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Thread: The secular meaning of life

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post

    We always pick everything as individuals. Even if that pick is "I'll go along with the herd" it's still ultimately an individual choice.
    You are talking about free will. I'm not. Please stick to the subject.

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    My short answer is that we can pick and choose whatever meaning suits us.

    I guess that's what most people do without necessarily fussing about it. It may be having a family to raise kids. Your job. Sport. Any activity that's engrossing enough. If you're deep into what you're doing then the meaning of life is just that. And it seems to work.

    Obviously, things don't last forever and we can easily become dissatisfied and "disengaged". I suspect this happens mostly as a result of some undiagnosed psychological condition or more accurately some neurological disorder. Also, if some misfortune happens to you.

    Sometimes, it will feel just like you're doing nothing because there's nothing you're interested in doing. It's boring, obviously, and you can become acutely aware then of the fact that time is slipping away and you're going to be left with having to look back at your life later having achieved nothing, not much, or just not enough.

    Yet, there is no shortage of things to do. You can embrace the cause of the environment, or whatever cause tickle your fancy and is worth the trouble, and many are, if you're interested that is.

    Human beings are mostly really stupid so there's plenty of smart ideas left to have for the first time that could be worth having for the benefit of humanity or whatever. If you're prepared to do some hard work, then the world is your oyster. And you can adjust the work to your resources and abilities.

    Again, that's all mostly what people are already doing or trying to do whenever they have the resources. But I don't see that we need any unified perspective like you could say religions may try and fail to be. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

    Maybe you can think of it as the meaning of life being that we're just trying to achieve our potential as human beings, both individually and collectively. Which is a unified perspective and should feel motivating to all of us. It's a journey of discovery and a discovery of the road to infinity (see David Deutsch).

    What would be not meaningful about that?
    EB

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    Zen Hedonist Jobar's Avatar
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    Is there a singular 'secular meaning of life'? I rather think not. As Koy says, each individual has to find their own; and individuals can find an arbitrary number of meanings to life, secular or religious.

    We're a social species, so usually our societies will frown on us pursuing 'meanings' that are plainly harmful to society, and to others. So there are social pressures on us to find meanings that are beneficial to others, or at least harmless. The amount of that pressure will vary with the society in question, and with the perceived harmfulness of what you might consider important or even vital for meaning in your life.

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    Elder Contributor Underseer's Avatar
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    Meaning and purpose are human creations.

    It is the task of each of us to create our own purpose and meaning.

    To ask another for propose and meaning is to ask to be ruled.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Koyaanisqatsi View Post

    We always pick everything as individuals. Even if that pick is "I'll go along with the herd" it's still ultimately an individual choice.
    You are talking about free will. I'm not. Please stick to the subject.
    No, actually, I wasn’t.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by James Brown View Post
    Is religion getting a comeback?

    An ongoing spate of recent studies - looking at various countries around the world - all show the same thing: religion is in decline. From Scandinavia to South America, and from Vancouver to Seoul, the world is experiencing an unprecedented wave of secularization. Indeed, as a recent National Geographic report confirms, the world’s newest religion is: No Religion.
    I think it is. It's just new religions coming. The old ones are out of style. The reason I think it is so is because... there's just so many smartphones, fancy watches and boob jobs people can buy before life feels empty. We need to give it some sort of higher purpose. Religion comes with a handy starter kit. Just pick one off the rack and you're ready to go. But secular versions. I think theism is dying. It's certainly coughing up blood

    It's that or utopianism. I sincearly hope utopianism isn't about to make a comeback.
    I would agree that some people at least may feel they live spiritually empty lives and look for something to fill the vacuum but that doesn't amount to producing new religions. The main point of religion as I see it is to have people connected or bound to each other by common rites and the nonsensical conviction that they share the same spiritual belief. It may still happen but that seems unlikely as long as spirituality remains an open market and there's enough competition. Right now, if you have any new religions at all, they concern only a few thousand at most and they don't last more than a few generations.

    I also think that humanity is now evolving so fast that very little will keep making sense from one generation to the next beyond the incontrovertible basics such as food and sleep, and then I'm not even sure about that.

    I guess we really don't know where we 're going and so it's always possible, even perhaps very likely, that we meet with some major mishap with subsequent disintegration of the world order for a few centuries. Then religions may have a come back. But I don't wish this on them.
    EB

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post

    I think it is. It's just new religions coming. The old ones are out of style. The reason I think it is so is because... there's just so many smartphones, fancy watches and boob jobs people can buy before life feels empty. We need to give it some sort of higher purpose. Religion comes with a handy starter kit. Just pick one off the rack and you're ready to go. But secular versions. I think theism is dying. It's certainly coughing up blood

    It's that or utopianism. I sincearly hope utopianism isn't about to make a comeback.
    I would agree that some people at least may feel they live spiritually empty lives and look for something to fill the vacuum but that doesn't amount to producing new religions. The main point of religion as I see it is to have people connected or bound to each other by common rites and the nonsensical conviction that they share the same spiritual belief. It may still happen but that seems unlikely as long as spirituality remains an open market and there's enough competition. Right now, if you have any new religions at all, they concern only a few thousand at most and they don't last more than a few generations.
    What about sports? I think being a sport supporter qualifies as being part of a religion. I have an ex-wife who is a fanatical sports supporter. It's certainly religion to her. Yet, she identifies as an atheist. I'd argue sports is the biggest religion of today.

    I think we are a social species where being part of a social fabric is more important than anything else. Normal people are willing to sacrifice any beliefs and values to get respect by the people they respect. People who aren't like this, aren't normal.


    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    I also think that humanity is now evolving so fast that very little will keep making sense from one generation to the next beyond the incontrovertible basics such as food and sleep, and then I'm not even sure about that.

    I guess we really don't know where we 're going and so it's always possible, even perhaps very likely, that we meet with some major mishap with subsequent disintegration of the world order for a few centuries. Then religions may have a come back. But I don't wish this on them.
    EB
    I think it's having a come-back now. The problem is that we usually define religion as "faith". But religion is more an activity than a belief system. So modern new religions are wrongly being labelled as just associations or clubs. But they have all the hallmarks of religion IMHO

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    There is no 'secular meaning of life'. Pick the -osophy or -ism that suits you. The human history is chatic and violent and continuos struggles for power. Hitler thought war was a natural human state. Historically he may have been right.

    The American Revolution was an idealistic experiment, the idea that chaotic humans prone to aggression and dispute could manage themselves without an overarching power and authority.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post

    What about sports? I think being a sport supporter qualifies as being part of a religion. I have an ex-wife who is a fanatical sports supporter. It's certainly religion to her. Yet, she identifies as an atheist. I'd argue sports is the biggest religion of today.

    I think we are a social species where being part of a social fabric is more important than anything else. Normal people are willing to sacrifice any beliefs and values to get respect by the people they respect. People who aren't like this, aren't normal.
    OK. So, I'm not normal. Or maybe I don't respect anybody. Or I'm not willing to sacrifice either some beliefs or some values.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    I also think that humanity is now evolving so fast that very little will keep making sense from one generation to the next beyond the incontrovertible basics such as food and sleep, and then I'm not even sure about that.

    I guess we really don't know where we 're going and so it's always possible, even perhaps very likely, that we meet with some major mishap with subsequent disintegration of the world order for a few centuries. Then religions may have a come back. But I don't wish this on them.
    EB
    I think it's having a come-back now. The problem is that we usually define religion as "faith". But religion is more an activity than a belief system. So modern new religions are wrongly being labelled as just associations or clubs. But they have all the hallmarks of religion IMHO
    I can see some similarities between religion and football supporters but I think that's just that.

    And comparison is not reason.

    Supporters don't have religious rites. They have communion, usage, culture, habits, and non-religious rituals, like indeed many people outside both religion and sport.

    Religious rites are thought of as a way to communicate with an actual spirit. Nothing like that for supporters.

    That being said, sport may well deprive religion of its oxygen if supporters go support Manchester United instead of the Church.

    And sport may also play a similar function as religion for many people. I personally think that most religious people have always been only pretending. I don't think anything more than a small minority of people were ever really religious at any time throughout history. So, maybe it's some of the same people who were religious who are now football supporters. Just maybe.

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    OK. So, I'm not normal. Or maybe I don't respect anybody. Or I'm not willing to sacrifice either some beliefs or some values.
    Considering how many people are either religious, sport supporters, politically activists or all three.... I think it's pretty clear that you are not normal. Most people are part of some tribe or another which they try hard to fit into.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    I can see some similarities between religion and football supporters but I think that's just that.

    And comparison is not reason.

    Supporters don't have religious rites. They have communion, usage, culture, habits, and non-religious rituals, like indeed many people outside both religion and sport.
    I think communal rituals intended to unite communities across ages is religious rituals. I think sports qualify extremely well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Religious rites are thought of as a way to communicate with an actual spirit. Nothing like that for supporters.
    I don't agree that's a necessary qualification. It's too narrow. Sweden has several pagan religious rituals we perform anually. All our "Christian" rituals are just pagan rituals left, pretty much intact. Which make no sense in a Christian context. These have survived in spite paganism being a dead religion. It has been for almost a thousand years now. Yet, these rituals survive. Christianity today is pretty much a dead religion in Sweden. That ain't stopping us keeping all those religious rituals alive also.

    We need an explanation other than "religious rituals is a way to communicate with an actual spirit" to explain how these have survived in Sweden.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    That being said, sport may well deprive religion of its oxygen if supporters go support Manchester United instead of the Church.

    And sport may also play a similar function as religion for many people. I personally think that most religious people have always been only pretending. I don't think anything more than a small minority of people were ever really religious at any time throughout history. So, maybe it's some of the same people who were religious who are now football supporters. Just maybe.
    I see religion in functional terms. Anything that replaces the functions of religion is religion.

    I don't think they are pretending at all. I think it's just you who haven't understood what religion is. This is what it is. God/the spirit is the least interesting part of religions.

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