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What is the purpose of life?


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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 10, 2012 11:22:11 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 10, 2012 11:22:30 PM PST
AxeGrrl says:
Banner wrote: "Nature?"
~~~~

Be vewy vewy careful with the 'according to nature, our purpose is' Banner.....

because if you start with that premise, one could argue that cannabalism, incest and rape has to be included among those 'purposes'.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 3:27:58 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
Mark Hornberger -

"And my life has the living I give to it." Keeping in mind, of course that many of the most interesting, worthwhile and dramatic possibilities for "giving" my life meaning come from beyond myself, from human society and the capacity for reflection, from aspirations that inspired people for centuries before I came on the scene, from tender affection born in well-worn paths of interaction that are practically beyond any process of choosing.

Your rhetoric can define which questions you are willing to look at. Sometimes constructively, mostly not.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 3:33:14 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
sfon -

"A deity could only impose a meaning that already seemed meaningful to us in the first place. And such is not 'imposed', but comes from within us, naturally."

Brilliant. With either sense of the word "naturally".

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 3:46:11 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
Vicki -

Out of respectful curiosity, I would ask, where do we learn in the Bible that we are dead in sins and this separates us from God? I was trying to piece it together, and all I could figure were some passages in the Epistles that don't seem to me to obviously fit together that way. So I am curious.

I agree, by the way, that the Way presented in Christianity is a Way to spiritual life, not a Way to follow to be confident of our ethical propriety. But I have trouble turning that into a principle that people with different systems of beliefs are spiritually dead. I think that the "touch" of the Good News is often accomplished by God in ways that have no belief structure, or that have a different one. For example, I might cite "the Shack".

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 3:49:43 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
HeyLanny -
What a revelation!
"Look to Israel and Middle east and economy."

Now I understand why the right wing opposes government stimulus packages. No sense putting off the big day! And all this time I thought it was just basic misunderstanding of macroeconomics.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 4:33:30 AM PST
sfon says:
Harry Marks says: "Keeping in mind, of course that many of the most interesting, worthwhile and dramatic possibilities for "giving" my life meaning come from beyond myself..."

Agreed. I'm not sure how we could possibly find _any_ meaning without any interactions with our greater environment. Being isolated in a vacuum wouldn't suggest or support many opportunities for purpose or meaning.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 4:42:55 AM PST
HL:Born once, Die TWICE
Born twice, Die ONCE
I speak the words of life that a king gave me.

SA: Or the words of a trickster.
And since you can not/are not able to use the scientific method, you have no way of finding out, whether it was a king or a trickster.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 4:46:00 AM PST
chasmcg says:What if you knew the purpose of life? Or there's not a purpose of life? Would anything change? I think not.

HL:I take you have never been in combat and held the intestines in of a screaming man who wanted to live while you rushed him to the helicopter?

SA: I think you lack reading comprehension. Your example is a perfect support for what chasmcg says.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 4:47:06 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 11, 2012 4:51:59 AM PST
vicki:Speaking from a Christian viewpoint (and you have probably heard this said before) Christianity isn't about making bad people good- its about bringing spiritually dead people to life.

SA: Speaking from a non Christian viewpoint, that is a very arrogant thing to say. And it reminds me very much of quacks, who convince you of having a hitherto unsuspected disease, so they can sell you the snake oil cure.

If Christianity would not run around convincing people they are evil, sinful, spiritually dead, in need of salvation... then they would not have much business, would they?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 4:59:20 AM PST
banner:Can a tree choose to serve any other purpose than what trees do?
SA: Choice requires a nervous system, which trees do not have. So, the answer is no.

banner:Can a human?
SA: Humans generally try to avoid being used as fuel or furniture.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 5:23:44 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
Sophie Amrain -
"Christianity isn't about making bad people good- its about bringing spiritually dead people to life.
SA: Speaking from a non Christian viewpoint, that is a very arrogant thing to say. And it reminds me very much of quacks, who convince you of having a hitherto unsuspected disease, so they can sell you the snake oil cure."

You are providing a particularly egregious example of the literalism of atheists, who refuse to even consider that such concepts may not be about observable and repeatable natural phenomena but are rather are about human living in community. If you reflect a bit you could see:
1) the concept of sin corresponds to many otherwise "religion-neutral" terms, such as "evil" or "dysfunctionality" and is not in any way an artificial malady;
2) the concept of spiritual "coming to life" is likewise explicable - I heard a wonderful example from the author of "In the Belly of the Beast" who explained that he had been completely oriented toward his own narrow calculus of pleasure and pain when he entered prison, having no concept of the wrong he had done or the possibility of remorse over it. In prison he reflected on what he had done, and realized how blind he had been to an entire dimension of life;
3) if you were not so anxious to dismiss your fellow human being (exactly the thing you accuse her of) you might see that there is a social process involved in this awakening, and that a religion can credibly claim to understand something about how this works and what path will help to get there.

To freely render the message of Jesus and Paul into less stereotyped terms, when we become aware of ourselves as "Beloved" and therefore as having some reasonable expectations about our relations with others, we also are likely to become aware that we have fallen short of these, and that the same love which expects things of us gives us, even more primally, the means to reach toward these expectations. Because first and foremost we are Beloved, the love forgives our shortcomings and engages us to find our own expectations of ourselves. This is spiritual awakening - it is not "becoming good" so much as it is becoming, in a certain realistic sense of the word, "alive", with the natural result that we often choose good with more frequency, more energy, and more creativity.

"If Christianity would not run around convincing people they are evil, sinful, spiritually dead, in need of salvation... then they would not have much business, would they?"

We try to just call them as we see them. Business is someone else's concern.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 5:28:48 AM PST
sfon says:
AxeGrrl says: "Be vewy vewy careful with the 'according to nature, our purpose is'..."

I think the premise is that we're only going to find opportunities for 'purpose' in our natural reality to begin with... and that we have a limited number of possible functions in nature to draw from.

Nature provided that one of my purposes (or 'functions') is to be a father, but it is my (subjective) nature which makes it meaningful and accepts it as a meaningful 'purpose'.

In all cases, I could only find 'purpose' that is given by (possible in) nature.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:17:30 AM PST
vicki:"Christianity isn't about making bad people good- its about bringing spiritually dead people to life.

SA: Speaking from a non Christian viewpoint, that is a very arrogant thing to say. And it reminds me very much of quacks, who convince you of having a hitherto unsuspected disease, so they can sell you the snake oil cure."

HM:You are providing a particularly egregious example of the literalism of atheists, who refuse to even consider that such concepts may not be about observable and repeatable natural phenomena but are rather are about human living in community.

SA: Huh? Calling somebody 'spiritual dead' is not an insult? Calling somebody 'spiritually dead', who, in all community-related aspects may be an outstanding citizen, is not about raising demand for snake oil?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:28:51 AM PST
sfon says:
Sophie Amrain says: "Huh? Calling somebody 'spiritual dead' is not an insult?"

It is a phrase they use for people who do not believe as they do. It is not always meant as an insult, it generally just reflects their misunderstanding of other people.

Posted on Feb 11, 2012 6:29:29 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
Sophie -
SA: "Huh? Calling somebody 'spiritual dead' is not an insult? Calling somebody 'spiritually dead', who, in all community-related aspects may be an outstanding citizen, is not about raising demand for snake oil?"

I cannot actually speak for Vicki's views on the matter, but the idea that this automatically means insulting "outstanding citizens" carries quite an assumption. As our founder explained, he came to seek and to save the lost. Not lost? No problem.

Of course you do know that there are Bernie Madoffs out there who go through the motions of caring and participating in community life, but are actually huddled in their own little spiritual dungeon, or perhaps just spiritually dead. So being an outstanding citizen doesn't mean you are engaged in a self-reflective process of selecting appropriate goals.

The point is that Christianity is not a program of reform or of moral upgrading, it is engaged in a deeper effort to awaken an awareness of a need to care about our fellow human beings, and a sense that this is possible. If I put the same proposition in the language of Maslow, only a real Philistine would be dismissive enough to call it snake oil (though I do know some people like that...)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:51:43 AM PST
Banner says:
Well, the thing is, I think I'm looking at this from a much more broad sense than you guys. I see very little difference in the basic form, function, psychology etc etc of individuals.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:52:16 AM PST
Banner says:
I don't have time for this bs. And neither should you.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:56:48 AM PST
Banner says:
No no, you must be confusing me with someone else. I didn't use that fact that trees are not conscious entities. I can relate to analogies just fine as I said before. Garrett, the thing is, you think I'm arguing about something I'm not and I don't know how else to explain what I'm saying. And I also know what inherent means lol. I switched tracks on you I guess. Never mind. Carry on.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:58:42 AM PST
Banner says:
Some examples of set functions would be...eating sleeping, talking, reproducing, loving, hating, fighting, I could go on. But the bottom line is *most* people do these things and have no choice in the matter. It's "inherent" to us. So about purpose....just depends on the scope I guess.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 6:59:55 AM PST
Banner says:I don't have time for this bs.

SA: Try to be more precise. That would help.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 7:05:38 AM PST
Banner says:
No I was fine. Did you really think I didn't know those things you told me Sophie? I don't know why I would expect certain intelligent people on the forum to go ahead and draw conclusions instead of having to spell out everything and hold their hand like a small child just to avoid cheap snark like this.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 7:10:35 AM PST
Stan Furman says:
To Ariex:

<<Free will is an illusion. We are free to do as we want, but our wants are themselves determined by elements beyond our control.>>

That effectively means we are automatons deluded to think we are free.
Welcome to the real world. :))

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 7:12:54 AM PST
I do not find myself in need of Christianity in order to be "spiritually alive"... and I'm an atheist. Indeed, much of Christianity as it exists today seems to me to be much more an impediment to being spiritually alive than a benefit.

It has also been my experience that humans living in a community exhibit observable, repeatable natural phenomena.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 7:22:50 AM PST
"Everything has a purpose. Or maybe it's just your wording."

The word "purpose" implies that a thing was created to fulfill a specific need or needs, that it was created with a specific intent in mind, hence that it was created by something capable of conscious intent.

The pebble I find at my feet during my morning walk shows no signs of purpose.

The phrase "inherent purpose" implies that an item has a purpose which can be, in principle at least, objectively determined.

I'm not sure that's the case.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 11, 2012 7:23:14 AM PST
Harry Marks says:
Michael -

"I do not find myself in need of Christianity in order to be "spiritually alive"... and I'm an atheist."
Well done. As I said no need, no worries.

"Indeed, much of Christianity as it exists today seems to me to be much more an impediment to being spiritually alive than a benefit."
Sometimes, yes. But just because they put too much emphasis on authority and sacredness does not mean they are not growing spiritually or open to concern about fellow human beings.

"It has also been my experience that humans living in a community exhibit observable, repeatable natural phenomena."
Such as theft, deception, altruism, aspiration and religious quests. Where is this going?
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
Participants:  114
Total posts:  1958
Initial post:  Feb 7, 2012
Latest post:  May 8, 2012

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