Hope in the darkness

IF there is no eternal meaning in life, as the atheist philosophy suggests, then this world might seem hopeless. And your own mortality might seem frightening.

The great psychologist Carl Jung said a third of his cases suffered no definable clinical neuroses.

They merely felt the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This he described as “the general neurosis of our time’’.

Jung talked about the hunger of humans to live as they are meant to live, to know they have used their time on Earth well and not wasted it.

To know the world will be different for their having passed through it.

Tragedy divides our lives. The death of someone we love, the traumatic relationship break-up, the diagnosis of an untreatable illness, focus the mind and soul on the important issues of life.

But more common in life is a sense of futility and lack of purpose.

Imagine a world of no suffering from natural disasters, where God steps in every time one of the tectonic plates in the ocean comes loose, or whenever a storm or earthquake threatens a human being.

One child would still be dying every five seconds or more than 10 million children a year in a world in which there is an excess of food.

There would still be immeasurable suffering because we would cause it ourselves. Humans cause much human suffering do they not?

The world has certain imperfections built into the natural order and we have to live with them.

Vincent van Gogh said once that he was interested in painting “not blossoms, but blossoming’’. So, it seems at times, is God.

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25 thoughts on “Hope in the darkness

  1. I think the way to look at it from an atheist perspective is that there is no *known* eternal meaning. It can be looked at that we as humans wish to help our species survive and thrive in order to give us a chance to find out if there are greater understandings out there for us. That absolutely is not an empty endeavour. It is something we all can embrace and be a part of. A focus on a specific God-driven reality imposes limitations on this, and even diverts people away from the focus on connection that Jesus himself demonstrates in the Bible.

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  2. ???? “The world has certain imperfections built into the natural order ”
    Sez who?
    I’d assert that the ‘world’s Natural Order’ is a wonder of Perfection, as Natural Orders go.
    If one chooses to insist that Perfection is imperfect then that’s entirely one’s own (subjective) problem ~ and of one’s own making.

    Instead of whinging about the Natural Order not being perfect for one’s perceived/invented purposes, how about trying to make oneself perfect for the world’s purposes? How vainglorious must one be to expect the universe to adapt itself to oneself, rather than the other way around?

    Once again a whole raft of ‘problems’ has been invented from nothing simply because people have this big-headed self-important notion of themselves…. even to the point of inventing gods who pander to them.
    In the big Reality, we just don’t matter any more than than dogs or wombats or gumtrees, ~ and none of them complain about the ‘imperfections’ of the existence of things.

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    • To cite that other social commentator of real-world wisdom:- ‘Well you WOULD say that, wouldn’t you?’

      But I also note that you offer no valid counter-argument to support your wild assertion.

      Ample proof that the ‘Natural Order’ is a perfect dynamic lies in the fact that IT ALONE provides all our real needs:- from evolved sexuality which leads to our Birth, Sustenance while we’re here and Death ~ a return from whence we came : the ‘Salt of the Earth’ ~ in due course.

      A ‘perfect’ sequence, with which no other living creature finds fault.

      And, TELLINGLY, a ‘perfection’ with which not even our species’ own young finds fault:- until it’s perverted to demand UNnatural ‘additives’; bolt-ons which may be useful or pleasantly addictive, but ~generally speaking ~ not to the good.
      Examples:- refined sugar, ballooning (sic!) obesity, ever-increasing violence in society and the media, Police States and the New World Order, the ebb and flow of destructive ‘religion’ (based on ENTIRELY unnatural precepts), etc.etc.

      Most such things are related to the absurd (but oft-spruiked) argument that ‘god created oxygen so that we might live’. In fact we evolved to live on oxygen, which was here long before we were.

      The first thing a new-born does is grab a lungful of air ~ provided by the Natural Order ~ and the next thing it does is seek a feed ~ courtesy of a tit also provided by the Natural Order.

      Sometime after that it poops ~ and for the first time in its existence experiences the imposition of the UNnatural order:- a nappy.
      Soon after that it experiences ‘potty TRAINING’ (an experience quite like ~ and psychologically related to ~ taking driving lessons and getting its L-plates 18 years later!) And so the rot sets in.
      A bit further down the track it finds it actually CAN’T poop without using a toilet suite (try it sometime! ~ stand out in the paddock, drop your UNnatural pants (Big Boys’ Nappies! ~ aren’t you proud of yourself!) and try to poop… like EVERY other unperverted living organism does. (and does it without pooping on its own heels!)

      That’s the point at which we (actually:- ‘YOU’) start bitching about the ‘imperfection’ of the Natural Order: it provides no plastic dunny-seats or plumbing.
      ….and forever after we pursue another ‘perfect god’: a better dunny:- bidet, a lid, pastel colours, flushing-knobs, scented water, heated seat,built-in magazine-rack and/or TV, etc.etc….until we achieve ‘Heaven’ : a McMansion with THREE dunnies ~ the Toff’s Trinity. And the more wonderful our dunny becomes the more we bemoan the ‘imperfections’ of the Natural Order, which provides none of that.

      It’s like the relentless drive of progression from sugar-spiked lollies to ‘soft’ drugs to ‘hard’ drugs addictions, and then bitching that the Natural-growing Coca or Cannabis don’t provide the kick you need. The Ganja-god has been ‘adjusted’ and added to as required, until it’s no longer recognisable; so we go on a crusade in pursuit of the ‘Holy Grail’ of drugs.
      aka the One True Religion.

      And then we die.
      In the Perfectly Natural Order of things.

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      • The unfair distribution of suffering in the world is a paradox for anyone who wants to believe in a just and fair world. It raises questions about the goodness, even the existence, of God.

        The wrong people fall ill and the wrong people are killed in wars and accidents. In a world of Holocausts, Hiroshimas, terrorist attacks and half a billion starving humans, the question has to be asked: How can such evil and suffering exist in a universe created by a good, loving, all-knowing, all-powerful God?

        Some people see life’s unfairness and decide there is no God; that the world is nothing but chaos.

        Some who believe in God are tempted to believe that bad things happen to people because God is a righteous judge who gives them exactly what they deserve. But life doesn’t work like that.

        Others try to persuade themselves that what happens is not really bad. We only think it is. But that’s wishful thinking.

        Suffering is inevitable. We have no right to happiness, wrote C.S. Lewis. Malcolm Muggeridge called the phrase “the pursuit of happiness’’ in the American Declaration of Independence not one of the fundamental rights of humans, but “one of the silliest and shallowest sentences I have ever seen’’.

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      • You really don’t see the contradictions, do you? “suffering in the world is a paradox for anyone
        That ‘Suffering’ and ‘paradox’ are entirely subjective values is quite obvious and self-evident. Both lie in the eye of the beholder. (ie “anyone who wants to believe in a just and fair world.”

        ….as is this typical nonsense from Lewis: ” Suffering is inevitable. We have no right to happiness”
        Plainly, if in general since we have no definitions offered, one man’s suffering is another man’s happiness ~ and vice-versa.
        And sometimes one man is ONLY happy BECAUSE he’s suffering.

        And this is, indisputably:- “what happens is not really bad. We only think it is.” a truism.
        eg. Was the crucifiction a “bad” happening or a ‘good’ one? Opinion varies.
        What about the crucifiction of the other two who shared Golgotha? Opinion varies ~
        ………..depending on WHAT WE THINK IT IS.

        Every single statement you make here ~ and in almost everything you post ~ is founded on the same, subjective, perspective.
        Therefore ~ the point is ~ NOT DICTATED BY THE (PERFECT)
        ‘NATURAL ORDER’.

        Every “belief” is subjective:- (“Some who believe in God are tempted to believe that bad things happen to people because God is a righteous judge who gives them exactly what they deserve.), …unless it is substantiated by facts.
        …..and if there WERE facts extant, then ‘beliefs’ would carry no import.

        And as for Lewis’ idiotic “We have no right to happiness”, somebody should’ve reminded him that the very concept of ‘rights’ is a subjective, adult human, political invention.
        ‘Rights’ ~ least of all ‘inalienable rights’ ~ do NOT exist in nature beyond what you can enforce,
        …and ONLY while you can enforce it.
        Jesus had as much ‘right’ to feed the multitudes as Hitler had to barbecue jews.
        ie. death deprived both of them of their ‘rights’ because they could no longer enforce them.

        Even that all-covering ‘coat of many colours’, the bible, makes it clear you have NO ‘rights’.

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      • …Really don’t like the suggestion that you’re the prisoner of metaphorical nappies, huh? Or perhaps it’s more a matter of lack of comprehension that wields the green pen.
        I give up!

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      • No Bryan,
        you are (or Muggeridge is) confusing two very different statements here.

        The right to happiness (to actually have or experience or maintain it) is simply NOT the same as the right to PURSUE happiness. Let’s get this straight.

        Rian.

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      • It’s not that complicated Strewth (our tutors tend to lead us into unnecessary complications ~ many industries depend upon the confusion! 😉 )
        In the word of the Prophet ~ and understood by every living organism except adult homosaps ~ Shit Happens. Inevitably. It’s the Natural Order at work.
        And certainly, we should ~ must ~ be concerned about it to whatever degree is relevant. (eg getting food after a flood ~ the same flood which washes down many tons of good topsoil into our fields)

        But “Disasters”?? ‘Disasters’ are only disasters because that’s how we choose to construe and describe them…. and often profit from them ~ even if only by confirming the omnipotency of the gods we’ve invented. The ‘Great Flood’ is a good example of that. Ever wondered whether the un-arked animals thought of it as a ‘disaster’…..or simply and humbly went the way of all flesh?

        ….and again:- Would the dinosaurs have viewed their extinction 65,000,000 ago as a ‘disaster’?
        Or was that no more than an example of the perfect Natural Order at work?
        …… without which WE’D have missed an opportunity to be here; so I suppose WE don’t see it as a disaster.
        Nor even a ‘good thing’, since it still took another 65 million years for our species to emerge.
        …..courtesy of the perfect Natural Order.

        And if the countless creatures who suffer at our hands, ever categorised things as we compulsively do, they might ‘believe’ the advent of the Killer-Ape is the greatest disaster in the history of the universe.

        But we don’t.
        ….because we’re special! ~ and made in the image of the very god.

        You know…the one we created to serve that very function.

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      • As one mystic put it, the spirit of God and our own spirits strive together in a storm of love.

        Novelist Thornton Wilder attempted to confront this question in his novel The Eighth Day. It tells of a good man whose life is ruined by bad luck. His family suffers although they are innocent and there is no happy ending.

        Instead, Wilder writes of life as a beautiful tapestry. Looked at from the outside, it is an intricately woven work of art, drawing together threads of different lengths and colours to make up an inspiring picture. But turn the tapestry over, and you see a hodgepodge of threads, some short and some long, some smooth and some cut and knotted.

        Wilder offers the explanation that God has a pattern into which all of our lives fit. His pattern requires some lives be twisted, knotted, or cut short, while others extend to impressive lengths, not because one thread is more deserving than another, but simply because the pattern requires it.

        Viewed from our vantage point in life, God’s pattern seems arbitrary, perhaps even callous. But looked at from God’s vantage point, every twist and knot has its place.

        Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.

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      • Oh come on!!
        “Viewed from our vantage point in life, God’s pattern seems arbitrary, perhaps even callous. But looked at from God’s vantage point, every twist and knot has its place. ”

        So now we’ve got some yo-yo explaining the view from god’s perspective?? (Long ladder? Big telescope?)
        ……..and on the (alleged) word of a “mystic” (clairvoyant?) which you’ve consistently denigrated.

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      • OH GOODIE!!
        …Just what the world needs: another ‘study; and in the best traditions of such things, a study able to make any point to anyone!

        From my reading of it, all they’ve actually (?) shown is that
        (a) some percentage of old men suffer dementia, and,
        (b) some percentage of old men become (undefined) ‘cynics’.

        That’s not news; but there’s no evidence of a link (by way of control-groups, etc.). There ARE people who suffer dementia who aren’t old men ~ and there ARE cynics who are not old men.

        In fact, the term ‘cynic’ makes all interpretations possible.

        eg:- “Cynic, Noun:- A member of a group of ancient Greek philosophers who advocated the doctrine that virtue is the only good and that the essence of virtue is self-control”. (Shorter Oxford/elsewhere)
        Is that a TERRIBLE thing for old men to be?

        More up-to-date:-
        Cynic; Noun:- “Someone who is critical of the motives of others”
        …..So?? More than a few would say that demonstrated ‘Wisdom’ ~ another
        supposed acquisition of, but not confined to, old age.

        Jesus started down that track as a mere boy, and carried it through until they croaked him.

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  3. Hope in the darkness
    What you are defending is a “Deep Neurosis” .
    The planet over tens of thousands of years has had many versions of escape from reality.
    Almost all being developed by men and men being the beneficiaries at the heavy cost to women .
    Occasionally there are some who create a version purely for the purpose of satisfying their sadistic personality -ie Hubbard.
    For more than twenty thousand years a “Deep Neurosis” has wrecked the existence of billions yet supplied a very good life for millions of men .
    And here I am with “NO” deep neuroses of my impending non-existence for after all the universe existed for 13,700,000,000 years with my non-existence.
    So my lack of a “DEEP Neuroses” is a problem for you ?

    Ask yourselves this :-
    If you believe you are so important why were you not here at the beginning ???

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  4. Bryan :-Hope in the darkness .
    But Bryan no where in this do you highlight the intrinsic fact the universe is heading towards “DARKNESS” to the extreme where time itself is “DARK”.
    The evidence is all around you !
    The first and second laws of thermodynamics dissipating all into lower and lower progressing states of entropy .
    Theologians can spin as many things as the like but none will open any escape door away from this universe no matter how important people believe they are.

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  5. I can’t see God as a being who arbitarily makes judgements, or imposes ‘acts of God’ on the world. But there are laws that govern these things – laws of physics in natural disasters, laws of action and reaction regatding any creature’s behaviour. Laws instituted by God? I don’t know, but I’m willing to grant the likelihood, though not knowing fully who or what God is.

    I do know there is a Being ( or beings) who guides us, if we are willing. Who doesn’t create what we call evil, bt when it happens can cause good to come outof it – from our perspective. For want of a better term I’ll say ‘angels’, rather than God the creator of the universe, or God who IS the Intelligent Universe – concepts beyond me.

    We can all be subject to wishful thinking, and I have no proof to offer others, but I have proof for myself from my own experience. 🙂

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    • Perfect !!!
      Keep that view !!
      But when anyone else tells you they know better than you “SLAP YOURSELF HARD” !!
      Just keep in mind at some stage they all were children running around in a play ground then they became young adults.
      After all that everything is pure bluff !!
      Their experience and opinion is impossible to over ride your opinion!
      And more importantly “WHY” are they wanting you to change your opinion?
      You have formulated your view within your own mind with what you see and know and your own personal hopes and fears .
      If everyone did the same the world would be a much better place.
      As you have work out I am so against “RELIGIONS”

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  6. How can we possibly judge fairness, unfairness etc on the basis of such a short time span?
    2 Peter 3:8–9
    ‘But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’

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    • Aaah !!
      Looks like I am wrong .
      You have not formulated your own view .
      Gone easy way and taken a ready made prepackaged item.
      One selected by the location and time setting you are in .
      No different to any regular person in the what ever time or location their at.
      A “”religion”””

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