Re: The Meaning of Life

From: Brent Meeker <>
Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2007 16:19:27 -0800

Tom Caylor wrote:
> On Mar 1, 8:17 pm, Brent Meeker <> wrote:
>> Tom Caylor wrote:
>>> On Feb 26, 4:33 pm, "Stathis Papaioannou" <> wrote:
>>>> On 2/27/07, Tom Caylor <> wrote:
>>>>> The thing that is different in this realm of true morality is that the
>>>>> Creator is a person that we can get to know (not totally, but in a
>>>>> process of growth just like any relationship), so that we aren't just
>>>>> cranking out IF/THEN inferences like a machine, but the Holy Spirit
>>>>> (analogous to All Soul in Bruno/Plotinus term) affirms with our spirit
>>>>> that a certain response or initiative in the current situation is in
>>>>> accord with the Creator's personal character. Thus, there is only so
>>>>> much convincing that one can do in a forum like this. The rest
>>>>> requires actually being shown God's love in a tangible way by another
>>>>> person. Then it is still up to each of us to decide how we respond.
>>>> OK, but if we skip the question of how we know that God wants us to act in a
>>>> particular (moral) way, as well as the question of why we should listen to
>>>> him, we still have the Euthyphro dilemma, as raised by Brent:
>>>> ...
>>>>> I insist that I am not going down the ontological argument path. If
>>>>> you want to categorize my argument from meaning, perhaps it is closest
>>>>> to Kant's argument from morality. In a scientific system, perhaps
>>>>> this is branded as "wishful thinking", but I am also insisting that
>>>>> science's basis (anything's basis actually), such as fundamentality,
>>>>> generality, beauty, "introspection" is also mystical wishful thinking,
>>>>> and naturality is circular, and reproducibility is circular in that
>>>>> its pragmatism begs the question of meaning (IF you want to do this,
>>>>> THEN reproducible experiments have shown that you "should" do such and
>>>>> such).
>>>> But you're seeking to break out of this circularity by introducing God, who
>>>> doesn't need a creator, designer, source of meaning or morality, containing
>>>> these qualities in himself necessarily rather than contingently. If you're
>>>> happy to say that God breaks the circularity, why include this extra layer
>>>> of complication instead of stopping at the universe?
>>>> Stathis Papaioannou
>>> Because the universe doesn't break the circularity (and a plenitude of
>>> universes doesn't either for that matter).
>>> By the way, I'm not using the moral argument as a proof of the
>>> existence of God in the sense of a conclusion inside a closed system
>>> of logic. I'm arguing that the personal God of love is the only
>>> possible truly sufficient source for real morality and ultimate
>>> meaning.
>> A source that has given us the crusades and 9/11 as well as the sister's of mercy. No a very sufficient source if nobody can agree on what it provides.
> I don't like simply saying "That isn't so," but "nobody can agree on
> what it provides", referring to the source of ultimate meaning,

I was referring to the "sufficient source of *morality*". Such a source should be able to provide an unambiguous standard that is so clear everyone agrees - if it existed.

>is not
> true. In fact it's very remarkable the consistency, across all kinds
> of cultures, the basic beliefs of truly normative morality, evidence
> for their being a source which cannot be explained through closed
> science alone.

Why not? Why isn't Darwin's or Scott Atran's or Richard Dawkin's a *possible* explanation. And how is "God did it" an explanation of anything? It's just a form of words so ambiguous as to be virtually empty. "God" meant different things to the crusaders and the 9/11 jihadists, to the Aztecs and the Conquistadores, to the Nazi's and the Jews. So just because they use the same word doesn't mean they are referring to the same thing.

And there is nothing "closed" about science. Science is perfectly open to the existence of whatever you can demonstrate. People have tried to show that the God who answers prayers exists and they fail. But they could have succeeded; nothing about science prevented their success. They failed because there is no such God.
> On your first sentence, it also can be said of science that a lot of
> evil has come that wouldn't have come (at least in the forms it has)
> if it weren't for advances of science. And I'm not knocking down
> science as being invalid in its own right. I'm just making the point
> that your statement does not address *root* cause any more than
> blaming science.

That's the same criticism that theists make of cosmogonies - and the reply is the same; if God doesn't need a root cause and can just exist uncaused, then why not the universe (or the multiverse). Love and morality don't need a "root cause" beyond the evolutionary advantages they bestow.

> Conversely, people would still do evil things no
> matter what the form of their belief in ultimate reality takes. We
> all (except for nihilists) believe in some form of ultimate reality.
> I have a feeling that you'll always just come back with another short
> quip like that.
>> Brent Meeker
>> "Happiness is none the less true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting."
>> --- Bertrand Russell-
> I agree with the Russell quote as it stands. Unendingness is not what
> gives meaning. The source of meaning is not "living forever" in time
> (contrary to the trans-humanists) but is timeless. However, the quote
> makes a bad assumption when it talks about losing value. The real
> problem is how there can be any true objective value to love in the
> first place (other than the so-called "irrefutable" first person:
> "It's all about me").

Why should there be? Values are relative to people. Love is our word. We invented it to describe what we feel. Having some Platonic form of LOVE out there is superfluous. You're just making up a requirement for "the really real ding-an-sich" so that you can say God provides it.

Brent Meeker
“The Christian religion is fundamentally opposed to everything I hold in veneration- courage, clear thinking, honesty, fairness, and above all, love of the truth.”
        --- H. L. Mencken

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Received on Tue Mar 06 2007 - 19:20:00 PST

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