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 Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce

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Gnomon
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PostSubject: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:39 pm

<< The more the universe seems understandable, the more it seems pointless.>>

<< The effort to understand the universe is one of the very few things that lift human life a little above the level of farce, and give it some of the grace of tragedy. >>
----Stephen Weinberg, The First Three Minutes.

If that's the case, what's the point of studying something meaningless?

<< If it isn't about anything there would be no reason to embark on the scientific quest in the first place . . . So we might justifiably invert Weinberg's dictum and say that the more the universe seems pointless, the more it also seems incomprehensible. >> -----Paul Davies, The Goldilocks Enigma

If the universe has "architecture" to be studied, could it have been "designed" by blind & deaf & dumb Luck? Pointless, purposeless Chance?

<< The more I examine this universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe must in some sense have known that we were coming. >> ----Freeman Dyson, Disturbing the Universe

Even though we don't know what the ultimate destiny of the universe is, the inference that it is headed toward some teleological Omega point is hard to miss, unless you avoid looking at the big picture. Yet it seems that the primary distinction between Atheists and Deists is in their attitude toward the disorienting predicament we find ourselves in. Atheists view the godless, pointless world as a Greek Tragedy to be endured with the noble grace of Greek Stoics. By contrast, Deists find the cleverly organized, purposeful universe more like a Greek Farce, to be enjoyed with the pragmatic modesty of Greek Epicureans.


* Tragedy is based on Pointless Suffering, and Dignified Struggles, yet it extols Heroic Persistence in the face of insurmountable odds. Farce is characterized by Irony, Absurdity, and Silly Antics, but it accepts the Foibles of Fallible human nature with Optimistic Humor.


Quotes from Philosophy Now 01-02/2009 article by Mary Midgely, Purpose, Meaning, and Darwinism.
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:55 am

Hmm - I would identify as atheist.

But I see existence as very meaningful and also quite full of point, at least for me.

There's the sun, which is warm and nice and throws the most beautiful orange light on the tops of trees in the late afternoon. There's the sky and the grass and the smell of the air in fall. There's mountains and the ocean and cats and sweet iced tea and most of all, there's love.

But from reading some of your other posts, I think we have a very different internal experience of reality.

I was reading another thread just now about suffering driving this point/meaning obsession that I've always wondered about. Hmm - so someone who thinks like that would probably see my answer as evidence that I haven't suffered. I think it's more that maybe I see suffering differently than most people do. I don't take it personally.
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:28 pm

Quote :
But from reading some of your other posts, I think we have a very different internal experience of reality.
MM

Actually, as I noted in another thread, we all have a subjective experience of reality that differs from the experience of others in various ways. What makes the big difference is in how we react and respond to our personal reality. The Slumdog Millionaire kids experienced a radically different world from mine. But some of them sink to the bottom of the muck, and others swim to the top and make their escape. Part of the contrast may be luck, but part of it is pluck, otherwise known as attitude.

Apparently, some people are motivated by their tragic situation to vainly try to overcome the impossible odds against them. The Spartans of the recent flick 300 seemed to relish the idea of a hopeless battle. Their only hope for the future was to be remembered in legend as heroes who didn't back-down in the face of adversity. [I personally would have volunteered to sit on the sidelines and document the proceedings]

Other people are more motivated by the apparent absurdity of their reality to at least try and make some sense of it. As an Agnostic Deist, I don't think one path is ultimately superior to the other. Instead, I see it as each of us playing the role we were assigned by the unseen director of this farce. Fortunately, in my understanding of reality, we do have some individual freedom to ad lib a few lines here and there.

According to a book I'm currently reading, Please Understand Me, my personality type fits into the Rationalist category. Rationalists are most concerned with understanding and making sense of things, constructing abstract theories. Some Atheists may fall into other categories that are more interested in getting things done in a practical, concrete manner, regardless of the theoretical implications behind their actions.

It takes all kinds to make a world. Welcome to the forum.


Last edited by Gnomon on Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Wed Mar 04, 2009 5:37 pm

Quote :
Hmm - I would identify as atheist.

But I see existence as very meaningful and also quite full of point, at least for me.

Yes. That is the lesson of Existentialism : the universe is meaningless and pointless, so you are forced to create your own personal meaning.

But Deists apparently see "evidence" of a universal logic and a teleological tendency in the universe. I don't think that cosmic "out-sight" comes to them because they have some special gift from G*D. More likely, it's a result of their innate perspective on the world. And I suspect that most Deists fall into the Rational category of temperament and character. BTW, that doesn't mean they are smarter or more reasonable than anyone else. It's just that they tend to solve problems primarily in their minds, rather than with their hands, or as a social group.

The book I mentioned before is based on Karl Jung's personality types, and the Briggs-Meyers personality inventory. The basic differences they observed were labeled and arranged into a table of dichotomies : Extraverted / Introverted; Sensory / Intuitive; Thinking / Feeling; etc.

But the author also gave descriptive names to each of the combinations of basic functions : Tactical Artisans; Logistical Guardians; Diplomatic Idealists; and Strategic Rationalists. The key distinction between Hands-on Artisans and Abstract Rationalists, for example, is concern with practical, right-here-right-now events versus theoretical, long-range or big picture interests. In a military campaign you would want Artisans in hand-to-hand combat, and Rationalists in the headquarters planning for the future. The point being that each type has an appropriate role to play. LIkewise, in the understanding-the-universe campaign, we need all types to contribute.

Atheists tend to ask the practical questions : what difference does your hypothetical, non-intervening deity make in the real world? Theists would answer that they experience God in their lives every day. But Deists quibble that they are talking about personal feelings, not real-world experiences. For instance, miraculous healing is almost always a subjective psychosomatic change-of-mind, and seldom a physical change in objectively verifiable body parts. But we can't deny their subjective experience, because in the final analysis all humans experience the world by way of their solipsistic minds.

By contrast with the mundane, practical concerns of Atheists, Deists seem to be more interested in the big-picture, theoretical structure of the cosmic system. And the chain-of-being, as a whole, does not work without a divine linchpin to hold everything together.

An example I like to use is the current astronomical theory of Dark Matter and Dark Energy. Theoretical scientists have concluded that the logical, mechanical operation of the physical universe cannot be satisfactorily explained without including an X-factor in the calculations. But those hypothetical factors are, so far, invisible and intangible. So a skeptic might ask what practical difference do those ghostly entities make to me, down here on sensible planet Earth? And the answer is "practically none".

Those impractical, theoretical Cosmologists are probably long-range Rationalists instead of down-to-earth Empiricists. And yet a century ago, Einstein and the Quantum theorists were up the same creek with only a hypothetical paddle. But now your cell phone wouldn't work without the counter-intuitive concepts they pioneered.

All of this rationalizing doesn't prove that G*D is real. But it does add to the circumstantial evidence that S/he is ideal. And in my emerging worldview, reality may be an idea in the mind of G*D. What do you think?


PS---It might be interesting to do a poll of Atheists and Deists, to see which Briggs-Meyers category they find themselves in. Some of both persuasions may fall into the Rationalist camp, but I suspect they will fit different sub-categories : ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, or INTP.
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:01 pm

Repost from another forum :

<< While the deist god is certainly more palatable, I still don't see the reason for adding him/her at all.>>

For Deists, the deity is not an add-on after-thought. The First Cause is integral to the worldview of an organic, evolutionary universe. The alternative is life and mind arising from non-life and non-mind. Rationally, that does not compute. The part is contingent on the whole, and the temporal depends on the eternal---not the other way around.
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:54 pm

Here's some related musings on the "all the world's a stage" topic:


Is the absentee deity of Deism like a salmon, who lays eggs to propagate a new generation, and then dies? In that case, the young salmon inherit all they need to continue the cycle of life. They don't need parental nurturing. The parents don't hang around to defend them from predators, or to find food for them. They are on their own, for better or worse. From day one, they are self-sufficient orphans.

Most Deists seem to hold-out hope that our situation is not that cold-blooded. They would prefer a little more parental investment in their welfare. But what evidence do we have of such divine nurturance? Can we point to miraculous providence, or even encouraging words via scriptures or visions? Theists claim to know that they are loved, and that their welfare is in good hands. But many Deists lack that faith and assurance.

So is the life of a Deist a Tragedy, or a Comedy, or a Drama? Is there any continuity to the storyline?
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:32 pm

Gnomon wrote:
Here's some related musings on the "all the world's a stage" topic:


Is the absentee deity of Deism like a salmon, who lays eggs to propagate a new generation, and then dies? In that case, the young salmon inherit all they need to continue the cycle of life. They don't need parental nurturing. The parents don't hang around to defend them from predators, or to find food for them. They are on their own, for better or worse. From day one, they are self-sufficient orphans.

Most Deists seem to hold-out hope that our situation is not that cold-blooded. They would prefer a little more parental investment in their welfare. But what evidence do we have of such divine nurturance? Can we point to miraculous providence, or even encouraging words via scriptures or visions? Theists claim to know that they are loved, and that their welfare is in good hands. But many Deists lack that faith and assurance.

So is the life of a Deist a Tragedy, or a Comedy, or a Drama? Is there any continuity to the storyline?

I think the human existence itself is much like a Shakespeare play. It is difficult to pin down into any one genre. Tragedy, Comedy, Romance, Drama - these are all parts of life. Shakespeare rarely wrote a play that was simply one or the other. The beauty and timelessness of Shakespeare is that each of his plays is a multi-genre investigation into the human endeavor.
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PostSubject: Re: Atheist Tragedy - Deist Farce   Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:34 am

Uriah wrote:
Gnomon wrote:
Here's some related musings on the "all the world's a stage" topic:


Is the absentee deity of Deism like a salmon, who lays eggs to propagate a new generation, and then dies? In that case, the young salmon inherit all they need to continue the cycle of life. They don't need parental nurturing. The parents don't hang around to defend them from predators, or to find food for them. They are on their own, for better or worse. From day one, they are self-sufficient orphans.

Most Deists seem to hold-out hope that our situation is not that cold-blooded. They would prefer a little more parental investment in their welfare. But what evidence do we have of such divine nurturance? Can we point to miraculous providence, or even encouraging words via scriptures or visions? Theists claim to know that they are loved, and that their welfare is in good hands. But many Deists lack that faith and assurance.

So is the life of a Deist a Tragedy, or a Comedy, or a Drama? Is there any continuity to the storyline?

I think the human existence itself is much like a Shakespeare play. It is difficult to pin down into any one genre. Tragedy, Comedy, Romance, Drama - these are all parts of life. Shakespeare rarely wrote a play that was simply one or the other. The beauty and timelessness of Shakespeare is that each of his plays is a multi-genre investigation into the human endeavor.

I agree. I think existence is ultimately trans-genre.

Although it's full of all sorts of individual acts and scenes.

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