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Views on living life without religion

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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louisep1311
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Joined: January 6th, 2008, 6:39 pm

Views on living life without religion

#1 Post by louisep1311 » January 6th, 2008, 7:14 pm

Hello!

I'm new to the forum but i'm currently doing a project for my product design course at university dealing with the topic of "The Matter of Life and Death". My research at the moment is based mainly around religion, concentrating on agnostic, humanist and aetheist ideas due to me being agnostic myself. If anyone is willing to give their opinions or thoughts on the topics below i'd be really greatful.
(no names will be used in my recorded research unless it is stated that you are ok with this)

Thanks a lot!

:: Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?
:: What happens when we die?
:: Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be helful if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who dont believe in any particular religion?
:: Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?
Should there be more readily available information regarding non-religious beliefs?

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Alan H
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#2 Post by Alan H » January 6th, 2008, 7:54 pm

:welcome: louisep.

I'm sure you'll get some interesting replies!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Thomas
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#3 Post by Thomas » January 6th, 2008, 8:22 pm

Welcome, Louise.

Do you want people to pm you their replies or to post them in this thread?

FloatingBoater
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#4 Post by FloatingBoater » January 6th, 2008, 10:45 pm

Hi Louise, this is my attempt to answer your questions. I'm no philosopher or strident academic but here it is for what its worth.

:: Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?

We are born as a natural progression in the life cycle of homosapiens, propogated by the desire for sexual gratification of our genetic parents
We die to make room for the evolution of our species to maintain its superior intellectual prominence above other life forms.

:: What happens when we die?

Being constructed from elements and chemicals found naturally on the planet and energised by the sun we are fed back into a common pool of the same substances from which we came.

:: Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who dont believe in any particular religion?

Naturally I would suggest that there are indeed places to explore, such as the Humanist movements; but I would always talk with friends, parents and grandparents if one has them. Some one once said to me ‘there’s no future in the past’, meaning not to dwell on what happened in the past in a personal sense. All well and good, but the same does not apply when one considers that by being ignorant of nature and history, we as a species are the likely to keep making the same mistakes.
I studied Geography and Environmental issues. I found most of my answers to the mystery of life and my place in it. The Sun rules the planet. Its radiated energy influences all other events. By what at first appears to be the most obvious of processes such as the effects of sunlight on plants, leads on to our understanding of how energy from the sun is converted into conditions that allow for life to begin and then to flourish.
I learned that in nature nothing is ever wasted or left unused. Leaves that burn themselves out supporting the greatest of trees fall to the ground, provide food to bacteria which reduces then to chemicals that are reabsorbed by the roots and so on.
This was my vision on the road to Damascus if you like. By accepting ones place in the circle of life on the planet and not perceiving ourselves to be made in the image of some fictitious megalomaniac and a wish for eternal life, it’s easy to come to terms with real life and death experience. Death holds no fear to me, only the manner in which it is brought about.

:: Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?

That depends how developed is their capacity for understanding is. Unfortunately we are still battling to avoid superstition and sectarian bigotry in even the earliest stages of education. But of course they should receive all the help they can in rejecting superstition and outright lies once they stop believing in the tooth fairy.

:: Should there be more readily available information regarding non-religious beliefs?

Without doubt there should.

Good luck with your project :exit:
Let us accept that the difference between a prophet and a madman is not what they say but whether the crowd accepts the story and tells their children to believe it.

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Re: Views on living life without religion

#5 Post by ColinAngusMackay » January 6th, 2008, 11:17 pm

louisep1311 wrote::: Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?
We are born because of a biological series of events lead to our birth. Most directly the successful procreation of our parents. (And specifically in my case during or shortly after, I suspect [although they refuse to say], a Christmas or Hogmanay party)

In the case of a natural death, we die becuase of errors in the code that makes us up, or errors in the copying process. Over time the errors mount up and the system as a whole fails.

From what I understand, all death is ultimately because the heart stops. It can be delayed with devices such as pacemakers.
louisep1311 wrote::: What happens when we die?
The body breaks down and the circle of life continues. We eat dead animals, other animals eat us. The body decays and the components can be reused.

In terms of any thoughts on some sort of rebirth then I imagine that the most likely form of rebirth will be into a tree or other local vegitation in the area the dead person is buried. All through natural processes of the dead body breaking down in the earth and being used as fuel/fertiliser for near by flora and fauna.
louisep1311 wrote::: Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be helful if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who dont believe in any particular religion?
Yes. I'm sure it would. I would much better appreciate rational advice than being told that someone is praying for me.
louisep1311 wrote::: Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?
Yes. They must be able to choose for themselves.
louisep1311 wrote:Should there be more readily available information regarding non-religious beliefs?
Yes.

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Alan C.
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#6 Post by Alan C. » January 6th, 2008, 11:28 pm

ColinAngusMackay.
The body breaks down and the circle of life continues. We eat dead animals, other animals eat us. The body decays and the components can be reused.

In terms of any thoughts on some sort of rebirth then I imagine that the most likely form of rebirth will be into a tree or other local vegetation in the area the dead person is buried. All through natural processes of the dead body breaking down in the earth and being used as fuel/fertiliser for near by flora and fauna.
This is a great quote from Bill Bryson's book "A short history of nearly everything"
The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting- fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes into view, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will close you down, then silently disassemble and go off to be other things. And that's it for you.
Very succinct :grin:
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

louisep1311
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#7 Post by louisep1311 » January 7th, 2008, 12:38 pm

Thanks to everyone who's replied so far! this has been really helpful, if anyone has any further views on humanist,atheist or agnostic beliefs or any problems that you've found that you wish there was a solution for feel free to let me know,

thanks again guys

Lou
xxx

fullerwiser
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#8 Post by fullerwiser » January 9th, 2008, 10:59 pm

louisep1311 wrote: :: Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?
Biology 101.
:: What happens when we die?
See answer to Question 1.
:: Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be helful if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who dont believe in any particular religion?
Provided by who?
:: Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?
Should there be more readily available information regarding non-religious beliefs?
Where and from whom? Not the Product Design department, I hope.

More importantly, what are you getting at?

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xman
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#9 Post by xman » January 9th, 2008, 11:46 pm

louisep1311 wrote::: Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?
Birth - Outside the obvious answer of "Mom and Pop did the horizontal mambo", we are born to keep mixing the evolutionary gene pool of our species.
louisep1311 wrote::: What happens when we die?
In short, nothing. Our corporeal selves return to the cosmos most likely as plant food. Our conscious selves which were dependent on that earthliness, simply ceases to function.
louisep1311 wrote::: Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be helful if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who dont believe in any particular religion?
Of course. Grieving is a natural process of loss and having existential guidance at such times is comforting.
louisep1311 wrote::: Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?
Yes. Critical thinking skills should be encouraged in all our young people and not just for their 'spiritual' development.
louisep1311 wrote:Should there be more readily available information regarding non-religious beliefs?
Yes and I am happy to see that our community is forming.

X
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If you're wrong, call me ... I'll have one for you!

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I Am That I Am
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#10 Post by I Am That I Am » January 10th, 2008, 12:15 am

Alan C. wrote:This is a great quote from Bill Bryson's book "A short history of nearly everything"
The bad news is that atoms are fickle and their time of devotion is fleeting- fleeting indeed. Even a long human life adds up to only about 650,000 hours. And when that modest milestone flashes into view, or at some other point thereabouts, for reasons unknown your atoms will close you down, then silently disassemble and go off to be other things. And that's it for you.
Very succinct :grin:
Thanks for that, Alan - an excellent quote! I love the way a good writer takes something commonplace and puts a new perspective on it.
AKA Mick

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whitecraw
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#11 Post by whitecraw » January 10th, 2008, 11:37 am

Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?
No reason. Life ain’t rational. Only our various understandings of it can be properly called ‘rational’ or ‘irrational’ according to the rules of racionation (logic). Things don’t happen in nature for any ‘reason’. It’s just one damned thing after another, of which ‘wilderness’ we each have to make the best (most logical) sense we can (i.e. ‘domesticate’) with the conceptual tools available to us.
What happens when we die?
What happens to whom? When I die, nothing will happen to me because ‘I’ – that tall slim indexical which denotes only a particular and unique locus of experience – will no longer exist. It’s a tremendous comfort to know – is it not? – that death is something one can never experience in one’s own person; that it only ever happens to other people. In this sense, ‘I’ am immortal and the whys and wherefores of ‘my’ death simply do not arise for me. Why worry about nothing?
Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be helful if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who don’t believe in any particular religion?
No. It would be self-defeating. Religion exists to ‘locate’ people in the world and ‘guide’ them along the ‘right path’ through participation in its ‘master narrative’. In order to overcome the spiritual malaise of ‘feeling lost’ or ‘in need of guidance’, you would have to buy into some life-orienting ‘master narrative’, which is to assume some sort of belief that fulfils this religious function for you.
Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?
No. Kids are perfectly capable of coming to their own decisions as to their personal beliefs at any given time in their lives. They don’t need us to ‘help’ them understand the world aright. Indeed, a pox on anyone who would in this way interfere in the process of personal belief-formation and self-creation! Give them the tools (‘language’) and let them get on with it. Nae meddling!

louisep1311
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#12 Post by louisep1311 » January 10th, 2008, 1:05 pm

Thanks again to everyone who's been replying, all opinions have been really helpful, to answer FullerWiser's question i'm basiaclly trying to find out if, in the eyes of a humanist, it would be helpful to have something - a product,service or resource- that you could turn to in a moment of crisis or if you were feeling a bit lost in life, that would allow you to feel that you are indeed living your life to its full potential or maybe that you are also helping others live fulfilling and happy lives.

Either that or if it would be helpful to have something that could mark your death in a way that honours you personally in a completely non-religious way. This 'something' would also relieve you of any worries you may have of what will happen after you die - not in a sense of where will you go but more in a sense of "will and how will i be remembered?" and "will my family and friends be ok?"

The reason I haven't defined this 'something' is that it is part of my project to research specific needs of my target group (in this case humanists) and see if there is an area for which I can design a solution to a problem. If you feel that there is no problem and that as a humanist you are completely happy with the way you live your life then please also say so.

Hope that clears up any confusion,

thanks again for all your help

Lou
xxx

Dan
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#13 Post by Dan » January 10th, 2008, 1:38 pm

Life and death - Why re we born and why do we die?
I'm not sure the question means much. We are born because we were conceived and we die in all manner of ways. I don't think there are any reasons beyond that.
What happens when we die?
Either we are cremated or buried. Death is the end of personality.
Feeling lost or in need of guidance - would it be helful if there was somewhere to go or resources available to help those who dont believe in any particular religion?
I'm surprised at the question as there are many sources of guidance. Doctors, psychologists, counsellors, Citizens' Advice, Samaritans, family and friends, libraries, etc.
Resources for children - should children be given more help in deciding for themselves what they believe in?
I found this another really strange question. I can't say I feel there is a particular problem in children not being able to decide for themselves what they believe in (beyong bullying etc). There might be a problem in children not understanding important issues of all kinds, and it is the job of teachers to correct that among others. But I'm not keen on giving schools the job of fostering belief-decisions.

If the question is whether more humanist or atheist material ought to be written for children to read, then my answer is "yes".
Should there be more readily available information regarding non-religious beliefs?
More, or more readily, or both? I think the issue is in bias against the non-religious in education and other areas of public policy. Go into your public library and see how much material they have on the various religions, and then on atheism, humanism etc. Chances are atheism/humanism will barely be represented, despite the fact that there are more non-religious people than any other group except Christians.

Dan

Dan
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#14 Post by Dan » January 10th, 2008, 1:48 pm

i'm basiaclly trying to find out if, in the eyes of a humanist, it would be helpful to have something - a product,service or resource- that you could turn to in a moment of crisis or if you were feeling a bit lost in life, that would allow you to feel that you are indeed living your life to its full potential or maybe that you are also helping others live fulfilling and happy lives.
Well, again, such services already exist. Maybe you mean a specifically humanist service, but I feel no need for that.

Are you aware of initiatives like the Gone Forever project?
http://www.goneforever.org.uk/
Either that or if it would be helpful to have something that could mark your death in a way that honours you personally in a completely non-religious way.
Non-religious and humanist funerals already happen, indeed have been around since the 19th century. I'm baffled as to what else you might be looking for here.
This 'something' would also relieve you of any worries you may have of what will happen after you die - not in a sense of where will you go but more in a sense of "will and how will i be remembered?" and "will my family and friends be ok?"
What about a plaque? I think it is futile to worry about being remembered, as most of us will be forgotten about within a relatively short space of time. Worrying about family and friends is natural and beyond counselling and financial planning I see no solution.
If you feel that there is no problem and that as a humanist you are completely happy with the way you live your life then please also say so.
I would never say I was completely happy with the way I live my life, but then I'm also not sure that happiness is what I am aspiring to.

But I will venture my opinion that the areas you are probing are not particular problems for me.

Dan

louisep1311
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#15 Post by louisep1311 » January 10th, 2008, 1:58 pm

ok dan, thats all fair enough but do you think you would benefit in any way from a tangible product, something that you (and your family and friends) can buy, hold and experience that either reassures you that you are living life to its full potential or indeed marks your death in the way i previously described? this is instead of visiting a doctor or psychologist as they are obviously not always readily available

lou
xxx

fullerwiser
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#16 Post by fullerwiser » January 10th, 2008, 3:17 pm

louisep1311 wrote:ok dan, thats all fair enough but do you think you would benefit in any way from a tangible product, something that you (and your family and friends) can buy, hold and experience that either reassures you that you are living life to its full potential or indeed marks your death in the way i previously described? this is instead of visiting a doctor or psychologist as they are obviously not always readily available

lou
xxx
I really mean no offense, but that whole paragraph creeps me the hell out. If there is a product that professes these properties, it is surely a scam, because everyone's life, experience, and needs are different. This is why these matters are best referred to doctors and psychologists, to tailor the help to the individual.

If I'm checking my email one day and find an ad for The Life-Affirming Humanist Feel-Good Astrolabe, that slices and dices and entertains the visiting relatives, I'm chucking the thing in the Spam folder.

louisep1311
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#17 Post by louisep1311 » January 10th, 2008, 5:15 pm

ok I have no idea what you're getting at now

fullerwiser
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#18 Post by fullerwiser » January 10th, 2008, 6:06 pm

louisep1311 wrote:ok I have no idea what you're getting at now
There can't be a product for every problem. There is no Meaning Of Life product, or Perfect Parent product, or Existential Angst product. One of the nastier features of capitalism is the impression that everything you need can be bought somewhere, and the concept you're presenting seems to be along those lines. Do correct me if I've perceived your intent wrongly.

Beki
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#19 Post by Beki » January 11th, 2008, 1:56 pm

louisep1311 wrote:ok dan, thats all fair enough but do you think you would benefit in any way from a tangible product, something that you (and your family and friends) can buy, hold and experience that either reassures you that you are living life to its full potential or indeed marks your death in the way i previously described? this is instead of visiting a doctor or psychologist as they are obviously not always readily available

lou
xxx

Hi Louise. Sorry for sounding a bit negative but are you not just describing a lot of 'self-help' books and the shelf of 'alternative therapies' books that we can see in Waterstones?

Re your question - I think that in order for you to be assured that you are living your life to its "full potential", you would have to have agreement on what such a life would look like and this is (IMO) impossible. Each person has his own world-view and whatever floats your boat might not necessarily float mine. Is a 'successful' life one where someone has become rich or famous (because to many, many people it is!) or is it to reach your intellectual potential? or is it all about relationships with others? What are your thoughts? I would be interested to hear how you are defining this proposition.

I haven't replied to the questions in your OP because I am pretty much in agreement with what the others are saying and I don't know that I would add much. I certainly can't write as eloquently as our resident intellectual Whitecraw!

Good luck with your project anyway. :smile:
Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever. - M Ghandi

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wizzy
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Re: Views on living life without religion

#20 Post by wizzy » January 12th, 2008, 8:30 pm

I agree with Dan and Beki re the provision of a service for guidance on living your life to it's potential. There is no set answer to how you should live your life and you can't just go get a script to follow or a set goal to reach for. Everyone is different and you need to decide for yourself how to make your life fulfilling. As Beki has already said, if you want some kind of help with the thought process in deciding what it is you want to achieve, there are various books and services available already.

I also agree with Beki, that other people have provided answers to your questions that we agree with, though I would add to the what happens when we die, it is the end of your life and that's it, you decompose (or get cremated) and your atoms become part of of the atmosphere, plants, trees animals etc (although I read/heard somewhere that the actual atoms in your body are continuously replaced so that after 7 years you've got a completely new set of atoms - not sure if this is true, but if so you don't really your own set of atoms anyway). But I got sidetracked, what I was going to add is that as when you die that's it, but you may "live on" for a while in the memory of others, or if you've taken actions when you were alive that made a lasting change or impact.

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