Intelligent Design Naturalism Philosophy

Thought for the New Year: Does suffering help us be more human?

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A Waterloo in dog poker: a scene from a life without insight/Cassius Marcellus Coolidge, 1906

From Ken Francis, journalist and author of The Little Book of God, Mind, Cosmos and Truth, at New English Review:

Isn’t it odd that the enormous volume of highly artistic works—from movies, drama, literature, poetry to music—are invariably bleak but give us immense joy? (This is especially evident in the yesteryear world of popular music, but I’ll come to that later.) One wonders are we better off living in a fallen world after all, as a perfect one without strife would lack in artistic excellence. But does a world with immense suffering justify moments of optimism through the transient pleasures of the arts, despite their dark themes? After all, one can’t have Shakespeare’s work without its tragedy, or W.B. Yeats without a terrible beauty being born.

In his book A Secular Age, the philosopher Charles Taylor wrote that some people long for ultimate meaning, and that longing may end with God. God is always breaking in, stepping through the immanent frame of secularism, according to Taylor. But when ‘secular’ God makes his appearance, Taylor finds, he sounds just like Peggy Lee, singing Is That All There Is? The song, arguably the most depressing song ever written, was inspired by the 1896 story ‘Disillusionment’ (Enttäuschung) by Thomas Mann. It sums up precisely the real meaning of secularism.
It tells the story of a young girl and the disappointments she experiences throughout her life. Everything seems empty and tinged with the melancholy of all things done. Finally, left with a broken heart when her lover leaves her, her last words confront a way out by suicide. But she finally says she’s in no hurry for that ultimate disappointment, uttering in her last breath: “Is that all there is?” More.

Well, yes, according to naturalist culture, that is all there is. It is an article of faith with them. You believe it or you don’t.

See also: Nature, as defined today, cannot be all there is. Science demonstrates that.

What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness

and

How naturalism morphed into a state religion

4 Replies to “Thought for the New Year: Does suffering help us be more human?

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    I would say it’s empathy for the sufferings of others that brings out the best in humanity and leads to the Golden Rule.

    As an a/mat I believe nature is all that there is but we are far from knowing all about nature. Research into the quantum nature of reality has shown it is far weirder than we would have expected. Multiverse and M-theory may be right or wrong or somewhere in between but they show how much there is that we are still struggling to understand and explain. This Universe apparently had a beginning but, if you can’t get something out of nothing, then something must have been there before.

    The a/mat naturalist version of reality may seem pretty bleak to believers but, if it’s true – or at least closer to the truth than the alternatives – isn’t that the better choice, if you value truth, that is?

    Or do you prefer the the opium of the people?

    Do you choose the blue pill or the red pill?

  2. 2
    JSmith says:

    I think that suffering can go both ways. It can either result in us developing more empathy for others that suffer, or it can make us bitter and seek someone or something to blame for our suffering. Sadly, I think that we are seeing more of the latter in recent years. Blame illegally Mexicans for me not getting a good job (as if they are being offered the good jobs). Blame refugees on an increase in crimes. Blame homosexuals for immorality. Blame the Liberals for everything else.

  3. 3
    Bob O'H says:

    Isn’t it odd that the enormous volume of highly artistic works—from movies, drama, literature, poetry to music—are invariably bleak but give us immense joy?

    That seems a bit simplistic. I’m sure there’s joy in at least one of Beethoven’s symphonies, for example.

    I think Prof. Slughorn summed this up:

    “There can be no light without the dark. And so it is with magic. Myself, I always try to live within the light.”

    There is suffering in the world, and art reflects that. But there is more too, and art reflects that too. And joy is more vivid if set in contrast to suffering.

  4. 4
    EDTA says:

    >Or do you prefer the opium of the people?

    Today, the opiate of the people is their entertainment: music, Hollywood (TV, movies) and the useless fluff of the internet (stupid videos, etc.). We can fill our minds with it the entire time we’re awake if we choose. It anaesthetizes us to what goes on around us, lets us ignore all those we could be helping instead, and makes us laugh at all our troubles instead of realizing how serious things are.

    Christianity cannot be called an opiate today in comparison.

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