Like a good existentialist, I think that other than propagation of the species, life is inherently meaningless. All meaning is of human creation. I love this. It means I can choose to create whatever meaning I wish.
For me, life is exactly what it is supposed to be. It is not supposed to be happy or peaceful or wonderful. It is all of these and miserable and scary and painful and boring. I am given the opportunity to appreciate the full range of human experiences. For me, meaning is simply appreciation for the full catastrophe ;-)
I go to the carnival to get scared at the haunted house, thrilled by the roller coaster, confused by the house of mirrors, freaked out by the freaks, horny by the burlesque. It would be a drag if the carnival only had one ride.
Life is the same way. We get the opportunity to appreciate or fail to appreciate a full range of experiences. They don't have to be enjoyed to be appreciated.
Well said, Edward. Thank you.
Methinks I will steal (and paraphrase) some of your ideas for a Toastmasters Club talk. I've told its members I'm an atheist and have spoken of leaving Catholicism. I haven't yet spoken of existentialism.
Sweet! This site has actually helped me clarify my own thoughts about things and helped to resolve quite a few philosophical issues. Good luck with yer Toastmasters!
This site has helped me as well. I'm a new Atheist and I also need to clarify my thoughts and resolve issues as well. I still have a long way to go I think. I am so glad to have this site and the support of others here.
Right on! I was s-l-o-w to come to atheism. After dropping Christianity, I got deep in to Buddhism (and a little New Age stuff).
There are some brilliant minds here. Wonderful for sharpening the mental saw ;-)
Phillip Appleman, in his interview with Bill Moyers, touched upon this subject briefly. The whole conversation is worth watching:
Hope I've figured out how to create a link. If not, just copy/paste
Asa thanks for your interview link. Thanks again!
I fixed the link Asa - the other one didn't work.
@Rich - I'm familiar with cult retention techniques. Definitely includes the military. Humiliation, supression of original thought, and enforced uniformity are all preparation for instantaneous obedience in battle.
The scapegoat can be inanimate, as in the war on "drugs." Thomas Szasz points out that "scapegoat" and "remedy" have the same root - pharmakos. Murder the scapegoat, and we will all be saved.
Alan, here's a great one you might not have known about. It actually happened to me back in hippie days in NYC. I was down-and-out and out of work, meandering the streets around Times Square looking for fun and excitement. I was around 25 at the time.
So this not bad looking German girl accosts me and asks what I was doing for the weekend. Would I like to go to a campground up in the mountains near Poughkeepsie. Now Poughkeepsie is a pretty well-to-do area and I was only there once and it was beautiful, so I said, “Sure, why not.” I’d say just about every kid I grew up with in the grimy city loved to go to the country. I was so deprived, “let’s go to the country,” meant Belmont Racetrack.
When we were ready to leave, we met in an old municipal building and I was introduced to the group. This was amazing. I was taken completely by surprise. Here I was a scrubby-looking hippie, long hair, unshaven, not dirty but scruffy Army-Navy clothes, and a group of people came up to me like I was the long-lost dalai lama. A couple of lovely young ladies asked all about me, with charming compliments, amorous glances, seductive, touchy-feely body language, and a genuine interest in me as a unique person.
So to make a long story short, I hadn’t even heard of this technique in social psych class, which was my major. It’s called “love bombing,” and boy I was taken in.
Can you guess what the group was?