The New "Religion Vs Science" Thread

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Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Mar 14, 2018 - 10:27am PT
"I will answer both questions with the same answer: there simply is no purpose or meaning to my life or any other persons life, despite what they may think or say. There is no purpose or meaning to life as a whole. Human life, in particular, is, in my mind, a highly overrated phenomenon."

What an utterly ridiculous blanket statement to make to other people. It's little wonder there is such stout push back against this sort of thinking. Its against ideas like this that I find myself nodding in agreement with the fine points Paul puts forth. If that is the best phrasing the author can make regarding life's purpose he would best keep the thoughts to himself, imo.

Telling another person their life has no meaning or purpose is a terrible thing to do. Also it strikes me as wrong in letter as well as spirit. We humans breathe purpose and meaning into our actions. We find many sources of inspiration from religion and religious texts to soulful walks on the beach, our compulsions and obsessions and our goals and ambitions. To say none of that has any meaning or purpose is ridiculous, but I am just repeating myself at this point.

DMT
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 14, 2018 - 10:36am PT
If ignorance were abolished then one cause of suffering would be abolished. It might be tiny incremental progress or exponential progress, but it would be progress. If there are many causes of suffering, that is no reason not to abolish one of them.
-


Watch that all-or-nothing thinking, amigo. It'll bite you.

No one here is suggesting that abolishing ignorance is not a step toward progress, but the process is ongoing and we need to stand guard against the reflex to codify our current understanding into a kind of formula or prescription that itself isn't in a constant state of revision.

Man is a moving target. There's every reason to want some bedrock under us - religious, physicalism, credos, final truths - SOMETHING we can designate at least provisionally as end-all, "caused" by this or that.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 14, 2018 - 10:36am PT
This is why I think I cherish your posts, Dingus, as much as you cherish Paul's. Thanks for the reply.

...

What an utterly ridiculous blanket statement to make to other people. It's little wonder there is such stout push back against this sort of thinking.

One of the challenges in communicating these difficult or tricky subjects, I think, is figuring out just how many perspectives or povs are we obliged to cover in a single paragraph if not a single sentence.

It seems to me, Ben Shelby is addressing the question solely from the narrow perspective of the (outside) cosmic pov and not from the (within, inside) human pov, whether individual or social.

It seems to me, since we've been gifted desire, ambition, feeling and such it follows we've got purpose/meaning (significance) that is authentic, genuine. If not from without then from within.

It seems to me, in re to meaning and purpose, our job in the 21st century (for those who want to take it up) is to reconcile these different, often widely convergent, perspectives or povs.

Perhaps if one's inclination is just to state 'There is no purpose to life' then it's best just to keep quiet. :)
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Mar 14, 2018 - 11:19am PT
It seems to me, Ben Shelby is addressing the question solely from the narrow perspective of the (outside) cosmic pov and not from the (within, inside) human pov, whether individual or social.

I guessed as much and worded my critique accordingly. But obviously, taken at face value, he did not qualify his statement and thus dismisses all purpose and meaning, from whatever source it might be derived.

He should work on that prior to making gross, public and dismissive statements such as the one you and I quoted. To paraphrase earlier discussion themes between you and I - to take someone's faith away is a terrible thing to do.

Show them them (us) the light, sure. But do not extinguish their (our) own light in the haste to get us to convert our pov. The author completely ignores this advice in his universal dismissal. A dismissal I might add, that cannot be proven.

Cheers
DMT
Dingus Milktoast

Trad climber
Minister of Moderation, Fatcrackistan
Mar 14, 2018 - 11:23am PT
Btw

It seems to me, in re to meaning and purpose, our job in the 21st century (for those who want to take it up) is to reconcile these different, often widely convergent, perspectives or povs.

Hard to disagree and I don't.

Finding common ground is a never ending process it seems to me. In this respect the sciences and humanities seek to reconcile the cold cold world to the human perspective, same as it ever was. This process is never ending, yes?

DMT
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 14, 2018 - 01:19pm PT
Yes, Dingus. Given that we find ourselves participants in an entropic universe that's ever evolving by natural selection I would agree.

A hope is that we humans - after enough trial and error; and after enough sorting out - will eventually come around to a reconciliation in understanding, in belief and wisdom (between "what is" in Nature and "what matters" to us) that's increasingly simpatico and genuine.

...


PSA: The long-awaited Harris Pinker conversation/dialog will be live streamed tonight from the Harris site at 8:00pm. This will be a first, I look forward to it. I hope it goes well.

For those who haven't followed the plot, they disagree on the dangers of AI, the conceptions relating to "free will", the scale of the dangers of terrorism and something else that's fundamental I think - that I cannot recall right now, lol.

https://samharris.org/podcast/

...

MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Mar 14, 2018 - 05:02pm PT
HFCS: . . . after enough sorting out - will eventually come around to a reconciliation in understanding, in belief and wisdom (between "what is" in Nature and "what matters" to us) that's increasingly simpatico and genuine.

There is only one way that understanding becomes both genuine and simpatico: there must be only one answer or one position, or people have to give up or reorder what they care about. Otherwise reconciliation becomes compromise and consensus.
WBraun

climber
Mar 14, 2018 - 05:22pm PT
... there must be only one answer or one position, or people have to give up or reorder what they care about.
Otherwise reconciliation becomes compromise and consensus.

Yes, this is good intelligence.

Fruitloops can't think until Sam Harris or Pinker tells him how.

Sad case sterile wannabee scientist who never does the experiment ......
Mark Force

Trad climber
Ashland, Oregon
Mar 14, 2018 - 08:17pm PT
If you believe there is no purpose or meaning to life...


...what is the purpose or meaning of talking about it?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 15, 2018 - 09:20am PT
An interesting exercise is to try and imagine living, if only for 30 minutes, in a meaningless universe. People attempting to do so often panic or get huffy or indifferent, thinking what a bummer this is, or feeling courageous believing they are facing down some existential truth. But for most all of these folks, they are dragging value judgements or meanings into the exercise - such as, this is harsh, depressing, liberating.

The exercise is to let go of all that stuff, all interpretations, evaluations, orientations, meanings, including positive and negative takes on being there. Then the exercise gets lift off.

Jeremy Ross

Gym climber
Mar 15, 2018 - 09:27am PT
Whether meaningless or meaningful, I'm just happy to be able to experience this life.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 15, 2018 - 09:31am PT
Meaningless is meaningless without a referential frame.

Do you know what a referential frame is? Or referential frames?

Do you even care?

This concept should really be taught starting in junior high. But it isn't. How come?

...

if only for 30 minutes...

lol

Assuming our pov is outside the human condition, i.e., from the ultimate cosmic perspective, aka the big picture referntial frame, try 30-plus
years!!

Granted, it takes some adjustment, reconciliation, etc...


...


This one's even better: Try imagining time - not merely the sequencing of it (e.g., pond scum before apes, WWI before WWII, etc. - but still the basic nature of it - say hours, millenia, geographical eras - in a MINDLESS universe. That, to me, is esp mindblowing.

In a MINDLESS universe, there's no mind around to actually perceive the sense of time duration! or to sense the time difference between a msec, eg., and a billion years!
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 15, 2018 - 09:50am PT
re: meaning (vs meaninglessness)

Distinguish between (a) the meaning of life and (b) the meaning of MY life.

The purpose of life is to push itself forward through survival and reproduction. That is distinct from the purpose of MY life.

The purpose of MY life is to seek out and indulge in those things (some of it innate, some of it learned, by experience) that give meaning and purpose to my life. They are not hard to find: family and friends, good times, the pursuit of knowledge, the pursuit of best practices, games and sports (climbing, adventures etc..), etc etc...

From the human referential frame, any human with interests he cares about is a source of meaning (edit: should be able to identify sources of meaning and purpose). Yes, imo, even in a universe that is meaningless from the BP referential frame.

Assuming you have interests/passions, seek out and indulge in those things that give you (that sense of) meaning and purpose (that contribute to a sense that life is worthwhile). You could consider this a project, a chase, or an art form. (If not, in some cases, the equivalent of a big wall project because some of these things are not always easy to find, let alone keep/sustain.)

Imo, don't buy into that old-world thinking that YOUR life has to be immortal for there to be any genuine meaning and purpose. In this age of modern understanding, for many, this only leads to unreasonable expectation and eventual disappointment.

When it comes to meaning and purpose, context matters; in other words, referential framing matters.

Anyways, my two cents.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 15, 2018 - 10:00am PT
Very encouraging...

14 March 2018, Harris Pinker conversation
14 March 2018, Harris Pinker conversation
Credit: High Fructose Corn Spirit

Check out the changing demographic at the Harris Pinker conversation in LA last night.

Young people!!!!
MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Mar 15, 2018 - 10:21am PT
HFCS: Young people!!!!

. . . who have much to learn.

Bring us not converts, but individuals who lead themselves by their own lights.
xCon

Social climber
909
Mar 15, 2018 - 10:28am PT
ive heard it said that humans are "meaning making machines"

a valuable observation

but when honestly confronted it validates the positions taken by the most extreme among us
MikeL

Social climber
Southern Arizona
Mar 15, 2018 - 10:30am PT
HFCS: Meaningless is meaningless without a referential frame. Do you know what a referential frame is? Or referential frames? 

Dissolution of frames would appear to be the modern project in so many forms and domains—in contemporary art, in philosophy, in the humanities, even in the sciences. How large and expansive *can* a frame be? What could be a common base for all domains, feelings, and thought?
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:04am PT
Assuming our pov is outside the human condition, i.e., from the ultimate cosmic perspective, aka the big picture referntial frame, try 30-plus
years!!

---

Seems remarkable that any sober person could believe that a provisional "referential frame" (a framework that is used for the observation and mathematical description of physical phenomena and the formulation of physical laws, usually consisting of an observer, a coordinate system, and a clock or clocks assigning times at positions with respect to the coordinate system) lies "outside" of anything else.

If reality is defined as every damn thing seen and unseen, there's no escaping to some "view from nowhere," least of all where an observer is not part of the process. This is basically imagining the 3rd person omniscient POV found in literature as some "place" or frame a human can actually reach or inhabit.
High Fructose Corn Spirit

Gym climber
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:25am PT
Seems remarkable that any sober person could believe that a provisional "referential frame" (a framework that is used for the observation and mathematical description of physical phenomena and the formulation of physical laws, usually consisting of an observer, a coordinate system, and a clock or clocks assigning times at positions with respect to the coordinate system) lies "outside" of anything else.

(1) Mars as a referential frame lies outside Earth as a referential frame.
(2) Your house as a referential frame lies outside my house as a referential frame.
(3) Algebra as a referential frame lies outside Latin as a referential frame.
(4) The Star Trek universe as a referential frame lies outside the Christian universe as a referential frame.

Note that the sport of curling is a "thing" that gives meaning and purpose to many people, perhaps hundreds (lol!); but for many other people - from the pov of their referential framing - it is a pretty meaningless thing; there is no meaning or purpose in it.
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Mar 15, 2018 - 11:41am PT
We get it, Fruity. We need to place our attention on this or that at the exclusion of all else if we are to conduct close, discursive study. For example, few try to meditate, or do engineering, with Led Zep blaring in the BG. The point is, narrowing our focus on a particular frame does not mean said frame "exists" separate from all else.

Try for a moment to forego all frames of reference.

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