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Old 04-09-2007, 01:22 PM   #61
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Originally posted by INDY500
So much reason in the universe...but no reason for the universe?


why the need for meaning?

i am totally sympathetic to this, and it causes me to lie awake at night -- what if when we die it's just blankness, not even blackness, would you be aware of it? etc. -- but i also think this need for meaning, this need for invisible friends, this need for omniscent parents, this need to have something care about us, is all a response to the inherent absence of meaning, human meaning, to the universe. it's all very sentimental, even childish.

and i'm not sure i'm with that 100%, but in my darker, more rational moments, that does seem to be the only explanation.

as always we can turn to the Sopranos:

[q]AJ: What's the purpose?

Livia: Of what?

AJ: Being... Here on our planet. Earth. Those kids are dead meat. What's the use? What's the purpose?

Livia: Why does everything have to have a purpose? The world is a jungle. If you want my advice, Anthony, don't expect happiness, you won't get it, people let you down. And I'm not naming any names, but in the end, you die in your own arms.

AJ: You mean alone? [/q]
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Old 04-09-2007, 01:34 PM   #62
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^ Said the kid who crashed Carmela's car while driving without a license; got caught smoking pot at his confirmation party; skimmed Nietzsche and Camus and declared life meaningless; went to gym class drunk on stolen Communion wine; broke into the school and vandalized the swimming pool; and, finally, was expelled for cheating on a geometry test. One has to consider the source of this wisdom.

The book of Ecclesiastes in the Scriptures is a really interesting book on this subject of whether (or not) life has meaning. Generally believed to have been written by the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, the book begins with the phrase "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless," and ends with the insight, "here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." His journey from meaninglessness to meaningfulness is worth reading.
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Old 04-09-2007, 01:59 PM   #63
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"here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."


Well then... I'm doomed.
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:03 PM   #64
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Have you read the book?
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:07 PM   #65
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[B]^ Said the kid who crashed Carmela's car while driving without a license; got caught smoking pot at his confirmation party; skimmed Nietzsche and Camus and declared life meaningless; went to gym class drunk on stolen Communion wine; broke into the school and vandalized the swimming pool; and, finally, was expelled for cheating on a geometry test. One has to consider the source of this wisdom.

the quote i was thinking of was from Livia.




[q]The book of Ecclesiastes in the Scriptures is a really interesting book on this subject of whether (or not) life has meaning. Generally believed to have been written by the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, the book begins with the phrase "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless," and ends with the insight, "here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." His journey from meaninglessness to meaningfulness is worth reading. [/q]


so fear and unquestioning obedience gives life meaning? sounds like a great way to rule a kingdom, to be sure, but is this how sentient beings are to live their lives?
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:34 PM   #66
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Originally posted by nathan1977
Have you read the book?
I've read parts of the bible, but didn't get interested.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:41 PM   #67
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Originally posted by Irvine511

so fear and unquestioning obedience gives life meaning? sounds like a great way to rule a kingdom, to be sure, but is this how sentient beings are to live their lives?
Have you read Ecclesiastes either? It's full of questions. Actually, so is the whole Bible -- so God must be okay with questions.

I'm sort of surprised at the willingness to regard what something says without even taking a look -- very un-FYM.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:44 PM   #68
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Have you read Ecclesiastes either? It's full of questions. Actually, so is the whole Bible -- so God must be okay with questions.

I'm sort of surprised at the willingness to regard what something says without even taking a look -- very un-FYM.


i'm sorry, in the past 2 hours i haven't had time to run to the book store and then read Ecclesiastes.

i haven't criticized the book, i've only asked a question about a specific quotation you've brought up yourself as well as the conclusions you've stated.

could you address my question in response to your quotation? is the message obedience?
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:45 PM   #69
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Well, I don't fear God, but that doesn't mean that I live a life apart from what the commandments say.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:49 PM   #70
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i also question the logic of using the Bible as some sort of authority as to the question of whether or not life has any meaning.

we already know what it's agenda is, and we already know it assumes several starting points (there is a God, for example) that not everyone agrees with.

if we're going to genuinely address the idea of "meaning" in life, i think we'd be best served moving away from religious texts.


ETA: i suppose what i'm saying is that The Bible (and other text) is a symptom of this maladie, not a cure.
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Old 04-09-2007, 04:32 PM   #71
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It is a cure for thought about those existential questions, leaving way for speculation upon the nature of God.
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Old 04-09-2007, 06:59 PM   #72
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Originally posted by Irvine511


i'm sorry, in the past 2 hours i haven't had time to run to the book store and then read Ecclesiastes.
I didn't mean to imply that you had. However, it might behoove you to avoid writing off the perspective of someone who has until you've actually read it. (You have to admit, your response was a bit pointed.)

Quote:
could you address my question in response to your quotation? is the message obedience?
The message is not obedience. The message is relationship. Ecclesiastes basically walks you through the life of a wise teacher who evalutes life on its own terms -- wealth, wisdom, love, work etc -- and finds them all meaningless without the unifying thing that ties them all together -- a relationship with God.

It's impossible to obey without trust. It is impossible to trust without love. "Fear" of God is more accurately defined in this text as "reverence" (which is where the wisdom book Proverbs also starts, with "fear -- reverence -- of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom").

I also find it interesting that it's become casually easy to tar Christians with the non-thinking brush.

Quote:
i also question the logic of using the Bible as some sort of authority as to the question of whether or not life has any meaning.


Why? Wasn't it set down by men (and perhaps women) who had the same questions we all do? The Psalms are full of poignant questions about the intersection of the present and the eternal. Ditto for the Book of Job and the aforementioned Ecclesiastes. The stories of the OT prophets and NT disciples are full of people on a quest for meaning.
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Old 04-09-2007, 08:28 PM   #73
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[QUOTE]Originally posted by nathan1977
[B]

[q]I didn't mean to imply that you had. However, it might behoove you to avoid writing off the perspective of someone who has until you've actually read it. (You have to admit, your response was a bit pointed.)[/q]


i'm sorry if you took it that way, but that was the point i took from the quotation you provided.



[q]The message is not obedience. The message is relationship. Ecclesiastes basically walks you through the life of a wise teacher who evalutes life on its own terms -- wealth, wisdom, love, work etc -- and finds them all meaningless without the unifying thing that ties them all together -- a relationship with God.[/q]

but, again, this is predicated upon the existence of God. i thought -- and maybe i've misread -- but when we're talking about the universe having "meaning," we can't assume God. we can't assume anything.



[q]It's impossible to obey without trust. It is impossible to trust without love. "Fear" of God is more accurately defined in this text as "reverence" (which is where the wisdom book Proverbs also starts, with "fear -- reverence -- of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom").[/q]

i understand the distinction, and i think it's an important one.


[q]I also find it interesting that it's become casually easy to tar Christians with the non-thinking brush.[/q]

it's a stereotype, as i've mentioned in the thread about the girl who passed out the "lake of fire" fliers, and i've said, repeatedly, that you, and others, are some of the most thoughtful people in here.

but i don't think we can get away from the fact that there's a certain logical leap to faith, and i don't think we can get away from the fact that many publicized beliefs in the more fundamentalist streets of Christendom are for the unthinking -- whether it's creationism or praying for jesus to help you on the algebra test or that Bono is precisely your stripe of Christian. there are people who don't think in all walks of life. and there are people who do. but when we're talking about religion in the West, even if through sheer population, Christianity and it's discontents are inevitably going to come up.


[q]Why? Wasn't it set down by men (and perhaps women) who had the same questions we all do? The Psalms are full of poignant questions about the intersection of the present and the eternal. Ditto for the Book of Job and the aforementioned Ecclesiastes. The stories of the OT prophets and NT disciples are full of people on a quest for meaning. [/q]

and here i thought the claim was that it was written/inspired by God.

am just questioning the reliability of the narrator. he seems to think a whole lot of himself.

my big point is that we have to get beyond God, we have to understand a universe that is devoid of meaning, of this paternalistic force that, frankly, i don't think exists. i am not saying that i don't think god exists, i just resent the personification of whatever God might be. or, it's not that i resent it, but to me, that's the first evidence we have that we create our own meaning, that it's not there independent of us. think about it -- if we can only talk about God in our own people-centric terms (father, relationship), haven't we already begun to fashion him in our own image?
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Old 04-09-2007, 09:48 PM   #74
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977
The book of Ecclesiastes in the Scriptures is a really interesting book on this subject of whether (or not) life has meaning. Generally believed to have been written by the wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, the book begins with the phrase "Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless," and ends with the insight, "here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man." His journey from meaninglessness to meaningfulness is worth reading.
Well, allow me to draw from my own Christian heritage:

http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/bible/ec...stes/intro.htm

Quote:
The moral teaching of the book is imperfect, like the Old Testament itself (Hebrews 7:19), yet it marks an advance in the development of the doctrine of divine retribution. While rejecting the older solution of earthly rewards and punishments, Ecclesiastes looks forward to a more lasting one. The clear answer to the problem was to come with the light of Christ's teaching concerning future life.
"On the one hand, a former commandment is annulled because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law brought nothing to perfection; on the other hand, a better hope [Jesus] is introduced, through which we draw near to God." - Hebrews 7:18-19

Ecclesiastes is not a great book to quote from, morally, because of how overtly cynical it is. I say this with some irony, because I read Ecclesiastes 3 during both my Catholic grade and high school graduation masses. My high school religion teachers, in particular, weren't terribly surprised that I chose that chapter either, because I was really quite cynical in those days.

As such, I don't believe that our entire existence is dependent on fear and subservience to God. We are a species capable of great things and we have been granted many gifts in which to achieve greatness. If God wanted us to merely be miserable slaves, then he could have just kept us like the animals, who live, day in and day out, solely out of instinct.
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Old 04-09-2007, 10:53 PM   #75
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Quote:
Originally posted by Ormus


Ecclesiastes is not a great book to quote from, morally, because of how overtly cynical it is. I say this with some irony, because I read Ecclesiastes 3 during both my Catholic grade and high school graduation masses. My high school religion teachers, in particular, weren't terribly surprised that I chose that chapter either, because I was really quite cynical in those days.
Would they have been surprised if you had shown up with a Rickenbacker 12-string guitar and performed The Byrds' "Turn! Tutn! Turn!"? Much like U2's "40" to Psalm 40, the Byrd's song is a musical recitation of Ecc. 3:1-9. Our Methodist youth group sometimes sang it at weekend retreats.

~U2Alabama
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