Six Answers For Everyone [Anyone] … You Pick

I’ve been meaning to do one of these questions ‘things’ for some time. Having just posted the What Now part 2 post, I think it might be time for one of these.

It’s just six questions from Dive In Scripture so don’t get too excited, right. I don’ t have a plan here. I’m just going to answer them as they show up on the page. Without further ado, ‘here we go-o-o-o’

1.    If there is no God, “the big questions” remain unanswered, so how do we answer the following questions: Why is there something rather than nothing?  This question was asked by Aristotle and Leibniz alike – albeit with differing answers.  But it is an historic concern.  Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life?  If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found?  Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end?  How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier?  If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong?  If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?

Clearly the title of the theist’s blog is misleading as all hell. That is NOT one question. I count it as SEVEN!

<Removes face from palm>

First, even if there is a god, the big questions remain unanswered. Playing the part of barbie doll to a super being is not my idea of an answer to anything at all unless  you think you need a babysitter for the rest of eternity, however long that ends up working out to be.

A) Why is there something rather than nothing?

It is silly, at best, to presume that there should be nothing. In fact it is rather presumptuous to think there should be either something or nothing or anything in between. The answer could well be ‘for the same reason  that there would be nothing’  but that would seem unsatisfying to most because most people are not happy with matter of fact ‘things just are’ explanations. They want some special story to begin their existence with so that it has some special meaning, something far more entertaining than that of a plant or rock or flying squirrel. The truth is that none of us knows why there is something or why there isn’t nothing. We do not yet have that knowledge. If we live in a simulation it would be because the computer is turned on and the simulation program is running. If we are living in the dream of the Brahma the answer is because his alarm clock hasn’t gone off yet. In any case, we don’t know and we can’t know… yet.

B)  Why is there conscious, intelligent life on this planet, and is there any meaning to this life?

At to why there is intelligent life on this planet. Hmmm Are we sure that is a true statement? I’m kidding of course. It is a presumption to assume that we are intelligent. Most 6 year old children think they are smart too. The simple answer is that life on this planet evolved. I’m not going to explain all  of evolution here because there are many blogs and websites that will do a far better job than I can.  Trust me, it happened. Survival, as it turns out in a fortunate way for us, requires ever escalating tools and strategies to compete with other predators and prey. Intelligence as we know it was destined in some form from the advent of the first single cell organism. It is here because life exists on this planet and evolution is true.

At this point the theist tries to sneak in what should have been the eighth question. Is there meaning to this life? The short answer is yes. It has all the meaning that you want to ascribe to it. If you have a gun in your hand and the barrel in your mouth that probably won’t be very much meaning ascribed. On the other hand if you are making a comfortable living and have a good family life you probably ascribe quite a bit of meaning to this life. It’s all up to you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and meaning is in the mind of the thinker.

The Thinker

Love is often enough found when you stop looking. True meaning, likewise, is best found when not seeking.

If there is meaning, it need not be found, for if it be meaning it was never lost. If it be lost, there is no need to look for it. It knows the way home.

Meaning and purpose are masters of nothing and slaves to none. If it is said they exist, then they are not. If they are not, then truly you have found them.

Meaning is a completely subjective value judgement. Some consider life to have meaning if they receive all the ‘things’ that they wish for. Others find life meaningful if they simply find one person that loves them as much as they love back. Some people find no meaning at all in life, preferring instead to let some ancient desert dwellers from the bronze age tell them what meaning there is supposed to be in life.  Even some of those people turn around and selectively choose what parts of that meaning they want to keep in their lives and which parts of it they wish to jettison like yesterday’s pork grease.  Everyone chooses for themselves in the end what meaning there is in their own life, if there is any at all.

Life is what you want it to be but its not easy. The harder we try and the more we put in (whatever we like to do) the bigger and better the rewards we get out. Religion stifles life. Us atheists are free to enjoy life.

J. 

C) If there is meaning, what kind of meaning and how is it found?

Well, I might have been right to keep it at just seven questions. For the answer to this part, see the answer to the last part. I got a bit zealous with that last answer. It had a picture and everything… whooohoooo

D) Does human history lead anywhere, or is it all in vain since death is merely the end?

Human history has been leading from the first single cell organism to life in the 21st century for millions and millions of years. Humans are awesome. Look at all the things we can do and have done. Right now there are people in space and others controlling machines on other planets and yet others using satellites to study the Sun and distant galaxies. Human history started for modern humans on the plains of the African continent and have brought us well beyond anything our predecessors ever thought possible. Just as the death of your great-great-great-great-great grandparents did not remove any value from your own, your death will not remove any value from the rest of humanity. In fact, just as your predecessors added value to society on the whole your contribution to society will help those who come after us. If you would give your life to save your parent or child, why would you not give it to help your great-great-great-great-great-grandchild? Hell, with your descendants you can give your life for all of them and do it as slow as you possibly can too. Human history can fairly be said to lead from single cell life all the way to your great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren’s children … and beyond. Here’s hoping they get to relax on a beach of a vacation planet on the other side of the galaxy. I wish I could.

 

 

E) How do you come to understand good and evil, right and wrong without a transcendent signifier?

Ahh, the old good and evil trick. There is no such thing. There are only things which we think of as good or as evil. Our thoughts on these things are subjective value judgments  We consider a thing evil if it causes harm, generally speaking. We call a thing good if it brings benefit, generally speaking. We don’t seem to have a concept of stuff that is neither good nor evil. The reason for this is that we are making value judgments constantly throughout each day all of our life. In the basic decision model, everything has a neutral value until we figure out if it is a benefit or a danger. You can walk past the same lamp post every day on your way to work for years and never, and I mean NEVER, once think to assign that lamp post a value of good or evil. Nothing is intrinsically good or evil until we consider whether it presents to us a value of good or evil.  It is completely subjective.

Those that think we need a transcendent signifier or deity to tell us what is good or evil forget that what their deity did in parts of their holy text is what they now consider to be evil. Consider the case of Joshua and Hitler. Christians believe Joshua to be just and righteous but Hitler to be evil. They sort of mirror each other though Joshua was much more ruthless than Hitler.

F) If these concepts are merely social constructions, or human opinions, whose opinion does one trust in determining what is good or bad, right or wrong?

We trust ourselves. Trust me, dear theist, when you are sitting in the jungle facing down a very ferocious lion you are not going to be checking your bible to find out if it good or evil. Again, you choose not to stone unruly children to death or people who work on the Sabbath so you must already know how to choose right and wrong for yourself despite what your holy text tells you to choose as right and wrong. Short answer: everyone decides for themselves. It’s rather convenient that DNA makes us all enough alike that for the most part we all detest many of the same things and like many of the same things. That saves a lot of arguing in the long run, believe me.

G) If you are content within atheism, what circumstances would serve to make you open to other answers?

Short answer: Evidence that there are other valid answers. So far, for all of human history, there has been no better answer than science and atheism. The former provides better explanations of the world around us and how it works and the latter does not require magic to explain what we don’t have answers for yet.

If you have a different answer that has actual credible evidence, fess up. Get it out. Lets all play show and tell here. If you’re hiding the credible evidence for selfish reasons you are likely to be killed for it. It much safer for you to simply share it now. Go on then… share!

Gah!! That took some effort to answer just “question #1” so it looks like this is  going to be a ‘six’ part series. All this pretending that there were only six questions is making me feel math challenged. pffft

Comments are always welcome.

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