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Sunday, 2 August 2009

The meaning of meaning

Want to see a load of tosh about why atheists don’t have any meaning in life? Have a look at this.

Lovely paragraph from it:

To have a purpose means that there is a particular way a thing should be. A hammer is meaningful in this sense because it has a purpose: pounding nails. And eyes are meaningful in this sense because they have a purpose: seeing. Consequently the eye that is blind fails to achieve its purpose or fulfill its meaning.

Nope. A hammer can be a thing of beauty, if you’re into that kind of thing – a piece of art. It can prop open a door or be used as a weapon. Eyes? Well, they’re useful for seeing with, yes, but who says they weren’t made for gazing into?

A bit poetic, perhaps, and I attribute purpose to a creator entity by wording it thus, but you get my drift. These Christians talk of “meaning” as though it were an objective thing, as though a deity thought, “Man will need something to knock nails with. I’ll give him the hammer.”

They fail to see that meaning is created out of necessity and the things that are there before us that give rise to a need to create meaning. If you see what I mean. Along came a way of holding one piece of wood to another (a nail), then along came the means to knock it through (a hammer). Perhaps the two emerged together, since you’d need some sort of implement to make sure the nail penetrated both pieces of wood.

This sort of teleological thinking just pisses me off. Things happened because they happened. Sounds simplistic, but there it is. More things happened because the earlier things needed new things, or created an opportunity for new things, or would work better with new things. Whatever.

The writer concedes that atheists find meaning, but that they don’t think meaning is objective. But meaning is a human concept. A snail perceives no meaning as it does what its DNA urges it to do. This is not to say meaning is not important, just that it’s a human concept and requires an ability for abstract thinking. Of course meaning isn’t objective: it’s created in the mind.

And atheists are just as able to attribute meaning to what they see and do as members of the Deluded Herd are. What is more, they don’t have a made-up load of myth to help them, with the idea of a Maker sitting on top of it. What is it about these people that they believe that meaning cannot exist without religion? This seems to be the thesis here. Atheists don’t perceive meaning in the same way as religionists do, so somehow they’re inferior.

Get a life.

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