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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:01 PM
Original message
DUers who do not believe in god/reincarnation/etc., how do you...
Edited on Sun Apr-08-07 05:03 PM by LynzM
Deal with the "what's our purpose?" here kind of questions? What should we do with our lives? Lately, I've been doing a lot of that kind of self-reflection, and looking at my first-world (effective) riches and the brevity of our existence here (been reading some science stuff on a geological scale) and those kind of things, and really wondering what's the point? To life, to fighting for good things, to politics, to anything, really? I'm not as depressed as that makes me sound, I don't think, but it's still there in the back of my mind a lot, you know?

Edited to add that the more I reflect on this stuff, the more it makes me feel like, why bother following society's expectations, laws, etc.? That's kind of a weird thing, but it's associated, for me.

So, if you don't believe in god and/or heaven/reincarnation, what kind of life philosophy do you live by, and how do you address the kind of stuff I talked about above? Deep stuff for a Sunday night, but I feel the need to ask...
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Pacifist Patriot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. "Philosophy of Humanism" by Corliss Lamont
He says it better than I could.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
32. I will check that out.
Thanks. :hi:
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
2. speaking as an agnostic
who is not entirely sold on the idea of an afterlife/reincarnation/etc, i see my purpose to be to live my life as fully and richly as possible and help others do the same. give love to others as they give to me and help them in their journeys as they do for me.

is it going to make a difference? i don't know, but i hope that i can improve the lives of others as they have improved mine.
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #2
15. Good Humanistic Viewpoint
which is more important for our life here on this planet...

I mean if we treat others the way that we want to be treated, then we can have a useful society that is functional.

if my only purpose for treating others well is that i believe that i'll be rewarded in an afterlife, then i tend to think that becomes a shallow foundation for behavior. Kind of like the person who builds their house on sand vs. the person who builds their house on rock.

foundation is everything. what is at our core, is what we're about.

who knows what happens in the end. i figure it won't really matter because either there is more, or there isn't.

and if i am good to my fellow humans, and my planet, then i have a chance at living a good life, and being remembered well.

that's more important to me right now anyway.

:hi:
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mentalsolstice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #15
21. That's pretty much how I feel
Although I'm Catholic, and maybe shouldn't be in this thread, what I think is important is treating others the same way you wish to be treated, because I feel that every human being is deserving of a basic level of dignity. The reward comes with knowing I've made another person smile, or have somehow ensured their comfort.

:hi:
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:18 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. I Think That
humanists and liberals of all faiths and non-believers have SO MUCH MORE IN COMMON than they do not in common that it is always sad to see squabbles start over the belief or non belief aspect of core ideas that people may have
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mentalsolstice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. So true!
Every liberal Catholic I know, and I know a helluva lot of them including priests and nuns, are so accepting and respectful of other Christians, Atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. I find it interesting to know a person's religious beliefs, so as to know where they're coming from. For instance, a so-called friend and I both held the same position on the death penalty. I was interested in where her belief came from as she's somewhat a secular humanist. My belief comes from my religious beliefs. In a perfect world we could've pooled those beliefs together, to fight for what we thought was right (unfortunately, it's all about marketing these days). Alas, it didn't happen that way x(.

:hug:
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. bingo
what I think is important is treating others the same way you wish to be treated, because I feel that every human being is deserving of a basic level of dignity. The reward comes with knowing I've made another person smile, or have somehow ensured their comfort.

very well put
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:24 PM
Response to Reply #15
25. those who do good only for their own benefit
are not truly doing good, imho

as you said, you have to have a solid foundation
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:56 PM
Response to Reply #25
35. On the other hand kagehime
if you are driving down the road and the bridge is out and i happen to love to throw rocks at cars so i throw a rock at your car and you stop and it saves you from crashing into the river because the bridge is out... :silly:

okay, let's try this one... do intentions matter as much as outcomes?

:shrug:
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:16 PM
Response to Reply #35
39. yes and no
the outcome is certainly important, i'm not going to argue about that.

however, the intentions are, at times, equally important. to help someone with something that is mutually beneficial to both is one thing, but to do things simply for accolades is another. it degrades the work that was done, at least in my eyes.

i'm not able to articulate it very well right now, but i will think on it more. and, hell, maybe i'm wrong.

:hug:
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:23 PM
Response to Reply #39
41. If I'm Starving And You Feed Me
does it matter whether you want accolades for it or not as long as you feed me?

I get your point too, I'm just saying that in the bigger picture things aren't always done for the right reasons, but they may still be the right things :P

in the end it amazes me that as a society we don't all live in chaos and mayhem because we're all capable of thinking of terrible things. The fact that we for the most part don't act on these impulses says something about humanity.

On the other hand, humanity kills millions of people in the name of ________ and a lack of a compass to guide people's actions may be part of that. Of course there are also charismatic sociopathic types that are able to convince people to act badly.

:hug:
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fizzgig Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:26 PM
Response to Reply #41
43. and i get yours
i guess my view just comes from my own baggage. i got tired of people helping me and then holding it over my head. but yes, in the grand scheme of things, a positive outcome is a positive outcome.

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skygazer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. That's the kind of thing I think about quite a lot
For myself, I feel that not believing in reincarnation or an afterlife makes me think more about what kind of impact I make in my short time here.

I realize that not all religious people look at it this way but it seems to me a lot of them look at the idea of "being good" as something they have to do because they're afraid of the consequences (hell) of being bad.

I don't see it that way. I try to live a good life and be kind to other people (and animals and the environment) because I think that makes the most sense, for myself personally and for life as a whole - mankind certainly but all life.

I don't believe we're here to fulfill some cosmic purpose or some life ordained by a deity. But we're here and for those who come after us, I see a responsibility to leave the world in at least the same shape if not better than we found it.

I just don't see why anyone feels that those who don't believe in a deity have no moral values (not saying you feel that way but many do). Ours are simply based on the logic of living in harmony with others because it's easier and more productive for all involved and not on any commandments from some god(s).
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TheFriendlyAnarchist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. I get this question alot as a deist-(borderline atheist in my case) in a Catholic school
To be honest, I have no idea what our purpose is. Even more so, I don't really care. I'm here, doing what I enjoy, what _I_ perceive as the right thing, and just trying to have a good time along the way.

There really is no reason in following societies rules. I follow the semi-resonable ones simply because I don't want to spend time in jail. I ignore some of the stupider ones and just practice civil disobediance, while the others I follow because I think that they have a good point from my own moral perspective (i.e murder being a crime)

It may not work for everyone, but I'm feeling it right now. Who knows what will happen in ten years though?
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:47 PM
Response to Reply #4
12. Interesting...
not a deist myself, but not really a theist, and not an atheist, and not really truly an agnostic (except from the point of view of a fundie I'm probably an atheistic satanist LOL)

in other words i'm an eclectic and confused person who routinely questions what it is all about. the only answer i have ever come up with is that i don't know.

so if i don't know, then i doubt that anyone else "really" knows. people think they know and some dedicate their lives to that purpose.

i think that "feeling" can be a useful guide for behavior, until you get jaded and cynical like me, but even then feeling has a sense of right and wrong (mainly in the tool "is it hurting someone else or me") and if it hurts someone then it at least has to be called into question.

good post though!

:hi:
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
5. Why Does There Have To Be A Purpose?
for all any of us know we are all just here and we can either sink or swim together!

living in the now, enjoying life, helping people in need, being kind, these are not the domain of the god believing or whatevah crowd only.

In fact, there are plenty of people who claim to be good believing in god kind of folk who shun their neighbors who need their help.

I just don't think that there is the connection between believing in god and doing good things that lots of people want to think there is.

now, i'm a believer in something, just not a "sky god" like that in the bible... i don't know what a higher power actually ends up being, but i do believe in some kind of energy force for good that exists.

:shrug:
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stuntcat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:31 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I want to believe
that that "higher power" or "force for good" is in all of us, in all of the animals and even the plants and especially in the Earth. I believe in that force exactly the way it's described by Obi-Wan, I'm not kidding. (And no I do not give Lucas credit for it, I'm just saying it's the closest I think we can imagine to what's there)

That first paragraph that LynzM said is what goes through my mind every day now. I'm starting to think that human's religions are threatening every living thing in the world now. People will die fighting for religion and power before they'll fight to clean up our trash and save the actual planet. I know how flakey this sounds and I think that's a pity.

What SPK says is right, I think, I have to live in the now and focus on the yard and the house and my health and all the little stuff I can have charge of. At the same time though I think every day of how hideous the next 50 years will be and I'm afraid of it.
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:43 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. The game is bigger now
but it's always been the same game

wars fought in the "name" of religion or some "god" but really being about power, resources, and ego.

i have similar notions about the higher power, and i imagine that Lucas didn't pull the notion out of his brilliance (he is brilliant) but rather out of the fact that lots of people feel something, but can't quite put the face of what someone else has determined should be that face on it.

(aka organized religion's dogma etc. )

:hi:
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Starbucks Anarchist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
6. Self-medication.
;)
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. That works...
until it quits working...

and then what?

for me that was when i started asking questions like the op has.

the appearance of the answers changes like the wind, but the core seems to remain fairly constant.

i think that the core is where it's at for me.

:hi:
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Starbucks Anarchist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:52 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. It hasn't quit yet.
I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. ;)
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:53 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. I understand completely
if it hadn't quit for me i would not have EVER changed what i did at all.

:shrug:

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crim son Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:24 PM
Response to Original message
7. LynzM, I struggle with the same question,
that if I choose to reject the religious or spiritual perspective upon which most of our societal norms are based, how do I choose my path? It's terribly disorienting and a day-to-day question with an ever changing answer. It's heartening to hear you think about it too.
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
18. One way to look at that
if you want to (and yes i know i'm not lynzm) is to consider that all of the religious and spiritual perspectives we have originated in humankind's need for societal norms and structure. Therefore they were developed and designed by humans for humans through trial and error.

Therefore whether the spiritual and religious is real is in terms of societal norms governing behavior amongst people is sort of moot in the consideration of the fact that people came up with the principles themselves. (unless you believe that a god wrote them on tablets of stone in which case you wouldn't be struggling with this question, right?)

anyway, i think that most people think about this to different degrees. the ones that don't i worry about. the ones that become obsessed with it i worry about.

actually i don't worry much about them, i worry about WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO DO TO ME! because I'm just that way ;)
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:13 PM
Response to Reply #7
26. crim son, I think you summed it up well
:hug: and peace to you...
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mainegreen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:32 PM
Response to Original message
9. The purpose of life is to live it. Seems kinda self evident to me.
People way over think this one in my opinion.
:shrug:
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Zomby Woof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:36 PM
Response to Original message
10. We have the freedom to create our own purpose
I do not think that belief in a deity in and of itself confers a "purpose" onto humanity - although faith/belief has been a very effective device the past few millenia for confronting the 'purpose' question. But even as theists continually struggle with the question (witness the best-selling success of Rick Warren's "Purpose-Driven Life"), and although non-theists take a completely different approach, the question is equally pressing and worthy of pursuit for each, and anyone flitting around and in-between.

So as a non-theistic sort, and taking a cue from various existential thinkers, I hold firm that we have a choice on how we define and fulfill a 'purpose' for our being.

I recall as a youth learning about astronomy, which as your geological studies suggest, gives one pause as to the scale of physical reality. When I learned that the sun will one day grow larger and incinerate the Earth and inner planets, it puts mortality in a new light (no pun intended). In the face of this, shall we resign ourselves to a kind of nihilistic view of "it doesn't matter 'cause we're all gonna die", or shall we embrace the brevity and finite structure of our place in the universe and create a 'purpose'?

Non-theists can just as easily seek to alleviate suffering, doing morally and ethically-guided good works, and indulging one's own happiness at a minimum or harm or risk to others. In the face of billions of years and light-years, the few decades we physically inhabit miniscule space may very well have no permanent consequence, and tempt one for the easy nihilistic route, but when we are alive in the here and now, the consequences of our existence are very real, very immediate, and worthy of respect and consideration - namely, whether we are 'created' or not, we humans do and can create, and as such, we should strive to create a purpose for ourselves, and a purpose which embraces the flickering bright spark of our being in the face of mortality and the immensity of space/time. We don't strive to create a purpose in spite of the immensity, we do so because of it: We are, as Carl Sagan said, made of starstuff. We should take some measure of comfort that we are a part of this vast universe, and therefore have just as much purpose as we are willing to assign it.

There's much I am leaving out, but this a sketch of where I come from when pondering these matters.
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:15 PM
Response to Reply #10
27. Thanks, ZW
Much to ponder in what you said there. I appreciate it :hi: I think I'm fighting against that tendency toward nihilism, at the moment, so I will certainly mull over what you wrote. :hug:
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 05:54 PM
Response to Original message
17. I hope you don't mind
Edited on Sun Apr-08-07 05:55 PM by hippywife
my posting in this thread. I am a Christian but I don't give much thought to an afterlife nor let that motivate my behaviour. I'm more a believer in Christ and what he stood for and instructed us to do in the here and now because it's the truly right and moral outlook for a believer in him to have, and I think that was as important a part of his teachings as saving up our treasures in heaven.

I agree with alot of what skygazer said above. We do have a limited time here to make an impact for good or ill. I honor the beliefs and spiritual journeys of those around me and believe that belief in a deity is not necessary for a person to be kind to the world and those we share it with.

The teachings and attitudes of Gandhi and the Buddha inform the way I think and believe as much as my belief in Christ.

I believe that honor and respect for others, and what they choose to believe, is the key to true and everlasting peace, justice, and coexistence. Which, I guess, getting right down to it is what I believe is as good a purpose for being as I can think of.

Thanx for letting me chime in even tho I'm not one of those you called to opine here. :hug:
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:01 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. Since I'm also
not one of the persons LynzM identified, nor am I LynzM, I prolly need to get the heck out of this thread, I've just found it a bit fascinating actually for the past while.

I like what you say and I would think that any thinking person, regardless of their belief or non-belief, or somewhere in between, would also think that what we do here is more important than what might come next.

:thumbsup:
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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #17
30. Hippywife, thanks for sharing!
I have absolutely no problem with you sharing here :hug: I guess in my OP, I just was looking for viewpoints that were less religion-driven as to a system of belief. That doesn't mean that I'm not glad to have you share, though!

I think it's really great that you really try to follow what Jesus taught. I think that a lot of what he taught is good and worthy of applying to all of our lives, whether we choose to believe in him in the religious sense, or not. Being kind, helping others, loving people, those are worthy goals, I think, much as the Dalai Llama and Gandhi and the Buddha all embraced, as well.

Peace to you :hug:
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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #30
34. Thanx, LynzM!
I know I was butting in a bit. I guess I was just wanting to get across that some things like kindness are universal. Or should be. :hug:

It's an excellent question, too.
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KatyaR Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
20. I always tell people that I was put on this earth
to serve as a shining example of what NOT to do with your life.

Gets a laugh and gets them off my back.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 06:22 PM
Response to Original message
24. I recently understood that I don't believe in an afterlife and that
means I probably don't really believe in God. Yikes on wheels.

Nothing changes. Be kind to people. They are all we have and for too short a time. Maybe be kinder because the time is shorter. :shrug:

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LynzM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #24
31. Scary when you get there, isn't it?
I hit that point a couple years ago, and have been processing the implications since. Sometimes it's kind of scary, and sometimes it's freeing. Good wishes to you on your journey. :hug:
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #31
33. Yes, it was scary, is scary. Now, just trying to make peace with it.
If only I were as wise as any of my cats.

Wishes to you as well. :)
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Tyo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 07:18 PM
Response to Original message
29. You find your own way
Whether you believe in a book or not. Books, including the Bible, imo are nothing more or less than the words of people who have come before and are passing on what they believed to be true. They can be both helpful and a hindrance in your own journey. I do not think that there is anything supernatural or "divine" in them.

Anyway, being 99.9% certain, as I am, that life ends with death focuses my mind and encourages me to experience and reflect.
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datasuspect Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:12 PM
Response to Original message
36. i believe the individual person is the sole agent of creativity and meaning in their own life.
in lieu of a promised "eternal reward" you make your heaven or hell right here on earth in the short time that biology permits. this framework entails the greatest freedom and the greatest responsibility. there is no copout in this formulation.

things happen for a reason, but sometimes that reason is 98% of the time very pedestrian and mundane.
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XemaSab Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
37. birding
n/t
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:16 PM
Response to Original message
38. The Universe does not Care
Edited on Sun Apr-08-07 08:17 PM by YankeyMCC
There is no uber-personality that looks over us or has a plan for us or judges us. We are just one aspect of the universe, perhaps there is something particularly special about our ability to understand the universe around us (when we choose to make the effort and be honest at least) but other things have aspects that make them just as special.

But we care. I care for the people around me, I care about living a good life (doing the least amount of harm, the most about of good by helping others achieve what they want to achieve). That is the purpose as I see it. Just because the inanimate universe doesn't care is irrelevant - we care and from that caring comes our purpose.

At least that's this joe-schmoe's take on it...but what do I know ;)
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Chan790 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:33 PM
Response to Reply #38
45. How very very Tao.
This is basically my view on it as well.
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Guava Jelly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
40. I deal with the harsh reality
That we are Animals..We are meat and bones..We are chemical reactions and impulses.
We are a light bulb..when we burn out..it is over.
I believe we as humans are no better than the cockroach we so freely squash.
To wrap it up..There is nothing special or divine about humans
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WritingIsMyReligion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
42. I live by however I please, so long as it harms no other.
Really, life is what you make it to be. If I get stagnant, I remind myself that I will be dead someday--even the next second, should it so happen--and I ought not to waste time doing some measureable good.
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speedoo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 12:58 PM
Response to Reply #42
56. But how do you really know whether you are harming another?
This is not addressed only to "you" but really to all who say they live as you do.

Your statement "I live by however I please" implies that you make up your own rules. But unless at some point you develop a comprehensive set of rules by which you will live, or you are innately all-knowing as to what everyone else is harmed by, aren't you basically doing it by trial and error with respect to whether or not you are harming someone with your actions?

And if there is some error involved in the trial and error process, aren't you in fact harming someone?

Of course, how one defines "harm" is the key. And we are obviously talking only about unintentional harm.

The best example of unintentional harm that comes to mind is from my own experience... I have come to understand that I am a very self-indulgent person. For a long time, I rationalized my self indulgence by thinking that, as long as what I was doing was not harmful to anyone else, it was ok. But in my later years I have learned that I was in fact hurting people close to me with some of my indulgences, so I have tried to change. In changing, a lot of the harm is corrected, but not all.

Now, there was no physical, legal, financial or any other kind of harm that is really measurable. And I would not really call it a psychological harm either. It was more like a concern that I was creating in the minds of people who cared about me. But that concern was not something that was easily predictable for me. Is that concern that I caused a harm? I say yes.

So, my question is: how do you define harm?
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KG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:31 PM
Response to Original message
44. my brain hurts when i start thinking bout such stuff. so i avoid it.
:hi:
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qnr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:33 PM
Response to Original message
46. I don't see the problem. Do you attribute the purpose to Cap'n Crunch? To a manhole cover? I feel
Edited on Sun Apr-08-07 08:54 PM by qnr
the same way about needing a god, or reincarnation, for a purpose to life as a spiritual type would feel about those two. To be honest, I'd be more likely to go for the manhole cover, because I believe it exists. Edit: "you" in a general sense, not you specifically.
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otherlander Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:41 PM
Response to Original message
47. I don't think there's any inherent purpose, but one can create a purpose.
Sometimes it's seemed like my entire being was rejecting society like a bad organ transplant, everything from petty gossip and clique squabbles to monstrous wars, back into the mess of human nature where it came from. But that isn't possible, because I'm human. Don't want to be, but am. So I can't reject human nature because it's me: mob mentality, obedience to authority, knee-jerk judgments, all of it. I could call these traits evil, but that, too, would be a knee-jerk reaction. They aren't evil, they're just things we evolved with but can now rise above. So the purpose of my own life is to do things that will help even when human instict would lead to doing something harmful.
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MedleyMisty Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 08:53 PM
Response to Original message
48. The point is what you make of it
There is no reason for life beyond the facts of evolution and natural selection. There doesn't have to be.

My personal meaning of life is love. I can't remember a time when I could look at another being in pain and not feel compassion. I found my second grade journal a while ago, and one entry talks about how people used their mouths for a force against goodness and how I wanted to make the world a better place to live. Not because of some imaginary reward in an imaginary after-life (I rejected religious dogma in first grade after learning about dinosaurs - I'd never really believed it in the first place and not being able to reconcile millions of years with seven days sealed the deal) but because I want other beings to be happy and healthy and safe right now.

I like Buddhist philosophy. When I first began reading about it, it was like, "Hey, this is how I've always thought and felt." Same reaction as when I first read Gandhi's essays, actually.

As for society's expectations - yeah, whatever. Consumerism and sexism and racism and pretty much any other prejudice you could think of and extreme selfishness and stupidity? Count me out. That's part of why I take tours and pictures of rental properties for a living. I was tested in elementary school as profoundly gifted and everyone expects me to be some powerful executive in some nasty evil conglomerate corporation or something. Whatever. In our sick sad society you have to violate your personal morals and make other people suffer to "achieve" the way people say you should, and I'm not going to do that.

To borrow a phrase I heard on another board - I am a moral endoskeleton. My rules and my purpose and my philosophy come from me. I see another being suffering and I want to help. Not because of some overarching supernatural purpose or because some sexist dude up in the sky is watching and judging everything I think and do and say. I want to help because I feel the suffering of others.

I don't know - that doesn't sound quite right. It's not all ego-centric and like "Their suffering makes me suffer and so I want it to stop." It's more just "Suffering should stop." Ack, it's hard to express it - caring about everything else is just an instinct I was born with. Either that or I learned it so early that I forgot learning it and thought it was an instinct, like chess. And just like I got really upset the day the other kids wanted to play chess and didn't know the rules, I get really upset when other people are selfish and immoral, to the point of becoming misanthropic.

I'm working on that. It can be incredibly hard to feel compassion for the species as a group when you look around and see all the hate and vengeance and selfishness and greed, but I think I'm making progress.

To sum up - my personal purpose is unconditional love and the end of suffering. Your personal purpose may be different. It's up to you to find out what it is.
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Schema Thing Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 09:38 PM
Response to Original message
49. I don't find it to be a valid question
Edited on Sun Apr-08-07 10:15 PM by AchtungToddler
Something constructed, like a tool or a building or a bridge has a "purpose".

It would be valid IF there were a creator who had constructed us, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Even if it was the case, HeSheIt made it supremely unclear what our purpose is; hence you, me, and everyone ask the "purpose question", but no one really ever comes up with an answer that makes even a little sense.

So I smile at babies (that's my only "rule") and try where possible to make the world a better place for their future, but I couldn't really say why I'm motivated to do that :shrug: Maybe I'm just needy for the approval of babies? :dunce:
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AlCzervik Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 09:42 PM
Response to Original message
50. i'm not sure there is a purpose at all, maybe we need to ask that because we feel compelled
Edited on Sun Apr-08-07 09:43 PM by chimpsrsmarter
to explain why we're here or more like why we deserve to be here.
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Oeditpus Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-08-07 10:43 PM
Response to Original message
51. My purpose is to learn
and to pass on to others what I've learned.

The goal is to leave behind a better world than that I entered, even if it's manifest in but one person.

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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 10:27 AM
Response to Original message
52. what does God have to do with my purpose or goals in my life???
My short term goals is to pay off my house and gain a measure of financial independence.

Once Im there (maybe 10 years), I would like to travel and be an activist.

I want to do my part in things that have meaning, such as stopping global warming, preventing future wars, fighting poverty, just doing whats better for all of humanity.

I dont see what believing in GOD has to do with any of this? What I believe happens when I die has no bearing on how I want time on earth to have been spent.

Having never been to church except for weddings or funerals or baptisms in my whole life, I guess I missed the part where you need GOD to guide you to have a positive influence in the world. Somehow I developed that without religion.


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dropkickpa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 10:46 AM
Response to Original message
53. totally an athiest
I don't believe that I have a "purpose" for being here. I exist, and I just want to leave at least my little corner of the world better for those that come after me. Immortality is acheived only by the memories of us that remain after we're gone. No big sky guy is gonna come down and make all of our boo-boos better, so we are responsible for fixing things ourselves. I think some of the resistance to, say, cleaning up the environment, is that, in the backs of their minds, many people do really believe that sky-guy is gonna step in somehow and fix it by waving his big wand before it kills us.

Responsibility is a big driving force, responsibility to myself, kid, and family, and to the world around me. I LIKE when people treat each other well, things seem to just work better that way, so if I want to live in a world like that I have the responsibility to fight for it. Plain and simple.

People very often avoid all responsibility, the "it's not my problem" mentality. If you live here, then yes, it IS your problem. Do what you can, no matter how insignificant it seems to be.
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unpossibles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 11:32 AM
Response to Original message
54. I don't believe we have a "purpose" any more than a tree or a dog has a purpose
we just are, and we just should be. Like appreciating a painting for nothing else than that it pleases me to enjoy it and possibly share that joy with others, so is life. I try to be a good person by being honest and helping others when I can, and it would be neat to make an impact on someone's life, even in a trivial way, so that I am "remembered" but that is not the point.

For me, I feel that an afterlife takes meaning away from our time here. It takes the territory (life on Earth) and turns it into a map. It makes this life - what may very well be our only one, but we won't know until it's too late - cheaper by turning it into some Cosmic S.A.T. test, to see if we've gotten into Divine University or even Purgatory Community College and not washing dishes at the Hell Cafe.

I don't think a tree, an animal, a rock, or a person needs to have a Higher intrinsic value or purpose in order to be valuable or worthwhile or enjoyable. An afterlife for me, negates the ability to properly live in the Now for fear of the Next. I have gotten my moral compass from my parents and from my society and from my ability to empathize with others, and while I find mythology fascinating, and don't mind if no one agrees with me, I feel that a Cosmic Bogeyman or Super Santa Claus, who is always checking in to see if I am worthy is not really a good reason to be good. I would rather trust that most people would be good even if they found out that there is no system of punishment forcing goodness, like the treatment in A Clockwork Orange. Sure, some people may need more structure and rules for whatever reason, and that is fine, but don't try to force someone else's rules onto me please.
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mark414 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-09-07 11:36 AM
Response to Original message
55. life is too short to worry about all of that
Edited on Mon Apr-09-07 11:39 AM by mark414
i figure instead of spending all my time wondering why i'm here or how i'm here or what my purpose is, i'd rather use my equivalent to the blink of an eye lifetime to enjoy what time i have here on earth. nobody's ever going to know what the purpose is, how we got here (except maybe when we die) - so why worry about it until then?

but at the same time, my interest in politics/making a difference comes from my desire for everyone to be able to enjoy their short time on earth...that whole "do unto others" thing....
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