[ExI] No gods, no meaning? (was: Re: Existing as stored data)

Ben Zaiboc ben at zaiboc.net
Tue Apr 21 11:52:57 UTC 2020

On 21/04/2020 01:01, Spike wrote:
"I had an experience that may be relevant, a commend made by the bride 
of my friend from Washington who lives near Mount Peak.  She was well 
aware of my philosophical path.  Her comment went along these lines:

If atheism is right, then the things we do in this life are irrelevant 
for they all lead to the same place in a short enough time.  Even if we 
think of our children and how to improve their world, that too is 
irrelevant for they too face the same short time in a meaningless 
existence with no real destiny, and so on with their children.  The 
notion that all of our existence is all perfectly meaningless is not 
acceptable.  Therefore, we assume there is a point to it all."

I would take issue with the idea that atheism can be right or wrong. 
It's not asserting anything, it's just a lack of belief. It may lead to 
assertions which may be right or wrong, but I don't think it can be 
right or wrong in itself.

Apart from that, the statement "then the things we do in this life are 
irrelevant" is a bit of a stretch (actually I really object to it, see 
below). I remember when I was young, and my dad was keen to show me the 
stars, and get me to understand just how damned many of them are up 
there. We had a pair of powerful binoculars, and I saw a mind-boggling 
number of stars. And I knew that what I was seeing was just the teeniest 
tiniest fraction of what was actually there. That was a really humbling 
experience, and made me think just how utterly insignificant, tiny and 
fleeting everything we are and know is. The funny thing is, I didn't 
find this at all depressing. I found it enormously liberating, and felt 
kind of buoyed up by it. I really think I discovered the meaning of life 
at that moment (/My/ meaning of life, I should say): "You Decide". That 
was a real revelation to me, and I still feel exhilarated and even 
uplifted by it now, decades later. Such a contrast to the dreary 
oppression of christianity and its bedfellows!

That's my answer if anyone ever asks me what the meaning of life is. You 
Decide. It works on a couple of levels, and it reinforced my atheism 
which was developing around that time (I was reading a great big fancy 
old leather-and-brass-bound bible, which was an enormous help. I 
thoroughly recommend actually reading the bible (and the koran, etc.), 
for anyone who has a tendency to think there might be more to all this 
than a bunch of people making things up).

The reason I find the 'things we do are irrelevant' remark objectionable 
is that it assumes that if there are gods, the things we do are not 
irrelevant and meaningless, but if there aren't, they are. Why should 
that be? Even if gods exist, they are just another kind of being. What 
makes our actions meaningful if they exist, but not if they don't? It 
sounds kind of stupid when you think about it.

There's only one person who has the right to decide if my life, my 
decisions and actions and thoughts, are meaningful or not. And it's not 
some beardy insecure bully who lives in the sky (even if such a being 
really does exist). I long ago decided that if this much-touted god 
turns out to be real, it doesn't deserve even my respect, much less 
'worship'. In fact, it needs a bloody good talking-to, at the very least.

"Therefore, we assume there is a point to it all". What point would that 
be? Just think about it.

Ben Zaiboc

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