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Imagine how stressful it would be to *know* THE meaning of life. Our days would be so much harder. Our self-recriminations so much harsher. I love that there may not be. It lets me live (and do my best to make meaning).

I do like the idea that your dad still exists in you, though. In a Darwinian sense.

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Life is an experience to be had. And we are all having it.

I think what makes people come unstuck is the realization life has no INHERENT meaning. For some this is a disappointment, perhaps even a revelation they have been lied to. For others it holds within it something better. The lack of inherent meaning provides an opportunity to create meaning. I suspect these different approaches reflect temperament more than anything.

For some Hamlet is great literature that teaches us about human nature. For others it is barely understandable nonsense from high school English, not on a par with modern soap operas. As you say there are many experiences to be had. Plenty to choose from.

I'm in the opportunity camp. You make what you will with your life. There is no script. You better pray there is no script because then you are a pawn. And it passes quickly, so get on with it.

Sorry to hear of your father's passing.

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I am sorry for your loss. I am also saddened by the truly sad view of life described in your article. Blaise Pascal once noted that if you compare the beliefs of athiests and Christians, if the athiest is correct about God then both the athiest and the Christian die and their is nothing but if the Christian is correct then in death, the Christian will have won everything and the athiest will be at even a bigger loss than if there were nothing. God is the meaning of life. We were created to be in relationship with our creator for eternity. If we accept God and believe then there is no death. All that we love, all that is best will continue forever. Of lesser importantance is the understanding that research shows that believers live happier, more fulfilled lives, with more meaning than those who choose to not believe. I would rather choose a life of meaning than one of nihilism. In the end what do I have to lose?

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Dec 14, 2023Liked by Aporia

Sorry to hear of your loss.

I guess I would be best described as an agnostic atheist. I refuse to believe in a god or 'superior being'

who would be so indifferent to the horrible suffering and pain many go through. I believe human's purpose in life is to contribute in all ways possible to enhance life on this planet.

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Dec 14, 2023·edited Dec 14, 2023Liked by Aporia

Such a meaningful heart felt piece tethered to your own personal experience and condolences on the loss of your father, he truly would have been proud to read this magnificent tribute. Your writing really stirred me, both in how it dealt with the hard questions of our time (dualism) - simultaneously - while solving the most fundamental question of all, the meaning of life.

Yours is by the far the most concise encyclopedic canon of historical philosophical thought condensed into this beautiful tribute to your fathers passing, that I have ever read!

Thank you for finding me!

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My Dad died last year and although deeply sad, it was incredibly meaningful. Something I did not expect. I’ve had a dread of my own mortality since I was ten years old and I’m only now (at 51) starting to understand and accept it. The key for me is changing the way I saw mortality.

Rather than resenting the fact that my life, thoughts and memories will be taken away from me, I try to fully comprehend what a miracle it was that I came into being in the first place.

I then contemplate the fact that whether someone experiences just a few minutes in this world or are lucky enough to live one hundred plus years, we have all contributed in the unraveling of the universe and will forever have played a part in its evolving story, no matter how small that part may be. That alone makes life worth living.

I feel so privileged to be here now and hope when my time comes, I will be accepting and willingly re-join the cosmos once more.

As Brian says in The Life Of Brian “You come from nothing, you’re going back to nothing, what have you lost? Nothing!”

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"There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy" is a piece of Shakespeare that has always had plenty of meaning for me. (Ever since I first read it as a schoolboy.)

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The atheistic Darwinist isn’t just someone who contests the author’s meaning but rejects the very concept of an author. For if a text exists then we know someone wrote it. It’s like arguing that the Iliad is a result of random chicken scratch cobbled together by nothing in particular. Pure random chance, no thought or intention at all. Nothingness without end...

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Bo my condolences on your father's passing.

I'm intrigued at how for many people Darwinism appears to be a substitute for religious belief. It would seem many thought religion had to be true due to the diversity of life forms seen. Darwinism comes along and, hey presto!, the need for religion is obviated. The very first objection to that is scientific not philosophical: Darwinism is a theory that applies to living organisms and their replication, so how did living organisms came into being from inorganic matter given Darwinism is necessarily silent on that matter? Cairns-Smith discusses this at length in Seven Clues to the Origin of Life and humbly admits it has not been remotely answered and shows conclusively and clearly that the hand waving answer of 'random combinations over billions of years and billions of galaxies by chance created the simplest life forms' cannot possibly be true as there simply isn't enough time or universe for that to have the remotest possibility of being true based on our understanding of the physical laws of nature, biology and statistics. So, ultimately, belief in the materialistic neo-Darwinian conception of nature is no more based on scientific rationalism than Christianity is. All of this is before we even get to the philosophical question of why the universe exists rather than not exist which would seem to be the more natural, stable and enduring state.

I'm a firm believer in the limits of human reason and there being much we simply do not, and probably can never, understand. However, there are clear intuitions for there being a God and they are many such as: the existence of evil (absence of God); our universal search for the meaning of life; the increasingly obvious societal benefits of religious beliefs (collapse of science today significantly led by the loss of a sense of humility); the seemingly clear need we have to be 'supervised' in our actions in order to behave reasonably; the important role of fear of punishment in order to avoid a societal behavioural sink (seen today in corruption of so many institutions firstly at individual level leading then to systemic corruption); or, for example, the clear importance physiologically and psychologically of hope.

Of course, one cannot just manufacture a belief in God in order to gain its benefits but an important take on this I once heard is that faith is not what you believe, faith is what you do.

The final question I'd ask is, if the existence of God was obviously clear and irrefutable in what way would we be free to choose or reject belief in him? If we are free, (we certainly organise our societies on the universal assumption that we are) mustn't God necessarily be silent?

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"And we do not believe in a rational and explicable world." Wrong. The universe is a rational construction and humans, gifted with reason have the means to understand it. These are the uncontroversial assumptions of science. Understanding is a communal activity and therefore gives meaning to humanity from which individuals in whatever role, be it ever so humble, contribute. To locate meaning in fulfilling nature directly - speak to a grandparent.

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Random mutations and natural selection as the driver of evolution is now defunct. Horizontal gene transfer, transposition, symbiogenesis, hybridization and epigenetics show evolution in real time while we watch, in some cases. The first two show intelligent educated guesses about how to overcome problems. Maize plants will reorder their own genome in response to radiation in order to reproduce. Bacteria will copy useful abilities from other cells, animal, plant, or dead using horizontal gene transfer. I think you can take succor in seeing intelligence and purposefulness extended right down to the cellular. For a summary: https://orthosphere.wordpress.com/2019/08/11/evolution-2-0-by-perry-marshall/

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Dec 13, 2023·edited Dec 13, 2023

Meaning shmeaning! If you are indeed a true Darwinian, then you should above all seek two things: survival and reproduction. You have obviously succeeded (so far) at the first, but not the latter. May I respectfully suggest you don't delay procreation much longer? If medical issues are a factor, make it a priority to resolve them before it's too late. Otherwise, you sadly may end up to be just another genetic suicide.

My father died when I was 46 and childless (and wifeless as well). This loss prompted deep reflection on my part and I decided that what I really wanted was to be a father. At my age, there was no time to waste, so I quickly arranged for an egg donor and gestational surrogate to get me a couple of boys. My best decision ever.

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This is not really a satisfying answer. If there are multiple little individual meanings, like I drank coffee in order to wake up, then it is natural to ask and inquire what do all of these meanings sum up to, if there is a deeper underlying meaning connecting them all. Likewise if certain things have ends, like the inevitable course of a meteor, and there are multiple minuscule ends in the universe then we can inquire what is the ultimate end of everything?

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I am very rational. What I stated is the reality of the 20th Century. Athiest forces under communist and socialist governments killed more people in the last century than all other governments combined and most of their victims were their own people. I am sorry you don't want to face or discuss that. People truly motivated by a faith in Jesus Christ never seek to harm anyone.

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But no comment about the mass genocide perpetrated by Hamas and all the other Islamic terrorist organizations? You do realize that leftist and communist organizations have murdered more people than religious groups have ever dreamed of killing to include those terrorists(120,000,000). You might want to be careful about pointing fingers on that one.

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Bo, I'm sorry for your loss. This article is beautifully written. It's times like these that our metaphysical beliefs go from being just vague ideas to matters of ultimate concern.

"A text does not have a single meaning."

Perhaps instead of the universe being God's cosmic text that we are trying to understand, it's more like the story of God revealing Himself over time. If this is the case, evolution and human progress is not some cosmic accident, but is an intrinsic process of the universe - a process which creates increasingly complex understanding of meaning as the story unfolds. In a sense, we a participating in a story that is still being written that gets deeper, more meaningful and more beautiful as we turn the pages.

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