Friday, March 16, 2007

Club Meeting 12 March 2007

Disclaimer: All attributed comments (even my own) are paraphrased to the point of being semi-fictional and events may have occurred in a different order than I remember. If you don’t like it, put your corrections/perspectives in the comments.

I arrived late, so I hope that some of the other members present will fill the gaps in my patchy and biased recollection.

James expressed his resentment at God, for causing (or was it allowing?) his lack of belief in Him. This resentment was allegedly thrown into sharp relief by an encounter with a particularly happy group of 'believers'. Michael and I tried to tell him that this was OK, as he was right, but James found little consolation in this.

The analogy was put forward that even though he didn’t believe in very much he could defend a very small area of ground very well with the few truths (or is that Truths) he could rely on. James replied that this wasn’t much use as he only had a small bit of ground, and the Christians were out having a good time playing cricket. I suggested that they were actually drowning and they didn’t know it. It was around this time that participants became less enthusiastic with the analogy.

Changing tack, I tried to tell James he had it wrong and that the key to happiness was to “not worry about whether or not you are actually happy” and “not worry about who you are”. I admitted that this was fairly well unfounded other than my own experience. James said that this was not very useful, and that I was full of shit.

We disputed the existence of buses, again. (Did we talk about ducks?).

Samuel Barnes arrived and cast doubt on James’ assertion that all Christians are happier than atheists, by declaring that he wasn’t particularly happy.

At some stage Michael bough theology into it, and we argued about the passive potential of God – That God has to have done everything and is the best at everything, otherwise he isn’t perfectly transcendental. A number of people expressed the opinion that this seemed a bit strange. I asked if God held the record for the performance of a certain kind of act in a public venue. Most people ignored this and Hannah told me that I didn’t say it loud enough because not quite everyone in the courtyard heard. Samuel Barnes seemed troubled. No one could agree on whether or not a God outside of time could act inside of time, or what this even meant.

That more or less concluded our meeting.
If you want to get in on the action ( or lack thereof) meeting details are listed here.


Rowan Blyth said...

There is a kind of thought amongst people that being in some way spiritual alleviates the burden of the human condition. The more spiritual you are, the happier you are.

There is another thought that Christianity or other institutional religious belief provides a simple solution to the burden of the human condition, even if it is just a fix by self imposed tunnel vision; masks and illusions. The more blind your faith, the happier you are.

The second of these seems rather incredulous; somewhat insulting to rational belief that irrational belief could make you actually happy. It implies that there is no problem at all, only if you let there be one. Yet strangely this is existentialism in a nut shell, if you add the proviso to justify irrational belief from bad faith to good faith, that there might be a problem.

The suggestion that Christians are happy by virtue of being Christians kind of assumes that one of these statements is correct. Thus if Sam is not happy, then he is either not a very good Christian (or more specifically existentialist), or he is not very spiritual.

But if you look at the concept of spirituality, then it seems by definition to be an attempt to reconcile certain yourself with the great unknown, and to confront the human condition through metaphysical contemplation. This would imply an increase in unhappiness before any gains are made towards happiness. So Sam may in fact be more spiritual than others, and still be unhappy, but be closer to happiness.

Either way Christians aren’t by inherently happy, or even happier.

Now maybe the intelligence is proportional to unhappiness hypothesis might be better. Are there any happy idiots out there?

Virtualprimate said...

Perhaps it could be said that belief can alleviate the troubling burden of doubt and confusion, and that given this a person who convinces themselves, either ignorantly or otherwise, in the truth (Truth?) of their convictions is then able to discover this thing called happiness?

Yet, of course, if this is true then it can easily be seen that the truth content of one's belief becomes inconsequetial to the happiness content. The degree of happiness being reliant instead not on the amount of truth of the belief but on the amount of conviction that the belief is true.

So does it follow that a good happy Christian is a convinced Christian? Or that a good happy bus driver is a convinced bus driver etc.

This seems to raise the old tired idea that ignorance might be bliss and that thinking too much might be a curse. Is confusion and associated unhappiness worth while when it seems that I might be happier if I ceased this questioning and believed whole heartedly in the flying spaghetti monster?

Yet, maybe this whole idea of ignorance being related to happiness is also misleading?
Is it really true that its better to be ignorant while at the very same time it’s also true that what you don’t know might still kill, hurt or maim you?

Meh! to the desire of being ignorant,
And bah! at the belief of thinking I'm not.