Life Driven Purpose, pg 42

Jul 31, 2017

By the way, Christians believe that when they get to heaven there will be no more struggle, pain, or sorrow. This means there will be no problems to solve during an eternity of praising the Master. Since purpose comes from solving problems, heaven will be Ultimate Purposelessness!
Most believers think the mere material world can’t have purpose. Our lives must be directed from outside in order to have meaning, they preach. They imagine that the spiritual, whatever it is, is superior to the natural. They view the natural world as low and debased, while the supernatural is lofty and sublime.

–Dan Barker, Life Drive Purpose, pg 42


11 comments on “Life Driven Purpose, pg 42

  • 1
    maria melo says:

    It´s sad, but that´s a natural psychological trend we all have, for instance to have steady life conditions.
    I myself believe sometimes life has little “purpose”, but if it has had a huge importance while young, hope not to forget it -ideals- while I am growing older and now for instance felt that raised enough my child so that she will follow an indepent life after graduation.

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  • 2
    maria melo says:

    we could for instance struggle for those that don´t have human rights on their side, animal welfare, there´s a lot ot reasons to still struggle till we close our our eyes. (I´m from Mars, I will still struggle until my eyes get closed).

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  • This reminds me of St Augustine’s well-known sentence near the beginning of his Confessions:
    Fecisti nos ad te, Domine, et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.
    (You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless, until they rest in you.)

    The perfect bliss promised to those who would die in God’s grace was thought of as rest, quietude, relaxation, the cessation of all effort and striving. To me this actually sounds like death. Funny that.

    But, of course, a Christian (or perhaps also a Jew or a Muslim) would explain that it means only that one’s life and all one’s needs and desires are satisfied entirely by God’s grace alone, no longer requiring one’s own efforts and striving. One is then enjoying the full beneficence of God’s love. That does sound nice; but, quite apart from that pedantic question whether there be a god of any sort, would this supposed state of effortless happiness and passive satiety be any better or worse than being dead (in the strict sense of having ceased to exist as a living organism)?

    But the theist will insist that there is a big difference between being maintained in timeless (eternal) bliss by God’s love and being merely dead and gone, for in the former case one persists as a conscious being capable of thought and love and thanks, but not in the latter. As noted before, the former sounds nice — one may imagine Eliza Doolittle singing “Wouldn’t it be loverly” — and one’s inbuilt confirmation bias certainly encourages one to agree.

    Still, at the risk of being branded a killjoy, I would request some evidence for this eternal benefactor and for the eternalizability of human consciousness from its current intermittent and variable occurrence in any one individual into something ceaseless and constant. Of the eternal benefactor no evidence has been forthcoming nor is any even conceivable. Concerning human consciousness, a growing body of scientific evidence is making it clear that it is entirely dependent upon brain-processes, leaving us with no evidence of anything in us that may enjoy eternal bliss after death.

    But, if those moving words of St Augustine were addressed to the universe (as well they might be), they would still express his deep insight into the human condition, but without making his mistake, which the child in each of us is inclined to make, of wishing for something more.

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  • 4
    maria melo says:

    This means there will be no problems to solve during an eternity of
    praising the Master. Since purpose comes from solving problems

    I would dismiss that purpose in my life-problems-it only tests our resistence to frustration, but some people are necessarly frustrated once they cannot solve basic problems, not all problems can be solved easily, or even solved at all, it doesn´t mean of course that life has no purpose.

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  • 5
    maria melo says:

    I like busdhism, at least in pratical life we can put it into to practise, for instance avoiding to inflict unnecessary pain to sentient beings as animals (please don´t ever think I believe in reencarnation, and considering the words of Dalai lama- I´ve listen to him in Lisbon a few years ago in a meeting where budhists monks offered me a ticket in the best seats, nearby Dalai-Lama), he seems not to believe in supernatural either, he mentioned that people touch him, sometimes even hurting, to see if some magical effects come out of his body, and he said I´m just a man with no mistical/magical powers).
    I´m thouched by budhism since my teens, when I ´ve read the book “Siddhartta” and found the life story of Budha a lovely poetic story.
    when I was a kid and had some kind of pain my mother would make her kind of prayer, something like, let her/his pain be mine, I also found it in the words of Budha.

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  • Were all the mundane activities that comprise our day to day life to be rendered unnecessary, what would we have left? Is this a condition in which to aspire? Of course those with a belief in an afterlife would probably suggest an existence on some higher plane; the endless bliss of being in His presence, though this would be an obvious rationalisation.

    Having given some thought to the concept of an eternity spent in this way, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would not be for me. To generalise, I think most believing in an afterlife have not given the reality much thought at all. What we enjoy about life is the ordinary and contact with those whose company we enjoy. By eliminating these elements the prospect looks pretty grim and eternal oblivion seems far preferable.

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  • Hi, Nitya,

    I’m Dan. Nice to e-meet you. His presence! Such nonsense, right?

    I would like to say this, however: I am as critical of religion as anyone on this site, but eternity as endless time is only one conception of eternity. (It is, admittedly, the most popular. I often think of eternity as you described it, and agree that that sounds dreadful,)

    It’s interesting to note that Christians can’t make up their minds about eternity. They describe it as eternal bliss AND eternal rest! (They’ve said “rest” at every damned Christian funeral I’ve ever been to. And one was too many… How could it be both?)

    I do wish Barker could get past the over-simplification.

    Eternity, according to Kierkegaard, i.e., from a more comprehensive and sophisticated Christian standpoint, has to be understood in a moral sense, as “the absolute distinction between the just and the unjust.” I can’t tell you precisely what that means without reviewing his writings, but it sure doesn’t mean a disembodied yet conscious existence for years and years and years without end…

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  • Dan #7

    Hi Dan. Nice to meet you as well.

    from a more comprehensive and sophisticated Christian as well….I still think think any conclusions drawn on the nature of heaven come from the musings of the faithful because none of the details are made evident in the Bible. The sophisticated Christian may not add understandings any more coherent than the peasant despite having given it more thought to the possibilities.

    The much touted notion of catching up with deceased family members presents more problems for the imagination than it solves from my perspective. E.g. What age are you? What age are they? What about the relationship now dead family members have with their parents or grandparents? The whole thing becomes a logical nightmare with respect to relative ages and interrelatedness. And… what of the many people who didn’t get on with family members?

    The prospect of oblivion is a far more satisfying concept for me Dan, apart from the fact that any notion of gods or goddesses is simply beyond the pale. I can’t think of any upside of living for eternity that would entice me to a religious mindset.

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  • Yes. I certainly agree with all of that.

    But a cop is only as good as the criminals he or she is dealing with, generally speaking. You have mediocre criminals and you get mediocre cops.

    Some – perhaps quite a few – Christians (the “criminals” in my analogy) do not think about such things as eternity the way Barker thinks about it, and the way most of the world – the religious and non-religious world – thinks about this idea; the ideas of some Christians are more esoteric and complex; so I bring these arguments up because I think we need to be able to discuss these issues on the highest level possible.

    Otherwise the enemy (so to speak) will outclass us and prevail. “God” forbid!

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  • 10
    maria melo says:

    Am I going to be strongly criticised by asking this, but here it goes:

    I aquired the book “God is Not Great how religion poisons everything”, but actually didn´t read it till the end. The book asks the question, or this question is somehow adressed, will religion going to have an end and with it all the encarnation of “evil”, after that will it be a quietude-the end of history?Then some how CH answers he seems not so optimistic, but it´s intriguing he has made the question. He may have thought in terms of them and us, and in some ocasion it seems he was in the mood of “exterminating them”- make a reset as God did-and that attitude I think made some people pull appart of this kind of “atheism”.
    Not that “evil” may beggin within every and single human, even not religious, but that “evil” would finish with the end of religion? the most advanced stage of humanity would be achieved and a thereafter would be a quietude?

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  • Dan #9

    You have mediocre criminals you get mediocre cops*.

    I see your point. Much prefer sophisticated criminals bearing sophisticated arguments myself! ;-)) This discussion has given me cause to think of the Terrence Malick interpretation of heaven in film The Tree of Life. He’s an extremely sophisticated criminal himself, though depicts a heaven with crowds of lost souls traipsing across a salt pan, finally meeting up with his mother who appeared the same age as himself. His imaginings must have appealed to many because the film had some good reviews! I’ve seen and read other thoughts on the topic where the later (more sophisticated) versions seem to have dispensed with the body completely and feature the disembodied consciousness you’ve suggested in #6.

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