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What Gives Life Meaning?


thunderbolt
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I told my best friend that I am not longer a beLIEver, and this was his response after I cornered him on the “glory” of his (not so) holy book:

 

Okay. Well said. let's leave behind discussing the bible. For me Chrisitanity offers answers to fundamental questions that humanity has about itself. Issues of purpose, meaning, and function come to mind. To my understanding one of the hardest questions that an atheist must live with is the question that if we are alone and the cosmos are impersonal how did the personal(humanity) arise out of the impersonal(the universe). In my limited study of the history of thought almost every artist or philospher who goes down the path of deconstruction (the belief that everything is chance) ultimately ends up self destructing. Jackson Pollock began his art career with the belief that life had meaning and the manifestation was that he held the belief that discipline and discernment and critique were of value. But after he determined that life was only a series of chances the ultimate result in his art was letting paint randomly drip on the canvas. His hope was that somehow the impersonal universe would speak and offer some sort of revelation within the canvas, for who can live with the idea that all is meaningless. Almost every atheist secretly reverts to pantheism, if not in outward expression at least in secret hope that the essence of god is found in the matter and energy of the cosmos, but this is a longer stretch even than Chrisitanity.

So what gives you meaning now?

 

Now you have to understand, he is an artist, and creative people (which I am) seems to draw much more value out of the esoteric and the normal Joe - even in religion. I am not an atheist, so I don't understand how he arrived at his conclusions, but it seems to me that religions people have a preconceived notion about atheists. But more importantly, I can think of a 1001 things that gives meaning to my life now, much more so than when I sloshed through the quagmire of religion.

 

Thought I would share with y'all ...

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Thunderbolt,

 

Next time you see your friend you might consider giving a mini-lecture on "What Saps Life's Meaning?"

 

(I think every Ex-C could list 1001 well-remembered anti-life admonitions.)

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So, what's worse? Realizing there is no deep meaning to life, or thinking that you are living according to some higher calling, some huge master plan - full of destiny and purpose? (when it's all just a big mind game)

 

I used to think that my purpose in life was to further the cause of the gospel - through music, through evangelism, through living a life that I thought was pleasing to God.

 

Now, I try to spend as much time as possible doing other things that I truly love. Things that require creativity, concentration, effort, talent.

 

I enjoy seeing new places. Being friendly to strangers. I like doing spontaneous things. Living life like it's an adventure.

 

When you realize that the time here is all you are ever gonna have, you learn to squeeze life for all it's worth. And I'm starting to catch on to the concept.

 

The only meaning to life is what you assign to it.

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Tell your friend that if he wants someone else to tell him the meaning of life, he can go to church.

 

If he wants to figure it out himself, then atheism might be right up his alley.

 

Right there is the difference.

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To my understanding one of the hardest questions that an atheist must live with is the question that if we are alone and the cosmos are impersonal how did the personal(humanity) arise out of the impersonal(the universe).

 

It's not a hard question at all. We are the product of millions of years of biological evolution, which is driven by natural selection, not chance. We don't know that we are alone. There may be intelligent life on other worlds. At this point, we simply do not know.

 

Atheists find meaning in life as it is NOW, not in some hoped for afterlife or in a deity. That means that we find meaning in life through our activities and through our thinking and through family, friends, and work. There are many other things that give life meaning as well. I find just being alive and aware and able to enjoy this moment to be extremely meaningful! At some point in time, my consciousness will be extinguished, but NOW I am alive and aware! Life has tremendous meaning! There is meaning in just living life! Glory!

 

Almost every atheist secretly reverts to pantheism

I disagree.

 

in secret hope that the essence of god is found in the matter and energy of the cosmos, but this is a longer stretch even than Chrisitanity

Atheists don't believe in god, so why would they search for his essence? I think it's less of a stretch than Christianity is. The Jews believe in a concept of god known as Ein Sof:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ein_Sof_(Kabbalah)

 

religions people have a preconceived notion about atheists

Yeah, they do, and they are usually wrong!

 

 

 

 

 

Tell your friend that if he wants someone else to tell him the meaning of life, he can go to church.

 

If he wants to figure it out himself, then atheism might be right up his alley.

 

Right there is the difference.

Amen! Preach it, Brother! That's the TRUTH! Glory! :notworthy:

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I am not an atheist, so I don't understand how he arrived at his conclusions, but it seems to me that religions people have a preconceived notion about atheists. But more importantly, I can think of a 1001 things that gives meaning to my life now, much more so than when I sloshed through the quagmire of religion.

 

Thought I would share with y'all ...

...

 

Thunderboldt, sometimes it's just a matter of explaining that agnostics and atheists are not necessarily "not spiritual".

 

You might want to check out the following thread:http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5588 - the conversation picks up around page 4/5

 

Antlerman and others took the time and patience to teach me about the difference between agnostic and atheism.... the conversation took an interesting turn into spirituality and such. Anyway, often ignorance can be tackled through education. There is only one criteria - both parties have to be willing to ask questions and listen with an open mind (no pun intended) :)

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Um...meaning? What's that?

 

Asimov ... not sure here ... did I say something to offend?

 

 

No....did I seem offended? I was just wondering what exactly is meant by "meaning of life"?

 

My life has purpose because I create goals for myself. Would that be considered meaning? Or is it "objective/universal" meaning that is being used in this context?

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Thunderbolt,

 

Next time you see your friend you might consider giving a mini-lecture on "What Saps Life's Meaning?"

 

(I think every Ex-C could list 1001 well-remembered anti-life admonitions.)

 

Oh my god....

 

Pitchu, I just adore this. I had to post before finishing the thread to highlight it again.

 

Perfection itself.

 

Merlin

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(okay, finished the thread... now for my thoughts)

 

What gives life meaning? Many people have asked this question of me - usually to say that the atheistic/agnostic lifestyle is utterly devoid of meaning, value, worth, or emotional satisfaction... we're all just pleasure whores desperately trying to fill a God-Shaped Hole. Yawn.

 

For me, the question is not 'What gives life meaning?' That's surrendering control to something else. The real question, in my view, is 'How can I give my life meaning? What can I do to achieve fulfillment?'

 

Most people would scoff at this as 'subjective' or somesuch. There are two gaping holes with this argument:

 

One: The arguments, justifications, and excuses on the Christian side of things are, when you boil them down, just as subjective... at best. At worst, they are flat out wrong/based on gross misstatements or outright bold-faced lies.

 

Two: Take it from someone who has known people close to suicide... someone ELSE cannot make life worthwhile. It MUST come from within yourself. All the tempting or persuading in the world isn't going to make one dent in the world if you've lost all will to live.

 

In other words... the old japanese addage about 'fall down seven times, get up eight.'

 

There is only one being in the universe capable of making you get up. And that's you. And guess who can give life meaning? Yup.... you guessed it...

 

YOU.

 

Listen to White_Raven. Use that Cerebral Cortex. It's a damn good one, took several million years to perfect. Would be a shame to let it rot, eh?

 

What gives life meaning???

 

Seeing Merlin post after a long absence. :grin:

 

 

What gives life meaning???

 

Seeing Merlin post after a long absence. :grin:

 

 

Hear Hear!

 

:wub:

 

Okay... stop... :HappyCry:

 

You guys are too much. Wow... what a welcome home.

 

*huge hugs*

 

Great to be back, gals. I feel quite at home...

 

Merlin

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Yeah, I think we are all on the same page here in making our own meaning in life and how, basically. As usual, I'm too lazy to read the entire thread, so I hope nobody already pointed out the factor of time in our efforts. If we only invest mental and emotional energy into pursuits that give instant or fast gratification, the overall feeling of our lives is going to be deenergized, which I think can also be interpreted as a loss of a sense of meaning, between these episodes of indulgence.. If we commit ourselves to long-range projects and goals wholeheartedly and passionately, everyday aspects of our lives will also be filled with a proportional sense of meaning. So, it's also a matter of goals and how short or long range they are to fix these problems. And it's up to us to fill in the blanks...nobody is telling us what to do...not us...... (I've got to go give my life meaning by starting a fight somewhere....just in the mood.....)

 

Okay, I'm back. Just had to go kick a little ass. One thing I have also found for me, after years of resistng the idea, is that love gives my life meaning. I'm not talking about the ideal relationship or friend, but on a more general idea of a love for an idea, creation, goal, or just something in people or the world in general that I am able to reach out and effect with that passion. That does it for me.

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I responded with a long thought-out response, really keeping it respectful towards him, while sharing my point-of-view without apology. His response:

 

-----

it seems as though we could probbably travel down this road for the next decade. To me what I believe is more than experiencial, it is reasonable. But likewise your conclusions and experience tell you the same thing. So we are both beyond being convinced (of the others conclusion). For you that is not problematic. For me the challenge is that I believe very passionately in the fellowship of the saints. This is not to say that i believe that i shouldn't fellowship with people outside of the bonds of the church . But I believe there is a sweetness that comes into the fellowship when the object of affection is the same , when the world view is the same , when the presuppositions are the same . The difference in thinking should not sever our friendship but the navagation becomes trickier because who i fundamentally am is a christian who is passionately in love with Jesus, who is actively pursuing the Kingdom of God. Out of that comes conitinual testimony. I could see the expression of that testimony as being a bit tiresome for you. But maybe not. If you're cool with hearing about my day and all that God has been doing in my life then i'll be very glad. I'm very interested in knowing what is going on in your life.

-----

 

Although it doesn't look like it on the surface, I could "sense" a definite disappointment in his response. So much for Christians with their wanting to share life, etc.

 

I knew this, even as a Christian: Christian love is very conditional. It's "fuzzy" and acceptable only when everyone sings from the same songsheet. They talk a good game about God's glorious “unconditional” love, but their execution is dismal.

 

It's saddens me, but it wasn't totally unexpected.

:shrug:

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I responded with a long thought-out response, really keeping it respectful towards him, while sharing my point-of-view without apology. His response:

 

-----

it seems as though we could probbably travel down this road for the next decade. To me what I believe is more than experiencial, it is reasonable. But likewise your conclusions and experience tell you the same thing. So we are both beyond being convinced (of the others conclusion).

 

<snip>

 

What I see as unfortunate for your friend is that to him the whole pursuit of "meaning" needs to operate within a closed system. He uses the word "conclude". How can anyone conclude an open ended question? In my opinion, if he is truly an artist, with the soul of a poet, then he is merely taking a rest stop along his personal journey.

 

It's putting salve on a gapping hole in his spirit by his embracing his own hope that it will deliver what it promises. It won't take too long for him to exhaust all that fundamentalism has to offer. The promise of answers is quite appealing, but only those who aren't truly seeking the answer to their own question of meaning, will be satisfied by its limited offerings. It's an artificial answer and serves well as a cop out for those that don't want to go down the more difficult path of confronting the universe as an individual.

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I think Antlerman is 100% correct. This just goes to show how shallow christian pretensions of caring are. There is little beyond doing what is necessary for eternal survival, in many cases. This looks like one of them. When people are independent, they are capable of so much more...I hope everything works out for you, thunderbolt. Because you are really trying to make the best decisions you can for everyone involved and you desrve a break.

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It MUST come from within yourself.

Merlin! You're back...woohoo! :grin:

 

That is so true...

 

I have heard the meaning of life equated to a dance or a song. The purpose is not the ending, or the fastests songs would mean the most. It's the song or dance itself!

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So many people believe that if I find a spiritual meaning in life, it means not determining my own path, or letting myself down, and it really isn't.

 

I live in this exact moment. Buddhist teachings tell this. Everybody is just as capable of worrying about the future as anyone else. It's so strange when you actually sit down and look at, say, your bedsheets, every individual thread, your mind totally free of whatever you will be doing in five minutes or when you're done folding the sheets or what's for dinner.....the realization that that which is there is there in that exact moment, and that moment is as solid as anything else. I can't describe it. The knowledge or "enlightenment" that you're "really looking at something for the first time".

 

I don't feel I have an obligation to God, or to another person, really. To me, other people are an opportunity to learn, and in return I give them the opportunity to learn from me.

 

Whoa! It's 1:00 AM, I gotta go to bed. Hopefully you see my point.

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It MUST come from within yourself.

Merlin! You're back...woohoo! :grin:

 

That is so true...

 

I have heard the meaning of life equated to a dance or a song. The purpose is not the ending, or the fastests songs would mean the most. It's the song or dance itself!

 

http://www.alanwatts.com/ra/lifemusic.swf

 

 

http://www.alanwatts.com/media.php

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It MUST come from within yourself.

Merlin! You're back...woohoo! :grin:

 

That is so true...

 

I have heard the meaning of life equated to a dance or a song. The purpose is not the ending, or the fastests songs would mean the most. It's the song or dance itself!

 

http://www.alanwatts.com/ra/lifemusic.swf

 

 

http://www.alanwatts.com/media.php

Yes! Alan Watts. I have his CD's and that is who said that. I really like that guy! Thanks for the links.

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