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3/30/2017 6:03 pm  #21


Re: Classical theism,God and source of meaning of life..

But perhaps you meant to ask how I know that union with God is the only ultimate purpose (ie. the purpose for which God made us). To be honest, I didn't form the belief through natural theology but revealed theology. I am not sure how else we could now it. Knowing the purpose for why God made us would mean we knew something specific about the thoughts and intentions of God. The only reliable way to know God's thoughts and intentions would be for him to reveal them to us. 

Fair enough,I am unaware of your theological background but it seems to me that revealed theology can only inform you of God's purpose ...whether or not you find it most meaningful for it to deserve the label of ultimate meaning is something you know independently...right? 

I suppose if a gun was to my head to prove it via natural theology

WOW, Thats dramatic http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/rambo.png
..who would do that?..

And you reply to their remark regarding a) 

They are right that God's role as creator doesn't by itself guarantee that the purpose he chooses for us will be the purpose we find the most satisfying. But God's role as creator plus his being perfectly good does. A God who is perfectly good could conceive of the form of man, know the purpose for which it was perfectly suited (ie. would find ultimate fulfillment), and would only actualize man if the purpose for which they would find ultimate fulfillment is the very purpose for which he creates them. If God's purpose was other than the one we are perfectly suited then it does seem that he would be creating us in a dilemma, where we either live lives that are less than perfectly good for us, and thus neglect God's purpose, or follow God and never flourish to our fullest potential. I don't think that is consistent with God's perfectly good nature. 

I guess this is related to their argument three ...I will have to say more on this ,,when discussing that ..

But here is where the real force of their argument reveals itself: in NG we are devoted to the same purposes as G, so we would be getting the same goods in a world without God as one with him, wouldn't we?

No... Let me offer a counterexample, an account of ultimate purpose that would not give the same goods in NG as in G. Here it is: the ultimate purpose of man is loving union with God. If this is man's ultimate purpose, would a person who pursues it get the same goods in NG? Obviously not! In NG there is no God for him to be unified with! His efforts would be futile.
 
Here is a parody of Megill and Linford's argument: imagine a man sets out on a pilgrimage to Mecca, but he does it in two worlds, one (M) in which Mecca exists, and another (NM) in which Mecca does not exist. But in NM his journey is devoted toward the same end as M, so whatever good he gets from his journey would be the same in NM as M. Therefore, Mecca is not necessary for having a satisfying pilgrimage to Mecca.
 

Wow this is actually seems very nice counter arguments ...I it does actually seems right now to me that it would undermine their argument but you need to solve those earlier problems with this Account of yours ...otherwise this counter arguments would be question begging...

What I mean by that is suppose someone wanted to convince you that journey to Mecca is most satisfying trip in the world and while all other journeys are somewhat enjoyable , the Mecca should be our ultimate destination...he would obviously need to identify that ..what exactly is that about Mecca that makes it just unique. what good is that which can only come from not only seeking but reaching Mecca ..And why everyone should devout their lives to this journey? ..


I would respond to your objections to argument three and Four Later,Allow me to do that before offering your thought ,,OK 


 

 

3/31/2017 7:56 pm  #22


Re: Classical theism,God and source of meaning of life..

Sorry for one long delay again..

These two arguments are very important specifically I found argument three  very plausibly(its somewhat related to ,though obviously different from The Hiddenness argument,which is also a very plausible argument,at least prima facie and is also one of the more emotionally moving argument at Atheist's disposal) 

Argument three is pretty good. Since it argues against strictly theistic meanings of life, ie. that meaning in life is only possible in a world with God, and my position is a more inclusive theistic theory, ie. that meaning might be possible without God, but God still adds something rich to our account of meaning, I am content to ignore it. That said, there is something that I think the argument misses. Also, I think the argument could possibly be modified to attack my position, so I will comment on those both below. 

Wait, This is a little confusing , weren't you of the view that meaning of life was having union with God? If so then this argument seems to undercut that view ..but now you say that meaning might be possible without God, but God still adds something rich to our account of meaning... what is this "something rich" ? is it what you define as "whatever that is" ? this is what I meant earlier that you seem to be doing two different...You need to be more clear here otherwise I would not be able to know that, under what kind of view you are criticizing their arguments or that do their arguments succeed in showing that your view is problematic or not...



First, what I think the argument misses. The authors begin their argument with this inference: Suppose that God is necessary for our lives to have meaning.  But then, the meaning of life must arise through some sort of relation, whatever it might be, that we stand in with respect to God; for if no such relation between us and God is needed for life to have meaning[i], then our lives could have meaning independently of God. This is where I think the go wrong because there is a type of strictly theistic theory of meaning that does not hold that meaning must be a relation between us and God. It is all theories that think meaning depends on something (y), where y is not God, but y is something that can only exist in a world in which God exists. For example, suppose someone believed, like me, that meaning is found in living for a purpose that is objectively valuable, but also believed that things can only be objectively valuable in a world with God. This hypothetical person would not be convinced by argument three, and rightly. However, it is possible that it is this sort of move that Megill and Linford tried to pre-emptively avoid with their distinction between epistemic possibility and metaphysical possibility. I am still hazy on those concepts[/i].

Based on your earlier remarks its somewhat hard for me to make sense of this statement...it seems that earlier You were ,defending the view that meaning must be a relation between us and God ... and also I think that the claim that things can only be objectively valuable in a world with God. needs some defending ...

About that other argument ..

How should I respond to this? I am not entirely sure of the best way to respond, I have a few theories that I am still working out. One promising response is this: under classical theism, God is the same as the Good, and why there might be cases of "blameless non-belief" concerning God, it is less likely that there are such cases concerning the Good. Everyone should know that the Good exists, even if they don't know every detail about the Good.  Therefore, people can choose to pursue the Good and in this way pursue their ultimate purpose even though they don't know that the Good and God are the same.

First I would like to ask you that what you mean by Good here ? is it in sense of moral realism? Objective moral principles? which realists claim that we can know through reason? if so their are two problems..first is that authors discuss various mental conditions under which a person forms different religious beliefs and beliefs concerning objective values etc...  so it seems even if Everyone should know that the Good exists, even if they don't know every detail about the Good. there clearly are some cases of non culpable disbelief(in the Good) and Therefore, some people live lives with less meaning and fulfillment for reasons that are outside of their control.  ..which authors claim
is an instance of gratuitous suffering ..

And secondly it seems if you mean Good in the sense of Realist Metaphysics(Platonism etc) then their argument Four Undercut this contention of yours ..because basically the argument is parallel argument of Euthyphro dilemma
but it is run in case of Meaning of life...what they are trying to say is that Do our live have significance because God wills it or does God wills it because it has significance ..

Recall earlier you said that existence of God gives our lives meaning because if God has created us than he has created us for a purpose (or that its just give us importance ), this is the claim the authors are trying to criticize here
Because If God has created you for a purpose than it seems your purpose is completely arbitrary( i.e God could have made your purpose torturing People had he so willed) but If God creates you because you have some intrinsic purpose than it seems that purpose lies outside God..and its not really God then that is source of that propose ...   Neither option is Good from point of view of theism...

But it seems Classical theist have an interesting response to this dilemma(see for example Here) that is under the view of divine simplicity properties are universals are themselves grounded in God ..but to this the authors reply that it seems their is no qualitative difference between those meaning full properties that are grounded in God or Those which just exist in platonic fashion...what this means is that there is no difference between objective Good in the sense you described earlier and that Good which is Grounded in God...so while your claim that our purpose should be following Good,doing good...your claim that Good and God are same seems no different than that Good existing necessarily by itself..


So I think their are some problems you need to solve before your criticism of their arguments can be considered successful...maybe I am missing something very important about your views...









 

     Thread Starter
 

3/31/2017 11:50 pm  #23


Re: Classical theism,God and source of meaning of life..

Wow, there were some really good responses there, particularly concerning argument three. I think argument three is the toughest argument by far. In fact, I am going to mull it over a bit more. For this post, I want to focus on removing some of the confusion concerning the account of meaning I put forward. It is probably best to make sure we are clear on that before we move on to anything else. 

Wait, This is a little confusing, weren't you of the view that meaning of life was having union with God?

No. My view is that our ultimate purpose is union with God, but I thought I was very careful to separate ultimate purpose from meaning. I understand the confusion, though. I effectively developed a bunch of jargon, defined each once, then started using it as if that was all the explaining it took. Allow me another attempt to clarify. Below I lay out key terms, then outline my general account of meaning (which is the abstract framework that I think a full account of meaning will follow), and then finish with what I have said concerning my specific account of meaning (which is the particulars that fit into the abstract framework). I hope this helps. 

Key Terms

Meaning: A life lived for a certain purpose.

Purpose:  An end for which one acts

Value: The condition of being desirable

Ultimate Purpose:  The purpose for which God made us, one proper to our essence and which we can find ultimate fulfillment in.

Notice that all of these definitions are unchanged since I put them forward in my first post. 

QED's General Account of Meaning

Alright, first let's get this straight, I don't think meaning in life is only possible in a world with God. If you take a close look at the key terms above you can probably see that. After all, meaning as far as I am concerned is just living one's life for some purpose, and we can live for purposes even if God didn't exist. I said as much in a few of my posts. For example:

I think a meaningful life is something like a life lived for a purpose. Of course, we could still live for purposes in a world where God doesn't exist, so I agree that life can have meaning without God. That is not the area where I disagree with them [Megill and Linford](My 3rd post).
 
My account for meaning is not God based. I think lives can be meaningful in a world without God. (3rd post again). 

First off, it seems obvious to me that one doesn't need to hold a strictly theistic account of the meaning of life to affirm that the existence of God adds something valuable to one's account. For example, in the account I offered, one could have a meaningful life even if God doesn't exist so long as one lives for a purpose that has intrinsic value. (My 4th post).

There are a few more places I say it, but you get the picture. By posting these I am not trying to make it look like it is your fault for misunderstanding me, I have given you a lot to read, and I haven't written very clearly, so that is on me. All I am doing is showing that I haven't flip-flopped at all. I have been arguing for one consistent point of view throughout. 

However, you might notice something different in the third of the above quotations. I add a criterion to living a meaningful life, ie. that one live for a purpose that has intrinsic value. This isn't a change in my view, but it was the first time I made this part of it explicit. Here is what I am getting at: go back to my list of key terms and imagine a world (W1) in which there is no objective value. In W1 the meaning of a person's life is still whatever purpose they lived for, but there is no standard by which one purpose is objectively better than another. The life of Ghandi and the life of some schmuck who did nothing but sit in a hot tub and drink sodas would be equally meaningful. "Meaning," in W1 becomes a useless word. I think we all know what W1 is not the real world. 

Now imagine another world (W2) where there is an objective scale of value. In W2 there is a rising scale of meaningful purposes. People whose purposes stayed on the low end of the scale we describe as "living meaningless lives." By my account, this language isn't entirely accurate. Their life has some modicum of meaning insofar as they live for some purpose, but it is close enough. The life spent in the hot tub is so lacking in substance that we are justified to call it meaningless. But there are also purposes that are on the high end - the good, the true, and the beautiful -  and people who live for these ends we recognize as leading particularly meaningful lives. Ghandi, Einstien, Dostoyevsky,  Mother Theresa, are all people that come to mind. Meaning in W2 I think is clearly close to what we experience in the actual world. This is what I was getting at when I said that lives can be meaningful so long as they are lived for a purpose that has intrinsic value. (Actually, I think even that needs to be qualified, but it is sufficient for this discussion). 

The next question is: is W2 possible without God? That is, can there be an objective scale of value without God?  This is the area where I think I have been the most confusing. Here is my view as plainly as I can say it: I don't know yet. The jury is still out on that issue for me. However, I recognize that many, if not most, people who have thought much about it agree that W2 is possible without God, so I am willing to grant it. If W2 is possible without God, then meaning in life is possible without God. Since I am granting that W2 is possible without God, I am also granting that meaning in life is possible without God.

But if meaning in life is possible without God, then does it follow that theism offers no advantages to our account of meaning? No, it does not follow. Theism still adds a lot to one's account of meaning.This is where my key term "ultimate purpose," comes in. Under theism there is the possibility that the very best purpose anyone could live for is also the very purpose we were carefully fashioned to pursue. This guarantees that the best purpose is not only within our reach, but that we will find it supremely fulfilling. What is more, the very fact that divinity is a real part of the world raises the value of the highest purposes. God, so to speak, raises the ceiling of possible value. It was these concepts that I was getting at when I said things like: "higher dimension of meaning," or "but God still adds something rich to our account of meaning."

In conclusion, my general account of meaning can be summed up with two propositions: (A) that meaning in life is possible without God; and (B) that God still adds something rich to one's account of meaning.
 
QED's Specific Account of Meaning

Notice that the general account given above is highly theoretical. Even if you and I both accept it, there is still a lot of room for us to disagree on the meaning of life, because we still need to assign actual, specific concepts to the generalized placeholders. For example: what sorts of purposes are on the high end of the value scale and what sort are on the low end? What is humanity's ultimate purpose? etc. I have stated my opinion on that latter question - loving union with God - but that is all I have said about my specific account of meaning. Occasionally, I have switched from arguing for my specific account to my general account without clearly marking the change, and it has led to come confusion (I have in mind here the time when discussing ultimate meaning I added in parenthesis "whatever that is." In that paragraph I was arguing only for the general account since the general account succeeds or fails regardless of my opinions concerning the specific account. I included the parenthetical aside to note this fact, ie. that ultimate purpose could be anything. I just happen to already have an opinion of what it actually is).

I hope this clears things up. Let me know if you have any questions!

 

 

4/02/2017 12:17 pm  #24


Re: Classical theism,God and source of meaning of life..

QED,

I apologise once again for the long pause ..

I hope this clears things up. Let me know if you have any questions! 

Yes, It does seem to dispel some confusion ..most of the questions and puzzles i raise, you will see in my responses to your objections to their arguments..you might want to address them when responding to that..

 What I would briefly ask you here is which account is that you ultimately want to defend? It seems to me that both are not equally defendable..given some their arguments seem good against the later view at least..

like I said above their seem to be other problems with your views too which I point out..If you address them I think your counter argument might succeed.. 

     Thread Starter
 

4/03/2017 2:15 pm  #25


Re: Classical theism,God and source of meaning of life..

What I would briefly ask you here is which account is that you ultimately want to defend?

I take it the two accounts you are referring to are my general account of meaning and my specific account of meaning (just for the sake of clarity). I am happy to defend both, just so long as it's clear that they succeed or fail on their own merits. Obviously, the general account does most of the work for addressing Megill and Linford's paper, so it will be the most important so far as that goes. 

Like I said above there seem to be other problems with your views too which I point out. If you address them I think your counter-argument might succeed.

O.K. I will try and address them below  

[T]he problem is that it seems very hard to contemplate the content of  this relationship..
Maybe I should try to be more clear on this question ..for example ..what makes ordinary personal relationships meaning full is their content like our friendship with our colleagues is meaningful because I enjoy their company,they talk to me about all the interesting topics,they pay for food bills ..etc ,or ones relationship with their spouse is meaningful because of ..well all the goods that come from marriage ...and Like my correspondence with you is meaningful because we are discussing a very interesting topic...Its these goods in context of relationships that make it more or less meaningful or which really define these relationships (you might find some of it more meaningful than the rest


Hmm… this is complicated. I am having trouble getting my mind around it. I think I am with you on this point. Relationships must have content to be relationships, and the nature of the content greatly effects the meaning, but I just want to clarify some things. First, that it is not just the positive content that adds to meaning. If my relationship with my sister involved me dropping everything I am doing to drive three hours and pick her up from a crack house after a massive binge, that experience would add a lot to the meaningfulness of our relationship, even though it would also be an awful experience for both parties.

More importantly, the object of a relationship is a key factor to that relationship’s meaningfulness. For example, if you had a long relationship with a pen pal whom you had never met in person, where you both shared thoughts and feelings core to who you are, only to discover that the pen pal was actually a complex computer program, you would definitely consider the meaning of that “relationship” significantly damaged after making the discovery. In the same way, a relationship with one’s mother and father is always more significant then with stranger: if there were two parallel relationships with the same content, but one was with a stranger and the other with one’s estranged father, the later would be more meaningful. This is important for our discussion I think.

ut one can't grasp what would be that qualitative content of our relationship with First Cause which is analogously predicated as good,wise,powerful or as a person...

Why not? I don’t follow you here.

Its that what you need to identify that would allow one to evaluate whether this relationship is most meaningful or not.only then can one evaluate whether this Is so satisfying and so meaningful that one would sacrifice everything in his life to just be able to enter it...

I am not sure I agree that I need to identify it. Any relationship with God would be significant just by the nature of who God is, in the same way a relationship with one’s parents is more meaningful then one with a computer program. So long as we understand who “God” is and what a relationship is we have enough information to know that such a thing would be extremely meaningful.

What I mean by that is suppose someone wanted to convince you that journey to Mecca is most satisfying trip in the world and while all other journeys are somewhat enjoyable, the Mecca should be our ultimate destination...he would obviously need to identify that ..what exactly is that about Mecca that makes it just unique. what good is that which can only come from not only seeking but reaching Mecca ..And why everyone should devout their lives to this journey?

Right, so the whole Mecca parody was meant to point out that there are theistic theories of meaning that absolutely do depend on God's actual existence. It was just a counter-example that shows that that part of their argument fails. It doesn't matter if the counter-example theory is really true (although I think it is true). The mere possibility of a counter-example being true defeats their argument. Nonetheless, I talk more about how we can know that union with God is our ultimate purpose below:

I am unaware of your theological background

I am a protestant Christian, so I get the idea of our ultimate purpose being loving union with God from the bible.

ut it seems to me that revealed theology can only inform you of God's purpose ...whether or not you find it most meaningful for it to deserve the label of ultimate meaning is something you know independently...right? 

Hmm… again, this is tough. I think that whatever purpose God created us for is necessarily the purpose that we would find the most fulfillment in (that is, the maximum state of flourishing). I think it would be contrary to God's goodness to create us for a purpose other then that which we would find truly fulfilling, for the reasons I outlined in a previous post. So if revealed theology informs that that God’s purpose is x, then I would know that x is the end for which I would find ultimate fulfillment.

If that doesn’t cut it for you, other evidence for union with God being our ultimate purpose can be taken from the testimony of those who have pursued it (I offered Augustine as an example). It also seems plain to me that, once we grasp who and what God really is, it is obvious that there can't be a better purpose then a mutual loving relationship with him. I just can't conceive of anything that competes (I talked a bit about that above). And finally, I suspect that a correct examination of the essence of humanity would find that those features that make us unique are features that are ordered towards God, but obviously, this sort of analysis is outside of my reach.  

Now let's talk about the big kahuna: argument three. After thinking it through a bit more I realized that I did a pretty poor job when I discussed it before, so let me try and clean up my position on it a little. 

Before I say anything else about it I am going to point out the very first sentence the author's write about argument three. Here it is:  We now offer a third argument for doubting that God is a necessary condition for meaningful human life (I went ahead a bolded it, because it is important). One of the propositions in my general account of meaning is that God is not necessary for meaningful human life. This is something I have maintained throughout the entirety of this conversation. So, argument three, as it is found in the article, does not actually attack my position. If I wanted to I could simply ignore it. But I don't want to ignore it for two reasons: first, because I like discussing arguments, so why not discuss it; and second, because I think the argument could be modified to attack my position. 

In my last post on the subject I mentioned that Megill and Linford made a mistake. They said that any account of meaning that holds that God is necessary for there to be meaning in life, must contend that meaning is found in some relation to God. I think they made a mistake here. One could hold that meaning depends on y, where y is not a relation to God, but y nonetheless can only possibly exist in a world that includes God. I then gave an example of what this view might look like in a less abstract sense. However, this view is NOT my view. My view is that meaning can exist in a world without God. I only brought up this view because I think Megill and Linford failed to address it, and it is fun to find the holes in arguments. So, we could just dismiss this whole point if you want, I shouldn’t have even brought it up.

What is relevant is the modified argument three I developed to attack my position. You brought up some interesting objections to my defense, which I will address below:

[s]o it seems even if “Everyone should know that the Good exists, even if they don't know every detail about the Good,” there clearly are some cases of non culpable disbelief (in the Good) and Therefore, some people live lives with less meaning and fulfillment for reasons that are outside of their control.  ..which authors claim is an instance of gratuitous suffering ..

The examples Megill and Linford cite are of people whose cultural upbringing predispose them towards atheism and people who have autism. Neither transfer over to being examples of non-culpable disbelief in the Good (by which I do mean objective moral values). There are disorders (not autism) that effect one's moral awareness, but I think you would be hard pressed to argue that they effect it so much as to make the sufferers non-culpable in a disbelief about the Good.

And secondly it seems if you mean Good in the sense of Realist Metaphysics(Platonism etc) then their argument Four Undercut this contention of yours ..because basically the argument is parallel argument of Euthyphro dilemma but it is run in case of Meaning of life...

I am afraid I don’t understand why this would undercut Platonism, or theories like it. You will have to walk me through your reasoning on this one, sorry.

[W]hat they are trying to say is that “Do our live have significance because God wills it or does God wills it because it has significance.”

If by significance you mean value, I think I would say that God wills human existence because humanity is intrinsically valuable. But meaning is different from intrinsic value. We sometimes use “meaning” and “significance” to denote the same thing, because I think we intuit that meaning is found in living for purposes that are valuable/significant. The two concepts are closely tied, but they are not the same.

Last edited by Quod-est-Devium (4/03/2017 2:16 pm)

 

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