Mucha Man wrote:
The was there not to mock you but as a good-natured poke. Come on man, you think people who believe in an unproven god are wrong yet you feel not the slightest need to defend your beliefs. That's funny and I certainly thought you would see the irony and not be offended.
Really, the following statement bothers me a lot more, I don't think the poke would have bothered me otherwise:
Mucha Man wrote:
If you say that the meaning if purely in your head and purely a product of evolution and has no meaning outside that, then I say you are not being honest.
That is what I am saying, and I am being honest.
Going back to the first statement, there's nothing for me to defend. We're here, that is clear. We can feel love, and enjoy the many things you listed above, and feel pain etc of course. I can't imagine you would disagree with any of that. If someone wants to make some claim beyond that, then defending it is their job
Mucha Man wrote:zyzzx wrote:Ok, I'm a little behind in the discussion, but this line of reasoning comes across as just a little arrogant. What in the world does a belief in god have to do with understanding love, or one's ability to find meaning in life? Who are you (or theists in general) to tell me what brings meaning to my life? Nobody knows what another person feels, or what life means to them. If anything, you are confirming that religion is more of a crutch to those searching for meaning - oh, my life has meaning because god made me.
Personally, I don't feel that I have any particular "specialness", other than the fact that I am a unique individual - both physically/genetically and in the sum of my experiences. How else would my existence be "special"? And why is feeling like it is some requirement for living a happy meaningful life?
I certainly believe that there are things that we don't or can't yet understand, but I think that we will understand them someday. We are still learning so many things about ourselves and the universe, things that would have been completely inexplicable or unknowable 100 or 200 years ago. Just because science can't explain something now doesn't mean that it never will. And I base that not on a 'belief' in science, but on an extrapolation of the evidence.
No arrogance in my post, especially considering I am not a theist. I am asking people to consider that we all believe ourselves special (or experience ourselves as special), and yes, you do too, and what does this mean if we truly adhere to a scientific explanation of our existence? I contend that we can't go around in our daily life believing we are merely a random collection of atoms affected by the processes of evolution. We just can't. We go around living and loving as if there is some higher or deeper meaning to our feelings and actions. Else why do them?
So my question, and it's as much to myself as anyone, is what does this mean? In my opinion, religious people tackle this question of value and meaning, whereas most atheists do not. I contend that atheism allows us to act as meaning somnambulists, walking through life with massive contradictions going on inside between what we believe explains ourselves, and what we truly experience about ourselves.
I agree with zyzzx here. Lest anyone misunderstand, I don't see myself as any more special than anyone else. However, nothing could be more special to me than my existence and everything that goes with it. For a start, the odds for my life even to happen were infinitesimal. Personally, I think the best measure of respect for it is to enjoy it, morally of course. It is what it is. Anything beyond that is speculation. That there is no higher or deeper meaning doesn't bother me. I don't see the need to ask such questions, but respect that you do.
Mucha Man wrote:First off, consider the contempt we may have for people who believe in God. Where does this come from? Consider that if we are all truly only a product of evolutionary forces then the capacity to believe in the supernatural is as much a part of our makeup as a capacity to love and to experience aesthetic pleasure. Now as we know, training in art improves ones capacity to appreciate art and derive pleasure from it, and by all accounts, religious training has the effect of making one more attune to spiritual experience.
So why have contempt for the person who pursues religion and not the person who pursues art? If both are literally in our own minds, they are both equally deserving of dismissal or acceptance. And yet, almost all the atheists on this thread have pointed to art, music, etc, as important values in their lives. News flash. Art is an abstraction. There is no such thing as art.
I don't have such contempt, personally.
There is also no such thing as friendship, no such thing as love, no such thing as self-respect and dignity, at least in the concrete, as we demand a theist God must exist in the concrete (ie provable by direct observation). Yet these are "things" most people hold as truly existing and worth pursuing. Where is the reality in these "things", in these values, and where is the value in these values for those with a purely rational-scientific view of existence?
I don't think your comparison between such feelings and a theist God is an apt one. My friendships and love, for example, exist; I say that with the same level of confidence that I say the earth exists. One can not say that a God exists with the same confidence, in my opinion. I do understand that many people say the feeling that God exists is as strong as human love or friendship. However, I'm not saying that there is some entity of "love" or "friendship" except as it exists as feelings between people, in the way people say God is a distinct entity. I'll also note that feelings of love and friendship are nearly universal, am I right in saying people lacking them would be classified as psychopathic? While many report the feeling of an existence of God, it's nowhere near as universal of a feeling. I don't mean for any of this to deny the validity of those feelings on a personal level for those who have them. By the way, our mammalian relatives also are not strangers to feelings of love or friendship either.