Why Do Atheists Search For Meaning?

A very good question. And why would we all have the need to find meaning?

Thomistic Bent

On the Facebook page of a college atheist club, I read a post by one of the atheist leaders. He linked to a news article about a humanist couple who had formed a group to help people find meaning and purpose in life. The atheist leader added “Great to see mainstream media writing about science-based, rational approaches to finding meaning and purpose in life.”

Now all this is well and good, for who could be against people finding meaning and purpose? We are, however, immediately reminded of atheist guru Richard Dawkins who has told us “The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” Dawkins has repeated this concept, telling us that questions related to such things as the purpose for things in the universe are completely meaningless questions, on par with asking…

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Hero Fathers

I attended my aunt’s funeral recently. She was the last of her generation in my mother’s or my father’s family.

Two of her children and one grandchild eulogized her and spoke of her affection and her infectious love of fun. It was acknowledged that she had had an unusually tragic childhood.

My uncle, her husband, passed away about fifteen years ago. Only honor was spoken for both parents. Yet I know there was such turmoil in that home. How does it all add up?

An extremely conflicted marriage which bore legendary stories produced five upstanding, moral, faithful, loving people. And each one produced functional homes and happy families of their own. Such is not always the case.

Somehow a couple who clashed tragically, worked together. They persevered to guide five children to responsible adulthood. The kids had two models who together covered most of the bases and who somehow taught them well to discard the bad examples and to emulate the good.

He was everything good in this world and protection from everything bad.

My cousin had this to say of her Dad. She borrowed it from her brother who wrote it for his eulogy.

It was certainly true for them and their siblings. I knew that he stood in the way between his kids and a lot of negative outcomes. The fact that all five turned out well is the proof of his success.

I knew him as a guy who had a way with stories, who loved to visit his elderly mother (my grandmother, who lived with us) on Wednesday nights for a glass of wine and a lot of laughs. According to his kids he was also a rock-solid course-corrector. In the face of nonsense, he was no nonsense. He poured out his whole life, all of his energy and time, for his family and for his kids.

And here is the thing that I think makes him truly remarkable: he stuck with a marriage that most today would have abandoned. This marriage was not one in which he found comfort, peace, or support. Clearly there was nothing in it for him for many years.

He stayed with his children.

Would anyone say this about him:

He was everything good in this world and protection from everything bad

if he had not chosen to stay and face the conflict every day, and owned the responsibility to keep his family on a straight course?

Today we are encouraged to live our own lives, to pursue our own particular brand of happiness, and to let go of what–and who–makes our lives anything but happy. Just walk away if you perceive another person as “toxic.” In other words we are encouraged to jettison difficulties, and to exclude what–and who–does not serve us.

How will we ever know what kind of people we are? If my uncle had not lived in the crucible, would he have known the steadfastness of which he was capable? Would his children know he was a hero?

It was a different time. He lived by an old code. Men were men. He stood up and did his duty. You can say all these trite things.

But it seems to me old codes and doing one’s duty, being a man and living according to a different time…knowing how men are expected to behave and committing to being a man…are all things that work. Thank God there are people who fulfill their promises, no matter how much it takes from them, who commit without turning back, who endure no matter what comes.

Fathers can be heroes, and my uncle was one.

 

 

A Better Gateway

From a few years ago. It hasn’t changed.

Messages from the Mythical

Atomized…separate floating islands on their own courses…the loss of community, loss of a sense of family…these are words used to describe some of the young adults of today in a recent conversation.

May I suggest that the real gateway to adulthood is not beginning a career, not cohabiting while keeping your options open, but building a home and family?

Not so long ago, we understood that one sought gainful employment so that one could build a family. The goal is the home and family; the job the means to it. Past generations understood this. They understood that they were part of a heritage in which people appreciated what had been passed to them through hard work and sacrifice, and in turn worked and sacrificed for those who depended on them, and for future people who would come after. They aimed to honor both a past and a future.

Relationships were regarded as permanent and legally bound.

I think my…

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I Don’t Believe in Ford

The success of science sometimes leads people to think that because we can understand the mechanisms of the universe, then we can safely conclude that there was no God who designed and created the universe in the first place. This reasoning commits a logical error in that it confuses mechanism and agency. Consider a Ford motor car. It is conceivable that someone who was seeing one for the first time and who knew no science might imagine that there is a god (Mr. Ford) inside the engine, making it go. Of course, if he were subsequently to study engineering and take apart the engine, he would discover that there is no Mr. Ford inside it. He would also see that he did not need to introduce Mr. Ford as an explanation for its working; his grasp of the impersonal principles of internal combustion would be enough to do that. However, if he then decided that his understanding of the principles of how the engine worked made it impossible to believe in the existence of a Mr. Ford who designed the engine in the first place, this would be patently false. Had there never been a Mr. Ford to design the mechanisms, none would exist for him to understand. It is equally mistaken to suppose that our scientific understanding of the impersonal principles according to which the universe works makes it either unnecessary or impossible to believe in the existence of a personal Creator who designed, made, and upholds it.” — John Lennox (from, Beyond Opinion: Living the Faith We Defend)

This is one of several great quotes here:

12 Apologetics Quotes: Christianity, Critical Thinking, and the Life of the Mind

Thoughts on a Horror

I invite you to think about these things.

We live in a world where a person can walk into a school full of defenseless children and shoot, and shoot, and shoot. Without empathy, feeling only hate and power. Without regard for any code or consequence, God or man.

Rather than register shock and horror, then eagerly place that item on a back shelf marked: ABERRATION; let us acknowledge that we really do live in such a world.

But let us also notice that against that one evil act, we can counter with several acts which were its polar opposite. In fact, that evil act was countered with several (at least) selfless and noble acts.

A football coach shielded students from bullets with his body, and died. A geography teacher ushered students into his classroom for protection but never made it inside. A quick-thinking ROTC student protected 60 to 70 people from gunshots behind Kevlar. Another teacher hid 19 students in a closet. A janitor warned about 40 students that they were running toward the shooter, and ushered them into a safe classroom. A 15 year old held the door for fellow fleeing students but was shot dead.

In the face of that evil act, these people responded by trying to save the lives of other people at the expense of their own. That requires incredible empathy, other-centered-ness, and self-sacrifice.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends

It suggest belief that there is right and wrong, good and evil; that life is objectively valuable and better than death. And a belief that such horror and hate ought to be met with its opposite.

We live in that world too.

But we tend to live in the world of our mind’s making, the one in which we feel comfortable, the world as we imagine it. We might even secretly congratulate ourselves for choosing the world we do. I’m the kind of person who sees the world positively, so I’m a loving person. Or I see the world as tough and harsh, because I’m strong and a realist.

But those imaginary worlds don’t prepare us for the real one. It might be better to recognize the world we live in so that we can encounter it usefully. We can recognize that pure nihilism can cross our path, and we can choose to respond with selfless love.

That there will be more evil there is no doubt. Let us be prepared.

There are many other thoughts you may have on this matter. This was one.

 

 

 

Paper Endures: Reasons to Keep Writing on Paper

MaddyTree Books

Millennials start the year with paper diaries and notebooks

This article from last year suggests that people still want physical paper journals. Surprisingly, even many Millennials prefer to keep a pen and paper handy along with the digital tools they carry. It’s an interesting read and features fascinating excerpts from the personal journals of four young creatives.

I recently helped to empty my mother’s home of all contents before it went on the market. This was our family’s home since 1958. My five siblings and I lived there until we went to our respective lives. My Mom was 96 years old. Her mother moved in with us in 1977 with all her worldly belongings and stayed until her death. We kids played with toys, wore clothes my mother sewed, saved old Halloween costumes, and collected school papers and scrapbooks. My parents had brought with them all the memories and memorabilia they had into this house.

All this to…

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“Down to the Wild Blue Yonder” Recipient of Bewildering Stories’ Annual Review Awards Edition — Glass Planet

Bewildering Stories’ Annual Review, 2017 “Down to the Wild Blue Yonder” has been selected for Bewildering Stories Mariner Awards edition. These stories, poems, essays and dramatic works are judged to be the years’ “best of the best” by Bewildering‘s editors. I am pleased and honored to be part of such a great publication. Click here […]

via “Down to the Wild Blue Yonder” Recipient of Bewildering Stories’ Annual Review Awards Edition — Glass Planet