A passing whisper

This shallow, brightly lit postmodern world, promises so much, in fact it promises you everything, only to give you nothing….for everything is accessible, everything is permissible, everything is at your fingertips….

EXCEPT A MEANINGFUL LIFE. In the 21st century the prevailing spirit is one of estrangement, isolation and despair.

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4 thoughts on “A passing whisper

  1. why is it then, that many people, including atheists have very meaningful lives in this century? There is nothing to show that our lives are any less meaningful than those who lived a 100 years before us.

    what do you think defines a “meaningful life”?

    • The sense of meaning an atheist has in life is limited compared to the sense of meaning one derives in being part of a community that shares common beliefs and stories expressed through a shared language and symbols. Atheism is inseperable from individualism (a good and bad thing) An Atheist or non-religious person has no wider point of reference (i.e a creation story or symbolic rituals) other than their own words and ideas through which they express meaning. They are free from dogma yes but they will not find another atheist or non-religious person who describes the world and their experiences in the same language or metaphors because they have no shared narrative/story/beliefs.
      A product of secular, market individualisation interprets the world in an exclusive way this amongst other factors such as consumerism (which is a cycle of disappointment) leads to isolation and despair, realities which are painfully evident in our 21st century, globalised society. If you substitute meaning for the material, yes people today are just as content or satiated, until the next fleeting pleasure arises that is. Look at the available data regarding psychiatric disorders, depression and suicide in countries such as Britain, Sweden, Ireland, Japan, China and tell me there is no correlation between their consumerist economic atomisation, and hyper-secularisation.
      ”Just as man as a social being, cannot in the long run exist without a tie to the community, so the individual will never find the real justification for his existence, and his own spiritual and moral autonomy, anywhere except in an extramundane principle capable of relativizing the overpowering influence of external factors”- Carl Jung
      Thank you for your comment. -E.J

      • You may hope that the sense of meaning of an atheist is limited but that is not true. I do wonder how you think you can read minds to know this. I am part of a community that does share common beliefs and stories expressed through a shared language and symbols. One doesn’t need religion for this, one only needs human culture.

        I see you are another theist who wants to capitalize the term atheist, when there is no reason to do so. It only serves to indicate you have no idea what atheism or atheists are and cannot correctly use language and grammar. You again make baseless claims that atheists don’t have a wider point of reference to express meaning. It seems you are quite ignorant about how culture informs everyone, not just theists.

        I have found plenty of atheists who do indeed describe the world and my experiences in the same language and metaphors because we do indeed have shared beliefs, stories and narratives. You seem to be particularly ignorant about how culture allows this without needing religion. An atheist can happily use references from any culture and any religion, just like theists do. Stories invented by humans, even those that claim imaginary gods, can be used by anyone since they are all from humanity. I suspect you use stories that aren’t from your particular religion, whatever that may be.

        Your false assumption makes the rest of your claims just as false. You seem to first try to claim that atheists can’t have meaning and then try to claim that we all believe the same things when you attempt to claim that atheism and consumerism are somehow the same thing. Alas for you, atheists aren’t isolated or despairing. That is the usual false hope by a theist that somehow atheists are unhappy and the theist can crow how wonderful he is. I have a great community of atheists that I interact with. From your words, it seems that the mere existence of atheists frightens you, that we are just as happy, just as intelligent and just as full of meaning as you are, without having to waste time and resources in religion.

        I have looked at the available data about psychiatric disorders in the countries you mention. Where is the correlation and causation of what you claim, E.J.? Show this information please, rather than hoping I’ll do your work for you and maybe find evidence to support your false claims. I am amused that you include Ireland in your claims of “hyper-secularization” when they still have blasphemy laws. You also need to decide which you want to blame, whatever “economic atomisation”[sic] is or whatever “hyper-secularization” is. You seem to be just flailing around trying to insist how wonderful religion is, with no evidence of such a thing.

        Nice quote by Jung. It doesn’t support your baseless claims at all, since atheists do have community, nor is it true at all. I don’t need someone else to tell me my existence is justified. I don’t need external validation of other people or of a magical being, Jung’s amusingly phrased “extramundane principle”. External factors are not “overpowering” at all, though they do exert a powerful influence. Humans can learn and change. Jung was right about some things and wrong about some things. No reason to find his claims to be true at all.

  2. With regards to me merely hoping that non-religious people don’t have meaningful lives, it is not something I or any human would wish upon another, rather I am basing it upon my personal experience with family, friends and acquaintances, the sociology of religion and a basic knowledge of philosophy and historiography (the work of Arnold Toynbee in particular). I did not seek and do not seek to offend atheists, and am sorry you find my simple aphoristic writings so offensive. You are at liberty to dismiss my largely subjective assertions, as subjective knowledge is non-transferable (being based upon personal experience), I largely write in the subjective tone, as distinct from the objective tone (by which data, observable facts and commonly held knowledge is imparted). However since you claim my claims are false allow me to introduce you to objective data on the matter, illustrating concretely the manifestation the greater lack of purpose/meaning and self-belief in non-religious persons:

    According to study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry religious affiliation is associated with significantly lower levels of suicide compared to religiously unaffiliated people, atheists and agnostics. Source: Kanita Dervic, Maria A. Oquendo, Michael F. Grunebaum, Steve Ellis, Ainsley K. Burke, and J. John Mann. “Religious Affiliation and Suicide Attempt” (161:2303-2308, December 2004)

    In another study sociologist Phil Zuckerman compiled country-by-country survey, polling and census numbers relating to atheism, agnosticism, disbelief in God and people who state they are non-religious or have no religious preference. Published in the chapter titled “Atheism: Contemporary Rates and Patterns” in The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, ed. by Michael Martin, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, UK (2005). In examining various indicators of societal health, Zuckerman concludes about suicide:

    ”Concerning suicide rates, this is the one indicator of societal health in which religious nations fare much better than secular nations. According to the 2003 World Health Organization’s report on international male suicides rates (which compared 100 countries), of the top ten nations with the highest male suicide rates, all but one (Sri Lanka) are strongly irreligious nations with high levels of atheism. It is interesting to note, however, that of the top remaining nine nations leading the world in male suicide rates, all are former Soviet/Communist nations, such as Belarus, Ukraine, and Latvia. Of the bottom ten nations with the lowest male suicide rates, all are highly religious nations with statistically insignificant levels of organic atheism”.

    Regarding blasphemy laws in Ireland, which exist in many other countries including the UK, it has to noted that these laws, are on the books but aren’t really inforced, these laws unlike other laws have a more vestigial or symbolic value rather than real force.

    In the last instance, flippantly claiming Psychologist was ‘right about some things and wrong about some things’ is exceedingly arrogant and displays a serious lack of knowledge, there is a basic distinction in philosophy between objective and subjective knowledge, please be able to at least to differentiate the two when giving the final verdict about someone who was far more intelligent than you or I.

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