Yes, and that Jefferson quote ties into my other discussion on ethics and morality and Atheism.
Fundies rather easily dispose of TJ's "...whence arises the morality of the Atheist?" by denying that atheists have morality or virtue.
Be prepared to try to persuade fundies that morality, virtue, and such are human creations that arose in social living.
Occasionally , like Dostoevsky, fundies claim that without god all is allowed. In reply, I point out that the sheriff hasn't resigned and he still has the jailhouse keys.
I think we have a greater opportunity in this area than religious folks. For the religious, a cookie cutter type of meaning is thrust upon them. It is meaning that stifles and limits thought and expression.
As an existentialist, I believe one of the fundamental human tasks is to create meaning. We don't have to accept whatever mythology dominates our geographic area. We can invent our own mythology (as long as we don't forget that it is mythology) that resonates within us. This one and only opportunity to be alive as a human being is the canvas upon which we can paint ANYTHING! We have true freedom and it is beautiful.
We have the opportunity to create living meaning that grows with us and changes as we learn. Meaning that is enhanced by critical evaluation, science, and rational thought. Meaning that requires no rationalizations (God's will is beyond human ability to understand) and no "thought stopping" ("A doubt is the Devil trying to influence me, so I must say a prayer to take my mind in a different direction") in order to be sustained.
I agree with you Edward. As we learn we create our own meaning.
"Meaning that is enhanced by critical evaluation, science, and rational thought."
Yes we are truely free to think for ourselves. To think outside the box.
"For the religious, a cookie cutter type of meaning is thrust upon them. It is meaning that stifles and limits thought and expression."
Yes, wonderful statement here. Thanks!
Thanks for posting the topic. Good dicussions!
This is a really fascinating question. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s responses.
Before reading this discussion I was fond of saying that I hadn’t yet discovered my purpose in life. After reading all of these thoughtful comments, though, I’m reevaluating my thoughts on the topic of a life purpose.
Sitting here I wonder if each of us really has a life purpose or if our life consists of a series of trillions of smaller purposes? Sitting here at my computer my current purpose is to contribute something useful to this discussion. Later, when I’m on the treadmill, my purpose will be to do my best to exercise. When I’m deciding what to have for dinner my purpose will be to choose something that balances my need to enjoy what I’m eating with the reality that I can’t just eat whatever I want if I mean to get healthier.
By viewing life as a series of micro purposes we would allow ourselves to concentrate on making the best of each opportunity life affords us. The counter position is that looking at everything as a small purpose could be maddening unless an individual was able to recognize the chance to rest and/or relax as a worthy purpose.
Lastly, I’m wondering how seeing each thing as a small purpose would affect our overall lives. Would we make better decisions on the little things that would improve the totality of our lives? Would we get so caught up in each small moment that we would fail to give the big picture of our lives the kind of meaning we seek?
Jonathan I would just say that it is up to you to decide on the topic of purpose.
You know, after reading all these great and interesting responses, I think this:
Live your life the best way you can, getting and giving all the happiness out of it that is possible. That's it.~ Melinda
I agree Melinda. Live life the best you can.
That's why I asked this tough question to get people thinking. To get an exchange of thoughts and ideas.
Steph, your acknowledging others' posts indicates your interest in your topic. I thank you for doing so. You repeated part of booklover's (Melinda's?) post but not the getting and giving happiness part.
Some years ago I first heard the affirmation "I love myself unconditionallY." I may have been more ready to say it than others and had little difficulty. Then, while working on a phone help line I had opportunities to encourage callers to say it. Some of them had difficulty with the final word and I encouraged them to say it.