For the context of the following comments and to reply, please click on the DATE/TIME above them.
[Note: This is a continuation of the comment streams that began in The Winding Path – 137. I’m presenting individually isolated conversations for the sake of legibility,]
[Note: John Lombard has told of his own story of clergyman loosing his faith. He had been a missionary in China earnestly telling people that they would go to Hell if they didn’t convert.]
John Lombard – “In fact, one of the most difficult aspects of rejecting religion and becoming an atheist is that we change from being the REASON for the existence of the universe, and from every single person having a divinely-appointed purpose…to being pretty much IRRELEVANT to the existence of the universe (the universe would exist, exactly as it is now, even if humanity had never appeared; and it will continue, entirely unaffected by us, long after we disappear), and having NO OUTSIDE PURPOSE whatsoever. The ONLY purpose we have as atheists is that (w)hich we can define for ourselves.”
Did you come to this PURPOSELESSNESS on your own, or was there the equivalent of a “missionary to China” convincing you to adopt the belief system?
The word “IRRELEVANT” is interesting here. Not related to what?
Does the Sun have purpose? This hard, impersonal brand of reasoning would force you to say no. But it has EFFECT.
Since you do exist, it makes no sense to even imagine the Universe without you. Is there purpose in it? Wrong question.
What is the effect of your existence? This is what IS.
Where does the effect of you or the Sun end and begin?
Careful: When did the Sun begin becoming? When is it’s effect absolutely done?
Since I have artificially isolated both you and the Sun from the context of all existence. All effect. What are your thoughts about that?
John Lombard – “Had humans (or any life at all) never appeared, the universe would still exist, and would be exactly the same as it is now (minus life forms on our planet).”
If you are more than casually committed to this line of reasoning then there isn’t likely to be much understanding develop between us.
The way I see it; For starters we do exist. Sentient Life seems to be the norm here on Earth (probably all over the place as well).
The Universe makes sentient Life as easily as it makes stars.
What is gained by writing this out of the script? Any insights that followed from the abridged edition would be impoverished beyond redemption.
At least that is my take on it.
“As to the rest of your comments, I’m sorry, but to me it’s just meaningless babble…”
It’s amazing how often I hear this.
As regards my riff about “When did the sun begin becoming?” You pick it up quite elaborately (and I might add, anthropomorphically) well into act 3.
“Huh? It ‘began becoming’ at whatever point in time gasses began to coalesce in our solar system, with gravity condensing those gases into a ball until it reached critical mass and began the processes of nuclear fusion that power it today…by best estimates, around 4.5 billion years ago.”
It “began becoming” at first light. i.e. immediately.
Same as us. Our Effects, absolutely intertwined. Indistinguishable.
(“first light” is a metaphor, I’ll let you wrestle with it on you own time.)
In light of this reasoning you will see my difficulty with the following:
“No humans were around at that time. No real planets, either, for that matter. So, again, humans were IRRELEVANT to the origin or existence of the sun. And some day, millions of years later, the sun will destroy all life on Earth as it expands and eventually engulfs our planet (or, alternatively, explodes)…and again, human existence will be largely irrelevant to the sun as it does that.”
There is that word again, “IRRELEVANT”.
John Lombard – “You seem to be confusing relevance with existence. And no, the existence of both are not ‘absolutely intertwined’. Yes, the sun is relevant to us…without the sun, we could not exist. We are dependent on the sun, we need the sun. However, we are entirely irrelevant to the sun. If humans had never existed — heck, if our entire PLANET had never existed — the sun would still be exactly as it is today. Our existence has zero impact on the sun. We are irrelevant to the sun’s existence. To be ‘absolutely intertwined’ would mean that we are ‘absolutely dependent on each other’…but that is plainly not the case, unless you’re making some sort of argument that the sun needs us in order to exist, or is somehow affected/changed by our existence.
If you disagree, then rather than these vague platitudes you present as arguments, tell me how the sun’s existence is in any manner dependent on humans…that is, how the sun’s existence would be any different if humans had never existed, or if humans were to disappear tomorrow.
Then, extend that argument to the rest of the universe.
Humans ARE relevant, to a certain degree, to life on Earth, in that we inarguably have an impact on our planet. But the universe as a whole? We can observe it, we can study it, we can appreciate it…but it would still be there even if we’d never existed, and will continue to be there long after we’ve left.
Your argument is that humans are somehow ‘relevant’ to the universe. So give me some concrete examples, and answer the following questions:
Is the existence of humans necessary to the creation or existence of the rest of the universe? By that, I mean that if humans had never existed, does that mean that the universe would not have existed? Or when we observe the sun, or another galaxy, do we have any impact on those at all? Are they changed in any way by our existence? Are they any different than they would be if we did not exist?
And please note that if your answers to the above somehow involve god creating the universe for us, that only demonstrates my initial argument that the religious view of the universe is a fundamentally egocentric one…that everything was created for and exists for us.
ETA: Let me add that while I appreciate your enjoyment of using metaphors, a metaphor is not, never has been, and never will be ‘evidence’ of anything whatsoever. I can create metaphors for literally ANY idea…doing so doesn’t make that idea more valid.”
like I said we are not going to come to an understanding. The difference between our views has been quite plainly presented for others to interpret (if it seems useful).
In summary, yours seems to be a human-centric view placing us outside of, and irrelevant to the Universe.
My sense of the holographic and integrative nature of it all seems to be incomprehensible to you. Or else, is simply not acceptable because is smacks of God.
There you have it.
Of course you probably didn’t mean that the Sun would be “exactly the same” without the earth. Gravitationally and existentially quite a lot would be different. The scope of the Effect would cascade through out the Uni……oh sorry. Not RELEVANT.
[He repeats at length his points with increased frustration indicated by the increase in capitalization.]
I’m going to be foolish and try again; without getting a commitment from you to tune up your ears first.
I at no point said; The Universe or the Sun are “dependent” on human beings.
I specifically tried to open your eyes to the nature of our RELEVANCE (as in INTIMATE RELATION) to the Universe as EXISTENCE. A continuum.
My point is way simpler than you are making it out. It is something that, if heard correctly, would be obvious. But alas.
“I find it rather mystifying that saying ‘human beings don’t matter at all to the universe’ is interpreted by you as ‘human-centric’. ‘Human-centric’ would pretty much by definition require arguing that humans WERE relevant or important.”
For “human-centric”, Lets just substitute: “Not being able to see past the end of your own nose”.
And, it seems like a deliberate choice. The demand that everything must be “empirically proven” or it is not true.
Who judges or evaluates this “empirical proof”? Who’s imperfect understanding sets the standards for that evaluation?
Even if you are a professional scientist, you should know that such a rigid application of the discipline is only reasonably appropriate for the practice of science.
To shoe-horn daily life and overall existence into such a cramped space is “UNNATURAL”.