Will science render life meaningless?

 
Tad Trenton's Ghost
 
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Tad Trenton's Ghost
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31 March 2009 22:03
 

I was re-reading a book the other day by Bill McKibbern called Enough. The author warns about what he thinks of as horrors if a post-human future is ever brought about by means of cloning, stem-cell research, germ-line engineering, nono tech, and other innovations. Mr. McKibben beleives engineering humans to vastly increase intellect will esentially turn everyone into cold, emotionless automations, high on intellect but without emotion. He gives no evidence that this would be the case though. He also beleives that if we engineer humans to be immortal in the future, life will lose all meaning.

Many people find a universe without god to be meaningless for the human condition. But it occurred to me that the existence of God (at least the god of organized faith), makes life even more meaningless. McKibben is not a religious writer. But he sees no purpose in engineering humans for greater intelligence. The reason should be obvious. With greater intellect, we could speed up scientific progress, cure illnesses, and solve problems like overpopulation much faster than we are now.  We may never discover the “ultimate purpose” of life, but this sounds much more “purposeful” than the worldview of most religions. The ulitmate purpose of human existence, according the Christianity, for example ,seems to be for a select few to enter heaven and praise the lord for all eternity. Christianity commands that you treat others well, but beyond that, says nothing of improving the human condtion at all. So is not science really more “meaningful” than faith?

 
 
 
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Carstonio
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01 April 2009 03:55
 
Tad Trenton’s Ghost - 01 April 2009 02:03 AM

We may never discover the “ultimate purpose” of life, but this sounds much more “purposeful” than the worldview of most religions.

The answer is that there is no evidence for the existence of inherent meaning or purpose, either from gods or from scientific advances. Meaning and purposes are subjective human concepts - the purpose of something is whatever a particular person believes it to be.

 
 
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Beam
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01 April 2009 04:13
 
Carstonio - 01 April 2009 07:55 AM

The answer is that there is no evidence for the existence of inherent meaning or purpose, either from gods or from scientific advances. Meaning and purposes are subjective human concepts - the purpose of something is whatever a particular person believes it to be.

In the 1983 film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Michael Palin (portraying a woman) makes a concluding comment about the meaning of life. “It’s nothing very special really” She finishes by promising gratuitous pictures of penises “to annoy the censors.”

 
 
isocratic infidel
 
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isocratic infidel
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01 April 2009 05:24
 
Beam - 01 April 2009 08:13 AM
Carstonio - 01 April 2009 07:55 AM

The answer is that there is no evidence for the existence of inherent meaning or purpose, either from gods or from scientific advances. Meaning and purposes are subjective human concepts - the purpose of something is whatever a particular person believes it to be.

In the 1983 film Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life, Michael Palin (portraying a woman) makes a concluding comment about the meaning of life. “It’s nothing very special really” She finishes by promising gratuitous pictures of penises “to annoy the censors.”

Laughin’ me arse off Evil… I mean Beam. Nothin’ like a little Python to start off the day.

 

TT’sG,
Looks like Carstonio took care of that question rather concisely and completely… got another one for him?

 
 
 
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eudemonia
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01 April 2009 06:36
 

Will science render life meaningless?

HELL NO!! It makes life as exciting as it can be and totally worth the living!!

An excellent book on this subject is Dawkins ‘Unweaving The Rainbow’ He wrote it to address this very question. The discoveries of science are what gives life it’s beauty and wonder. Knowledge and understanding. What is more fullfilling than those things!?

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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01 April 2009 08:07
 

Good science should be meaning-neutral. It is for all of us to ensure that the few do not use science to make life meaningless for the many. (Good luck with that)

Click here for proof that life has meaning. But take a big swig of coffee first.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7976883.stm

 
 
 
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eudemonia
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01 April 2009 08:24
 

‘Good science should be meaning-neutral.’

Not sure that I agree.

Discovery is exciting. Or should be anyway.
Knowledge and understanding raises our level of consciousness, and that gives meaning to life, for me anyway.

Every time a new fossil is found, a new genetic interaction is deciphered or a new black hole is seen, it brings a smile to my face.

There is just so so much that we have yet to learn.

The words ‘science’ and ‘meaningless’ don’t seem compatabile for the same conversation.

What kind of meaning would our lives have today if there was no age of science and reason and no enlightenment?

We would be drowning in superstition and devolving mentally.
Oh but wait, most the world is exactly doing those very things!

 
 
 
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burt
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01 April 2009 08:38
 

Another view:

“The picture of reality that has grown so strong in modern times has convinced people that meaning is something we impose on the world, something we make inside our brains.  And this has driven the direct perceptions of inherent meaning into the unconscious, so that our dreams seem as overloaded with meaning as our lives are devoid.”  Jamil Nasir, Dream Walking in Gregory Benford (ed.) Microcosms.

Since we are evolutionarily adapted to the universe, at least our particular corner of the universe, it could well be that there are deep patterns of meaning that the universe has imposed on us.  All of our personal meaning constructions would then rest on universal foundations rather than personal idiosyncratic beliefs and assumptions.

[ Edited: 01 April 2009 08:43 by burt]
 
 
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eudemonia
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01 April 2009 10:03
 

Holism or Pantheism?

 
 
isocratic infidel
 
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isocratic infidel
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01 April 2009 10:05
 

mathmagical burt: it could well be that there are deep patterns of meaning that the universe has imposed on us. All of our personal meaning constructions would then rest on universal foundations…

How is the above not:

... [a] personal idiosyncratic beliefs and assumptions.

I second jefe’s “Woo.” But you do have a bit o’ magic in ye, don’t ye burt?

McCrea, Can you point me to the data where scientists have seen one, let alone “new” black hole(s)?

Hey Nhoj… I’m not sure I’m buying the “good science” needing to be “meaning-neutral.” What’s the point of an experiment if it’s not to derive meaning from the results? And of things theoretical… the whole point of is to make sense and sense (or more specifically, knowledge) has inherent meaning does it not?
I’ll check out the link after I"m done swigging my coffee.

Guess I was wrong TT’sG… nice to see every one poppin’ in!

 
 
 
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eudemonia
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01 April 2009 10:10
 

‘McCrea, Can you point me to the data where scientists have seen one, let alone “new” black hole(s)?’

Yes Iso, look in the Science column as I posted the link the other day. Recently they viewed a black hole being made by a super-supernova. The first one this size actually viewed with the Hubble telescope I think.

I’ll link it again if you can’t find it.

 
 
isocratic infidel
 
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isocratic infidel
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01 April 2009 10:37
 
McCreason - 01 April 2009 02:10 PM

‘McCrea, Can you point me to the data where scientists have seen one, let alone “new” black hole(s)?’

Yes Iso, look in the Science column as I posted the link the other day. Recently they viewed a black hole being made by a super-supernova. The first one this size actually viewed with the Hubble telescope I think.

I’ll link it again if you can’t find it.

As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t been here for a few days… I can’t find the “Science Question” thread (did it spiral into a black hole?), so if you wouldn’t mind posting the link again, I’d appreciate it McC.

 
 
 
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eudemonia
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01 April 2009 10:56
 
 
 
isocratic infidel
 
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isocratic infidel
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01 April 2009 10:59
 

Nevermind McC… found it. Definitely worth the simple search… I had no idea… I thought there was still some dispute over the existence of black holes… turns out the evidence has been pretty solid since ‘05. Guess I can get off the fence now.
...and now I really should quit playing and go back to work.

 
 
isocratic infidel
 
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isocratic infidel
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01 April 2009 11:00
 

LOL

 
 
 
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mpbrockman
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01 April 2009 13:35
 
Tad Trenton’s Ghost - 01 April 2009 02:03 AM

...the existence of God (at least the god of organized faith), makes life even more meaningless.

Precisely. If this life is a way station, or worse, a test - then its inherent value is diminished. If we get only these brief moments to be aware, wonder and learn - than how much more precious they are.

“...and I was some of the mud that got to sit up and look around…
...lucky me, lucky mud…”  -K. Vonnegut

I always consider McKibben’s train of thought to be be just effing lazy. Do the work, find your own purpose and meaning.