This is an edited form of an actual exchange of ideas between Deborah and her mother which will get you thinking.
Why should a life require meaning? I don’t understand why it requires anything – it is a life – does a plant require meaning? It is alive. It needs sun and water to survive. It gives us nourishment. We love plants! But what is the meaning of a plant’s life? What a silly question (Richard Dawkins)! Seems hubristic to think one’s life has a meaning. What happened to the morality of humility?
If one wants to think deeply about anything then meaning is required. Every humanities subject… has a hermeneutic element… What does humility have to do with the need for meaning?
… Maybe you and I are talking about ‘meaning’ in a different sense of the word. Are you meaning it in the context of ‘history’ or ‘celebrity’? You can’t be meaning ‘God’ as that would make no sense at all. How would believing your life had meaning in the eyes of your creator be hubristic? … Deb
Hubristic may be the wrong word, but believing your Creator is not your natural parents allows one to act independently of and disassociate oneself from them in a way which makes the individual only connected to his brain/consciousness (aka god) – for me, it is a myth that religious people delude themselves with to help to break emotional ties with their parents, typically something that happens in late teenage years through to early 30s. This break is a natural process anyway, usually gradual, whereby the individual sees he is able to exist without his natural parents. If there is a god (usually imagined as a male father figure) then your real parents, especially your father, is not that important. Perhaps this is one reason more women believe in god than men?
Interesting theory, but is it backed up by statistics? It would be interesting to know the average age of ‘conversion’… It would be interesting to know how many converts had good relationships with their father. That said, even if there was a psycho-social profile for Christians, this would not undermine the authenticity of conversion, as Jesus says, his children will recognise his voice; that they have always belonged to him; that they will always be strangers and aliens in the world – this could be interpreted as ‘bad relationship with parents’… Deb
… Not sure what adjective works best – for me religion is to do partly with growing up, identifying oneself separately from natural parents, but also for many a way of dealing with unbearable pain – usually emotional, but in that respect it is not always really dealing with it, like you dealing with your miscarriage? I wonder if having a Jack and John were more important in dealing with that? …
It is the act of independence from the parents which is disguised as humility by recognising an Ultimate Power. It is having cake and eating it because you, the new young adult, have the power not only to disengage from your own parents, but at the same time imagine they are also subservient to this greater power.
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Yes but what’s all that got to do with one minute believing in sane things, and the next minute believing Jesus did miracles and rose from the dead? Surely the need to be independent / ungrateful to parents isn’t so severe as to actually cause a massive delu-sional breakdown!
… some people are driven away from faith in God through trauma, so it must depend on the personality (presuming there is no God of course)… Deb
It also depends on how religious you are before the trauma – so if religious before, like Opa was slightly, then not at all when Nazis got power … None of you were as religious before trauma – and your parents could not help you with it – Eva became religious after Mark’s best friend died in a car crash, Ruth was susceptible to Jehovah’s Witnesses and invited them in for coffee when Anthony had given up on the marriage, etc.
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… I definitely see the connection between trauma and faith, but so does Jesus – it’s a prerequisite (at least, after conversion).
I guess the only real question is not how or why is it like this, but is it true – i.e. was Jesus God in the flesh as he claimed to be or was he a disturbed deluded genius …
If this is the case, then you have to presume that the disciples all hallucinated the miracles (it’s obvious they aren’t lying in any conscious way – they even went to their deaths maintaining the veracity of the miracles). When one reads the account of the miracles (healing of the man with withered hand, the blind man, the paralysed man, and even calming the sea) and the way in which Jesus talks, this theory of a delusional desperado fictionalising his life really doesn’t make sense …
The question remains: was Jesus a liar or was he God in the flesh? Did he perform miracles or was he faking them? He is certainly highly conscious throughout so, even if he was delusional and believed he was capable of miracles, this is not a good person really. Not at all. What kind of a person, rather than dealing with their own personal demons, goes around claiming to be God? The character of Jesus is the most fascinating part of the whole question… Deb
One argument put forth for God’s existence (by Vaughan Roberts?) is that man has a moral conscience. I have always thought this was an animal’s self-preservation instinct (don’t start a fight or you could get hurt)… M
OK, so God made us all with an innate moral conscience …To argue that morality is for the purpose of self-preservation isn’t really saying much. Saying that the meaning of life is to stay alive is only really saying that life is life – fairly obvious.
I could still argue that because we need food to survive, God provided food for us to eat; because we need morals to be happy and survive, God provided us with an innate moral conscience (and, as a bonus, gave us the Word of God to codify this in a legislative framework and Jesus as the embodiment of this Word to act as a light to guide us along the moral path)… D x
Animals have the same instinct …
Jesus was well-behaved, i.e. he set a good example, but does it actually affect our behaviour? Or decisions? M x
So? I could say then that so do plants; if God is responsible for ‘life’ then the moral /survival blueprint is arguably there in all living things...
Your final assertion makes absolutely no sense: Jesus was not well-behaved. He claimed to be God in the flesh; he caused a lot of trouble and was executed for gathering thousand-strong mobs of people and convincing them that he had the power to forgive sins and raise people from the dead; and – from an atheist perspective – for inducing mass hallucination! His dramatic life and violent death (and resurrection) sent shock-waves … dividing human history in two.
I think if we are going to talk about the Bible and Jesus, we need to look at what it says, otherwise we are going to go around in circles … As for setting a good example, Jesus told us to leave our families behind and follow him… and he prophesied the torture and death of his disciples. His disciples went to their deaths maintaining that they had witnessed the risen Christ. So, no, if he was not God in the flesh, he was certainly not well-behaved and he certainly did not set a good example. He would fail any citizenship exam. D x
You are right – maybe we can talk this through more in person some time. M x