Monday, February 09, 2009

Only sometimes

I find it ironic that on the one hand, atheists will tell you that while there is no grand Meaning in the universe, we can still enjoy our lives. We can still create our own meaning, for ourselves and by ourselves, generally within ourselves. This is simply another example of atheists believing in creating something out of nothing. Then many (though I doubt it's all) of the same atheists will then turn around and bemoan the large carbon footprint that a given human produces. Consider this quote from the TimesOnline of the soon-to-be United Kaliphate:

"Each baby born in Britain will, during his or her lifetime, burn carbon roughly equivalent to 2½ acres of old-growth oak woodland - an area the size of Trafalgar Square."

Let's say that humanity does 'succeed' in burning down all the pretty forests and 'ruining' all the lovely ecosystems that we'd otherwise enjoy as tourists, with the cool and rare animals, etc. Why not just create new meaning for ourselves out of burned-out wasteland? Is it that these people are just not as strong in the create-your-own-meaning Force? Maybe their midichlorian counts are low. "The Force is not strong with this one."

57 comments:

Bjørn Østman said...

Jebus, you're silly, Alan!

You're a very weak man, it seems to me, that you have to have someone else tell you what is right and wrong and how to enjoy your life.

Is it so strange to you that those who see great value in this Earth as it is now would want to preserve it?

Chris (from Oz) said...

Meaning is one thing.

Enjoying your life is another (possibly related) thing.

I personally find it easier to enjoy my life by breathing fresh air and eating fresh food in nice places, with my nice gadgets, with the company of people I care about.

As for meaning, if someone's "meaning in life" is to see as many other people as possible happy, then having the earth not be wasted is a good goal.

Rhology said...

I personally find it easier to enjoy my life by living with the realisation that Jesus is Lord. So what either way?

No one ever said life is easy. Buck up and deal, man. Live in the real world.

King of Ferrets said...

Or, you know, we think it's probably more enjoyable to actually live long, productive lives instead of fighting for our lives and dying at the age of 30 in a burned-out wasteland. Hell, we'd probably go extinct, along with most everything else.

You can't enjoy life if you don't have it.

Personally, I would find it extremely hard to live a happy life with Jesus looking over my shoulder all the time.

Rhology said...

Where's your happy-happy atheist optimism, K o F? Where's the creating meaning out of a meaningless universe? Remember, there's no meaning out there in the rain forest for you, unless you put it there. You can just as easily put meaning in a toxic waste dump.

NAL said...

Rho:
Why not just create new meaning for ourselves out of burned-out wasteland?

We're trying to save the planet for the Christians. They're the only ones who can enjoy it.

Rhology said...

Nah, just the ones who can give a reason for the enjoyment we experience.

NAL said...

Nah, just the ones who need a reason for the enjoyment they experience.

R.F.M. said...

Good post and good comments by the atheist gang. However, don't get too hard on the original poster, it is not like there has been a dearth of atheists who have said "life is meaningless" and/or "absurd."

King of Ferrets said...

Actually, life is meaningless; but that doesn't have any impact on the fact that one rather likes living it.

I don't mean meaningless in the "life sucks and everyone should commit suicide" type of way, by the way.

R.F.M. said...

If life is meaningless, does it follow that nothing has any meaning?

Vagon said...

It is ironic, Rhology, that theists will tell you they are logical and then presume a god for which they can provide no positive ontology and act as if it is the logical stance.

Beyond your logical flaw you also fail to understand behaviour. Enjoyment and happiness is relative, people mightn't be as happy but they would still experience joy, provided they continue to survive.

R.F.M. said...

Context.

Billions upon billions have believed in God for thousands of years.

It is a little easier to posit the brute fact of God than to posit the supervenience of morals from people who come from a nonmoral source.

Vagon said...

Billions upon billions have believed in God for thousands of years.

Appeal to widespread belief. Copernicus was right when he thought we weren't the center of the universe.

It is a little easier to posit the brute fact of God than to posit the supervenience of morals from people who come from a nonmoral source.

Exactly.

R.F.M. said...

Christianity doesn't have your problems of "positive ontology" with God because God is outside of cause and effect.

We live in a closed, cause and effect system. He doesn't live in our system.

That in and of itself as generic an explanation as it is, is infinitely more credible than what atheists claim: the supervenience of morals from a nonmoral source.

You think God is hard to believe in? How do you explain morality from nothingness?

Chris (from Oz) said...

Rhology said "I personally find it easier to enjoy my life by living with the realisation that Jesus is Lord. So what either way?"

Exactly. You're learning. People make their own meaning. Some are based on reality, some are based on myth and superstition.

"No one ever said life is easy. Buck up and deal, man. Live in the real world."

You're a master of humour, albeit unintented.

Paul C said...

I find it ironic that on the one hand, atheists will tell you that while there is no grand Meaning in the universe, we can still enjoy our lives... Then many (though I doubt it's all) of the same atheists will then turn around and bemoan the large carbon footprint that a given human produces.

That's not ironic, unless the definition of irony has changed in the last few hours.

What's your argument exactly? Because people can enjoy their lives, they shouldn't worry about the planet? Because some people don't believe that life requires external validation to be meaningful, nobody on the planet should think about the future? Who knows what your argument is - you certainly don't appear to.

Consider this quote from the TimesOnline of the soon-to-be United Kaliphate:

Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realise you were one of those. Let's see - you think the UK is being taken over by Muslims, climate change is a myth and atheists are teh evil. It's like you've got a checklist of stereotypical uninformed attitudes that you're working your way through.

The fact that you don't realise how much of a product of your environment you are is just icing on the comedy cake.

Rhology said...

that doesn't have any impact on the fact that one rather likes living it.

How is that distinguishable from living in a fantasy world, which you like to accuse Christians of?

Amnistar said...

An interesting 'predicament' but one that isn't really in existence.

First, not all athiest claim either position that you present in your blog. There are many athiest that claim there is no 'meaning' to life; and there are many athiests that do not care about carbon footprints.

Amongst those that do, there are several reasons. In fact, there are likely as many reasons as there are atheists, so it's very difficult to argue against a position which, isn't really held by atheists.

However, to address your points, you first make the claim that Atheists make something out of nothing by creating meaning. Well this is only slightly true. Atheists look at something and apply meaning to it. They do not create anything, merely choose what is important to them.

Some find 'meaning' in material wealth (and these are unlikely to care about a carbon footprint) while others find 'meaning' in beauty, or art, or literature, or socialization, or any number of other activities. Some even find 'meaning' in the idea that their memory will live on even after their death, that they will have done something to make the world a 'better place' (these are much more likely to care about carbon footprints).

Keeping that in mind, it's no wonder that some atheists care about carbon footprints. If the world is a burning wasteland the chances for your descendants (or your, depending upon how fast this happens) survival are slim, any progressive work you have done is likely to be lost, and from a utilitarianism perspective, the amount of suffering will increase.

Now, with that in mind, you can be assured that IF we were to find ourselves in a barren wasteland, 'meaning' would be attributed to something else, likely survival, but that does not mean that we would wish for that to occur.

Amnistar said...

Incidentally, should you wish to pre-suppose atheist beliefs in the future, it might behoove you to first find an atheist and quote them on their beliefs, rather than simply making an arbitrary statement of what those beliefs are.

Rhology said...

Amnistar,

There are many athiest that claim there is no 'meaning' to life; and there are many athiests that do not care about carbon footprints.

Well, then, they wouldn't be referenced in this post, now would they? I'm always on the lookout for consistent atheists.


isn't really held by atheists.

Did you miss the comments before yours from other atheists?


Atheists look at something and apply meaning to it.

Yes. And there is no meaning in the thing. This is known as a fantasy.


They do not create anything, merely choose what is important to them.

And they have no reason (beyond what feels good) to apply "we should keep this intact" meaning to the thing rather than "let's level this with a firebomb" meaning.


If the world is a burning wasteland the chances for your descendants (or your, depending upon how fast this happens) survival are slim

Which survival, of course, means nothing. Your genes are telling you this, but it doesn't matter either way. Unless you tell yourself it matters, in which case, again, you're acting like a religious person.
I'm not saying any of this disproves atheism's truth. I'm just saying it's funny how atheists can't live consistently with what they say they believe.


should you wish to pre-suppose atheist beliefs in the future, it might behoove you to first find an atheist and quote them on their beliefs

The comments above yours bear out just fine what I presupposed. I used to be an atheist. And I have talked to a great many atheists. Thanks for the tip. And of course, that's why comboxes exist and why I allow free rein in the comments for anyone to correct me. But your corrections have to be, well, correct.

Amnistar said...


Well, then, they wouldn't be referenced in this post, now would they? I'm always on the lookout for consistent atheists.


Yet you simply state atheist in your post, which is a blanket term which refers to all people who do not believe in god. Thus you are applying terms and conditions to an entire group which do not apply. That is what I was attempting to point out. The fact that there are atheists that feel this way does not mean that atheists feel this way, and it is dishonest to use that language.

Note that I am not saying that they are not atheists, merely that you refer to all atheists in you post (or so it appears) when you seem to acknowledge within the comments that this is not the case.

A minor nitpick, admittedly, but one that often comes up in arguments between theists and atheists, when the atheist makes a claim about religious individuals.

However on to the actual argument:


Yes. And there is no meaning in the thing. This is known as a fantasy.


I think before we go much further on this we should reach a common understanding of the term 'meaning'. To me, if something is important to an individual, that something has 'meaning'. What are you using as the definition of 'meaning'?

Rhology said...

I said in the post:
Then many (though I doubt it's all) of the same atheists



I am using "meaning" in the same way as said atheists use it when they say "there is no grand meaning in the universe". It's fairly commonsensical, though if you want a more precise definition, I'd ask them.

Paul C said...

It's fairly commonsensical, though if you want a more precise definition, I'd ask them.

Since you are the one who claims to have meaning in his life, I'd prefer to ask you. What do you mean when you talk about meaning?

Amnistar said...

Ah sorry my mistake then, I didn't catch that when I read the article. I apologize and retract my statement.

I am using "meaning" in the same way as said atheists use it when they say "there is no grand meaning in the universe". It's fairly commonsensical, though if you want a more precise definition, I'd ask them.

Then I think that I can see the heart of the issue. The idea that there is no 'grand meaning' in the universe is, to me at least, the idea that there is no eternal truth of meaning. There is no overarching reason for existence, no eternal truth, etc.

However, note the presence of the word 'grand'. I admit that there are some individuals who will state that there is no meaning at all to anything, but to chose the label for such an individual as 'Atheist' however is an intentional attempt to place the views of a minority withing a group as the views of the majority.

I, and most atheists that I know, do not think there is no meaning in anything. But then, I, and most other atheist that I know, feel that meaning is something that is applied to things, it does not simply exist. A rock does not have meaning by itself. A rock that has been used to kill someone, or holds together a dam, or fell from the sky, however, would have meaning, because it would be assigned meaning by individuals.

So really you're looking at two separate concepts here. There is meaning which individuals assign to objects, and then there is this 'grand meaning' that is somehow present without an assigner (or presumably that designer is a god). As an atheist the second form of meaning I reject, because meaning must have an assigner, while the first I accept.

Vagon said...

RFM said:

Christianity doesn't have your problems of "positive ontology" with God because God is outside of cause and effect.

We live in a closed, cause and effect system. He doesn't live in our system.


You cannot logically justify your world view without a positive ontology. You have not explained why this doesn't apply to other Gods and also which version of the Christian god you are referring to. Currently your position has as much merit as any other naked assertion, if not less because it refers to a broken concept "supernatural".

That in and of itself as generic an explanation as it is, is infinitely more credible than what atheists claim: the supervenience of morals from a nonmoral source.

In order for something to be "credible" it must fulfill the burden of proof. That morality has supervenience from another moral source begs the question.

You think God is hard to believe in? How do you explain morality from nothingness?

No, I think the exact opposite, gods are easy to believe in.

Morality is well accounted for through game theory and its biological equivalent ESS.

R.F.M. said...

I cannot offer a "proof" of God because if there were a "proof" we wouldn't be having this discussion, but I can offer an ontological argument.

Anselm's Ontological Argument:
1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind AND in reality than in the mind alone.
2. "God" means "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
3. Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.
4. Then a greater than God could be thought.
5. But this is impossible, for God is "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
6. Therefore God exists in the mind and in reality.

Before you dismiss this out of hand, know that Bertrand Russell struggled with this argument greatly.

Amnistar said...

2. "God" means "that than which a greater cannot be thought."

Your definition is the crux of the issue. God, by that definition, could very well exist. But that isn't your God, nor does that explanation give any other knowledge about "God". So, while it may be proof that "that than which is greater cannot be thought" exists, it doesn't prove the existence of the Christian God.

Vagon said...

R.F.M.

I cannot offer a "proof" of God because if there were a "proof" we wouldn't be having this discussion, but I can offer an ontological argument.

Agreed on proof point. However I will say we can falsify.

Anselm's Ontological Argument:
1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind AND in reality than in the mind alone.
2. "God" means "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
3. Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.
4. Then a greater than God could be thought.
5. But this is impossible, for God is "that than which a greater cannot be thought."
6. Therefore God exists in the mind and in reality.

Before you dismiss this out of hand, know that Bertrand Russell struggled with this argument greatly.


Several points:

1. I can imagine a more perfect God (or a greater God) than in the Bible (or other popular god). Therefore this only supports deism.

2. The same line of logic shows that there should be an ultimate evil. Since by this ontology God is literally good, the existence of such an evil being would indicate the absence of God.

3.Anselm makes the error of assuming something can exist "outside" reality. His is not a positive ontology. If you think understanding exist outside of reality you must demonstrate this without borrowing from materialism (hint: you can't).

R.F.M. said...

Amnistar: Definitionally, I think we need to set some parameters here. When I say "God," I'm speaking in terms of a God (deism, theism) vs. atheism. I'm not speaking specifically of YHWH. I'm arguing for the existence of a Creator God.

Vagon: for #1, same thing as above essentially. But, how do you know you can imagine a more perfect God? If God is who I say he is, we could never quantify or qualify his design a/k/a/ plan, etc. For #2, I think we are now getting into something completely different. Explaining the "problem of evil" is a whole 'nother discussion that can be explained with free will--something that is part of the essence of human beings without which we wouldn't be human beings. #3, God doesn't have to fit within your materialist paradigm. God is not matter (he could be, but he)is spirit. Further, he a triune God. One essence and three in persons.

Vagon said...

RFM:

how do you know you can imagine a more perfect God? If God is who I say he is, we could never quantify or qualify his design a/k/a/ plan, etc.

The Christian god is credited with omnipotence. Therefore he could do things better.

For #2, I think we are now getting into something completely different. Explaining the "problem of evil" is a whole 'nother discussion that can be explained with free will--something that is part of the essence of human beings without which we wouldn't be human beings.

I wasnt referring to the problem of evil. You are right its another argument. Mine was an attempt at Reducto ad Absurdum. I am making the assumption you mean greater to be "better than":

Vagon's Ontological Argument:
1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind AND in reality than in the mind alone.
2. "Nogav" means "that than which something worse cannot be thought."
3. Suppose that Nogav exists in the mind but not in reality.
4. Then something worse than Mogav could be thought.
5. But this is impossible, for Nogav is "that than which something worse cannot be thought."
6. Therefore Nogav exists in the mind and in reality.

#3, God doesn't have to fit within your materialist paradigm. God is not matter (he could be, but he)is spirit. Further, he a triune God. One essence and three in persons.

You beg the question that there is something beyond the material. In order for someone to logically consider the immaterial you must provide a positive ontology for it.

I have a couple of questions for you, that might expediate our debate.

Which version of the Christian God do you follow?

Immateriality is the absence of matter or energy. What is there left for it to be?

Vagon said...

Please note in the above, Vagon's Ontological Argument should read:

1. It is worse for a thing to exist in the mind AND in reality than in the mind alone.

Paul C said...

1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind AND in reality than in the mind alone.

Says who?

2. "God" means "that than which a greater cannot be thought."

Says who?

3. Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.

If your mind exists in reality, and something exists in your mind, then that something exists in reality.

Is it just me, or do Anselm's premises fall into the category of "some shit that he made up this morning"?

Amnistar said...

Amnistar: Definitionally, I think we need to set some parameters here. When I say "God," I'm speaking in terms of a God (deism, theism) vs. atheism. I'm not speaking specifically of YHWH. I'm arguing for the existence of a Creator God.

Save that all that this proof potentially proves, is that there exists something that is "that than which a greater cannot be thought" which isn't neccessarily any kind of diety.

Rhology said...

Amnistar said a while back:
I apologize and retract my statement.

I see such statements rarely enough that I appreciate their value. Accepted gladly.


There is no overarching reason for existence, no eternal truth,

And included in that, I'm sure you'd agree, is the existence of pretty flora and fauna.


to chose the label for such an individual as 'Atheist' however is an intentional attempt to place the views of a minority withing a group as the views of the majority.

I thought the implication that I was alluding to some atheists, namely those who hold this view, was clear enough, but apparently you don't agree.
Very well, I should have made it clearer, and so I am sorry for that. Certainly not EVERY atheist would fit into this post, but most I've encountered do, just like not EVERY atheist will make moral claims that s/he thinks SHOULD apply to other people as if there were some overarching standard of morality, but the vast, vast majority I've encountered would. The Jolly Nihilist is the most consistent atheist I've ever met, and even he does that on occasion.


But then, I, and most other atheist that I know, feel that meaning is something that is applied to things, it does not simply exist.

This statement did indeed make me think, and remember that, on Christianity, the same is true. God is the one Who applies meaning, and it just so happens that He has placed meaning in everything that exists. Everything exists to glorify Him, but has no implicit value in and of itself.
On atheism, however, it's different. There's a rock. It's nothing special, just regular ol' Midwestern American sandstone. But I can "apply meaning" to it and suddenly it's the most important thing in the world. Maybe the meaning I apply to it means that I, in order to affirm its meaning, must bomb a stadium filled with innocent people. There - I applied meaning to it. Yet I'm living in a fantasy world.
Further, since on atheism bombing a stadium filled with innocent people is objectively morally equivalent to petting a bunny rabbit on the head and feeding it a carrot, the meaning I applied to my sandstone carries the same "value" that any other "value" carries - no value.


RFM,

Wow, man, I've not seen someone try to defend the ontological argument in a while (although I've seen people confuse it with the transcendental argument a few times). You've got guts and my respect, man.


Vagon said:
Morality is well accounted for through game theory and its biological equivalent ESS.

Yes, it's EXISTENCE, but in no way do those things acct for any objectivity therein or prescriptivity to anyone else. Basically, in your worldview, it amounts to nothing more than "I like/I don't like" (much like one evaluates ice cream flavors).

R.F.M. said...

Paul,

1. It is greater for a thing to exist in the mind AND in reality than in the mind alone.

Says who? --> Paul, I’m thinking of a Caucasian 5’10 serial killer who is only in my imagination, but has no real being. He has never actually lived. He would be greater if he existed both in person as well as in my mind because then he would have real being independent of my own thought and would be capable of inflicting casualties. If he is only in my mind he has no independence because he is wholly dependent on my thought. He is less “great” if he is only in my mind.

2. "God" means "that than which a greater cannot be thought."

Says who? --> we have to set some parameters, Paul. Or, we’ll end up discussing nothing.

3. Suppose that God exists in the mind but not in reality.

If your mind exists in reality, and something exists in your mind, then that something exists in reality. --> See #1 again, Paul.

Is it just me, or do Anselm's premises fall into the category of "some shit that he made up this morning"? --> Not really.
-----------------------------------
Vagon, do you have an e-mail?

Amnistar said...

This statement did indeed make me think, and remember that, on Christianity, the same is true. God is the one Who applies meaning, and it just so happens that He has placed meaning in everything that exists. Everything exists to glorify Him, but has no implicit value in and of itself.

And I, as an Athiest, feel that anything can apply meaning to an object, so long as that which is applying meaning exists. Thus, if there is no God (using the term not just for the Christian God, but for any God-like figure), then there is no 'eternal' meaning. There would not be a meaning that is inherently true to everyone.

Where your carbon footprint group comes in though, is that they've made this application of meaning, and are then acting to protect that which they believe has meaning.

There isn't an intellectual dishonesty here, merely two separate concepts of the idea of 'meaning'.

Now as for your issue about whether or not it is moral to take action X over action Y, is a seperate conversation, and before we move onto it, I would like to reach an agreement on this issue.

Rhology said...

I'm not sure why you'd disagree with my points about morality. ChooseDoubt did.

Anyway, I don't see how my "sandstone" point doesn't respond to this directly.

Amnistar said...

I'm not sure why you'd disagree with my points about morality. ChooseDoubt did.

Anyway, I don't see how my "sandstone" point doesn't respond to this directly.


As I said, the morality debate is something separate from this issue. The point you made in your blog, it seems to me, is that people are being hypocritical by claiming there is no overarching meaning, but defending that which they claim has meaning to them.

Keeping that in mind, I explained how there was a difference in the ideas of meanings being applied. And if you take the position that nothing has meaning until it is applied to it by an external force (whether that force is God or human being) then without the presence of God, or a God-like figure, there is no way to have an eternal meaning.

This does not, however, mean that there is no such thing as meaning at all. These people have applied meaning, and because it has meaning, to them, they are protecting it.

Thus, their actions are not hypocritical, they are protecting that which has meaning to them.

WITHOUT getting into the issue of what is a morally appropriate response to protect that which you give meaning, do you have a qualm with this position?

Vagon said...

Rhology said:

Yes, it's [Morality's] EXISTENCE, but in no way do those things acct for any objectivity therein or prescriptivity to anyone else. Basically, in your worldview, it amounts to nothing more than "I like/I don't like" (much like one evaluates ice cream flavors).

That particular question from RFM was how do I explain morality from nothingness

Apart from the fact I disagree with coming from "nothingness", I believe I did that. I hope you wont mind me saying that the objectivity of morality is another debate.

Vagon said...

R.F.M. I don't particularly like handing my email out, mostly because it contains my name.

Was it the length of the response that you wanted to email me? I'm happy to take it to your blog, if you like, or to www.wearesmrt.com/bb forums where I contribute (tough crowd there though).

Paul C said...

Paul, I’m thinking of a Caucasian 5’10 serial killer who is only in my imagination, but has no real being. He has never actually lived. He would be greater if he existed both in person as well as in my mind because then he would have real being independent of my own thought and would be capable of inflicting casualties. If he is only in my mind he has no independence because he is wholly dependent on my thought. He is less “great” if he is only in my mind.

Your definition of "great" seems to have two components, then:

1. Existing in reality.
2. Independent from anybody else's thought.

If I am wrong, please correct me. Here's where your problem is. These definitions of great are binary - something either exists or it doesn't, something is either independent from anybody else's thought or it isn't. There is no such thing as something existing "more" (i.e. being greater than) than something else. I also doubt that there is such a thing as being "more" or "less" dependent on anybody else's thought.

So when you say "that than which a greater cannot be thought", what's your metric for "greater"? Because I don't think that's what Anselm was talking about, I don't think it's what you mean and I don't think it's what Christians mean when they talk about God. So what do you mean by "greater"?

Vagon said...

Paul C

As I read it Anselm means that greater as "better" or "More Good" for want of better grammar.

Its an a priori argument and is sound in that regard:

For every nice thing you can think of, it would be better if that nice thing was in physicality able to do its nice things.

It fails, from what I can tell, in 3 ways.

1. The limitation of God to a "divine plan" being contradictory to omnipotence.

2.It falls victim to ad absurdem, by reversing greater to worse.

3. That mental processes are somehow outside physical processes, which is clearly not true.

R.F.M. said...

Guys,

I wanna continue this, but I got out of class real late and my girlfriend wants to go out for a beer.

Be back here tomorrow.

Rho, check your email.

Rhology said...

Amnistar,

No, you haven't stumped me, it's just that I'm pretty busy and have a lot of blogging going on. Try to have a little patience, I'd ask.

This does not, however, mean that there is no such thing as meaning at all.

Would you be so kind as to let me know whether you are a naturalist, a materialist, an empiricist? Sthg else?
Since you're new here, I'm a Reformed Baptist, in the interests of full disclosure.


their actions are not hypocritical, they are protecting that which has meaning to them.

It is hypocritical to the extent that they think that which holds meaning SHOULD hold meaning to others. There is no reason to think that, and so no reason to form into groups that want to protect certain animals, flora, or ecosystems. And they are shortsighted in that they could just take another meaningless-in-itself landscape or pasture of dead rotting macaws and input meaning for themselves all over again. And they are stubborn and lack generosity in that they don't want to have to bother changing the object of their meaning-inputting for something else, even if someone asks them to. There's no overarching reason not to perform the transfer when someone asks (especially if they subjectively place value in being nice to others), so why not do it?


RFM,
check your email

Sorry man, for some bizarre reason you went into the spam filter. I'll answer soon.

Amnistar said...

"Would you be so kind as to let me know whether you are a naturalist, a materialist, an empiricist? Sthg else?
Since you're new here, I'm a Reformed Baptist, in the interests of full disclosure."

I actually don't really have a label for myself so I'm gonna have to poke around to see if there is anything that describes my own views.

It should be noted however, in the interest of full disclosure, that I am an atheist due to a lack of proof of the existence of any God, but I often times wish that there were a God, or similar entity, which is part of why I involve myself in these debates. The hope is that someone will actually point out some proof that is out there, but as of yet... :(.

I suppose by that account I fall into something of an Empiricist category.

"It is hypocritical to the extent that they think that which holds meaning SHOULD hold meaning to others."

Not at all. There is a reason that, to them, is a valid reason of why this item/cause/object holds meaning. It is completely understandably for such a group to expect others to find the same meaning. Perhaps a bit naive at times, but understandable.

"And they are shortsighted in that they could just take another meaningless-in-itself landscape or pasture of dead rotting macaws and input meaning for themselves all over again."

Again, the object has meaning to them already. That meaning creates importance, which makes it unlikely for them to give up the object in question. Could they find meaning in something else? Yes, and they likely will, but that does not mean that they want to.

Rhology said...

Thanks Amnistar, good to know.
If your worldview is empiricist, could you please explain how you know that these questions of meaning really exist? Which sense did you employ to discover the existence of meaning and examine it? Taste? Touch? Smell? Of what material is meaning composed, that you'd be able to sense it?


Perhaps a bit naive at times, but understandable.

Yes, understandable b/c people are frequently inconsistent, and this is one of those times. And what does it say about these atheists that they can't even live by their own rules? It says a lot. Arguably it says they're expressing their latent knowledge that the God of the Bible exists, but they don't want to admit it.


Could they find meaning in something else? Yes, and they likely will, but that does not mean that they want to.

I'm not saying they want to, I'm saying they don't have a good reason not to want to or to do so.

Amnistar said...

If your worldview is empiricist, could you please explain how you know that these questions of meaning really exist? Which sense did you employ to discover the existence of meaning and examine it? Taste? Touch? Smell? Of what material is meaning composed, that you'd be able to sense it?

Aside from the fact that we are currently discussing these questions of meaning? You seem to be confusing Empiricism with Materialism. I make no statement that everything is material, only that that which exists must have a noticeable effect to exist. Now meaning is defined as: "the sense or significance of a word, sentence, or symbol". So, to know whether it exists we must find if something has significance. Significance being something that is placed by others, thus if you state something has significance it has meaning.

"Yes, understandable b/c people are frequently inconsistent, and this is one of those times. And what does it say about these atheists that they can't even live by their own rules? It says a lot."

I've yet to see this inconsistency that you are talking about. I showed how one can attribute meaning to something and not believe in a universal meaning. I've shown how by attributing meaning to something it holds importance to you, thus making it something which you wish to see the continuation of. where is the inconsistency?

"I'm not saying they want to, I'm saying they don't have a good reason not to want to or to do so."

And, as I've said, that which has meaning to them has value to them. That says immediately that there is a good reason to not do so.

Rhology said...

How do you sense the meaning?

Amnistar said...

Meaning is a word that we use to give definition to that which someone attributes significance towards. To know if something has meaning, you must find someone that attributes significance towards it, and then said object has meaning.

You're arguing in circles here Rhology, I've answered this question before.

Rhology said...

So you're not an empiricist.

Look, empiricism is a junk worldview, so it's not like I expected you to actually be consistent with it. You could have just said so up front.

Amnistar said...

"Look, empiricism is a junk worldview, so it's not like I expected you to actually be consistent with it. You could have just said so up front. "

...really?

Let me quote what I said:

"I actually don't really have a label for myself so I'm gonna have to poke around to see if there is anything that describes my own views."

and then:

"I suppose by that account I fall into something of an Empiricist category."

I never claimed to be an Empiricist, merely that it seemed to me that the description that wikipedia gave to empiricism, seemed to fit with the basic idea of how I think.

I don't actually have a label for myself, I think labels are misleading, because people who label themselves very rarely actually agree with everything the label denotes.

Rhology said...

Fair enough. You did say:
I suppose by that account I fall into something of an Empiricist category.

But I'm willing to let it slide.

It'll probably, however, end the conversation here, since I think we need to flesh out your presuppositions wrt what meaning is and how we know stuff. If you haven't thought that all the way thru, I suggest you start, but maybe here's not the time.

Let me run this by you for starters.

Also, I bet you have a quasi-naturalist view, so could I ask you to react to these questions I asked at ERV and only one person has even touched (badly, at that)?


Or perhaps you could prove that evidence is the best way to discover truth. I'd like some evidence for that claim.
Or prove that you can discover truth using your senses. I'd like you to provide evidence that your senses are reliable for discovering truth (just make sure to provide evidence that doesn't involve your senses, since that would be begging the question).
The consistent naturalist can't prove that he is not a brain in a vat. He can *assume* it (presumably thru ESP, or even magic, or the tenacious power of self-willed deception), but he can't prove it.

Cheers!

Amnistar said...

If you wish to end this, that is fine, but I feel that you're applying a position that doesn't exist. First you claim that I haven't explained what meaning is, yet I've given the explanation a few times. I'll try again.

Meaning is something applied to an object by a being (such as a human) because it has significance to that being.

I would also like to know why I must define meaning? You are the one that brings it up in your post. In fact I, and others, have asked you to define meaning so we could tell what you mean, yet you refused to answer.

As for the rest, I'm not completely sure why you direct me to another of your posts when we've yet to conclude our conversation on this one; nor do I know which 'questions' you are talking about on ERV's blog. The post you link me to does not, in fact, have a single question mark in it save those that are directed to specific interveiws, and, while you might feel diferently, those that were actually questions and not attempts to turn the argument in a seperate direction to avoid your own answering of questions (as you have already done in this conversation) we answered fairly well by the people at ERV.

Anonymous said...

Rho,

Your understanding of atheism is about the same as your understanding of the sciences and history. In other words, you are an ignorant fool. As for creating something out of nothing you ignorant christians are the ones who propagate this foolish idea, not atheists. Please go back to school and get an education. As for carbon footprints, any rational being of the 21st century, atheist or not, should know the dangers of carbon emissions. Please educate yourself.

rotsaP loeJ said...

Hey Anon, wanna come shovel these latest two feet of carbon emissions off my driveway? That'd be nice.

Anonymous said...

rostaP loeJ,

Thanks for revealing your gross ignorance. Now go back to school and learn something.