Sunday, November 9, 2008

Give me meaning NOW

Dinesh D'Souza, in the most popular post on his old AOL Newsblog, in his typical clueless fashion, asks us: Where is Atheism When Bad Things Happen? He goes on to say:
Blah, blah, blah, I don't give a damn what he's saying because he's a frickin' moron.
Yeah...what he says is irrelevant because one of the commenters leaves a far more eloquent, and equally misguided rendition of the same exact post. Comment number 375, Rachael Todd, welcome to the spotlight!
You talk about how you are insulted when people assume you don't care about when a person dies or believe that you are "heartless," but you aren't being any more tolerant than they are.I am fairly certain that my religious friends would be extremely insulted, as you refer to religion as "magic" and "imaginary friends"--that people who believe in any religion are "idiots."
Slight issue: it isn't intolerance if it is true. Religion does involve what we would call magic and imaginary friends. And religious people are being idiots when it comes to religious issues. If you are asserting that they idiots outside of that general compartmentalized region of thought, however, then it is inaccurate, and is intolerant. Just like calling atheists "heartless".
People who have faith do not have faith because they have evidence. The fact that there is no evidence and yet they continue to believe is what FAITH is. I'm not religious--I'm not atheist, and I try to look at things like this from both sides of the spectrum.
You've got to love faux agnosticism. I'm getting real sick of the tendency for people to claim the middle ground, and then preceding to guffaw about how it is morally and logically superior simply on merits of being in the middle of a perceived spectrum. But, the thing is, this isn't a spectrum from religious to not: it's a massive system of Venn Diagrams with each circle being an individual religion, with the further you are into each circle representing how firmly your beliefs are held, and with the region outside of the circles representing atheism. You aren't in the middle of a straight line, seeing both ways. You are on the cusp of a regionally popular religion, pretending that you can see the entirety of religious ideology from that position.
D'Souza wasn't saying that you have to have religion in order to have compassion and emotions.
Good for him. He really doesn't need any more phail on his record than he already has.
He was saying that if people believe we are just a horrible accident that just happened to end up in the universe, then why does it matter if I shoot somebody--they are just another accident, just like me.
Not a horrible accident: a wonderful accident. We happened to end up in the universe, happened to be born, happened to become who we are today, and have only the good fortune of existing to get us through our days in an otherwise indifferent world. The reason why it matters if you kill someone else is because 1. you and the person you are killing only get one life, for better or worse 2. you and the person you are killing can both feel pain and feel joy, making life worth living and making death a torment 3. you and the person you are killing both have social connections that can be damaged by such sudden deaths or such dangerous behavior. It doesn't matter whether we are "accidents" or not. What does matter is that we exist, we think, we feel, we interact with other beings that exist, and we probably will never exist again after this. Which is as good of a reason as any for you to seize the day, and not take away other people's rights to do the same.
We just came out of the same slime pit at the beginning of time, so killing them isn't a crime at all.
Why? Crimes are defined by society, not by some value judgment on your part that having their origins in slime pits somehow justifies terminating sentient beings. What aspect of coming out of "slime pit" inherently detracts from our worth?
"Molecules acting on molecules." If that's how modern science is being interpreted, then something more, WITH modern science--to give life meaning--would be nice.
This is a reference to Dinesh's inane comment that "for scientific atheists like Dawkins, Cho's shooting of all those people can be understood in this way--molecules acting upon molecules."
It is what I like to call "the straw-chemist". I call it that because not even chemists, who are entirely entrenched in the exploration of the world in terms of molecules, atoms, ions, and subatomic particles that make up all of observable reality think of their everyday existence as just "molecules acting upon molecules". Anymore than architects see buildings as "bricks piled upon bricks", biologists see their pets as "cells clustered with cells", or writers see written texts as "ink stains adjacent to ink stains". All of these things are ultimately true, however, but just focusing on the small picture, rather than the larger scale that we just happen to live in and which is the level that we commonly interact with others on is something that is just not done. Things explained through molecular chemical processes can still be more than just "molecules" to us on the human level of understanding the world. Buildings are more than the bricks that make them up, living things are more than cells, text is more than pixels, reality is more than molecules. Why? Partly because their arrangement is also significant. And, more relevantly, it is because we, subjectively, give them more meaning. We give everything meaning in that respect, including our own lives. It's just a matter of perspective; no gods necessary.
Tor ANY atheist who happens to be reading this: please tell me why you think life is worth living. What's the point?
"To ANY theist who happens to be reading this: please tell me why you think THIS life is worth living. What's the point? We're just a pile of dust set along preset paths by a deity who only cares about us if we kiss his ass, and who each have an eternal life after this one. Why don't I just praise Jesus and have some merciful sinner shoot me in the mouth so that I can get my eternal salvation and be done with it?"

To answer you straight: life is worth living because the alternatives don't give you a lot of elbow room for changing your mind. These ghouls shouldn't play this game, but they always do.


handmaiden said...

I'm not religious--I'm not atheist, and I try to look at things like this from both sides of the spectrum.You've got to love faux agnosticism.
So...would you say you were a Secular Humanist with a bit of existentialism thrown in?

pboyfloyd said...

I thought that Seeker was 'talking' from an 'agnostic's supposed POV' there.

Oh, well, never mind. I though for sure that I commented on the Cho killings on the D'Souza blog. Hmph!

Asylum Seeker said...

Wait...what's the question here? With the exception of the last sentence, I was quoting another person's comment on that blog. I have no idea what that person supposed themselves, but it sounded like the standard posturing that there is a hard agnostic position which exists in between religious and atheistic, and that, on merits of it being a "golden mean", it is also a favored position. I personally consider myself an agnostic atheist and, yes, a wee bit of an existentialist too (on an unrelated note). Secular humanism iffy. I have not explored it thoroughly enough to know whether I qualify.

Asylum Seeker said...

Oh, and knowing D'Souza's tendency to make two posts on every subject, in addition to his love of ghoulishly claiming about the glory of his political ideology/religious beliefs over the corpses of the innocent, you probably just posted on a different rendition of the same concept, pboy.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

On the topic of meaning I had a bit of an existentialist crisis last week. When attempting to express my joy in the results of the election it occurred to me that I don't have anything that I can 'praise to' when really happy. Everything seems to be related to some form of mysticism in one shape or form. We need a secular 'praise be' phrase. 'Thanks be to the Anthropomorphic Cosmological constant' or some such. Maybe we need a contest...

Asylum Seeker said...

"Praise Science", "Thank No-god", and "What good fortune" serve as good enough for me. And, for expressions of surprise, I usually mingle "Oh my God" or "Jesus Christ" with random insulting or vulgar words.
"Jesus Bottomfeeding Hippie Christ of Nazireth" is a particular favorite interjection of mine.