Inadequate Explainations for the Meaning of Life

sleepy dadIt is super early in the morning so I probably should not be typing any of this.  I just misspelled morning three times before realizing I left out the first ‘n’.  I was working on a critical study of the Gospel of Mark, chapter 16, verses 9 through 20.  That particular passage was added after the original manuscript was passed around, but due to its use since it was added the passage has remained in our Bibles.  I wanted to validate the truth claims made in the passage using other scriptures for support.  So far, so good.  I believe I will even find support for being able to ‘handle snakes’.

 

Alas, for that is not why I decided to blog after so long of a break from the blogging community.

 

Over the past four months I have stepped up in my desire to tell others about Jesus, primarily my co-workers.  Don’t be surprised by this.  If I truly believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven and that everyone around me who does not turn from those sins and believe in Jesus’ life, death, and subsequent resurrection (do I have to write the word subsequent?) will die a second death in their sins, then I should be kicking people’s doors in to tell them this truth as well as living a lifestyle that reflects it as well.

 

But the point of this blog is that I am a skeptic and a doubter of this exclusive faith system that I practice and cling to (for future knowledge, I purposely chose the word ‘cling’ as it most adequately reflects my emotional and psychological attachment to my Christian faith). And as I talk with my co-workers to find out what they believe about the world we find ourselves in, I am discovering more and more that other belief systems are inadequate to explain man’s purpose and meaning for the lives we have been given.

 

Christianity handles the big three items concerning the existence of man:inherent sin (we are all in rebellion, active and passive, against God Almighty), absolute morality (what applies to me applies to everyone in all situations, places, both past, present, future), and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ (the truth claims of Jesus have to be addressed, and those of other exclusive world views as well – think Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, Atheism).

 

New Morality

New Morality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

The biggest concept that I am seeing, which is easily proven false, is that truth is relative or that morality is not absolute.  This is the premise behind the concept of tolerance in United States culture.  I am not here to defend absolute morality so I will put a link in for those interested.

 

For me, it comes down to the following questions:

 

1. If there is absolute truth, where did that standard come from?

 

2. If the answer to question 1 is a God figure, then are we required to respond to this God figure or has this God figure communicated with us to tell us what to do with this standard?

 

3. If the answer to question 2 is ‘yes’, then how do we know, or can we validate our answer?

 

4. If the answer can be validated, then we should act in accordance with that truth to the greatest extent possible.

 

Maybe I am missing something.  Again, it is early and my head is a little foggy from only getting 4 and a half hours sleep with the baby waking up somewhere in the middle of those 4 hours.

 

All other claims at truth fail to explain man’s existence, at least from what I have studied so far.  If you have had a different experience, or drawn different conclusions, and desire to enlighten a searching soul then please hit me up.  I want the truth, even if it means rejecting my current belief system.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Keith, a.k.a. Daddy Moose

 

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10 thoughts on “Inadequate Explainations for the Meaning of Life

  1. “1. If there is absolute truth, where did that standard come from?”

    Define what you mean by absolute.

    A is A and A is not not A. That’s a logical absolute. I see no reason to see it as coming from anything or anyone. It’s just the way the universe seems to work.

    • Keith Wadley says:

      Thanks for commenting. I am talking about absolute moral truth. Absolute meaning that it applies to all people at all places at all times. Morality is the central issue with my questioning. For example, is it ever okay to hack to pieces three year old children for your own pleasure? If it is, then let me know when that would be. If it is not, then why is it never okay to do this, or how do you know that this is morally wrong?

      Where does the agreement on the moral absolute come from? Or why is it a moral absolute that all people adhere to?

      Keith

  2. keithnoback says:

    The example you give is one of moral subjectivity. “For your own pleasure” … universalized to a defined group of individuals, no matter who you think does the defining, and only then by reference to the behavior of each individual in their particular circumstance, i.e. the case where they might derive pleasure from child-hacking, a multiply-realizable joy in principle.

    • Keith Wadley says:

      It is only subjective as an example. The truth of it being morally unacceptable or wrong is absolute. The way I read your response is that it is okay at some point for child-hacking for pleasure to be morally okay. Is that correct?

      The key question you ask is whether absolute moral truth means that there is a creator of the truth, or if absolute moral truth exists for another reason.

      Moral relativism is self-refuting (see this link). If we both agree that absolute moral truth exists, then I want to know why it exists? ‘It just does’ is not sufficient when there is a better explanation that makes sense of the situation – that someone or something created the moral law. Here are my presuppositions:

      1. All men inherently (within themselves) know a ‘right from wrong’ way of living.
      2. All men fail to live up to their own standard of what this ‘right and wrong’ way of living looks like.
      3. Within these ways of living there are absolutes that apply to all people, at all times, at all places.
      4. These truths that all men agree to (at least if acted out on each individual they would agree to them – murder, rape, dishonesty, etc.) indicate an aspect of man that is not instinct or animalistic.
      5. Morality, because it does not have to be obeyed, and at times it goes against ‘natural behavior’, has another source.

      If it does not have another source, then I am not sure I know of an alternate theory for where it comes from.

      Keith

      • keithnoback says:

        If it is only subjective in isolation, what is the categorical imperative at work here? Is it No Hacking, or No Child Hacking, or No Self-Indulgence, or Kant’s No Using People? In any case, it seems the moral evaluation must occur within the subject (man-machete-motive) in question, or be so vague as to beg the question (What does it mean to ‘treat people as a means in general ? I certainly think it good that my children use me as a means to provide them with food – the exceptions seem proliferate from there until we’re back to case-by-case determinations.). The old question “Is St. Francis a good man?” is another way to look at this issue. One way to interpret the thought experiment is to say that, because we cannot hope to take St. Francis apart and say “Aha! here is the thing which makes me say ‘St. Francis is a good man.'”, good is an indefinable, independent quality. But that leaves us with the question, ‘How is someone or something good?’. Some would move to a divine command theory at this point, but that just pushes the same question, in principle, back onto God, for then, how are we to tell the difference between our own or a writer of scripture’s stirring divine sensibility and indigestion or hidden self-interest or fear, etc.?
        The other way to look at the result of the thought experiment is to say that it demonstrates the circumstantial nature of our moral judgments. St. Francis is a good man because of all the circumstances which go to make up St. Francis, and a St. Francis doppelganger would also be, not a good cat or a good angel, but a good man. I think the latter interpretation offers the better explanation..
        So, I don’t think there are such things as objective moral entities, and I don’t think you or anyone else actually does either. This is the case even if you think that God is the ultimate moral authority.

      • Keith Wadley says:

        I like how you show the question being pushed back onto God. I have not heard that argument before and I am not sure I have a solid reply. My response right now to that is that if the God person created man with the moral standard built in, then we are basically choosing whether to follow that route or not – but we are not choosing whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Good and bad seem to be used to define following the creator’s intent or not. But again, I am not sure about this and need to read up on it. I see this going into the debate about the free-will of man verses pawns in God’s chess game (within Christian circles this is called Calvinism in case you are not familiar).

        It is hard to follow all of your arguments in the post. I don’t understand why you don’t think that I truly believe in objective moral standards. I read something the other day that may be what you were getting at. Moral decisions are like the individual notes on the piano. The notes themselves are not right or wrong in and of themselves, but every single note is right at one time and wrong at another. Is that what you are talking about?

        The St. Francis argument lost me. Maybe we should define morality, good/bad, objective, subjective to make sure we are working from the same starting point. Also, if we could do that by email I would appreciate it. I was wanting the discussion board threads to be counter offers to the Christian worldview – such as if you believe that Buddhism is the way to go then give me your reasons why you believe it should be followed over all other religions/philosophies? My email is wadley.keith@gmail.com.

        Thanks,
        Keith

  3. “Absolute meaning that it applies to all people at all places at all times. ”

    You mean like slavery?

    Because according to the Bible, that used to be fine. And yet now the majority of Christians would call it immoral.

    Or stoning people to death for committing sins? Once it was fine, now not so much.

    Seems like what you have there is not absolute.

    • Keith Wadley says:

      If you want to have this kind of a discussion, then lets do it through email. I wanted the comments section to be reserved for those proposing a different worldview than Christianity with reasoning for why it is sufficient for explaining life, it’s purpose, human morality, etc… My email is wadley.keith@gmail.com. Shoot me an email and we can debate our different viewpoints that way. I would totally appreciate a thread comment about atheism and your reasoning for leaving Christianity for it. My dad did the same thing.

      I also ask that you don’t assume anything about me. I am not a “normal” Christian with regards to American, conservative, stereo-typical Christianity. Maybe that could be our starting point, background info on each other so we can see where we are coming from to remove any hostility in cyberspace.

      Thanks,
      Keith

      • “If you want to have this kind of a discussion, then lets do it through email”

        No thanks. I’m looking for interesting conversation via blogs. Not a pen pal.

        “I would totally appreciate a thread comment about atheism and your reasoning for leaving Christianity for it”

        The utter lack of good evidence for any of its supernatural claims.

      • Keith Wadley says:

        Have you ever changed the mind of someone you talked to? Was it only because of what you said, or was it partly because of the relationship you had to begin with? Meaning, they respected your opinion enough to listen to what you had to say first, then they were able to properly digest what you were laying down. In my experience the respect factor has to be laid down first. The relationship has to be built, even if it only takes five minutes to do it.

        Your “pen-pal” comment came across disrespectful to me. I am genuine in my interest in alternate proposals to humanity’s existence and purpose. I do not consider myself ‘close-minded’ and I am nowhere near orthodox when it comes to Christianity’s claims. I still do not know if I believe in the Bible as divinely inspired, error free, and infallible on matters of faith and practice. Where I am coming from is that I believe in the historical person of Jesus. I believe that he lived, was crucified on a cross, and that he came back from the dead. He said that the two greatest commandments for us to live by are to love God first and foremost with all that we are, and to follow that up by loving other people as we love ourselves. That is what I am trying to do in my own life as I seek truth – even if it disproves my current beliefs.

        The only supernatural claim that needs to proven is the resurrection of Jesus, at least initially. I highly recommend reading Gary Habermas and Michael Licona’s work entitled “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ”. It is not by Lee Strobel, the guy who wrote all the “The Case for….” books. I started explaining some of it in a blog post a while back. But that is just one small piece of the pie. 11 out of 12 disciples claim to have seen with their own eyes, Jesus of Nazareth, after Jesus was crucified. They were also willing to suffer and die for that belief. This is different than people today being willing to die for their beliefs because we do it out of faith. These guys knew whether Jesus being raised from the dead was a lie or not. 11 guys died for a lie? Nobody cracked and gave up “the secret” that Jesus’ body was stolen (which is the only thing claimed by opponents to Christianity)? That is strong evidence that they genuinely believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

        Evidence for Jesus and any work of antiquity has to all be approached the same. I do not see the Bible as one book. There are numerous books that make up the Bible, and there are differences between Christians as to which ones are considered canonical. It is better to take each one individually and weigh it by its own merits. This is how we get historical evidence about other matters of history like Augustus Caesar, Alexander the Great, Plato, Aristotle, etc. and should be the same way we look at religious writings as well.

        One last note, if you do not believe in the supernatural to begin with then no amount of evidence will ever prove otherwise, even if you were to see something with your own eyes. It is a presupposition that determines how you process the inputs you are given. I just saw the first episode of the X-files again and it reminded me of this. Scully is pretty much a secular humanist in the story line, and Molder is more of an agnostic. As events are happening around them Scully is trying to process things using the presupposition that the supernatural is only something that science has yet to explain. In the end she still has the hard evidence of the object that was up one of the victim’s noses which doesn’t match anything composition wise that our scientist know of. She cannot explain it yet, but she believes she will. I see the belief in the supernatural the same way. It is not something that is beyond nature, but something that we do not understand how it works yet, much like quantum physics.

        Keith

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