Monday, April 6, 2015

576: Has life meaning without a god?

Many religious thinkers hold that for our lives to be meaningful we need to be immortal in some way, or else our lives would be just as meaningless as those of other animals. 
According to this line of thought, god soon comes into the equation, as only god is capable of offering us immortality. The existence of god, then, is a logically necessary condition for a meaningful human life.
Left aside that this god probably is this specific Christian god, the more I study this subject the more I begin to wonder about religion as some weird product of our brain.
What trick is the brain playing on us? Where does this need for the supernatural come from?
In my previous lecture I said: If we take the Cro-Magnon as the first early modern humans (early Homo sapiens sapiens) of the European Upper Paleolithic we arrive in 43.000 years B.C.
So this was a human being with liked to live, loved the next day, his partner, his  children. He must have had a sense of meaning for his existence.
Maybe he believed in supernatural phenomena or beings, who connected with his life, but through history we have seen many gods come and go.
And mankind  lived on, evolved, increased its knowledge about reality. How can you live on when you don’t see any meaning or purpose in your life?
Maybe it makes sense to quote Daniel Dennett from his “Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.” (2006) - quote:
Not all scientists and philosophers are atheists, and many who are believers declare that their idea of God can live in peaceful coexistence with, or even find support from, the Darwinian framework of ideas.
 Theirs is not an anthropomorphic Handicrafter God, but still a God worthy of worship in their eyes, capable of giving consolation and meaning to their lives. 
Others ground their highest concerns in entirely secular philosophies, views of the meaning of life that stave off despair without the aid of any concept of a Supreme Being—other than the Universe itself. 
Something is sacred to these thinkers, but they do not call it God; they call it, perhaps, Life, or Love, or Goodness, or Intelligence, or Beauty, or Humanity.
What both groups share, in spite of the differences in their deepest creeds, is a conviction that life does have meaning, that goodness matters.
But can any version of this attitude of wonder and purpose be sustained in the face of Darwinism?
From the outset, there have been those who thought they saw Darwin letting the worst possible cat out of the bag: nihilism. 
They thought that if Darwin was right, the implication would be that nothing could be sacred. To put it bluntly, nothing could have any point. (…)
There really were large gaps in his theory that have only recently begun to be properly filled in. The biggest gap looks almost comical in retrospect. 
In all his brilliant musings, Darwin never hit upon the central concept, without which the theory of evolution is hopeless: the concept of a GENE. - end quote
Long ago we were taught to believe that the earth  and thus man is the center of the universe. In 1543 Copernicus changed that picture.
The Christian religion was shocked and started a counterattack, but in spite of the drama of that epic confrontation, 
the idea that our planet is not the center of creation has sat rather lightly in people's minds. Every schoolchild today accepts this as the matter of fact it is, without tears or terror. 
The fundamental core of contemporary Darwinism, the theory of DNA-based reproduction and evolution, is now beyond dispute among scientists. 
To quote Dennett again: “In a single stroke, the idea of evolution by natural selection unifies the realm of life, 
meaning, and purpose with the realm of space and time, cause and effect, mechanism and physical law. “
Thank you… the floor is yours :-)

The Discussion

Max Chatnoir: I think my life would only cease to have meaning if it became totally predictable.  One of the things about Darwinian theory was that it proposed that life could never be predictable.  Who could have invented giraffes?  Water bears?
herman Bergson: YEs Max....that is a point....
herman Bergson: if god is all knowing...he would know the cours eof my life in in fact Iit would be deterministic
herman Bergson: Ig god knows my next move..what freedom do I have?
Areyn Laurasia: would it matter? :)
Max Chatnoir: Well, if God were only an observer and saw all points of time, then you would still have choice, just not foreknowledge.
herman Bergson: yes...for if he knows in advance what I gonna do, you can not make me responsible for my actions....
herman Bergson: there is no free will or choice then
Bejiita Imako: ah
herman Bergson: If god is only an observer he doesn’t know not all knowing...
Areyn Laurasia: that's if there's a god..
herman Bergson: But they claim...he is :-)
herman Bergson: yes of course Areyn....
herman Bergson: At least in the mind of many people there is one
Bejiita Imako: indeed
Max Chatnoir: Well, I'm not making an argument for the existence of God, just thinking that maybe he can't control everything.
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): The infinite power...the source of everythiing.....the alfa and omega.....for centuries ....there were some people around in every nation at like every age talking about that one i have always believed in God.....when i was three i was in a spaceship with God ! Well the man in the spaceship told me he was....i cann never forget that dream
Areyn Laurasia: unless there are parallel universes.. then all our choices would be but one possibility among many.. and all would hold true at some point
Max Chatnoir: But dreaming up properties for somebody who doesn't exist seems a little odd...
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): lol
herman Bergson: Yes MAx...but mankind does it for centuries now....
herman Bergson: I really dont understand why myself
Max Chatnoir: If we have to invent a God, then it can't just be somebody just like us.
herman Bergson: The results are disastrous...when you look at the Arabic world of today for instance
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): why is it instilled in our very soul ..Even the ppl who doesn’t belive in a God during a disaster etc. feel the need to be protected
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): Herman u have a very good point there . The religions are the dilemma.
herman Bergson: The need to feel protected is just a normal biological response to a hostile environment
Max Chatnoir: Maybe we invented Gods to replace parents when we discovered that they aren't all powerful.
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): they should organize people more but it seems ..they cause more disorganization
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): disharmony
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): conflicts and chaos
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): yes chaos
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): and how that can be if religons only presenting God's love and peace
herman Bergson: Well....they tend to call their god "father" indeed Max...
herman Bergson: tho I'd prefer "mother"
Areyn Laurasia: That's something I've never considered before, Max. :)
Cain Levasseur: i remember the exact moment i stop believing in god.. i felt unprotected and alone
herman Bergson: Interesting Cain...
herman Bergson: as if you lost a parent?
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): Cain u have got a point
Cain Levasseur: right, just like that
herman Bergson: well...we have the expression that we are CHILDREN of god...
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): i can never deny that there is a creator but it seems the religions won'T be able to get to me anymore.....
Max Chatnoir: We seem to expect that God is in the role of a parent, creates a world for us, tells us how to behave, protects us from harmful situations...
herman Bergson: It means that the atheist has to be a self supporting individual and no longer a child, I guess
CB Axel: The actress Julia Sweeney did a one-woman show called "Letting Go Of God" where she described that same feeling, Cain.
herman Bergson: Yes..good observations...
herman Bergson: And MAx....what is the meaning of life....the be a good child...
Max Chatnoir: Is that on line anywhere, CB?  It sounds interesting.
herman Bergson: behave....
Max Chatnoir: To discover the world and learn more about it.
CB Axel: I'm not sure, Max. I have it on DVD.
herman Bergson: yes indeed...
Areyn Laurasia: isn't it enough to be just human?
herman Bergson: I'd say 'yes' Areyn :-)
Cain Levasseur: we are full of fears, and god its a protection against those fears, i think its a tool, an evolutionary tool like herman exposed on this lecture
Max Chatnoir: enough to rise to the responsibility of managing our own brains.  They are pretty special.
Cain Levasseur: fear to death, fear to not being anymore, fear of being harmed, fear of being crazy, etc.
herman Bergson: Yes Cain.....
herman Bergson: it is a means to explain the unexplicable....
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): mind control ?
herman Bergson: all cultures use it...
Cain Levasseur: right, when we where primitive societys, we didnt have the knowledge we have today, so the idea of god replaced those ignorance
herman Bergson: But Our Western culture has dropped that line of thinking and uses science as a way to explain reality
Max Chatnoir: A tool -- that's an interesting idea.
Bejiita Imako: ah
herman Bergson: A tool yes Max....
CB Axel: I'm beginning to think that there is a god and that we don't exist. We're just a bad dream god is having. ;)
Cain Levasseur: right herman thats what i think, i don’t know if "all" western culture, but some people
herman Bergson: which brings to me the article about the pragmatic acceptance orf religion....
Max Chatnoir: We hae both big brains and big mouths, so to speak, so that we can spread our ideas way beyond ourselves, and some ideas are harmful.
herman Bergson: yes..very harmful as todays politics show....
Bejiita Imako: ok
Max Chatnoir: Like that idiotic law in Indiana.  I can't BELIEVE that that ever passed!
herman Bergson: What was that Max?
Areyn Laurasia: The governor is going to "fix" it right to reduce possible discrimination?
Max Chatnoir: "protection of religious freedom" or something like that that makes it legal not to serve gay people if you find them offensive.
herman Bergson: Ahhh we ahd the same problem in the Netherlands....
Bejiita Imako: eeeh ok
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): that's against human rights !!!!!
Max Chatnoir: I think we need a "conservation of knowledge" addendum that says you can't learn anything that wasn't known 4004 years ago.
herman Bergson: Municipal officials who refused to marry gay people because of their religious beliefs...
Max Chatnoir: And a "family values" addendum that says you have to hate all the people your relatives hate.
Max Chatnoir: You have to be carefully taught.  Remember that song?
Bejiita Imako: its horrible indeed
CB Axel: Yes. From South Pacific
Areyn Laurasia: and here you have people leaving the church because the church agrees with equal rights :)
Max Chatnoir: Maybe that would make it obvious how NUTTY the first one is!  But I think that the business community might take care of it.
Bejiita Imako: i mean we live in 2015, not 1500
Bejiita Imako: but those religious muffs seem not to get it
herman Bergson: Well..sound we don't need a religion to tell each other about the meaning and purpose of life :-)
Max Chatnoir: LOL!
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): LOL people are always the same. times don't change it. Egos never change
Bejiita Imako: ehee
herman Bergson: Ok...let's continue our search for meaning and purpose in life without religion next Thursday :-))
herman Bergson: Thank you all for this good discussion....
herman Bergson: Class dismissed....... ^_^
Lizzy Pleides: thank you herman
Max Chatnoir: Maundy Thursday.  :-)
CB Axel: Thank you, herman.
Areyn Laurasia: Thanks :)
Bejiita Imako: nice again Herman
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy):  ('*•.¸•*• Ťĥ∆ⓝⓀ  ΫΘ •*•¸.•*´)
Sparkle Kingston (shaycy): Herman well done
Bejiita Imako:
Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
bergfrau Apfelbaum: ***** APPPPPPPLLLLAAAUUUSSSSEEEEEEE***********
herman Bergson: Maundy Thursday..what is that, Max?
bergfrau Apfelbaum: ty herman & class!
.: Beertje :. (beertje.beaumont): thank you again Herman
Max Chatnoir: Thanks, Herman.
CB Axel: Maundy Thursday, huh? Should we wash herman's feet?

Areyn Laurasia: now I'm curious about the philosophy of Blender.. XD

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