What is the purpose of life?

by slimboyfat 583 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • John_Mann
    The one thing I would add is that my argument is very specifically about "natural evil". In other words suffering that is not a result of human action but which occurs as a direct consequence of the way god designed the world.

    This is the hardest problem in theology and the reason for that is a complete mystery. Even Saint Augustine declared total mystery about this problem.

    Not just related to human suffering but related to non human animals too.

    Indeed this is your best argument, cofty.

  • cofty

    "mystery" just will not do.

    It is a lame cop-out.

    Imagine being in court being asked to account for a deluge of damning evidence that you were a mass murderer and the best you could come up with is "it's a total mystery".

    The god of Jesus does not exist. Case closed.

  • John_Mann
    The god of Jesus does not exist. Case closed.

    Indeed everyone is a judge in this case. This case is very relevant to our internal sense of justice.

    My sentence is total different from yours.

    I know I can't know everything that's why I accept the existence of mystery.

    All I know is we simply cannot be both right. I'm not a relativist and I think you're not one too.

    Good luck.

  • cofty

    If you wish to appeal I am open to hearing fresh evidence.....

  • Heaven

    The Rebel said: its maybe not so much asking the question " what is the purpose in life? that is important, but " having a purpose in life that's important"

    Rebel, this is a very astute statement. I think as we grow up and age, our purpose in life changes. I would say the majority of us can define and architect our life's purpose (assuming we have certain needs met first) but there are also circumstances that thrust themselves upon us, which we cannot deny or ignore, that are not choices but obligations or responsibilities. These also become part of our purpose in life.

    Slim, you asked about personal references or experiences. I suspect many don't want to share that here on the forum for fear of revealing who they are. But I will give you a glimpse into my life.

    Did I want to be my Father's Power of Attorney and his primary care giver during this last chronic and progressive disease stage of his life? No. But I have an obligation, a responsibility here and my personal integrity does not allow me to relinquish this to any one else. He chose me because I am supportive and understanding. He is vulnerable now and I am the guardian, the gatekeeper. I also love my Father despite all the bull shit the JW religion heaped on our family.

    So I have had to put a lot of my own life on hold while this all plays out. And I have had to do things that many would not. This is the survival mode/piece of the purpose of life - ensuring that life can continue as long as possible, that the needs of someone incapable of providing them for themselves any longer, are still met.

  • slimboyfat

    A ha, you are correct the maths problem analogy is not a perfect match. Another analogy might be to say that children are forbidden certain things by their parents. If there are reports of serial killer in the neighbourhood, for example, a child may not be allowed out, even to the garden, to play. On a sunny day this may cause suffering to the child who is not able to understand the explanation even if offered. There are problems with this analogy too of course. People don't like to be compared with children. They may say that not being allowed out to pay is not really "suffering", or that the child could understand the situation if it was explained in their terms. You could argue all those points either way, but the point is that we can conceive of situations in human interactions where people with greater power (such as parents) impose real suffering on others for reasons they can't understand, but that with greater perspective is for the good.

    I am not saying this is definitely the situation with God. Or that I know what the hidden reasons may be. All I am saying is, given that we may not know everything about the situation, and given the possibility that a supreme being may have greater understanding of the situation than we do, it is at least possible that God is acting both from a position of power and goodness in creating the world and sustaining the world in the way in which he does. Therefore the argument I am making is not that there is a God, or that there definitely is a good answer to the problem of evil. All I am saying is that the problem of evil does not logically rule out a loving Christian God. Especially given the fact that the same Bible that says God is powerful and good, also says that humans cannot fully understand the reasons why God acts the way he does.

    You're proof-texting. If you're going to blatantly ignore scriptures that are inconvenient to you, then the argument is not aimed at you. It's aimed at people who are willing to consider all of the evidence.

    Actually I was going out of my way not to proof text. That's why I talk about God's inscrutability as a "dominant theme" of the Bible rather than incontrovertible teaching. I can't actually think of any scriptures that claim God is perfectly intelligible to humans, but modesty requires I don't rule out the possibility. Do you know of any? What I do know, and I've shown above, is that many parts of the Bible indicate that humans can't hope to fully understand God and why he does things the way he does. So to say that the God of the Bible doesn't exist because we can't account for his actions in terms of goodness ignores a large part of what the Bible has to say about God's inscrutability.

    No, I'm certain you would claim God is Good, and would likely use the same scriptures Cofty quoted as evidence.

    Actually I consider myself agnostic, tending toward atheist. But the more I think about the reasons for disbelieving God, the more I realise it is a choice rather than a result of sound logic or argument. The problem of evil does not disprove God, especially not an inscrutable God such as the God of the Bible. The human mind, even in a universe without a divine being, is surely not the perfect judge of all that does or can exist. We are living in an age where human reason has been elevated almost to the level of Godlike status. That's why arguments that involve relying on human reason as the arbiter of what can exist go unchallenged. It's the dominant ideology of our time.

    Raymond Tallis argues that the notion of God is self-contradictory. He explores many reasons for rejecting God says that perhaps a God exists who humans cannot grasp, but he considers it not worthwhile to pursue the possibility. Like trying to understand a "square circle". I think this is ultimately where a reasonable exploration of the arguments for and against God can lead.


  • John_Mann
    If you wish to appeal I am open to hearing fresh evidence.....

    I really think this problem of evil will remains a total mystery because it's known since Epicurus.

    As I said this is your best argument and my hardest problem.

    But your hardest problem is to say WHY there's something in universe instead of nothing.

    If you're are not a nihilist you accept there's a why or is possible to exist a why. And our very minds need "whys". A nihilist by definition would not even care about a topic about "purpose".

    I think theism vs atheism can be resumed to this two problems.

    I enjoy to discuss with you. You're a very clever person.

  • slimboyfat

    I also want to throw out there the idea that there is still a "problem of evil" to grapple with even if we rule out a supreme being. Why does a self-producing reality result in beings that care about justice and yet experience pain? "It just does", and "reality doesn't care"? Are these answers really all that different from, "it's a holy mystery"? They are the secular equivalent.

    Whatever way you look at reality it is deeply mysterious. If there is a supreme being, then his reasons for making the world as he did are mysterious. If there is no supreme being, and the world naturally produces our predicament, all by itself, for no apparent reason, this is also deeply mysterious. Reductive naturalism does not solve the mystery of existence or make it go away.

  • John_Mann

    Yes, with or without God the problem of evil persists.

    And makes you wonder when you think billions of intentional minds try very hard to eliminate it.

    So even if without God one must accept evil is an active reality not a passive one. And an active force needs energy. From where it comes from? And why?

    Why our minds would evolve to perceive evil in first place?

  • nicolaou
    If there is no supreme being, and the world naturally produces our predicament, all by itself, for no apparent reason, this is also deeply mysterious.

    Is it? Why? Given the two conditions you set up I'd expect just the sort of reality that we find ourselves in; one that is impersonal and not centred on the needs of the only* observers capable of understanding it to a reasonable extent.

    *There may of course be other observers in a galaxy far, far away . .

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