Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


The Joker, a Lonely Face in the Atheist Crowd

posted by David Klinghoffer

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A friend responds perceptively to my dialogue with atheists, pointing out how reluctant many people are to honestly confront the unhappier consequences of their world view. Only a few atheists who wrote to me on this blog were willing to admit that atheism necessitates accepting a meaningless existence. Why the reluctance? Because everyone wants to think he leads a meaningful life, even if his ideas about ultimate questions clearly lead to the conclusion that life is meaningless. Among recent characters in entertainment fiction, Heath Ledger’s Joker may be the only personality willing to face up directly to his own nihilism.

Writes my friend:

Hi David: You really shake the trees!  I think the people who wrote you how WONDERFUL and MEANINGFUL it is to understand that they and life have no meaning, don’t really believe it.  We all think our lives are important or we become despondent and suicidal.  There is much nihilism in the world that turns to the black because they do despair at the perceived meaninglessness. But people who are happy and fulfilled by it, are either whistling past the graveyard or fooling themselves.

As to us being a moral species, that is true in the sense that we are hard wired to believe and at least in some fashion perceive right and wrong, even if that is a fluid concept. That doesn’t make what we believe moral.
 
I don’t know why I think this is relevant, but I do: When I took acting lessons during my Hollywood days, Guy Stockwell, my teacher, told me that one key to playing a good villain is that he doesn’t think he’s the bad guy.  He may know he has broken laws or done something that can get him in trouble. But he thinks he is justified.  
 
The only real exception to that is Joker in the most recent Batman movie.  A very interesting character.  He wants everyone to be complicit in his evil. He wants to prove that our society is as off the rails as he is and we are all, underneath our pretensions, like him.  But then again, he doesn’t see himself as the bad guy, he sees us as the bad guys because of our phoniness and pretense.



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Your Name

posted May 22, 2009 at 3:43 pm


How does worshipping anything or having some sort of afterlife necessarily convey meaning?
You pointed out in your last post that you felt that meaning cannot be inherent in something, it must come from outside of it…from some sort of transcendent context which frames it…but the problem with your logic is that God himself is posited as something with inherent meaning. If we gain meaning through God…how does God gain his own meaning? through us? I don’t think you’d be willing to say that so how? Isn’t God himself then ultimately meaningless if his value and significance stems only from himself?



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Glen Davidson

posted May 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm


Only a few atheists who wrote to me on this blog were willing to admit that atheism necessitates accepting a meaningless existence. Why the reluctance?

I live in a perpetual void of meaning, with a blackness of soul, and am bereft of motivation, meaningful attachment to others, reason to get up in the morning, affect, emotion, and purpose. And that’s all because I don’t believe in a non-demonstrable being who is said by unreliable humans to provide meaning to me.
Again, David, it is astonishing how truly nihilistic your view of life is. Oh, and your education, pathetic, at least for discussing anything like this.
I would have to lie, as I did in my first fictional paragraph, to state that my existence is meaningless. You seem to think that we are as bereft of knowledge of both sides as you are. The fact is that the meaninglessness of life as the theist I was brought up to be forced me to examine my beliefs, and to discard what clearly provided no answers, purpose, or meaning to life. Does existence for the sport of the gods really meaningful and purposeful? What of the Qoholeth?

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. [1:14]

But didn’t his belief in god save him from meaninglessness? Of course not. How could it? David just assumes that it does, because he’s not questioned his own beliefs, which are that it does.
Not that there is nothing of worth or happiness for the Qoholeth:

Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. [9:9]

Not that religion cannot give purpose to people, or rather, it can take the purpose of a people, surround it with a halo, and intensify it as meaning. If we heed what the Qoholeth says, though, such a purpose fades, and needs renewal. Or, one should add, abandonment, particularly today when the purposes behind religion is transparent. Indeed, the nihilism of religion in modern society is what often leads to its abandonment.
Religion still has one thing, however, which is the claim that it provides meaning, while secularism cannot legitimately claim to do so. To give up religion’s fictions is to have to face the problem of meaning and its lack, something that David has not done, and appears presently incapable of doing. Obviously, there is attraction in the notion that one can read a book, or adopt a religion, and end up with absolute meaning and purpose, rather than having to face the problems of working through the meanings that we find in life to the point at which we feel like we have an overall meaning and purpose in life. Yet to accept false hopes really is the road to nihilism.
Of course life has meaning, mine and yours. I do not see this as necessary or absolute, so that one’s life may in fact be meaningless. My life could possibly only work through meanings attached to “objects” without itself having any meaning other than that of an object–yet that itself would be a kind of meaning, although an inadequate one. However, I have accepted my role in granting meaning, rather than simply being controlled by my valuations, and in that way my life has to have meaning.
David seems unable to understand these matters, however, which simply suggests that he is dependent upon others, both dead and alive, for his meaning. One may certainly live in that manner, and it is quite likely that most humans have done so–even that most humans in modern society continue to do so. Nevertheless, that is not evidently a very meaningful life, for it enacts the meaning that others have legislated, not one that fully belongs to the individual.
My meaning and purpose are not eternal, though, which to David seems to mean that it is not meaning or purpose. Again, though, that is a meaning coming from Plato and thinkers like him, while there is no reason at all to connect eternity to “existence.” It is a naive view, yet the only one that David appears to know.
What really is absurd about David’s position is that he does not deny that, say, a puppy or a computer has meaning to us, and yet our life cannot have meaning to us because we do not think that god granted such a meaning to our lives. How can a diamond have meaning when one’s life cannot have meaning?
I wrote a bit about how we come to value things in the “Atheists and Agnostics” thread, although we still know little enough about how “meaning” and valuation begin in the brain. That much remains mysterious about “meaning” is true. Nonetheless, what is evident is that meaning does not begin with any dispensation of meaning, let alone when someone tells us that god grants meaning to our lives. We value each other as social organisms would be expected to do, and religion is largely a reification of such social concerns. Meaning does not ultimately come from religion or “god,” though, as it is really quite easy to show how most of the meanings in religion come from the psyche and social psychology.
David does not deal with the feelings of meaninglessness and purposelessness that exist among theists. Nor with the readily apparent fact that non-theists (the term I happily take to myself, since “atheist” often implies what I do not believe characterizes myself) live lives that they find meaningful. These issues do not comport with the fiction that he credits for meaning, hence he does not trouble himself with them, especially when he uses his fiction to “challenge” us.
He addresses none of our points, for he does not understand them. His view of “meaning” is as creationist as his view of life’s origins is, then, that life/meaning has to be bestowed, and any sort of emergence is just nonsensical. Nothing meaningful, though, has ever resulted from such denial of possibilities, indeed, of the only explanations for life and meaning that we have ever achieved.
It is the denial of meaning in others, and of the meaning (and lack thereof) and meanings that we have confronted. And it is David’s reinforcement of ego, against the possibilities found in others. So once again, there is no dialog, merely David repeating his empty claims of miraculous bestowals of meaning, and his denial of the meaningful statements made by those of us who forthrightly confronted the inadequacies of “meanings” supposedly bequeathed to us. David is no scientist, true, but he’s also seemingly beyond the reach of philosophy and its questions as well, at least at this time.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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ungullible

posted May 22, 2009 at 4:59 pm


Sorry I missed your first blog, but add me to the list of atheists willing to admit life has no meaning. Or to be more precise, it has no external meaning, only the meaning I give it. But I also admit that in the grand scheme of the universe, any meaning I give it is meaningful only to me, and only briefly to my lifetime and perhaps those I affect, and therefore in the long run, still meaningless. I admit that I struggle with that.
But if that sounds a little depressing, I’m OK with that. I would rather believe in a cold reality than comforting myths. I don’t live in a fantasy world where wishing something weren’t true somehow makes it so. The argument that atheism is wrong or a bad philosophy because it leads to undesirable conclusions is very poor logic. Reality doesn’t care what we desire, and it is the mark of a more mature mind to recognize that. Recognizing this reality allows us to move forward and at least try to solve the problem of life purpose, rather than pretending it already exists.



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Karen Brown

posted May 22, 2009 at 7:42 pm


If I haven’t experienced those ‘unhappy consequences’ he claims result from my worldview, why should I acknowledge them?
No, I don’t think there is some kind of planned out purpose for me imposed by some intanglbe being who doesn’t seem to care to let me in on it. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t decided on purposes and meaning.
But yeah, that will inspire thoughtful response. Compare atheists with a (literally) cartoon psychopath.



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John Shuey

posted May 22, 2009 at 9:58 pm


You do not get it!
Not only is my existence not meaningless, it is wonder-filled every day.
I know that I am made of stardust – much more noble and exciting to my mind than your mundane mud myth – and I marvel in the fact that of all the multiple millions of life forms on earth, mine is the only one that can appreciate that fact.
I know that this is my only go-round, so I am highly motivated to make as big a difference as possible in the lives of the people I care about, and to leave the world a better place for them. Motivation you cannot possibly appreciate given your focus on the “next” world. Good luck with that one.
And I deeply, completely appreciate just how lucky I am to be here, given the fact that the possible number of people who potentially could be born are more numerous than the grains of sand in the Sahara, and I am a winner in that lottery.
I am constantly in awe of deep space, distant time, and the fact that I am really related to every creature and plant that has ever existed on earth.
I have great wines, good food, marvelous companionship, and the total affection of two rescued greyhounds. I look forward to each day, each chance to share my thoughts with others, and every instance when my love and friend Pat smiles at me and tells me she loves me.
An empty, meaningless life? Pardon my French, but you are full of shit.
I do not have to fear that at any moment I might say, think or do something that might commit me to eternal damnation. Nor do I do live in subjugation to the most narcissistic, mean-spirited, hateful, and murderous character in all of fiction.
You feel sorry for me? Put a sock in it sucker!



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Passerby

posted May 22, 2009 at 11:19 pm


“The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one”
– George Bernard Shaw
“If the Bible and my brain are both the work of the same Infinite God, whose fault is it that the book and my brain do not agree?”
– Robert G. Ingersoll



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Pluto Animus

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:18 am


Life has no meaning! Waaaaah! I want my mommy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If only I had a magical, invisible part of myself that lived forever, and it was going to eventually go the happy, magical, invisible place in the sky to be with my magical, invisible friend forever and ever….



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:34 am


A friend responds perceptively to my dialogue with atheists, pointing out how reluctant many people are to honestly confront the unhappier consequences of their world view. Only a few atheists who wrote to me on this blog were willing to admit that atheism necessitates accepting a meaningless existence. Why the reluctance? Because everyone wants to think he leads a meaningful life, even if his ideas about ultimate questions clearly lead to the conclusion that life is meaningless. Among recent characters in entertainment fiction, Heath Ledger’s Joker may be the only personality willing to face up directly to his own nihilism.
————————————————————–
Hi David,
I have read others here (in our various discussions) successfully address the issue that theists and atheists share the same nuances and issues regarding morality and nihilism.
There is simply no way for you to climb out of the same box that you think you have reserved only for atheists.
It should be rather apparent by now that the fallacy of answering scientific mysteries with “God did it” fails equally when trying to answer deep philosophical ones.
As for using fictional characters to support your argument, let no one not forget the stark and rather harsh retort of the Batman when interrogating the stereotypical criminal (another atheist we should presume given your default recipe) cries out “I swear to God!” and Bats demands “Swear to Me!”.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwDiXlZlwds (video link)
Also, you may want to check the list of fictional characters who are apparently believers in God, yet who are horrible characters and obviously similar comic book foils. Tops, you may find, would be the worst one ever and who is not an atheist.
That said, it is rather silly to characterize atheists with obvious sociopaths within tales of metaphor and symbolism.
If true, can you explain why we have atheist doctors, nurses, soldiers, teachers, fire fighters, police officers, loving mothers and fathers, etc. and not a bunch of clown face nihilists flying airplanes into buildings or blowing up synagogues or throwing grenades at agnostics?
To return the topic to the more reasoned and significant issue, I admit that I often find disagreement with other atheists and humanists who promote the view that our human lives are ultimately meaningless or that the universe does not care.
This is why I empathize with you when you seem encouraged by this misinformation and continue posts addressing this important topic as a perceived “gotcha” moment that seems to make you feel better about yourself and your personally chosen world view.
The fact is that the “universe” constitutes, at the very least (and I would say “the very most” as well!) the sum of its parts.
Given that recognition, it can also be observed that “caring” exists as one of its traits. We not only see caring in human beings, but it is a testable and quantifiable trait in all sentient life forms.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I recognize that there are elements that are “uncaring”.
A chair doesn’t care, nor does a piano, nor a catastrophic hurricane.
But it would be a grave error to *only* count those elements within the sum that are meaningless and uncaring while outright ignoring those equally valid and quantifiable “parts” of the universe (that would be us, among others) that are so meaningful and very caring.
My hope is that I will not only win you over with this simple observation that steps beyond our common and understandable inability to see ourselves *as* the universe, but other atheists and humanists as well.
Thoughtfully yours,
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS



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Harry Tomlin

posted May 23, 2009 at 11:59 am


All of us learn at an early age that death awaits us at some unknown time as we stroll down our life’s path. The fear of oblivion is what inspires the many religions offering an alternative to total extinction. History reports on the many Gods invented by ancient societies to dampen the primal fear. Any objective study of history, including the Bible’s twisted version, will indicate there is no evidence of any God ever interfering in the lives of men. For those seeking a reason for living, they need look no further than mankind’s natural curiousity. We are driven to learn all we can about the Universe in which we exist. Learning provides enough self-satisfaction to justify our living to pursue it. Those who are lucky enough to live long enough for their bodies fail from aging welcome the coming oblivion. I have known several ancient ones that said they welcomed their imminent demise because they had lived past the world they knew and understood and was not comfortable with the changes.
I looked for evidence of a real God in the Bible and wrote a book about what I discovered. You can check it out at:
http://www.eloquentbooks.com/TheGospelTruth-ARealityCheck.html



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Turmarion

posted May 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm


Steve Schlicht: , I admit that I often find disagreement with other atheists and humanists who promote the view that our human lives are ultimately meaningless or that the universe does not care.
Fair enough, but I really don’t see how any other view can be supported given the postulates.
But it would be a grave error to *only* count those elements within the sum that are meaningless and uncaring while outright ignoring those equally valid and quantifiable “parts” of the universe (that would be us, among others) that are so meaningful and very caring.
Why? Who sets such a standard? What makes them “right” if there is no “wrong” or “right”? Who says what is or is not “valid”, or that caring is “higher” or “lower” or “better” than uncaring? Who’s to say a Nazi who beleives in trampling the weak isn’t equally valid?
ungullible: Good post.
Glen Davidson: What really is absurd about David’s position is that he does not deny that, say, a puppy or a computer has meaning to us, and yet our life cannot have meaning to us because we do not think that god granted such a meaning to our lives.
I think perhaps there are two misapprehensions here. One, transcendent meaning, as I keep pointing out, doesn’t necessarily depend on the God of Judaism, Christianity, and other theisms. Many non-theistic religions and philosophies have a very robust concept of the transcendent. Two, theists don’t necessarily think that god “grants meaning to our lives”. It would be more precise to say that without a transcendent, everything becomes relative (no way to judge Nazis as better than, say, Martin Luther King, Jr.) and (for many) the lack of such a meaning is debilitating.
Nietzsche, certainly an atheist, was very clear-minded in arguing that with no meaning, any meaning that anyone makes for himeself is as legitimate as that of anyone else. A Nazi’s meaning is as valid as mine.
The existentialists (Sartre, Camus, etc.), also atheists, argued that the universe is meaningless and largely hostile to humanity; any meaning that people make for themsevles is an arbitrary delusion. This is why existentialist literature emphasizes depression, alienation, and struggle against impossible odds for no real reason.
It is interesting to point out that all great religions posit the meaninglessness of life and a “way out”. Hinduism, which is polytheistic, says that existence is maya, “illusion”. Buddhism, which is non-theistic (no god at all!) says that all existence is dukkha, “suffering”. This is why they seek the transcendent extinguishing of all suffering, nirvana. I could go on, but there have been very, very few religions or philosophies before the last couple of centuries that are atheistic/agnostic and which reject the transcendent.
It is also interesting that it is only in affluent, First World contries that you have large numbers of people express ideas of the type we’ve seen a lot of in the last few threads, that fine wine and food, good companions, wonder at the cosmos, etc., make a lack of meaning OK. Easy for those who are healthy, educated, and have access to more than adequate food, water, and shelter, to say. Very few humans throughout history would agree.
Face it: no matter how wonderful your life, your accomplishments, your pleasures, your awe at the stars, you are going to die, and when that happens it will all be gone forever. You won’t “live on” in your accomplishments or family, either. In the trackless eons of infinity, all will die, collapse, be forgotten. The human race and all its sorrows and joys, its triumphs and failures, will end, and the universe will eventually experience heat death. After that, nothing, ever again. That is, if there is no transcendent meaning.
Going back to Nietzshce, he believed that few could really, truly accept this fact–even if they claimed to do so, they were in effect flinching from “staring into the abyss”. He thought that only extremely strong souls could do this–most would be crushed. Even he wasn’t that strong, since he at first took solace in the idea of “eternal recurrence”, which is a backdoor form of immortality; and then, ultimately, went mad. Too long did he stare into the abyss.
It is true that theists and other believers in the transcendent exprience meaninglessness and lack of purpose at times. This is well-known; after all, it was theists who coined the term “dark night of the soul”. The difference is that a theist or other who believes in the transcendent believes that this will someday be resolved. For an atheist, it must be accepted as is, or ignored; but it won’t ever be resolved. For those who are OK with that, really, truly, deeply OK with it–well, more power to you. Perhaps some feel that David or others are gratuitously refusing to “get it” that you don’t “need” meaning. It seems that some of you don’t “get it” that for some (and not just for theists, let me point out again), this is radically unsatisfactory.
I think, in conclusion, that there are two schools of thought among atheists and agnostics. One, represented by Nietzsche and existentialists, say that atheism does indeed vitiate any and all meaning. Thus we are left with a sort of free-for-all in which no one’s values or meaning are higher than any others, and fighting to “better” the world is a waste of time. Alienation rules.
The other, represented by secular humanists, in effect, says “No transcendent meaning? Who cares? We don’t need no steenking transcendent meaning!” From there they go on to posit values that seek to better humanity, doing this despite the lack of transcendent meaning.
Now obviously, everyone “pays their money and takes their chances”, even atheists. It seems to me that the second form of atheism above is logically inconsistent, that it is not intellectually coherent. People who take that view believe there is no ultimate reason for anything, but continure to seek betterment of humanity anyway. Which is a good thing! On the other hand, the Nietzschean type of atheism, to me, is rigorously honest, logical, and consistent. Of course, its conclusions are horrible, so it’s not surprising that it has few disciples.
Now understand–I’m not trying to gore anyone’s ox. I think the humanist type of atheism is well-meaning but jumble-headed. Then again, many say much uglier things about us theists. Ultimately one side is right and the other wrong, and eventually we’ll find out which. I think that it is most important for people of goodwill, whatever their beliefs, to work together in this world. As to our differences, we’re never going to convince each other, and “further along, we’ll understand why”.



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm


Turmarion: “Fair enough, but I really don’t see how any other view can be supported given the postulates.”
Fair enough as well, however, I have given postulates that support the notion that caring exists and meaning exists respectively. It is testable and observable within the universe in plain view, therefore, a quality of the universal sum.
Turmarion: “Why? Who sets such a standard? What makes them “right” if there is no “wrong” or “right”? Who says what is or is not “valid”, or that caring is “higher” or “lower” or “better” than uncaring? Who’s to say a Nazi who believes in trampling the weak isn’t equally valid?”
You have moved the goal posts.
I never said what is or what makes them “right or “wrong” or even what is “higher”, “lower” or “better, just that “caring and meaning” do exist.
Go ahead and read my post again and you will see that I am clear on the nuance I am addressing.
Furthermore, since “caring and meaning” (note I am not qualifying if they are right or wrong, blue or green, higher or lower, better or worse, etc.) can be shown to exist, then the universe cannot be said to be uncaring and meaningless.
Of, if you follow your assertion with equal disbelief, meaninglessness and nihilism do not exist either.
Thoughtfully yours,
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 23, 2009 at 3:42 pm


Turmarion,
Please explain what you mean by an “ultimate reason for anything”.
I’ve read your post several times and that particular sentence seems like a rather large straw man which you conclude by setting alight.
Thanks!
Steve



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benjdm

posted May 23, 2009 at 5:16 pm


“pointing out how reluctant many people are to honestly confront the unhappier consequences of their world view.”
Including you, Mr. Klinghofer. I pointed this out to you on the other post and I will do so again on this one:
David Klinghoffer said: “It seems to me that meaning by definition needs to come from outside a given system.”
Then, by your definition, the whole of reality is meaningless. (There is no ‘outside’ of everything that is real.) It doesn’t matter if reality features a God or not.



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Turmarion

posted May 23, 2009 at 7:18 pm


Steve Schlicht: The fact is that the “universe” constitutes, at the very least…the sum of its parts. Given that recognition, it can also be observed that “caring” exists as one of its traits.
This is a subtle error. What we humans define as “caring” consists of actions performed by sentient beings: e.g., a mother nurturing a child, a negotiator striving to bring peace, etc. Such caring is a “trait” of individual beings, not the universe. Consider: our body is made of cells. Cells reproduce by fission–the humans comprising them obviously don’t. You can’t take a trait of a tiny constituent part of a large whole and apply it to the whole in a meaningful way. The universe as such is neither caring nor non-caring.
We not only see caring in human beings, but it is a testable and quantifiable trait in all sentient life forms.
Quantifiable? How? All sentient life forms? Most research I’m aware of indicates that only creatures higher than reptiles seem to display the types of altruism, emotion, and other behaviors we usually put under the rubric of “caring”. Certainly fish are sentient, and according to recent research, perhaps even lobsters (“sentient”, from Latin sentire, “to feel”, means “capable of feeling conscious pain”). None of these seem to exhibit “caring”.
But it would be a grave error to *only* count those elements within the sum that are meaningless and uncaring while outright ignoring those equally valid and quantifiable “parts” of the universe (that would be us, among others) that are so meaningful and very caring.
This seems to be the old, “Why is there so much evil in the cosmos?” to which the response is, “The real question is, why is there so much good?” This is hopelessly subjective. There is no way to sum up the total “goodness” or “caring” or “meaningfulness” of the universe, along with the total “badness”, “uncaring”, and “meaninglessness” and come to some sum that says, “On the whole, the universe is more good than bad (or bad than good).” It seems to me for the human race as a whole over time, and even now (consider the global numbers in abject poverty, starvation, disease, etc.), there has been far more suffering than not. Certainly all religions before the last couple of centuries have seen the bad as outweighing the good. Of course, you might disagree. The point is that no sum of the type of which you speak is possible; given which I fail to see the point.
I have given postulates that support the notion that caring exists and meaning exists respectively. It is testable and observable within the universe in plain view, therefore, a quality of the universal sum.
In light of what I’ve just said, I’m afraid I have to argue that this doesn’t even seem to be meaningful. Anyway, any caring and meaning we experience seems limited to one planet which is not even one trillion trillion trillion trillionth of the cosmos.
You have moved the goal posts. I never said what is or what makes them “right or “wrong” or even what is “higher”, “lower” or “better, just that “caring and meaning” do exist.
A Nazi and I might both agree that caring and meaning do exist. However, he might consider caring to be reserved for the Master Race; he might even consider it a form of caring for the “inferior races” to exterminate them and put them out of their misery. A Nazi might consider that meaning is for the Master Race to exterminate or enslave lesser races, and to propagate the glory and power of the Aryans. All this is stuff you and I would both find abhorrent. But both we and the Nazi agree that “caring and meaning do exist! So, what good does their existence do, by itself?
Modern Western culture is the only one in which there has been a regard for women’s rights, freedom of conscience, diversity, human dignity, etc.; but it is so far only a small blip out of all the tens of thousands of years of human existence; and whether it will endure is at least debatable. As I pointed out elsewhere, horribly despotic and cruel societies have flourished for millennia. It is in light of all this that I say, “Who sets a standard? Who defines ‘wrong’ and ‘right’?”
Furthermore, since “caring and meaning” (note I am not qualifying if they are right or wrong, blue or green, higher or lower, better or worse, etc.) can be shown to exist, then the universe cannot be said to be uncaring and meaningless.
This seems a confused statement. If “caring and meaning” are not right or wrong, then how are they significant? Who cares? And to say that because they exist so that therefore the universe is not “uncaring and meaningless” is confusing properties of the part with those of the whole. Electrons and protons have electrical charge–it does not therefore follow that the objects made up of them are necessarily charged (try putting an electric charge on a piece of wood!). Electrons, according to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, have no discrete location–this doesn’t mean that objects don’t have a discrete location. In fact, the radical differences between the quantum world and the macroscopic world are well-known in physics. Thus, I have to say that attributing “caring and meaning” to the cosmos on the grounds of their occurrence among us is completely mistaken.
Please explain what you mean by an “ultimate reason for anything”.
OK, perhaps I should be a little more precise. There are two kinds of goals–instrumental goals and absolute goals. For example, I don’t go shopping for food because I like to push grocery carts around. My goal in shopping is instrumental–it serves the purpose of getting food I need to eat. Eating is (at least partly) an instrumental goal, since it is needed to keep me alive. Mortimer Adler gives a good and more extended discussion of this in Aristotle for Everybody.
Societally you have the same thing–we pass laws, elect leaders, go to meetings, etc. etc. in order to achieve goals that allow us to pursue other goals.
For an individual, the end goal is happiness (which is not necessarily the same thing as pleasure–look up the Greek term eudaimonia. Adler’s book gives a good description of this, too). For society, the end goal (presumably) is to provide a structure in which the greatest possible number of people can be happy. All instrumental goals lead to these two. Instrumental goals are useful only insofar as they lead to the absolute goals. E.g., if I go to get groceries but when I get home I forget and leave them in the car and they spoil, the fact that I achieved the instrumental goal (get food) is irrelevant to the success of the higher level goal of eating.
I assert that the vast majority of humans throughout history have not been able to achieve the goal of human happiness, nor have most societies achieved the goal of promoting human happiness. Thus, humanity, no matter how many instrumental goals it has achieved, has by and large failed in achieving the only meaningful absolute goals. It seems likely to me (although of course I could be wrong) that this will always be the case. To be clear, it seems overwhelmingly likely to me that the vast majority of humans will experience more pain and suffering than happiness and that most societies, in the long run, won’t be able to do that much about it. This is, of course, a debatable point, but not answerable in a definitive way by any of us.
So, from a perspective that asserts no transcendental meaning, there is only one “ultimate” goal, or “ultimate” reason: promotion of human happiness. From observation of the world, that appears to many, both theists and atheists, to be unobtainable. Thus the perversity of the human condition–that which we seek, the only end goal, seems to be forever out of reach for the vast majority of us; and even those who attain it do so only briefly, as we are all fated to die. Some of us find this unspeakably tragic, and consider that such a cosmos is not worth it.
Now for those of us who do assert a transcendent meaning (which is what I somewhat loosely meant by “ultimate reason for anything”), there is hope. Though most of us will not or cannot achieve only ultimate goal of the material universe, we all have the chance to achieve salvation, nirvana, moksha, or whatever the goal of the system in question. In fact, most Hindus and Buddhists, and some Christians, would say that in the end, most or even all of humanity will achieve this ultimate goal. As I said before, it is only in modern industrial technological societies that people assert that no transcendent meaning is needed, since only in such societies do relatively large numbers of people actually manage to achieve the non-transcendent ultimate goal of happiness. All premodern religions and philosophies stress the misery, fleetingness, and unsatisfactoriness of this world, and even of ordinary human happiness. It seems to me that this is a frank acknowledgment of reality.
Now I don’t necessarily expect you to agree with me on many of these points; but perhaps you can better see where I’m coming from.



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 23, 2009 at 8:07 pm


Turmarion: “Anyway, any caring and meaning we experience seems limited to one planet which is not even one trillion trillion trillion trillionth of the cosmos.”
See, we agree!
Though you are more “the glass of wine is half-empty” kind of folk, at least you see that the glass is there before you, even though the bottle may be across the room on the small table near the flowers.
This “caring” that you’ve detected as a quantifiable part of the sum of the vast and wondrous universe in plain view is also “one trillionth, etc.” of the macro-cosmos to the very, very, very, very…very, very, very small, relatively speaking.
Thanks for the great conversation, I am more convinced than ever that we humans are fully capable of being personally culpable and responsible for positing and deriving “ultimate reasons for anything”.
Your posts are more proof of that.
Any other propositions seem just self loathing and quite plain old silly.
I hope you’re a happy person, Turmarion, and that you come to realize that Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man, that he didn’t already have.
;0)
Thoughtfully yours,
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS



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Turmarion

posted May 23, 2009 at 8:35 pm


We agree, but it’s an odd sort of agreement. You admit that goodness and caring are a vanishingly small feature of the cosmos, yet you seem to be bascially OK with that. I’d say it’s more that the glass is 99.99999% empty, considered cosmically, and I’m much less sanguine about human nature and the prospects for the species than you are. I’m happy enough, which puts me in the teeny-tiny percentage of the bulk of humans throughout history; but my point is that if this is all there is, I personally don’t think happiness is a sufficient goal when it is a vanishingly rare thing that lasts but an eyeblink out of eternity. I don’t think that’s a “self-loathing” or “silly” view–just accurate and in conformity with observed reality. Once again, you’d probably disagree, but as I said, each of us “pays his money and takes his chances”, and ultimately all will be manifest one way or the other.



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 23, 2009 at 8:55 pm


Turmarion: “We agree, but it’s an odd sort of agreement. You admit that goodness and caring are a vanishingly small feature of the cosmos, yet you seem to be bascially OK with that. I’d say it’s more that the glass is 99.99999% empty, considered cosmically, and I’m much less sanguine about human nature and the prospects for the species than you are. I’m happy enough, which puts me in the teeny-tiny percentage of the bulk of humans throughout history; but my point is that if this is all there is, I personally don’t think happiness is a sufficient goal when it is a vanishingly rare thing that lasts but an eyeblink out of eternity. I don’t think that’s a “self-loathing” or “silly” view–just accurate and in conformity with observed reality. Once again, you’d probably disagree, but as I said, each of us “pays his money and takes his chances”, and ultimately all will be manifest one way or the other.”
I wouldn’t characterize our agreement as “odd”, just “relative” to our own minds and experiences.
Any reader can look at my post and reject the notion that I ever claimed that goodness and caring are “a vanishing small feature of the cosmos”.
My view is that you look at our human existence and attempt to quantify the *amount* of “caring” by comparison to a large outward universe, when the universe is also microcosmic (relative to “us) and as long as caring exists, then this is also a feature of the universe.
That we agree that “caring” exists further supports my assertion that it is part and parcel of the universe.
We humans, as it happens, are not separate from “all that is” after all and neither do we need some “transcendent” (whatever that is or can be philosophically or theologically articulated to be) being/entity/well-spring beyond space and time (that would, I propose, need some *other* transcendence to support its own necessity of acquiring “caring” given the initial proposition of the non-existence of deriving empathy without it).
Again, we seem to share a common view that the glass of wine exists and is wonderful.
Perhaps that is the pub where we all meet.
Take care,
Steve



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 23, 2009 at 9:13 pm


As an aside, Turmarion, what exactly do you keep meaning by “ultimately” and “absolute” and “manifest” in some other way than what is?
If your goal is reached at transcendence and an absolute end of all songs, then where is the hope?
I think that the constant craving for ever more, ever long and “transcendent” states of ultimate being beyond just this world…this beautiful, complex, natural world is an expression of nihilism right in the here and now, and rather boring.
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS



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Turmarion

posted May 23, 2009 at 10:30 pm


Steve Schlicht: Any reader can look at my post and reject the notion that I ever claimed that goodness and caring are “a vanishing small feature of the cosmos”.
I agree–you don’t claim this. I just don’t think this follows from your premises.
My view is that you look at our human existence and attempt to quantify the *amount* of “caring” by comparison to a large outward universe, when the universe is also microcosmic (relative to “us) and as long as caring exists, then this is also a feature of the universe….We humans, as it happens, are not separate from “all that is” after all.
I would see this as a sort of pantheism, not a true materialist view of the cosmos. You almost seem to postulate a “world spirit”, although you’d probably disagree. This was much of my point–not taking the concept of a cosmos devoid of ultimate meaning to its logical conclusion. In any case, atheists of the Dawkins stripe would probably scoff at this.
As an aside, Turmarion, what exactly do you keep meaning by “ultimately” and “absolute” and “manifest” in some other way than what is?
I don’t think the physical universe, or the observable universe, is “all that is”. I think, apart from religious committments, and based partly on personal experience, partly on philosophical grounds, that the universe is only a tiny part of “what is”. Even if we limit things to the material universe, we perceive only a tiny, insignificant fraction. In my view, the physical universe is only a minute fraction of Existence. That great mystery beyond all the material cosmos, beyond all space and time, beyond all infinity, which is variously called God, dharmakaya, shunyata, the Dao, Brahman, the Ground of Being, the Ein Soph, and countless others, is what I mean by the Ultimate, the Absolute. The “manifest” is that teeny-tiny fraction of things we see now. Hopefully at some future stage, much more will be manifest.
If your goal is reached at transcendence and an absolute end of all songs, then where is the hope?
I don’t think longing for the ultimate, the transcendent, whatever you wish to call it, is inconsistent with enjoying the here-and-now; I certainly try to do so. The wonderfulness of much of the world is in fact why I find it so tragic and appalling that most humans throughout history have been denied such enjoyment.
In regard to attaining the transcendent, I think G. K. Chesterton said that the madman (of whom he gave Poe as an example) neurotically tries to encompass everything in his mind, and therefore goes mad; whereas the sane man is happy to float on the sea of Infinity. I don’t think that union with God or nirvana or moksha or the World to Come or whatever you want to call it is an end. It is the beginning of a glorious, infinite adventure–only then it will be open to all and free of the nastiness and suffering of the present order of things. Meanwhile, we all do the best we can to make the world a better place and to live the best lives we can.
Anyway, you’re probably right about the pub at which we all meet! ;)



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 24, 2009 at 10:47 am


Turmarion: “I agree–you don’t claim this. I just don’t think this follows from your premises.”
I don’t think that from our current human relative position in the vast and interdependent natural universe we can determine if certain qualities are either quantifiably “vanishing” or quantifiably “evolving” from some bits of stuff into a “majority” bits of stuff.
In any event, I have posited that “caring and meaning” exist and, because they exist, they are parts of the sum that is the natural universe (all things).
You seem to agree and that is “good” (relatively speaking, of course, from my own chosen perspective derived from my own personal experiences, outlook and subjective opinion!)
Turmarion: “I would see this as a sort of pantheism, not a true materialist view of the cosmos. You almost seem to postulate a “world spirit”, although you’d probably disagree. This was much of my point–not taking the concept of a cosmos devoid of ultimate meaning to its logical conclusion. In any case, atheists of the Dawkins stripe would probably scoff at this.”
This seems to assert an a priori decision which is then filled with the associated proposition without evidence.
A “No True Scotsman” fallacy to be sure and just because I don’t fit your mold of the preconceived materialistic atheist, who must be dark, dreary, wrong and hopelessly flawed and sociopathic, doesn’t mean I must be a pantheist. I find many pantheists equally as noodley “woo” as those who would consistently posit “something more, more, more”.
I am no pantheist, I assure you, but I am an ardent and appreciative fan of the universe in plain view, warts and all, and I truly love a mystery.
My view is that many atheists, including Dawkins, would probably nod in agreement with this. But you would really have to ask them to get an accurate assessment.
That said, I’m certainly not going to be going around saying the universe talks to me, has given me its list of demands (in private conversation and written out on my breakfast sticky bun in sweet icing which I’ve promptly eaten as instructed so, no…I have no evidence to support the notion that I am a divine conduit and that the demands are for the entire human race, including the bit about not liking guacamole, but neither can you disprove my claims so they are equally valid as any other faith and if you disagree you are just a big ole mean hateful, meaningless and ignorant bigot) and wants me to be its fuzzy little pet to squeeze, hug and protect forever and ever down at the local extra-galactic zoo beyond space and time as long as I purr when directed.
I also don’t fill it with personal buddy names like “God”, dharmakaya, shunyata, the Dao, Brahman, the Ground of Being, the Ein Soph, and countless others.
Material universe is just fine with me because it is simple and specific and encompassing, which is not to say that this doesn’t include art, song, dance, imagination, poetry, dreams, hopes, despair, loss, failure, success, and deep abiding love…and those hot bikinis on display at that store you have to pretend you’re not looking into when walking with your significant other down at the mall while shopping for shoes, because it does, along with some things we haven’t yet found but we are certain to keep looking for if we can avoid the car bombs and those irritable and boring men in the fancy hats.
All of these, I assert, are the “elements of the sum” of this wonderfully ambiguous, perpetually existing, evolving and expanding, decaying and retracting, subjective and relative, low-fat and healthy and good for you, thermonuclear jewel.
Who could ask for anything more?
Cheers!
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS



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Lowell

posted May 24, 2009 at 5:08 pm


Yours isn’t a “dialogue”, it’s a condescending lecture. Atheism has nothing to do with a meaningless existence. My life, my accomplishments, my service to this country are ALL meaningful. Perhaps not to you, but that’s your problem. Please, get a life, or at the very least, find a meaning.



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 24, 2009 at 5:33 pm


Hey Lowell,
My view is that is the overall kind of response that folks like David are shooting for in the long run. There is quite a bit of hubris and condescending tone reflected in his perspective and even this critique I offer will probably be skewed into some sort of tu quoque argument.
That said, I find it refreshing that many more people are responding to these sorts of posts and articles and blogs all over the internet in support of atheists and the basic position that none of the claims for the existence of God(s)ess(es) have been proven and that the issue of morality is a completely different topic altogether.
Take care and thanks.
Steve



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Glen Davidson

posted May 24, 2009 at 5:39 pm


Glen Davidson: What really is absurd about David’s position is that he does not deny that, say, a puppy or a computer has meaning to us, and yet our life cannot have meaning to us because we do not think that god granted such a meaning to our lives.
I think perhaps there are two misapprehensions here.

From you, yes. I was addressing David’s post, not your typically beside the point objections. Like:

One, transcendent meaning, as I keep pointing out, doesn’t necessarily depend on the God of Judaism, Christianity, and other theisms. Many non-theistic religions and philosophies have a very robust concept of the transcendent.

The fact is that I haven’t refrained from pointing out that those suffer from the same problems as theism.
I didn’t here, because it wasn’t called for. Read the title and the post–David is addressing atheism, obviously from the standpoint of a theist, and a creationist to boot. My “misapprehension” is neither a misapprehension, as you should know from my past disagreement with metaphysics in general, and has nothing to do with what David is pushing, which is theism. So can you quit with the strawmen already?

Two, theists don’t necessarily think that god “grants meaning to our lives”. It would be more precise to say that without a transcendent, everything becomes relative (no way to judge Nazis as better than, say, Martin Luther King, Jr.) and (for many) the lack of such a meaning is debilitating.

As I noted, David is as creationist with morals as with life itself. Nor do I care about the many ways of getting around the “granting” or whatever terms I have loosely used. I’m more than a little aware of the position of “transcendence,” that it’s “substrate” or some other thing–something that made sense for, say, “nature’s laws” in Plotinus’ system, because they obviously existed (in some manner) and were not otherwise explained, while nothing similar is in apparent evidence for morals.

Nietzsche, certainly an atheist, was very clear-minded in arguing that with no meaning, any meaning that anyone makes for himeself is as legitimate as that of anyone else. A Nazi’s meaning is as valid as mine.

And? Where’s any evidence that it is not so? I may not like it that I cannot call the universe down upon Nazi evil, but you cannot produce a god or other “transcendence” that does.
The mere fact that you say it is otherwise changes nothing, nor does it halt the Nazi bombardment of Leningrad. Bombs, weapons, and soldiers did that.

The existentialists (Sartre, Camus, etc.), also atheists, argued that the universe is meaningless and largely hostile to humanity; any meaning that people make for themsevles is an arbitrary delusion.

And I always found the existentialists to be delusional. Not Camus, so much, since he mostly represented how many people were thinking at the time, but Heidegger and his derivative Sartre are appallingly anti-science.

This is why existentialist literature emphasizes depression, alienation, and struggle against impossible odds for no real reason.

I have also known those feelings, but you know what? I got over them, asserting my animal instincts, including concern for others with a concommitant dislike for the evil of the Nazis. It was not for nothing that they did what they did out of the sight of most people, for it horrifies most well-adjusted humans–even most “suburban anti-Semites,” as Pound tried to make himself out to be when he saw what they had done.

I could go on, but there have been very, very few religions or philosophies before the last couple of centuries that are atheistic/agnostic and which reject the transcendent.

That’s because they didn’t have science, most likely.

…we’ve seen a lot of in the last few threads, that fine wine and food, good companions, wonder at the cosmos, etc., make a lack of meaning OK. Easy for those who are healthy, educated, and have access to more than adequate food, water, and shelter, to say. Very few humans throughout history would agree.

Were I a communist desiring for all to be atheist, that might matter to me. I am not sure that atheism is a good thing for the masses, but I do not oppose the saying so of those who do, for at least our social system ought to be less prejudicial for atheists in our society, IMO.
That religion is often (I would not say always, certainly) an opiate of the people, however, is no argument for religion

Face it: no matter how wonderful your life, your accomplishments, your pleasures, your awe at the stars, you are going to die, and when that happens it will all be gone forever. You won’t “live on” in your accomplishments or family, either. In the trackless eons of infinity, all will die, collapse, be forgotten. The human race and all its sorrows and joys, its triumphs and failures, will end, and the universe will eventually experience heat death. After that, nothing, ever again. That is, if there is no transcendent meaning.

I have faced it, and I don’t know why you imply that I have not. But as I noted, the Qoholeth confronted the same problem, and he was a theist (again, I brought that up because David was opposing theism to atheism, not because I see the rest of “transcendent” claims to be equally devoid of meaning).

The difference is that a theist or other who believes in the transcendent believes that this will someday be resolved. For an atheist, it must be accepted as is, or ignored; but it won’t ever be resolved. For those who are OK with that, really, truly, deeply OK with it–well, more power to you.

Of course it’s resolved, by understanding the history of “transcendence.” You like to use Nietzsche, but don’t forget that he very much argued his case from evidence, not from some fantastic desire to deny god. He was a philologist who could trace the rather casual and essentially non-transcendent conceptions of early religious people (the Greeks saw the soul continuing in existence, but one that was dull and “dead” compared with ours–Homer said that Achilles would rather be a servant in this life than lord and master of Hades) on to a “transcendence” that appears to have arisen with defeated people who could not bear both a poor life here and a poor life in the underworld.
That is the problem, that we cannot believe the fantasies which were spun up to deny what is the fate of humanity. I don’t necessarily find it to be desirable, and once thought that I would rather just believe in god than not. The trouble was, I really could not believe, so the second time I became a non-theist it was merely an acknowledgement that I can put no faith into the empty rhetoric of humans who cannot face reality.
Particularly, I deal with issues of mind and its interface with the world, which I cannot afford to obscure with evidence-free myths. Perhaps in a different life, I could afford to live with undemonstrable claims, and it is possible that I would do so (I really don’t know).

Perhaps some feel that David or others are gratuitously refusing to “get it” that you don’t “need” meaning. It seems that some of you don’t “get it” that for some (and not just for theists, let me point out again), this is radically unsatisfactory.

Is that what he’s saying? Of course not, he’s telling us that we’re unwilling to admit that life is meaningless, when there is really no question that it is meaningful to most of us within our own terms. You’re trying to blame us for not getting the fact that many may need “transcendence,” for which statement you are completely lacking in evidence vis-a-vis myself, for I have never written a phrase with such sentiments. Why you have to attack a strawman not in evidence (certainly not in my comments) I do not know.

One, represented by Nietzsche and existentialists, say that atheism does indeed vitiate any and all meaning.

That is absolutely untrue for Nietzsche. He knows that atheism vitiates metaphysical meanings, hence his madman. That we create meaning consumes much of his writing.

The other, represented by secular humanists, in effect, says “No transcendent meaning? Who cares? We don’t need no steenking transcendent meaning!” From there they go on to posit values that seek to better humanity, doing this despite the lack of transcendent meaning.

They are the atheists to whom Nietzsche’s madman speaks, for the madman knows that those atheists cling to meanings whose “basis” has been knocked out with the “death of God.”

On the other hand, the Nietzschean type of atheism, to me, is rigorously honest, logical, and consistent. Of course, its conclusions are horrible, so it’s not surprising that it has few disciples.

No, they are freeing (to an elite), but they do not appear to be helpful to the masses. Nietzsche was, of course, quite moral, and understood that his life had meaning. Not that the thought of suicide did not comfort him in dark nights, however, that meant that he could leave life when he chose.

Now understand–I’m not trying to gore anyone’s ox. I think the humanist type of atheism is well-meaning but jumble-headed. Then again, many say much uglier things about us theists.

The unfortunate thing is that you write what you want to write, without paying much attention to what David wrote, which is that atheists won’t admit the meaninglessness which is unquestionably their lot, nor to my specific response to what he had written. I answered him well, and almost nothing you wrote even addressed the exchange there, rather you pretend that I do not know what I know very well indeed, and bring in non-sequiturs about how people dislike the implications of non-theism.
David’s false claims about myself were what I addressed, and then I had to address the false implications that you added without you dealing with the actual exchange, nor even with the fact that I obviously do not restrict my objections to theism per se, rather I fault all metaphysics and transcendence. Not as a preacher, instead as one who finds this to be a necessary position for those who wish to address “reality.”
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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LazerA

posted May 24, 2009 at 8:31 pm


A very clear discussion of the issue of the source, if any, for morality and meaning in an atheist worldview can be found in the chapter 12 of Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics. (Singer is a world famous philosopher and atheist – best know for his views on animal rights and post-partum abortion – whose books on ethics are required reading in innumerable university courses.)
To sum up his approach: He explicitly acknowledges that without a god there cannot be any meaning for life as a whole, period. Being that, however, we appear to have a need for a sense of meaning in order to be happy, perhaps a person can find meaning for himself by finding a purpose in his life outside of his own self-interests. One such purpose might be to “take up the ethical point of view”. The advantage of the “ethical point of view” over other ways to give meaning to one’s life is that one will not “grow out of it”, as opposed to stamp collecting which Singer explicitly mentions as “entirely adequate” for those who are less reflective.
It is obvious that Singer is struggling here with an insurmountable problem and he is forced to conclude that for an atheist there is no meaning except what makes the individual atheist feel good about himself. If we, as a society, are fortunate, all the atheists will be mild-mannered intellectuals like Peter Singer, and they will chose their own manufactured “ethical point of view” (in which, in Singer’s case, it is perfectly acceptable to kill a week old baby for the convenience of the parents but not acceptable to kill a cow for food), and will not be violent nihilists (Nazis, Communists, etc.) who find purpose in annihilating anyone who interferes with their goals. (Oh, one second, most of those people also started off as mild mannered intellectuals!)
Ultimately, without an external source for meaning and morality, there can be no genuine response to evil of any kind. Some atheists are willing to live with this consequence; most are not and choose instead to engage in massive self-deception on this topic.



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Turmarion

posted May 24, 2009 at 9:55 pm


Steve Schlicht: neither can you disprove my claims so they are equally valid as any other faith and if you disagree you are just a big ole mean hateful, meaningless and ignorant bigot
I think I’ve said several times that neither side can be proved or disproved, and I’m not particularly trying to make anyone accept any idea. I also was not stereotyping you as a “preconceived materialistic atheist, who must be dark, dreary, wrong and hopelessly flawed and sociopathic”–you certainly don’t come off anything like that, and I’ve said more than once that most atheists are probably not much different in behavior, morality, and temperament from most theists. What I said is that your beliefs don’t seem to me to follow from your postulates; you disagree, and that’s OK–we agree to disagree. I also though you sounded rather pantheistic. You say you’re not, and I believe you–I was obviously wrong. You say that a material universe only is fine by you; so, OK. For some it is, for some it’s not, chacun à son goût. We make our choices and go from there. Everyone should follow his own course. Thanks to you, too, for a great and interesting conversation that has kept me on my toes. It is always good to have to think about your beliefs and interacting with one who doesn’t share them helps one articulate his own beliefs more clearly.
Glen Davidson: I am not sure that atheism is a good thing for the masses
Which is the exact position of the Enlightenment-era philosophes: “The ignorant, brutish masses need the Church to keep ‘em in line, while we the elite can deal with the way things really are.” Rather a classist, elitist, and frankly nasty outlook, by me, but to each his own.
That is absolutely untrue for Nietzsche. He knows that atheism vitiates metaphysical meanings, hence his madman. That we create meaning consumes much of his writing.
I’m quite aware of this. I have never implied of you, as you seem to do of me, that you’re ignorant of the citations I’m giving.
No, [the implications of Nietzsche’s philosophy] are freeing (to an elite), but they do not appear to be helpful to the masses.
Once again, with the elitism.
Nietzsche was, of course, quite moralthat too! In fact, the citizens of Turin called him il santo.
and understood that his life had meaning.
Given many statements of his that he’d rather not be understood because those who could understand him must have suffered horribly, the definite ambiguity in tone of the declaration of God’s death in Also Sprach Zarathustra, and the fact the he did, in fact, go mad, I think this is to say the least debatable.
David’s false claims about myself were what I addressed, and then I had to address the false implications that you added without you dealing with the actual exchange, nor even with the fact that I obviously do not restrict my objections to theism per se, rather I fault all metaphysics and transcendence.
I don’t recall David specifically making claims about you in particular, and I certainly didn’t. Any implication otherwise, on my part at least, just isn’t the case. My use of “you” was the typical, rhetorical use in place of “one” or “people”. I didn’t see my posts as being irrelevant, but as broadening the discourse, since (contra what you apparently would say), I don’t think some constructions of the transcendent have the same weaknesses as some forms of traditional theism. You say you fault all metaphysics and transcendence, though, so OK–whatever suits you. I disagree, but we agree to disagree. That’s OK.
I think, Glen, that I haven’t disagreed any less with Steve than I have with you, but he and I seem to have had an interesting and stimulating discussion, with no acrimony. Frankly, though there are some areas in which I sharply disagree with David, I don’t see much acrimony coming from him, either. I think he’s sincerely trying to dialogue. I don’t see him as casting personal aspersions, for the most part.
Anyway, if there is anything negative or insulting towards you that I said or implied, advertently or inadvertently, that was certainly not my intent, and I apologize. However, I think I’m going to bail out from the thread now, since you seem to be spoiling for a pissing contest that I’m not going to bother with. I disagree with you, you disagree with me, neither is going to convince the other, I am fine with that since I believe everyone should believe what they wish.
LazarA: Excellent post.



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 25, 2009 at 8:31 am


Turmarion: “I think I’ve said several times that neither side can be proved or disproved, and I’m not particularly trying to make anyone accept any idea. I also was not stereotyping you as a “preconceived materialistic atheist, who must be dark, dreary, wrong and hopelessly flawed and sociopathic”–you certainly don’t come off anything like that, and I’ve said more than once that most atheists are probably not much different in behavior, morality, and temperament from most theists. What I said is that your beliefs don’t seem to me to follow from your postulates; you disagree, and that’s OK–we agree to disagree. I also though you sounded rather pantheistic. You say you’re not, and I believe you–I was obviously wrong. You say that a material universe only is fine by you; so, OK. For some it is, for some it’s not, chacun à son goût. We make our choices and go from there. Everyone should follow his own course. Thanks to you, too, for a great and interesting conversation that has kept me on my toes. It is always good to have to think about your beliefs and interacting with one who doesn’t share them helps one articulate his own beliefs more clearly.”
To be honest, Turmarion, I was having a bit of fun with David regarding his “The Joker” reference and the fact that he is basically selling himself as some new interpreter of Hebrew wisdom complete with pop-up ads here in this particular forum!
We are presenting our ideas in the open marketplace here and my practice is not to concern myself with winning anything. I simply enjoy the give and take, back and forth and conceptual expressions of our human minds!
I’m pleased to have met you here and thank you very much for the expression.
I think this discussion leans more toward examining the issues of whether an “external” source of morality exists, is a necessary “force” for others to simply behave well, is necessary for others to derive meaning for their own existence and, most importantly (in my view) that this “external” source somehow doesn’t violate the posited rule that an external source is actually required for all morality as it, itself, has no external source for its own morality and deriving of meaning.
This is the basic cosmological argument (ultimate first uncaused cause) bent to apply to morality and ethics. A simple theological trick of language and concepts so that all of the other baggage that comes with assorted religious claims can be made more palatable.
No referencing atheist or theist writers or philosophers or scientists is ever going to reconcile this issue anytime soon because it is, by default, a paradox wrapped in the enigma of the mind-bending time/space conundrum called eternity and duality.
That said, I’ll restate my perception of life, the universe and everything as derived by the application of Occam’s Razor and see if it can be deconstructed by the great minds here:
“Material universe is just fine with me because it is simple and specific and encompassing, which is not to say that this doesn’t include art, song, dance, imagination, poetry, dreams, hopes, despair, loss, failure, success, and deep abiding love…and those hot bikinis on display at that store you have to pretend you’re not looking into when walking with your significant other down at the mall while shopping for shoes, because it does, along with some things we haven’t yet found but we are certain to keep looking for if we can avoid the car bombs and those irritable and boring men in the fancy hats.
All of these, I assert, are the “elements of the sum” of this wonderfully ambiguous, perpetually existing, evolving and expanding, decaying and retracting, subjective and relative, low-fat and healthy and good for you, thermonuclear jewel.
Who could ask for anything more?”
So, in conclusion, even if proven to somehow exist “elsewhere” (which I claim is utterly impossible), what relevance would an external source have to our individual culpability or even our own human ability to simply dream up the concept of a well-spring to give ourselves the authority to perceive that life is good and needs comfort, protection and care?
What does this have to do with the assorted claims regarding God(s)ess(es) who seem capable of deriving their own morality in the various tales and fables, yet who merely seem to reflect the moral relativism of the respective cultural human adherents who worship them?
This is all very interesting theory and I hope more people can offer some insight in how these particular philosophical and characteristic nuances can actually be resolved, if at all.
Thanks!
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS
PS Singer is one of the atheists I was speaking of earlier with whom I have stark disagreement with regarding “caring and meaning” and how the obvious existence of these qualities within the universe make them as applicable detectable qualities as anything else. As I said, in my view, the universe is at the very least (and the very most!) the sum of its parts.



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Paul Lanier

posted May 26, 2009 at 7:30 am


Apparently, “transcendent” is a sticky word. It means, more or less, “what goes above or beyond the rest”. Typically, the term is used to mean “the reality beyond nature, or what subsumes nature”. Also its use signifies “that which gives pattern or meaning to the rest”. That’s the base signification.
Another word could be used… metanarrative comes to mind- the narrative that governs the other narratives. That having been said, three possible candidates for what is “the transcendent” come to mind.: 1) G-d 2) Morality 3) the Patterns or Structuring of the universe/nature. Some people conflate these candidates, some seperate them out. Some might put some candidates on top on others (one transcendent is greater than another).
In this particular dialogue, what appears to me as the sticking point is that some equate the transcendent with G-d (from whom is derived Morality) and others equate it with the Structuring of the universe, under the rubric of Science (as practiced).
Meaning or significance is denied to those who deny the meta-narrative or “the transcendent,” although some who deny the meta-narrative(s) do not think they are denying meaning or significance themselves.
The argument therefore becomes one over who is the meaning maker and from what do they make meaning and in what is the place of “the transcendent” in meaning making.
I personally would affirm that G-d is the highest transcendent being, from whose character/structure and actions Morality proceeds. It is He who made the Structuring of the universe/nature.
Atheists would deny this affirmation, (sometimes) honestly not seeing what the proof would be. Yet, most of even the nihilistic (“nothing”) thinkers continue to believe there is a Structure to the universe, that science or experience shows them. They merely don’t think that there is an ultimate Purpose to their lives. “We eat, drink, and are merry, have children, and grow up, and die, but to what purpose, no one knows.”
The “clockmaker’s analogy” is distrusted and these atheists do not think that a Pattern or Struture or Design argues for a Designer. (Perhaps not so obviously, I do think the existence of patterns in the universe does point to the existence of a pattern-maker, namely G-d). They object to ultimate meanings or meta-narrative, and believe that meaning-making is an entirely arbitrary matter.
Yet, while differing cultures do exist and different ways of doing things and valuing things do exist– a most striking thing happens. The differing cultures all pay attention to morality and the basic requirements of justice, compassion, love, and truth. All major idealogies (even Darwinism), ways of thinking (even pragmatism), and religions try to spell out the proper ethics or ways of living one’s life from these requirements of morality.
How do we make sense of this? Some don’t. Some on the other hand, come to the conclusion that a transcendent must exist that governs the rest. And some make the further inference that a transcendent being, G-d, created the universe and its laws and structures. How far does this get us? A little ways.
What if there were a way to meet the transcendent being in person, in the immediate? But I begin to move past discussions of philosophy to ones of history and testimonies. And here is where I stop my discussion of that sticky subject of signification, “the transcendent”.



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 26, 2009 at 11:12 am


Hi Paul,
Why not just distill your essay to “I believe in God”?
In my view, even after this obviously well considered post that externalizes a being that doesn’t want its name spelled in full, there is still the problem of the cosmological argument.
If the “conclusion” is that complexity and morality “must” require transcendence, a creator and a well-spring that imposes absolute morality, then how did the transcendent get here and what else is beyond it, who created the creator and from where does it obtain its morality?
In my view, we can understand the assorted fables articulating the “higher power” with specific abilities, cravings, interventionist relationships and absolute moral directives of differing anthropocentric deities in assorted cultures which provide adherents and their respective leaders with mysterious divine authority on sound social, behavioral and political foundations.
The practice simply is a reflection of recalling, from the deep memory of our own infancy, the comfort of a parental presence when we would reach our arms up for help and hugs and kisses in troubling times (relative to our own subjective circumstance and suffering) and who would be there to tell us the right thing to do and punish us for being selfish and eating shellfish when we were commanded not to.
Many of the same ritualistic mannerisms of religious adherents veritably cry out for those “good old days” when we “just believed” that an ever more dominant being “above us” would be there to get us through the day in order to survive.
My affirmation is that this is a natural, loving and deeply abiding human trait that has evolved over time and continues to do so. It certainly explains the appeal and tenacity of old religion and hoping that “the parent” will always somehow make it all better within the confines of a perfect plan in spite of the big dog eating our ice cream or when our friend is killed in a car crash on his way to deliver money to a worthy cause.
That said, I’m not much into this sort of superfluous symbolism and “ancient wisdom” that requires unchallenged authority, value and worth and rejects critical analysis just because they are tenacious and emotionally manipulative.
All of the “reasons” for being loving, caring and compassionate are derived from the human mind, family and relationships and our participation in this natural world. It is observable and sincerely intuitive that love and empathy are made powerful by the drama of the experiences we share and how we share them with others.
The fact is that, while I do understand that comforting thoughts and imaginative stories have purpose, they are also subject to conflicting ideological problems specifically due to the amount of absolutism and ambiguous interpretation that conflating myths with reality bring.
As Sam Harris concisely put it, “There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable”, and I agree.
All I’m saying is let’s examine our views in the open marketplace of ideas, air them out for a good look and, in the words of my father, “keep getting after it”.
Cheers!
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS



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Glen Davidson

posted May 26, 2009 at 2:37 pm


However, I think I’m going to bail out from the thread now, since you seem to be spoiling for a pissing contest that I’m not going to bother with.

It’s as before, you come along and attack a bunch of strawmen that you attribute to me, I call you on it, and you blame me for some supposedly starting in on a “pissing contest.”
Well the fact is that I don’t like you lying about my positions, and I will continue to react as I do when you fail to deal honestly with what I write. I do not care if others are more tolerant of your bad manners and lack of concern for the truth, for I do not even think it proper to pretend that you’ve dealt properly.
If you don’t want a pissing contest, quit trying to piss on people. I certainly didn’t start with the mischaracterizations, you came in and badly misrepresented my positions and to what I was responding.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Glen Davidson

posted May 26, 2009 at 3:52 pm


I decided to mention some of the more egregious misrepresentations by Turmarion in his last accusatory post (not that earlier ones were not) on this thread. Here is a previous quote from Turmarion, and the response I made to it, in that order:

One, represented by Nietzsche and existentialists, say that atheism does indeed vitiate any and all meaning.

That is absolutely untrue for Nietzsche. He knows that atheism vitiates metaphysical meanings, hence his madman. That we create meaning consumes much of his writing.

There I was agreeing that Nietzsche knows that the “death of god” ends “metaphysical meaning,” but was pointing out that Nietzsche does not thereby “vitiate any and all meaning.” But Turmarion quotes out of context and comes up with yet another false accusation:

That is absolutely untrue for Nietzsche. He knows that atheism vitiates metaphysical meanings, hence his madman. That we create meaning consumes much of his writing.
I’m quite aware of this. I have never implied of you, as you seem to do of me, that you’re ignorant of the citations I’m giving.

Either he doesn’t understand, or he doesn’t care, what my point was. Obviously I know that Turmarion knows that Nietzsche understood atheism as vitiating some meaning, but quite incorrectly claims that it is “any and all meaning” that Nietzsche understands as having been destroyed. The fact is, as I have pointed out previously, that Nietzsche understands religion as having destroyed meaning over time, and wishes to get back to what is meaningful to humans.
Instead of understanding my point, or why I dislike his many misrepresentations, he misrepresents my point (whether or not it is because he genuinely cannot read properly) and pretends that I was making a statement that I wasn’t making at all.
Moving on, this, of course, is not believable:

My use of “you” was the typical, rhetorical use in place of “one” or “people”.

If you’re responding to a post and claiming “misapprehensions” which had nothing to do with the actual exchange (but are claimed to), clearly one’s use of the word “you” is not as he claims (or one is not being honest, in any event).
Furthermore, it is not up to me to answer for other people who are not theists (or similar believer in the unevidenced).
And then, he first suggested that I had not understood that many people cannot have meaning sans theism, belief in transcendence, what-not, and when I charitably note that I am not out to make atheists of people he accuses and condemns:

Glen Davidson: I am not sure that atheism is a good thing for the masses
Which is the exact position of the Enlightenment-era philosophes: “The ignorant, brutish masses need the Church to keep ‘em in line, while we the elite can deal with the way things really are.” Rather a classist, elitist, and frankly nasty outlook, by me, but to each his own.

I should note that he again took that out of context, as if I were not agreeing with him that atheism is easier when one is doing well, rather than when one is not. Instead he pretends that I am merely elitist, when I was saying that atheism goes better with good wine and a nice life, just as he had said.
Then he phrases what was a reasonable point as churlishly as possible, ending with his own nasty condemnation of his own misrepresentation of my own position.
I am, of course, well aware that there will always be intellectual elites, and they will often take positions that the non-elites will not. You can be sure that Turmarion would be as nasty about anyone wishing to impose (with or without gov’t) atheism upon the masses as he is when I say that I have to be true to my intellect yet do not wish to impose it upon others–for that was more or less his previous misrepresentation of my position, which he also condemned.
He is not a person who can be reasoned with, rather he turns from faulting my supposed desire to take away theistic comforts from those who needed it, then gets nasty for my lack of desire to take away those comforts. That he left out context while misrepresenting my position (leaving out context is not always bad, since it’s still there, but it is not appropriate when one is misrepresenting its meaning in context) means that it could be deliberate.
Anyone who understands that there is an intellectual elite is merely facing facts, apparently something that Turmarion does not do.
Glen Davidson
http://tinyurl.com/6mb592



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Turmarion

posted May 27, 2009 at 8:02 am


Look, Glen, I’ll keep it brief. In previous threads we’ve interacted with no problems, and I’ve even complimented several of your posts. I’ve strenuously disagreed with others here and on other threads and have still managed to be cordial and to avoid nastiness. Re-reading the posts I think I have misunderstood what you were saying in places and may have inadvertently misrepresented you. On the other hand, there are places where you’re clearly not getting me, either, and taking me out of context. Talking past each other is an occupational hazard of dialogue, especially Internet dialogue. I try to keep my tone neutral and civil; I have noticed on posts of yours vis-à-vis others that your tone is often sharp and angry in tone and that you throw around accusations of lying and trolling rather freely. To me, that doesn’t seem conducive to dialogue–you obviously see it differently.
Ironically, we actually seem to be in ultimate agreement, from your statement (with added emphasis): “That is the problem, that we cannot believe the fantasies which were spun up to deny what is the fate of humanity. I don’t necessarily find it to be desirable, and once thought that I would rather just believe in god than not. The trouble was, I really could not believe, so the second time I became a non-theist it was merely an acknowledgement that I can put no faith into the empty rhetoric of humans who cannot face reality.
My point was that true implications of an atheist worldview are rather bleak and probably unacceptable to most people, and you seem to be saying the exact same thing. Although we disagree about Nietzsche and the existentialists, I think that they and Singer are all correct about the bleakness and lack of transcendent meaning in a godless cosmos. Some are OK with that, some not, some think that analysis is correct, some not, and you know what? That’s OK. People disagree, they pays their money and takes their chances, and as long as no one is infringing on another, that’s just fine.
Anyway, I am willing to apologize for any and all ways in which I may have misrepresented you, come off as “churlish” as you put it, or any other offenses, real or perceived, that I’ve committed against you. I am enough of a Web veteran to know how one’s words can take on appallingly different meanings from those intended, and how even intended meanings can become intemperate in the heat of a posting frenzy (the CAPTCHA system here doesn’t help that).
In any case, I am leaving this thread this time. Given your obvious rage and the way you spoke of me, I believed I needed to add some coda. Any other readers here are free to read our posts and draw their own conclusions. With that I’m hanging it up. Hopefully we can all learn to disagree while still hewing to the maxim “live and let live”.



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benjdm

posted May 27, 2009 at 9:53 pm


Mr. Klinghoffer,
Why are you so reluctant to honestly confront the unhappier consequences of your worldview?
David Klinghoffer said: “It seems to me that meaning by definition needs to come from outside a given system.”
Then, by your definition, the whole of reality is meaningless. (There is no ‘outside’ of everything that is real.) It doesn’t matter if reality features a God or not.



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Tim Daugherty

posted May 27, 2009 at 10:07 pm


Are you suggesting that dieing and spending an eternity in heaven or hell adds meaning to your “life”? Or is the worshiping of some spiteful spirit what adds meaning?



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Steve Schlicht

posted May 27, 2009 at 10:47 pm


Turmarion and Glen,
It is understandable that we are most often drawn to the flame rather than the flower, especially on topics that are highly charged and polarized (religion and politics).
I have found value in both of your perspectives and would hope that civility is the coin of the realm even when we disagree.
Turmarion, you (and, by inference, David K) mischaracterize the position of the atheist as “bleak” and then conclude that “people” find the non-belief in God(s)ess(es) and (presumably, atheists) “unacceptable”.
This isn’t actually due to disbelief in deities, though, rather it is due to theists staunchly defining atheism as bleak, nihilistic, amoral/immoral, sociopathic and hopeless in a rather consistently cynical and fallacious manner from the bully pulpit to a captive audience prepped and ready for such presuppositions as they would rather be told something than actually independently research it for themselves.
In my opinion I think that this is why we are seeing a resurgence in proactive and vocal atheist activism and educational outreach.
The simple fact is that atheism isn’t “bleak” if one is prone to giving it a good close examination. Even you, Turmarion, could offer nothing more than straw man arguments and then resort to re-framing my own views as some sort of spiritual “pantheism” because it didn’t match you’re negative presumptions about “atheism”.
That is probably what any atheist reading this would find distracting and a bit tiresome and, to be honest, offensive.
Furthermore, atheists are far more than just this “one position” regarding religious claims.
We are loving fathers, mothers, daughters and sons and even Red Sox fans. We are the world’s doctors, nurses, soldiers, poets, artists, singers, dancers, firefighters, police officers, entrepreneurs and community service volunteers, etc.
In short, we have many, many facets to our existence which keep us from buying into your theory that we or our lives or our views are “bleak”. You and other theists may not accept “us” or atheism, but it isn’t due to anything we’ve done.
The observable fact is that we are all human beings, the universe is empirically encompassing and the cosmological argument wears out any claim to “ultimate” transcendence and any of the assorted claims regarding invisible realms or parental deities beyond space and time that believers somehow hope to present as an “absolute” completion of “all that is and all that ever will be” made “manifest”.
I, too, encourage folks to re-read my own perspective as a non-believer in God(s)ess(es) and tell me where it is “bleak and unacceptable” as written.
Thanks!
Be good, y’all, and take care.
Steve Schlicht
Biloxi MS
PS Additionally, Turmarion, it could be perceived that you are willfully evading the many points both Glen and I have made that “set the record straight” or there may just be some non-malicious cognitive dissonance going on with you.
I don’t much bother myself with it either way and focus more on just participating in expression. I only mention it now that you seem to be honing in on Glen’s posts to justify picking up your toys and going home, but these are natural contentions that can simply be avoided if one feels some new and exciting potential for discussion is still available.



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Turmarion

posted May 28, 2009 at 8:45 pm


OK, I’m posting this again with italics fixed, since it’s harder to read the other way. Sorry about that.
Steve Slicht: I have found value in both of your perspectives and would hope that civility is the coin of the realm even when we disagree.
Agreed, 100%. I have striven towards civility, and if I have failed to achieve it, well, I am an imperfect, fallible mortal. I said as much to Glen. To me he seemed excessively sharp and uncivil, frankly; however, tone is often hard to gauge on the Internet and I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. That is why I went to the effort of replying, trying to clarify, and apologizing for any incivilities, advertent or inadvertent, on my part.
Turmarion, you (and, by inference, David K) mischaracterize the position of the atheist as “bleak”
See, this is an example of talking past each other. Let’s take, as a premise, “God does not exist,” or “There is no transcendent or ‘ultimate’ meaning to the universe,” which is more or less the same thing (I’m not going into subtle detail to save space). The question on which we disagree is what conclusions (if any) logically follow from this premise.
I agree with Singer, the existentialists, and Nietzsche (at least my reading of him) that given this premise, the logical conclusion is that there is no real “reason” to prefer any ethical system or action, and that this is a rather “bleak” situation in which to be. While I’ve found the discussion here interesting and insightful, nothing I’ve read has yet compelled me to alter my view vis-à-vis these thinkers. Now, you have said you disagree with Singer, and you and Glen both disagree with the existentialists. Glen interprets Nietzsche differently from the way I do. This, as a matter of fact, is perfectly fine.
The point is that there are knowledgeable, intelligent atheists who think that atheism does imply meaninglessness and bleakness, and who argue so on the basis of rigorous philosophical thinking, not just in order to take swipes against atheists. I’m inclined to agree with them on . Likewise, there are places where I take issue with my own religion based on philosophical grounds. No one is totally neutral, but I strive to be as far as possible. I assume you would disagree with Singer, Sartre, Nietzsche, et. al., and that’s fine and dandy. The point is that it’s not a matter of theists dissing atheists. Heck, there are places where atheists who dis theists make correct points!
We [atheists] are loving fathers, mothers, daughters and sons and even Red Sox fans. We are the world’s doctors, nurses, soldiers, poets, artists, singers, dancers, firefighters, police officers, entrepreneurs and community service volunteers, etc.
Agreed, 100%. Anyway, most atheists are no more “bleak” than anybody else; and there are bleak theists. I’m only talking about what I think to be the logical conclusions, not whether people agree with them or act in light of them. My belief is that the majority of people of any belief system don’t really act in accordance with (or even understand) the logical consequences of their beliefs.
…and then conclude that “people” find the non-belief in God(s)ess(es) and (presumably, atheists) “unacceptable”….You and other theists may not accept “us” or atheism, but it isn’t due to anything we’ve done.
See, I’ve never concluded or implied this. Some of my friends and family are agnostics/atheists and they’re perfectly acceptable to me. I think many atheists have beliefs that don’t logically follow from their premises (ditto many theists, in fact); but many atheists doubtless think the same about theists. Regardless, we’re all in this life together.
…or there may just be some non-malicious cognitive dissonance going on with you.
I’d say we all have some of this, aware of it or not, and I think our premises are so different and phrased so differently that we are often talking past each other. In any case, whatever’s going on with me is non-malicious, since I certainly intend no malice. No one’s perfect, though.
Anyway, I don’t expect we’ll ever agree, and that’s OK, as I’ve said many times. Everyone, regardless of his or her faith or lack thereof deserves equal rights, respect, and freedom to pursue his or her views, and to discuss and dialogue regarding these views, as long as no one is trying to beat anyone into accepting a particular belief, and as long as the rules of mutual respect, courtesy, and civility are observed. I think that what humans share in their common humanity is greater than the ways in which they differ by gender, age, race, or belief system. Thus, we are all in this life on this Earth together, and must realize that this means we all treat each other accordingly–that is, as brothers and sisters.



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Brian Bass

posted May 29, 2009 at 1:03 am


Just so everyone knows… the Joker does not represent Atheism…
Especially considering that hes a FICTIONAL CHARACTER!!!!



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make your own blog

posted September 8, 2014 at 2:26 pm


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déménageurs

posted December 7, 2014 at 9:12 am


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surfer-boyz.tumblr.com

posted December 16, 2014 at 3:36 am


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