The Instigator
Aziar44
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points
The Contender
SuperPerfundo
Pro (for)
Losing
14 Points

Life is meaningless without God.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Aziar44
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/27/2009 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,023 times Debate No: 7989
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (14)
Votes (5)

 

Aziar44

Con

My stance is that life is not meaningless without God. Meaning can be found in life even if some deity does not exist. I will expand further in the next rounds as to how, but I wish to give a definition of God first.

Any deity can be used in this argument if it follows these basic tenets:

1. The god is supernatural.
2. The god had to do with the creation of life/the universe/mankind in some way.
3. The god is some being (or beings - having multiple deities for this argument is perfectly alright) that is said to exist.
SuperPerfundo

Pro

Hey,thanks for posting the debate. If you could define 'meaning' in your next round I would really appreciate it. Good luck.

What God really represents is an objective standard with which to measure our lives and actions. Without that objective standard all human actions and therefore the very existence of humanity boils down to subjectivity. No one person can identify a purpose or goal that holds any 'value'. We seem to think that the life of someone like Mother Theresa is 'meaningful', but in order to claim something like that we need to be able to identify a significant goal that her actions would work towards. In a world without god (an objective standard) all of our varying opinions about 'good' and 'progress' are invalid and meaningless because there is no rule or quality we can appeal to in determining worth. How are we to establish meaning without a standard that determines what is significant? We are all just perspectives in a perpetuating pool of subjective existence.
Debate Round No. 1
Aziar44

Con

Thank you very much for taking part in this debate. Good luck to you, as well.

Meaning - This can be interpreted in this context to be the value or significance found in life. To say life is meaningless without God is to say life has no importance, value or significance without God in any way. In other words, if God did not exist, life would not have any value - all of life would be unimportant, insignificant, and devoid of ANY value (Note: This does not mean inherently, necessarily). This is your side of the debate, basically.

To clarify, "life" does not mean existence. I mean the actual process of and living of life, not the existence of life. I am not saying that there is meaning in existence without God; I am saying that life is "the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual" and meaning can be found in that without God. That is the closest definition. Here is the link to the definition:

http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Again, I shall reiterate that life is, in fact, not meaningless without God. Meaning can still be derived without God. There are plenty of people in this world who do not subscribe to any religion or believe in a God, yet they find their lives to be meaningful. If they claim to have found a meaning for their life, a value or significance in it, who are we to say they have not?

"We seem to think that the life of someone like Mother Theresa is 'meaningful', but in order to claim something like that we need to be able to identify a significant goal that her actions would work towards."

- To have something be meaningful does not mean there must be a goal of any sort inherent in the object/action/etc. A person can find meaning in an abstract painting where no meaning was inherent in it. Was there a goal in the painting? No. Someone just decided to throw paint on a canvas. Someone else saw something deep and provocative in that thrown paint on that canvas. They assigned a meaning to it for themselves. This is analogous to how humans find meaning in life. Life is a random occurrence. We have been thrown into this world without our consent, without a purpose. Therefore, humans must assign a meaning in the purposeless and absurdity of life. In this situation, with no God, meaning is found.

"What God really represents is an objective standard with which to measure our lives and actions."

- To this, I would say that why is God necessary for an objective standard? Why can there not just be universal maxims from no higher power than humanity? Those create objective standards without God. Why not let humanity come together and decide universal maxims and create an objective standard? There does not seem to be a true need for any sort of deity to send down rules and values.

"We are all just perspectives in a perpetuating pool of subjective existence."

- Lovely line, I must say.

The main crux of my argument, then, is that individuals find meaning in their lives for themselves, and there is no objective standard by which to judge the meaningfulness of a life. In fact, someone who does what Mother Theresa does may have just as much meaning as someone who mows lawns for a living and does nothing else, really. Is that the comfortable choice? Indeed, it is not. But just because people compare the lives of people (Mother Theresa's meaningfulness vs. a hobo's meaningfulness) does not make it the correct perspective. There is no objective standard to judge meaning. Each person finds meaning in their own life, and this can be done without God.

And even if there were to be an objective standard, it need not come from any sort of deity. It could just be a Kantian sort of set of maxims that are universal, but do not come from God. Objective standards do not necessitate supernaturalism.

Thank you, and I anxiously await my worthy opponent's response.
SuperPerfundo

Pro

Thanks for the response. Looking forward to another one.

First, I'll address your definition. To have meaning is to have significance or importance. The only way anything can be important is if there is something that matters it can effect. To be able to judge what is important and unimportant we need a purpose against which to measure the influence of it. If all value and significance is assigned subjectively then there is no objective standard to measure an action and be able to call it meaningful.

http://dictionary.reference.com...

Your argument, essentially, is that humans assign their own meaning to their own lives and therefore do not require God to provide one.

Your argument is one for subjectivity; that each individual has their own perspective of what is valuable. In your painting example an individual can assign meaning to an otherwise meaningless painting. If the value of some object or action is determined by any individual perspective, every possible perspective is equally valuable to the others.

For example, Hitler would find the Holocaust meaningful, while we would not. Without an objective standard, Hitler's opinion is equal to ours and his position is legitimate. Who are we to say someone else's perspective is inferior to ours without a standard of meaning to appeal to?

In this way, God gives us a superior standard to determine meaning. Without God, what is it to say something is meaningful? For your art enthusiast, to say "I find meaning in that abstract painting" is just to say "I like that painting". But meaning extends past personal approval by its very definition. To have meaning is to be significant and the only way we can assign significance is by measuring its effect on a purpose. Humans are unable to establish that necessary purpose because we are unable to escape subjectivity.
Debate Round No. 2
Aziar44

Con

"Your argument, essentially, is that humans assign their own meaning to their own lives and therefore do not require God to provide one."

- Yes, this indeed my argument. Human beings do not need God to find meaning in their own lives.

"Your argument is one for subjectivity; that each individual has their own perspective of what is valuable. In your painting example an individual can assign meaning to an otherwise meaningless painting. If the value of some object or action is determined by any individual perspective, every possible perspective is equally valuable to the others."

- It is one for subjectivity in terms of meaning, yes. Doesn't everyone have their own perspective of what is valuable? I may appreciate Stanley Kubrick movies and you may find them insignificant, for example. But there is no true objective way to say "You are wrong" and "I am right." Yes, the individual assigns meaning to an otherwise meaningless painting. Unless someone assigns a meaning to something, it is, by definition, meaningless. There is no inherent meaning.

"For example, Hitler would find the Holocaust meaningful, while we would not. Without an objective standard, Hitler's opinion is equal to ours and his position is legitimate. Who are we to say someone else's perspective is inferior to ours without a standard of meaning to appeal to?"

- I think you may be misinterpreting my argument. This has nothing to do with ethics or morality. Yes, Hitler does indeed find the Holocaust meaningful, while most would not, at least not in the same way. So to Hitler, did he do something meaningful? Yes. To us? Absolutely not, and we condemn him for his actions.

- BUT, we cannot say his life was devoid of meaning. I cannot judge his life to be devoid of meaning because that meaning was his own. I can disagree with every single action he took and hate every ounce of him - many people do. I can judge him to be morally and ethically, evil, for lack of a better word. BUT, that judgment does not have anything to do with the meaning Hitler found in life. The individual has the freedom to seek and find value in some aspect of one's life. So did Hitler find his life to be meaningful? Yes. Are his actions condemnable by human standards? Yes. These are not contradictory statements since meaning and morality are not the same concept. Individual meaning does not lead to moral relativism.

" In this way, God gives us a superior standard to determine meaning. Without God, what is it to say something is meaningful? For your art enthusiast, to say "I find meaning in that abstract painting" is just to say "I like that painting". But meaning extends past personal approval by its very definition. To have meaning is to be significant and the only way we can assign significance is by measuring its effect on a purpose. Humans are unable to establish that necessary purpose because we are unable to escape subjectivity."

- Without God, the individual has the freedom and power to determine meaning for their own life. There is no handed-down meaning from God. Think of this example:

You are an artist (yeah, art is common theme it seems). You have two options: The first is that you are told by your boss to create a specific kind of art for the rest of your life, and after you are dead, you will be famous. The second is that you have no boss, and you can create whatever art your heart desires for as long as you like, and there is no guarantee whatsoever of fame after you are dead.

Which sounds more meaningful? The assignation of meaning by some higher power to each person where you are constricted in what you do in life in order for your life to have meaning? Or the second option, where each individual human being may choose to do whatever they find valuable in life and are not burdened by some forced, assigned meaning from a supernatural being?

- I also disagree with your statement that saying "I find meaning in that painting" is the same as saying "I like it." They are quite different. Liking the painting is an emergent characteristic of finding meaning in the painting. If someone finds meaning in a painting, it is valuable and significant to them in some way, whether it be through a message they found, the physical beauty they see in it, etc. They are not the same thing, though.

- Just as an example, let us think about a hermit. He sees no one in life. He affects no one's life. He simply goes into the wilderness and meditates and thinks about life for 65 years, until the day he dies. He discovers many things about himself, nature, and life and he finds that his life is meaningful. He does not subscribe to any theistic religion. You would say his life is meaningless? Or less meaningful than someone who is a politician, for example, who believes in God and has done some good and some bad while in office (in terms of improving quality of life for his constituency)? I am just curious.

- My stance would be that if that hermit found his life to meaningful, then it was. It has nothing to do with God. He does not need God to have a meaningful life.

Subjectivism in meaning is not something to "escape." It is all there is. Every individual gets their own meaning in life by their own choosing. Life is not meaningless without God because each person creates their own meaning for themselves.

I await our final round. This is a good debate, I feel.
SuperPerfundo

Pro

SuperPerfundo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Aziar44

Con

Since my opponent has sadly forfeited this last round, I will give a concise summary of my points that have been made and expanded upon in detail in earlier arguments.

- Each individual has the freedom and power to assign meaning to life. God is not necessary for this.
- It is, in fact, MORE meaningful to not have God's assignation of a value to life, as shown in the artist metaphor. Would you rather make your own meaning in life or have the same meaning as billions of others handed to you by some mysterious god?
- Something inherently purposeless, such as the painting example or life without God, is given meaning by a person. Purpose does not equal meaning and something does not need a purpose to be meaningful
- Subjectivity in meaning does not equal subjectivity in morality, as I proved in my earlier rounds. My opponent just misinterpreted the two to be the same thing.
- If you find your life to be meaningful, then it is meaningful. God is not necessary.

I have shown not only that individuals can assign meaning to a life without God, but that it is in fact more meaningful to do so, arguably. Subjectivity in meaning is not something that needs to be escaped. There are no negative consequences. It should be embraced and it allows for humans to create and see the value in their own lives without some overbearing supernatural deity forcing meaning down their throats.

Thank you, and thank you to my opponent for the very good rounds that he posted. My opponent did forfeit one round, which is unfortunate for our debate since it was such a good one, I felt.

Vote CON!
SuperPerfundo

Pro

SuperPerfundo forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
14 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Aziar44 8 years ago
Aziar44
Well, it was a good debate in the first two rounds. It's too bad the last two were forfeited by my opponent. Still, well done with what you did.
Posted by Aziar44 8 years ago
Aziar44
Ah, but it is purposeless! But not meaningless! Why not commit suicide if life is meaningless? You seem to still be among the living, so you must have found some sort of meaning, just perhaps no purpose.
Posted by wjmelements 8 years ago
wjmelements
But life IS meaningless!
Posted by unlikely 8 years ago
unlikely
Getting really bored with this crazy sky god fairy nonsense that people peddle on this website.
One of the arguments was that we respect mother teresa by a standard based on a belief in god.
Firstly our standards are set by us, whether we refer them to a god or not, as the saying goes we get the god we need....hence god figures in the east look eastern, in europe the jesus cult often portrays jesus ( a semite) with blue eyes for godsake.
Secondly ...respect mother teresa????????????? reminds me of the comment by the witty atheist chris hitchens who said he was sad that he didnt believe in hell...cos then he could believe she was going there. Bribing impoverished people with food and medicare in return for her sky god is not an act of benevolence....
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 8 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
Wow, I could just go on a rant on the stuff below about an imaginary friend (aka) god. But I will refrain.
Posted by Biggbrother 8 years ago
Biggbrother
you have a meaning because you live.
you have drastically changed lives by splitting into 2 cells.
mother cannot get anymore pregnant than she is.
she doesnt do the same things which in turn affects others
and other things.
god gave that to you
god also gave you the freedom after your born and grown to affect as many lives as you please.
from the small part of taking a breath of air that someone else could breath to creating your own life.
although frowned upon you can even take the meaning out of another life
Posted by MTGandP 8 years ago
MTGandP
Life is meaningless without God. Life is also meaningless with God.
Posted by Emflo 8 years ago
Emflo
God made me, and has also given me purpose.
Posted by yeahyeah21 8 years ago
yeahyeah21
honestly, if I didn't have God in my life, life would be just...there. I mean, at any second you could die. And without God, I feel like I'd live with no purpose, no "mission" in life, and the fact is, it would be rather dull. And I can't bring myself to believe that everything exploded and that's it--life just happened.
Posted by Thessentials 8 years ago
Thessentials
Life is meaningless. We give it value.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Alex 8 years ago
Alex
Aziar44SuperPerfundoTied
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Vote Placed by FemaleGamer 8 years ago
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Aziar44SuperPerfundoTied
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 8 years ago
Maikuru
Aziar44SuperPerfundoTied
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Vote Placed by Aziar44 8 years ago
Aziar44
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Vote Placed by SuperPerfundo 8 years ago
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Aziar44SuperPerfundoTied
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