1. Illinois
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    12 Jan '12 22:54
    I'm curious...

    Does the cosmos possess any significance, meaning, or purpose by itself without reference to subjective human experience? If not, how do we determine this?

    Can the human tendency to find meaning in nature be considered an indication that the universe 'itself' has meaning, or does the fact that human beings find meaning everywhere as an intrinsic property of being human merely render all our findings suspect?

    Please, no dogmatic responses.
  2. Joined
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    12 Jan '12 23:04
    Significance, meaning, and purpose all require a mind to do the imbuing of the aforementioned attributes.

    For the universe itself to have meaning would require a mind create it for a purpose.

    Now it's not impossible that this is in fact the case.

    However there is no evidence to indicate that this IS actually the case, and none that might shed any light
    on what that meaning or purpose might be.

    Thus for all practical purposes the universe has no inherent meaning or significance or purpose that we can
    detect or determine and thus from our perspective has none of these attributes.

    Some worry that if the universe, or more specifically our existence, has no inherent or external meaning or
    significance then life itself is without meaning and that this causes them to have an existential crisis.

    I on the other hand take the lack of inherent purpose as license to decide what my purpose and meaning is
    or should be, in addition to and as well as whatever purpose and meaning other individuals and society as
    a whole imbue me with.

    I hope this answer was non-dogmatic enough for you, although I am not sure if I actually have any dogma
    to be dogmatic about.
  3. Territories Unknown
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    12 Jan '12 23:04
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    I'm curious...

    Does the cosmos possess any significance, meaning, or purpose by itself without reference to subjective human experience? If not, how do we determine this?

    Can the human tendency to find meaning in nature be considered an indication that the universe 'itself' has meaning, or does the fact that human beings find meaning everywhere as ...[text shortened]... erty of being human merely render all our findings suspect?

    Please, no dogmatic responses.
    Nice.

    I suppose another way to put this is, is meaning strictly a human concept and, if so, to what do we owe the ability?
  4. Joined
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    12 Jan '12 23:141 edit
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    I'm curious...

    Does the cosmos possess any significance, meaning, or purpose by itself without reference to subjective human experience? If not, how do we determine this?

    Can the human tendency to find meaning in nature be considered an indication that the universe 'itself' has meaning, or does the fact that human beings find meaning everywhere as ...[text shortened]... erty of being human merely render all our findings suspect?

    Please, no dogmatic responses.
    I would leave out the word "human" from this question, and then say that it seems necessary that some sort of subjective experience of the universe (or part of it) occur for it to have significance, meaning, or purpose.

    This is similar to the question, what are the criteria for deciding whether something has significance, meaning, or purpose? The easiest seems to me to concern purpose, and a thing which is put to a particular use has purpose. It requires only having a purpose-giver give it a purpose.

    And the same for significance and meaning.

    Is is (edit: Is it...) satisfactory to say that the universe has purpose to the extent that beings exist in it that give purposes to things? This makes the universe without purpose for much of its existence, and possibly without purpose in the future.

    Not too cheery, if its having purpose other than what is given to it by its temporary residents, is important to a person.
  5. Illinois
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    12 Jan '12 23:18
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Significance, meaning, and purpose all require a mind to do the imbuing of the aforementioned attributes.

    For the universe itself to have meaning would require a mind create it for a purpose.

    Now it's not impossible that this is in fact the case.

    However there is no evidence to indicate that this IS actually the case, and none that might shed an ...[text shortened]... tic enough for you, although I am not sure if I actually have any dogma
    to be dogmatic about.
    Thus for all practical purposes the universe has no inherent meaning or significance or purpose that we can
    detect or determine and thus from our perspective has none of these attributes.


    So I take it that you do not consider something like a religious experience or revelation to be a legitimate means of determining whether or not nature is purposeful?

    Apart from religious experience or revelation, what kind of evidence might suffice?

    I hope this answer was non-dogmatic enough for you, although I am not sure if I actually have any dogma
    to be dogmatic about.


    I'm just not interested in parroted responses. I think yours was fine.
  6. Illinois
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    12 Jan '12 23:30
    Originally posted by JS357
    I would leave out the word "human" from this question, and then say that it seems necessary that some sort of subjective experience of the universe (or part of it) occur for it to have significance, meaning, or purpose.

    This is similar to the question, what are the criteria for deciding whether something has significance, meaning, or purpose? The easiest se ...[text shortened]... g purpose other than what is given to it by its temporary residents, is important to a person.
    I would leave out the word "human" from this question, and then say that it seems necessary that some sort of subjective experience of the universe (or part of it) occur for it to have significance, meaning, or purpose.

    Why is consciousness necessary? And how do we know that it is necessary?

    Is it satisfactory to say that the universe has purpose to the extent that beings exist in it that give purposes to things? This makes the universe without purpose for much of its existence, and possibly without purpose in the future.

    If it is the case, however, that the universe is purposeful apart from conscious beings giving it purpose, and we are simply discovering that purpose, it wouldn't be true that the universe is without purpose while conscious beings do not exist. Right?
  7. Illinois
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    12 Jan '12 23:36
    Originally posted by FreakyKBH
    Nice.

    I suppose another way to put this is, is meaning strictly a human concept and, if so, to what do we owe the ability?
    I don't mean to propose a loaded question (i.e., an argument from design, etc.). I'm just curious as to how we know that the universe has no meaning apart from what we give it.
  8. Joined
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    12 Jan '12 23:40
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    So I take it that you do not consider something like a religious experience or revelation to be a legitimate means of determining whether or not nature is purposeful?

    Apart from religious experience or revelation, what kind of evidence might suffice?
    No, no personal experience classes as evidence for god.

    If I were to tell you that I had had a vision, in which it was revealed to me that dragons existed,
    and wanted us to worship them, nobody would take me seriously, they would think I had had too
    much to drink, or had drugs, or was delusional, or had an over-active imagination, or was overstressed,
    or any one of the myriad ways in which the human brain can trick itself and cause people to see hear smell
    and touch things that just don't exist.

    If on the other hand I were to show you pictures of dragons flying over some remote mountain range,
    and show you bits of discarded dragon skin, and burned areas of ground around certain caves, and
    then take you into my back room where I had a set of giant eggs, one cracked open, and a tiny baby dragon
    in a cage in the corner... Then you might start to take me seriously about the existence of dragons and want
    to organise trips to their home to verify what i claim to have seen and taken photos of, and also have the
    eggs and baby dragon tested to make sure its not some sort of elaborate hoax or trick.
    And then when those tests were done and showed that hey actually dragons do exist then you would not just
    be able to believe in dragons but know that they existed.


    People can imagine anything, personal experience and eyewitness accounts are not considered valid scientific
    evidence for this reason.

    Now of course we do use eyewitness testimony for all sorts of claims. However we allow eyewitness testimony for claims
    that are not out of the ordinary or extraordinary.
    We know people commit bank robberies or murder people, and so if we have a bank robbery or murder and somebody
    claims to have seen who did it then that's a valuable piece of evidence. However even then the eyewitness is scrutinised
    and the story checked (or it should be) to make sure it matches up with what the physical evidence tells us about what
    happened and is self consistent and the like. We all have seen the tv shows with the court cases where the eye witness
    gets taken apart and shown not to be reliable.


    God is the most powerful and extraordinary being ever conceived.
    It violates all the known laws of physics by definition and has unlimited power.
    to have evidence for such a being you need evidence that could only have been created by such a being and not by anything
    lesser than that being.

    If extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence then impossible claims require impossible evidence.
    It's impossible to violate the laws of physics (the actual ones not necessarily the ones we have discovered) and yet god is supposed
    to be able to violate the laws of physics at will... to be able to do the impossible.

    Thus you need evidence that is impossible, to be evidence of god.


    People having visions, dreams, or just making stuff up, is not impossible... it's not even improbable.

    So no vision or dream or personal experience is, or can ever be, evidence for the supernatural or god.
    Even if you are the person who has had the experience.

    http://blip.tv/the-atheist-experience-tv-show/aron-ra-what-we-can-and-cannot-honestly-say-we-know-5016609
  9. Standard memberRJHinds
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    12 Jan '12 23:53
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Significance, meaning, and purpose all require a mind to do the imbuing of the aforementioned attributes.

    For the universe itself to have meaning would require a mind create it for a purpose.

    Now it's not impossible that this is in fact the case.

    However there is no evidence to indicate that this IS actually the case, and none that might shed an ...[text shortened]... tic enough for you, although I am not sure if I actually have any dogma
    to be dogmatic about.
    If there is no ultimate meaning in why the universe exists with life
    forms found only on one of the billions of planets, why is so many
    things so ordered to allow for the world we live in?
  10. Joined
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    12 Jan '12 23:542 edits
    Originally posted by epiphinehas
    [b]I would leave out the word "human" from this question, and then say that it seems necessary that some sort of subjective experience of the universe (or part of it) occur for it to have significance, meaning, or purpose.

    Why is consciousness necessary? And how do we know that it is necessary? I think "subjective experience" is more general.
    ...[text shortened]... t be true that the universe is without purpose while conscious beings do not exist. Right?[/b]
    To your "Why is..." ): I will stick with "subjective experience." I use SE to mean that to which significance, meaning or purpose is manifest. I suppose the universe could have purpose (etc.) without there being a subjective experience to which it is manifest.

    To your "If it is..." ): Maybe. It might also be said that its purpose exists beforehand -- even before the universe exists -- and is manifest, or not, to beings that can discern purpose (i.e., not to rocks, maybe not to humans, maybe not to any being, ever). We can think about it that way too.

    PS I may have messed up the quoted text from your reply. Sorry.
  11. Joined
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    13 Jan '12 00:07
    Originally posted by RJHinds
    If there is no ultimate meaning in why the universe exists with life
    forms found only on one of the billions of planets, why is so many
    things so ordered to allow for the world we live in?
    Um just for clarity you are asking "why the universe so conducive for us to live in?"


    Well for starters, it really isn't.
    The vast overwhelming majority of this unbelievably big cosmos is totally and near instantly fatal to humans
    without considerable technological support.

    As for this tiny bit which is habitable, we evolved to live on it, it's not adapted to us, we are adapted to it.

    Also life significantly altered the planet to make it more conducive for that life. It's a major evolutionary advantage
    to adapt the environment around you to conditions more conducive to your own existence, particularly if it makes
    it less conducive for a competitor.
    Our nice breathable oxygen atmosphere exists because life made it, otherwise it would be like the atmosphere on
    Mars or Venus, toxic to us.

    If you are talking about the so called 'fine tuning' of the universe, the laws of physics being finely tuned to allow for life...
    well they 'may' be finely tuned to allow for our kind of life, but our kind of life evolved in this universe with these laws.
    Other potentially possible forms of life didn't because it wasn't conducive to their formation.

    Now questions as to why the universe has the laws it has and not different ones are not yet answerable, but one definite
    possibility is that this is not the only universe, and not the only set of laws of physics, one way or another.

    In which case the answer simply is that we formed in a place where the laws allowed us to form, and not in a place where
    they wouldn't have.


    Even if the answer ultimately is "I don't Know", that means we don't know, it doesn't allow anyone to just make the answer up.
    If you want to postulate that the universe has a meaning then you need to provide evidence for that meaning.
    If you have none then all you can say is I don't know.

    There is no current evidence that suggests any meaning or purpose to the universe, which means for practical purposes it
    doesn't have any meaning or purpose.
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    13 Jan '12 00:29
    Originally posted by googlefudge

    There is no current evidence that suggests any meaning or purpose to the universe, which means for practical purposes it
    doesn't have any meaning or purpose.[/b]
    yest and no. it means that it has every practical purpose. from my perspective, the universe is there for me to experience it. and so the universe has as many practical purposes as there are sentient beings inhabiting it.
  13. Standard memberRJHinds
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    13 Jan '12 00:541 edit
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Um just for clarity you are asking "why the universe so conducive for us to live in?"


    Well for starters, it really isn't.
    The vast overwhelming majority of this unbelievably big cosmos is totally and near instantly fatal to humans
    without considerable technological support.

    As for this tiny bit which is habitable, we evolved to live on it, it' which means for practical purposes it
    doesn't have any meaning or purpose.
    The Holy Bible seems to give one answer to the purpose and meaning
    of the heavens and the earth and man in particular. I guess none of
    us really know. We just pick the reasons that appeal to us. There is
    an article at wikipedia called the meaning of life. Check it out and
    see if any of ideas appeal to you and let me know. Thank you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meaning_of_life
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    13 Jan '12 00:57
    Originally posted by VoidSpirit
    yest and no. it means that it has every practical purpose. from my perspective, the universe is there for me to experience it. and so the universe has as many practical purposes as there are sentient beings inhabiting it.
    Your post made me think of this...

    Nothing.... Everything....

    YouTube&feature=related
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    13 Jan '12 01:07
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    Your post made me think of this...

    Nothing.... Everything....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJuYMLe5W8o&feature=related
    powerful words. they spell out the essence of the void spirit.
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