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The Problem of Purpose

BSM1

What? Me worry?
You didn't need your mother to teach you that causing intentional harm to innocent people is wrong. You didn't need her to teach you that accidentally harming someone innocent isn't immoral (although you might have needed the experience to teach you that your action that caused the accidental injury should be avoided in the future).

You didn't need your mother to teach you that intentionally causing harm to someone who attacks you is justified. Your mother didn't have to explain to you that only enough harm to stop the attacker is justified. It would be wrong to kill someone in self-defense if you could stop the attack by simply restraining them.

You needed your mother to explain the various ways that one might insult people because those are things which will vary from culture to culture. But you didn't need your mother to explain that insults cause harm and that intentionally insulting people is wrong in all cultures.

You didn't need your mother to explain that justice is only possible to minds unbiased on the relevant issue. For example, you know intuitively that the sentencing of a convicted rapist would likely be unfair if done by the mother of the rapist or the father of the victim.

Your mother is/was not a moral authority. If she told you that killing is always immoral and you accepted her opinion, she misled you. Conscience does not support absolute rules like that. It makes judgments case-by-case when all of the facts of the situation are known.


Of course your mother or father or Juvie officer had to teach you right from wrong. If it were not so you would have never been reprimanded as a child or ever heard the "NO" word.
 

Samantha Rinne

Resident Genderfluid Writer/Artist
First of all don't knock orgies unless you've been in one.

This post won the internet.

Atheism has no problems at all. People who are atheists are just as moral and have just as much purpose as anyone else. People love creating and enjoying culture. It has nothing to do with religion. If you think all atheists are nihilists you do not know many atheists. The ones I know can drink, party, and do drugs in equal proportions to any theist I know!

What I'm trying to say, is that I, personally have gone through very agnostic periods. And without any sort of faith in the Afterlife (for the sake of this thread, the presence of a God didn't seem to make nearly as much difference, unless your new religion was very Calvinist, i.e. "God has a plan for me") during my worst moments, no matter what I did, it wasn't much good.

I've no doubt there are moral atheists. Or those who do a great deal of admirable things. But having lived as an agnostic for a portion of my adult life, going to church but not really "feeling it", I can honestly say that I tried nearly as many things as the writer of Ecclesiastes. He was right, none of these things I did amounted to anything.

I do in fact know a few atheists (or agnostics, anyway). One was very sweet, but then decided to jump off a ledge because she can't take life no mo' and after instead spraining her arm and getting a "don't you understand how worried I was about you" lecture, decided she was gonna do it again, after cutting ties with me. One is contentedly programming a video game, but seemed to completely lack empathy when he found out the first one had jumped. A third is still my best friend, she was a "church members suck" agnostic, she's chill but it seems like her goals seem very short-term (getting out of the house, mainly).

In short, the question is not "atheists don't have morals" (they do) or "atheists don't leave behind monuments, or live life fully" (they do, and they do) but rather there is no "what next?" Suppose once they die, that monument gets all vine-eaten? And what's the point of doing things when you don't get to see if they turn out well?

To use Game of Thrones, (which I only know who dies so don't spoil the end) this is like ending the story with the death of the Night King. Okay, great the Night King is gone.

...Then?
 
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joe1776

Well-Known Member
Of course your mother or father or Juvie officer had to teach you right from wrong. If it were not so you would have never been reprimanded as a child or ever heard the "NO" word.
Conscience is intuitive moral guidance. It doesn't determine moral behavior. You were born with a conscience.

When you smacked your little sister hard on the back of her head for eating the last Oreo and were told "No" by your mother, it wasn't just then that you learned that it was wrong to hit your little sister. You knew but didn't care.

The punishment that might have followed didn't teach you right from wrong. It taught you to care (if only in self-interest).
 
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shmogie

Well-Known Member
As I see it, life does have a purpose beyond mere survival. That purpose is determined by the pain and pleasure functions of our brains. We are punished with guilt when we do something morally wrong. We feel the urge to punish others when they cause serious harm to others. When we treat others with kindness, we are rewarded with pleasure. We feel good about it.

We are born this way. The normal human brain comes hard-wired with this moral intuition that we refer to as conscience. Conscience is a moral guide. We can follow its guidance or not. However, if we learn to always try to do the right thing, we will make moral progress. One's beliefs about God and religion don't matter in the least.

The purpose of life is to make moral progress. If we inherited the genes of a serial killer but manage to live a life without causing serious harm to anyone, we can be proud of our achievement.

Using the reward and punishment method, our brains are determining that life's purpose is moral progress.
Atheists tell us that a human dies, and everything he was dies too. Civilizations die, cultures die, the earth will die, the universe will die.

A lifetime is a hopelessly tiny piece of time in eternity, the lifetime of the earth, and universe are completely diluted in the vastness of eternity.

Therefore, none of it has any meaning, it all leads to death, oblivion, nothingness.

None of it has any purpose, the end is always the same, what seemed purposeful is forgotten, what was beheld in deep meaning, is meaningless.
 

joe1776

Well-Known Member
Atheists tell us that a human dies, and everything he was dies too. Civilizations die, cultures die, the earth will die, the universe will die.

A lifetime is a hopelessly tiny piece of time in eternity, the lifetime of the earth, and universe are completely diluted in the vastness of eternity.

Therefore, none of it has any meaning, it all leads to death, oblivion, nothingness.

None of it has any purpose, the end is always the same, what seemed purposeful is forgotten, what was beheld in deep meaning, is meaningless.
I'm a pragmatist. I'm convinced my life will be lived better if there is purpose. Making moral progress, striving to become a better human being, gives my life purpose.

Moreover, I'm aligned with humanity's trend. We humans are treating each other better today than at any time in our past. This trend of moral progress is, in turn, liked to the survival of our species. And, my brain is rewarding my progress with greater contentment.

And, if my contentment is merely a delusion, who cares?
 

BSM1

What? Me worry?
Conscience is intuitive moral guidance. It doesn't determine moral behavior. You were born with a conscience.

When you smacked your little sister hard on the back of her head for eating the last Oreo and were told "No" by your mother, it wasn't just then that you learned that it was wrong to hit your little sister. You knew but didn't care.

The punishment that might have followed didn't teach you right from wrong. It taught you to care (if only in self-interest).


Not necessarily true for every one.
 

ChristineM

"Be strong" I whispered to my coffee.
Premium Member
most atheism (aside from Buddhism which has trappings of religion) has a specific problem as a result of no firm sense of anything beyond death. Because of this, no matter what you do, nothing seems to matter

You have a very limited view of Atheism. Most atheists are ex religious, their firm sense has persuaded them of the contradictions, confusion, misrepresentation and hypocrisy of religion is a leaky coat to be discarded.

I, as an atheist have a firm sense of family, friendship, community and life and they matter greatly to me


How does one answer the Problem of Purpose for atheism? That is, you say you don't need religion to be moral, but obviously the idea that there is no afterlife actually would tend to revert everything to nihilism, wouldn't it?

Atheism : disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.
That of course means all the trappings of theism, church, worship etc are dispensed with.

Other than that we are human beings (no matter how you have been indoctrinated) with the same purposes as all human beings, with the same human morality, not tainted by religious bigotry


Game of Thrones is a rather dark story,

It is also a fiction, so not the best source to base your worldview on.
 

Mock Turtle

Oh my, did I say that!
Premium Member
You didn't need your mother to teach you that causing intentional harm to innocent people is wrong. You didn't need her to teach you that accidentally harming someone innocent isn't immoral (although you might have needed the experience to teach you that your action that caused the accidental injury should be avoided in the future).

You didn't need your mother to teach you that intentionally causing harm to someone who attacks you is justified. Your mother didn't have to explain to you that only enough harm to stop the attacker is justified. It would be wrong to kill someone in self-defense if you could stop the attack by simply restraining them.

You needed your mother to explain the various ways that one might insult people because those are things which will vary from culture to culture. But you didn't need your mother to explain that insults cause harm and that intentionally insulting people is wrong in all cultures.

You didn't need your mother to explain that justice is only possible to minds unbiased on the relevant issue. For example, you know intuitively that the sentencing of a convicted rapist would likely be unfair if done by the mother of the rapist or the father of the victim.

Your mother is/was not a moral authority. If she told you that killing is always immoral and you accepted her opinion, she misled you. Conscience does not support absolute rules like that. It makes judgments case-by-case when all of the facts of the situation are known.

What does a newborn baby know with regards any of this? Do you not think that a baby is secure within its mother for so long that they can recognise where their source of goodness lies, and who has their interests at heart when they finally emerge? Really think that the bonding that babies have, and the experiences they have, do not impart any kind of tuition to them - the test babies being several months or up to a year old? We can't test newborns effectively, or even in the womb, but eye movements and supposed interest are hardly definitive proof that they have what you seem to think.

Additionally, since you probably believe, as I do, that many other animals (mostly intelligent and social) do show signs of having some sort of moral behaviour, do you propose that these too are born with such, when, as it is likely, they are taught such by their mothers and other members of the group?

Anyway, I'm not saying it is not the case that we might be born with some innate traits but that the evidence is hardly definitive, as Bloom is arguing:

The Moral Life of Babies
 
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Mock Turtle

Oh my, did I say that!
Premium Member
Conscience is intuitive moral guidance. It doesn't determine moral behavior. You were born with a conscience.

When you smacked your little sister hard on the back of her head for eating the last Oreo and were told "No" by your mother, it wasn't just then that you learned that it was wrong to hit your little sister. You knew but didn't care.

The punishment that might have followed didn't teach you right from wrong. It taught you to care (if only in self-interest).

If you polled parents I think you might get different answers, and often it seems to me that it is the parental environment that often determines such, even though we all are obviously different and are born such. Quite difficult to disentangle influences from what we are born with.
 
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joe1776

Well-Known Member
....
Anyway, I'm not saying it is not the case that we might be born with some innate traits but that the evidence is hardly definitive, as Bloom is arguing:
By "evidence" I assume you mean scientific studies that support the conclusion that conscience is innate. If so, we agree on this. The science isn't conclusive on innateness.But about 30 years ago, I realized that the notion that the judgments of conscience were the product of reason was a popular myth. At that time, I could make the logical case that David Hume was right: conscience was moral intuition. A decade later, in 2000, Jon Haidt, et al, did the first research to support the intuition theory.

Conscience, our moral guide, emerges as intuition immediately from the unconscious to signal a warning of a wrongful act despite the fact that the moral situations happen in an almost unlimited variety. It's a remarkable function with wisdom that I can't believe we could acquire with experience in just our lifetime. It must have taken ages. For that reason, I assume we're born with it.
 
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Mock Turtle

Oh my, did I say that!
Premium Member
By "evidence" I assume you mean scientific studies that support the conclusion that conscience is innate. If so, we agree on this. The science isn't conclusive on innateness.But about 30 years ago, I realized that the notion that the judgments of conscience were the product of reason was a popular myth. At that time, I could make the logical case that David Hume was right: conscience was moral intuition. A decade later, in 2000, Jon Haidt, et al, did the first research to support the intuition theory.

Conscience, our moral guide, emerges as intuition immediately from the unconscious to signal a warning of a wrongful act despite the fact that the moral situations happen in an almost unlimited variety. It's a remarkable function with wisdom that I can't believe we could acquire with experience in just our lifetime. It must have taken ages. For that reason, I assume we're born with it.

I still don't think you can separate our upbringing from such. Plenty seem not to have such (conscience) and which appears to come from parental (or lack of) influencing. Like the child thugs who attacked me for no reason as a child, and where one took his belt off to use as a weapon. Possibly what his father did to him? His innate conscience seemed to be lacking.

And I meant Bloom's evidence, since he is arguing the case, not conclusively producing evidence as to such.
 

joe1776

Well-Known Member
I still don't think you can separate our upbringing from such. Plenty seem not to have such (conscience) and which appears to come from parental (or lack of) influencing. Like the child thugs who attacked me for no reason as a child, and where one took his belt off to use as a weapon. Possibly what his father did to him? His innate conscience seemed to be lacking..
I won't be able to find it again quickly enough to supply a link, but I read research which found that sociopaths, who psychologists say lack a conscience, actually can discern right from wrong. They just don't care.

Conscience is a moral guide only. We can choose to follow it or not.
 
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Mock Turtle

Oh my, did I say that!
Premium Member
I won't be able to find it again quickly enough to supply a link, but I read research which found that sociopaths, who many say lack a conscience, actually can discern right from wrong. They just don't care.

Conscience is a moral guide only. We can choose to follow it or not.

I think I'll await more evidence on this, but I'm not discounting it entirely.
 

rational experiences

Veteran Member
Religion is a concept of science for it involves creation aspects.

If humans were taught science in secret male cult groups and owned a secret language, then the everyday person was not privy to the true meanings that egotists in cult with that cult mentality own.

Special self purpose.....as the scientists knowingly only claim special humans with high intelligence are in their CULT group.

Yet they are humans who own the non spiritual mentality the ability to realize destruction.

So spiritual human said the A theist was against life purpose and were totally correct.

Life was destroyed a long time ago...we know we said we returned to human life again, reincarnated after dinosaurs...and you cannot own that purpose unless once you were human first.

So dinosaurs cannot suddenly become a small animal...so small animals had to live first.…..blasted out their natural cells, became monsters in Earth gas heated radiation changes.

The monster BEAST stories...Science Satanism history. Life burnt to death, evidence of all creatures found locked in amber, coal artefacts found...technology found deep in Earth fusion.

It was REAL, HUMAN history on Earth...technology.

So then spiritual humanity said we needed to take control by medical evidence, the Healer spiritual sciences.

And they did...the formed a TRIBUNAL which took over.

Then the public in general were taught as basic science concepts as possible for support in the community.

The reason that spirituality and science is joined in a scientific historic reason.

For God SION, the fusion of the stone angel in hell who owned original sin is the ATOM.

Water, the vibration droplet of made in the image of God as the inheritor in space on the face of the deep...water was there first as the angel of God, our Earth had gone to hell burning.

Stone shut off hell...as we said...stone the angel of kept us safe.

Science in radiation sciences changed Earth fusion...unlocked Hell on Earth.

We all died...we remembered.

Science tries to do it again...changes the HOLY WATER droplet as the star of David theme...water is HOLY....water above our head keeps us safe.

They blast Earth on the ground with the Devil ALIEN of us the nations alienated...fusion bombarded/attacked by incoming UFO masses of radiation change their fusion....GOD O the angel was separated...language got separated and so did natural spiritual DNA.

We get told remember your 2 first human parents were once the exact same multi same DNA self...remember who you all are.

Do not support OCCULTISM/nuclear science destruction....so humans got taught the theme of the Holy star of water and life continuance and human healing.

As best that it could without scientific fake symbolism, that holy spiritual minds do not comprehend.

so when you get told be intelligent....no thanks I do not want to be possessed into believing I am an alien. I am a human you liar Satanist.

Never agreed to be intelligent, taught against its precepts in my spiritual lived life experience.

Spirit chose my life and mind psyche to tell me its stories...allowed me to know that the eternal spiritual being was our Creator factually so I could tell my family about the Destroyer returning to our life in science.

For it is real.
 
Additionally, since you probably believe, as I do, that many other animals (mostly intelligent and social) do show signs of having some sort of moral behaviour, do you propose that these too are born with such, when, as it is likely, they are taught such by their mothers and other members of the group?

Also animal behaviour changes as they reach the age of sexual maturity.

I'd quite like to play with a lion cub, not so keen on playing with its mum or dad though :emojconfused:
 

Kfox

Well-Known Member
The Problem of Purpose goes like this: regardless of belief in a deity, most atheism (aside from Buddhism which has trappings of religion) has a specific problem as a result of no firm sense of anything beyond death. Because of this, no matter what you do, nothing seems to matter.
How does “nothing beyond death” equate to “nothing seems to matter”? One thing has nothing to do with the other; please explain.
How does one answer the Problem of Purpose for atheism?
What I do today, matters today. Even if it doesn’t matter tomorrow, if it matters today, it is purposeful.
That is, you say you don't need religion to be moral, but obviously the idea that there is no afterlife actually would tend to revert everything to nihilism, wouldn't it?
How does “no afterlife” equal nihilism? IMO one has nothing to do with the other. Please explain.
 

The Sum of Awe

Brought to you by the moment that spacetime began.
Nope. ..."A growing body of evidence, though, suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life..."
The Moral Life of Babies
How they can come to the conclusion of what babies expect. How could they possibly know that babies expect a person to reach into the box they first saw the object instead of the box that it's already in? Because they stare at something for an extra long time? That seems to be the only excuse they gave for how they know babies supposedly do rudimentary math.

I'm not saying that babies are completely dumb creatures, but we give them so many personifications: logic, morality, math, expectations... All of these personifications could be explained by other simpler means. Do you have an example that can't? I admit I quit reading halfway through the article.
 
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