SeN "Benefits of atheism"

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Gadianton
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SeN "Benefits of atheism"

Post by Gadianton »

The proprietor of a certain blog goes back to a topic he can actually get responses to, moments before slipping into irrelevancy for good.

Billy Shears offers an array of answers that I pretty much agree with. So as not to retread ground, I'll offer up a couple of other observations.

The Proprietor writes,

"come at the high price of living in a universe that is entirely indifferent, one that could, in fact, easily be described as hostile except that it is completely unconscious and lacks any purposes or intentions at all. Lost loved ones will remain lost forever."

This is a fundamental tension in the proprietors theology. One that he has spent exactly, zero minutes and zero seconds thinking about.

There is no logical connection between a universe that is intentional towards life, and one where loved ones aren't lost forever. There is no necessary connection between God and personal immortality and along with it, the western idea of infinite personal consumption. The proprietor appears foremost interested in securing personal consumption for eternity -- here is the problem, and then along comes God, who happens to be the solution. He can slam the big "Coke" button and all is well. Sure, he parts with a buck fifty. There is the price. The atheist keeps his change and doesn't get "ripped off". But the atheist doesn't know that this Coke machine is "broken", and the dollar-fifty returns cokes forever. That's the big "The valleys shall be exalted" plot reversal of his religion. The price appears too high to the unbeliever, but in actuality the price is drastically too low.

"Once-Orthodox Jews could enjoy bacon bits in their salads."

There are a whole lot of Jews who have lived, who found meaning in avoiding bacon despite the fact that there is no resurrection, and that the works of humanity will be "lost" -- to individual humans at least -- forever. That it mattered to God during their lives apparently meant that it mattered to them. But for the proprietor, this wouldn't be good enough. It would only matter to the proprietor if God guarantees some kind of big payoff in terms of individual consumption, one that paces the broken coke machine analogy.

Has he not read Added Upon? There is no intrinsic meaning in that universe either. The author is explicit that the race of Gods are the fittest survivors. The universe doesn't care. So long as there is a guarantor of consumption, through a particular kind of human culture, then the very contingent desires and thrills of humans find meaning, but only in the contingent fact that a power structure is in place to keep the fulfillment going on indefinitely.

Could there be any stupider of a universe out there?
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: SeN "Benefits of atheism"

Post by Physics Guy »

I can see Billy Shears’s points as good things about not believing in the Mormon God but most of them baffle me as good things about atheism. It’s like hearing a teetotaler insist how great it is not to have to drink that awful juniper liquor. Dude, you don’t have to drink gin. Try some brandy. Wine cooler. Whatever. The stuff comes in more flavors than you seem to realize.

The one point that doesn’t baffle me is the one about finite life being precious. I think I understand that one. But I think it’s still mistaken as a special feature of atheism because I think that although this isn’t widely emphasized actually immortality doesn’t really remove mortality.

Our oldest child has left home. She’s still alive. We can FaceTime. But it will never again be the same as it was. And as children grow it’s always like that. When she was six I realized that the sweet simple creature she had been at three was as gone as if she had died. I wouldn’t have wanted her to stay that way forever. I was glad she had grown. Yet I would have liked now and then to flip back even for just a few minutes. I missed the three-year-old kid even when the six-year-old kid was playing right there in front of me. And so it went on through the years. Time is like that.

To believe in eternal life takes away most of death’s sting. It doesn’t take away the need to make the most of the present. We may go on, but we’ll change. The way we are right now dies, even if life is eternal.

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Gadianton
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Re: SeN "Benefits of atheism"

Post by Gadianton »

That many important aspects of life are obviously irretrievable is a good argument against the Sic et Non crowd.

I take Billy's points as what religion has offered in aggregate -- tribalism and visions of hell for enemies. That disappears if God disappears.

If you want to compare to any specific version of God (or rather God + immortality), perhaps a "wine cooler" variety that we conjure up on the spot, then maybe God wins maybe he doesn't. I don't think it's possible to say if immorality is better or worse with the information we have. I do think we can say it's worse given certain scenarios, such as eternal repetition of restaurant visits and scholarship. There is also a hitch. Those arguing for immortality can't say, well yeah, it is hard to imagine how repeating anything we enjoy an infinite number of times would be enjoyable, but eyes have not seen nor ears heard the great things God has in store. If God fixes the outcome then we can ditch immortality and just say that God fixes the outcome for this life alone as enough. I hate to play the card, but Einstein believed in God, but not an afterlife. "One life is enough".

So the challenge is imagining an eternal life scenario that stands on its own (in our restricted question of atheist benefits). The evolution idea where we leave former selves behind and continue to change seems to be the only viable option. Not sure I'd pull the trigger on it though.

Personally, I'd start with the option of an afterlife, vs. eternal life. Let's start with reuniting with relatives and friends, freeing ourselves of ailments, and having injustices righted. Would a hundred years of that be worthwhile? I'm not even sure about that. Do I really want to know all the family secrets? Do I really want to see everyone who did me wrong get punished? That alone could eat up a huge block of time, not to mention whatever punishment i have coming. Would it really be that satisfying? An afterlife of 100 years and then fade out like in the movies I'd probably pull the trigger on though. Why not? I give it 50-50 as being worthwhile, and if wrong, I could handle a few decades of boredom.
Lou Midgley 08/20/2020: "...meat wad," and "cockroach" are pithy descriptions of human beings used by gemli? They were not fashioned by Professor Peterson.

LM 11/23/2018: one can explain away the soul of human beings...as...a Meat Unit, to use Professor Peterson's clever derogatory description of gemli's ideology.

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Re: SeN "Benefits of atheism"

Post by Temp. Admin. »

(Dr. Shades here, posting under our "Temp. Admin." account.)

Hi Gadianton,

Do you have a link to the original conversation at Sic et. Non? If so, will you please post it?

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Re: SeN "Benefits of atheism"

Post by Physics Guy »

I haven't been bored so much, so far. As I get older I'm getting concerned about not having enough time to accomplish all that I want. And if I hear of somebody who dies at an advanced age having remained enthusiastically engaged in many activities until the last moment, I think that that person really lived the right way. So although I agree that typical depictions of the afterlife seem dull, I'm inclined to be hopeful that eternal life doesn't have to mean eternal tedium.

Extrapolating from a few decades to eternity doesn't necessarily seem reliable, though. So maybe God's attitude to me is that I will have been cool to have around for a while but this was never going to be a permanent thing. Maybe human beings are just inherently finite beings, with an absolute upper bound on how far we can grow and how much we can do. Maybe we're just not cut out for eternity. In that case I guess Einstein would just have been right, that one lifetime—or a finite afterlife, conceivably—is enough.

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