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Answering Why…at Wheat and Tares

October 3, 2012

This week at Wheat & Tares, I have taken a look at the question “Why.

This post is in many ways the continuation and extension of what I was trying to get at in Religions as Brain Software.

I’m actually now interested in what would happen if I asked people all over the place these sorts of probing questions. I am sure that, everyone would have some sort of arbitrary stopping point…but would we see commonalities in the stopping points?

Even though my W&T discussion only has two comments so far (and so it certainly doesn’t make any sort of sample, much less a sample representative of anything at all), I was intrigued by grace for grace’s comment:

I like the thought provoking questions. Here are my answers:

Why do you think we are here?

I feel that we are all here to progress. In life we have the choice daily to move forward in love towards others, increase in love towards God, increase in knowledge, and increase our talents. I feel that if we are doing these things, we are fulfilling our purpose in life.

Why do you believe that?

I believe this because I know what it feels like to digress spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I do not like that feeling and I feel that when I am trying to progress that God steps in and helps me.

Why are you satisfied with that answer?

Personal experiences have led me to these beliefs. I am satisfied with the answer because I have experienced it.

Since I’m huge into subjectivity, I actually like these answers. I like the answer that he believes in what he believes because of how something feels. Because of likes and dislikes for certain feelings. Because of personal experiences.

The past week or so I’ve been in this very lengthy FB argument. A FB friend asked how an atheistic universe could explain evil. Given other statuses this guy has had, and my general awareness of his religious, philosophical, and theological views, I knew where the conversation was going to go, but I took the bait anyway.

The conversation really didn’t go anywhere. I mean, he couldn’t accept the basing of morality, good, evil, or any related concepts in terms of subjective terms.

And you know what…I kinda KNEW that would happen. But I did it anyway. I guess that’s one of the things I’m working on. If I can see the future, if I have the abilities of the seer of mind, why do I do nothing to avoid undesirable futures?

Seer of Mind


Anyway, even though I suspect that grace for grace, too, probably doesn’t buy into as subjective a stance as I do, he comes out pretty quickly to subjective answers. I like that.

I wonder how quickly others would do the same…

  1. I left an answer at Wheat and Tares, and then saw this post in my email. (Checking things backwards again.). The only other thing I would add to my answer there, is that I do believe that all spiritual experiences contain subjective elements. I think that most “science” also contains some level of subjectivity.

    I was helping my son with a science project recently, and when the “data” was run with the numbers rounded to whole numbers, the answer was significantly less important than when it was rounded to the fourth decimal point. The purpose of the science project was to teach middle schoolers that precision is important. As an adult, it also reminded me that what and how we measure and quantify things can be very subjective, even if it is repeatable through the scientific method.

  2. Even though my W&T discussion only has two comments so far (and so it certainly doesn’t make any sort of sample, much less a sample representative of anything at all),

    Then I, like Julia, will put my comment here. See if one location “takes off” better than the other:

    I’ve read that adults on the autism spectrum have difficulty reasoning “teleologically” about “why” significant life-events happened (article about that research here).

    They were less likely to say, “God did it” — and more likely to describe physical causality [e.g., “I was ill because of a virus I contacted.”], or just re-describe the event using different words [e.g., “My wife and I met because we went to the same place at the same time and I talked to her.”].

    I thought, when I was reading about this research, that it appears there’s no difference between “whys” and “hows” for people who think this way. Meaning they’ll answer “Why” in terms of “How”.

    [The research even compared against [otherwise neurotypical] atheists — to make sure this wasn’t an effect of just not believing in a Supernatural Agent in the universe. And there was still a difference. Athesits would reason “anti-teleologically” — stating things like, “There’s is no reason ‘why’. Things just happen.” Suggesting that they are capable of thinking in teleological terms, but then choose to reject it.]

    Anyway — the autistic adults, though, were characterized as “non-teleological”. Meaning, it wasn’t even in their mental-repertoire to have considered some “external” purpose [fate] or Agent [God] “driving” or “having a hand in” their life events.

    And I feel similarly. When asked, “Why?“, I tend to begin by thinking “How?“. So I think the trick is — how do I answer “why“, while staying independent of answering “how“? And what value are “whys” anyway? What benefit do they bring apart from “hows”?

  3. I have addressed all comments over at W&T now :3

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