for reasoning), are both defined by theists as a faculty of a human soul. They are not material organs, they are immaterial faculties. That is why the word faculty is used. It is understood that they are not made of matter.

    Keiths

    No, I stipulated that their creator made them so he could watch them have sex. They could still have free will, in which case they could choose whether or not to obey their pimply-faced creator. In turn, he would presumably have the option of punishing them for disobedience.

    As indicated, only an omnipotent God can create the faculty of will. Humans cannot create spirit, not can spirit be derived from matter.

    However, if we put all that aside and mistakenly assume that it was possible for a teenage brat to design creatures with free will, then their purpose would be to use that faculty for its intended purpose, which by definition, could not be for the purpose of his entertainment. Thus, you have created with your scenario two contradictory purposes, one for the creator and one for the creatures.

    SB: What does any of this have to do with the fact that a created thing cannot be responsible for the reason that it was brought into existence.

    I didn’t say it could be. What I said was that it could have its own sense of meaning, apart from the purpose for which it was created.

    The issue is what the creature was meant for, not what the creature may imagine that it was meant for. A conscious pencil might perceive that it was meant to open cans, but that perception is obviously misguided since its purpose is inextricably tied to its nature, or its capacity to facilitate writing. The pencil is for writing, not for opening cans. If it tries to be or act like can opener, it will not only fail in its mission, it will destroy itself in the process.

    Clarence the Conscious Can Opener might find his meaning in being a paperweight rather than in opening cans.

    That is precisely what he cannot do. He cannot find his meaning in being a paperweight because his meaning was decided prior to his existence. He may rebel against his creator and fancy himself as a paperweight, (he may delude himself into believing that he has found a meaning), but it will not be his meaning. It is not what he was meant to be; it is not what he is; it is not his nature. If he had free will, he could, perhaps, pervert his nature and act like a paperweight, ignoring his calling and his nobler functions, just like a human can pervert his nature and act like an animal, submitting to his passions and ignoring his reason, but such behavior in both cases represents a rebellion against nature. A creature is always meant to act in accordance with its nature. If he thinks he has found a kind a meaning that militates against his created nature, he is delusional.

    There is no basis for asserting that Clarence’s “true” meaning or purpose must be to open cans, simply because he was created for that purpose.

    With that statement, you have abandoned all reason.

    Meaning and purpose are in the eye of the beholder.

    Perhaps, Clarence the can opener will decide that he was meant to have sex with the ball point pen. It will not matter to you, of course, that his creator did not design him for that purpose because, as you say, meaning and purpose are to be found in the beholder. Clarence has found a new meaning for his life. Are you really willing to go to such an irrational extreme in a futile attempt to avoid refutation? Remarkable.

  95. 95
    StephenB says:

    KeithS

    That’s my main point. The idea that we are obligated to obey our creator simply because he is our creator makes no sense, and the pimply-faced teenager’s basement universe demonstrates that vividly.

    We are not obligated to our Creator simply because he made us. We are obligated to our Creator because He created us out of love and for a noble purpose that is consistent with our created nature. To act against our nature is to act against our own best interests.

    The perverted teenager’s basement universe demonstrates only that an evil creator with an evil intent is neither worth loving or obeying. It is a self-contradictory scenario in which the creature’s stated reason for being brought into existence is inconsistent with its created nature.

  96. 96
    Quest says:

    StephenB,

    Thanks for trying but I don’t agree with you; you have not answered my question at all…

    I personally think that a lot of atheists and agnostics get turned off by blind religious beliefs and they often turn to other blind religious beliefs wrapped up in the science, nice looking attractive papers…

    I know that this may be not be easy for some of you here on this blog, but as a believer in God/Supreme Being, I can’t blindly accept that “…everything is going to be ok and clear when you get to heaven…”

    That’s is one of the reasons why I have been pointing out the same issue that atheistic-evolutionists have, like on sadwalkblogspot.ca… There…they blindly believe that one day, somehow, abiogenesis and evolution are going to be vindicated… But it doesn’t work that way on both sides… I just hate to be a hypocrite…

  97. 97
    StephenB says:

    Quest,

    Thanks for trying but I don’t agree with you; you have not answered my question at all…

    What is your question? What do you not agree with?

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