Showing posts with label meaning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label meaning. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Thoughts on an Old Legacy

John Dobbs

I leave you this space
which I have occupied

now clean as a vacuum
to hold short sorrow,
and brief remembering.

There are no shards,
no broken statuary.
I had no idols.

The proud thoughts
and the humble things
remain unshattered.

I leave you this valuable
and useful

Posted with permission from the old boards.

The proud thoughts and the humble things I have taught to others are enough for me. I did what I could to make my space a little more valuable, useful, beautiful and loving for those who will occupy it temporarily and make it even more valuable, useful, beautiful and loving based on what I have given them while occupying that space.  That is the way of life.  We do what we can with what we find and the next generation will be able to do better with the results of our doing and our taught wisdom.  

I learned what I could, did what was possible, and taught what I learned.  There is no need for me to continue in my present limited and obsolete form, I have done my part.  I have lived a life worth dying for. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Meaningful Living

Whether or not there is a God, meaningful living is all there is to being human.  We all die, and return to the stardust from which we are made. Recycled in myriad ways, ideas, memes, genes, etc.  Perhaps promoting the God meme makes life meaningful for some.  But enjoy it while you can.  All available evidence shows that after death God does nothing for anybody. Atheist, theist, fundy, or Pope: all dead and recycled. 

Meaningful Living

There are many ways gays can have biological offspring if they want them.  Others may adopt which is just as beneficial for the species.  Others, heterosexuals as well as homosexuals may choose other ways to benefit the species, without contributing to the overpopulation problem by breeding.  Teaching of various kinds, Medicine, and even art and music to pass on the lore of the society are all meaningful choices for living.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Meaning and purpose Religion vs Science and Technology

Beliefnet an interesting discussion
Not mind boggling at all.  It is an evolutional necessity that the mind find a way to drag the body out of its nice warm bed every single morning, spend the day doing what it takes to acquire food, others to share it with, and repeat ad lib.  Any brain which didn't do this would find only a non-survival option. 

For the glory of God and not incidentally the vuvuzelas in fancy dresses in over decorated balconies is a tried and true option.  Conservative and stult stable it provides meaning and purpose even for the idiot stick operators who can believe that they are building a Cathedral. 
It takes a heretic who finds meaning and purpose in improving the lives of those important to herm to shake up this self-perpetuating institution of the prevailing church which is why heretics are routinely scourged, tortured, and crucified or otherwise killed slowly and painfully.  The usual way out is to pretend to be a believer and start a new religion, usually with the same basic crap with a new vuvuzela.
Rarely an innovative group will find mutual support and quietly undermine the prevailing religion and enable others to find their own ways to meaning and purpose in living.  They and the innovators will always be a small group but their influence on the world will be, for better or for worse significant in changing the way the world works.  Evolution works on innovators as well and most fail, sometimes spectacularly, but their failure may in fact be caused by stimulation other innovators to find fresh solutions to living without God, the vuvuzelas, and the politicians who are their sock puppets.  

Science and technology may in fact be emerging as a secular alternative to the religious infrastructure.  It is not without issues, but innovation and improving the lot of the average person is basic to the system. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Why I Live.


Why do you desire to accomplish well your endeavors? Are you pleased with your creations / your accomplishments?  - 

Since they are in fact the meaning of life or at least mine, I had better accomplish my endeavors well, as they are how I affect others in my community, and how I will be remembered by them.  Overall I am quite pleased with my creations and accomplishments.  I chose most of them carefully as being beneficial to my community, and molded and shaped them to the best of my ability to
continue in the paths I set them on. Sooner or later I will die, leaving to my community my creations, my accomplishments, and "This valuable and useful space which I have occupied temporarily"  John Dobbs, atheist, from Legacy.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Meaning in a Finite Life


My finite life is meaningful only if I learn all I can about how to make my world a more beautiful and benign space for all in it. I believe nothing as beliefs are incompatible with that learning.  The mind is configured to protect beliefs, and the only counter is to root out the beliefs, be aware of them and be ready to sprinkle a little salt on them as needed. 

But learning is useless unless I practice and teach what I have learned so that others can help while I am alive and carry on after I am no longer alive.  I can still teach after I am no longer alive either directly through stories that are remembered by others, or by the actions of others I have taught well.  It is quite comforting to know that much of what I have learned is from people and things that are no longer living.  

My world, as am I, is finite. It consists of everything that is affected by my actions or teachings.  I am comfortable with this.  There are many who because of truth or beliefs live in worlds (societies) that I cannot affect. I am not bothered by this.  They go their way I go mine.  The divide if any is created by their truth and beliefs which do not allow them to respond to the learning of my ERSSG It may be that they are right and we are wrong, but evolution selects strongly for flexible learning. I will bet my life on that.     

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Is Life Enough?

When is one's current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality enough? Shouldn't one desire more?

One's current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality is never enough. But by sharing one's current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality with others with perhaps more wisdom or drive to make it more accurate and adequate is how human progress happens.

I have no intention of ceasing to share my current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality with others, indeed that is why I get out of bed each morning, even though I know I will be unable to do so relatively soon.

I have already seen how others with more wisdom and drive have taken what I have shared to places I cannot get to. I see others in the process of doing so, and am quite confident that they will achieve goals that are beyond my capabilities. Have I personally changed my world for the better? I think so, but others are doing as much or more.

I have no time to appease some God so that I might increase my current (often rather inadequate and inaccurate) understanding of reality after I die. I do the best I can with what I have. If I haven't learned enough and shared enough by now one thing is certain: all the learning I achieve after death is useless. I never will share it with anyone who can affect humankind.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

On Atheism

Comment on Philosophy Talk
Atheism is not a definition of anybody's life. Atheism is simply an answer to "Do you believe?" or "Are you saved?"
Atheists get their meaning, purpose, morals and ethics the same place God does. From the tribe they belong to. Modern tribes are more diffused and amorphous than traditional tribes, but we know who we are.
The afterlife is a con game that has no meaning for most atheists, even a theist like Forrest Church recognizes that the best we can do is live a life worth dying for. After that, who knows, and who cares. Any afterlife mediator that doesn't look at that life that was worth dying for isn't worth worrying about.

Friday, June 24, 2011


If you treat meaning as a quest you will never discover it. The meaning of life is apparent to anyone who lives intentionally and rationally. I should probably add realistically with respect to life's finite duration. It is not provided by God or anyone else. This is not to say a theist cannot discover meaning in life, but as a quest to find what God intends is a open invitation to the con artists who are happy to satisfy that quest.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Atheist Values

Differences in outlook - Discuss Atheism - Beliefnet Community

Most non-believers I know are interested in social values and the direction of human evolution, neither of which is bounded or delimited. Much of the thinking in this area is found in fiction, that most do not recognize as atheist until you realize that nothing in the fiction depends on God. Steinbeck for example superficially uses religious themes in East of Eden but it is one of the most profoundly humanist books I have ever read and reread frequently I might add. Similarly for Grapes of Wrath. None of the major characters can or do get any help or guidance from God in their attempt to create a livable society for the propertyless. Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Pournelle-Niven are all working out the ramifications of social structures without God. Ostensibly telling fictional stories about the future, they are dealing with real situations that exist in societies today, and working them out without the help of God. And not incidentally showing how such societies can work quite well in many cases.

The other, much more difficult source of information about atheists working out the problems of living is to observe the lives of graduates of the top universities. Very few get their direction or inspiration from God in working out the messy and unbounded problems of making a contribution to their society through their work, perhaps in business, but frequently in a non-profit, the arts, or academia, living and raising families that will carry their values and aspirations forward. Most are too busy to blog, but an interesting source that many depend on is peers in the social networks on line. Almost always simply links to interesting idea sources, but once a trusted atheist acquires a following others feed links that are reposted for those interested. This source is obviously quite new. And used by Churches effectively to promote religion, but the secular world is using it effectively as well.

I am not sure how any of this might help us find common ground, as it appears to me that God solutions are necessarily static and conservative, and the atheist solutions fluid and nebulous. Uncertainty is part and parcel of an atheist life, as the only certainty is death. Living in a way to justify having lived is an important issue for most atheists. God won't help.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On a Life Worth Dying For.

Is Theism Simply Born And Persist Due To The Fear of Facing Reality? - Beliefnet

Accepting the reality and finality of death, does not lead at all to fear of dying today or any day. When the time comes that the mind and body cannot maintain their integrity they will cease to function. In the mean time there are many things that a person needs to do to affect the society of which hesh is a part to make that society more human friendly. Some of those things will have lasting effects, some perhaps will have none, but all are important reasons for living today, and as long as one can affect others in the society.

Death might well be described as a condition when affecting others is no longer possible. It is nothing to fear, if one has affected others properly they will carry on the task of making society a better place for humans, and life in the larger sense goes on, even though the no longer useful individual is not a part of it.

Today I can see people I have affected taking the society to places I cannot conceive, but which I approve of. Whether I die today or some day in the future I am content. But I am not finished affecting others in my society. So until the time comes when I can no longer do so I will continue to live my life so that it is worth dying for. Thanks, Forrest Church.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Meaning, Purpose and the Afterlife

Is This Life All There Is?. - Beliefnet

the meaning will vanish. the very moment the person dies. it will be as if they had never been on this earth because:

Ain't no because. This is just flat wrong morally, factually, spiritually, and in the words of Fler0002

It sounds] like a plan that not only creates fears of what happens after death, but also creates in humanity fears of each other. Fears of any tolerance for anything other than what is sanctified by the church. Fears that turn into hatreds. Fears that turn into witch hunts. Fears that turn into jihads, crusades, and terrorism.

1. they will have no awareness of having been on earth.

They will have been acutely aware of living, knowing each day that they are making differences in the lives of others. Major or minor, each difference reinforces their membership in that great and dominant species of humanity, which exists for the purpose of making a difference in the lives of other humans and indeed many other species on the planet. <

2. all people who ever knew them will eventually depart earth, leaving no one behind to 'speak good things about them.'

So what? Those people if they did their job as a human being well and influenced them properly and effectively will have continued their Legacy and built on all that is worth while in that legacy. They don't need to be remembered by name although some will be. But 'There is no limit to what you can accomplish if it doesn't matter who gets the credit.' Ralph Waldo Emerson, d. April 27, 1882. I am relatively certain that he did not consider this quote one of his major contributions to humanity. In fact it was buried until Truman resurrected it, or reinvented it. But please note that all the people who knew Emerson are now departed from the earth. But others who never knew him are still speaking good things about him.

meaning... getting up and going to work, does exist, albeit temporarily. so long as one does NOT contemplate purpose, ie why do I / everything exist.

the moment one assigns zero value to purpose, they run the risk of waking up to the fact that any answer they may have assigned to meaning...becomes worthless in the end.

Only a theist can assign zero value to purpose. If purpose comes from a non-existent or at least numinous and indefinable God it is no surprise believers assign zero value to the purpose of being human.

My purpose in life is far from zero. It is to make as much difference in the lives of other humans and others dependent on humans as possible. I am extremely careful to insure that the differences I am making are good for the individual and for the society of which I am a part. I may not always succeed, but I can normally repair the damage, and part of my purpose as a human is to do whatever it takes to do so.

and many people spend hurrendous amounts of energy trying NOT to have to admit this to themselves out of fear there is no value to anything.

They are called believers in the afterlife.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What is Meaning?

Is This Life All There Is?. - Beliefnet

I have never been able to figure out what 'Meaning in Life' means to a Christian although it seems to be some desirable mystical attribute provided by God. One of those undefined 'Good things' that comes from God. Perhaps one of our Christian visitors can help.

I have appropriated the term, to describe those things that I do each day that make life better for those that are important to me including myself. Random acts of kindness, paying attention to a particularly nice piece of music on the stream in the background and commenting on it if appropriate to another who might appreciate it or to the performer if it was a live performance. Simply sharing the things big and little that make life worth getting out of bed for each morning for.

Meaning is not provided by anyone or anything, but is created by living intentionally with conscious intent to improve the overall welfare of whatever one considers to be one's tribe or Social Support Group. The importance of any specific act does not determine or create meaning, a simple 'Good job' to a deserving friend is essentially equivalent to an earthshaking policy speech. We can't expect all acts to be earthshakers, but we all can make life better for those around us. Therein lies meaning in life.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A World Without Religion

Is religion is a "mind rotting" disease? - Beliefnet

Atheism is not an answer for the mind rot of religion. If there were no theists there would be no atheists. Atheism is simply one solution to life without God. If the mind rotting religions of faith and salvation were somehow eliminated you would probably find much the same things you see now. People gathering in social settings for conversation, perhaps some music, many might choose something resembling a religion without the mind rot of imposed belief. As someone else pointed out a 'high' UU church has all the ritual, music, stories from the pulpit, of a traditional religion without the requirement for a specific belief. Arguing with the minister is a strong tradition in most UU churches. I suspect that many of the traditional religions to survive will adopt a similar strategy. Listen to the stories of Jesus, discuss them. What can they tell you about getting what you can from the life you know about, the one with the fancy bookends of birth and death.

Meaning and purpose must be found in this life, and traditional stories might help. But don't count on anything unusual happening at death.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Solving Existential Nihilism


Welcome to existential nihilism. You must solve this problem for yourself or you will fall prey to the first religion that provides the response that Unitarian Universalist minister Forrest Church noted that religion is: quite simply, "our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die."

Hint: on the wall of my shower I have the fossil of an invertebrate fossilized ~half a billion years ago. It ingested and excreted and died. Probably reproduced but we can't know that. Once you can explain that creature's contribution to a child's sand castle you can possibly be immune to the attraction of God. Otherwise enjoy the pie in the sky after you die. It will help you get through the day.

I have found the unique solution that works for me to avoid the trap of existential nihilism. It may not work for all others, but in fact others have found my solution useful in avoiding that trap without resorting to Pascal's wager. But it is not "the solution" to how to live life. It may not even be the best solution to how to live life. But for someone with my training and background or a similar background it may help them avoid existential nihilism and Pascal's wager assuming they find neither useful to live life.

No matter, if everyone in my tribe of educated rational humans finds meaning in doing whatever they can to improve the lives of all those in their chosen tribe that they can and improve their own lives in a way that others look to them for help, comfort, love and inspiration, the world would become a much better place in spite of the nihilists and the fundamentalists total lack of contribution to the welfare of the human tribe.

How much each achieves is really irrelevant. Some will be able to do more than others, some will be in the right place at the right time to make a huge difference in someone's life that will enable that person to go on to be a major player in the community. But like the invertebrates on my shower wall, by surviving they provide the foundation for something better than they are.

Objectively it might be better for the human race if all existential nihilists chose the Glock solution to their problem and those who chose to bet on Pascal spent their entire life on their knees begging for salvation. I am convinced that neither is better for the human race, or for the universe, than some solution that avoids both. Objectively it might well be better for the universe or at least the earth if no humans existed. I don't buy that argument but I cannot prove it wrong, objectively or subjectively.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Science of Meaning.

The Rosetta Stone, information is material, meaning is not - Beliefnet:

I will admit that in the limited world of the study of consciousness there are no tools for studying emergent properties of the working of the brain. And by the way I am not arguing the mind is an immaterial thing, it is an overlay on the brain and depends on a working brain for its existence. But until your scholars of consciousness can provide a reasonable ontological link between brain action and self, other, and fiction, and reliably distinguish between them as a child of 7 or 8 does quite reliably and naturally, we are in the realm of metaphysics not science.

Perhaps self generated dualism is the best way to think about the relationship between the brain and the mind. It is true that the mind "app" can be reduced to material actions of neuron activity, just as any app can be reduced to the the material changes in the state of silicon switches. But the meaning of the app is not found in the relationship of silicon switches, it is found in the usefulness of the app to the mind "app" using it for whatever useful or useless thing the mind finds to do with the app.

The meaning of Facebook is not found in the material state of some server farm somewhere, it is found in the way real people can use it to stay connected to people who they may have no material connection with. I have never met in person several friends on Facebook, due to geographic limitations, but I would have no qualms about sharing an extended visit with any of them. Indeed, I have done so on a couple of occasions. (I will admit to be very selective in my friends list.)

Similarly the meaningful connection between you and me is not found in the state of the switches at the Silicon Valley and the Minneapolis ends of the fiber optic network, it is the way each of our minds works with the data represented by the states of those switches. Please note that the state of our brains is no more relevant than the state of those switches.

I don't think scientists can think about the issues of mind and meaning as scientists. They just don't have the scientific tools.

I can't prove, but suspect, that the brain processes the information about self, other in the real sense of a known other real person, and a fictional character like God made, after all, in the image of self in much the same way neurologically. All have faces, bodies, emotions, needs, likes, dislikes, etc, that I suspect are processed in the same brain spaces dedicated to tracking those things. But somehow a healthy rational mind can keep the differences sorted out correctly and is able to process information derived from each stored source in an appropriate manner. I am skeptical that the scientists will ever be able to distinguish the stored information about, for example God in a believer, from the stored information about self. Yet the mind does this quite reliably most of the time. Although some of the people posting here make one wonder about how reliable the mind is in this function.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Joy and Wisdom, and Purpose.

Joy and Wisdom? - Beliefnet:

"As I never had the problem of living with God myths and life after death worries, I discovered both joy and wisdom around 2 when every 'Why?' was met with an answer or a 'Lets find out!' I have never stopped asking 'Why?' and having to take charge of finding out for myself has provided a never ending source of joy, wonder, spirituality (the reward mechanism in the mind for special discoveries) and I trust wisdom. The fact that I have a limited time to do it all, just makes it more exciting and challenging.

The other source of joy and wisdom is the intelligent, educated society that I have chosen as my own personal 'village.' Every time am able to help make that village a little better, by helping new people find their way in it, or by teaching which is the best way to wisdom, I find not only joy but meaning and purpose in the finite life that was nurtured by my parents.

Gods and other fictions are great sources of wisdom, a compelling story is the best way to learn, but it is important to remember that the weaknesses of the protagonist whether called God, or Gandalf, or Batman, are as important as their strengths, as they all are all of us writ large."

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Significance of Humans

Atheism is life-affirming - Beliefnet

If with respect to the human race, then the importance and value of what I do in my life are insignificant unless the human race is somehow significant.

"The human race is the result of countless generations of living organisms that succeeded in staying alive long enough to reproduce. The human race is the currently most successful step in that process. After 3+ billion years or so I would suggest that the step is not insignificant.

If in some small or big way in my life I can contribute to helping my fellow humans not only stay alive but want to do so and enjoy the process while they are alive, then I share in the significance of that step in the process. In a real sense I am a significant step in that 3+BY process. Probably a very small one, but a step nonetheless.

I don't need to inflate my ego by thinking some infinite God gives a shit about me. Available evidence indicates that in the unlikely event that God exists, Hesh is as blind, pitiless and indifferent to me as is the universe. This bothers me not a whit. If I have made a difference in someone's life and been a good role model in doing so I am content. I have done my part to make my tiny step useful."

Infinite Ripples

Atheism is life-affirming - Beliefnet

If with respect to me, and my death is extinction, then the importance and value vanish with my death.

"If you have interacted with another human favorably in the course of your life, that is made that person's life on this earth a little more comfortable or pleasant, and that person 'Pays it Forward' in Heinlein's words, the ripple is potentially infinite. I would rather bet on that infinity than some God rescuing some part of me to endure in some wonderful place somewhen if I have said the right prayers and chosen the right God.

Jesus while he was human said 'Love your neighbor [the Samaritan] as yourself.' His disciples and perhaps even the scribe that asked the question paid it forward and today one could argue that it makes Jesus immortal whether or not you believe the God myth.

Not all of us can have that big an impact, but if we can make the world just a little better for those around us, I think we have paid our dues for being alive and our importance and value will survive."

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Accountable to Everything

Individual or Collective Accountability - Beliefnet

The notion is this, or at least this is my interpretation of it. Consider your dependence on the community around you. Include your parents and their parents. Include other human beings ... not just immediate acquaintances, but those who provide services, grow food, print Bibles, whatever. Include all the organisms essential for making sure you have oxygen, clean water, agricultural products, building materials, and so on. Okay ... you are not an independent being. You are an extension of all that came before you, all that surrounds you, and all that will follow you. So, basically, if you harm anyone or anything, you harm yourself. This is where morality and ethics come from. Murder someone, you are murdering yourself. Steal from someone, you steal from yourself. Pollute the water, you are polluting yourself. Cut down a healthy tree for frivolous reasons, you cut down yourself for frivolous reasons. I think you get the picture. Morality and ethics—the sort the vast majority of people agree are 'good' practices—emerge from recognition that we are all interdependent ... all as in not only humans, but all living organisms. And it does not require a god, God, or anything beyond the observable natural world. In a nutshell, WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO OURSELVES, WHICH HAPPENS TO BE EVERYTHING.

Relevant to Belonging to Life