11/17/2007                                                                                       View Comments

LIFE?

By Scott

Calling all atheists, agnostics, religious people, Christians, Hindus, Islam, Buddhists, Jewish, secular or religious, Wiccans, spiritualists, near death experiencers, philosophers, artists or poets -- what is the meaning of life? I know, I know, the most important and colossal issue of are time and throughout history. But wait before you answer, I need to throw a wrench into the works. My ten year old son Connor died from a heart attack related to leukemia. See my testimonial: Where are you, God?

When we were in the intensive care unit at Children's Hospital we were thrust into a chamber of horrors. Our son was unconscious, hooked up to every machine imaginable and the only thing that was more nightmarish was seeing the horror, in the face of my wife, when my son coughed up blood before he was admitted to intensive care. The Doctor told us that my son's heart rate and breathing were that of a marathon runner, running consecutive marathons. Walking through a children's intensive care ward is a horror show beyond comparison. No horror movie or Halloween, haunted house could ever come close. My wife and I walked by so many children from babies to teens, tethered to machines, that to our eyes looked of medieval torture devices. The week my son was in intensive care they shut the ward down twice to perform open heart surgery on a three month old. Later we would learn that baby did not make it nor did the baby of a couple we befriended in the waiting room who we would eventually see at our monthly meetings at Compassionate Friends. And remember the horror I saw in my wife's face, that horror was plastered in the woebegone eyes of everyone in the waiting room, an observation that made me realize I was wearing the same face.

With this information, my son dying at ten years old and he only represents any child in the world who has died and any baby who was born to die -- What possible meaning can we assign to life; these children didn't even get a chance to experience life, What purpose or meaning to life could there possibly be when children lives are cut so short?

52 comments:

MothandRust said...

If a god was to create living humans beings capable of love, empathy, warmth and compassion, and then put them in situations such as yours - to see a beloved child die - such a god would be vile.

I'm glad there's no god. What a horrific thought it is to imagine a governing 'loving' being ignore its creation.

The meaning of life is to hopefully come to a point where we stop looking for meaning and make it as comfortable and secure as we can for one another... without the cruel passive fairytale god.

Anonymous said...

The meaning of life, according to this atheist, is each other. We have to love each other, because we only have each other. Religious comfort is always cold comfort... my mother, who is a devout (but not fundie) Christian and suffered personal tragedied as both a mother and a daughter hardly drew any comfort from the religious phrases offered her.

I am sorry about your son. I cannot even imagine what it must feel like. I wish you all the strength to make it through.

I am sorry. That is cold comfort, too...

-Leonard

SpaceMonk said...

I usually say the purpose of life is just to 'experience'.
These children have some form of that, though not much.

I also think about reincarnation, that then such small experiences would add up ...which also is cold comfort.

Harlequin said...

The meaning of life is what we give it. If, before the horror overcame you all, you had good times, a few memories that, in the darkest times, you remember with pleasure, then, perhaps, that is meaning 'enough'.

In the end, all we have is each other as we float alone in a night sea. The religionist think that rescue is 'coming' or that the ones who drift away into distance and darkness go to a 'better place'. IF that gives them 'something' more power to them. To me, the idea that we drift with some 'purpose' beyond what we make of out time is a one way trip to insanity.

And, having ridden a pretty dark trail of my own, those words are the best I can give and they all mean stuff all. Sorry.

Gramps

Anonymous said...

The meaning of life is...42.
Seriously though, sorry about your son.

slingshot said...

Logic would dictate, it seems to me, that, if there is a "God" and a "purpose" to our existence, then that purpose would be to learn, grow and change exactly as we do as we go through life.

We'll find out after we die, if there is an afterlife.

We should enjoy ourselves, and the company of others, really.

Someone wisely once said, "what a wonderful life I've had. I only wish I'd realized it sooner!"

I'm sorry to hear about your son. That must be a very dificult thing to go through. Talking about it with others as you've been doing would be the best thing to do, I would think.

liniasmax said...

I'm so sorry about your son. I just sent something to Webmaster that touched on this very subject, before reading your post. Right now, in the state I'm in - the meaning of life is to love others - really - like tangibly. Other than that I'm not sure there is an objective meaning to life - like the Porpoise Driven Life or whatever. I see lots of joy and lots of pain - navigating all that seems to give purpose and meaning. I'm not post-modern enough to say whatever meaning you decide is the true meaning - each day supplies meaning - I'm at a loss beyond that... Max

liniasmax said...

You know - I'm not so sure each day supplies meaning...

sconnor said...

Come on guys, you are not getting the context of what was intended.
You said,
The meaning of life, according to this atheist, is each other. We have to love each other, because we only have each other.

How does a three month old who dies, love someone? what is the meaning to their life?

You said,
I usually say the purpose of life is just to 'experience'.
These children have some form of that, though not much.

What about children born to die? Young infants? They have no experience. My son's experience was so limited, compared to someone living a long life; it seems to suggest that his limited experience wasn't enough to encapsulate any meaning.

You said,
I also think about reincarnation, that then such small experiences would add up

Reincarnation -- supposition and conjecture.


You said,
The meaning of life is what we give it. If, before the horror overcame you all, you had good times, a few memories that, in the darkest times, you remember with pleasure, then, perhaps, that is meaning 'enough'.

You are not seeing the big picture. What about the millions of babies that have died? Babies and young children did not have any time to formulate memories.Did Connor even have the forethought of "GIVING IT" before he died? No, he just existed day to day as a ten year old -- video games, Spiderman, pizza, and legos.

You said,
Logic would dictate, it seems to me, that, if there is a "God" and a "purpose" to our existence, then that purpose would be to learn, grow and change exactly as we do as we go through life.
We should enjoy ourselves, and the company of others, really.

Children and infants that have died did not recieve that luxury.(learning and growing)
Come on people, rack your brains a little more! You are missing the point. It's not about me and how I deal with life and loss, It's about these children who did not even get a chance at life, if we can't ascertain a meaning for their lives then there is no meaning to ours. More effort please.I guess I might be expecting too much. Try harder --Thanks.

Thomas said...

I can relate to this question as my second son died the day after he was due to be born. He was scheduled to be born by c-section on the Friday, but they changed it for admin reasons to the Monday and he died on Saturday. If they had not changed the surgery schedule he would be alive. So what on earth was the meaning of his life and unnecessary death?

One thing it meant was I had to face up to the fact my life was based around a wrong and untrue belief system. The problem of God and sufferring is suddenly real at the graveside of your son. It made me realise that everything does not work together for good. The reality is s**t happens and nothing good came from the fact that James is lying in a cemetery. He is dead and my marriage and other children have sufferred.

I see trying to find something good or meaningful in the death of my son as something I just don't need to do now I am not a Christian. I hate what happened, I'll never get over it. It is just a brute fact that burying your son is the worst thing that can happen, but to some of us it does.

I can't imagine how much worse it would be to lose a 10 year old, and you have my best wishes as you walk the long road of grief, I hope towards eventually at least a little peace and healing.

resonate11 said...

I don't understand the meaning of the question, "What is the meaning of life?"

Are people who ask this question asking, "What is the purpose of human life?"

The only way this form of the question could have meaning is if there was/is some kind of creator being who had/has a purpose either for humanity as a conglomerate or for each individual human. But the only way we could know what this creator's purpose was/is would be if he/she/it told us. And, despite the claims of revelatory religions, no creator has revealed a world wide general purpose. Certainly, no purpose for individual lives is manifest.

Are they asking, "Why is there human life? That is, how is it that life came to exist?"

Currently, we don't understand abiogenesis. But we will figure it out if we give ourselves enough time. And once there is life, so-called higher forms of life will evolve if the conditions promote it.

Most of humanity's advancements, particularly medical gains, have come at the expense of human pain and, frequently, human death. Usually, lots and lots of people have to suffer before we develop the will and the knowledge necessary to combat the cause of their suffering.

So one could argue that, metaphorically, the purpose of leukemia is to force humanity to learn what we need to know to eradicate it and, by extension, sufficiently similar diseases. All of leukemia's victims are sacrifices to the god of knowledge.

But I am not arguing that. I simply do not understand the presupposition that there is a meaning to/in/of life.

liniasmax said...

The question is too loaded and has no answer - a lot of us are works in progress, and our answers will vary hour to hour. I have no answers. Life is life. Why is there life? The only thing that seems clear is that death would be a lot easier if there was no life. And no, I'm not making light of the question or the saddening circumstances that bred it. I don't why I'm 43 and some time in the last few minutes a newborn has died. Sure seems meaningless...

AtheistToothFairy said...

sconnor said:
"It's about these children who did not even get a chance at life, if we can't ascertain a meaning for their lives then there is no meaning to ours"
----
Sconner,
Oh, that age-old question of what is "life's meaning".

There have been so many attempted answers to this question over the eons, for pretty much the same reasons that death and a possible 'afterlife' have had answers invented for them.
Such things are mysteries with no real answers to be found, so humans will forever try and solve these puzzles, as we hate such uncertainties.

If one has some afterlife belief, then one might tie the meaning of life into that afterlife belief, where the things we do while alive would impact our eternal existence in another form.
Ahhh, but if there is no afterlife of any kind and we all cease to exists when we die, never to live in any form again, then obviously any meaning of life would only affect our human one-time existence on earth.
If there is no god, no afterlife, then this one time existence is all-there-is.

If that is the case, then we are born and die the same way any other life form on this earth, is born, and dies.
All species of life on this earth, from simple ameba's right up to complex humans, have amongst their population the one's who die early and the one's who live longer than the norm. Humans are just no different than any other species in this regard. Some die before being born, some die shortly thereafter, some die in childhood and some live to be 100.
It has everything to do with genetics, health, and pure chance and surely has nothing to do with some great supernatural controlling power; god.

I think the meaning of life is not some attainable homogenous concept at all, but a very personal one instead.
We each decide what our lives will be about, at least as much as we can control that.
An infant or young child wouldn't be pondering such a complex question, for their lives are about growing and learning basic skills to survive.

A baby or child dies for the same reason that any of us will die, alas, it feels very unfair to us because we know this is outside the normal human life expectancy we all hope for ourselves, and those we care about.

If we all lived to a ripe old age of 800 years, then we'd feel the same about anyone who died at age 75, but because we only live to around 75 years of age, then we don't see things as being short-changed when someone dies near that age.

We also understand that a baby or child is innocent and shouldn't have to deal with issues that normally affect grown adults, who are better equipped to handle life's adversities.
If there is some 'meaning' to a child being born and dying prematurely, then it would have to be the influence they had upon those who knew them, while they were alive.

I would say humans want to believe there is some great meaning to life; that each of us is a part of, but without the god that some have the need to invent, then life is what it is and what we leave behind exists in the memories of the folks who knew us; along with any ideas we managed to pass along, as well as any material things we created while alive.

Beyond these things, I don't see why there would be any global meaning to life, where all humans are connected together and some obscure life-meaning exists for us to discover.


ATF (who thinks that life is a random series of events; some good, some bad)

Ellytoad said...

The meaning of life is that we just happen to exist. The universe came into being, life grew out of the mire of what composed this planet during its formation, and we're living the results. That's all. The fact that we evolved intelligent brains is a convenient aftereffect.

Sorry about your son.

SpaceMonk said...

Hmm, okay Sconnor.
You sound like you know your answer and are wanting us to confirm it for you?
Or you want us to do all your thinking for you?

Maybe the meaning of life is to suffer?
Thus a 3 month old has had a full life as long as it has suffered a lifetimes worth.

Telmi said...

MothandRust,

"The meaning of life is to hopefully come to a point where we stop looking for meaning and make it as comfortable and secure as we can for one another... without the cruel passive fairytale god."

That to me is wisdom. Well said.

HellsBells said...

I sometimes wonder whether the reason we ask for the meaning of life is because we've grown up in a society that expects there to be one. I would imagine that the rest of the animal kingdom never asks that question. Isn't life just there to be lived, and often a struggle?

To all the Christians out there, doesn't Ecclesiastes 1:2 (your own holy, apparently divinely inspired writings) say "Utterly meaningless, everything is meaningless"? No ifs, no buts...

To lose your son must be very hard indeed. I hope that you can start to adjust, but I know of many fathers who never did.

Bill said...

I am saddened by your son's death. I was a Christian once, now I am an atheist. I just no longer believe in any supernatural beings.

Life is tragic, of that I am sure. I find no comfort in any kind of meaning. I live and I will die. I try to make the best of it by surrounding myself with people I love and love me in return.

When people die, like your son, I will take the only comfort that I can in such a situation. I will remember all the times I loved them and gave of myself to make them feel good about themselves. I will remember how I was thoughtful and caring with each day of their life. I will remember how I apologized when I hurt them and I will remember how I made it up to them.

I can not image the emotions you and your wife must be feeling. I can't imagine the sight of seeing my son cough up blood. I can't imagine the helplessness you must have felt. I wish there was something I could do.

Love

Bill

Spirula said...

then we are born and die the same way any other life form on this earth, is born, and dies.
All species of life on this earth, from simple ameba's right up to complex humans, have amongst their population the one's who die early and the one's who live longer than the norm. Humans are just no different than any other species in this regard.


Well put.

This is something I think about a lot lately. I believe the downside to our level of consciousness and self-awareness is the ability to think about our own mortality, and the mortality of others. We know we will die. I am not sure any other animal has that same level of understanding.

(I am trying to avoid the presumption often accompanying humans assessments of what animals can or cannot feel. Mourning has been demonstrated in a variety of species from dogs to elephants.)

This realization by us, I believe, is a driving force behind much in spiritualism, religion and philosophy. And without a doubt has had major impacts in human events and actions (i.e. the drive behind people trying to "make a name for themselves").

What is the meaning of life? Do you ever wonder about that meaning for all the insects that get crushed into your car's grill? The bait you put on a hook? The roadkills you create or pass? The meat on your table? If it is a relevant question for us, it is relevant for all living things.

The answer, however, can only come from yourself.

AWLHEART said...

I'm truly sorry about your son. I've cried so many times reading both this post and your other post on this website.

I don't think life is meant to have a meaning. I think it's just what it is....We're born, no one knows how long we'll be alive, then we'll die. In a sense, being born is a gamble on how many years we'll be around. Disease or tragedy can kill us, or not. I know we have expectations of how many years we'll live, and of course the "norm" is to outlive our children, but that too is an expectation.

I wish there were words to heal your wounds. In my life I try to be thankful for any time I was able to spend with those I love, especially my daughter. I never got to meet the possible children I lost in miscarriage. How cruel life is to plant a child in your womb, feel that child, and then ::poof:: it's gone! Meaning? I doubt it.

I'm really glad your son had such loving parents while going through what he went through. He felt love all the way until he died. I often think about the children who are tortured and then killed and never felt love, or who died a brutal death in their kidnappers hands.

We live in a world of things that seem wrong and stuck with no way to fix it. It's not fair, but it is what it is. I really don't think there's a meaning to it all.

My heart goes out to you! Please keep your son alive in memories, but also move on with your life because I'm sure he loved you just as much as you love him and he would want nothing but the best for you.

Gia***<3

SEO said...

My dad is insanely preoccupied by death. It cracked his psyche. Oddly they were no great death tragedies in my dad’s childhood. There were ‘ordinary’ losses – older great uncles/aunts and beloved pets. (These hurt. They hurt a lot but these kinds of deaths happen to all of us. They suck but it’s different than loss of a loved one in violence or in his/her youth).

My dad was born to very young parents who had no business having a first child let alone a second. He was neglected and abused. In 1950, at the age of 6, he went to live with his paternal grandparents. They were loving folks but a little reserved. He came of age during a time when kids were seen not heard.

Through his early teens and twenties, my dad raised hell with the best of them. He drank and smoked and ran around with all of the other hooligans from the wrong side of the track. By the time he was thirty, he and my mom had had us 4 kids but he was still running about town like he was 19. He was smoking 2 packs of unfiltered Camels a day and was easily going through a half a case beer each night of the weekend.

The doctor finally told him that if he didn’t change his lifestyle he’d be dead by the time he was 35. This brought his mortality to forefront of his thinking. It was different from his previous oddly abstract fear of death. The next day he went cold turkey on both cigarettes and alcohol.

He wanted to live or so he said.

He’s spent the last 34 years wallowing in the fact the he is going to die. Someday, somehow, somewhere he is going to die. He’s 64 years old. There is no condition that he needs medication for (other than he’s a little tetched and could probably use some Zoloft). Otherwise his butt’s good, pee’er, lungs, heart – good. It’s a guarantee, that almost every time you speak to him, he will the biggest sigh with the most melancholy filled voice inform you that soon he will be dead.

I’m 39 and this is how I know my dad.

Through the last 10 years and through my extended family (separate from my dad), I’ve watched a my loved ones deal with 4 suicides, a heart attack, a murder, a car accident, and lung cancer.

My best friend had to deal with the car accident that kill her father and injured her mother 5 weeks before her wedding. During that first six months, she got up in the morning and she went through the motions. She later summed it up that sometimes in life something happens and your life is changed and it cannot be unchanged. There is line drawn and your life becomes something else. Something different. No going back. Just forward.

Bonnie misses her dad and wishes that her daughter would’ve had a chance to know her grandpa but what Clara does have is a Nana, a mom, a dad, an auntie (by blood), and two aunties (by love) who love her.

Clara’s life is different without a grandpa. It's different not better. And I hope she chases this life with relish and joy.

eylisha said...

I read about a 6 week old baby named anastasia who was tortured by her mother for the six weeks of her life before her mother finally killed her.
not only did her life have no meaning, she was born into a living hell and died knowing nothing else but suffering.
My point is it might be depressing to discover that life has no meaning but at least with your son you provided a loving life for him and it is very likely he would think it was worthwhile for all the good experiences he had in his ten years

MKULTRA said...

The greatest single question one can ask in their lifetime is that of what is the point/purpose to life. Unfortunately there is no answer. There is no irrefutable proof or evidence to answer that which we ask. Despite the vast range of circumstances we all face in a single instant of time, and then reflect afterward about what the point of that was or what the point of anything is, becomes only a dark flight into insanity. Whether we believe in a god or not, there are three questions that have plagued mankind from his beginning. Where did I come from, why am I here, and what is to become of me after my time here is spent. I can say that the only truth there is into these questions are that there are no concrete answers. Theories are speculations into things we discover along the way of life and then take our opinions of them and taint them with our idealogies. So basically I guess what I am saying is: nobody is right, nobody is wrong, and nobody truly knows for absolute certain about anything in this life. It is all pure conjecture of our tiny little brains take on things. For one person to say " I know this for sure." does not, what in actuality they are saying is " I believe this for sure." There is no knowing in this short lifespan we live, only believing. And what we believe is as personal and belligerent as anything. So I cannot offer an answer to the age old question except to do the one great thing we can only do until the day we for ourselves have resolved the questions in life...Forget everything you have ever been told, you don't know what is the truth and what is a lie. How many times have you already changed your mind and stances on things since you were a child. If you don't constantly question everyone and everything to see what truth there lies within then what point is their for one to have reason, intellect, and wisdom if you don't use it? Point being, listen to all points of view, but remember you will never know the whole truth to anything, that is why nobody knows for sure about anything, they can only believe.

Astreja said...

MKULTRA, I respectfully disagree regarding the "greatest single question". Questions are merely tools that may or may not lead to useful answers.

"I can say that the only truth there is into these questions are that there are no concrete answers."

Agree with you here.

"So basically I guess what I am saying is: nobody is right, nobody is wrong, and nobody truly knows for absolute certain about anything in this life."

As true as this may (or may not) be, this isn't a particularly useful position to take. At some point, in order to establish a consistent and functional world view, it becomes necessary to put aside the allure of unattainable "absolute" truths in favour of relative and incomplete ones. Finite mind, finite knowledge... They work. No problem.

TimothyTang said...

Hi, my name is Timothy Tang and I have just completed the book, "Real answers to The Meaning of Life and finding Happiness".

Many people feel that the interpretation to The Meaning of Life question is too subjective to have any definite objective answer but I have managed to formulate a real and objective answer to the ultimate question of human existence.

I have made a blog that introduces the book. Do check it out.

http://ultimatemeaningoflife.blogspot.com

boomSLANG said...

Taken from the aforementioned blog:

Some[people] even feel that life or human existence has no real meaning or purpose because they think that human existence occured out of a random chance in nature, and that anything that exists by chance has no intended purpose.

With all due respect, I think you've either inadvertently misworded that statement, or else, you've got it completely backwards if that was your intended meaning. In my observation, it's the people who believe in a "Divine" authority, or Universal "Creator"---in other words, it's Theists who believe that there'd be no "purpose" or "meaning" to life...if life was, as you noted, "random chance".

BTW, most proponents of naturalism recognize that the word "selection", as in, "natural selection", doesn't mean "random" or "chance". In fact, random-selection is an oxymoron.....kind of like, "work-party".

boomSLANG said...
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boomSLANG said...

MKULTRA, you erroneously conclude that because we remain ignorant to many of the questions we may have; that because certain 'unknowns' will remain unknown unless/until we can falsify them, then ALL conceivable attempts at answering these questions are equally plausible. 'Not so. For instance, concerning our origins, we don't "know", with absolute certainty, that invisible pixies didn't create human beings in a test tube somewhere on a distant planet, and then transplant us here on Earth. Now, while we remain ignorant on the matter.... is that hypothesis plausible just because it's "possible"? Must we hold and consider that hypothesis in some high regard, simply because we cannot "prove" it false?...simply because we don't have a "concrete" answer? I think not.

MKULTRA said...

Astreja, the only way we can derive a true functional world view albeit there are thousands of world views to choose from in the United States alone is to ultimately realize one view does not appease the masses. I say, respect all views, believe however you choose, and lets get on with our day not arguing and debating how we think "our" way in which we perceive life is the one and only right one. We can argue these points until the day we day die, change our positions several times in the meantime, and in the end what does it profit us? I guess I am simply saying to those who believe in something continue to do so but responsibly and respectfully, don't say you are right or more right than the other because all in all no one really knows. To one who thinks or believes one way they are right to themselves, to another another way of thinking and believing to which they think and believe they are right, I respect that. Why can't we all go on this way without the pity arguements that avail little but wasted time. The greatest freedom we have is to think for ourselves, let's not ruin it for others just because we think our head is a little bit bigger than the next persons. Can we not all agree to disagree with certain things in life without turning it into a Jerry Springer episode?

MKULTRA said...

Boomslang, I will tell you honestly that what most people would revere as highly intelligent and highly educated people have come up with some theories not so far from the whole invisible pixies transplanting us here on earth thing. So basically no, I don't think anyones "hypothesis" on the origins of life to be any more stupid than the others. And who are we to judge what one deems as acceptable beliefs. One person may think your belief of unanswerable questions to be as erroneous as you think theirs is. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is the know it all that can say with an iron fist one is more plausible than the other? I have seen more people interpret evidences and scientific discoveries in the most bizzare and strange ways and then come up with mind boggling stories trying to explain and interpret these findings that I have ultimately realized that who am I to say they are right or wrong since no one really knows anyways. They are free to believe how they ought, I respect that so long as they respect any others perception of things. How many great scientists have come under ridicule when they come up with discoveries that seem so different from the present day and age of thought, mind you they were ridiculed by other scientists and great thinkers of their day. But in the end who is the fool who ends up being right? The one who went against the current stream of thought. Let's not be those types of people. Choose for yourself what you truly believe, respect others beliefs, despite what we beleive we all have to live together anyways, can we not do so in a way that doesn't spark a wildfire of debates that have no one changing either sides opinions and beliefs in the end anyways. So why not just agree to disagree and get on with this short life we live.

boomSLANG said...
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boomSLANG said...
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boomSLANG said...

MKULTRA: boomslang, I will tell you honestly that what most people would revere as highly intelligent and highly educated people have come up with some theories not so far from the whole invisible pixies transplanting us here on earth thing.

Really? I'm intrigued. Please feel free to provide an instance of an equally fantastic(or more fantastic) theory for humankind's origins, and please provide references to this person's career/background/education, etc.

MKULTRA: So basically no, I don't think anyones "hypothesis" on the origins of life to be any more stupid than the others.

Notice that I didn't use the word "stupid"; I used the word plausible. Obviously, no one would regard their own belief as "stupid", 'else, they wouldn't hold such a belief to begin with(or, I would hope not!) So of course, "stupid" is subjective. To illustrate, some people might believe the current theory that the earth is round(spherical) in shape, to be a "stupid" theory(see "Flat Earth Society"). The point is, science doesn't seek to tell us what specific shape the earth is, in an absolute sense, anyway. This is because science doesn't deal in absolutes. Science is self-correcting, and thus, when the earth can be shown to be a shape other than what the evidence currently indicates, then science will make adjustments, accordingly.

MKULTRA: And who are we to judge what one deems as acceptable beliefs.

Let me know if you want to discuss "beliefs", or if you want to discuss "knowledge". They are two entirely different things. Until then---you used the word "acceptable". Again, "beliefs" are surely "acceptable" to those who hold them, or else, said believers would not hold such beliefs. So, no.....no one is saying that it's not acceptable for people to have the right to believe what they want to believe, however fantastic. But again, belief, and knowledge, are totally different. We would not allow a teacher to teach our children that the earth is geocentric, just because said teacher believes it to be true.....this, perhaps because the teacher read it in an ancient text?...::cough:

MKULTRA: One person may think your belief of unanswerable questions to be as erroneous as you think theirs is.

Good grief!.....if someone claims that my "belief" that ignorance exists is "erroneous", then that person is essentially implying that they/we are omniscient...i.e..that we know everything; that there are no unanswerable questions. Wouldn't that defeat the point of your whole original argument?

MKULTRA: Who is the know it all that can say with an iron fist one is more plausible than the other?

Again, no one said anything about a "know it all". Why?.. because again, that would be indicative of omniscience. Science doesn't claim to "know it all"---however, as a methodology, it is leaps and bounds more reliable than superstition, revelation, and "intuition", for determining a mind-independent reality.

So, in that context, I can say, with an "iron fist", that the belief that snakes, donkeys, and vegetation can speak the human language; that the belief that one can spend the night inside a whale's digestive tract and live to tell about it, is not plausible.

MKULTRA: They are free to believe how they ought, I respect that so long as they respect any others perception of things.

If someone has a "perception" of the world that doesn't have a referent in reality?.. then goody for them....that's their business--- that is, until/unless their personal beliefs become collective beliefs, and those collective beliefs affect my livelihood or my personal freedoms, in any way, shape, or form. Do you see anything unreasonable about that?

PS: If you respond, could you please use an ocassional paragraph break? Thanks.

Astreja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Astreja said...

MKULTRA: "Astreja, the only way we can derive a true functional world view..."

CUT! We do not need a 'true' functional world view, just a functional one.

"I say, respect all views..."

No. Some views are too hideous to be respected.

And tolerating things that we find hideous is not what this site is about.

MKULTRA said...

The whole point to what I have written before is this:
When I was younger I thought I "knew everything." I was ignorant, living in a "listen and believe only what I want to hear and believe" world. Now being older and having researched and listened with an open mind I have come to this conclusion for myself and am not trying to impose this thought on anyone, it is just my own little "Eureka!" There are absolutes in this world, donkeys and ogres can't talk. There are questionable theories that exist, where did life ultimately come from and why are we here on earth? Everyone has an opinion and reasons as to why they believe. Some seem to make more sense than others. But I for one realized looking back on my own life that all my arguing and debating never left one person changing their opinion on anything. It just increased our blood pressures. So I feel for my own little opinion on things to which I was expressing and not imposing on anyone was that no matter what I say to anyone, more times than not anyways, it doesn't make a difference. If one seeks my thought process' on views and opinions and why I think or believe certain things, I will express them. I will never say to anyone I am right or that my reasons and evidence hold more true than others over theories which have not been proven thus always under scrutiny until proven. I will not argue with anyone, it has little or no success for either parties in converting one side to the others view. It is only when one finds for themselves the answers through questioning their own beliefs that they will find for themsleves the answers to their questions. Many people may help along the way, but one who hammers their views into others only hurts their cause more than helps as far as I witnessed in my own life. Thus, I respect all who choose to question anything I have an opinion or belief on. I will express what I beleive if the other person has no intentions to ridicule or argue with me. That, I think is a waste of time. I will and always have had good meaningful conversations that have had both sides politely state their views and beliefs on matters which usually ends as both parties agreeing to disagree but at least we had open minds and found each others opinions insightful and helping us on our way to acheiving answers for ourselves. I will always say if a theory on something non absolute is proposed that it is possible and an interesting way to look at that hypothesis, but will not say it is wrong nor ridicule them for that. To all who think about more than themselves, respect all thoughts and opinions other than your own, they may be your thoughts and opinions also someday.

.:webmaster:. said...

MKULTRA,

I don't agree with you at all. Although the results of discussion and argument may not be instantaneous, many people do change their minds over time. It was argument and discussion that in the West ended the reign of kings and ushered in the institution of democratic forms of government. If everyone had just huddled meekly in their own little protected shell of not ever arguing, the world would still be filled with serfs and nobles.

Hardcore Christians that read these discussions are given something to think about. Those who are leaving Christianity are given something to think about. The majority of this site's audience -- those who read but refrains from commenting -- must be getting something of value out of the discussions, or they wouldn't log on.

So, I think if you don't like arguing, you should refrain from posting altogether. Because, as you see, you just started an argument.

boomSLANG said...

MKULTRA is back, and for some unknown reason, still refuses to use paragraph breaks, when all it takes is to hit the "Enter" button twice in a row at the end of a paragraph. Now, how tough does that sound?

MKULTRA....When I was younger I thought I "knew everything." I was ignorant, living in a "listen and believe only what I want to hear and believe" world. Now being older and having researched and listened with an open mind I have come to this conclusion for myself and am not trying to impose this thought on anyone, it is just my own little "Eureka!"

Tell me, have you "researched" one single thing(besides this blog) that is critical of your beliefs? Be honest. Further, you claim that you are "older" now... yet, that, of course, is completely relative. "Seventeen" is "older" than "nine", yes...and to be honest, the former age sounds about right, or there abouts, since you previously made the implication that every conceivable hypothesis is equally plausible.....or wait, are you recanting that statement, now? If you are recanting it, then you have certainly learned something here, which seems to refute your assertion that no one budges from their position from these discussions[paraphrased]. Another telling sign, is that you apparently aren't familiar with the "burden of proof".

MKULTRA....There are absolutes in this world, donkeys and ogres can't talk.

Yet, you cannot prove, in an absolute sense, that they cannot talk---which helps illustrate my point. Since we cannot "prove" that said things cannot speak, is it therefore reasonable to hypothesize that they can? No, of course not.

MKULTRA....There are questionable theories that exist, where did life ultimately come from and why are we here on earth?

The only honest answer, is that NO ONE knows where life "ultimately" came from. Until then, we shouldn't use emotions, and/or, "intuition", in the search for objective truth. Furthermore, we shouldn't set up the false dichotomy, that just because we may be here unintentionally, doesn't mean that our lives "have no purpose". Nonsense.

MKULTRA....I will never say to anyone I am right or that my reasons and evidence hold more true than others over theories which have not been proven thus always under scrutiny until proven.

and....

I will always say if a theory on something non absolute is proposed that it is possible and an interesting way to look at that hypothesis, but will not say it is wrong nor ridicule them for that

Once AGAIN----please educate yourself on the burden of proof. Furthermore, no, the "theory" that gravity/electromagnetism keeps the planets in orbit isn't scientifically proven, in an absolute sense. But, what if someone hypothesizes that the planets hang by invisible cables?..or that the whole universe sits upon a giant turtle's back? 'Can't really "disprove" those "theories", absolutely, can we?.....no, so are they therefore equally as plausible as what we currently know, via scientific discovery? No, of course not.

MKULTRA....To all who think about more than themselves...

You attack a strawman.

MKULTRA....respect all thoughts and opinions other than your own, they may be your thoughts and opinions also someday

NO. I will NOT "respect" self-induced ignorance, especially if that ignorance impedes the furtherment of humankind, and/or, infringes upon my rights.

anyakovi said...

Hello Scott

First of all, let me say how sorry I am to hear about your son. As someone who is neither married nor a parent, I cannot possibly begin to even imagine the pain and emotion you're going through. But I know someone who does (email me at anyakovi@yahoo.com).

Here is what I can offer you.

If you believe, as some do, that there's nothing more than the 80 years on average that we live on this earth, then it will be difficult to find a meaning to life beyond what has already been mentioned here which is essentially to love and be loved, and to experience all that life has to offer. In that context, 10 years does not feel like much of a chance to have experienced that meaning.

If, on the other hand, you believe, as other do, that there is infinitely more to 'life' than those average 80 years, then one can take a significantly different perspective on the purpose and meaning of our time on earth.

For example, one can say that 80 years is a drop in the ocean of eternal life, no more significant than 10 or 50. And that the meaning of life has more to do with what happens to a person outside of their time on earth, and how they influenced others in that time, rather than how long they lived.

In this context, the impact that your son has had on you and others he came into contact with gives his life meaning and the fact that you are even asking these questions is evidence of that meaning. Furthermore, no matter what anyone else says, there is nothing to say, your son is not living a better life free from the ravages of this earth that even your love, great as it was, could not protect him from.

In a world that is measured and governed primarily through the brain and its five senses, all this may seem like a load of BS.

But consider this. The fact that we cannot fully explain or measure love does not mean it doesn't exist - the pain you are feeling right now is confirmation of that. In the same way, the fact that we cannot explain or measure a world beyond our brain, 5 senses and average of 80 years on this earth, does not mean it doesn't exist.

So at the end of the day, everything boils down to this one question - what do you believe?

anyakovi.

AtheistToothFairy said...

anyakovi said:
In the same way, the fact that we cannot explain or measure a world beyond our brain, 5 senses and average of 80 years on this earth, does not mean it doesn't exist
---
Anyakovi,

If this is the only criteria needed anyakovi, then one can dream up ANY world beyond the 5 senses one wishes to, and then pretend it's reality.

While many such invisible esoteric worlds beyond this one can be dreamed up by the human mind, what value are they unless one has at least some basic sort of proof that such a special world exists?
One can delude oneself into believing any fantasy if one tries hard enough.
Alas, believing yourself that your fantasy world exists, doesn't add a thing to it's reality.

So anyakovi, while you personally may believe you will live on forever, in some world beyond our senses, unless you have some proof of this afterlife world, why on earth would you try and bring someone else into your unsupported fantasy world?


ATF (who wonders why these 'mystic' folks have to foster their own unsupported beliefs upon everyone else they run into)

.:webmaster:. said...

So, according to anyakovi, life on Earth, because it is short, is meaningless.

What a doofus.

If life has no meaning in 10 or 80 years, then life has no meaning in 100 million years. The meaning of life is not found in longevity, is it? Why would many years make life more meaningful? My life is plenty meaningful, and living with brain dead religionists for ever and ever and ever would be the most meaningless existence I could ever imagine.

Astreja said...

Anyakovi: "If you believe, as some do, that there's nothing more than the 80 years on average that we live on this earth, then it will be difficult to find a meaning to life..."

Actually, if you cannot find meaning in the current moment, you will not be able to find it in the infinite series of "current moments" in some hypothetical eternal future, either.

anyakovi said...

Dear ATF

Point well made.

In a world beyond the brain and 5 senses, "one can dream up ANY world [...] one wishes to, and then pretend it's reality."

But I would argue that, whilst they cannot measure or absolutely prove their loss or pain, Scott and his wife are neither dreaming it up nor 'pretending' it is real. I'm sure they would contend that it is very real.

So whilst I agree with you that in the absence of proof, "one can delude oneself into believing any fantasy if one tries hard enough.", I would also contend that people go through 'real' and life-changing experiences
(sad and joyful) that cannot be measured by our 5 senses, rationalised by our intellect, or confirmed with scientific proof.

Should such experiences be shared? I am not one to impose whatever views and beliefs I may hold upon others, but I do agree with .:webmaster that "if everyone ... just huddled meekly in their own little protected shell of not ever arguing..." we wouldn't get very far. Sharing one's beliefs, experience, thoughts, etc. does give others something to think about (assuming they are open to it).

We live in a world where, whether we like it or not, a significant part of our experiences occur outside our 5 senses and science's ability to explain. This world is governed not be facts and figures, but by fantasies, feelings and faith. The ultimate question therefore still remains, what do YOU believe?

Finally, whilst I find the debate on this site stimulating, my primary aim was, through the experiences of people I know who have found peace in the midst of personal tragedy, to offer Scott and his wife hope in their time of sadness (an aim I'm sure we all share).

anyakovi

.:webmaster:. said...

"I would also contend that people go through 'real' and life-changing experiences
(sad and joyful) that cannot be measured by our 5 senses, rationalised by our intellect, or confirmed with scientific proof."


Without your intellect, what experiences would you "go through," exactly? You need a brain to experience anything, including emotions. As far as scientifically "confirming" emotions, have you never been to a geriatric center and visited with the residents there? You'll see a wide range of bizarre emotions being prompted by the various stages of decline in random parts of elderly brains.

Sorry, but comparing magical fantasy to brain processes is weak. And offering a false hope to comfort bereaved parents is cruel.

boomSLANG said...

anyakovi...We live in a world where, whether we like it or not, a significant part of our experiences occur outside our 5 senses and science's ability to explain.

If you'd like, I'd be curious to know what your very last personal experience was that didn't require cognizance, and/or, a range of understanding of "feelings"---all of which are totally dependent upon the physical brain.

anyakovi...This world is governed not [by] facts and figures, but by fantasies, feelings and faith.

***Existence, as a first Principle, precedes "fantasies", "feelings", and "faith". Not one of the latter things alters a mind-independent reality.

anyakovi...The ultimate question therefore still remains, what do YOU believe?

See here***, for starters.

Aside from that, I "believe" that "faith" is a cop-out. Also, that meaning and purpose in life is not determined by duration of life. Does a person who lives your suggested "80 years" have more meaning in their life than someone whose life might be cut short at 30 years? Is a 6 hour movie better, or more "meaningful", than a 1 1/2 hour movie?

AtheistToothFairy said...

anyakovi wrote:

>Point well made.

Thanks (I think)


ATF:In a world beyond the brain and 5 senses, "one can dream up ANY world [...] one wishes to, and then pretend it's reality."
---
But I would argue that, whilst they cannot measure or absolutely prove their loss or pain, Scott and his wife are neither dreaming it up nor 'pretending' it is real. I'm sure they would contend that it is very real


I'm certainly not denying their pain here.
Just because they can FEEL the pain of their great loss, doesn't mean that pain itself is it's own separate world, apart of this world. The pain is part of their being, inside their minds.
So your point is what then?


>So whilst I agree with you that in the absence of proof, "one can delude oneself into believing any fantasy if one tries hard enough.", I would also contend that people go through 'real' and life-changing experiences
(sad and joyful) that cannot be measured by our 5 senses, rationalised by our intellect, or confirmed with scientific proof.

Again, you are speaking of internal feelings, feelings that only exist within each person and no where else.
It's not like our feelings take on a life of their own, when say, we are in a coma or 'put into a deep sleep' with drugs.
Feelings are very much connected to us and have nothing at all to do with some other existence outside our bodies.


>Should such experiences be shared? I am not one to impose whatever views and beliefs I may hold upon others, but I do agree with .:webmaster that "if everyone ... just huddled meekly in their own little protected shell of not ever arguing..." we wouldn't get very far. Sharing one's beliefs, experience, thoughts, etc. does give others something to think about (assuming they are open to it).

I agree that SHARING our thoughts and feelings amongst each other is not a problem.
The problem arises when someone imposes beliefs based on feelings onto others, either directly or through government etc..


>We live in a world where, whether we like it or not, a significant part of our experiences occur outside our 5 senses and science's ability to explain. This world is governed not be facts and figures, but by fantasies, feelings and faith. The ultimate question therefore still remains, what do YOU believe?

Would you please explain what part of our experiences exist OUTSIDE of our own minds please?
I do not know of ANY that can.
Granted, the 5 physical senses do not speak about thoughts or feelings or libido for that matter, but there is no evidence to point to, that says they exist on some other 'plane' or are attached to some other obscure dimension of the universe etc.

In fact, if you cause certain damage to the physical brain itself, it very much affects both our ability to think and our emotions as well.
That shows a clear connection between the brain and our emotions, leaving no reason to believe our feelings come from something like a soul or some other unknown place.

Now you have the right to believe whatever you wish anyakovi.
The problem I saw with your post was that you were not debating your own philosophy with scott, but seemed to be trying to convince him that he should have this (false) hope that his son is still living-on in some other world/dimension etc..

As an ex-xtain who has been burnt by the empty promises of both a personal savior and the reward of some great afterlife, the last thing I want to see someone do to another human being, is to give them some supernatural hope that has no evidence to back it.

I truly consider that to be a form of cruel brainwashing and nothing less!!


ATF(who is eager to see any proof that this afterlife exists)

resonate11 said...

"Granted, the 5 physical senses do not speak about thoughts or feelings or libido..."

Actually, our senses are the language of our thoughts and feelings. Try thinking something without using one or more of the senses. It can't be done. Much of the time we are hearing our own voices inside our heads when we think. But we also hear other people's voices and/or see things and/or experience some of our other senses.

AtheistToothFairy said...

resonate11 wrote:

Actually, our senses are the language of our thoughts and feelings. Try thinking something without using one or more of the senses. It can't be done. Much of the time we are hearing our own voices inside our heads when we think. But we also hear other people's voices and/or see things and/or experience some of our other senses

Res',
You are correct, of course.

The 5 senses that's been referred to, were assumed to be the classic 5 senses that all of us learned in science class. It was suggested that some realm exists beyond those 5 physical senses, which I argued against.

However, your point becomes a good one once we start getting into the subject of what a soul/spirit would be like, if one could exist.

All of our experiences are so tied to these senses, that one has to wonder how we could identify with our former selves or another 'soul', if we suddenly lost those physical senses.

Without eye's, how would we 'see'?
Without ears, how would we hear sound?
Without touch, how would we know if something is hot, cold, soft, hard etc..
Without a nose, how would we detect scents?
Without taste, would we still recall how food tasted; not that we would need to eat anymore.

Basically, how would a soul interact with the material universe if these senses were removed.
How would one navigate from point A to point B, if one can't use any senses to do so.
How would we recognize each other, if our soul 'body' is vastly different than what we have now.

If we are so used to hearing our own thoughts inside our heads, would we still do so when we communicate with another soul and if not, then do we need to be retrained in a new form of communication or does a new soul automatically come with the knowledge of how to use all it's new super-duper inherent functions.

If the spirit/soul is to resemble our physical selves, then what age would this god make us appear to be?
Would we be the age we died at, no matter what, or do we all get to choose our age?

What age would a baby who died become in the spirit world?
An infant who died would have never really leaned anything while alive on earth, so does god fill their soul brains with knowledge and experiences that they might have gotten, had they lived longer?

The list of problems of having a spirit body in some afterlife world, are frankly endless, with or without some god in control at the wheel.


There are some interesting articles on the web that try to answer these hard questions, but most seem to conclude that if we take those human senses away and perhaps replace them with something else, are we really still the same person or something very different.

One does have to wonder why such problems never phase those who insist on an afterlife belief.
I suppose that xtians themselves just ignore these problems, saying that god can do anything and it's not their place to understand how he will provide it all.

For the rest of us, I'd think we'd be most curious to know some of the details about this special afterlife body we'll get, don't you?


ATF (who wonders why all the gods throughout history have eye's, as does the devil dragon?)

resonate11 said...

Well put, AtheistToothFairy. Neuroscientists are beginning to be able to figure out the pathways for many aspects of our "souls". For example, V. S. Ramachandran writes about a man who could recognize faces, but because a particular pathway was damaged, couldn't attach the necessary emotion with them. So, for instance, he would look at his mother and claim that she was an impostor who looked exactly like his mother but was not his mother.

anyakovi said...

ATF/.:webmaster/boomslang/resonate11

Thank you for your points which are well argued, and have served to make me realise that MY points whilst well-intentioned (I would like to think) are perhaps weak and egocentric.

And in attempting to offer 'hope', I may have blurred the lines between sharing my thoughts and imposing my beliefs.

This debate has given me much to think about but before I depart, I feel it appropriate to make one or two final points.

1. I was not suggesting that the possibility of a world beyond ours (whether real, imagined, fantasised, felt or internally experienced) serves to invalidate the meaning and value of a life on this earth. Indeed, I would suggest that it could augment the value or meaning of life on earth. But I won't get into this.

2. I was not suggesting that a world 'outside our brain and 5 senses' does not require the use of those faculties. Just that it might not be measurable by chemicals, pressure, light waves or sound waves. I wholeheartedly agree that as long as we 'live' in a body, any experience or interaction in body, 'soul' or 'spirit' requires the use of our intellect and senses. Even believing requires hearing and the use our intellect.

3. You have indicated that I am offering 'false' hope. But, as mkultra pointed out, the undeniable fact is that no one can say with any measure of certaintly that this hope (no matter how far-fetched or intellectually implausible) is false, anymore than anyone case say it is true. Time will ultimately deliver a verdict. But until then, with only personal testimonies, but no scientific evidence either way, we are left to believe or to reject (as the case may be). Should one be 'allowed' to offer hope without evidence of it's validity? - well that's another question altogether.

4. Finally, for all our intellectual to-ing and fro-ing, we have offered Scott neither meaning nor hope. This is either because (a) it doesn't exisit or (b) we have not uncovered it in this commentary. One hopes that Scott's search will lead him to discover which is true.

Peace out.

.:webmaster:. said...

Anyakovi,

We haven't really defined "hope" so it's impossible to say that none either has or hasn't been offered. I mean, what is "hope" in the context of this discussion, exactly? A fantasy that we don't die? A delusion for the bereaved that they will be reunited with loved ones in the clouds? Myths offered in the hope of dulling the senses and the fear of death?

Death is part of life. We are mortal, as is every living thing on the planet. Nothing lives forever, including us. Many lives of every kind of creature is cut short due to disease or accident. I would think a healthier "hope" would be to understand that life is tenuous and fragile, that we have no entitlement to life, and that we are alive at all with all the odds stacked against us is amazing. Even one day of life is nearly an astronomical impossibility, so each of us should celebrate and cherish each minute, rather than bemoaning our lot so much of the time.

Hope comes from within a person, not from outside the person. If you are dependent on an imaginary friend to give you hope, then you are actually hopeless.

DaBrains said...

My heart goes out to you, but I can't give you any definitive answers as to the meaning of life.

What I CAN say is:

A life can only be judged by the number of smiles and laughs one makes, the loyalty and camaraderie of loving friends and family members, the effects that it has on others. It is a cruel truth, but I think that a life well lived and a boy well loved will inevitably end with tears in the eyes of others. If he were not a wonderful person leading a happy, fulfilling life with lots of friends, would there really be so many people grieving his passing?

I don't think there is a meaning to life, but does there have to be one? In my opinion, being without purpose is great, purpose would take away personal freedoms and responsibilities, and would puppetry really be all that satisfying? Life only has a meaning that you personally create. Perhaps he did not have time to really have any great focus or major achievements in his life, but if he was happy and made others happy while he lived, surely that is enough? What more could you possibly ask?

I’m sorry if what I’m saying rings a little hollow, I’m only 16 and hopefully have no kids of my own, so I cannot comprehend the complexities of parental love. I have never met your boy, and I deeply regret that I never will. I do not know who he was or how he lived but this is what I believe, and this is all I can say.

If you wish to reply or talk, email me at danielelliott@optushome.com.au (potential spammers, don’t bother, it’s a disposable account I created for this, I’ll just delete it if you try)