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How Does Believing In God Give Us Purpose?


Neon Genesis
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Christians often claim that believing in God is what gives us purpose to our existence and meaning in life and we can't have those things unless we believe in God, and I used to buy into this lie, but the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. How does simply believing in God magically give us purpose that we can't get as non-believers? Even if you believe in God, it's still you that chooses what to do with that belief. Are you going to use that belief to spread the gospel and evangelize people or are you going to use your beliefs to inspire you to make the world a better place? Isn't that what Christians always say? That we have the free will to choose how to live our lives? How can you have a purpose driven life that God created for you to have yet have free will at the same time? I would argue that the opposite is true. I believe that you can't have true purpose in life if your religion is the only thing you live for. If God exists and has proposed a single purpose for our existence that we have to follow lest we be burn in hell, then you aren't living out your purpose, God is just using to live out his purpose.

 

One way of looking at is to think of it as being like a mother who always dreamed of being a model but she never could live out that dream because she had other responsibilities she had to do or something. So, the mother decides to take her daughter at a very young age, make her go an intense diet that makes her daughter super bulimic, forces her to enter into pageants from a young age, makes her learn how to dance or play the piano to enter her into talent shows all the time, even if this isn't the dream of the daughter. In any situation like this, we would say that the child isn't living out their own dream, they're living out their parents'. The only way for the child to live out their own dream is to start following their own path instead of trying to fulfill the failed dreams of their parent. Likewise, even if you believe and love God, your belief and love of God doesn't give you purpose if you're only living to follow his commandments. You can only have true purpose in life when you stop trying to fulfill God's failed dream and start trying to assign your own value and purpose to your existence.

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I see your point on this topic Neon, yet I will suggest some other thoughts. In the Christian perspective, there is God's will on earth. Via Satan and his followers. We as God's people should have a relationship with God in a sense to be able to distinguish His will and apply our life to it accordingly. Does that make sense? So, living by the commandments of God/Christ would have to be a constant in the variable of the equation of God's will. This creates purpose in a Christians life as they also, being in a relationship, seek what it is that God is working to do around His people, church, town, city, country etc. If God is real then Satan is real. And if Satan is real then his followers are real. And if these things are also real, then there is a Holy war going on between God, His people, and Satan and his followers.

 

If you believe any of the above then you would most likely take Revelations into consideration as a source of the 'will' and direction of God. Then comes purpose, God applies us to purpose. I believe when these people you speak of say that you don't have purpose in your life, they are looking from the inside, not the outside. A better way of putting it would be that you do not have a God filled purpose for your life. Which is obvious if you don't believe God exists. I guess these people would assume that if your purpose was not in relationship with God, then it would be altogether be a pointless purpose. For instance, if you didn't believe in God, then efforts would be toward humanity. And most of these I would assume are spiritualists, not humanist.

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NG, that's a great post. "Purpose" was one of the things that Xianity was driving me insane with.

 

I don't want nor do I need any goddamn purpose. My life is mine and I plan to enjoy it, not waste it away.

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I see your point on this topic Neon, yet I will suggest some other thoughts. In the Christian perspective, there is God's will on earth. Via Satan and his followers. We as God's people should have a relationship with God in a sense to be able to distinguish His will and apply our life to it accordingly. Does that make sense? So, living by the commandments of God/Christ would have to be a constant in the variable of the equation of God's will. This creates purpose in a Christians life as they also, being in a relationship, seek what it is that God is working to do around His people, church, town, city, country etc. If God is real then Satan is real. And if Satan is real then his followers are real. And if these things are also real, then there is a Holy war going on between God, His people, and Satan and his followers.
Since when? You're presuming that if something supernatural might exists then that must mean the rest of your beliefs do but the logic does not compute. Furthermore, you have no evidence for these claims.

 

I guess these people would assume that if your purpose was not in relationship with God, then it would be altogether be a pointless purpose. For instance, if you didn't believe in God, then efforts would be toward humanity. And most of these I would assume are spiritualists, not humanist.
You're still missing my point. My point is that if your sole existence is to live for God, then that is what is truly a pointless purpose because you're not living out your own purpose, you're living out God's. You're like a puppet that God is just using as part of his cosmic puppet show. That's not purpose, that's slavery and you're not living out you're purpose, you're living out the purpose of your slave master. If God believed we had a purpose, why doesn't God go live his own purpose on his own and let us live ours on our own instead of demanding us to live out his? I don't know about you, but I refuse to be a toy for somebody else.
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To use God as a "purpose" for life is just a matter of having a higher cause to follow. It can be anything from humanism, Green Peace, religious dogma, or political ideology. God is not needed to get "a calling." I only need something to believe in which has a higher purpose than just myself, and that's the purpose.

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You're still missing my point. My point is that if your sole existence is to live for God, then that is what is truly a pointless purpose because you're not living out your own purpose, you're living out God's. You're like a puppet that God is just using as part of his cosmic puppet show. That's not purpose, that's slavery and you're not living out you're purpose, you're living out the purpose of your slave master. If God believed we had a purpose, why doesn't God go live his own purpose on his own and let us live ours on our own instead of demanding us to live out his? I don't know about you, but I refuse to be a toy for somebody else.

 

He gives each person a choice to do whatever they please. A Christian living for God's purpose I would assume; would be doing that because he/she choose to do so. In this view that there are those that are 'puppets'. Maybe. But, they even at some point come to the time of choice, freedom of belief, and their own direction.

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I lived my entire christian walk thinking I was on a path to greatness that god had given me a vision, and behold he would lead me along it. What a big fat crock of rubbish. I cannot tell you how much my life was warped and twisted constantly trying to work out god's will. Even now when I listen to my christian friends I can see the mindcrap going on in them. It is the freeing thought to finally get your own life back and actually take responsibility and ownership for it. Now I have to grow up and find out a path that I want to take, not something or someone telling me what to do. I once heard a story of a guy praying every morning for goodness sake for god to lead him and show him what to wear to work each day.!! Does this not show the complete madness of relying on something outside of yourself to live your life??

 

Thank goodness though NOW I AM FREE TO LIVE MY LIFE THE WAY I WANT TO...and NO I do not need god or anyone else for that matter to give me a sense of purpose in life. For now getting through a whole day without having that twisted crap in my brain is enough. Phew. :Hmm:

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Hear, hear! I can totally identify with that, Kathlene...

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'To be or not to be ...' W. Shakespeare

 

We can have a purpose in life without god. Every decision starts with a personal effort. The sweat is ours, the blood and tears are ours. We do not have to be famous or of great prominence to have a life of purpose, just the will to achieve what goals we set before ourselves. We are the caretakers of our own destiny.

 

A god-given purpose is religious hype given to the masses to keep them coming back to church and makes them feel special even if their life is totally crap. Life is what we make of it. Some excel and some do not, which is no indication a person has no purpose in life. If we had to have god in our lives to have purpose then only the religious would achieve greatness but life shows us this is not the case because even atheist or nonreligious people have purpose and also achieve greatness.

 

A person's purpose in life is what we make of it.

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Imo, the purpose one achieves/acts out by believing in a will-filled god is twofold, each half of which is mutually exclusive of the other: total abandonment of self-power... and total self-power by proxy.

 

No wonder the human mind reels under this dictum.

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You're still missing my point. My point is that if your sole existence is to live for God, then that is what is truly a pointless purpose because you're not living out your own purpose, you're living out God's. You're like a puppet that God is just using as part of his cosmic puppet show. That's not purpose, that's slavery and you're not living out you're purpose, you're living out the purpose of your slave master. If God believed we had a purpose, why doesn't God go live his own purpose on his own and let us live ours on our own instead of demanding us to live out his? I don't know about you, but I refuse to be a toy for somebody else.

 

 

Bingo. What God wants is mindless little slaves. And then he gives you the illusion of choice. Either be obedient, or burn in hell forever. It's no different from someone holding a gun to your head and telling you to get on your knees or they'll blow your brains out. When someone tells you to obey or they will hurt or kill you, that is by definition force. Not choice. Therefore God does not give his followers any choice whatsoever. And they actually praise him for giving them the "choice" to burn in hell forever if they don't obey. WTH?

 

 

And if Satan is real then his followers are real.

 

 

Oh hai, I have a message from Satan for you. The only difference between Satan and God is that one of them is actually consistent. Guess which one? Either way, you're somebody's slave, and despite what you tell yourself, you don't have a choice no matter what you do. Enjoy being a pawn and wasting what little time you have praying to someone who's never going to keep his promise to give you everything you ask for. :fdevil:

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We can have a purpose in life without god. Every decision starts with a personal effort. The sweat is ours, the blood and tears are ours. We do not have to be famous or of great prominence to have a life of purpose, just the will to achieve what goals we set before ourselves. We are the caretakers of our own destiny.

 

I have often wondered what in life is really worth doing. I'm not depressed, just asking, since realistically everything ends. All the fame and fortune, and even the most beautiful bodies. Even the most famous people of our lifetimes will not be remembered even 1,000 years in the future. What about 5,000? Thinking about the vistas of time just makes me shrink. Maybe I have a long view, but even as a teenager I couldn't understand on some level the Protestant work ethic. Work your ass off for what? Some boss in an office then you are dead in 30 years. It is also very possible to work your butt off and not even make enough to live on. I was actually never clued into that when I was in high school. I never wanted a job. (1) I had low self-esteem and didn't think I could do anything (due to being raised xian) and (2) the long-range view I have already expressed, which makes everything look shallow and superficial.

 

At the same time, one can surely admire in the moment something that is done extremely well. Art and science, elegance in writing, speaking, music, painting, a grand mathematical formula, beautiful expressions of every kind. For a long time I thought art was the only worthwhile thing in life. Maybe on some level I still think that. Even without the long range view, it seems so valuable.

 

I take pride in the work that I do, I want to do it right, because I have self-respect, but it cannot give an ultimate meaning to life. I am still working out this "purpose in life" thing, but one thing is for sure, it is all temporary.

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Nothing lasts forever, that is true. I set my sights on what I can leave behind to make my kid's life easier and more enjoyable. I plan for his future. When I am forgotten, he will be remembered for what he does for his kids. If he has no children then he can work to make someone's life better. Just doing something for the common good of people gives me a purpose. Life sucks for many people so why not make life worth living for those we meet?

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Nothing lasts forever, that is true. I set my sights on what I can leave behind to make my kid's life easier and more enjoyable. I plan for his future. When I am forgotten, he will be remembered for what he does for his kids. If he has no children then he can work to make someone's life better. Just doing something for the common good of people gives me a purpose. Life sucks for many people so why not make life worth living for those we meet?

 

Yes, I suppose those who do have children (unlike myself) might have a different perspective. Agreed that it is worthwhile to make life worth living for others.

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I don't know if believing in God gave me purpose but I know that I believed God gave us the porpoise.

 

mwc

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Christians often claim that believing in God is what gives us purpose to our existence and meaning in life and we can't have those things unless we believe in God, and I used to buy into this lie, but the more I think about it, the less sense it makes. How does simply believing in God magically give us purpose that we can't get as non-believers? Even if you believe in God, it's still you that chooses what to do with that belief. Are you going to use that belief to spread the gospel and evangelize people or are you going to use your beliefs to inspire you to make the world a better place? Isn't that what Christians always say? That we have the free will to choose how to live our lives? How can you have a purpose driven life that God created for you to have yet have free will at the same time? I would argue that the opposite is true. I believe that you can't have true purpose in life if your religion is the only thing you live for. If God exists and has proposed a single purpose for our existence that we have to follow lest we be burn in hell, then you aren't living out your purpose, God is just using to live out his purpose.

 

One way of looking at is to think of it as being like a mother who always dreamed of being a model but she never could live out that dream because she had other responsibilities she had to do or something. So, the mother decides to take her daughter at a very young age, make her go an intense diet that makes her daughter super bulimic, forces her to enter into pageants from a young age, makes her learn how to dance or play the piano to enter her into talent shows all the time, even if this isn't the dream of the daughter. In any situation like this, we would say that the child isn't living out their own dream, they're living out their parents'. The only way for the child to live out their own dream is to start following their own path instead of trying to fulfill the failed dreams of their parent. Likewise, even if you believe and love God, your belief and love of God doesn't give you purpose if you're only living to follow his commandments. You can only have true purpose in life when you stop trying to fulfill God's failed dream and start trying to assign your own value and purpose to your existence.

 

Neon, starting another thread? Re: this issue about purpose, please read my latest post on the Bible inerrancy thread.

 

But - let me propose a different (and I think better) illustration of living according to someone else's purpose. When is a train performing best? When is the train most free to stop, go, change direction, serve people for their benefit by carrying their persons and supplies? When is a train most admired and valued? When does a train look its best? When it is firmly on the tracks. BUT, the train tracks are imposed on the train by engineers and politicians and customers.

 

Why not free the train to travel wherever it will? Why not get the train off the tracks to run its own course? The answer is obvious. And this also is true for us - left to ourselves we can pursue a life with our own meaning and purpose, but it will be a myopic purpose - we're limited by our sinful human nature. Many great people have pursued a course in life completely separate from God - and they enjoyed it. But their lives accomplished little for themsleves and others - temporal pleasures, short-lived benefits for others, some impact for the next generation - but not much for subsequent generations. That's why secular writers speak of men living lives of quiet desparation, or describing human life as a brief moment of sound and fury signifying nothing. The purposes of men can only be finite and selfish - it's who we are.

 

However, when we jettison pursuing our goals and purposes, and submit to living for God's purposes - then we've come into purpose with etenal significance and glory. Not only that, when we're in the midst of living for God's glory, there's a sometimes inexplicable joy from the knowledge that we are pleasing God. Much like the joy of children who please their parents. Your illustration of a Mother is a good choice, but I would change the Mother's disposition. A good Mother knows the passions and aptitudes and pursuits and interests of her child. She then raises her child wisely, guiding and channeling her child's qualities so he will live in a way that's best for all. The child - due to his young age, lack of experience, ignorance about dangers, lack of knowledge, etc simply cannot be left to himself. His frailties will be his undoing. But his parents can provide wise counsel, moral support, a healthy home life - all to enhance the child's pursuit of those greater goals.

 

This is similar to what God does - He knows each if us intimately, and He designs ways in which we can pursue His purpose such that it brings us great joy and satisfaction. All of this in a way that accomplishes primarily (1) God's glory, and also (2) our good. And then when thjis life is over - we get to go to heaven!

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Navin Johnson in "The Jerk" had a special purpose. He didn't get it from God.

 

Au contraire, bon ami! God created, invented, and designed pleasurable sex; and it's best when practiced often and selflessly within monogamous marriage.

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But - let me propose a different (and I think better) illustration of living according to someone else's purpose. When is a train performing best? When is the train most free to stop, go, change direction, serve people for their benefit by carrying their persons and supplies? When is a train most admired and valued? When does a train look its best? When it is firmly on the tracks. BUT, the train tracks are imposed on the train by engineers and politicians and customers.

 

Why not free the train to travel wherever it will? Why not get the train off the tracks to run its own course? The answer is obvious. And this also is true for us - left to ourselves we can pursue a life with our own meaning and purpose, but it will be a myopic purpose - we're limited by our sinful human nature. Many great people have pursued a course in life completely separate from God - and they enjoyed it. But their lives accomplished little for themsleves and others - temporal pleasures, short-lived benefits for others, some impact for the next generation - but not much for subsequent generations. That's why secular writers speak of men living lives of quiet desparation, or describing human life as a brief moment of sound and fury signifying nothing. The purposes of men can only be finite and selfish - it's who we are.

 

I hear a lot of soundbytes from you types about man's "sinful nature" and how we are all just evil, horrid people by ourselves. Prove it, or else your statements cannot stand. And don't give me a list of tax evaders or shit like that, b/c for each of those I could show you a Christian pastor/authority figure that the "holy spirit" was working in that has committed far greater atrocities. In fact, look around you, sure there are rapists, serial killers, thieves and the like but most people you will see on the street are not any of those. Most of those good people who aren't looting, raping, killing, or littering are capable of doing so with either no religion, nominal religion or a very liberal and loose form of religion. Given that, I see little evidence to support your claim in my everyday life, but perhaps you have some hard, empirical proof?

 

Also, trains do not have brains or free will; two things which your sky daddy, supposedly, gives humankind and then punishes us for using. It is obvious that your sky daddy does not wish us to use the very facilities he gave us and called "good" in Genesis.

 

And what non-temporal purpose does belief in the Christian deity give, other than "Zomg! I hope Israel invades Iran and then it'll be the raaaaaptuuure and I get to have a palace and see Jesus!" or some variant on that drivel. Given the choice between someone who believes something along those lines and someone who actively seeks to make the world a better place, who wpuld you rather have living next door? Who will do more for the world? The Christians' "purpose" is the epitome of empty and temporal, since they always seek that pie in the sky and do not do anything in this temporal realm (do read some theology; Heaven, God and all that Jazz is a-temporal). Whereas, in this view, a non-believer's purpose is also temporal but will last longer than the Christians.

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A good Mother knows the passions and aptitudes and pursuits and interests of her child. She then raises her child wisely, guiding and channeling her child's qualities so he will live in a way that's best for all. The child - due to his young age, lack of experience, ignorance about dangers, lack of knowledge, etc simply cannot be left to himself. His frailties will be his undoing. But his parents can provide wise counsel, moral support, a healthy home life - all to enhance the child's pursuit of those greater goals.

 

That sounded like it just came straight off the Jesus channel. Have you seen the prayer cross? :woohoo::HaHa:

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Trains don't have minds of their own, Ray, so of course they need their every little movement to be controlled by people. If the train were a person and were treated the same way, it would be a slave, just as Christians are slaves to their imaginary god.

 

People, on the other hand, have the ability to make our own choices, and don't need to be attached to some track (or threatened with eternal torture for noncompliance) in order to make good decisions.

 

Your train analogy fails.

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But - let me propose a different (and I think better) illustration of living according to someone else's purpose. When is a train performing best? When is the train most free to stop, go, change direction, serve people for their benefit by carrying their persons and supplies? When is a train most admired and valued? When does a train look its best? When it is firmly on the tracks. BUT, the train tracks are imposed on the train by engineers and politicians and customers.

 

Why not free the train to travel wherever it will? Why not get the train off the tracks to run its own course? The answer is obvious.

 

Obvious, yes, but you sure went off the rails with your take on it.

 

A train isn't a sentient, living being with thoughts, emotions, opinions, and a life to live as it sees fit.

 

What right does anyone have to place their will over the personal freedom of another free-thinking, sentient being?

 

Even if you created another free-thinking, sentient being, what right would you have to impose your will on it?

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Your illustration of a Mother is a good choice, but I would change the Mother's disposition. A good Mother knows the passions and aptitudes and pursuits and interests of her child. She then raises her child wisely, guiding and channeling her child's qualities so he will live in a way that's best for all. The child - due to his young age, lack of experience, ignorance about dangers, lack of knowledge, etc simply cannot be left to himself. His frailties will be his undoing. But his parents can provide wise counsel, moral support, a healthy home life - all to enhance the child's pursuit of those greater goals.

 

You didn't change the mother's disposition at all.

 

Sure, everyone needs to be taken care of in their developmental stages, but at some point every bird has to leave the nest and when it's time to fly, the mother throws them out.

 

Birds are good examples. At least they know when it's time for the kids to get the hell out of the house.

 

And then you have mothers (parents) that try to control every little thing that the children do. The "kids" end up being in their 50s and still can't stand up and tell the parents to "butt out".

 

Is that what you plan to do, ray? Control your kids to the nth degree to make certain they stay on the straight and narrow?

 

Or will you actually throw them out of the nest and truly let them "fly free"?

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