How can life have meaning in a mechanical universe?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by Magical Realist, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    Science is a terrible place to look for meaning and purpose. Science and math are purely trivial things that are meaningless in and of themselves, but are a means to an end. God shines through the mundane universe and gives our lives meaning, purpose and variety. One could argue that nature inherently introduces meaning into our lives through chemistry (alchemy). The connection between the pineal gland and the third eye leads to magical experiences either through the use of psychedelic drugs or, more patiently, meditation. There is a religion and spiritual life for anyone who seeks it. There are thousand of religions, spiritual groups and teachers of wisdom available to us. The challenges of life can give our lives meaning and purpose as it does with mothers and fathers who struggle to feed their families. For others, there is purpose and meaning in defending civil rights, human rights, the constitution/bill of rights, liberty, freedom, God and country from the tyrants and intellectual deviant communists who destroy meaningfulness with their malignant rant, "life has no meaning".
     
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  3. Balerion Banned Banned

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    To take your question literally, they can't. If there is no cosmic meaning to the universe, then there is no cosmic meaning to life. But meaning and purpose can be subjective or relative, too Just as there may or may not actually be a creator, people function as if there is or there is not. It's the same principle as meaning. Whether there is some cosmic meaning to life or not is irrelevant to whether or not we can act as if there is. And we know we can, as is evidenced by those who have callings and believe they are here for some greater purpose. Even the non-religious fall into this sort of thinking, and those who avoid the mystical aspects can still believe that what they do helps. And, from a relative standpoint, it does. If you're a doctor, you help people. No, you're not ultimately doing anything but pushing off the inevitable, but that's not what purpose is for everyone.
     
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  5. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    A sense of purpose can and will make the difference in a survival of the fittest situation. Hundreds of meaninglessness mongers will die from their environment while a loving parent or a believer in Christ or someone with deeply held beliefs will survive the harshest winter, the bloodiest war or the most dire of events. There comes a point when personal comfort and happiness must be subordinated to the greatest good, the jewel of our life and our heart. Better to lose an arm, an eye, a leg or one's life so that which we hold dearest and most sacred can survive. The fact that we can love something so dearly makes us better and more beautiful than ten thousand meaninglessness mongers who cannot love anything deeper than themselves.
     
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  7. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, science has the goal of advancing human knowledge, but that is a goal humans created. The Universe has no purpose, but that does not preclude intelligent life from creating it's own purposes, understanding the Universe or manipulating it's substance for our own purposes. Just because the Universe is inanimate and mechanical does not preclude lifeforms from creating their own purpose, even if it is just continuation of it's genes.

    And the world would have gotten along just fine if we had never existed. At some point in the last million years or so intelligence became a survival trait. If that happy(in our case)accident had never happened we would still be apes.

    We are part of Nature, we cannot violate Nature's laws, thus we are not godlike in any way. Just more clever than the average. Our cleverness is a direct result of the variety of Nature's blind mutations acted on by survival of the fittest traits, nothing more or less.

    Last I looked, Spielberg was a human being. Human beings have created much more elaborate myths than what science has shown us to be true, we call them religions. What science has shown us is reality, based on fact. That is not a myth. And, of course there are subjective purposes in science, as in everything else humans do. What there isn't is OBJECTIVE purpose. That does not exist anywhere in the Universe aside from life's purpose to reproduce in order for the species to continue and, as far as we know, the Universe didn't even have that purpose for 2/3 of it's existence. Intelligent life can create purpose, it can even give purpose to our small section of that Universe, but the Universe has no purpose to give to intelligent life. The answer to the question of "Is that all there is?" is entirely up to you. If you are looking for a purpose handed down from on high, then the answer is yes, this is all there is. If, however, you choose your own purpose and apply yourself to it the answer is self evident, because although the Universe has no purpose you have given it one(at least that part of the Universe you, yourself, influence). If you just must have something to worship or thank for your existence I would recommend the Carbon atom, it has more to do with your being here than any other factor in the Universe, by far.

    Grumpy

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  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Sorry..but I will not be bowing down to your god the purposeless carbon atom or any other atom any time soon. You have decided the universe is meaningless? Then that's the choice you made. Then live like the nihilist you are. But don't presume to tell me what I need to be doing. Nihilists are the last people to turn to for advice about where to find meaning in the universe.
     
  9. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I totally agree. Nihilists are the first to die in an environmentally demanding event. Nihilists are the first to take their own lives in challenging circumstances. Nihilists are weak.
     
  10. Balerion Banned Banned

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    This is nothing more than preaching. You make some claims, but substantiate nothing. It's not even preaching, it's a poor imitation of preaching. Bargain bin philosophy.

    Don't respond to my posts if this is the best you can do.
     
  11. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Do you have any evidence to support this claim, or are you simply interested in promoting your blind faith?
     
  12. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Scary truth is scary.

    Enjoy the darkness.
     
  13. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    Most animals value nothing more than their own appetites, and are inferior to man. One notable exception is the faithful pet, the dog. The dog is loyal to its master and so it thrives along with its human companion.
     
  14. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I'll take non-sequiturs for $1000, Alex.
     
  15. Mazulu Banned Banned

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    I thought you we're gonna ask about cats.
     
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Ooo yeah..Scary scary..lol!
     
  17. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    Magical Realist

    Just a suggestion, I don't recommend worship of anything, but if you have to have something there is more justification for worshiping the mighty carbon atom than I have heard for any non-evidenced deity.

    No, by logic that is the default position unless and until you can provide evidence for that claimed purpose.

    When you can't deal with my logic you resort to name calling in support of a straw-man of your own construction, which you then proceed to denigrate. You lose.

    Don't presume that because I am able to face the fact that the Universe has no purpose(or purpose giver)that it tells you anything about any philosophy or attitude I might have(except you can be certain it contains no source of purpose outside of the human intellect or life's survival). Humanism is not Nihilism, in fact there are many philosophies that recognize that we are on our own in this Universe without resorting to throwing the baby(being a social human being with all that implies)out with the dirty bath water(false and superstitious non-sense like purpose from on high). Nihilism is acting like a base animal, concerned only with the consequences to oneself. Humanists teach enlightened self interest, that if you improve mankind as a whole you get a better outcome than you get with just being a selfish, selfabsorbed twit. We also teach that we should act like adults and face the world as it is, instead of chasing after various permutations of the Tooth Fairy to justify what we do.

    Grumpy

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  18. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I've noticed a trend among seekers and theists here at Sci. Any time they are confronted with the possibility that there is no purpose to life, they automatically begin throwing around terms like "nihilist" derisively. And they do this even after they've had the particulars of this belief explained to them. For example, this thread. How many people have discussed personal meaning and purpose prior to MR's whiny "You dirty nihilist!" post? I discussed it, Yazata discussed "local" purpose and meaning...it's clearly a defense mechanism against ideas they find uncomfortable. Obviously, MR and his ilk are here for validation, not discussion.
     
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    The only person I called "nihilist" was a person who claims there is no meaning in the universe. If I was incorrect in that judgment that show me where I was. And don't take "nihilist" to be an insult, if indeed you are going to take my posts as aimed at some collective mindset including yourself. "You" afterall must be powerful and stoic beings indeed to handle the big "scary" truth. Lord knows I'M not strong enough for it. I'm just a weak pathetic darkness lover. So by all means be PROUD of your nothingness! Embrace it! Sing it out from the rooftops! Celebrate the fact that you're one of the few lumps of purposeless protoplasm on earth that CAN take pride in that.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2013
  20. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    You really seem intent on projecting on me some theistic belief. For the record I dispensed with theism long ago and have no intention of setting up anything in its place. That includes science. Many who elevate science to the status of revealed truth are making the same mistake the religious make--bowing to authority for what is real and true instead of relying on their own experience and reason to find that out for themselves. Are you one of these?



    I don't recall anything from any scientist of note stating that the universe is meaningless. That is a specific philosophical position you yourself have deliberately taken probably based more on your own life experiences than on actual logic. In fact science has provided us ample evidence that there is abundant meaning in the universe and that man is a key player in its realization. In fact Albert Einstein had some things to say about cosmic meaning. I'll be posting those in separate post shortly.

    Grow up. This isn't some competition to see who can best the other. We are just two highly fallible men having a rational conversation about a very pertinent issue. If being designated a nihilist hurts your feelings, then I'll respectfully retract it. But it just seems to me that a person who resigns themselves to the entire universe being without meaning, including the beings who are part of it, IS in fact a nihilist. Even if humans can distract themselves with hobbies and projects in their lives it still won't undo the fact that they are essentially as meaningless as cockroaches. Cockroaches have little projects too. They survive. They mate and raise their brood. Maybe they even worship some cockroachy ideal and call it "cockroachism" like we call ours "humanism". All very "meaningful" activities from the cockroaches' pov. But afterall they are still just worthless old cockroaches. Aren't you saying we are in the same boat?

    I'll take your word for it, especially since you are now backpeddling to christen the human intellect the one part of the universe that ISN'T meaningless.


    So you believe humans are exceptional and are alone capable of purpose and value in this meaningless universe? That even though we are mere mammals essentially no different from any other animal in terms of purpose we are somehow special and more important that other mammals? On what grounds? Surely this is only an example of speciocentrism in which every species thinks IT is the center of the universe. In that case you are indeed no different from any other animal who values only its own species survival over all others.
     
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently even great scientists are not immune from the experience of higher cosmic meaning:

    "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of all true art and science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery - even if mixed with fear - that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds - it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity; in this sense, and, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man."


    Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)
     
  22. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Well, by calling Grumpy a nihilist, you're calling anyone who agrees with him a nihilist. And anyway, I explicitly said it wasn't just you who threw these terms around. It's also not entirely true. People who subscribe to the idea that there is no intrinsic value or meaning to life are existential nihilists, which is quite a bit different than standard nihilism.

    Of course, you say you're not using it as an insult, but you follow that with a sarcastic tantrum that serves as both a straw man and a barometer for your maturity level, so you'll excuse me if I don't believe you.
     
  23. Balerion Banned Banned

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    That says nothing of believing in a cosmic meaning. He's explaining the effect awe and mystery have on our psyche.
     

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