Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
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12-06-2013, 05:56 PM
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
Because we are conceited!!

Wisdom from my eldest "Life's short... Get stoned!"
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12-06-2013, 05:59 PM
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
Yeah, I'd say his reasoning is flawed. He thinks we search for meaning because God. I'd say we evolved to have more complex thought processes and larger brains, and that's why we question things and attach meaning to things.

He has decided that "god done it" before examining the evidence. He is interpreting the mind in a way that he thinks supports his assumption, which is just bad reasoning.

He's also lumping together a bunch of things that aren't necessarily related: deities, the afterlife, assigning meaning to things.
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12-06-2013, 06:11 PM
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
It's quite silly to assume that because we feel a need to be a part of something greater than ourselves, that it must be true. I always wanted to be a wizard, but alas...

If something can be destroyed by the truth, it might be worth destroying.

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12-06-2013, 07:03 PM (This post was last modified: 12-06-2013 08:22 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
(12-06-2013 06:12 AM)Opheliac Wrote:  This is my first post in this forum!

Ok, so my brother is a Christian and try as I might I can not stop trying to make him see reason and become an atheist. We have had numerous conversations about why he is a Christian and why I am an atheist and they never seem to go anywhere.

He asked me a question the other day that I could not answer effectively and I was wondering if anyone had some advice for how I could better answer it to make my argument more persuasive.

The question he asked was: "If there is no god, no afterlife, and our lives are meaningless, then why do humans naturally search for meaning in our lives?"

Basically my brother is saying that because we have the capacity to question the meaning of our existence, there must be a reason for it, or as he would like to think - someone must have put it there.

I tried to answer by saying that people create their own meaning to their lives depending on what makes them feel fulfilled and that we don't need to imagine that a grand designer put our search for meaning there so that we would find god. I tried saying that we have simply evolved very complex minds because of evolution and naturally question our existence but this was not sufficient for my brother. He STILL believes that because we want our lives to be meaningful there must be a god who gave us this desire so that we would "find him".

I understand some people would think that I am doing the wrong thing by trying to push my atheism on my brother but could we please not discuss that at the moment.

What I would like to know is if anyone knows a better way they could explain the presence of this need for a meaningful existence without god because I don't seem to be doing a very good job.

Basically he's saying, that since we can imagine it, (or something), it must be true. That is preposterous. Humans have great "imaginations". They cook up all sorts of fiction all the time that is not true. If I can imagine myself as the Emperor of Rome, does that make it true ? Nope.
You might remind him that the religious origins of his cult had no heaven, and no afterlife, (as he imagines it). The Hebrews/Jews had no heaven/hell, (and some still don't), and the early Christians thought only the saved were "immortal". "Meaning" is individually "found" and assigned. Actually a limited life, (non-eternal), is much more valuable than one that goes on forever). It's called "operant conditioning". He's in the habit of thinking in a certain way, and has no imagination.
Some people would find life meaningless without their kids. Some without their jobs. Some *with* a job. Some without baseball, some with out whatever. It's all personal, and relative.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein
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12-06-2013, 07:16 PM
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
I agree with many of the things people have stated and the only thing I would add are the following books:

A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss
Ethics Without God by Kai Nielsen

Greetings carbon-based bipeds. - Arthur Clarke
The stars died so you could be here today. - Lawrence Krauss
Mathematics is the language of nature. - Lawrence Krauss
I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature's loveliness. - John Muir
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12-06-2013, 08:10 PM
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
If there is no Zeus, no Mount Olympus and our lives are meaningless, then why do we search for meaning ?
The only way our lives are meaningful is if it's to eventually find Zeus.

Without Zeus he cannot be living a truly meaningful life.

Re-write what he says using a different god and see if he still agrees with his argument.

Meaning - a significant quality. Something expressed in a special way.

"As we met for the first time, the look in her eyes and the sound of her voice as she yelled out my name and rushed toward me was the most meaningful symbol of love & desire that I had felt in a very long time."

We define what is meaningful in our lives. We decide if something is significant or not. We make judgements on things all the time.

Think of a crime scene. What meaningful bits of evidence can we find ?
"I found some dog hair Sir"
"Yes - it appears that the owner has a dog, but I don't think it's relevant to the case"

The meaning we ascribe to the dog hair isn't significant at all. When one has a dog, it's expected that there will be dog hair in the house.

"I found a bloody knife Sir"
"Bag it. It's probably the murder weapon. Our victim was stabbed several times"

As we see here, a murder weapon found at the scene of a crime is significant. It has now become meaningful to the case.
It's meaningful because we assign it that characteristic.

My son & my grandson add meaning to my life. They are significant to me.
The existence or non-existence of any god cannot change that fact.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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13-06-2013, 03:18 AM
RE: Why do we need our existence to be "meaningful"?
I think there’s a better way than your brother's to feel good, and it doesn’t demand belief in half-baked mumbo-jumbo or the quest for an eternal theme park in the sky.

Who remembers what it was like to be a young child? Picture yourself running around a playground. We didn’t waste time worrying about God, the afterlife or why we are here. We were too busy exploring every nook and cranny of our world, were unhindered by our experiences, expressed ourselves openly, and weren’t afraid of being judged. We accepted life with wide-open arms, didn’t deny our emotions, and weren’t cynical or opinionated. We lived in the present, and were thoroughly happy. I contend people should embrace the here and now. When we do that, life has more meaning: the taste of food, a glass of good wine, a friend's smile, a string quartet or a Miles Davis ballad can be enjoyed because they’re real and temporary. To experience the pleasure of the present, and stop worrying about consequences, can be like coming out of a trance. It’s about being receptive to the full gamut of the human experience, and that helps us feel more alive.

I think the promise of paradise produces performance anxiety, which robs people of the pleasure of living in the present. Life should be all about the journey, the here and now, not an imaginary destination, which is why we don’t need gods, beliefs, and creeds; we need to let them go!

When it turns out there’s no god and no afterlife, it won’t matter, because we’ll be dead! We were “dead” for billions of years before we were born, and it didn’t bother any of us in the slightest.

There’s nothing supernatural after death. Heaven is here and now, and is what we create on earth through love. Hell is also here; it’s what happens if we hate our fellow man.

In the modern world, “people” should replace “God.” “God” is the human race. Love of “God” should be a love of everyone in our global society.
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