“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy”, Hamlet said.
We still haven’t come closer to an answer of the question about the meaning of life. Why are we here?
That we are here, is a matter of fact, but neither past or future nor a creator offer us a satisfactory justification.
But maybe we are looking in the wrong places? We overlook things in heaven and earth.
Besides a lot of members of whatever religion there also is a large group of people who at least are “Somethingists”.
Believers in Somethingism. Beyond this empirical world we live in, they believe, there has to be something transcendental, something more “above” or “outside” our reality.
Do this “Something” and a majority of religions, which offer such a transcendental something, bring us closer to a meaning of life?
The philosopher Bertrand Russell once said:”There is just the universe and that’s all there is.”
Yet we have to accept, that a lot of people find this idea unbearable and unacceptable. So we can not ignore this.
This leads to two questions we have to take into account. One question is, does there live some god in this transcendental world, which might solve the WHY / BECAUSE question?
The second question is the possibility of an afterlife. Do we exist and prepare ourselves for this afterlife?
In the previous lectures we already have seen how in itself faith in God does not give us an answer to the question of the meaning of life.
But what faith in God can do, is give us the ability not to worry any longer about the meaning of life,
because we can be certain, that God would not have created us without some purpose, which is worth it. We just need to trust, that God will care for us.
If we believe something like that, we actually say: “I don’t know what the Lord has in mind, but I trust him and put my fate in his hands.”
Does this bring us closer to an answer of the question of why we are here? I do not think so. We just dump the question in the lap of this god and we’ll follow him.
But how reliable is this god? How do we know that he knows why we exist and will help us? In fact such a belief is not rational.
I do NOT say “irrational”. It disregards the usual requirements of rationality of proof and evidence . Faith is thus
rather a way to evade the need for a rational justification than a deliberate attempt to disqualify reason.
This is a risky strategy. Take the apostle Thomas for instance. He wanted hard evidence, that Jesus really was alive.
What happens? Jesus shows up to prove he is alive. But he takes it a step further by humiliating Thomas
by even asking him to put his fingers in his wounds. The very idea already gives me cold shivers.
And what is the conclusion?
John 20:29 - Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
So, those who believe and expect that god knows what is best for them, will base their actions on what this belief demands of them
and it seems that they are blessed, when they put aside the only means we have to understand our lives and the world we live in, our rationality and its requirements.
And we all have seen to what atrocities this way of searching for the meaning of life has brought us in the past and still does today.
Thank you for your attention…. ^_^
[13:23] TooEasilyDistracted: C.S. Lewis experienced faith as beautiful - he thought that was precisely because God can't be proven.
[13:24] herman Bergson: I fail to see the logic in that
[13:24] TooEasilyDistracted: Rationality a powerful tool/method, and therefore can be dangerous to use. Power and danger are proportional.
[13:25] TooEasilyDistracted: I agree, herman, C.S. Lewis does not seem "logical" in his faith. Wrote good books, though.
[13:25] herman Bergson: RAtionality is the only tool which creates understanding of reality we have
[13:26] herman Bergson: This still doesnt mean we are rational beings.....I doubt that...we are "animals"
[13:26] TooEasilyDistracted: Unproven. My pets seem to develop understanding of their worlds. Does that mean they must be rational?
[13:27] herman Bergson: No...they learn by stimulus - response....seek pleasure- evade pain....all biological organisms do...we too
[13:27] TooEasilyDistracted: Yes, old protective system, very useful.
[13:28] herman Bergson: Yes but we humans have this additional feature of consciousness and rationality...
[13:28] herman Bergson: And as I put it today...believing asks of us to drop this rationality
[13:29] TooEasilyDistracted: My dog seems to understand that my understanding is wider than his. That I may have a method to cure his pain.
[13:29] herman Bergson: No, I doubt that...
[13:30] TooEasilyDistracted: OK
[13:30] herman Bergson: the dog has learnt that when in pain YOU respond to that in a pleasurable way...that is all
[13:30] herman Bergson: so the meaning of "understanding" is very limited in this context....
[13:31] TooEasilyDistracted: Medical care is often unpleasant during treatment, dog trusts me that the end result is pleasurable.
[13:31] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but does this discussion lead us to the measning of life?
[13:31] herman Bergson: no...just to dogs :-)
[13:31] TooEasilyDistracted: OK, Beertje, back to belief, and rationality.
[13:32] TooEasilyDistracted: I believe one thing, Consciousness IS.
[13:32] herman Bergson: the point today is, that we have to take into account that a lot of peoplestop thinking about the meaning of life by believing in some god who will take care of them....
[13:32] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): why do we have consiousness?
[13:33] herman Bergson: this is a difficult question Beertje....
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe people need to get pampered by some god
[13:33] herman Bergson: this WHY can mean....what caused it.....or "to what purpose" do we have consciousness
[13:33] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): like they need parents when they were children
[13:34] herman Bergson: What caused it we don't know at all....
[13:34] TooEasilyDistracted: Beyond that, I think there are multiple explanations possible of every experience. I live agnostically.............. Beertje, I think consciousness is an experiment of evolution that has prospered. A brain structure that monitors brain activity.
[13:34] herman Bergson: some glitch in evolution perhaps???
[13:34] TooEasilyDistracted: Why do you think "glitch", as if a fault?
[13:35] herman Bergson: here we are at the beginning of our discussion.....
[13:35] herman Bergson: is consciousness just an accidental event in evolution?
[13:35] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): could be
[13:35] herman Bergson: or has it a meaning...is it caused by.....???????
[13:36] TooEasilyDistracted: Yes, "could be", my thought exactly, Beertje
[13:36] herman Bergson: I think we'll never know...
[13:36] TooEasilyDistracted: I agree, herman. Are we OK with that? Can we carry on?
[13:36] herman Bergson: unless in the future some genetic engineer is able to create artificial DNA and gens that lead to an intelligent being
[13:36] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): maybe we will never know what the meaning of life is
[13:37] TooEasilyDistracted: Make your best guess and go for it...
[13:37] herman Bergson: Depends Beertje....but you are right....we have todeal with the question at least....
[13:38] TooEasilyDistracted: herman, how about the simulation hypothesis? If that is true, then DNA manipulation happens within the simulation.
[13:38] herman Bergson: The very question "What is the meaning of life?" implies that we assume that there can be a meaning....
[13:38] TooEasilyDistracted: Also, artificial intelligence may develop consciousness soon.
[13:39] herman Bergson: I doubt that, TED....is an old story ...
[13:39] TooEasilyDistracted: Are we each asking the question for ourselves? Or are we asking as a representative of humanity or as rep of life in the universe?
[13:39] herman Bergson: Why not ask the question "Can life have ameaning?"
[13:40] TooEasilyDistracted: Why doubt possible AI wakefulness? How is wetware special?
[13:40] TooEasilyDistracted: I like that Q, herman.
[13:40] TooEasilyDistracted: Also, does it matter whether life has a meaning?
[13:41] herman Bergson: Here again we return to the previous lectures......
[13:41] herman Bergson: Meaning can mean function...
[13:41] herman Bergson: and yes life has a function in the overall ecosystem....
[13:42] herman Bergson: but this does not bring us what we'd love to hear......that there is something more than that....
[13:42] herman Bergson: for us..humans :-)
[13:43] herman Bergson: I guess htis is enough to give you a headache for today :-))
[13:43] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): isn't this life enough?
[13:43] herman Bergson: It is ok with me, Beertje :-))
[13:43] TooEasilyDistracted: Humans are scientifically special - the first animals with the potential to steward all life on our planet.
[13:44] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): or to distroy it
[13:44] herman Bergson: and destroy it, TED :-))
[13:44] TooEasilyDistracted: yes indeedy
[13:44] herman Bergson smiles
[13:45] TooEasilyDistracted: That gives me a personal goal, to help tip the trajectory toward "steward"
[13:45] herman Bergson: you only need a president who cancels all climate agreements :-))
[13:45] TooEasilyDistracted: ...fulfilling my being as a human
[13:45] TooEasilyDistracted: We have freedom to start alternative energy projects, out-compete the fossil fuel companies.
[13:46] TooEasilyDistracted: Develop superior tech, make dirty methods obsolete.
[13:46] TooEasilyDistracted: President would find that hard to stop without martial law.
[13:46] herman Bergson: Fortunately people are working on that indeed
[13:46] TooEasilyDistracted: Love 'em
[13:47] herman Bergson: Well, my friends....
[13:47] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): i keep the temperatures on the north pole on Spitsbergen, the whole winter it was barely under 0 C, now it rains a lot there, i think we are too late to take care about our planet
[13:47] herman Bergson: guess we saved the world for another day again....:-)
[13:47] TooEasilyDistracted: Yay, good discussion!
[13:47] herman Bergson: SO, thank you all for your participation again :-)
[13:48] herman Bergson: Class dismissed....
[13:48] Ciska Riverstone: thanx all ㋡
[13:48] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): (wish I could type faster)
[13:48] TooEasilyDistracted: (sorry, I used to work keypunch)
[13:49] herman Bergson: what does that mean TED? :-)
[13:49] TooEasilyDistracted: IBM punch cards - I worked for Gallup Organization in late 70s, then IBM.
[13:49] TooEasilyDistracted: Typing info so computer could use it.
[13:49] herman Bergson: My goodness....THAT is old stuff :-))
[13:49] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes I did that too:)
[13:50] herman Bergson: I remember....programming was hell....one punch in the wrong place and all went down the drain :-)
[13:50] TooEasilyDistracted: We have seen amazing changes, the world has new opportunities
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): but I have to translate the stuff in my head from dutch into english:)
[13:50] TooEasilyDistracted: Fortran IV in college
[13:50] TooEasilyDistracted: OMG Beertje
[13:50] herman Bergson: ahh yes Fortran....:-)
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): I used the telex:)
[13:50] TooEasilyDistracted: Remember band printers?
[13:50] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): yes
[13:51] TooEasilyDistracted: Woof.
[13:51] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): ?
[13:51] herman Bergson: We're a bunch of dinosaurs here ^_^
[13:51] TooEasilyDistracted: Two brains each, heh heh
[13:51] herman Bergson: I like that :-)
[13:52] TooEasilyDistracted: We have perspective on the world, and probably more history and science education than most younger people.
[13:52] herman Bergson: That is because they are still young TED...had less time
[13:53] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): we are still young too:)))
[13:53] Ciska Riverstone: at heart ㋡
[13:54] herman Bergson: We are Beertje....we are :-)
[13:54] herman Bergson: lol...with 5 bypasses :-)))
[13:54] bergfrau Apfelbaum: thank you Herman & Class! ... it is useful to come in the class:-)
[13:54] .: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): grins at herman