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Thoughts on God/Purpose

Posted by TheThorn 
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 12:10PM
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islander
Sam, you said:

"I know there are plenty of examples where that's not true but we are talking about a true or false question and I do indeed believe everyone who understands the question "do you believe ____ exists?" does believe it most likely does exist or it most likely does not exist OR that the likelihood is exactly 50 percent."

I'm really not sure I understand what you're saying. You seem to be agreeing now that it's possible for a person to neither believe nor disbelieve underdetermined assertions. Yet you then seem to be saying that if they understand the question it's not possible? Like I said, I 'know" from direct experience (I can give you examples if you wish) that I can understand a question and if the answer is underdetermined, I can, at the same time, neither believe it's true nor believe its false, which is why, for instnace, I consider myself an agnostic with regard to the big questions which are in fact, underdetermined.

Is there, for instance,any kind of meaning and purpose to what we consider the universe? Darned if I 'know'. Do I truly 'believe' there is? Based on the objective evidence that we have, 'thus far' (as I understand it) it's not strong enough or convincing enough for me to simply say that I honestly 'believe' there is some objective meaning and/or purpose to this universe.

But at the same time, I don't think the evidence is anywhere near convincing enough (to me), for me to say I honestly believe there is absolutely no objective meaning or purpose to the universe. Would I like it if there were? Or hope that there were? Sure! Who wouldn't? Knowing that I have such feelings, however, makes me even more skeptical and more demanding of any evidence that 'seems' to support what I would like to believe. Is there enough convincing objective evidence to confirm the assertion that there is no such thing as meaning or purpose with regard to the universe except what we give it? No (at least in my humble opinion) . The most powerful evidence for such a belief stems from our ignorance Simply put, at present, we don't know of anything (except for ourselves) that could possibly give meaning and purpose to the universe. Therefore, due to our ignorance, we have to actually 'believe' there is no meaning or purpose for the universe. I, personally, don't subscribe to the premise that if I don't know the purpose of something, I must believe that it has no purpose. Naturally, that doesn't mean that I have to believe it has a purpose either.

This is a nice clear summary of what I was trying to get at.

The only real difference is that when I look at the two options, the 'meaningless' one seems to make very little sense to me, so I am definitely skewed towards the notion of purpose.

Regarding why this topic is different to topics I have no issue expressing a belief about – the difference is that: a - there can be no evidence for or against either view besides our own existence; b – it is a fundamental question about the only thing we actually know does exist – again ourselves.

The classic strong atheist auto-response of “I don’t believe in the tooth fairy/santa/unicorns either” only really applies to specific and detailed notions regarding purpose. If, like me, you consider the concept of ‘God’ to be a broader one – essentially the other option besides meaninglessness – then these arguments don’t really apply. We are talking about the fundamental nature of the universe, not any specific and detailed fictional/faith based character God here.

The way I see it we have two options:

- The universe is as it is for some reason
- The universe is as it is for no reason

Both of these are massively bold and ballsy statements to make as though we actually knew them.

The idea that consciousness, life and the purpose we imbue on the universe has meaning is no more or less fantastical or harder to fathom than the notion that the universe just exists and its natural laws lead to the formation of conscious beings for no reason whatsoever.

What I object to is the idea forwarded by strong atheists that their claim to knowledge should be considered a rational default – that the second someone dispenses with certainty that there is purpose, they should go nuclear and express a certainty in no purpose.

This is not a rational leap. It is replacing one false certainty with another false certainty. We can pick one and pretend that we know it is the truth, or we can remain agnostic on the issue and accept that we don’t know. I think the latter option is the only one that makes sense.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 04:31PM
"- The universe is as it is for some reason
- The universe is as it is for no reason"


This is somewhat of a false dichotomy. The unspoken part of option #2 is "... despite the fact that it's possible for there to have been a reason."

"Reason" and "meaning" are valid only in a relative sense. In an absolute sense, there simply is no reason. It's a meaningless concept.

So option #3 is "The universe simply is."
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 05:01PM
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Navy2711
"- The universe is as it is for some reason
- The universe is as it is for no reason"


This is somewhat of a false dichotomy. The unspoken part of option #2 is "... despite the fact that it's possible for there to have been a reason."

Two positive positions. As I said in closing:

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Me
We can pick one and pretend that we know it is the truth, or we can remain agnostic on the issue and accept that we don’t know. I think the latter option is the only one that makes sense.

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Navy
"Reason" and "meaning" are valid only in a relative sense. In an absolute sense, there simply is no reason. It's a meaningless concept.

Unless there is a reason... that's kind of the point of this discussion no?

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So option #3 is "The universe simply is."

Which is just a re-phrasing of #2.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2015 05:01PM by TheThorn.
Sam
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 05:55PM
Thorny, Re: "The idea that consciousness, life and the purpose we imbue on the universe has meaning is no more or less fantastical or harder to fathom than the notion that the universe just exists and its natural laws lead to the formation of conscious beings for no reason whatsoever."

Except that if there IS a reason/purpose for the existence of the universe it would require an intelligent designer which IS pretty damn fantastical and hard to fathom.

There IS a reason the universe is as it is now: cause and effect/evolution. But that's not the question. The question is why does the universe exist at all. There can be no reason unless there is/was an intelligent designer and there is no evidence to make that claim therefore I don't believe it. It's not rocket science how we come to believe what we do and we don't choose what to believe or not believe either. Each of us uses our own experiences and critical thinking skills (if present) to weigh evidence for a claim and if no convincing evidence is there we just don't believe it's true. Unless we've been indoctrinated to believe things without the benefit of experience or evidence which I suspect is the case for every single true believer and confused agnostic on this question. Based on my personal experience and critical thinking skills I believe the absence of evidence for the existence of something IS evidence of its absence and that's why personally do not believe there is/was an intelligent designer of the universe. To go even further, which will inevitably upset all the agnostics both theistic and atheistic, I know there is no intelligent designer as confidently as I know that other fantastical creatures do not exist. It's really just that simple to me.



I agree we can't put probability numbers on claims like this and that was kinda my point when I said we either believe something or we don't "OR believe it's exactly 50/50" which is a ridiculous position but which seems to be the one agnostics favor.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 06:15PM
Navy: So option #3 is "The universe simply is."

Thorn: Which is just a re-phrasing of #2.


... with the critical distinction that #3 recognizes "reason" as illusory. It gives no weight to the concept of "reason." It does not treat "reason" like a thing, such as a basketball or a sad thought, which can be defined as "there or not there."

"Meaning," as a human understands it, is simply the flux of the human brain. The chemical workings of the brain's molecules. From the human's point of view, the relative sense, he/she experiences "meaning." In the absolute sense, there is only flux.

If there were a deity or creating force that created the universe for a "reason," what would that reason be? From the deity's/force's point of view, the relative sense, it might be something like, "To glorify My almighty being!" or "To give the living beings in this universe a chance to experience life!" In the absolute sense it would simply be the flux of the force/deity.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 06:26PM
Quote
Navy2711
Navy: So option #3 is "The universe simply is."

Thorn: Which is just a re-phrasing of #2.


... with the critical distinction that #3 recognizes "reason" as illusory. It gives no weight to the concept of "reason." It does not treat "reason" like a thing, such as a basketball or a sad thought, which can be defined as "there or not there."

If it is said that there is no reason, then there is no reason. Phrase it whichever way you want.

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"Meaning," as a human understands it, is simply the flux of the human brain. The chemical workings of the brain's molecules. From the human's point of view, the relative sense, he/she experiences "meaning." In the absolute sense, there is only flux.

You get that experience is as much a part of the universe as a star or magnetism though right?

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If there were a deity or creating force that created the universe for a "reason," what would that reason be? From the deity's/force's point of view, the relative sense, it might be something like, "To glorify My almighty being!" or "To give the living beings in this universe a chance to experience life!" In the absolute sense it would simply be the flux of the force/deity.

That's how religions get started Navy winking smiley

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Sam
Thorny, Re: "The idea that consciousness, life and the purpose we imbue on the universe has meaning is no more or less fantastical or harder to fathom than the notion that the universe just exists and its natural laws lead to the formation of conscious beings for no reason whatsoever."

Except that if there IS a reason/purpose for the existence of the universe it would require an intelligent designer which IS pretty damn fantastical and hard to fathom.

The truth is that meaninglessness and meaning are both equally incomprehensible to human minds. Just like timelessness and a time before time. Just like a contained universe and an infinite one. When it comes to almost any metaphysical pondering, the limits of our minds are shown up pretty sharply. The truth is that whatever the real nature of the universe is, we aren't equipped to understand it.

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There IS a reason the universe is as it is now: cause and effect/evolution. But that's not the question. The question is why does the universe exist at all.

Precisely.

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There can be no reason unless there is/was an intelligent designer

I would be careful of anthropomorphising here... the "it just is" concept expressed by Navy can just as easily be applied to a purposeful universe. No easier to fathom either way, but its not just a meaningless hypothesis that gets to lean on that crutch.

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and there is no evidence to make that claim therefore I don't believe it. It's not rocket science how we come to believe what we do and we don't choose what to believe or not believe either. Each of us uses our own experiences and critical thinking skills (if present) to weigh evidence for a claim and if no convincing evidence is there we just don't believe it's true. Unless we've been indoctrinated to believe things without the benefit of experience or evidence which I suspect is the case for every single true believer and confused agnostic on this question. Based on my personal experience and critical thinking skills I believe the absence of evidence for the existence of something IS evidence of its absence and that's why personally do not believe there is/was an intelligent designer of the universe.

We differ, but that's a perfectly reasonable train of thought. For me, that fact that we are capable of such complex thought is in itself a kind of evidence, but I digress...

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To go even further, which will inevitably upset all the agnostics both theistic and atheistic, I know there is no intelligent designer as confidently as I know that other fantastical creatures do not exist. It's really just that simple to me.

And you went and threw it all away... winking smiley
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 06:34PM
"Phrase it whichever way you want."

Your implication being that the two are equivalent, which is incorrect.

"You get that experience is as much a part of the universe as a star or magnetism though right?"

Yes. That's the absolute sense. That's my point. Do you get it?

"That's how religions get started Navy"

And ^^^that's^^^ how Selectsmart posters dodge.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 07:08PM
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Navy2711
"Phrase it whichever way you want."

Your implication being that the two are equivalent, which is incorrect.

You haven't yet made a serious case for why they aren't. They mean the same thing. I'm happy to use your phrasing, but there is no meaningful distinction between the two.

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"You get that experience is as much a part of the universe as a star or magnetism though right?"

Yes. That's the absolute sense. That's my point. Do you get it?

I get your point, but I'm trying to shift your view point a little. Our perception, our consciousness itself is a part of the universe. Something in a "human sense" is still part of the universe. People tend to think of us as separate units looking in on the universe - we aren't - universe means "everything" our consciousness is a part of it.

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"That's how religions get started Navy"

And ^^^that's^^^ how Selectsmart posters dodge.

Was there actually a question for me there?
Sam
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 07:39PM
Thorny, Re: "The truth is that whatever the real nature of the universe is, we aren't equipped to understand it."

Prove it. winking smiley

Re: "I would be careful of anthropomorphising here.."

You should take your own advice here since you are the one who believes there is a purpose for the existence of the universe. How is it possible to have a purpose/plan without a Planner? lol If you don't believe there is a planner then you are using the word purpose weirdly as in "the purpose of earth's gravity is to pull things toward it's core". Nonsense.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2015 07:48PM by Sam.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 07:44PM
Thorn,

"People tend to think of us as separate units looking in on the universe - we aren't - universe means "everything" our consciousness is a part of it."

Ok, we might actually be on the same page.

1. Humans perceive that there is "meaning" and "purpose" in their lives (that's the relative sense) and ultimately there is not. The "purpose" that humans perceive is simply an illusion created by the workings of their brain. It is simply another mechanical happening in the universe, like planets going around a sun. (That's the absolute sense, in which "purpose" is seen as an illusion.)

2. If there were a deity, and if it had some intention in creating the universe, then the same would apply. The deity would perceive that it created the universe with intention and purpose (relative), but ultimately that perception is illusory — the deity's perception of its purpose is simply another mechanical working of the universe (absolute).

3. So why is there any question as to whether or not the universe has "meaning?" Even if there is a deity, that deity's perception that it created things with a purpose would simply be another mechanical part of the universe.

If one wants to ask, "Does a deity exist that created the universe and thinks that it did so for a purpose?" ... then that is a valid question. But if one asks, "Does the universe have meaning," then the answer is no, because all meaning is illusory.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 08:04PM
Quote
Sam
Thorny, Re: "The truth is that whatever the real nature of the universe is, we aren't equipped to understand it."

Prove it. winking smiley

Re: "I would be careful of anthropomorphising here.." You should take your own advice here since you are the one who believes there is a purpose for the existence of the universe. How is it possible to have a purpose/plan without a Planner? lol If you don't believe there is a planner then you are using the word purpose weirdly as in "the purpose of earth's gravity is to pull things toward it's core". Nonsense.

Is the universe infinite, or does it have a boundary? One must be true but both are equally incomprehensible.

Has the universe always existed in some state, or did it have a starting point? Again, an a/b choice where neither option makes any sense.

We cannot comprehend going back in time forever, we cannot comprehend the universe continuing forever. Equally we cannot make sense of any finite explanation. If the universe started at some point, what happened before then? And the idea collapses as fast as our mind does when it considers the alternative. If the universe ends at some point, what happens if you keep walking? Again, two impossible ideas competing.

We have the exact same impossibilities with broader metaphysical questions about purpose and meaninglessness.

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Navy
Thorn,

"People tend to think of us as separate units looking in on the universe - we aren't - universe means "everything" our consciousness is a part of it."

Ok, we might actually be on the same page.

1. Humans perceive that there is "meaning" and "purpose" in their lives (that's the relative sense) and ultimately there is not. The "purpose" that humans perceive is simply an illusion created by the workings of their brain. It is simply another mechanical happening in the universe, like planets going around a sun. (That's the absolute sense, in which "purpose" is seen as an illusion.)

2. If there were a deity, and if it had some intention in creating the universe, then the same would apply. The deity would perceive that it created the universe with intention and purpose (relative), but ultimately that perception is illusory — the deity's perception of its purpose is simply another mechanical working of the universe (absolute).

3. So why is there any question as to whether or not the universe has "meaning?" Even if there is a deity, that deity's perception that it created things with a purpose would simply be another mechanical part of the universe.

If one wants to ask, "Does a deity exist that created the universe and thinks that it did so for a purpose?" ... then that is a valid question. But if one asks, "Does the universe have meaning," then the answer is no, because all meaning is illusory.

We kind of are on the same page, just looking at it from a different point of view.

The workings of our brain are a part of the universe, the perceptions we create for ourselves are too. Our ability to create purpose is a part of the universe, and has to be considered alongside any other part of it when we consider or reject broader notions of purpose.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 08:48PM
Thorn,

"Our ability to create purpose is a part of the universe, and has to be considered alongside any other part of it when we consider or reject broader notions of purpose."

I just did that very thing. I noted that the act of a deity having a "purpose" would be a mechanical activity of the universe, and a deity's perception of that purpose would be an illusion.
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 08:50PM
1. Humans perceive that there is "meaning" and "purpose" in their lives (that's the relative sense) and ultimately there is not. The "purpose" that humans perceive is simply an illusion created by the workings of their brain. It is simply another mechanical happening in the universe, like planets going around a sun. (That's the absolute sense, in which "purpose" is seen as an illusion.)


If that were true - why did you bother posting it? smoking smiley
Sam
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 08:52PM
Thorn, Re: "Is the universe infinite, or does it have a boundary? One must be true but both are equally incomprehensible."

Both may be incomprehensible to you but maybe not to some who understand physics better than you do. Also, it is not necessarily so that it must be one or the other. It could be that it changes, esp. when we study it (gotta love those quantums!). Regardless, you have not proven we are not equipped to understand it. If you really believe that, why do you keep trying? lol
Re: Thoughts on God/Purpose
February 03, 2015 10:54PM
"If that were true - why did you bother posting it?"

Because as I said back on page 1, although our perception of "purpose" is an illusion, we all live our day to day lives as if it were accurate. Even those who are aware that it's an illusion. It's an integral part of our existence, but it's not necessarily reflective of "what is."
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