What Do I Mean
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20-04-2010, 03:13 PM
 
Smile What Do I Mean
Idea

There is no God. Fine. But when I believed, I had goals in life, life itself had meaning, and existence had a purpose. Now I must find purpose, meaning, and meaningful goals with which to frame my life.

I must start, oddly enough, from first principles: existentialism is the root of all further development, i.e., I will be assigning purely subjective values to an existence that I can't really know. Since their are no rules, my made-up rules will have the same justification as religious dogma--my rules apply because I believe they do. Pluralism comes in very handy on this point: I believe my life is an inexplicable phenomenom AND I believe that my chosen meanings and purposes have validity simply by having been chosen.

Firstly, I need a reason to refuse suicide, to want to go on living. In my case, this is simple enough. As a young adult I had suicidal thoughts, partly because I was in the middle ground of agnosticism--I couldn't accept religion and I couldn't see any possibility of an alternative. This internal conflict came to a climax at one point and I was carried across a gestalt leap by the revelation that if life had no meaning, I could enjoy life without consequences. That is to say, if one accepts suicide as sensible, one must also accept that living with total abandon is equally acceptable--one could commit suicide by living with a devil-may-care gusto. No choices of mine would be mistakes, even if they killed me, since death is unavoidable and meaningless. No risk was unacceptable because there was no risk--life without rules can be lived simply for the fun of it.

So, I had a reason to live. This paradigm would have to evolve later on, when I chose to have a family, because not caring about one's own life is one issue and not caring about people one loves is quite another.

And I might as well deal with this up front: when one goes from a learned set of values to a self-generated set of values, a certain amount of backing and filling is unavoidable. The perceptions of a twenty-four year old are different from those of a fifty-four year old, as are their situations. To me, this is no deal-breaker--in fact, I'm much happier being unsure of myself than I ever was back when I thought God was in his heaven and all was right with the world. Most of what I had been taught was a world-view that thrived on guilt, self-denial, and bigotry.

Once I became my own person, I no longer had to beg the invisible God in my head to show some sign of being there. This whole 'faith' thing is such bullshit--you must believe but you must not ask for proof or signs or answers to questions--has our civilization really fallen for this crap for millenia? It sounds just like the excuses of a child who's afraid to lose an argument.

I've seen smaller scale head-games of equally ludicrous transparency: a corporation will ask it's employees to show 'loyalty' or 'spirit' towards their employer, while the employer is free to fire anyone at all at any time just to keep the books in the black. A nation will ask its youngest and strongest to fight to the death with the cream of some other nation's youth, but the government will do its best afterward to avoid taking responsibility for the cost of fixing these poor kids' minds and bodies (and livelihoods) once the shooting stops.

But religion beats'em all. Nuff said.

My next challenge was do-good-erism--what reason do I have to be charitable, sensitive, honest, etc.? To begin with, I was a born goody-two-shoes, I'd always tried to be good to others and friendly towards strangers and polite and well--you know. Now I had to ask myself, to what purpose? I aver that 'doing unto others' is simply good business--if humans are social animals, and if society is at its best when we all cooperate, then being selfish or greedy is contraindicated. Plus, we are creatures of feelings, much more than we are rational beings, and 'good vibrations' is one of life's natural pleasures. Further, we have a surfeit of examples regarding the danger of dismissing 'goodness' as a consideration: Hitler, McCarthy-ism, Fundamentalist Muslims, Advertising, and Banking are just a few off the top of my head.

To tired to continue, but next time.... 'why can't a life be a large-scale work of art?'
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21-04-2010, 07:33 AM
RE: What Do I Mean
I don't really have anything to add, but I just wanted to state that I like this post. Too used to facebook, I guess. Big Grin

Our brains deceive us on a regular basis, so we have to find ways to fight back.
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21-04-2010, 11:01 AM
 
RE: What Do I Mean
(21-04-2010 07:33 AM)TheSixthGlass Wrote:  I don't really have anything to add, but I just wanted to state that I like this post. Too used to facebook, I guess. Big Grin

Very cool with me--if you hadn't, I would have thought no one read this. So, thanks for the compliment. As far as adding stuff goes, as you can probably see, this thread is meant to deal with the changes in motivation and satisfaction inherent, even required as a part of modern atheism.

There's a wonderful sect in NYC (probably nationwide, but the radio show I hear comes from there) called Ethical Humanists, or some such. I think they probably have a comprehensive charter that deals in these things--you know, morals and ethics as defined by the irreligious. I am very glad they exist because it's nice to know where the underground headquarters will be, 'comes the revolution', and it also helps in that detractors of atheism can't dismiss people like me as sports, deficients of the normal world, lone rogues of evil, if you will.

But I digress--if you want to add something, think of the part of your world-perspective that most worries you, the shakiest reasoning in your ethics, or the most senseless acts or feelings you may retain without holding your atheism against these previously church-motivated behaviors. All such are valid and welcomed, especially (underlined) those things for which you have already found a rational work-around.
Thanks again, Sixth Glass
-XperDunn
The reason I mention the Ethical Humanists is that they are proof of the widespread commonality of church-drop-outs. I, myself, do not plan to enlist in that group because, as the above may have already made plain, I think a fluidity of pluralism is a more efficient basis for life as a particle in brownian motion. One must take responsibility for one's own place in the universe--a club, or group, can help one get started and avoid having to re-invent certain wheels but, in the end, I believe my beliefs must conform to the present moment in which I find myself. I'd be cheating if I approached every challenge in life with some canned, mass-appealing 'approved method'-slash-'built-in excuse for failure'.

Subjectivity makes it impossible for me to be completely objective about my reasons and drives--the pig wants what the pig wants (or 'heart', for you sissies out there)--but I will, at least, not obfuscate my sense of morality with a checklist of do's & don'ts that I can avidly search for loop-holes and justifications. That's too much like the worst parts of churches. To thine own self n' yadda-yadda-yadda...
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21-04-2010, 12:40 PM
 
RE: What Do I Mean
Xperdunn, I also read your article and can say I also liked your post.

To add to the point you made about a charter, I had read Thomas Hobbes' Natural Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law...atural_law

Hobbes had come up with this list of natural laws as a way that "a rational human being, seeking to survive and prosper, would act." It would definitely be a good start to establishing a 'humanist' charter, since none of Hobbes' points are theological in any way.
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21-04-2010, 04:48 PM
 
RE: What Do I Mean
I liked the honesty of your post!

"This internal conflict came to a climax at one point and I was carried across a gestalt leap by the revelation that if life had no meaning, I could enjoy life without consequences. That is to say, if one accepts suicide as sensible, one must also accept that living with total abandon is equally acceptable--one could commit suicide by living with a devil-may-care gusto. No choices of mine would be mistakes, even if they killed me, since death is unavoidable and meaningless. No risk was unacceptable because there was no risk--life without rules can be lived simply for the fun of it."

While I am sure everyone will disagree with me, that is the natural logical way to live your life is there is no God. "“Eat, drink, and be merry. For tomorrow we die.”
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21-04-2010, 10:29 PM
 
RE: What Do I Mean
I don't know if this answers your post correctly, but morals and reasons to live are even more abundant with the ABSENCE of religion. In addition to the career I'm already pursuing, I want to contribute to helping show people the fallacies that are religion so that they can better their lives some day.
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21-04-2010, 10:35 PM
 
RE: What Do I Mean
(21-04-2010 12:40 PM)supermanlives1973 Wrote:  Xperdunn, I also read your article and can say I also liked your post.

To add to the point you made about a charter, I had read Thomas Hobbes' Natural Law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law...atural_law

Hobbes had come up with this list of natural laws as a way that "a rational human being, seeking to survive and prosper, would act." It would definitely be a good start to establishing a 'humanist' charter, since none of Hobbes' points are theological in any way.

Sounds fascinating--I'll have to wiki Hobbes and see if he has anything to add to this thread. - thanks for the heads-up.
(21-04-2010 10:29 PM)st4rk1ll3r666 Wrote:  I don't know if this answers your post correctly, but morals and reasons to live are even more abundant with the ABSENCE of religion. In addition to the career I'm already pursuing, I want to contribute to helping show people the fallacies that are religion so that they can better their lives some day.

I'm intrigued--it has always seemed to me that the one advantage of Faith was this built-in 'raison d'etre'. How do you see atheism as a more productive rationale?

Also, why do you want to be an anti-missionary? If you don't believe in God, where is the moral imperative for disillusioning the ignorantly blissful? Isn't it better to let them keep their delusions?

I'm not critique-ing, I'm just asking--you seem so comfortable in your atheism while I find it to be difficult but necessary.
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25-04-2010, 07:20 PM
 
RE: What Do I Mean
Gah, Hobbes had such a terrible outlook on life. There's a reason that those creatures in Fable and Fable II are called Hobbes. >_>

I'll generate a more meaningful response and either edit this post or generate a new one, in a short while.
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