Worth Re: [FoRK] Faith and/or Science - Newton et al

Corinna Schultz <corinna.schultz at gmail.com> on Thu Nov 29 11:23:03 PST 2007

On Nov 28, 2007 8:36 PM, Paul Jimenez <pj at place.org> wrote:
> If that's the meaning that you think people make, then I
> understand your lack of understanding.  Let me try:
> People make their own meaning though the actions they
> take; they decide for themselves what they want their
> lives to mean, what changes - great or small, for good
> or for ill - they want to work upon the world.

"I make my own meaning" to me, means that the meaning of my actions,
my principles, etc, does not come from any external source - it is
constructed by me, based on my own thinking, education, etc. (Like the
way knowledge is internally constructed from your experiences - nobody
"gives" you knowledge)

For instance, when I was a Christian, I frequently heard phrases like
"know what you believe". This is nonsensical - it's a statement that
presupposes that your belief is not really yours, that it came from
somewhere else. And so now you have to study those external beliefs so
that you can be able to talk about being a Christian. I don't doubt
that many people do in fact live this way, and I don't doubt that I
have "beliefs" that I "don't know". BUT those kinds of beliefs are
exactly the ones that I am trying to replace with carefully
thought-out beliefs.

In making my own meaning, I am guided by several principles, perhaps
the most fundamental is that of coherence. I try to maximize the
overall coherence of my beliefs, and act in a consistent manner.
Coherence can only be thought about using rational means, and so I
value rationality. Religious beliefs decrease the coherence of my
thinking, and so (through a gradual process) I became nonreligious.

Another principle is that my actions help to create the kind of world
I want to live in. Many (most?) people don't truly believe that they
have power to affect the world, so they don't consider the effects of
their beliefs and actions. When I was a Christian at Caltech, it was
like pulling teeth to get people to join my husband and I in going
into the parks of Pasadena to talk to homeless people and give them a
small bag lunch. Why don't more Christians take their religion
seriously? In fact, it was taking Christianity seriously that led my
husband to become atheist.

"Making my own meaning" means that I take responsibility for making my
own life, and developing my own philosophy. It is an ongoing act of
intention and creation, counteracting the common tendency to drift
mindlessly through life. It doesn't mean that I think there is no
meaning, or that I live for nothing. In fact, my personal
morality/ethics must be fundamentally selfish, since I act to further
my own meaning.

I am not dependent on other people for the meaning of my life, though
I am influenced by other people's thoughts and explanations of *their*
meaning.

I hope that made sense, at least a little!

-Corinna

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