An Argument of Purpose?
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14-03-2012, 01:13 PM
An Argument of Purpose?
I have said it myself that the only thing holding theists back from denouncing religion is the fear hiding inside of them. But is this the case?
If it is fear, what is it fear of?
Everyone is different so no one answer is the same.

Some theists I believe are afraid of change, like my father in law. I firmly believe he likes the way things work for him, and he's a control freak so I can see how this would be. Everything else would point to him being an atheist oddly enough. His love for science (though he won't admit it) his adoration of Mythbusters. Smile Anyways for him I think it's primarily fear of change and loss of control.

Some I think fear death, but not really the dying part, more the being dead part. A fear of nonexistence. It's a pretty scary thought, that when we die, that's it. No take backs. That in a few years time most people will have moved on and even forgotten us. SO in comes the greater purpose.

That's the big one I think. The purpose of existence. Most people have the hardest time with the idea that everything could be for nothing. So much so that they create a god and heaven to serve the greater purpose even though most atheists will say that having god only raises more questions then they answer. But it soothes them. To "know" that when they die, they are merely reborn.
It doesn't work for me, or for most atheists I'd assume.
It's our Achilles heel for religion.

It can all be boiled down to what's the point?

I was looking at Egors site and he'd written " For me, and I think for most believers, there’s a sense of purpose in life so that the suffering is part of the learning process, part of the shaping, the pruning—character building, if you will. "

To me this added up to atheists having no point for getting up in the morning because all of the suffering we go through in life is for nothing.
How many times have we heard similar things. All this is for nothing.

It ends up in debate and argument usually. They say why get up? and we respond with, what do you mean? life is a beautiful thing, why would we waste it?

Back and forth.

I used to suffer from depression because I couldn't get past the lack of meaning to my existence. I won't lie. I still get depressed but for different reasons. What helped for me was finally understanding that I don't care what my purpose is or isn't. I like life. There is so much in it that is just great! I always want more, but I wouldn't want to live forever because it would sully the experience. It would lose its meaning.

To me it's like if I got to live at DisneyLand. Going on the rides everyday. A time would come when I'd be on a ride and fall asleep from boredom.

To me the purpose doesn't matter. That's why it's so easy for me to throw aside any need for an afterlife. Without a need for heaven, I have no need for god.

So is the god argument just an argument of purpose?

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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14-03-2012, 01:27 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
Fear of hell is pretty big (christianity, Islam). Especially if you are taught that something like this exists when you are a child.
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14-03-2012, 02:10 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
I agree.
They are afraid of death and/or change in their mental routine. Fear will do that and is the root.
Faith also provides a comfy spot to avoid the reality of the universe for those seeking to avoid change.

The universe owes us nothing. It is a harsh and cruel place and that IS the reality of it. It is hard for some to grasp that cold hard fact.

We are the lucky ones. We were born.
We get to see as much as one whole lifetime worth of it.
Grab all you can and live it!

It's all in your head, because there is no other place it could be.
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14-03-2012, 03:22 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
This is a very interesting thread.
Your OP expands the thread title into "Why are people theists?"

After having discussed this with theists for quite a while now I am still not clear on this.
The problem is that people's minds are complex. People themselves often don't know why. We have a natural justification mechanism where we will fight tooth and nail for our own beliefs and really struggle to put ourselves onto the other foot of the argument.

Justification comes in two forms, Reasoned and Excuse. It is difficult to tell the two apart from each other.
With reasoned justification if you debunk it the person will be forced to change their stance. This happens a lot in science.
With excuse justification if you debunk it the person will continue holding their stance and will look for alternative justifications. Interpretations of the bible are like this. For example once we worked out that the earth is over 4 billion years old, many people start to say that Genesis is metaphorical rather than literal.

I would say that excuse justification is not unique to the theistic mind. I often find myself caught in this trap too.

A lot of people are taught to be theists, well before they are old enough to invoke reasoned thought. Once reasoned thought kicks in, they do not want to prove themselves wrong, that their life up to that point has been a lie. Their reasoning structures itself to support their life and their past.

Some of the main points for justifying being a theist or justify remaining a theist are:
Resistance to change: We are creatures of habit, change can often appear to be an admission that we were wrong in the past. Change can also introduce fear of the unknown. Status quo is a comfortable pair of shoes, a favourite jersey, a familiar face.

Fear of hell: Some people are truly scared of being tormented for eternity in hell. Even though they may feel that the odds are small, couple that with the severity of the event and these people will do anything to avoid it.

Self realisation: I find it incredible to think about myself. Why am I here, in this time, this place, this body? I don't feel like a collection of atoms, doing what physics dictates. I have the illusion of being me, of having choices, of being Good or Bad, of being able to make a difference.

Eternal existence: If I am here now, how can I not exist later? I want to live forever and, oh look, Jesus is offering the path to eternal life.

Conceptual confusion: It is very easy to promote concepts into reality. The soul, the mind, morality, good, bad, evil.

Helplessness: Being helpless is a reality and frustrating aspect of many people's lives. A loved one is in hospital in intensive care and we can do nothing to help, but we desire to help, we need to. Theism offers the ability to pray.

Purpose: Life without purpose can be daunting, it can be depressing. When a person's purpose has been their family and if their family dies (in an accident) it can be difficult to move on and continue to find value in life. I would imagine the same would be for a theist giving up religion.

Morality: Most people consider themselves to be morally good people. They take pride in this and see it as a great personal responsibility. Morality is based on an understanding of good from bad. Theists can struggle to understand how there can be good without god. God IS Good.

Rules: Some people just need rules. Whether it is because they lack self confidence to make the "right" decisions or simply realise that guidelines developed over hundreds or thousands of years by intelligent thought leaders are better than the thoughts and experiences of one person. But rules often provide comfort for people, they set goals for them and allow them the luxury of not having to think too deeply themselves. They luxury of not having to hold the guilt of being wrong.

Justice: A good person want to feel that there is reward for being good, reward for being selfless (yes oxymoron). They want to know that there is punishment for those that are bad.

Emotive: A purely material physical existence, were existence and life is inevitable, without design, without purpose seems to be a too cold, accidental and deterministic reality than what people want. People want to be special, they want to be the center of the universe, to be loved, to have a loving and compassionate purpose. An existence based on love is more compelling that an existence based on physics.

Philosophy: The very foundation of religion is built on philosophy and theology. Thousands of years have been spent getting religion philosophically sound. The same cannot be said of atheism.
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14-03-2012, 05:30 PM (This post was last modified: 14-03-2012 05:42 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
(14-03-2012 01:13 PM)lucradis Wrote:  Some I think fear death, but not really the dying part, more the being dead part. A fear of nonexistence. It's a pretty scary thought, that when we die, that's it. No take backs.

Think that's it. But it don't scare me none, I like it, it's good. Feels like it is how it should be and all is right with the world.

(14-03-2012 01:13 PM)lucradis Wrote:  That's the big one I think. The purpose of existence. .... It can all be boiled down to what's the point?

Fully appreciating and embracing that you're temporary, I'm temporary, we're all temporary, everything is temporary and there is no point to any of this is precisely what gives me a sense of purpose. Feels like what I was meant to do. Wink

As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
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14-03-2012, 05:31 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
You guys are forgetting some things here.

A sense of belonging - the church community, respect, feeling at home in a group.

Self importance and self respect - you are one of the chosen ones. You get constant reinforcement that you are right.

Acceptance of personal problems and imperfections - the church community comiserates with you and assures you that you are ok and encourages you to try harder without passing judgement.

I think Atheists are very analytical and philosphical and most church goers are not. They just like the structure, the company, the acceptance and the feelings of self worth by being part of a chosen group.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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14-03-2012, 05:48 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
That's true Dom, But I think the sense of community is why people join churches and less why they worship god.

The worshipping god is a byproduct of that first motivation.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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14-03-2012, 06:16 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
Yes G.M. the potential 'non existence' part is really quite interesting.

As for the actual "dying", well who knows?.......I try to condition myself to reacting as best as possible to a bad dying........Big Grin
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14-03-2012, 06:30 PM
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
Most of my death worry comes from the dying itself. Of the pain. I hate it when people say someone died painlessly because it's like... did they tell you that?

Also I would hate to die early and miss a bunch of my daughters life. other than that if there is an afterlife I have a hard time imagining it to be anything like what has been described so I look forward to learning more. Or just dying and having it be over.

Worst after death fear... reincarnation as another person. That would suck unless I was reincarnated as someone with stupendous luck and loads of money and health. I would still rather be a guy because penis' are way easier and making babies is less painful. Though having fun boobies would be alright.

It makes me curious that people can get so hung up on what happens after they die that they can't see a reason for living without there being a heaven or hell. What have they never seen a sunset before? Or had amazing sex? Or a kid? or played with a kitten? or a puppy for that matter? Seen stars at night or a falling star? Had it rain when they sky was blue? There's so much. Heaven just doesn't compare to real life.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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14-03-2012, 06:31 PM (This post was last modified: 14-03-2012 06:51 PM by Dom.)
RE: An Argument of Purpose?
(14-03-2012 05:48 PM)lucradis Wrote:  The worshipping god is a byproduct of that first motivation.

Yep. The worshipping of god is what makes them belong, and it makes them special. Part of a select group. It's their identity and their self worth. They pray together and sing together and go through all kinds of comforting rituals.

They will defend this to the end.

I don't think that the bible itself has much to do with it.

It's fun to say: Nahnahnahnahnah, I am going to heaven and you are going to hell. There is a feeling of superiority. Arrogance if you will.

Most church goers know only some select parts of the bible, whatever their clergy wanted to quote during church. Atheists in general are much more educated in the bible than churchgoers. (Myself excluded, lol, I just can't get myself to spend the time revisiting the bible. I closed that book when I was 10 and filed it with my other fairy tale books.)

Arguing about religion with most church goers is useless because they don't even know what the bible says except for some select passages. Atheists are "over educated" for such arguments.

The bible itself is not at all what makes them believe. It's the need to be a part of something, the self validation.

Just my opinion here of course...


(14-03-2012 06:30 PM)lucradis Wrote:  Most of my death worry comes from the dying itself. Of the pain. I hate it when people say someone died painlessly because it's like... did they tell you that?

Also I would hate to die early and miss a bunch of my daughters life. other than that if there is an afterlife I have a hard time imagining it to be anything like what has been described so I look forward to learning more. Or just dying and having it be over.

Worst after death fear... reincarnation as another person. That would suck unless I was reincarnated as someone with stupendous luck and loads of money and health. I would still rather be a guy because penis' are way easier and making babies is less painful. Though having fun boobies would be alright.

It makes me curious that people can get so hung up on what happens after they die that they can't see a reason for living without there being a heaven or hell. What have they never seen a sunset before? Or had amazing sex? Or a kid? or played with a kitten? or a puppy for that matter? Seen stars at night or a falling star? Had it rain when they sky was blue? There's so much. Heaven just doesn't compare to real life.

About dying and pain: The vast majority of people today die in hospitals. Since some types of death cause a lot of twitching of limbs and such, and this is unpleasant to watch and people could also fall ot of their beds, so they are drugged silly. I mean, very high doses of drugs are used and people die with an angelic face. Happy faces.

My husband was at home and he had no pain. As long as he was lucid he did tell me so, and I was ready with pain killers, just watching for any sign of discomfort. He wanted none. He felt fine actually, he just felt like he was fading away. Which he was. We talked about it, we didn't avoid the subject like a lot of people. He was peaceful and his breathing just got slower and slower. People in pain breathe rapidly. Everything about him looked and felt very peaceful and relaxed all the way.

In this day and age, you have to die away from medical care of any type to die in pain. I think your chances of a pain free death are pretty good Smile I don't worry about it anymore at all since having gathered some experience.

Yes, me too, I'd hate to die early and miss out on everything. Gramps said that too, at age 96 Smile That feeling never goes away.

Penises are easier? All that stuff dangling between your legs all the time? All exposed and easy to injure? Very sensitive? One kick between the legs and you are down for the count? I fail to see any of that being better than what I have going here.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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