Life’s Purpose

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A blogger I follow named Jayne, who posts at A Life Retired, left an interesting comment on my post titled Faith Versus Reason. She wrote, “After reading [that post] and the comments, I am left with a couple questions for all. In absence of faith, what happens after life? What was the purpose for living?”

Let me first say that I’m not in any way an authority on what happens after life or on life’s meaning or purpose. So what I’m expressing herein is nothing more than my personal opinion.

That said, one of the most common arguments I hear about disbelief in God is the idea that without God, life would seem to be utterly devoid of any real meaning or purpose.

From my perspective, a belief in God, in and of itself, is not what gives our lives purpose. We can find purpose within our own lives by achieving good relationships with our families and with other people, with our work, with the groups to which we belong, and with the deeds we do.

As to what happens when our lives end, I believe it’s the same as it was before our lives began. We didn’t exist. I believe that this life we live in this world, in the here and now, is all there is. And when it comes to an end, it’s over and out.

But rather than suggesting that our lives, therefore, have no meaning or serve no purpose, I see it differently. I believe that recognition of this inescapable fate makes our lives and the time that we do have in this world even more meaningful.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

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Faith Versus Reason

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My blogging buddy, Jim, wrote a fascinating post today entitled “Why is it So Hard to Believe in God.” In addition to being a provocative post, he managed to get in the WordPress one-word prompt, “recreate,” when he wrote, “We cannot recreate the Big Bang, so we may never understand all of this, but we can believe that we do exist.” Well done, Jim.

In response to one of the comments on his post, Jim wrote, “I believe in logic and God makes sense to me….” I found that notion to be particularly interesting. I believe in logic, reason, and rationality, and it’s because of embracing those things that God makes no sense to me.

For purposes of this post, I’m going to consider “logic” and “reason” to be synonymous, although technically they aren’t. Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.

That said, logic (or reason) is the antithesis of faith. It takes tremendous faith to believe that an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, supernatural being created everything that exists.

So the question I have for Jim, or for anyone who cares to weigh in is this. When it comes to belief in God, can logic and reason support that belief, or must one suspend logical and rational thought  in favor of pure faith to believe in the existence of God as the creator of all things?

Please feel free to share your thoughts (or beliefs).

One-Liner Wednesday — Faith and Common Sense

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“Faith is believing in something when common sense tells you not to.”

Do you believe that the message presented on this church sign is accurate? Is that how you would define faith? Must one suspend common sense in order to have faith?

Personally, I’ll take common sense every time.


This is my entry into today’s “One-Liner Wednesday” prompt from Linda G. Hill.

 

Practical Pragmatist

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I am a pragmatist. And I think of myself as a practical person. Thus, I am a practical pragmatist.

So what is a pragmatist? A pragmatist is a person who is oriented toward the success or failure of a particular line of action, thought, etc.

A pragmatist is an advocate or adherent of pragmatism, which is the philosophy or conduct that emphasizes practicality.

Philosophical Pragmatism

The pragmatic philosophy is based on the belief that the best way to evaluate the practicality of ideas, policies, and proposals is through their workability and usefulness. Pragmatism stresses action over doctrine. The philosophy embraces the notion that ideas base their meanings from their consequences; that they are essentially instruments and plans of action.

So how do I know that I’m a pragmatist? When I was a young adult working a full-time job and attending graduate school at night to get a Master’s degree, the girl I was dating at the time lambasted me for putting more emphasis on “dollars and degrees” than on my relationship with her. I wasn’t, she bemoaned, giving her as much time and attention as I was giving my job and my school work. She didn’t like being the third priority in my life, yet she was.

I knew I needed to work hard at my job in order to pay for rent, food, school, and, well, life. I knew that getting a graduate degree would enable me to be more successful and secure in the future. I knew these things because I’m a pragmatist.

So what about “practical”? I describe myself as a logical, rational, and reasonable person. I am not ruled by emotions but by facts, observations, and evidence. That’s likely why, in addition to being a pragmatist, I’m an atheist. There is nothing logical, rational, or reasonable about religious doctrine or dogma. Rather than being based upon facts, observations, and evidence, religion is based upon faith and beliefs where there is no empirical evidence.

This is not to say that I am devoid of emotions. I am empathetic and have been known to shed a tear or two when I encounter pain or suffering by others. I may not feel as intensely as others feel, but I feel nonetheless.

Nor does my pragmatism mean that I can’t be open to beliefs or faith, either. Every time I board an airplane I have faith that the aircraft is mechanically sound and that the pilot and copilot are sober and competent. I just don’t buy into this whole God thing because there is no empirical evidence that such an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, supernatural being exists other than in the minds of those who have embraced ancient mythologies over logic, rationality, and reason.

So bear in mind as you read my posts, should you decide to read beyond this first one, that, as a self-identified practical pragmatist, my perspectives are borne out of practicality and pragmatism.

And that works for me.