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Does humanity have a purpose?

As a species, does humanity have any sort of unified purpose? Is there something that we're working towards?

Is it merely survival? Procreation? Do we have goals beyond our genetic imperatives? If not, why not?

And should humanity have an overarching goal, something to aim for to tell us that we are progressing as a species? Something to set our sights on to tell us when we're diverging from our intended aims.

Can humanity ever agree on any one notion? And absent an explicit purpose, a mission statement to unify humanity... where will the trajectory of our natural behaviour take us?

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    Oct 2 2011: Humanity has no unified purpose and I suggest that history shows us that giving humanity a single purpose can be disastrous (religion, eugenics...)
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      Oct 3 2011: Extremely materialistic point of view.
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      Oct 3 2011: QUOTE: "Humanity has no unified purpose..."


      Again, you speak with a certainty that surpasses your knowledge. (You don't know!)

      I am not saying anyone else does. I'm only saying you don't (and you don't.)*

      That you believe this to be true, based on your understanding of the world, is fine. Many of us share your belief. But your belief in "science" does not elevate it to the realm of "all encompassing truth" anymore than the "believers" belief in God, elevates what they belief into the realm of fact.

      When it comes to these BIG (some would say, "silly") questions all we can do is express an opinion.

      No one knows.**

      (Now watch those who believe they know try to prove me wrong.)


      * Correct me if I'm wrong.
      ** I hold open the possibility that someone actually knows but the chances of it being one of "us" is pretty slim.
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        Oct 3 2011: Must I really preface all my posts with "in my opinion" or can one not understand that this is my opinion merely by the fact that it is I and no one else, who is expressing it? You treat me as though I just came in and said "this question is stupid and you're all wrong."
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          Oct 3 2011: QUOTE: "Must I really preface all my posts with "in my opinion" ..."

          In my opinion, yes.

          (But I will gladly accept any sort of qualifier ... unless, of course, you actually know, and then I would appreciate you saying so. In my opinion.)
      • Oct 3 2011: Thomas,

        Did you not commit the same "speak with a certainty that surpasses your knowledge". Do you know Matthieu and HOW do you know he does not know?

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          Oct 3 2011: QUOTE: "Did you not commit the same "speak with a certainty that surpasses your knowledge".


          * Check out the footnote in the referenced post.**

          ** Footnotes offer great escape routes.
    • Oct 3 2011: If anyone has ever observed the game of life (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life), one can see pattern. Human are evolved to see patterns and usually failed to see the underlying simplicity and randomness.

      Our existence is very accidental. If there were not K-T event which killed all the dinosaurs, mammals might not have the chance to become dominant and we human would have not existed.

      I agree with Matthieu that when someone or some group imposed a purpose onto a group of people, it usually ended disastrous. Nature has no purpose. She is just moving energy and increasing entropy. Earth is just one of the planets of a typical star, out of billions of our galaxy which is just one of billions of other galaxies. Human history (say 7000 years) is just a blink of the 4.5 billion years of Earth's existence and 13.7 billion years of the existence of the Universe. If there were a purpose, that purpose has arrived sooooooo late.
  • Oct 4 2011: That question has different answers depending on who you ask. According to the universe, human existence is as pointless as a grain of sand on a beach. According to religion, it is to do gods will and make the leaders of the religion more powerful. According to my cat, it is to make food magically happen. According to biology, it is to survive. According to humanities, it is to uplift the human state (whatever that may be). According to the spaghetti monster, it is to consume spaghetti and be satisfied.

    According to me, it is to strive.
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    Oct 4 2011: i'd suggest that the purpose is to find the EXPERIENCE that allows us not to have a nagging question about the purpose of life ....
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    Oct 3 2011: I think "purpose" is a human concept. As such, it seems fair that we can invent our own purpose, and in fact people do that every day. But a unified purpose? Judging from the debate below, I think the only purposes you could get everyone to agree on would be simple things, like "happiness" or "prosperity" or maybe, just maybe something like "love" or "harmony." At any rate, I, for one, would not want to burden my children and grandchildren with a purpose chosen today. And I wouldn't want to limit humanity by imposing one specific purpose, however well-intentioned. No, it will take more than an externally imposed common vision to unify humanity. We are too complex for that.
    • Oct 4 2011: I agreed.

      The flip side is that throughout history, when there was a "purpose" imposed on a group of people, the result was disastrous.
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        Oct 5 2011: I think that's right. There's a fundamental mismatch between having a central purpose in a species whose members have the capacity to think for themselves, to create their own purpose.

        On the other hand, there have been many occasions throughout history where not having a common purpose also resulted in disaster. Ideological conflicts have led to wars. Currently, our lack of central authority has made it very difficult to implement global changes to avoid possible crises.
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          Oct 5 2011: "occasions throughout history where not having a common purpose also resulted in disaster" so true.

          I think the basic problem here is tolerance. The cold war started out of the clash of two ideologies which were a potential threat to each other.

          I am not saying that this has to be a main purpose but that we also need to apprechiate different purposes and value them as high as our own.

          For me, the purpose of humanity is basically that we need to question the current purpose in order to promote change and to keep up with a changing society and different technologies, inventions and ideas.
        • Oct 5 2011: Michael,

          QUOTE: "many occasions throughout history where not having a common purpose also resulted in disaster."

          Please quote examples.

          QUOTE: "Currently, our lack of central authority has made it very difficult to implement global changes to avoid possible crises."

          Yes, we are at a stage of development that we are one and we are interdependent. The problem we are facing is unique. One ideology - capitalism - has become the dominant force and its disregard of the environment (burning fossil fuel and leaving the green house in the atmosphere) is posing major crisis and yet the main polluting nations, for self interest, refuse to clean up.

          It is not about whether there is a central authority, it is a moral issue. Those who pollute should bear the responsibility of cleaning up.

          Does humanity need a common purpose? No. Do nations bear the moral obligation to clean up? Yes. Will nations do so? No.

          That's the unfortunately situation humanity is facing. The consequence is pretty clear. Nature will continue - just that human species may not survive. In fact, human has become the pest of this world - unless we can clean up the mess we have made.
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    Oct 2 2011: I have two somewhat complementary answers -

    1. The pursuit of ever greater knowledge and understanding of ourselves and the universe. Given humanity's present state of ignorance, this obviously takes a very long view of humanity.

    2. Friendship. It's a weird answer, but it is our friendships and our relationships that make us happier than anything else, and that is for good reason.

    Our bodies and brains are just confederations of cells working together to achieve something greater than the sum of the parts- and evolution tends to repeat solutions over time for good reason. There are basic features to the structure of reality that make cooperation more adaptive than dog-eat-dog competition.

    Unicellular organisms say to each other, look, we can use our resources to work together, and we'll both be better off, or we can use our resources to fight against each other - Evolution favors cooperative mechanisms over purely selfish/competitive mechanisms in the long run.

    That is how I would explain friendship and love to narcissists, psychopaths, and people who lacks those capacities within them: No matter how brilliant and wonderful and brilliant you are, two of you would be better and could learn faster if you cooperated. Selfishness wins in the short run, but the arc of history bends toward cooperation and justice.

    This matters more than ever - the experiences of friendship, mutual love, and affective empathy - are the differences between a depraved mind and a spiritually fulfilled one, and a depraved society and a healthy one.

    We've been taught that it is impossible to love one's neighbor as it is to love oneself, but all that is required of us is to love our close friends as deeply as we can. Without using our brains'/hearts'' capacity deep friendship, we feel that life is pointless and meaningless, and no amount of material goods can ever fill that emptiness.

    "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little." - Internet Epicurus
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      Oct 2 2011: I can't help but think of The First Book of Bokonon, verses 2-4: (Cf. "Cat's Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut):

      "In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic loneliness.

      And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

      "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

      "Certainly," said man.

      "Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

      And He went away.
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        Oct 3 2011: magnificent!
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        Oct 3 2011: Thomas, I'm not sure if you, or that author/book you quoted, tried to be sarcastic or made a point, but one thing is for certain: God is perfect, he can't feel loneliness (Even if we try our best, using imagination/thinking capacity, we can't understand God)

        God is simply beyond that ;)
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          Oct 3 2011: God is. You are.
          Therefore you as everyone and God is one.
          Knowing God is to understand yourself.

          In thinking and imagination we separate ourselves from God and in that you are right that if we would try this no understanding can be achieved.
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          Oct 3 2011: Another Bokononist insight: "Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either. -- So be it." I have no argument with folks who adhere to Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Buddhism, and so on.... if you find your religion useful, great. I find Bokononism useful. And I don't really think it makes a whole lot of difference what religion (if any) are 'true'. If indeed there is a God, I doubt that It has humans at the center of Its concerns -- but then again, I could be wrong. If there is a God (and it's a conscious being, not just a 'stuff', I'd like to see how It would react when I told it, "Well, I always considered you a hypothesis; I hope that You and I can now move on from there...."
    • Oct 4 2011: Because the Bible said we are created, it does not automatically make it true that we are created. The imaginations of some desert folks thousand of years ago are not better than we are today.

      We can imagine and the object of an imagination is not necessarily real. God is just our imagination. The whole discussion of higher creator is based on someone's imagination. Your fairy tale is not better than mine.
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        • Oct 4 2011: No worry. I am not going anywhere anytime soon. But TED discussion does have a time limit which is kind of silly and frustrating.

          The daily examples you quoted do point to an important aspect of our cognition. We like to organize experiences into categories and seek pattern. Part of the result of seeking pattern is making "causal relationship" and hence the question of what is the purpose of our own existence. On one level we cannot avoid such a question - because we are evolved to ask such a question. On other level, as we understand nature more and observe more keenly, our lives are full of random chances.

          On the question of spirituality, I would tackle in two levels: spirituality as a euphoria and spirituality as a connection to something beyond one's mind.

          As the first, yes, I can have euphoria from gifts, from love, from random luck and art, paintings, music and so on. That's a rush of some chemical in our brain when we enjoy.

          As for the second, a universal connection to something beyond my own comprehend, Sorry, I do not buy that. My mind is limited to what I can experience (including from reading, listening and so on). Saying my mind is connected to yours, just an example instead of connecting to many others - without using words, smell, touch etc - to me is impossible unless demonstrate to me first.

          Whether you like it or not, in biological classification (which our brains demand), we are animals and we share the same ancestor with them too.

          QUOTE: "The only reason we are here is that we become angels. "

          Does Santa Claus exist? Does Easter Bunnies exist? Does angel exist?

          *HOW* do you know we will become angels? Wishful thinking?
        • Oct 5 2011: There is absolutely an interdependence and interconnectedness that we share with all things, including with me and you and those of us in this discussion and those of us in the wider world.

          It's not necessary to make it inscrutable or mysterious by labeling it spiritual - the interconnectedness we share is basic but nonetheless profound - by simply existing and influencing each other we become connected. Because none of us live in a vacuum - ultimately our effect on each other ripples out towards the entire world through the actions and influence of others.

          Similarly, we share the same interconnectedness with not just people, but our environments and all other creatures. Because we can affect and cause change for others, we are connected to them.

          In this manner, we are a part of a greater whole - connected to a dynamic web of life. I believe this relates quite well to the idea and feelings of spirituality - but without the need unnecessary burden of mysticism - our lives, and connections, the effects and externalities we have are something that can be properly understood and analyzed, even if it is not in common practice to do so.
        • Oct 5 2011: Hi George Kong,

          I agree with you in your first three paragraphs. The jump from the physical connectedness into feelings of spirituality is beyond me.

          To understand our life, we need to understand the environment in which we survive. To understand the environment, the best tool is science - removal of personal, observational and/or perceptional bias and share the knowledge with everyone.
        • Oct 5 2011: @ Albert

          The point I was trying to make is that these ideas - that we are all connected in a very real and practical manner can be used to supplant what we have commonly thought of as a spiritual domain - something that lies outside immediate and direct physical domain.

          We can feel 'spiritual' feel like we are part of a greater system even without resorting to flawed methodology. Understanding a system doesn't remove the awe and wonder that is associated with the system. It is also unnecessary to feel cynical about that same sense of awe and wonder from ourselves of others - the best strategy is to reflect and ground the negative elements of spirituality (mysticism), while preserving the positive (awe and wonder).
        • Oct 6 2011: @ George,

          QUOTE: "The point I was trying to make is that these ideas - that we are all connected in a very real and practical manner can be used to supplant what we have commonly thought of as a spiritual domain - something that lies outside immediate and direct physical domain."

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    Oct 1 2011: If anything actually has a purpose, it must survive long enough to carry it out. If we humans cannot find a way to continue to exist, all our ideas about purpose are meaningless. So whatever we might claim our long-term purpose is, our short-term purpose is to identify the threats to our existence.

    Since we ourselves are one of the biggest threats to our existence, we need to learn more about ourselves. One of the first things we need to learn is why we resist learning certain things about ourselves.

    So there's a purpose for some people. As for everybody else, they can do pretty much whatever they want as long as they don't destroy humanity. Of course, it would be really nifty if they were also nice to other people.
  • Oct 1 2011: I feel like playing the devil's advocate, don't be too shocked please.

    Now I have a question: Even if humanity did have a purpose, what forces me to cooperate and pursue this goal? I never asked anybody to exist. I don't see how it will change my life whether humanity survives or not during the next generations. Why do we even bother to care about our children? Why would it be important that our genetic code is passed on? Who cares?

    When we invest in space travel and future energy solutions, aren't we wasting money on something that doesn't concern us? Our generation will never ripe the benefits of these investments anyway.

    Again, I'm playing the devil's advocate, please feel free to tag along and play with me.
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      Oct 2 2011: Great devil's advocate, Mr. Kebabsoup. We need more of this to sharpen our senses.
    • Oct 3 2011: You're right kebabsoup - in the sense that any unifying purpose of humanity needs to consider our individual motivations for cooperating with the goal. In other words, any goal we have as a humanity would need to account for mutual self-interest.

      Survival is a pretty big mutual self-interest goal. But survival is only an antecedent condition to another greater purpose. I suppose a common viewpoint here is; for many survival is enough - but is it? Would one trade a normal life for a life ten times longer if we knew that it contained less joys and more suffering?
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    Oct 4 2011: Mathieu, Jim, and Albert:

    Religion, philosophy, mysticism, Science, and art should all be in the same field. All of these are a way of looking (or experiencing) the same universe through a different lens.

    Religion is a metaphor, god is an idea and it refers to something that transcends language and thought. Philosophy tries to study this through pure reason. Mysticism is a spiritual concentration that leads to transcendent knowledge. Science observes nature through empirical data. Art is an expression of what cannot be explained. As much as science proves and discovers it doesn't really explain the experience that is being experienced. God is being.It is not the answer but when the question disappears. God is never changing and ever one. God is in the stillness of eternity. I cannot tell you who I am but I can smile it. I cannot tell you who I am, I can only live it. This is what god is what a christ is what a buddha is what an enlightened one is what the universe is. When I mean unity I mean silence explains everything. I mean division is only our perspective when we are gripped with time. I mean the individual realizes his/her eternity and simply witnesses with others, instead of groups getting along with other groups. Science is not our human purpose, appreciation is.
    • Oct 4 2011: Thadeus,

      You managed to string together many words which do not comprehend- not that I have not tried.

      1. Words are interesting. They can be used in different ways which sometimes convey clear meaning and sometimes completely nonsensical.

      QUOTE: "Religion is a metaphor"

      No, religion is NOT a metaphor. It is real. There are many different religions, all claiming to represent the truth but none is able to provide any proof that it really does.

      2. I agreed that god is an idea. It seems I am repeating this sentence too many times in the last 2 days. Imagination does not imply reality. We can have an idea, the validity of the idea, the "realness" of the idea and the utility of the idea depends on other things - not imagination. An idea is valid if it can be tested and be verified. God as an idea has long past its used-by day. I always thought that with today's education in the developed world, people would be able to see the lies, politics and threats traditionally used by religion to control people.

      3. Science does not exclude experience. I am sure many scientists enjoy great painting, arts, music and awe by the complexity and beauty of nature. Science as you correctly pointed out is ONE way to look at nature. There are other ways too. Philosophy is another. However, looking at nature through a religion lens is like looking at nature through a monochromatic filter with strange curvatures. Religion all based on myths - unsubstantiated claims from long time ago. If anyone wants me to look at nature through the lens of religion, I want to see the fundamental assumption (that god exists) be proven and that the stories in religion are real and validated.

      Nature used to appear mystic to people with little understanding. We are getting to know her and we can do that without the coloured distorted lens of religion.

      Science is a only a tool. Our existence depends a lot on luck and each is different. It is better that each of us set our own purpose
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        Oct 4 2011: "You managed to string together many words which do not comprehend- not that I have not tried."

        If you don't understand ask which part and I'll tell you what I meant.

        1. Yes words are interesting, the more precise they get the less understanding they have for reality. Metaphors and other forms of expression allow for a flexibility. words have their definition which create their borders.

        2. The idea of god is not about testing. It's about having no questions. It's about being aware without prejudice.

        3. I am also sure many scientists enjoy art and nature but I wasn't talking about them. Exactly religion is a myth. The meaning of those myths are however very beautiful. (Joseph Cambpell goes into depth with this) We have a misunderstanding on what the fundamental notion of god and its reference means.

        Appreciation does allow for people to live their uniqueness
        • Oct 4 2011: Thadeus,

          QUOTE: "the more precise they get the less understanding they have for reality"

          I cannot agree with this. Language is a communication tool. The objective of communication is to get a message across. Words do have their limitation bounded by meanings we mutually agree to give them. Without negotiation, we can only use words with commonly accepted meaning. Using words in ways which only one party understand does not aid in communication.

          QUOTE: "The idea of god is not about testing. It's about having no questions. It's about being aware without prejudice. "

          Again, I cannot agree. God is someone's imagination and are we not to question that person's imagination? Why discuss? If you were born in India, your notion of god would be very different from those born in western countries. How's that possible if there were one true god?

          QUOTE: "The meaning of those myths are however very beautiful. "

          The messages and stories of myths are stories and messages. Treating myths, no matter how beautiful they are, as real is a delusion.

          We seem to have diverged.

          Why did you say religion is a metaphor when in fact religion is real?
    • Oct 4 2011: It is interesting that we think we need a reason to live

      we are complicating life in the quest for knowledge

      Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying. ...-Death and Dying quote by Arthur C Clarke

      God, Science, and Delusion

      A Chat With Arthur C. Clarke

      Perhaps our role on this planet is not to worship God — but to create Him.

      The rash assertion that 'God made man in His own image' is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths, and as the hierarchy of the universe is disclosed to us, we may have to recognize this chilling truth: if there are any gods whose chief concern is man, they cannot be very important gods.

      Science can destroy religion by ignoring it as well as by disproving its tenets. No one ever demonstrated, so far as I am aware, the non-existence of Zeus or Thor — but they have few followers now.

      This is not my work only ideas that give reason for thought
      I guess that is the reason I am following this TED Conservation
      one of my favorite pieces of graffiti
      "If you are not asking the Question you are part of the problem"

      I hesitate to tell anyone that I think they or their opinion are wrong, as I don't know what they know and they might be right.
      I may tell myself that I think they are wrong, then I keep on reading
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        Oct 4 2011: "It is interesting that we think we need a reason to live."

        Appreciation isn't a reason it's a way of living. It's the opposite of living for achievement. It is about simply being.
        • Oct 4 2011: Please clarify: Appreciation of WHAT?
  • Oct 4 2011: None of you have really wrapped your head around the question. You seem to all want to argue about molecules and cells and religion. What purpose would you have other then to question? We were given the ability to think and process information at such an advanced level we have become the superior creatures on our planet. Why would we be the only beings to gain such power? What can we do with our power? As anyone who sits back and realizes the greatest purpose of humanity is to question ourselves and eerything around us. This key factor is what separates us from being a dog who wonders through the wilderness. Being able to question our surroundings is what propells us further into the world. It may not always come up with an answer and every answer may not be right or what society sets as the norm but this is also why we have this ability. For example, everyone has some sort of religion that holds a higher power. Whether you call him god or any other name you believ in him. We all also believ in a set of rules and faiths that are generally similar. Yet we still question each other and even go to war over these things. This thinking and pursuing is the true goal of humanity. We all have a journey of question answering and deciding that we must take in our lives. NOONE is exempt from thisIf anyone disagrees look at the majority of things you do in your day. Do not take the little decisions for granted. thank you all for reading i hope some of you understand where i was going. God Bless all and continue to question even the smallest things in your day.
    • Oct 4 2011: Evan,

      QUOTE; 'We were given the ability to think and process information at such an advanced level we have become the superior creatures on our planet."

      I am afraid you started out on the wrong foot. We are NOT GIVEN the ability to think... We are EVOLVED to think. So take away a "creator" of human, what would be the purpose of human existence?

      I am arguing that there is NO purpose of human existence. We are just lucky to be able to think about it and hence we are creating problem for ourselves to ask for a purpose of our own being. There is NO purpose because there is NO creator. We just happen to be here.

      As for personal purpose, I would argue it is more like trying to set up a set of aspirations - what one wants to achieve/own/waste/... This set of aspirations is preferably grounded on accepted social norms and moral values. This is a long term goal - a lifelong commitment to a cause and I wish anyone doing so would include 'doing no harm' and 'demand the evidence of claims'.

      You asked us to question even the smallest things in our day. Can I take this opportunity to remind you to do the same and question the validity of anyone's claim of the existence of a god? Where is the evidence?
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        Oct 4 2011: Hi Albert
        Where is the evidence?

        Watch this &/or any other biology vids by David Menton; look yourself in the face, & tell yourself it was random chance over millions of years.

        • Oct 4 2011: If we were created, the creator must be more complex than we are. How does that complexity come about? Another creator who created the creator and so on.

          This line of reasoning leads to an unsatisfactory outcome. In each iteration, the complexity increases.

          On the other hand, random chances and survival of the fittest started with simplicity and complexity increases (as long as there is a local energy source) does not create the same illogical conclusion of creationist.
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          Oct 5 2011: This video is to evidence what McDonalds is to haute cuisine.

          Also, we've been through this. Evolution isn't purely random chance. You're like a broken record. That's how you keep your religiosity alive, by ignoring everyone.
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          Oct 5 2011: Peter,

          We cannot "prove" God exists with bad science. (Plus it makes those who try look ... um ... not too bright.)

          Well, we cannot prove God exists with good science either ... but that's another conversation.
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          Oct 8 2011: That body you inhabit was created in a lab. Just like we try to create artificial intelligence that look and act like us. The same can be said for whoever is in charge of this planet. If you consider that whoever is in charge, is just technologically more advance than we are, you start to apply common sense to everything around you. I am not talking about them being thousands of years more advanced either. A couple hundred years would all it take for us to be "wowed & consider them to be God like". Take our current advancements back just 200 years, our eves dropping equipment alone would make them think we were magical. Never mind, jets, computers, cell phones, etc. I believe that most of us will be greatly disappointed when we find out that the only reason we hadn't seen God, was because of his/her use of stealth technology.
      • Oct 4 2011: Albert all i have to say is i feel sorry for you that you don't believe in a higher power. God will save us all except for those who doubt. Reconsider your life god can really help you. God Bless you
        • Oct 4 2011: Evan,

          I feel sorry for you that you believed myths and in unsubstantiated claims without the ability to question the validity of such claims.

          Please take back 'God Bless you" - I felt insulted but I forgive you assuming your kind intention.
        • Oct 4 2011: QUOTE: "God will save us all except for those who doubt."

          That is a very strange god, assuming that you are one of the "Christians".

          If I have been good and I have been helping others in my whole life, it does not count and I cannot be saved because I cannot blindly believe in a myth. I will be condemned to eternal hell - that is a threat, my friend. That would only come from an unjust, unfair, horrible god.
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          Oct 5 2011: HA! This is the kind of pathetic condescension I mention in my response to Flavia. It was bound to come up, now it has. So predictable.
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          Oct 8 2011: Read my response
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        Oct 5 2011: Hi Albert.
        "This line of reasoning leads to an unsatisfactory outcome. In each iteration, the complexity increases."
        The hypothesis is that God is eternal & omnipotent; he requires no creator. To believe that such complexity comes from no intelligence is just silly.

        You know I don't ignore you; however the truth never changes.

        I know the vid is simplistic, but is it essentially accurate ? Can you show me where the errors lie ?
        Creationists go out of their way to explain their point of view to laymen. Intellectuals (?) try & dress evolution in science-speak to make it sound plausible. Isn't working any more.

        • Oct 5 2011: Hi Peter,

          You are begging for exception - a logical fallacy. If we need a creator, why god does not? Because it is XXXX - that's begging of exception. Your logic does not hold up.

          As to the evidence of evolution, if you only care to study them, there are tons. Without evolution, the whole field of biology - medicine included - collapses. What we do not know (we - layman with a little understanding of the cutting edge science) is the abiogenesis process - how life started. My background is not in biology. Earth, together with the Solar system was formed about 4.5 billion years ago. The evidence of earliest life date to about 3.65 to 3.85 billion years ago. So it took quite a while (about 1 billion years) for the chemical molecules to be able to reproduce and we can recognize them as life. Of course the early 300 to 400 million years of Earth history would be constant coalesces with smaller rocks and making the early Earth very hostile to life. Minus that, it still took over 600 million years to start life.

          Creationists play with people's emotion. The theory of creation cannot serve any purpose except to appease the religious and help the powerful to maintain control over common people. Evolution, on the other hand, helps us to understand the relationship between living things, where to find more evidence, that we can test drugs with animals instead of directly on human and so on.

          Evolution is studied in schools and universities. There is no secret about evolution - just your willingness to do some hard thinking and learn. Science speak is hard because the subject matter is hard. Science is based on evidence and finding evidence is hard too. Creationists go out and spread false information and should be condemned. Quoting some old text, make up some imagination and fix something together without the need of checking the validity - that's easy in comparison. No wonder many find science speak difficult.
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          Oct 5 2011: Hi Peter,

          You say, "Intellectuals (?) try & dress evolution in science-speak to make it sound plausible. Isn't working any more."

          Evolution does not need to be "dressed up" to sound plausible. If you would like to read simplified explanations of evolution, there are many available (you could start with children's books.) And if you want to really get into it, you can read the meaty stuff for scientific minds.

          Is evolution something you would like to understand (or are you already convinced it is not a viable explanation of how life appeared on earth?)

          If you are interested in learning more, I can recommend some good books.

          If you're not, there is no point.
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          Oct 5 2011: Peter,

          You say, "To believe that such complexity comes from no intelligence is just silly."

          No, it isn't "silly." Far from it. It's fascinating. (Really fascinating!)

          Even if God exists (as you perceive Him) there is ample evidence to support the evolution of life from the simple to the complex without the need for a creative being having any hand in the process. If you choose to ignore the evidence because it doesn't conform to your particular belief ... that is silly.

          As I said, we cannot prove the existence of God with bad (or good) science.

          If you believe in God, fine.

          Science will not affect your belief one way or the other.

          If science will not affect your belief in God, why do you allow your belief in God to affect your view of science?

          Do you think if you actually understood evolution you would be a bad Christian? Do you think you would be insulting God if you actually looked, unflinchingly, at how life on earth evolved?

          Believing in God is no excuse for abandoning the reason that you, no doubt, purport God gave you. I am pretty sure your God would not want you to be intentionally stupid.

          Peter, the science supporting evolution is unassailable. (Unless you admit magic thinking ... in which case there is no point discussing this .. or anything else.)

          Personally, if I believed in a God of the type you seem to, I would be much more impressed to think He used evolution to form His creation than to believe in some simplistic "magic thinking" conjured up by sheepherders a few thousand years ago.

          Evolution: Brilliant idea. Made from mud: parlour trick.
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          Oct 5 2011: You don't understand the theory of evolution. There's nothing more that can be said I'm afraid.
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        Oct 5 2011: Hi Guys
        "Evolution: Brilliant idea. Made from mud: parlour trick."
        You must believe that man is made from mud also; mud/rocks is all there was.

        I have been looking at this for decades; I am not naturally "religious".

        Some of my logic :-

        Matter cannot be created or destroyed (scientifically). Matter exists, something/one must have created it (unscientific). It cannot be eternal or we would be in heat-death now.

        Fossils cannot form by slow processes (scientific). We have fossils worldwide, incl. mountaintops, This could have been caused by 1) Lots of little floods over a long period of time; or 2) A worldwide flood. Such is the worldwide uniformity of layers, I go for 2).

        Life comes from life,(scientific). Give me a scientific (repeatable/testable) exception.

        Information comes from intelligence, (scientific). Dittto. We boast of our computer achievements, DNA is millions of times more efficient. Logic demands an intelligence much greater than ours.

        If classic evolution were true then everything would be evolving; missing links would be walking about all over the place. If punctuated equilibrium is your bag, then a mechanism is required. If you are a hopeful monster proponent then you are silly.

        I could go on, but it's all classic stuff for which no reasonable answers are so far forthcoming; but I am ever hopefull.


        ps. it appears we don't discount a flood on Mars.
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          Oct 5 2011: Your logic Peter is way beyond my understanding.
          Maybe I'm not clever enough but I was born in a good catholic family and as I was about 10 years I couldn't understand their logic any longer.
          I loved nature and as I looked into it I saw that all organisms must have been evolved out of the more simple forms. I didn't dare tell anyone because they would tell me crazy.
          Years later I learned of a man called Ch. Darwin that had thought this thought before and wrote a book about it. I've never read it because its obvious to me.
          If you prefer to close your eyes for all evidence even a child can see you better leave it be and live by your own logics.
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          Oct 5 2011: Hi Peter,

          QUOTE: "I have been looking at this for decades; I am not naturally 'religious'."

          What does "looking at this for decades" have to do with it?

          Are you unnaturally religious?

          QUOTE: "Matter cannot be created or destroyed"

          Matter cannot be created or destroyed? It is created and destroyed every instant.

          Perhaps you mean energy cannot be destroyed.

          Fossils are found on mountaintops so you think there was a worldwide flood?

          Have you heard of plate tectonics?

          QUOTE: "flood"

          There was not a worldwide flood. (Let me clarify that: There was not a worldwide flood.)

          QUOTE: "Life comes from life."

          A scientific repeatable exception: Life on earth (at one point, there was no life on earth, then there was. If you would like to wait around long enough this will, no doubt, be repeated.) And you might want to do a google search of Craig Venter.

          QUOTE: "Information comes from intelligence."

          Information is encoded in many thing, some say everything (including the universe, DNA, etc.) Intelligence is not a necessary component of "information."

          QUOTE: "Logic demands an intelligence much greater than ours."

          No, "logic" demands NO SUCH THING. Logic has provided a much simpler explanation. It's called evolution. (That does not mean there is not a greater intelligence, only that a greater intelligence is NOT necessary. That you believe a greater intelligence necessary, does not make it so.)

          QUOTE: If classic evolution were true then everything would be evolving; missing links would be walking about all over the place.

          So you think evolution has stopped? Perhaps you might like to check out the cichlids of Lake Victoria (amongst 1000s of other examples.)

          Missing links? Please.

          QUOTE: "I could go on, but it's all classic stuff for which no reasonable answers are so far forthcoming; but I am ever hopefull."

          Answers are pouring in.

          Do you think your God will vanish if you let some of them in?

          Selecting "science" that supports your belief is not science at all.
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          Oct 5 2011: Peter,

          Are you willing to learn about evolution?

          As I say, if you are, I can recommend some good books.

          My expectation is you are satisfied with your religious interpretation and have no desire to admit anything that does not support it. If I am mistaken, let me know, and I will suggest some interesting reading.
        • Oct 5 2011: Peter,

          Thomas has answered your "logic" one by one excellently. I cannot be better. I will just supplement a little.

          QUOTE: "Matter cannot be created or destroyed (scientifically). Matter exists, something/one must have created it (unscientific). It cannot be eternal or we would be in heat-death now."

          Wrong. Matter is being destroyed right now at our SUN and billion of stars. For our Sun, hydrogen is being fused to form helium and in the process a tiny amount is converted into energy and being radiated out everywhere. Earth captures a tiny bit of that energy and everything on Earth (except those organisms near the undersea volcano vents) depends on it.

          Yes, in about 5 billion years, our Sun will die (hydrogen exhausted) and whatever life here on Earth will probably die too.

          QUOTE: "Fossils cannot form by slow processes (scientific). We have fossils worldwide, incl. mountaintops, This could have been caused by 1) Lots of little floods over a long period of time; or 2) A worldwide flood. Such is the worldwide uniformity of layers, I go for 2)."

          This is a logical fallacy of false dichotomy. There is at least another explanation - plate tectonic.

          "Fossils cannot form by slow processes (scientific)" - slow is relative. Human written history of 7000 years is long time or short? To us (with life span ~ 80 years) is long, but for the universe which has existed 13.5 billion years is just a blink.

          QUOTE: If classic evolution were true then everything would be evolving; missing links would be walking about all over the place. If punctuated equilibrium is your bag, then a mechanism is required. If you are a hopeful monster proponent then you are silly.

          The missing links are not walking on Earth? Yes they (missing or not) do. We are the link to the next species and we are walking on Earth right now.
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          Oct 6 2011: Hi Peter,

          I had an epiphany last night (a small one but an epiphany nonetheless.)

          You will notice we do not have lengthy discussions about, say, the need for oxygen, food, sleep, pair-bonding or shelter.


          Because these things are essential to our survival.

          Believing in, or not believing in God, on the other hand, leads to endless, lively debates.


          Because believing in God is not essential to our survival and we can each choose our opinions and "argue them" vociferously.

          It makes no difference whether we believe in God, Science, or Grand Poobahs.

          As long as we take care of our needs for oxygen, food, sleep, pair-bonding and shelter, everything else is (almost) irrelevant. (Please let's not bring "the afterlife" into this ... that's another discussion.)

          My epiphany was this: Your stance cannot be about the conflict between science and religion. Since neither is essential to survival - as demonstrated, admirably by, say, the cockroach - there is no "real" conflict between belief in science and belief in God.

          So I asked myself what would trigger such a stance in an obviously rational being (you.)

          What I came up with (as a hypothesis) is: It must be something more important to you than science or God.

          What could that be?

          I think it's your wife.

          I am guessing that you take a stance that conforms to your wife's beliefs.

          You are not afraid God will leave you, if you believe in Science; you are afraid your wife will.

          (And by "leave," I do not mean "divorce," I mean withdraw emotionally.)

          Now, it's just a hypothesis (I don't even know if you're married.)

          But sacrificing an "unessential" stance (say, belief in God or science) for an "essential" need (a mate) - that makes perfect sense (for a human.)
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        Oct 6 2011: Hi Frans
        I doubt very much that I am smarter than you; in fact I think if we all took a vote, I would be voted the dumbest here. It appears that to believe that God created the universe it is essential that one is a bit simple.
        I understand perfectly why a child with Catholic parents would not believe in God. That is a rational reaction, & I would probably do the same myself.
        The fact remains that we only have the two options. 1) Someone or something made the universe, or 2) The universe made itself. I understand you going for option 2, however option 1 is a perfectly reasonable option also.

        Nice talking to someone humble enough to think they are less smart than I. Great ego boost, thank you.

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        Oct 6 2011: Hi Thomas

        Let's clear up your epiphany theory.
        I have been married to Joan for some 35yrs. We were not Christians when we wed & went nowhere near a church. About a decade in Joan was having near fatal asthma attacks. She had been talking to a Christian(C.) lady next door & became a C.. I set out to prove her wrong; after all, I was smart enough to know about evolution. For the first time in my life I was confronted by grown-ups who believed in God. I was amazed at the bible, all my questions were answered; I run out of excuses.
        Now you may take fro that that I am just pleasing my wife. If so, you obviously don't know me. I have always said it like it is, & if I didn't believe then I would say so. C. wives are submissive to their husbands, the man is the head of the household. We could have a perfectly good relationship if I didn't believe.
        So what is my motivation ? You already mentioned it. "(Please let's not bring "the afterlife" into this ... that's another discussion.)" I want to get to heaven & meet a guy called Thomas Jones. My C. friends are permanent friends; as in eternal; I love each of them dearly, & I want you to join them. That's my motivation; what is yours in trying to dissuade me?
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          Oct 6 2011: Hi Peter,

          Who said I was trying to dissuade you?

          I'm just refuting your science (which is very, very bad.)

          If you believe in God, Jesus and heaven, I have no problem with that whatsoever. If you present your ideas as faith-based, I have nothing to say. If you present them as science-based, or as a refutation of science, then I do have something to say.

          On a personal note, I find the Christian worldview (heaven/hell - sin/redemption - etcetera) simplistic, superstitious, and childish.

          However, I do admire people of faith, even if what they have faith in I find ridiculous.

          And lest you get the wrong impression, I am actually a big fan of Jesus ... just not the Jesus of the Christian Church(es.)

          Christianity, in my opinion, is an aberration. The (historical) Christ I am familiar with would reject it outright.

          If you would like to have that discussion, we should probably open another conversation.
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        Oct 6 2011: Thomas/Albert
        Sorry about the matter thing guys. I should have said matter/energy; these are normally understood to be interchangeable when referring to the First Law.

        Yes I have heard of Plate Tectonics. The fact remains that Everest was once under water; I understand it wasn't as high then, but under water it most assuredly was, as were all mountains. Otherwise they would have no marine fossils.

        Life comes from life. As far as we can discover scientifically, this is a fact.

        "Information is encoded in many thing, some say everything (including the universe, DNA, etc.) Intelligence is not a necessary component of "information." "
        Agreed, but how did it get into many things? You could say that all computers have programs, but they didn't program themselves.

        "cichlids of Lake Victoria"
        A cichlid turning into a different type of cichlid is not evolution any more than a husky turning into a Gt. Dane. Now a cichlid turning into a wasp would be more like it.

        "This is a logical fallacy of false dichotomy. There is at least another explanation - plate tectonic."
        How on earth would tectonics form fossils ?

        {"Fossils cannot form by slow processes (scientific)" - slow is relative. } Nothing is relative with fossils; they must be buried before they rot; days or weeks at most.

        {We are the link to the next species and we are walking on Earth right now.}
        How come we are all pretty much identical then ? Why are we not diversifying as we each try out new avenues of evolution ?

        {Believing in, or not believing in God, on the other hand, leads to endless, lively debates.
        Because believing in God is not essential to our survival and we can each choose our opinions and "argue them" vociferously.
        It makes no difference whether we believe in God, Science, or Grand Poobahs.}
        Why ? Because our subconscious knows full well it is a matter of eternal life. Christians have been slaughtered throughout history just for being Christians. That's how important it is !!
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          Oct 6 2011: Peter,

          If you wish to refute the science, please study the science. To put it bluntly, your science sucks.

          If you wish to celebrate your faith, fine.

          Leave the science out of it ... really. What you say might fly with a Bible Study group - or embarrassingly, in large parts of The United States - but not out here in the real world. And your insistence on citing (and defending) bad science makes rational discussion, essentially, impossible.

          I will celebrate your faith with you. I reject your "science" such as it is.

          I find it amazing that people of faith seem to think their God expects them to ignore common sense as a symbol of their devotion.

          Seriously, do you think God requires you to believe the world was flooded (or that he made us from mud - or that a serpent spoke - or that ...) in order for you to be a good Christian?

          [It's a rhetorical question. I would actually prefer you not answer it because we already know the general thrust of your reply, don't we?]

          Please use the common sense your Creator gave you to make a distinction between science and faith.

          "Wherever the poetry of myth is interpreted as biography, history, or science, it is killed. The living images become only remote facts of a distant time or sky. Furthermore, it is never difficult to demonstrate that as science and history, mythology is absurd. When a civilization begins to reinterpret its mythology in this way, the life goes out of it, temples become museums, and the link between the two perspectives becomes dissolved." – Joseph Campbell
        • Oct 6 2011: Peter,

          Let me just answer the part which you responded is mine.

          You wrote, "Fossils cannot form by slow processes (scientific). We have fossils worldwide, incl. mountaintops, This could have been caused by 1) Lots of little floods over a long period of time; or 2) A worldwide flood. Such is the worldwide uniformity of layers, I go for 2).'

          Me wrote, "QUOTE: "Fossils cannot form by slow processes (scientific). We have fossils worldwide, incl. mountaintops, This could have been caused by 1) Lots of little floods over a long period of time; or 2) A worldwide flood. Such is the worldwide uniformity of layers, I go for 2)." This is a logical fallacy of false dichotomy. There is at least another explanation - plate tectonic."

          Then you wrote, ""This is a logical fallacy of false dichotomy. There is at least another explanation - plate tectonic." How on earth would tectonics form fossils ?"

          Now, I write:

          We were talking about the appearance of fossil worldwide including mountain tops, right?
          (1) Plate tectonic is a process in which plate moves and in the process some low lying area may be lifted up to form mountains. see http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Mountain_by_reverse_fault.gif/220px-Mountain_by_reverse_fault.gif
          (2) Does 40 days of Noah floor sufficient to create layers and layers of fossil on mountain tops like the Himalaya?

          Yes plate tectonic does not make fossils. But plate tectonic changes the geological feature and that's why fossils are found in mountains. By the way, fossils can only be found in sedimentary rocks!
        • Oct 6 2011: Peter,

          You wrote, "Christians have been slaughtered throughout history just for being Christians. That's how important it is !!"

          I write:
          Christians have slaughtered many throughout history just for being non-Christians. That's how divisive and dangerous it is !!
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        Oct 7 2011: Hi Albert

        You write :- "(1) Plate tectonic is a process in which plate moves and in the process some low lying area may be lifted up to form mountains"

        I agree with you. The fossils were deposited under water & then the mountains rose upwards out of the water.

        You write :-"(2) Does 40 days of Noah floor sufficient to create layers and layers of fossil on mountain tops like the Himalaya? "

        The flood lasted a year or so according to the bible. From the rain starting until the first land broke the surface of the water. Most models have the Ice Age following the flood, during which the land would be reshaped. If the Himalaya took millions of years to uplift then would it not be more rounded & eroded than it is ?
        This is one scenario for the layers being laid down within a short time.

        There were millions of fossils laid down at this time. Fossils are laid down by water. There are none being laid down today. Isn't it a bit strange that there should be thousands of little floods over millions of years laying down fossils, with the water retreating each time to let more animals grow to be fossilised by the next flood ? Many of the fossil layers are worldwide; that's where we get the "Geologic Column" theory from. How do we get worldwide layers from lots of little floods ?

        You write :- "Christians have slaughtered many throughout history just for being non-Christians. That's how divisive and dangerous it is !!"

        I am not a big history buff however this is what I understand.

        The Crusaders fought against the Muslims who were intent on expansion by force.
        The church burned many Christians at the stake for disagreeing with them.
        The Romans fed Christians to the Lions for Sport.
        Nero burned Christians to divert the blame for burning Rome from himself.

        That being said Christians are not perfect, & make horrendous mistakes. Jesus really only has two demands of us.
        1. Love Him.
        2. Love your fellow man

        • Oct 7 2011: Hi Peter,

          Fossil did not necessarily form in a flood. If something died in situation where were possibility of layers and layers of mud to be laid upon the dead body in relative calm condition, there were chances of formation of fossil.

          I am not interested in debating how a specific myth in the bible should be interpreted. However, what we are quite sure today is that there was no global flood in the history of Earth which is about 14.6 billion years old. If you claim that there was a global flood, then show us the evidence. The bible is NOT an evidence!

          Religion is not a moral entity. We cannot assign a moral standing to religion. However, we can judge if a religion is good or bad by the actions of the majority of the followers of a particular religion. At some point in time, Christianity might be good. However this religion was bad since the crusades - proportionally more people were killed by the wars between Christians and Muslims than the recent two world wars. The Spanish Inquisition, however, completely bankrupted any moral stance left, if there is any. Today, Islam may be worse than Christianity. But are we interested in the race to the bottom of moral?

          Someone has once said, Jesus's original ideas were immoral and his moral ideas were not original. I will respond to your two Jesus teaching in the next comment.
        • Oct 7 2011: Hi Peter,

          You wrote, "Jesus really only has two demands of us. 1. Love Him. 2. Love your fellow man."

          The first teaching - "love Jesus" is not really a moral teaching. It is a selfish grab of attention. I will leave this.

          The second teaching - "love your fellow human being". I have changed from "man" to fellow human being to reflect the need of equality as treatment to the other half of humanity. We should not discriminate between gender.

          Such an unconditional teaching is not actionable. If someone has killed your family, your neighbourhood and everyone else. He is now facing you and intending to kill you. Can you still "love" this person?

          There is no absolute in moral. There is context and circumstance. An unconditional teaching like that showed how naive Jesus' moral stance is. Buddha's teaching of compassion, at least 300 years earlier than Jesus, is much better. Equally, Confucius teaching of human relationship, starting with family then to local village to boarder society and so on is more actionable.

          This is not a religious forum and it is closing soon. If you are interested, you can start a thread. I am sure a lot of people would be interested.
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        Oct 8 2011: Hi Albert
        "Fossil did not necessarily form in a flood. If something died in situation where were possibility of layers and layers of mud to be laid upon the dead body in relative calm condition, there were chances of formation of fossil."

        This is true, but is unlikely to be responsible for the majority of the millions of fossils. Many are tossed & broken & gathered into piles before fossilisation.

        "However, what we are quite sure today is that there was no global flood in the history of Earth"

        This is an opinion, 'being quite sure' is not evidence.

        " If you claim that there was a global flood, then show us the evidence."

        The fossils are evidence; it depends on one's interpretation. the bible is a well attested source that has stood the test of time. There are a couple of hundred different flood stories, written independently in the distant past; are they all imagination ?

        I try not to write too much about the bible, however in discussing origins, it often comes up. I'm a bit busy to do justice to a thread of my own.

        Best wishes.
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          Oct 8 2011: " the bible is a well attested source that has stood the test of time."

          Peter, who made you believe this?
          The Bible isn't better or worse as any source of antiquity.
          It can learn bits and pieces about what people told over the ages, believed over the ages, did to one another over the ages. And as for the new testament it is nothing more than a selection of texts of that time that were convenient to mobilize the people against the Roman occupation and later again edited in a last attempt to keep the Roman empire intact.

          I hope you do what Albert suggested.
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      Oct 6 2011: Hi Thomas
      With you on Jesus & the churches. Man always fouls things up.

      You need to be specific on my sucking science. You see essentially I see evolution as faith also. All the hard science is based on variations within a kind, the historical stuff is outwith science in the empirical sense. So when I am told your faith is science & mine is fiction, it doesn't sit well, so I react.

      David Menton taught anatomy to doctors at university for 34 years. He never once had to mention evolution to explain anatomy. The US now has thousands of practicing doctors due partly to his efforts; that's how important evolution is.

      Everyone to his own opinion.

      • Oct 6 2011: "All the hard science is based on variations within a kind, the historical stuff is outwith science in the empirical sense."

        I bet you were hoping to dazzle us with your non-sequitir here Peter. Although the words kind of fit in the context of what is been discussed, upon closer examination it appears to be a logic word salad. That is, a jumbled mess of meanings that don't make sense.

        As for the science of evolution been in anyway faith based - given that it is the most well supported scientific theory, across multiple fields of discpline, with massively interlacing evidence... it can only be described as faith based, if you also accept the premise that all of science if faith based.

        And if you do accept that premise - then there is nothing we can discuss - other than perhaps a suggestion for you to avail yourself of readily available internet resources that provide you with definitions of and meanings of words, such as dictionary.com or wikipedia.com

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        Oct 6 2011: Hi Peter,

        QUOTE: "With you on Jesus & the churches. Man always fouls things up."

        "Man" always fouls things up - but not you?

        QUOTE: "You need to be specific on my sucking science."

        All of it. Really. All of it.

        Your science is so bad even when it's flaws are pointed out to you, you simply ignore what you hear. That is very, very bad science, indeed.

        Scientists do not get to cherry pick the findings that support their belief and disregard the findings that contradict them. And, although you might find this hard to accept, scientists are not obliged to take other people's beliefs into account when they analyze the data. So your belief in a global flood (for example) carries no weight when measured against the SCIENTIFIC evidence that no such flood occurred. (Now, of course, using the RELIGIOUS evidence we know can we can "prove" not only the flood but also a 6000 year old planet and that Mohammad was the Last Prophet of God.)

        QUOTE: "So when I am told your faith is science & mine is fiction, it doesn't sit well, so I react."

        Who told you my faith is science; and yours is "fiction?" (Science is NOT faith-based.)

        What I am saying is you seem to think that your faith is on the same plane as empirical science.

        It's not.

        You can have faith in whatever you want to have faith in but why should your faith be treated differently than, say, the "faith" of those who believe the earth is 6000 years old, or that Mohammad, is the Last Prophet of God?

        Is your faith greater that the Muslims' that says not only is much of science "wrong" but so too is your understanding of the Christian faith? (They have faith you've messed it all up.)

        Whose faith do we give precedence to?


        The Baptists'?

        The Muslims'?


        In science, we treat all of it the same.

        So Peter, (for example) you do not get to vote on whether there was a global flood or not. You don't. Neither do I.

        There was no global flood.

        Nor do we get to "vote" on evolution. It happened; and is happening.
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        Oct 6 2011: Hi Peter,

        Just to be clear: I have no problem with your faith. I do have a problem when you (or anyone) expects science to conform to religious beliefs. Science does not support Christian doctrine anymore than it supports Islam or Wicca.

        Would you not object if a Wiccan claimed science confirmed their belief and refuted yours?

        I believe you would, and, yet, you unabashedly assert your faith is supported by science - and, ironically, that science is not supported by science. (And you seem to be completely unaware you are doing it.)

        I am off on a cruise for a few days and will be gone until after this conversation expires.

        I have faith you will enjoy yourself.

      • Oct 6 2011: Peter,

        You wrote, "David Menton taught anatomy to doctors at university for 34 years. He never once had to mention evolution to explain anatomy. The US now has thousands of practicing doctors due partly to his efforts; that's how important evolution is."

        I write:

        Neil Shubin directed human anatomy course at the medical school of the University of Chicago. His book started by talking the inner fish (ie fish as the common ancestor of land and water animals). See 'Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body'
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    Oct 3 2011: Being an Atheist, I will disregard the Theist Idea that a supernatural creator designed us with a specific purpose for this conversation.

    The answer to this question depends entirely upon the frame of reference you instill upon it. If the frame of reference is merely a small ecosystem, then our existence truly is justified. We impact ecosystems in ways only we can, and we are essential to the survival of certain species, specially domesticated and endangered ones. In this sense, our purpose is to interact with our surroundings in a way that is beneficial to us while maintaining all resources crucial to us, so that we can survive and reproduce. Of course, whether this truly qualifies as a purpose is questionable.

    Now, if your frame of reference is the entirety of the existing world, then we are unsurprisingly irrelevant. If you take into account the entire cosmos, we are merely a tiny water-filled carbon sack in an infinitely large world. A highly complex sack, but a sack nonetheless. The planets spin regardless of whether or not we exist. Our consciousness may try to delude us into believing that we are the most important thing in the world, we are not. You could try and conquer the world or inhabit the entire galaxy, and you would still be incredibly irrelevant to the collective cosmos.

    Now, this all sounds very depressing, but I prefer this over any predetermined purpose, simply because a lack of purpose allows us to be free of definite responsibilities. There are no morals, there is no significance, no currency. We have created those and given them meaning. We determine how we wish to live our lives and why we want to live it that way. There is no ultimate intelligent ruler of the universe, no one who can tell you what you can and cannot do. That is the beauty of lacking a purpose - Being free to choose your own path without limitations.
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    Oct 2 2011: If we have a unified purpose, it seems to be elusive to us. Maybe we're working toward finding that unity and connection in ourselves as humans? Each of us may have goals, and it appears that the collective goals are not coordinated.

    We KNOW we're progressing as a species in some respects...technology and science for example...we have proof of that...Matthieu...are you listening..."proof":>)

    To evolve as humans, I don't think we need "one notion" or "mission statement". We need to recognize that each and every one of us is different, and that becomes the unifying piece of information:>)

    If we look at the past "trajectory" of behaviours, we may destroy ourselves...internally combust!
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      Oct 2 2011: Of course we have proof we are progressing as a species through science and technology, was that ever a unified purpose of humanity though? Is this progress not the work of some, distributed to the benefit of many more? Progress is not necessarily purpose-driven. Undeniably, evolution shows progress, but does it have purpose? Let's not also forget the unfortunate many who regard science and technology with contempt despite all it has done for them (and there are a few these people even here on TED).

      I would love for humanity to unify behind science, but I'm just not seeing it.
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        Oct 2 2011: Matthieu,
        What I said, is that " to evolve as humans, I don't think we need "one notion" or "mission statement". We need to recognize that each and every one of us is different, and that becomes the unifying piece of information:>)

        You would "love for humanity to unify behind science", and there are many who would love to see humanity unify behind something else. Is there a place in the middle where you can all meet? I say "you", because I'm already in that middle place:>)

        You'e right...we're probably NOT going to see all of humanity unify behind one belief or practice, so I repeat..."we need to recognize that each and every one of us is different, and that becomes the unifying piece of information. That is the only "unity" we have...is it not?
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          Oct 3 2011: I'm all for individuals purposes so we agree. I guess I mistook your comment as some sort of challenge and regrettably that overshadowed the rest of your comment to me. My honest mistake.
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        Oct 3 2011: "I would love for humanity to unify behind science, but I'm just not seeing it."

        What about philosophy, mysticism, religion,and art?
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          Oct 3 2011: My comment does not discard other institutions, it only makes sense in the context of the conversation. Having said that, the prospect of unifying behind religion and mysticism makes me sick.
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          Oct 3 2011: There is no unity in religion. It's oximoronic to even think we could as a speicies, given what has transpired with this little experiment we call "religion", unify behind it. There is no unity in philosophy, though I admire the effort to explain our existence. Science is universal, so in that regard it's a possibility..... but don't hold your breath.
        • Oct 3 2011: Anyone believing that religion can unify humanity needs to do some study in history. There's no objective way to settle differences when the arguments are about whose version of fairy tale is "truer". On the other hand, the difference in science can be settled by experiments and objective observations.

          Of course, science is a tool, a way to study nature and science does not dictate a purpose for anyone to follow.
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        Oct 3 2011: OK Matthieu.....
        When we unify, we'll definitely put you in the science corner:>) I appreciate you:>)
      • Oct 3 2011: Matthieu,

        What do you mean when you say we should 'unify behind science'?

        Science is an instrument - which I agree ought to be utilized - and I fail to understand how humanity might unify behind it.

        Unless you mean unify behind accepting it as an instrument of understanding. But then the question still remains - to what end?

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          Oct 3 2011: I never said 'should'. Frankly it doesn't matter. My more important point was that there is no unifying purpose.
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      . .

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      Oct 4 2011: The tower and its long staircase being in the mind of every human ready to be climbed by anyone who chooses to do so up to the very many levels....hence becoming....the conscious of consciousness being.
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    Oct 5 2011: We are all different and we value different things, we make decisions in our self interest but our individual decisions drive markets, elections, production, research etc. We have always valued gold and so we established a measure of what we value, currency followed. A majority of the United States preferred what Obama promises and what he values. Consumer electronics make our lives comfortable and so we have established supply chains from China to most of the world, some of us may suffer from Cancer or AIDs and so we offer incentives to our great minds to work for a cure.

    We may never have a consolidated purpose as it is forever evolving, but we are always working toward somethings we all value usually without even noticing them until we have achieved them. Our purpose has always changed since the ascent of humanity, we worked towards agriculture and food security, industries and organised businesses, markets and consumerism. There are significant key changes in history that we have all adopted with little resistance.

    It is much like Darwinian evolution except natural selection is being replaced by people selection. And survival of the fittest is being replaced by survival of ideas, things and systems that make us happy and comfortable.
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    Oct 5 2011: The ultimate purpose of humanity is to live.
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      Oct 5 2011: I agree Farrukh,
      And "to live" may have different meaning to each and every one of us as individuals.
  • Oct 5 2011: Our intellect as a species has nothing to do with our purpose, and neither does religion. The purpose of humanity if there is any at all it is to survive. As any species whether it be a floura or fauna, there purpose is to survive and and help their species survive, so why should humans be any different?
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    Oct 5 2011: @Albert:
    Consider for a moment God exists. (I'm proud Muslim BTW)
    and answer my simple question:

    Why should God care about whether we believe in Him or not? I mean what's so special about us? Because we do wars and do crimes against each other empowered by mere greed and lust?

    Our existence is simply too complicated to be considered as a chance, what do you believe in? there was nothing and suddenly a Big Bang (with no apparent reason) happened and something as complex as DNA happened, I mean we can't even understand human brain or functionality of human eye.

    Theories evolve and change, this century scientists say something and next century they will say something else. I mean come on, they are humans like you and me who's thesis are based on experiments and their knowledge evolve day by day.

    Other thing a lot of people are saying is the Sacred Books are product of imaginations. Well, I invite you to study Quran and not believe in what others say about it, make your own conclusion, and ,be skeptical. All Prophets were extraordinary people.

    Concluding this conversation: if God would've wanted all of us to believe in Him, he would have achieved it.

    Life is a test, a continuous examination of our beliefs and behaviors; One's life depends on the Code (Beliefs, Religion) he wants to believe in.

    God is Just; so you've 50/50 chance, nothing comes easy boy
    • Oct 5 2011: Hi Kareem UZ
      I think you answered your own question. If there is a God, it doesn't care. That seems painfully obvious. Just ask all the billions who have suffered throughout the history of humankind and who suffer today. And again, all the Sacred Books are the product of imagination. If there were a God and I was it, and I returned to earth, I know one fact that believers of the Quran, Bible and Jewish Testament all agree on. I didn't write any of it! On that they all agree. Religion has failed miserably and completely at being any sort of moral guideline for humanity to live by. And so has science. It cannot give us a moral context in which to live, which might be a sort of "purpose", but I doubt it. I agree with you when you say that God would have already achieved our believing in Him. Anything less would be our limiting the idea of a deity. As Ricky Gervais put it, "if there is a God, why did He make me an atheist?" Our existence is so complicated that it is possibly the simplest thing in the world and we miss it all the time. The Big Bang most theorists agree on is of a Singularity, not an actual Bang. It is or was an expansion. So the first agreed upon beginning is that there was nothing but blackness and there was nothing which contained it. Within this black nothingness there was a change in pressure in some way, which created (hah!) tension leading to movement (animation), rising uneven pressure and then an expansion that continues today. And this blackness is what will remain when all is done. Well, such complete blackness is the absent of light which probably means all light ( and what is capable of being illuminated by the light - existence), may have been completely absorbed in this blackness and light is energy and is the ability to animate. Just my own trivial little theory. Probably very child-like and naive. But I sure as hell don't think God is just. Over time it appears bad power has been used more liberally and copiously then good power or love.
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        Oct 5 2011: @Random Chance;
        Allah gave us free will; so we can choose to believe or not

        So you believe instead of a bang it was an sudden expansion and somehow pressure came in... you must be kidding me right.

        God is Just, Complete and Perfect.

        If I give you a piece of iron, you can make a knife and murder people or make a shovel to grow corn. Get my point? People have used and will use religion for their personal reasons. To incite wars or to get free soldiers. And in the end blame it all on the Religion.
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          Oct 5 2011: You cannot ascertain he gave us free will. You have no evidence to show for it. Free will is merely an illusion in my honest opinion.
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          Oct 5 2011: By your thinking we can also say the weather changes all the time, it must have free will! Also, you decide not to love someone? Really? We'd be all better off continuing to love the ones we marry.

          "Any idea why there are no prisons for animals? Lack of free will maybe?"

          So we all evolved from the same common ancestors but somehow ONLY humans developed free will? Not even chimpanzees? Sounds like subjective garbage to me. Prisons are meaningless to most animals.
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        Oct 5 2011: The main point about the Big Bang is that before the Planck instant, there's nothing we can conclusively say because that would require a unification of relativity and quantum mechanics and we're not there yet (same applies to black holes). Does that mean there is a god? No. First, that is called god of the gaps, putting god where our knowledge is not quite there yet. Second, the issue is not a dichotomy, it's not an either or, there can be many explanations, nobody can say "this doesn't work therefore god exists". Third, the Big Bang presents the same problem as god. Where did the Big Bang come from? Well where did god come from? Ah but god is holistic will be the reply! Ah but the Big Bang is a singularity. (That resumes the typical exchange on the matter).

        One must be careful to let ones credulity act as some sort of knowledge. "The universe is so amazing, so beautiful, so complex therefore..." is one of the worst arguments for just about anything yet it's a favorite of religious apologists.
    • Oct 5 2011: Hi Kareem UZ,

      Assume god exists? Sorry I cannot.

      Even if it exists, I would not worship the horrible cruel Abrahamic god.

      "God is just" - really? Why all those babies born with birth defects, into war torn countries, into single parent family? What has a new born baby done to deserve such bad luck and suffering? If there is a god and if the god is just, there should not be any uncaused suffering.
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      Oct 5 2011: This comment is littered with false truths, one of which is a recurrent misunderstanding of science which comes back all too often and which I have addressed with a TED question just two days ago (it's still out there for you to find).

      "Why should God care about whether we believe in Him or not?" Why should he indeed. What puzzle me is that in that interrogation you are clearly going against your own sacred text, in which god seems to give a painfully overblown importance to humans and their affairs, asking humans that they absolutely worship him rather than other Gods and demands that they follow a very strict numbers of rules. Sounds to like the god who has a need to meddle.

      "Our existence is simply too complicated to be considered as a chance" This, you must realize, is nothing more than a mere opinion and not an argument. It is a logical fallacy called argument from incredulity: "This is too complicated/beautiful to come from this or that". There you make the assumption that you know enough about nature, which I believe your following statements disprove. We all used to think that life itself was evidence of the divine for how could such complexity come about? Then the theory of evolution came along, beautifully explaining how the most complex of organisms could evolve from the simplest forms. This is where your objection about the eye comes in. We know absolutely well how the eye comes about because not only does its formation give us clues about its development but we see different degrees of functional eyes in various species. The eye is one of those essential components of life that has evolved and diverged over and over again. Evolution makes absolute sense on its own.

      "Theories evolve and change, this century scientists say something and next century they will say something else." We will never say it enough, theories don't get overturned, they get improved upon. If it allows you to make predictions about the real world, it works to a certain degree.
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      Oct 5 2011: You can still use Newton's theory of gravity for all measurements of bodies on Earth. The theory of general relativity is just a little more correct in its measurements in that it takes into account other phenomenon. I mean seriously, the idea that we were so wrong and yet could apply our knowledge to real-world situations is ludicrous, absolutely ludicrous, as though nature somehow bowed to us. Same goes for evolution, no modern synthesis is going to knock that idea down, the core will remain intact essentially forever.

      "who's thesis are based on experiments and their knowledge evolve day by day." Yes experiments, repeated and confirmed, ideas that make a certain amount of predictions which, if proven wrong, cast the hypotheses into oblivion. No such trial and error system has befallen religion yet with its clearly manmade sacred texts.

      "God is Just; so you've 50/50 chance, nothing comes easy boy" It's more like 1/infinity chance that your specific god exists given all the infinite amount of things the universe could be. I think for the sake of time-keeping, it's better to focus on those ideas that have evidence for them that is not limited to one book recited by an illiterate.

      I personally don't need to consider God exists because I used to a few years ago. All the faulty reasoning of religion wasn't enough to keep me a believer. Scientific literacy makes shrugging of religion not only a possibility but almost a necessity to remain intellectually coherent.

      P.S = If you selectively chose to address only the last paragraph, this will be the end of this conversation, I have seen it done too many times not to write a disclaimer.
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    Oct 4 2011: My take is that "doing good" can be too localized, too immediate and even too easy to be the sort of prod that puts us into problem solving overdrive. Finding one's purpose goes to deeper existential layers in our psyche. Kids are taught to do good from childhood, it's built in to our social values. But finding purpose usually doesn't get on the play list until high school and a lot of hurried or unconsidered choices are made. Doing good is fine, don't get me wrong, but it's not as strong a push towards social evolution as discovering what this Universe is, how we got here and what our potential is. In order to discover our purpose, we need to create a society that does good, so the search for purpose will have the act of doing good as a derivative.
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      Oct 4 2011: Walter,
      I agree with you...if I understand your statements correctly.

      Do you think that "doing good" being "localized", "too immediate", "easy", could also be called superficial? If that is what you mean, then I agree.

      I agree that "finding one's purpose goes deeper when/if we can take it deeper in our "self". We may be "taught to do good", and I wonder if enough people are taught to ask themselves the question...why?

      Just because it is the "right" thing to do? Many times people go through the acts of "doing good", because that's what they are "supposed" to do. I agree with you that it helps to go deeper with our exploration. So we could move towards social evolution, discover the universe, how and why we are here if we go a little deeper. I think it has a lot to do with our intent. Do we want to simply "get by" and do what we are supposed to do because that's what we've been told? Or do we really want to explore life and how we are a part of it? It is a choice, and I've found that the choice to really explore life and death on a very deep level has enriched my life:>)
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    Oct 3 2011: The easy yet effective tautology is to state that the purpose of humanity is to find its purpose. Coiled inside that statement is the entirety of science and philosophy. That said, it should also be recognized that the idea of purpose is phase related, that is to say, a purpose may change depending on what is encountered due to the search for purpose. In any event, the search for purpose should be defined as the highest and best aspiration for a human.
    • Oct 4 2011: Walter,

      QUOTE: In any event, the search for purpose should be defined as the highest and best aspiration for a human.

      May I ask why the search SHOULD be the HIGHEST and BEST aspiration for a human? Can't we have something else, doing good to others may be?
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      Oct 4 2011: I don't like that word "should" either Albert:>)

      I do agree however, that our "purpose may change depending on what is encountered due to the search for purpose"...well said:>)

      If we are open to learning, we take in new information, which may change our direction at times, and that is when it's important to evaluate our "self" on a deeper level to know the next steps we might take in our own evolution:>) The one thing in life that is constant, is change...in my humble opinion:>)
      • Oct 4 2011: Searching for and setting on a high aspiration has its place at a certain stage of one's life. There are four questions, the first two to be asked earlier in life and last two later in life.

        1. What is the cause that I would die for?
        2. What is the acts that I would do even at the threat of my life?

        3. What is the cause that I would live for?
        4. What is the acts that I would do even when my life is miserable as hell?

        I also think that these questions should be evaluated every now and then - as changes that happened would have influenced the validity of previous answers.

        Just to share.
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          Oct 4 2011: Albert,
          Searching for and setting a high aspiration has its place at any stage of one's life. We are all on a different life journey, and various information may be relevant to each and every one of us at different times. You offer good, important questions that can take us to a deeper understanding of our "self", and can be asked at any point in our lives.

          Just to share:>)
      • Oct 5 2011: Colleen,

        "Searching for and setting a high aspiration has its place at any stage of one's life. "

        Thank you. I stand corrected.

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          Oct 5 2011: My intent was not to "correct" you because I respect your perception and beliefs. I was simply sharing what I've learned from my life experience:>)
      • Oct 5 2011: Colleen, thanks anyway. Sharing life experience - me too. :-)
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    Oct 3 2011: No, I don't think so.... Except to think ("I think, therefore I am")
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    Oct 3 2011: If survival is a purpose, then yes.

    I think we humans can (and should) give purpose to humanity... and which those are, are to be debated in public, politics and re-evaluated...
    • Oct 3 2011: When I was young, I asked myself if there's anything worthy of dying for. That's my own attempt to find a purpose of life. Many of us are lucky that we didn't find any. Just more half a century ago, my father asked the same question and found the answer was to join the army, potentially got killed. That's a counter example of survival as a purpose of one's life.
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        Oct 5 2011: I think you made the error:
        "Humanity wants to survive" is not in contradiction with "one human that does not want to survive"...

        Anyway, I'm not sure if survival really a purpose... it is more something we evolved into (wanting to survive is beneficial for survival if this wanting can be acted upon)....
        • Oct 5 2011: Christophe,

          You have misread my idea.

          My father joining the army was for a cause he was willing to die for. He survived, else I won't be here. So it is not "one human that does not want to survive". I am just using a counter example to point to you that survival is NOT a universal humanity purpose.

          QUOTE: "Anyway, I'm not sure if survival really a purpose."

          No, survival is NOT a purpose. :-)
    • Oct 4 2011: Survival is our destination, but not what we explicitly pursuit. The purpose of humanity might be making the route to the destination easier or more comfortable. We demand well existence for we've already obtained existence, in this sense life to humanity is like bureaucracy to governments :)
      • Oct 4 2011: Survival is an ongoing process. It is not something that can be reached - and if we subscribe to ideas pertaining to the heat death of the universe, it is ultimately one that must be lost.

        Rather, it is an antecedent condition to any purpose or goal we might have. We cannot accomplish our goals without surviving to do so after all. Nor would any meaningful goal ever specify our complete demise.
  • Oct 3 2011: Perhaps we should pose the question:

    How do we answer the question 'Does humanity have a purpose'?

    We are a long way from the answer to the original question at this point so we need to focus on how to get to the answer instead of asking a question that our minds are incapable of answering with our current level of understanding.

    I believe the answer to all things is in the understanding of the nature, workings, and origin of the universe. And we mustn't deny what we learn regardless of how small or unimportant it makes us feel. To understand things for what they truly are I believe we must cast off our anthropocentric and religious preconceptions.
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    Oct 3 2011: George --

    Yes, two:

    To live and to love.

    Few argue these purposes. They prevail in nearly all faith, philosophic, psychologic and scientific beliefs.

    Here is a paradox for us humans and/or collective humanity to understand:

    Living and Loving are interdependent. You don't get one without the other. Though some mistakenly believe you do. And perceive them as separate, if not, competitive constructs.

    They needn't be. In fact, in the richest, most elegant experience of both -- they simply are not.

    Individuals, societies and civilizations don't live without demonstrating persistent, sustained, replicated and amplified expressions of authentic love. Meaning more than romantic, relational, physical, communal and developmental nurturing, but also institutionally ethical cultures continually adapting their lives to conceive, catalyze, construct and continually, intentionally elevate into consciousness and concrete evolutions of "living love.".

    These must navigate the yin-yang or polarizing realities of human nature, by embracing these as part of the whole. To see, name and act on all in ways that recognize they can and do produce co-reactive expressions of life-giving humane "love."

    This many-layered, dialectic effect can not only be achieved, but can have a social contagion effect that unifies and gives hope for the trajectory of natural behavior to be redirected.

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    Oct 3 2011: We can give ourselves a purpose, like some sort of goal.
    I think we should attempt to understand the universe and all which exists.

    Other than that we have no purpose.
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    Oct 3 2011: Matthieu, have you ever broken a leg, got a flat tire, lost your phone or wallet, missed your connecting flight, needed a lift from a stranger, got your home severely damaged by a natural disaster, lost your job or a loved one? If you did, you had the answer to your question right there -you experienced first hand the pupose of humanity.
    You may test it, you may chart it, you may analyze it, and at the end of the day you will verify that if humanity still has the ability to look beyond itself and care, it will have fulfilled its purpose.
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      Oct 3 2011: I don't get it.
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        Oct 3 2011: I think she's referring to altruism as evidence that we have a purpose.

        Karina, if I have guessed your meaning: altruism can be demonstrated to be a "selfish" behaviour. The purpose is not "kindness" it is survival.

        And perhaps survival is our "purpose."
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          Oct 3 2011: Altruism can also be advantageous for populations of genes without benefiting one of the individuals that carries them, but that's a whole other story.
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          Oct 3 2011: No, not altruism. Rather being aware of a common existence, a common destiny and a common belonging where we can support each other when necessary, extending beyond self. Not despite self, as in altruism, but to further self and the whole of humanity towards achieving a higher goal, as in... love.
          BTW, survival will definetely be the end result, but too small to be the ultimate goal. Leave it for the apes...
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          Oct 3 2011: Thomas! You know that there is considerable controversy in the literature about altruism. Those who claim it is a 'selfish' behaviour have trouble explaining the young girl who allows the paedophile to continue his actions against her person in response to a threat to go get a younger sibling. Altruism is not necessarily selfish. Especially in the young of our species it can be profoundly unselfish.
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        Oct 3 2011: Hi Debra,

        I think you are assuming "selfish" can only be defined in human terms. That is, exercised at the level of the individual.

        There is another, less anthropocentric, definition of selfish (see Richard Dawkins et al.)

        In this case, "selfish" is used more as an analogy. For example, although genes may display, what to us would appear, "selfish" behaviour, the gene has no conscious intent. It is neither selfish nor altruistic.
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          Oct 3 2011: Thanks for pointing that out, Thomas. Yes, I was using it in the narrower sense of the psychological literature.
    • Oct 3 2011: We are all result of random chances. You were born to your parents, not by your choice. Some babies were born in war-torn countries, to single parent, with birth defects etc. These are random chances. Some are lucky and some are not.

      Nature does not have a purpose and WE create purpose for our own existence, albeit there are some evolving traces which may be useful for the survival of species. We are social animals and as such we have evolved tendency to help each other, to have compassion and to feel good when helping other. When collectively we can respect each other (including other living organisms), tolerate different opinions, seek mutual survival, we tend to be happy and we tend to feel that we have fulfill the purpose we have created for ourselves. I have no objection to that. :-)
  • Oct 6 2011: Everything is divided and subdivided, yet part of the whole. The rhythms of Life, the patterns of Life are echoed all around us. The branches on a tree, the patterns in the sand, the coming together and parting of human souls, recycling of life in nature, etc. I think we, as humans, have a purpose - which plays out individually as well as on a group basis - to work toward the goal of Love. Lest this sound trite or canned - I think Love is a Universal Wholeness, a Light, an Energy that transcends the physical.
    We are here to learn, in our physical selves- where we experience pleasure, joy ,pain, sorrow, birth, death. wellness, sickness; the whole gamut of human possibilities- repeating this cycle so as to progress thru our lessons, till we have advanced enough to join the whole. I think we are all part of the whole, just like all the atoms and molecules and parts of everything else. In our individual awareness, we are separate in our experience, until we can come together and join the whole.
    In order for humans to do this, we need to survive and procreate. Humanity has advanced, in some ways, in others not. Take for instance, the goal of peace - we have, from our long ago war like beginnings - a definition of peace, a value of peace - many people are peaceful. But still many are not. Tho the awareness and value of peace has grown, the actual group human expression of peace has not caught up - but we are working toward it. ( Whether it is possible or not, I don't know.)
    If humanity can ever agree on one notion, it will not be written up in the news or on the internet - I think it may not be possible for all human consciousness to agree at the same time on anything. We will come to IT (whatever IT is) individually and at different times, in our own progression of time and advancement. Maybe when all humanity can reach the state of Universal Love, then the universe can blow up. Not self-destruct, but become a pure energy.

    Please read my Story on profile.
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    Oct 6 2011: After looking at all the comments here I would like to say: there is a certain level of respect lacking here and arrogance that is simply not necessary. I think it is great if we can debate here but some of this has become more of an argument. Lets all try to consider each other a little more.
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      Oct 6 2011: Hi Thadeus,

      I support your call for respectful communication. I do not read everyone's comments but the comments I have read seem respectful to me.

      What do you feel is disrespectful?

      Rejecting ideas is not the same as rejecting (or disrespecting) the person who holds the ideas.

      For example, there is no need to respect the idea that the earth is 6000 years old (not that anyone said that, I am only using it as an example to make a point.)

      Except from within a specific framework of belief, the idea the earth is 6000 years old is clearly nonsense.

      It is not worthy of respect (except by those who choose to believe in the cosmology that supports it.)

      Are the people who believe the earth is 6000 years old worthy of respect?


      Are their ideas?

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    Oct 5 2011: You understand my statements perfectly. I'm on a current philosophical kick where I'm trying to see things in terms of what is derivative, what is the parent idea, what is foundational. People can commit the same act (doing good) for an infinite variety of purposes. But finding one's purpose in life is pretty much propelled by one motivator. I like finding purpose better than finding truth or goodness. If finding purpose is done well, then truth and goodness follow, are necessary as method. I'm interested in the application of wisdom, not just its discovery.
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      Oct 5 2011: Oh good...glad I understood:>)
      APPLICATION...I am with you on that one!!!

      We (humans) like to talk about a lot of things...when is it time to apply all the theories we have discovered throughout the ages???

      "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice".
      "Science of Mind" by Ernest Holmes
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    Oct 5 2011: @Matthieu Miossec
    When I said free will I meant in cases of faith. I was referring to other poster's answer where he said something like "If God wanted me to believe in Him, why did he made me atheist". So I wrote you have free will as you can decide to believe or not believe.

    We don't know anything conclusive about Big Bang theory as you mentioned, but we should know that it can't come from nowhere with no Force Who makes it happen.

    Where did God come from? Well, He is Perfect, Absolute and Ever Lasting. These infinite qualities make Him God. quran.com/112

    I've read your answer on other post, I didn't answer I didn't find logic in it (in my humble opinion)

    Our existence is simply too complicated to be considered as a chance, that's not opinion, that's the most important and perfect fact ever we can think of, rethink it my friend
    I never assume that I know about nature or I've knowledge, if you read my answers I try to state that my knowledge is very limited.


    " "The universe is so amazing, so beautiful, so complex therefore..." is one of the worst arguments for just about anything yet it's a favorite of religious apologists " You think I even care if a random dude at Internet believes or not in God; "Apologist" is a very big word. Moreover what's NOT nice about this universe. Take two points in space, point A and point B 1mm of length; and start studying what's inside them. You'll surely spend your whole life and you will still have stuff and events left you'll miss ;)

    About your "disclaimer": I respect your opinion and beliefs, and I don't expect you to respect mine.

    Conclusion:Whole purpose of our existence isn't something we can understand from an Internet conversation, we'll have time till our last breath to learn from our experiences and our surroundings. Although I really wish we, humans, spend our lives with peace/harmony
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      Oct 5 2011: "We don't know anything conclusive about Big Bang theory as you mentioned, but we should know that it can't come from nowhere with no Force Who makes it happen."
      First I didn't say we didn't know anything conclusively about the Big Bang. There are many things we know, that's why it's called a theory. However, to say exactly what happens before the Planck instant is to conjecture. At any rate, you can't assert this statement conclusively, all you have ever experienced has happened within the universe, how do you know how things operate outside that frame. Also, your conclusion has a blatant disregard for all matters of possible things that may have transpired before the Planck instant. How can you be sure the universe isn't cyclic or that it's one of many or that it buds off from a bigger universe?

      "Where did God come from? Well, He is Perfect, Absolute and Ever Lasting. These infinite qualities make Him God. "
      If I wrote an answer like this to any of your questions, wouldn't that just piss you off? That's not a proper answer. Maybe it sounds convincing to you when you say it out loud to yourself, but consider the fact that you are already convinced and I am the one that needs convincing. Is that convincing? Think about it.

      "I've read your answer on other post, I didn't answer I didn't find logic in it (in my humble opinion)"
      Logic is not opinion, you just didn't like what I wrote so decided to discard it altogether. You could have at least tried. If I only argued with logical people, then what am I doing arguing with you eh?

      "Our existence is simply too complicated to be considered as a chance, that's not opinion, that's the most important and perfect fact ever we can think of, rethink it my friend"

      Still not a 50/50 chance. That would assume both scenarios are equally likely. They're not.
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        Oct 5 2011: There are several theories about universe's origin. As you said it: "theories": nothing more. They can't be conclusive.

        "If I wrote an answer like this to any of your questions......"
        Ok, I get it. So coming back to main question... where does God came from? A:He is an perfect Entity which always existed. Why? Because if God had begotten from something, it would have a start and thus an end point. So when I say Gos is Everlasting, what I mean is He always existed and will exist always (I'm sure with your résumé you can understand our time is meaningless at cosmic scale; and you already mentioned outer frame). As I said in other post: He is THE RULER/MAKER... it must be NONE of His concerns whether we (his creations) believe in Him or not. I hope I explained with rationale this time

        I must confess, I can't reason with you about meaning of existence. Because what you want is a 100% proof. I'm an ordinary person with limited knowledge; I don't think we'll ever find such certainty- because if we had such a solid proof, and you think someone with that proof would really deserve the rewards of afterlife.

        Our whole existence is way complicated, beyond comprehension. So many questions... and our age is too small. But that's the trick of it. You don't get to see whole picture and you have to DECIDE on what you see. I am a Muslim but believe me until my recent life, I've questioned and searched for everything and found the answer which satisfied me. As I write before, it's continuous and dynamic. I apologize, if I'm being philosophical but that's how it is. We don't have science which can explain everything. That's why it's called faith, you get it or you don't.
        Please watch these videos if you have time:
        if you need to see references it's quran.com/C/V --> C: Chapter V:verse
        I hope I made some sense this time
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          Oct 6 2011: "Because if God had begotten from something, it would have a start and thus an end point." That is a better answer? Are you serious? How do you know that everything that has a beginning has an end? If the universe expands into heat death in won't stop existing, according to the big freeze hypothesis, the universe could be here forever (even though it has a start). If you need to make so many assumptions to prove your point, you're not proving anything at all. It's amazing how the idea of a universe springing from the void disturbs you (even though nobody says that's what happened) and yet the idea that a complex perfect omniscient/omnipotent being existing forever appears so natural to you. Both ideas are shocking and yet you only see what's shocking in one idea because the other is protected in this faith bubble. All is permissible when defending religion somehow.

          I don't need 100% proof. What I need is a semblance of plausibility which I am not seeing in any religion. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but when these beliefs are affecting other people's life you better have some really good evidence. Some of us honestly think that because a certain brand of superstition has more than 500 centuries on their counter doesn't mean that they should get any more special treatment.

          "Our whole existence is way complicated, beyond comprehension. So many questions... and our age is too small. But that's the trick of it. You don't get to see whole picture and you have to DECIDE on what you see."
          I agree...until the last sentence. You don't need to decide anything. I strongly believe that even writing that, you feel somewhat unconvinced yourself. Why do you have to decide? Why can't you just settle for what we know, which has through the dislodged religion's privileged place as source of knowledge so many times. Explore, we have enough knowledge to fill a lifetime with surprises. Religion often stops us from looking at nature objectively. You're missing out!
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          Oct 6 2011: About the 2nd video:
          A primary nebulae? What? Also, seriously guys. Can Muslims, Christians, Jews, whatever not see that saying there was a beginning is not the same as saying there was a Big Bang? Is that really convincing to you? That's a real 50/50 question. Is there a beginning? Now it's no longer 50/50 it's more almost a certainty. Guessing one outcome out of two possible outcomes. Whoop dee doo! What would be impressive would be a description that could fit what we know of the universe. Instead, we have this description that blatantly betrays the provincialism of the big monotheistic religions by having the Earth be the center stage of the universe's unraveling.

          The Moon being a reflection is something that the Greeks knew a thousand years prior and besides, the whole argument rests on a different reading of the Koran in its original Arabic language. Too easy to say it after the facts. Too easy to read it the way you want to.

          About his claim on the Earth. Again the Greeks knew the Earth was not flat and this idea got some gravitas over the years. This guy likes forgetting about the Greeks whose influence was fairly widespread. At any rate, the Earth is nowhere near eggshaped. It's in fact the opposite, flattened at the poles under the effect of its rotation.

          Also, the Koran mentions things coming in pairs, not plants having both male and female types (I have already had this conversation!), not that this is systematically true, many plants have only one kind that does both the dissemination and pollination. Freshwater and salt water can mix. Life is not created from water. The mountains don't prevent the Earth from shaking.

          One point that he hasn't mentioned (maybe he does in the videos that I won't bother watching because frankly, that's not how you have a conversation), but that I often hear Muslims advance is that description that the Koran gives of the development of a fetus. It's completely innacurate and betrays the time the book was written in.
  • Oct 5 2011: Humanity has a simple purpose. Again, with our 'big' brains we tend to overthink these things, or suggest complex or specific purposes for ourselves. I believe it is much more simple.
    Our purpose is simply to create, and to examine what already exists. We are the most complex organisms we know of to date, and I believe that makes it our RESPONSIBILITY to observe what is around us and figure out to the best of our ability exactly what is going on. That is what has given humanity its identity since the begginning of our species. And with this knowledge of the small(er) parts that come together to create EVERYTHING that surrounds us, we can build new things, and therefore further the complexity of the universe we live in. Because after all, the universe always strives for change. (evolution)
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    Oct 5 2011: I believe Humanity must create its own purpose. We have all been born with the gift of being the most intelligent creature on our planet and with this gift comes great responsibility. ( Thank you Uncle Ben )
    Responsibility to make the most out of our species evolutionary advantages over the other life forms whom share the planet with. I believe that it is in the best interest of all of life as we know it for the human race to attempt to move forward as one species for the advancement of life.
    As far as we know, which probably isn't much, life is a very young thing in this universe. Human life has existed for only a blink of an eye when compared to the timeline of the universe. It seems that evolution strives to create more complex and intelligent forms of life, being this I believe that yes, evolution has an obvious purpose, in fact its the word it self.
    Every form of life's purpose is to evolve into a better, well rounded life form. Organisms such as ourselves work as the senses of evolution, constantly using trial and error to help our species evolve. This takes place in every single bit of unique DNA we have. Acknowledging this we can see that there is a natural force in this universe that pushes for advancement and does it rather amazingly fast on a universal time line.
    The real question is for what purpose does life have once it is fully evolved? Can evolution ever create a single perfect life form? Could evolution create Gods?
  • Oct 5 2011: Cont. from 'Part 01'
    Part 02:
    Such a goal or purpose would have to be inclusive. It would need to work in the interest of all of us, be broad enough that it would be able to cover the wide range of human activities, while still been explicit enough to serve as a signpost - telling us where to go and how far we are from getting there. Ideally, it would be a goal that we could solve for explicitly. Something that we can optimize our behaviour for and would make sense to do so, because it is in our collective individual interests to do so.

    The goal or purpose that emerges from these needs, constraints and restrictions is simple; Promote human happiness and comfort, reduce suffering and hardship, and do so in a manner that is as sustainable as possible. It is similar to the maxims derived from philosophies like utilitarianism - the profundity of such a purpose comes from understanding that it is a goal that can be solved for only in the context of the complete human system.

    Such a goal is broad enough to cover the rational self interests of all - who among us doesn't work towards increasing happiness while avoiding hardship? It is a goal that is written into our genetic makeup - we experience positive and negative stimuli internally and externally, and it is these things that form the basis for how we act to best survive and propagate.

    It covers notions of love, community, friendship, science and knowledge - it is by encouraging these things that we promote happiness and comfort in a sustainable manner.
    And to do so in a manner that is sustainable fulfils our need for survival and procreation.

    When we step back - we realise that such a goal is what humanity has always worked towards. We all make our ways towards happiness in whatever form we may find them, while seeking to reduce suffering for ourselves and those around us. The trick is simply to make it explicit - so that we can understand the context of all our actions against a greater overall purpose of life.
  • Oct 5 2011: Part 01:
    Reading through all the various responses, I think the theme that is emerging to the answer is something along the lines of: Humanity needs to find its own purpose.

    Which is fair enough. Surviving, evolving, procreating... those are all things that humans do, but they're not purposes in and of themselves - in so far as they're neither unique to humans nor would those things be central to utilizing the capacity that we've evolved as humans.

    It's also something of a trap to believe that there's some overarching purpose to humanity written into the stars or the fabric of the universe. They're romantic notions, but too anthropomorphically biased. The more we've learnt about our universe - the more we've come to understand things don't revolve around us, nor do they think, act or behave as we would if we were them. As such, it would be erroneous to ascribe purpose where none exists.

    For the question of should humanity have a purpose? The response is that absent of an explicit purpose, a mission statement to galvanize and help us understand our progression, we nonetheless act in a manner that move us towards certain directions.

    Without having been explicitly told to do so, we continue to grow our knowledge, technology, our material consumptions and continue to explore our surroundings. Most of all of us seek pleasures in life, while avoiding hardships - to varying degrees of success. These are not bad things in and of themselves - but it also means that the current trajectory that we are on is unsustainable. If we continue to consume with little respect to our environmental limits, then we will impinge on our ability to feel comfort or even gain knowledge.

    I can't divine the ultimate purpose for humanity - I don't believe there is one; that any such idea of purpose will come to grow, change and evolve as the cultures of humanity do so as well. It is nonetheless useful and instructive for us to set a transient goal for humanity.
    Cont. 'Part 02' (ctrl+f)
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    Oct 5 2011: Albert:

    Of course language is a communication tool but it is only as useful as it is crippling. If I listen to a song something is being communicated to me that simply cannot be said in words.

    God is the metaphor for unity. The garden of eden is when the opposites or united. In Buddhism the buddha sits under the tree of enlightenment in front are to monsters one with his mouth open (desire)and the other with his mouth closed (fear) you must go past both before you become enlightened. In Taoism there is the famous yin and yang. They all talk about the same eternity with the same words.

    Yes religion is real and so are metaphors. (metaphors are a reference). Music is real and so are the notes on the paper but
    one doesn't focus on the notes.

    "The messages and stories of myths are stories and messages. Treating myths, no matter how beautiful they are, as real is a delusion."

    This I partly agree with. But completely ignoring the unity that it refers to also is a little insensible.

    With appreciation I mean a recognition and enjoyment of ourselves and our surroundings.
    • Oct 5 2011: H Thadeus Frei,

      Language as crippling as it may be serves the purpose of recording history, passing knowledge and let us communicate. We know that in our face to face communication 80% or more is through body language and language cannot capture any of that. Hence it is imperative that in a narrow-band-width communication environment, we try our best to use language in the commonest form to avoid misunderstanding.

      If god is a metaphor for unity, it fails miserably. Religion is divisive. As an atheist, I am condemned into hell - just because I cannot believe in Christian's myths and unsubstantiated claims. I am out and you are in. That's how divisive religion is.

      When religion is treating myths as real, when we observe the result of religious practices - the wars because of different religious beliefs, I am wondering if religion really deserves to be a part of modern conversation.

      Appreciation of nature does not have to be through the distorted coloured lens of religion. I appreciate the luck I have and the opportunity my country and community have provided me. I appreciate the beauty of nature and her complexity. I enjoy music. I enjoy arts. As an atheist, I appreciate myself and my surroundings with deep understanding of how she works.
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        Oct 6 2011: "Appreciation of nature does not have to be through the distorted coloured lens of religion."

        I don't think religion has a color I think we are coloring it, nature is all that it is no matter what way you look at it, you are looking at the same thing. God is a reference to it so is philosophy and art and science etc. Religion only uses metaphors which have mislead many.

        "If god is a metaphor for unity, it fails miserably."

        I agree. Anyway I think we agree more than it seems. I don't believe in god only it's reference. It was nice talking to you thanks.
        • Oct 6 2011: Of course we have more common than difference, the point of discussion is to understand each other's difference and appreciate each other's view point.

          QUOTE: "I don't think religion has a color I think we are coloring it"

          I disagree. Religion is based on myths which cannot be substantiated. The colour and distortion brought by religion arises from people believing the myths to be true. Elsewhere, the debate between evolution and creationism is a good illustration of how religion has given many people a distorted coloured view of nature.

          If everyone can agree that religion is only metaphoric and the text cannot be interpreted literally, then there would be no fundamentalists flying planes into buildings. Unfortunately, to many, god is not a metaphor and many insist that god exists as real - which is the problem.

          Nice talking to you too.
  • Oct 4 2011: ok replace live with exist
  • Oct 4 2011: I think that our purpose is to find a way to defeat our instincts of savagery. Since we have arrived, in whatever fashion you choose to believe we did so, we have been innovators. We are different from the other inhabitants of Earth in that we are capable of creation. This is our purpose. To create is to reject savagery and to forge bravely into the future. It is only through creation and imagination that we can achieve understanding. Creation is a drive that all human beings share, on different scales, but a shared notion nonetheless. I think it is important to realize that humanity is ingrained with a spirit born to run, so to speak. We were meant to drive forward, not lazily meander about. This mindset has already taken us to the moon and beyond and personally I can't wait to be a part of the voyage that is to come.
  • Oct 4 2011: Humans greater goal is to expand and although we are not usually unified in our expansions or how we think this should be done its still human nature to grow to want more/better this drives increases in technology, science and knowledge
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    Oct 4 2011: No, its nothing but propagation of more humanity. Hence our task is even greater in the sense that we will need to actively look for purpose. That makes the task arduous yet fulfilling.
  • Oct 3 2011: If you define purpose I'll tell you what humanity's purpose is.

    You'll find 'purpose is a subset of 'meaning' and is reaction.

    If you say flower, your reaction is neuronic and biochemical etc in your body/head as you react to what ever flower date your neurons have stored..

    Your purpose is then what ever reaction your brain gives you to some planned and continual ultimate actions.

    In an infinite universe, everything that there is includes the infinite.

    There can be no finality therefore.

    To hold that death is final for example, is inconsistent with holding 'that there is infinity.'

    One of them is false.

    I dont think death can be true as a final state since Man is likely to survive and want to resurrect his ancestors with coming science and technology.

    Although we can not prove the universe is infinite since such an assertion is unprovable except by Cantorian maths which is speculative, we can not say it is finite.

    "Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

    Aldous Huxley"

    Since the only person who can answer what is humankind's purpose, I suggest you put it to a vote.

    My own observation is that I've never seen a group with a purpose because everything known is known to be inevitable effects of causes.

    I don't accept the quantum theory is correct as a set of undetermined motions (nor did Einstien).

    However is you wish to live in the Subject, purpose is whatever planning makes you happy and is quite unlike having someone else telling you what you were designed for.

    Speaker's Corner in London does questions like this on a late Sunday morning.

    It is dominated by followers of other people's religions and they posit a god who has a purpose that you do good.

    Good and bad are demonstrably survival & anti-survival acts respectively. They have never been proved to have a general application.

    I suggest you aim at power and get into a few knuckle fights. My own purpose is trying to find a bed in the sunshine.
    • Oct 4 2011: Hi el dras,

      I do not quite understand what you are saying.

      We can imagine. The object in our imagination is not necessarily real.

      "Infinity" is a mathematical construct and it does not necessarily imply there is such a thing as infinite. As far as the Universe is concerned, it is large enough for us to consider it infinite. Whether it is infinite or not, we do not know. (At least I do not know and would love to know!)

      QUOTE: "I don't accept the quantum theory is correct as a set of undetermined motions (nor did Einstein)."

      We live and experience in "human scale". Our intuition is formed with our experience. Universe is so large that it is beyond our experience. So is quantum - it is so small that it is also beyond our experience.

      Just an example: Can human "walk" on water? We can't because the surface tension of water cannot support our weight - but many insects can! They are light enough so that surface tension of water can support them.

      The weird conclusions of quantum mechanics are truly beyond our range of experience and hence appears counter-intuitive, but these have been experimentally tested. Whether Einstein agreed or not is not the judging criteria of whether quantum mechanics is a true representation of world in such small scale. The experiments are and quantum mechanics have been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
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    Oct 3 2011: Humanity is the purpose of humanity. The purpose of humanity is to evolve. To better itself. This is not to be confused in any way with Spencer & Darwin's concept of survival of the fittest, which applies to all animals.

    Because the fittest human is one who operates only as their highest self, trajectory of our nature alone would take us to our Demise. And thankfully there is a lot more than our nature at work. The purpose of humanity is humanity; to become humane.
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    Oct 3 2011: Human life is as a common play.
    And as in every real play everyone has a role to play.
    A role for the mother to care for the child, a role for the grandparent to teach the child.
    And so on and on, and as every play it has no purpose then to enjoy and often thinking afterwards: I've seen what I didn't see before, I've learned and I'm changed because of that.

    So the purpose of human life could be the expansion of what we can be aware of.
    The purpose of an individual is to fill its part with its own and unique character.
  • Oct 3 2011: Well, my server reset and disconnected so I am assuming nothing I wrote went through. So, I'll start again. For me only, I think if there were a purpose it would be to "fit". Humans don't fit and I guess that personally, I believe we should. Help, don't hinder. Do no harm. Understand and don't be so important. We don't seem to do any of this at all. The quote at the beginning about "the trajectory of our natural behavior" is far from the truth, I believe. Our falsely labeled and misunderstood "natural behavior" is but a perversion of who we really are because so many are not able to have their needs met. I don't believe in God but I have had experiences similar to those of one Rabbi Wolpe, who has stated it is his experience with people that has led him to believe there is something more than the material and other experiences that have led him to believe there is a god. I too have had direct experiences with people and religion that has proven to me at least, that the main purpose of religion is the complete annihilation of the human spirit. As one poster wrote, "religion is to unite mankind" is to me, so obviously false, seeing what they have done and are still doing in the name of their Lord, that it still appears to be the dangerous and willingly blind leading the blind. I think the simplicity and truth of it all is just too simple for most to see. We are simply all a part of whatever this is, but we don't fit because we're so important that we become afraid, thus, our behavior, thinking, changes into destructive purposes. I also don 't see how thinking and imagination could possibly separate us from a God, as, IF THERE IS A GOD, I think god simply is a thought and a thought is imagination. If there is a purpose, we are far, far, from it and may never recognize it now. Being. That could be a purpose. Being symbiotic. That would help, whether it's done on purpose or not!
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    Oct 3 2011: I see this life as a departure lounge with two doors. We have the opportunity to look around, assimilate the evidence around us & chose a door. Our purpose in life should be to pick the correct door. This is not a rehearsal!!!

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    Oct 3 2011: I think if an extraterrestrial race (aliens...) attack the planet earth then we might unite. Yet again, that'll be for pure survival tho


    Religion is to unite mankind. But people prefer to make wars and kill each other


    original post: http://yhoo.it/ohMKOC
    • Oct 4 2011: Since when religion has unite mankind?

      Religion is a division based on different version of fairytale. That a division is arbitrary is the most dangerous part. There is no objective humane method of settling a disagreement in religion - unlike science in which disagreement is settled by experiments and/or observations.
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    Oct 3 2011: why do you want to know George ??? .....
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    Oct 3 2011: Instead of presuming survival to be the purpose I'd sooner say the basic purpose of any species is to evolve.
    It's debatable if evolution is a prerequisite for survival or if survival is a prerequisite for continual evolution. And therein lies the paradox.
    If the purpose is survival, then at what point does humanity become a new species through inevitable evolution and is that considered surviving. If the purpose is evolution and evolved humanity is nolonger considered humanity, then our purpose is to be replaced by a more evolved species.
    As purpose, humanity and the definition of survival are all human and thus arbitrary definition, i think we should not look at humanity's purpose in terms of natural states.

    I think humanity should find a purpose at some point. I also think humanity will not be able to do so, as long as the larger part of us still believe in some kind of supreme being. A prerequisite for finding and defining our purpose is to take full control and responsibility of our (for lack of a better word) destiny. On an individual level this is no problem. As a species, we are centuries perhaps millenia away from achieving this if we ever can. I think individualism is a basic characteristic of humanity. This stands in the way of finding and determining a purpose for our entire species. We are barely able to aggree on a purpose within a small community.
    The question "Why do I/we exist" has been asked as long as mankind has been able to. Before we turn that question into a statement of our selfdetermined purpose for our species we'll have to shed any and every believe in a higher power or supreme being and accept fully, that neither nature, or a godlike being can tell us what we are here for. If humanity will ever have a unified purpose, we'll have to find and choose one ourselfs. Once we realize that feat, we can focus on reaching agreement on such selfimposed purpose.
    Before all that, do we realy want the restrictions that come with a purpose?
  • Oct 3 2011: I believe humanity have a purpose, whether they consciously know it or not, they have it. The core one is survival to face tomorrow. This irrespective the state of their mind, they want at whatever cost to face tomorrow, then see what tomorrow comes forth with, and to me, thus a purpose. Secondly, to dominate others. At whatever level of consciousness, human beings are dominants by nature. where this is alienated, they feel sub-human. Finally, to serve the supreme being. This can be defined differently depending on one's level of spirituality.
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    Oct 3 2011: The purpose of humanity to me is a self imposed question. What ever purpose we have is dependent on our existence. Because cogito ergo sum ( I think therefore I am), because we do exist, to what entity is this purpose owed? Is out purpose owed to nature? Well she shouldnt be damaged by our existence. Is our purpose owed to finding other intelligence in the universe? Nope. To me, humanity shouldnt have a purpose other than to help those of our collective group, the humans, to better themselvs. Those humans in situations that limit them from acheving a humans altimate goal, happiness, should be assissted in acheving that goal. So to me, the humanities purpose is due onto itself. Everyday in public I see that we are progressing expontally as a species with politicial equality, healthcare, technology and soforth. I could go on for ever and I could more easily share my idea vocally seen as I am only scraping the surface.
    • Oct 3 2011: Agreed. We create our own purposes for our own lives.

      Collectively, is humanity progressing?

      One thing for sure is that humanity is amassing huge amount of energy and using that energy for individual comfort and luxury via technology, political system and/or knowledge of how nature works. Have we finished with technological changes (I would not use the word "advances" here)? Definitely not. Have we found the best political system? Definitely not. Are we doing more harm than good to our future generations (not to mention nature herself)? I sometimes wonder we are actually delaying problems which we have created ourselves and push them to our children and grand-children to face up.
  • Oct 3 2011: To me, ultimately at the end of the day. we are all equal as humans, regardless of how rich, intelligent, healthy, etc we are. What we do have in common is we all have goodness in us, regardless of how much it is. To unify humanity, i think we have to cast aside all our differences and do away with this thinking that one is superior than the other and lend a helping hand to those who genuinely need our help. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some are good at creating new technologies that improve the lives of others, some are good at just listening to people and hearing their troubles out and being there for them etc. If we know our strengths and use them to to help improve the weaknesses of others, (vice versa) like for example, the rich helping the poor, i think there would be greater unity within humanity in this sense.
    • Oct 3 2011: Lynn,

      I agree mostly with what you have written, but would put it slightly differently.

      Fundamentally, we all belong to the same species. But we are not born equal. Some are into wealthy countries and wealthy families. Some are born with all sort of hardness waiting. These are just random chances.

      However, I completely agree that we are fundamentally good - when there is no conflict of interest. How one would behave when there is conflict of interest is what separates a moral person from others. In light of suffering, we have compassion. If we can help, we will offer help. The challenge is when the help one intends to offer is in conflict with one's own interest. Where do we draw the line? Someone has said that for evil to prevail, we just need good men (and women) to do nothing.

      Human society has evolved into a mutually dependent whole. Nowadays, you make computer mouse, you depend on people to supply you with silicon chips, plastic, copper wire and the whole lot.

      When I look at myself, the clothes, the glasses, the shoes - all came from far far away. Can we afford not to treat each other as equal and work towards helping the less fortunate?
      • Oct 3 2011: Albert

        Yes, you pointed out a very valid point, which is helping in such a way there is no conflict of interests.. Sometimes there is hesitance in helping, like should we accede to a seemingly innocent old lady's request at an airport in helping her carry her bags which are actually filled with drugs? Sometimes, to protect our own interests, its best not to help.
        • Oct 3 2011: Lynn,

          Your example leads to another important aspect of a truly empowering human society. If there is a working justice system, the worry of helping an innocent looking old lady whose luggage may be filled with illegal drugs should not hinder us from helping. After all, we should have confidence in the justice system to sort out the innocence of the helper.

          What I was referring to is the current acceptance of greed (in the wall street I suppose) and when greed trump human kindness and good is not done in the name of profit, we are seeing human suffering. Of course, as a human extension (companies), should companies be subjected to the same moral obligation we human feel? Is reducing suffering a valid purpose for an individual and to what extend promoting such a value serves the humanity?
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    Oct 3 2011: everybody has there own point of view, or not, but who knows really, i guess I personally just feel better about helping people out... self centered with benefits to others kinda
  • Oct 3 2011: I think that perhaps the conversations surrounding this topic are far too profound for what might be the answer. In short my answer is: Yes, humanity does have a purpose. We are "Food Chain Orchestrators". No other species has the technology to identify and count species, understand the circumstances that may have lead to the evolution of that species as we know it, determine how many of any particular species there should be and develop tools to either save or destroy the species population to maintain the "acceptable" number.

    I feel that any science, including technology, has roots in three areas. Those being, (1)understanding how something was created (or what something is made of) and / or (2) understanding how to destroy something and / or (3) aiding survival of our own species.

    With that, I find that progress in science does not indicate any progress towards our purpose but simply makes our jobs easier. It is true that scientific progress is probably a good indication of forward evolution. However, isn't it true that evolution only concerns itself with survival? Survival is not a purpose but an important step if you intend to carry out a purpose, our purpose being that of Food Chain Orchestrator for Earth.

    Another topic that falls into this same area of "survival" include religion. Certainly most religions, at some point, cross into the boundary of science and cover how we got here and why other things are here and everyone will have an opinion on that. However, without getting into that religion, also teaches us "rules" to live by. These rules are aimed towards one goal and that is survival.

    Of course, reading this back to myself sounds at least cynical and almost callous but, I do not, personally, discount the value in love, laughter and, in general, happiness. In fact, I find that having this simply opinion makes it easier to love and laugh and, therefore, be happy.
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    Oct 3 2011: I struggle mightily with this question. At this point I believe it is simply to learn more, experience more of the universe and evolve to know more of what makes the universe tick. I sort of see individual human beings as cells in a huge organism and that each cell's job is to experience life uniquely and fully as that cell with its unique endowments, situation and potential. Each cell is connected to nodes like families, communities and what each cell learns is shared with the others. As communication increases and extends more of humanity knows the lessons experienced and validated by other cells. This way humanity itself learns and expands its knowledge. It also explains for me why isolation is so painful for most people.I think it also goes some distance to explaining why we need love and each other to live full lives.
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    Oct 3 2011: QUOTE: "Does humanity have a purpose?"

    Do you have a purpose?

    If so, what is it?

    (I suggest that if you can answer my question, you will automatically have the answer to your question.)
  • Oct 3 2011: Of course...why else would we live...it is a collective thing
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    Oct 3 2011: We're destined to be happy.
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      Oct 3 2011: What a painfully slow crawl to happiness it is for some.
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        Oct 3 2011: Sadly, this is true.

        Especially amongst the mentally ill.

        But I have seen many who are convinced that happiness is a "result" of something - money, mate, material possessions; a coming enlightenment; whatever - and, as a result, will not allow themselves to "be" happy until that fateful day when their aspirations come to fruition.

        Self-fulfilling prophesies, and all that.
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          Oct 3 2011: Yes and there's that sad feeling when you get there (if you get there) and you suddenly realize it's not all that great. The grass is always greener on the other side.
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      Oct 3 2011: Why "destined?"

      Are you not happy now?

      Do you assume that all of humanity is not happy?
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    Oct 1 2011: Of course we're just a bunch a molecules arranged in a way that allows for a bunch of them to be replicated.

    But stand back and you see a strange animal. Humans have something peculiar about them : we're not biologically fit for this world. We owe our survival to our technology. We owe technology to our knowledge, and our knowledge to our culture.
    If the goal is survival, and if a purpose is something more than pursuing of inborn instincts, then let's say a possible purpose for humanity is to take care of its culture, its most important mean of survival.
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      Oct 3 2011: It's so sad to see that there are people who STILL think we're just a bunch of molecules...
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        Oct 3 2011: It's so sad to see there are people who STILL think that belittling the perfectly respectful and widespread views that are often held by the scientifically literate is somehow anything else but pathetic. Like we're going to all of a sudden think: "Oh gee, put that way, I kind of feel embarrassed now". As long as you can't prove us wrong (and by definition you can't as all your extra-fantastical beliefs are maintained through faith) I hardly see how you're going to embarrass us out of materialistic views.
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        Oct 3 2011: QUOTE: "It's so sad to see that there are people who STILL think we're just a bunch of molecules..."



        You're kidding right?

        "Most of us" think we are divine beings (special, God's chosen people, spirit in a material body, etc.)

        This is true now and has been true for most of human history.

        The whole "molecule thing" is very recent and is viewed much as you view it by "most people."

        The condescension (from both camps) is palpable.
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        Oct 3 2011: This is becoming a typical tedster reply. I'm getting bored, gradually, Flavia. It's not your fault. You're obviously a decent vital-energy-quantum-consciousness-superior-supernatural-being believer. Which is fine. It's just that there is nowhere to go to anymore for a fresh bowl of rationality... I see you got Matthieu pissed off as well.
        Let's have a survey of how many Tedsters are actually signed-in to challenge the laws of physics on the account that they're hard to understand.
        My bet? 89%
      • Oct 3 2011: Hi Flávia,

        There is nothing sad in realizing that we are just a bundle of molecules, constantly exchanging with the environment. In fact, it is a beauty if you can see through the complexity involved.

        Do you know that we shed all our skin in about 3 months and changed all our cells in about 7 years?
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          Oct 5 2011: @Adriaan: What keeps you the same person after 7 years is surely the consistency of memory which survives any sort of change in the organisation of atoms in your body. Observations of people having survived serious brain damage often suggests a total change of personality, almost as if another person had emerged.
      • Oct 3 2011: Hi Adriaan,

        QUOTE: "Could this be an indication that, since we are not a different person each 7 years, we are more than our bodies? "

        It all depends on how we define a person, I suppose. A person is a collection of atoms, dynamically interchanging with the surrounding. Our consciousness arises out of the complexity of this bundle of atoms. Consciousness is an "emergent property". Once this bundle atoms go separate ways, the consciousness is gone. There is no evidence of soul or after life. My existence is brief, just a blink in the larger scale of Universe's time scale.

        An analogy may be the computer we are communicating with each other. It is a bundle of atoms, put together by human to serve a human purpose. To the computer, its existence will be brief. When there is energy (we switch it on), it performs a specific function for human (not for itself). For whatever reason, when the atoms of this computer go separate ways, it is no longer a computer and the emergent property is gone as well. Of course, parts of the computer will only occasionally get replaced, replacing the parts does not imply a different computer.

        Just a thought.
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    Oct 1 2011: Survival of the fittest.
    • Oct 3 2011: Survival of the fittest is the short hand descriptor attached to the overall idea of evolution - and isn't something unique to humans. Although I suppose if one were to read into it further, I could take it to mean that you believe that humanity are the sum result and purpose of evolution; that it is our duty to continue evolving.

      In my view, that would be a misunderstanding of the nature of evolution, adaptation and speciation however. Nor would I think that our purpose is necessarily defined by our genes - I don't think anyone as an individual would have their purpose defined by their genes.