The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
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15-12-2014, 11:53 AM (This post was last modified: 15-12-2014 12:16 PM by Superluminal.)
The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
So this post could get quite long... I will try to be as concise as possible. I've been thinking a lot about what we know about the universe and what the possible long term outcome possibilities could be for us in relationship to the religious need to have a "purpose." Specifically, I feel that when you examine the possible long term outcomes of both the universe and what religion supposes in an afterlife the results are essentially just as pointless(in the context that religion views existence).

First, I'd like to outline that I think generally most religions that believe in an afterlife suppose a "perfect paradise" scenario of some sort. By definition, in my opinion, any state of "perfection" is static. That is to say, there can't be multiple versions of perfect, so once you reach whatever your idea of perfection is, in order to stay there your existence must become static to maintain it. Others I have talked to amongst the religious however have stated that they don't think "Heaven" is perfect, but simply a higher existence where they will at least be happy. I'll address both of these possibilities in the list below.

So let's look at possible versions of the future.......

1.) We ride it out till the end. No matter how far we advance or don't advance our existence, in the end the universe either collapses on itself, or is slowly destroyed over an unimaginable amount of time by an inescapable heat death, or some other version of space-time coming to an end. There is no afterlife, there is no escape. The entire universe ultimately perishes and everything and everyone that ever existed essentially had no real point. I would suggest that in this scenario, "It was fun while it lasted," but really there was no "purpose" to existence other than what we imagined for ourselves at the time.

2.) The laws of physics end up allowing for an advanced civilization that can essentially through technology become godlike in it's manipulation of the universe around us. Whatever it is that we've become by that point can preserve our existence through preventing the universe from being destroyed, or triggering a causal inflation event, or infinite virtual reality, or..... who knows, the method is irrelevant. The outcome being that these advanced lifeforms can preserve themselves infinitely in a state of "happiness" or whatever they view as desirable. In this scenario I would pose the question, what exactly would be the "purpose" anymore? Here you have beings that 100% know all possible outcomes and essentially are just existing in a fabricated reality forever of their own choosing. What possible reason could they contrive to convince themselves to bother going on existing? Would they introduce suffering and chaos just to keep themselves amused? Would they purposefully become ignorant of their own self-created reality to induce a false sense of reason to continue existing?

3.) We become an incredibly advanced civilization of godlike intelligences but instead of reaching scenario #2, our ruthless intellect makes us realize without a doubt that scenario #2 is coming and just effectively choose to die off because we are smart enough to see what is coming and that there is really no point. Basically we kill ourselves out of boredom and we are too disconnected from our biological survival instincts by that point to keep going in the face of cold hard knowledge of what the future brings.

4.) All of us atheists are wrong. We die and go to some magical perfect theme park in the sky forever overseen by some omnipotent entity. Okay, now what? I fail to see how this differs any from scenario #2 as far as having any "purpose" after that. In fact, it sounds terrible. I would say that fundamentally, this religious scenario fails to provide any more meaningful "purpose" to life than any of the more realistic ones. We just sit there forever in this reality, only instead of creating it ourselves, something else is doing it for us. It is either "perfect" and therefore static and unchanging, or it is just a higher form of endless "happiness" and therefore just as endlessly uninteresting and pointless as scenario 2.

5.) We become as advanced as scenario #2, but it turns out it isn't so easy to persist indefinitely. It is instead an unending struggle of trying to extend our godlike existence beyond the natural limits of the universe. This may be somewhat more interesting than scenario 2 or 4, but is really the same fundamentally: an unending existence that appears to have no other purpose but it's own preservation.

There are a few more scenarios you could bring up that are slight variations on the above, but essentially my point is: I can see no way in which ANY form of deity either godlike or simply an advanced intelligence could provide any significantly different long term outcome that provides for more "purpose" than our natural universe does or will. I also suggest that there is a good chance in my mind that we will eventually advance ourselves enough that we will struggle to see any real reason for continuing, and that this advanced state is basically the same as we currently imagine a "paradise" to be.

So then, if you want to create purpose for yourself, in my opinion that would start with rejecting the time-based paradigm that much of religion essentially espouses: that the value and purpose of life is inextricably entangled with existing as long as possible.

Well I hope I have organized my thoughts in a somewhat coherent manner......
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15-12-2014, 12:13 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
All too often I have heard of eternity being filled with constant praise and rejoicing in god's presence.

Ok, real world test, go to a church and start praising and worshiping, don't stop except to maintain yourself (bathroom breaks, eating, etc.)

Now envision doing a marathon of clapping, raising your hands, singing for an entire week. Would you be honest with yourself and say that that sounds pretty awful?

How about a year? 10,000 years?

Are you sure this sounds like paradise?

Doesn't this also highlight what a flawed and imperfect god is supposed to exist? Why would this entity need any of this?

What is god's purpose?

He doesn't need one because he's god? Isn't this a repackaged infinite regress?

This infinite regress is resolved by not assuming there is any purpose or god.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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15-12-2014, 12:36 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 12:13 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  All too often I have heard of eternity being filled with constant praise and rejoicing in god's presence.

Ok, real world test, go to a church and start praising and worshiping, don't stop except to maintain yourself (bathroom breaks, eating, etc.)

Now envision doing a marathon of clapping, raising your hands, singing for an entire week. Would you be honest with yourself and say that that sounds pretty awful?

How about a year? 10,000 years?

Are you sure this sounds like paradise?

Doesn't this also highlight what a flawed and imperfect god is supposed to exist? Why would this entity need any of this?

What is god's purpose?

He doesn't need one because he's god? Isn't this a repackaged infinite regress?

This infinite regress is resolved by not assuming there is any purpose or god.

I don't think your post qualifies as a straw man, but it is rooted in false information, which is likely not your fault. Where the Bible says we will praise God for eternity has be taken in the context of the many other things it says we will be doing.

I'm told atheists on forums like TTA are bitter and angry. If you are not, your posts to me will be respectful, insightful and thoughtful. Prove me wrong by your adherence to decent behavior.
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15-12-2014, 01:15 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 11:53 AM)Superluminal Wrote:  So this post could get quite long... I will try to be as concise as possible. I've been thinking a lot about what we know about the universe and what the possible long term outcome possibilities could be for us in relationship to the religious need to have a "purpose." Specifically, I feel that when you examine the possible long term outcomes of both the universe and what religion supposes in an afterlife the results are essentially just as pointless(in the context that religion views existence).

First, I'd like to outline that I think generally most religions that believe in an afterlife suppose a "perfect paradise" scenario of some sort. By definition, in my opinion, any state of "perfection" is static. That is to say, there can't be multiple versions of perfect, so once you reach whatever your idea of perfection is, in order to stay there your existence must become static to maintain it. Others I have talked to amongst the religious however have stated that they don't think "Heaven" is perfect, but simply a higher existence where they will at least be happy. I'll address both of these possibilities in the list below.

So let's look at possible versions of the future.......

1.) We ride it out till the end. No matter how far we advance or don't advance our existence, in the end the universe either collapses on itself, or is slowly destroyed over an unimaginable amount of time by an inescapable heat death, or some other version of space-time coming to an end. There is no afterlife, there is no escape. The entire universe ultimately perishes and everything and everyone that ever existed essentially had no real point. I would suggest that in this scenario, "It was fun while it lasted," but really there was no "purpose" to existence other than what we imagined for ourselves at the time.

2.) The laws of physics end up allowing for an advanced civilization that can essentially through technology become godlike in it's manipulation of the universe around us. Whatever it is that we've become by that point can preserve our existence through preventing the universe from being destroyed, or triggering a causal inflation event, or infinite virtual reality, or..... who knows, the method is irrelevant. The outcome being that these advanced lifeforms can preserve themselves infinitely in a state of "happiness" or whatever they view as desirable. In this scenario I would pose the question, what exactly would be the "purpose" anymore? Here you have beings that 100% know all possible outcomes and essentially are just existing in a fabricated reality forever of their own choosing. What possible reason could they contrive to convince themselves to bother going on existing? Would they introduce suffering and chaos just to keep themselves amused? Would they purposefully become ignorant of their own self-created reality to induce a false sense of reason to continue existing?

3.) We become an incredibly advanced civilization of godlike intelligences but instead of reaching scenario #2, our ruthless intellect makes us realize without a doubt that scenario #2 is coming and just effectively choose to die off because we are smart enough to see what is coming and that there is really no point. Basically we kill ourselves out of boredom and we are too disconnected from our biological survival instincts by that point to keep going in the face of cold hard knowledge of what the future brings.

4.) All of us atheists are wrong. We die and go to some magical perfect theme park in the sky forever overseen by some omnipotent entity. Okay, now what? I fail to see how this differs any from scenario #2 as far as having any "purpose" after that. In fact, it sounds terrible. I would say that fundamentally, this religious scenario fails to provide any more meaningful "purpose" to life than any of the more realistic ones. We just sit there forever in this reality, only instead of creating it ourselves, something else is doing it for us. It is either "perfect" and therefore static and unchanging, or it is just a higher form of endless "happiness" and therefore just as endlessly uninteresting and pointless as scenario 2.

5.) We become as advanced as scenario #2, but it turns out it isn't so easy to persist indefinitely. It is instead an unending struggle of trying to extend our godlike existence beyond the natural limits of the universe. This may be somewhat more interesting than scenario 2 or 4, but is really the same fundamentally: an unending existence that appears to have no other purpose but it's own preservation.

There are a few more scenarios you could bring up that are slight variations on the above, but essentially my point is: I can see no way in which ANY form of deity either godlike or simply an advanced intelligence could provide any significantly different long term outcome that provides for more "purpose" than our natural universe does or will. I also suggest that there is a good chance in my mind that we will eventually advance ourselves enough that we will struggle to see any real reason for continuing, and that this advanced state is basically the same as we currently imagine a "paradise" to be.

So then, if you want to create purpose for yourself, in my opinion that would start with rejecting the time-based paradigm that much of religion essentially espouses: that the value and purpose of life is inextricably entangled with existing as long as possible.

Well I hope I have organized my thoughts in a somewhat coherent manner......

Scenario 6: #4 doesn't happen, and we all die off due to climate change / nuclear exchange / global pandemic / killer asteroid / gamma burst / whatever long before the other scenarios can take effect.

While your argument here feels like an appeal to consequences, I (and I think quite a few Christians, as well) will agree with your conclusion that life's purpose need not be tied to eternal existence. Personally, I prefer to deconstruct the entire question, which I consider ill-defined as presented:

* What is meant by "purpose"?
* What would or wouldn't qualify as a "purpose"? Must it be externally given or can it be personally determined?
* Why is a "purpose" important? What need of ours is met by it? Which previously-discussed requirements or qualities of purpose are necessary to meet this need, and which are not?
* What are the consequences of not having or not knowing one's purpose? What are the consequences of having or knowing one's purpose?
* What metrics and diagnostics do we have for determining someone's "purpose" and whether they are meeting it? Are these good measures? Are they independently verifiable? What is their rate of type I and type II errors? If we have these, can we figure out how to improve them? If we don't have these, can we figure out how to make them? If we can't make/improve them immediately, can we figure out a way to get by with an inferior metric, or no metric at all?

My own interpretation here... and it's hard to do more than interpret, when the question is ill-formulated... is that the desire for purpose is actually an intrinsic psychological desire for importance, agency, impact, and goals in the world we inhabit. While this may or may not be important in every human psyche (I take no stance on its universality), it is not essential to a healthy existence, and for many people is either a minor, weak desire or totally nonexistent. This desire can be met (if one's expectations are not set unreasonably high) without an eternal impact or existence, and I would suggest that it runs counter to the "virtue" of humility. I think that the self-esteem, challenges, and direction that come with having such a purpose are of great value but that, again, this value can be met (and even better met) without an insistence on eternity. And finally, I would view the element of agency as requiring that the goals be either personally determined or at least personally approved, accepted, and bought into, to provide these benefits.
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15-12-2014, 02:44 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 01:15 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  * What is meant by "purpose"?
* What would or wouldn't qualify as a "purpose"? Must it be externally given or can it be personally determined?
* Why is a "purpose" important? What need of ours is met by it? Which previously-discussed requirements or qualities of purpose are necessary to meet this need, and which are not?
* What are the consequences of not having or not knowing one's purpose? What are the consequences of having or knowing one's purpose?
* What metrics and diagnostics do we have for determining someone's "purpose" and whether they are meeting it? Are these good measures? Are they independently verifiable? What is their rate of type I and type II errors? If we have these, can we figure out how to improve them? If we don't have these, can we figure out how to make them? If we can't make/improve them immediately, can we figure out a way to get by with an inferior metric, or no metric at all?

My own interpretation here... and it's hard to do more than interpret, when the question is ill-formulated... is that the desire for purpose is actually an intrinsic psychological desire for importance, agency, impact, and goals in the world we inhabit. While this may or may not be important in every human psyche (I take no stance on its universality), it is not essential to a healthy existence, and for many people is either a minor, weak desire or totally nonexistent. This desire can be met (if one's expectations are not set unreasonably high) without an eternal impact or existence, and I would suggest that it runs counter to the "virtue" of humility. I think that the self-esteem, challenges, and direction that come with having such a purpose are of great value but that, again, this value can be met (and even better met) without an insistence on eternity. And finally, I would view the element of agency as requiring that the goals be either personally determined or at least personally approved, accepted, and bought into, to provide these benefits.

Well, really my point was not to analyze what constitutes "purpose" or even how people define it or how we should define it. "Purpose,"(or whatever you want to call it), derives from human psychology, just like all of our other needs and behaviors. Our psychological makeup is in turn based on our biology.

My point, and you may be right that I did not articulate it well, is that basically whatever you want to call "purpose," and however it is you want to discuss it, the finale scenario described by most religions does not offer anything unique or objective as a context for discussing it.
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15-12-2014, 02:46 PM (This post was last modified: 15-12-2014 02:51 PM by Tomasia.)
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 11:53 AM)Superluminal Wrote:  There are a few more scenarios you could bring up that are slight variations on the above, but essentially my point is: I can see no way in which ANY form of deity either godlike or simply an advanced intelligence could provide any significantly different long term outcome that provides for more "purpose" than our natural universe does or will. I also suggest that there is a good chance in my mind that we will eventually advance ourselves enough that we will struggle to see any real reason for continuing, and that this advanced state is basically the same as we currently imagine a "paradise" to be.

So then, if you want to create purpose for yourself, in my opinion that would start with rejecting the time-based paradigm that much of religion essentially espouses: that the value and purpose of life is inextricably entangled with existing as long as possible.

Well I hope I have organized my thoughts in a somewhat coherent manner......

I think all this presupposes that there is no way or sense of life that one would desire to live eternally in. And this seems to make sense. A new song that we are infatuated with, played on repeat a few times, becomes repetitious and uninteresting, no longer as alive as when we first heard it. The relationships we find ourselves in are never as enchanting as that first few months. Theme parks are awesome, but not after 20 consecutive days at one. A church service can be nice for a 1-2 hours, but becomes a tedium, and it's own form of torture if it goes on too long. Everything new becomes old rather quickly. For many of us this is true for all of our experiences. It's hard to imagine one, that we would love to live permanently in, only momentarily.

But the Gospels presuppose something else in the idea of Kingdom of God, that's neither lo here or lo there, but can be glimpsed, and partaken in the here and now. That's not dependent on any material trinket, or anything the universe itself, or the state can offer us.

James Cone wrote about this, when speaking of black slaves and spirituals:

"Black slaves were not passively waiting for the future; they were actively living as if the future were already present in the community." Cone called this state "the transcendent present."

This sense of life, the sort of life, Christ is consumed in, when glimpsed, or partaken in, is seen as so profound, that one would give their entire life to be consumed by it permanently. It neither stales, or grows old, can't be taken away by poverty or suffering, or death, and becomes enriched as we remain in God, and God in us.
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15-12-2014, 05:27 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 02:46 PM)Tomasia Wrote:  I think all this presupposes that there is no way or sense of life that one would desire to live eternally in.

No I fully recognize that if there is a God it would be able to either fundamentally alter your state of mind or the surrounding environment to create this artificial state of bliss(artificial in that you didn't arrive at it without this God's intervention), but that doesn't really mean anything unless you are content with saying that simply existing and being happy is enough of a reason or purpose in life.

If that is the case then God isn't really unique in any way by being able to provide this. Heck if that is all that is required to create purpose, a pet hamster is 95% of the way there. If you are claiming a God can provide something BEYOND that then you must rely essentially on the "well God is magical and can do vague things you can't understand" argument. If you are going that direction, then we get the crux of the issue......where is your evidence this is possible?
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15-12-2014, 05:35 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 12:36 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(15-12-2014 12:13 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  All too often I have heard of eternity being filled with constant praise and rejoicing in god's presence.

Ok, real world test, go to a church and start praising and worshiping, don't stop except to maintain yourself (bathroom breaks, eating, etc.)

Now envision doing a marathon of clapping, raising your hands, singing for an entire week. Would you be honest with yourself and say that that sounds pretty awful?

How about a year? 10,000 years?

Are you sure this sounds like paradise?

Doesn't this also highlight what a flawed and imperfect god is supposed to exist? Why would this entity need any of this?

What is god's purpose?

He doesn't need one because he's god? Isn't this a repackaged infinite regress?

This infinite regress is resolved by not assuming there is any purpose or god.

I don't think your post qualifies as a straw man, but it is rooted in false information, which is likely not your fault. Where the Bible says we will praise God for eternity has be taken in the context of the many other things it says we will be doing.

The Hebrews in the OT did did not believe in an afterlife. Sheol was not heaven.
You have demonstrated not one reason any modern human should look at the Bible with having any sort of authority, at all. It's a collection of human texts, voted non-unanimously into a canon with countless changes and errors.

Ecclesiastes 3:
[18] I said in my heart with regard to the sons of men that God is testing them to show them that they are but beasts.
[19] For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; for all is vanity.
[20] All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.
[21] Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth?

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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15-12-2014, 05:47 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 12:36 PM)The Q Continuum Wrote:  
(15-12-2014 12:13 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  All too often I have heard of eternity being filled with constant praise and rejoicing in god's presence.

Ok, real world test, go to a church and start praising and worshiping, don't stop except to maintain yourself (bathroom breaks, eating, etc.)

Now envision doing a marathon of clapping, raising your hands, singing for an entire week. Would you be honest with yourself and say that that sounds pretty awful?

How about a year? 10,000 years?

Are you sure this sounds like paradise?

Doesn't this also highlight what a flawed and imperfect god is supposed to exist? Why would this entity need any of this?

What is god's purpose?

He doesn't need one because he's god? Isn't this a repackaged infinite regress?

This infinite regress is resolved by not assuming there is any purpose or god.

I don't think your post qualifies as a straw man, but it is rooted in false information, which is likely not your fault. Where the Bible says we will praise God for eternity has be taken in the context of the many other things it says we will be doing.

There's just interpretations and opinions, no truth there.

Gods derive their power from post-hoc rationalizations. -The Inquisition

Using the supernatural to explain events in your life is a failure of the intellect to comprehend the world around you. -The Inquisition
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15-12-2014, 05:53 PM
RE: The Universal End Game - "Purpose"
(15-12-2014 12:13 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  All too often I have heard of eternity being filled with constant praise and rejoicing in god's presence.

Ok, real world test, go to a church and start praising and worshiping, don't stop except to maintain yourself (bathroom breaks, eating, etc.)

Now envision doing a marathon of clapping, raising your hands, singing for an entire week. Would you be honest with yourself and say that that sounds pretty awful?

How about a year? 10,000 years?

Are you sure this sounds like paradise?

Doesn't this also highlight what a flawed and imperfect god is supposed to exist? Why would this entity need any of this?

What is god's purpose?

He doesn't need one because he's god? Isn't this a repackaged infinite regress?

This infinite regress is resolved by not assuming there is any purpose or god.

The power of god comes from continuing worship. Would he/she/it cease to exist if we didn't genuflect and prostrate ourselves in he/she/it's name ?

(15-12-2014 12:13 PM)TheInquisition Wrote:  All too often I have heard of eternity being filled with constant praise and rejoicing in god's presence.

Seriously, there's nothing else to do in heaven ? Sounds like hell.

The second mouse gets the cheese.
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