As a former Christian, Ecclesiastes was probably my favorite book in the OT. After spending some time on this forum it has become obvious to me that developing critical thinking is a lifelong process, a journey that I have only just begun. It would be very cool to see critical thinking applied to this book. Here are a few verses.
1 The words of the Teacher, a son of David, king in Jerusalem:
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets,
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which one can say,
“Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
it was here before our time.
11 No one remembers the former generations,
and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow them.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” Hard solipsism… there is no escape from this. Nothing can be known 100% but in the next breath the claim for god will be made 100%
What do people gain? It depends.
The sun rises and sets… No… The earth rotates. (Deepity - so what?)
The earth remains forever? (Ignorant assertion.)
7 streams of wind??? Ummm… 75% of the planet is sea. It makes sense most wind would pass over some body of water. So what?
7.All things are wearisome, (Why?) I’m not worried about my counting being off… I must have missed something and I just don’t care.
What has been will be again, (A return to monkeyhood? Awsome! I can’t wait.)
Look! There’s something new.--------------> The fact that you can no longer see it that way is a product of your set perception, socialization, and unwillingness to allow your mind to see things differently.
Yes, my grandmother, from a former generation who I remembered to check in with today, and I, do not remember anyone from a generation yet to come.
Ecclesiastes, the bronze age Emo/Goth assessment of life. These ten verses from the first chapter serve as a precis for the rest of the book. Boring, demanding, repetitive, meaningless, unfair life. The fact that the author is actually writing this confirms if he is not actually Solomon, he is some son of a consequence and means, maybe born into unearned wealth and unwanted responsibility. Life is all sad and tawdry, all unremitting labour and woe, wealth is illusory, fame and glory passing distractions, love a forlorn hope, knowledge a curse. There is not even a hope for redemption in the afterlife.
It all comes down to a commercial for God who is offered as the only meaningful explanation for all this dreariness of existence which is explained in the last two sentences.
“Ecclesiastes 12:13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man.”
John Locke went down this same path several centuries later and ended up in a deep depression which he said was remedied by a nap, something to eat, a round of backgammon with friends and pleasant evening in discussion over a few drinks. Good for Locke!
These were not actually verses but just abstract comments, for the most part, out of context and meaningless.
Take #3. What do people gain from labor? Well, what in the hell are they laboring for? A wage? A sense of self satisfaction? Well being? To buy a new car? Status? Because everyone else is laboring? To put food on the table and survive another day? The question itself so meaningless, so open-ended as to be a Rorschach test.
Question One: Are we referencing Nathan or one of the dead kids? Nathan was the counselor? So what? The question is empty.
I see evidence for the existence of a god, gods or creatorial elves, but no proof. If a god or gods do exist they have not made it clear to me. If the god of the bible exists I hate what it has done. Personally, I now believe that the bible is simply mans attempt to try to explain our existence on the planet.
I still suffer from the fear of hell for myself and my fellow human beings, but that fear is diminishing by the day. In a nutshell - I don’t personally believe in the existence of gods but am not adamant about it.
My own position is I do not believe in God(s), the soul, ghosts, angels, demons, heaven, hell, an afterlife, the paranormal, dragons, mountain trolls or fairies at the bottom of my garden. All for the same reason; a lack of empirical evidence***
Nor do I claim to know. IE I’m able to claim that I know there are no gods because I do not. Neither does anyone else. As far as I’m aware all claims about God(s) are unfalsifiable. IE cannot be shown to be true one way or t’other.
I call myself an agnostic atheist. This is because ‘atheism’ is about belief. Agnosticism is about knowledge. All human beings are agnostic about so many things. Far easier to list the relatively few things we actually know anything about. That applies to the person with as many degrees as there are on a thermometer just as it applies to your common or garden variety literalist, presuppositional Christian apologist.
From your description it seems you may also be an agnostic atheist. I called myself an agnostic for many years before realising I was an atheist. I have been a recovering Catholic since 1967…
***I try to avoid the term ‘proof’. It’s a term used in mathematics, but not in science.
Cheers, It seems agnostic atheist is a more honest reflection of me, thanks for helping me clarify this. I must admit that dispelling theism is almost a born-again experience (I feel set free). I guess I could call myself a born-again atheist (I was an atheist until the age of 24 which was a long time ago).
Yes, it sounds like clickbait to me. What is the answer to the human condition? I have no idea, but I certainly don’t believe it is religion. Is it all vanity - perhaps that is our choice if indeed we have one. Regardless - I just don’t know.
I’m not all that certain the human condition is much better than the bird, fish or insect condition. It seems better for a select few and that is actually very unique in the animal kingdom. The rest of the humans are indistinguishable from the animal existence. They are hungry, the conditions they live in are brutal, and their lives without all the modern conveniences quite boring, unless you consider scrounging for survival exciting.
I’m satisfied as well; however, it is an amazing thing that I find myself where I am.
It’s interesting that “many of us” includes the 36% of the global population living in extreme poverty, surviving on dirty drinking water and a bowl of rice a day. Imagine that. 36% of 7 Billion. (The World Bank defines this as living on a dollar or less a day.)
Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. If you make over $1.90 a day, you do not qualify as “Extreme Poverty.” (Imagine That!)
This is not to say we are not doing our job. Extreme poverty is down 75% from 20 years ago. But then when you consider how “extreme” is being defined, I would not want to be anywhere close to it.
This is all just random stuff I picked up from a few articles. Mostly, I have been to some of the poverty stricken countries and experienced life in them first hand. I know how amazingly lucky I am. I was also raised on welfare by a single mom in a household of 3. Home was usually a motel room, though we did rent a few two bedroom places. I still had it good compared to what I have witnessed in the world. I had clothes, water, and something to eat. (something is highlighted here.)
Like you, I am happy to be alive. I am lucky as shit to be where I am in this life. If I were religious, the expression, “but for the grace of god” would be tattooed on my lips. I’m not. Life is fucking unfair and it does not give a shit about people. We, us people, are not much different from the animals. And while we are enjoying our Big-mac, babies are dying when the packet of ketchup we tossed in the trash probably had enough sustenance to get them through another day.
I don’t have any answers. I don’t have a bleeding heart. I think I just have a sense of what is real.
I was thinking along the lines that I like the idea of being alive and having experiences rather than the prospect of not.
If I’m being blunt, I suspect my desire may simply be a based on the fear of death common to all humans. More correctly, I’m afraid of dying because that may well be an experience. With any luck I’ll be unconscious at the time.
I’d be lying if I said I have no fear of being dead, even though I’m as sure as I can be that it almost certainly is not an experience.
I’ve been taught that emotions just are, that we can’t control them. I accept that. However, it is also my position that I do have some control over what I do about any feelings. EG I can stop myself from hitting people who annoy me with the nearest blunt object or even swearing at them. But being able to cry when deeply distressed still eludes me most of the time. I think that’s due to Aussie-macho-stoic-bullshit
I am aware of ‘suffering humanity’ at an abstract level and have never been casual about all that I have. Last few years I have ben sooo fucking glad I don’t live in the US.