Sunday, January 6, 2008

The purpose of this blog

This blog is a result of the 2008 new year resolution. I decided to write one article every Sunday when religious people go to church. I will just write whatever goes through my mind within this one hour time. As an atheist, I think we need some spiritual life ourselves. Spiritual life doesn’t mean believing in any supernatural things, other worldly soul and God. Instead, it just means some thoughts about the big questions in life: e.g., the purpose of life, the goal, and meaning of life, our value system, the moral and ethic standard, and how to face death, how to regard fate, etc. Overall, it is exactly to answer the question of “what should we do in this life?”

As a scientist, rational and scientific argument is my approach. It is often said that science can only answer how do things work, the “how” question, but cannot answer what should we do in this life? The question of “should” is traditionally answered by religions. But if we do not believe in God, it doesn’t mean we cannot answer the “should” question. As I will argue in the future, the “should” question is often related to the “How” question. Thus, our life, our emotion, our life goal can all be analyzed by scientific means. All we need is a starting point, the basis for the “should” question (mathematically the task function). Then, everything else will follow as an optimization problem which can be studied by scientific approach, by the “how”.

Then, what is the “task function” of our life? The answer will inevitably be a choice. There is no absolute “must”, rather it is a choice based on our free will, and our human nature. Even though there is no “must”, but if we answer it based on our human nature, there can be a very natural answer, an answer 99% of the population will agree. As a result, functionally this answer can serve almost like a “must”. In another word, it can have the authority and “divine” power like the religions ones derived from God. To arrive at this secular/natural answer (task function), let’s first ask: For whose interest are we seeking the answer for? Obviously, we are seeking the answer for ourselves, for our own interest. Then, naturally the answer should be based on our own interest. So, the first answer is: the purpose of life is to satisfy our own interest. This is also supported by the fact (which we can prove) only we (the natural world, including animals) exist in this planet and world. There is no God, no soul, and no other world. Thus, our purpose is not to support and satisfy the need of other super species, like the God. In another word, the goal is based on ourselves, not any thing else, not God, not other world creature.

Then, what is our interest? Almost by definition, our interest is our well being, and our well being is to maximally satisfy our needs, our human nature. Thus, the central doctrine is: the goal of our life is to maximally satisfy our human nature. This is the doctrine of secular humanism. We need to build our “should” question based on this central doctrine. In a sense, that is what I want to do in this Blog. To build the “should” based on this central doctrine under rational scientific approach.

Currently, there is a lively debate between religionist and the atheist. To me, it is obvious that the religions belief is out of date. There is abundant of evidences (or at least hints) to show that the supernatural religions belief is wrong, does not correspond to reality. The relative flourishing of religion in countries like U.S. is really amazing. People go a long way to defend their beliefs, often twist their arguments to a ridiculous degree which they will never do in their daily lives. For a religious person, there is a strong emotional attachment between him and his belief, much like a person in love. This emotional attachment blinds his ration. Why there is such an attachment? One reason is that there is a deep need in human psyche for a meaning of life, and to receive spiritual support. Religion gives them that support. Unfortunately, the current atheist movement spends most time to prove why religions belief is wrong, God doesn’t exist, but doesn’t provide an spiritual system to replace the old religions system, to satisfy this fundamental need of people. This by itself is against the central doctrine of humanism. Here, I will spend most of my time trying to establish this new spiritual system based on humanist principle.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am blown away with your blog. Please write more soon. I loved the explanation to: "if there is no God, as i believe there isnt, why is every culture so obsessed on having a deity". Brilliant!

Am really looking forward to more on your thoughts on what is our 'scientific' purpose in life.

RP from Australia