The Meaning of Life - What's Yours?

 

Ultimate Meaning

Death

Religion

Sustainablity - Our Environment

Personal Happiness and Contentment - Is that the ultimate goal?

 

OK I have something that I'd like to get off my chest.  I don't have a lot of real meaning in person adult friends at the moment - I've moved cities and haven't been out much - although that is changing - so being able to write on here - in a dear diary way - but get some feed back would be really great - as I don't get time to research my theories as much as I would like - and so some grounding from others always helps me not to get too far off reality.

 

I suppose it relates to meaning of life.  What is your meaning of life?

 

I've worked a lot of getting rid of mythology and have been left with not much really - although I am quite liking the humanist perspective - or what I know of it - in terms of it's natural and science base.

 

I figure due to the heat death of the universe there isn't much point to life.  Only that we are here and that is amazing in itself.  But we aren't perfect - we only find ourselves here because in our current form we are well adapted to reproduce - but it isn't without flaws.

 

Death is something that many fear and I think it is a main driving forse of religious belief - behind the cultural and social benefits people gain from involvement.  I think a good death is quite an amazing experience according to people who've come back from death to tell the tale - so now a days I'm not so scard of death - although who knows how I'll be at the time.  I feel sad thinking about it - but then again I'm only 34 and hope to live until I'm at least 80 - so perhaps by the time I've had another 46 years I'll be in a very different head space about it all.  Here's hoping anyhow.  In fact I think a good way of dealing with death in general is to accept it's going to happen and know that it is quite amazing for a few minutes once you've died technically, until you're brain fades out.  Of course there is nothing after that, so I'm not worried about that bit - it's the leaving that is really sad - leaving all your family and friends behind - my husband put it quite well when he said it's a bit like leaving a really great party before it's finished.

 

So once we've dealt with death - and meaning - ultimately there isn't any - what are we left with?  We're left with what to do with our time?

 

Morals have come up quite a bit.  I didn't used to like them much - but Sam Harris book changed that - and now I can see the value in morals in terms of it's wrong to cause children harm through sexually abuse or physical mutalation - through cutting off their clitorises.  So on an extreme end of things I can see the value of moral values of right and wrong.  I can see also that we have these values because we have empathy and don't like to see others hurt.

 

But can we stop all pain?  Would it be good to stop all pain?

 

Pain is part of life - it is helpful in some ways - it would be nice if we didn't need to have it, but it has a value by way of keeping us alive.

 

I like nonviolent communication - not because I think we ought to be nonviolent in our communication, but because I think it is a useful tool in communicating with others about our feelings and needs, so as to get our needs met in a way that isn't harmful to others.  I think this is a useful way of being.

 

We are lucky in our society generally that we don't have to make decisions about harming others.  I'm not convised that total nonviolence would work.  When thinking about the major religions in the world the ones that are most nonviolent are quite contained and small - although Hinduism has a lot of members.  It's the violent ones that are prospering - christianity and islam.  In fact Islam seems to have picked wars with all of them - Pakistain and India - Palastine and Israel - Islam and the West - I don't think they've attacked the Buddhists yet - perhaps there is something in that!

 

Christians seem good at fighting Islam currently and historically - I'm thinking of the crusaides.

 

Buddhists aren't agressive, but they don't seem to be growing either - in fact China has put quite a stop to their leadership also.

 

The other main issue I think is our sustainablity on planet earth.  I don't think that waiting for technology to get us safely to another planet is the key to this.  I think we'll be waiting a long time and in fact I think the human race will die out and take out most other species with it, before we work out how to get a group of humans safely to another habitable planet using science.

 

I think that the evolution of dealing with climate change will be gradual and we will slowly adapt to less food and less material things.  Although I also think that much pain will come too and I think that we will have more people starving or getting sick due to malnurishment - the food quality is already going down - due to our farming practices - we relay on synthetic vitamins - which I'm skeptical about - and also fossil fuel based fertilisers - I'm not sure how sustainable they are either - and I believe that crops are reducing due to poor quality of soils.  Although Israel and Australia are leading the way with using poor soils to grow food - due to their need based on poor soils.  American on the other hand seems to have rich deep soils.  India is running out of water in parts to successfully irrigate food.

 

Is it OK that humans clear the land to make food for themselves at the expense of so many other species?  I heard that at least 5 species are lost every day mainly due to human food production.  We haven't even found all the species in the world - there are just so many.  Does it even matter, when the universe will die a heat death in the end any way?  What's it all worth?

 

Perhaps it matters to our quality of life and our survival as a species.  But you wouldn't know, when most people are more concerned about entertainment - once they've done their day's work to get their basic needs met.  Switching their brains off in favour of someone elses imagined theatre on TV or you tube.

 

It seems perhaps that I missed the point here.  Isn't life about enjoying yourself?  Does it really matter about the planet and long term sustainability and saving other species or our own for that matter?

 

Perhaps it doesn't really matter what we do at all.  Perhaps everyone should just life the life that makes them the most happy - and that is the best thing we can all do.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

Alysn - I very much agree with your take on life - in terms of meaning.

 

I was disappointed with Harris' book on Morals because I wanted him to give me some clever answers - but I like that he has opened up the ideas to scientific discussion - I didn't really realise that it was a new topic to science in that sense.  I'm glad to that he wasn't arrogant about knowing all the answers and so gives us some things to get started and think about.

 

I think that Morality is something that can be agreed upon in a universal sense - but in a sense that is evolving all the time in order to keep up with our evolution.  Eg having slaves would have been find 200 years ago - but now in our society it's not acceptable morally - so we change and I think that moral values should too - but the idea of having a committee that could deliberate and provide advice and considerations regarding morality would be valuable - even if it didn't have any power as such - it is always good to provide information as it all has cause and effect and can be used and quoted and also would mean that they would be actively doing scientific research to keep up to date with moral values.  We have this happen already in some senses though our law creation and judgements made in courts all over the world - but this would be more personal I think and broad reaching.

 

There is a danger I think though that we can idealise moral values - and think humans are capable of changing into something there aren't or acting perfectly when they can't but follow their natures to a large extent - although culture can effect and change that - as can working towards creating a researched moral group that would give advice and direction to others.

Alysn - I very much agree with your take on life - in terms of meaning.

 

I was disappointed with Harris' book on Morals because I wanted him to give me some clever answers - but I like that he has opened up the ideas to scientific discussion - I didn't really realise that it was a new topic to science in that sense.  I'm glad to that he wasn't arrogant about knowing all the answers and so gives us some things to get started and think about.

 

I think that Morality is something that can be agreed upon in a universal sense - but in a sense that is evolving all the time in order to keep up with our evolution.  Eg having slaves would have been find 200 years ago - but now in our society it's not acceptable morally - so we change and I think that moral values should too - but the idea of having a committee that could deliberate and provide advice and considerations regarding morality would be valuable - even if it didn't have any power as such - it is always good to provide information as it all has cause and effect and can be used and quoted and also would mean that they would be actively doing scientific research to keep up to date with moral values.  We have this happen already in some senses though our law creation and judgements made in courts all over the world - but this would be more personal I think and broad reaching.

 

There is a danger I think though that we can idealise moral values - and think humans are capable of changing into something there aren't or acting perfectly when they can't but follow their natures to a large extent - although culture can effect and change that - as can working towards creating a researched moral group that would give advice and direction to others.

John D - so Harris is a spiritual Buddhist wanna be hey!  I'm not sure - I think that it might be useful for us to have an external model for ethics or morals - to help prevent things like child abuse via mutilation of genitals or other such cultural practices that are protected by which middle class westerners in the name of political correctness... or freedom of speech or something...  I don't agree that we need another 'war' on something - war on drugs, war on homelessness etc - in fact I don't support a war on anything really - well I might - but what I mean is that I think we can talk about right and wrong and set up dialogue to gain better conditions for everyone around the world... I kind of think that is how its going to go as globalisation takes over - until our civilisations fails we'll go to more centralised running of the whole world.
John D - I think that Harris brings the beginnings of a conversations that takes morals away from religion - and let's face it, religion loves bashing us with their moral stick - so anyone who looks likely to be able to wrestle it off them is fab in my books.
Max - I wonder if we haven't got a certain amount of negative and positive hormones that we need to express - I know it's just some wild fantasy moment I was having - but anyhow - back to the fantasy moment - it's just that even in situations where everything seems fine and I can't see a reason why anyone would be upset - why can't we all just talk through things that come up and get along fine?  And then someone gets aggressive and someone else gets defensive and someone else gets insecure and before we know it someone else starts feeling protective aggression and then we have a war on our hands...  all our of what?  I don't know - but i again, I wonder if we all haven't got a whole lot of hormones that need expressing - and we go from one to the next without much relationship to external - we just have a need to express it all....  it's late.... maybe i should go to bed now... :)

Hi Park - well you've pretty much got me back to where I was before I met this dude.  Basically I don't think anyone can comment on what QM is all about, because even QM people can't.  And me too, it pisses me off that every tom dick and dick head out there is trying to use QM to justify or validate their version of supernatural thinking - or to say 'yes man, mystic stuff goes on'.  Just because we don't yet understand it doesn't mean that all we know is not real.

 

I agree that QM shows discrepancies in our description of nature, but I don't believe that that indicates that uncaused events can happen or even that randomness can happen - for me it only indicates that our current way of understanding waves and particles for example isn't accurate - or our observation ability isn't yet good enough.  Basically I suppose the general theory about cause and effect and believe that operates on all levels - that may be my limited thinking - but I really haven't had any evidence to contradict that - where as I have had evidence that contradicts the other possibilities - such as uncaused events and human fallibility when it comes to actually observing things that happen.

 

I think although I'm not particularly clever or educated on this stuff - I do have some logic to my thinking and am quite sensible.  But I stand corrected by someone who is more clever and more educated - and as far as I'm aware those who are - don't make such claims about QM - they are more likely to say 'we just don't know yet'.

 

I think it's like people want to know something - and so they jump to conclusions in the space of unknowing - when even the cutting edge people haven't done that - they are holding back judgement because they don't yet have the evidence that stacks up - and evidence needs to stack up IMO.  We've managed to work out so much with this epistemology - the basic theory that evidence needs to stack up before we can make claims to knowledge or truth about the world.

 

I am interested in understanding more about how the world works - and I'm also OK with knowing that no-one yet knows about some stuff - I don't feeling the compulsion to stick God or any other such fantasy thinking into the void to make me feel more secure of knowledgeable or cutting edge - I prefer the truth when thinking about getting kudos for cutting edge knowledge.

I'd disagree that people can't comment on QM.  We are learning more and more each day, and even the layman can pick up whats going on if they spend enough time reading about it.  Just the other day, to understand more about Ruth's video, I had to suffer through pages of mathematical proofs and search multiple terminologies to understand what was at play~ but the effort paid off, ya know?  

 

Yeah, no one knows for sure about this stuff, but its at least possible to understand whats going on as far as we know, even for your average person.  I just want to keep fighting the 'woo' thats out there, and the ignorance thats apparently contagious.  

 

btw... Because there are so many new concepts to learn, I had to keep that post brief so it didn't turn into an essay.  I can turn it into an essay if ya like...

My main problem right now is what to say to this guy about his claim that there are uncaused events in the world because science shows it to be so, and if I deny this fact then I'm denying science because that is what the science shows.

 

He really pissed me off - although I do like the guy - I think he is ignorant about what he is talking about - and overly self-assured about his views to the point where he is prepared to accuse me of denying all of science and scientific fact to back up his claim of uncaused events.  That's a big claim and I'm keen to knock it down if it's not totally solid in truth, fact and reality.  So if you can help me do that, I'll be grateful for any information you can pass my way.  Or even any tips of how to tackle this guy.

 

My initial response was to say - I'm not buying that crap - I believe in determinism and I know that there are debates going on about this stuff and I don't believe that all scientists share the view that uncaused events exist - to which he just smiled and continued to talk about why I had faith in there being no God, whilst others had faith in their being a God, whilst at the same time telling me that he was an atheist.

 

Maybe I'll just approach him with "yes, I've checked and there is no evidence for uncaused events - only unsolved problems"

 

But it would be better if I could ask him why he thinks so and then be able to tackle him directly on that, as to why it's not uncaused.

I think there is a lot to this god of the gaps idea - and I agree...  this guy has pissed me off... LOL - not sure if he realises yet what he has unleashed!
Personally I don't search for or actually think there is a meaning to life, just another meta-physical human creation to make us feel better if we are unable to see the beauty in life itself. Well I'm sure there are people that still search for it or believe it to be something even if they can admire the world for what it is, although that in itself is something we can be pretty damn happy with.
If stuff is uncaused (random),I'm not responsible, since my will (a cause) doesn't cause the caused?

Someone asked this question when I was in culinary school, and I don't remember why.  Why are we here?  No one else would say anything, so I said, " I think we are here to help one another, and try not to leave it any worse than when we got into the world."  Everyone in class looked at me like I grew another head instantly, or something.  Then, finally, someone else said something about being here to serve God, and something about not knowing whether we did things right until we got face to face with him at judgement. 

They looked at her like she was wise.  From there on out, no one asked me what I thought about anything deeper than cooking...oh well....it was only my opinion...

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