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Dialogue with an Atheist on Purpose of life

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Asalamu Alaikum, 


I hope you all are doing Well


I have been in a conversation with an atheist and would like your input on it, if possible.


The person based his argument on the philosophy of Albert Camus. 


"The essential paradox arising in Camus's philosophy concerns his central notion of absurdity. Accepting the Aristotelian idea that philosophy begins in wonder, Camus argues that human beings cannot escape asking the question, “What is the meaning of existence?” Camus, however, denies that there is an answer to this question, and rejects every scientific, teleological, metaphysical, or human-created end that would provide an adequate answer. Thus, while accepting that human beings inevitably seek to understand life's purpose, Camus takes the sceptical position that the natural world, the universe, and the human enterprise remain silent about any such purpose. Since existence itself has no meaning, we must learn to bear an irresolvable emptiness. This paradoxical situation, then, between our impulse to ask ultimate questions and the impossibility of achieving any adequate answer, is what Camus calls the absurd"


This is exactly what the person has to say 


"It is the belief that the absolute meaningless of life should not be depressing. It is not a negative thing that humans happen to evolve or that we all have this intellectual capability and the need to find meaning, it is not something to feel destitute about. He uses the myth of Sisyphus to describe it, a man in Greek Philosophy who was punished by the Gods they tasked him with pushing a boulder to the top of the mountains but of course when he pushed it to the top it would roll down  and he would have start again but Sisyphus pushes this boulder up and up for entirety, so Albert Camus looks at Sisyphus performing this meaningless task and says that we must imagine he is happy he doesn’t refuse to push it or try to find a way to make it stay on top or start to worship the boulder. This absurdity comes from us humans having a tendency to search for truth  or some kind of meaning, we set systems to try and understand it  like religion or philosophy itself, but the way the world works is not governed at all by these systems, they did not line up with the truth that the religion suggest or philosophy dictates. If the world was not completely absurd then the bad would get punished and the good would be rewarded, but we live in an absurd world and these things do happen. The world makes no sense but there is no need to feel defeated by this in fact we use it to live in the truest way possible. 


 I reached a point where there was a loophole of logic in everything I did, or wanted, or aspired to. Why do I want to be successful? Why is being happy better than being sad? What's the point of going through the day to day only to realise that there really is no point in anything?
So that's a pretty horrific thing to think about. I think this realisation may be the reason a lot (not most, I don't know) of people commit suicide. It’s a confession that one doesn’t understand the world. Because we are conscious of the absurdity of our existence, and it proves too much. That existence is too much. That it isn’t worth the trouble.

But we’re stronger than this. We have the most amazing brain in the entire universe. Our consciousness has spawned art, literature, philosophy, music, food, culture. We are the universe attempting to figure itself out. But we are undeniably a victim of this. It’s given us a question without an answer. But we shouldn’t despair because we don’t know the answer to that, or got confused. We shouldn’t deem this quest not worth the trouble just because there seems to be no answer in sight, or no answer at all. 
But then you think about what this lack of meaning does to someone who realises it. How can that not upset someone so deeply? Well Camus says that “in the depth of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer.” It’s a great quote and I think it means that there is in everyone a power to choose to be satisfied. Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning. Religion gives us a lie about what will make us happy. Consumerism gives us a lie about what will make us happy. And in following these lies we arrive at a point where we are either delusional or horrified.

We should, in choosing to be satisfied with meaninglessness, revolt against the absurdity. Scorn it, and never deny its existence. We have to accept it scornfully. And that’s where Sisyphus comes into it.
So he was punished for being an jerk. He’s given a task of absolute futility. But Sisyphus is in a good position. He knows his actions in life now are meaningless, and he is stuck there. He’s conscious of his condition. 
So he doesn’t hope that things get better. He’s smart. He doesn’t develop a deity that gives meaning to his suffering. He doesn’t jump off the top of the mountain to end his suffering.

Instead he chooses to enjoy it. He is in the moment embracing the absurdity of his condition. And by enjoying it he revolts against it. He feels each dimple on the stone, each rough handhold of the boulder, the shards of slate that litter the mountain as they slide beneath his feet, their tapping and trilling as they roll down the mountain with each stomp of his foot. The weight of the thing, the struggle itself towards the top of the mountain. He chooses to let these experiences fill his heart to bursting with enjoyment.
You must imagine that Sisyphus is happy.

So why do we despair that life is meaningless? Just live goddammit, live! We’re all a part of this and we all suffer, and whether there is a better or worse condition of suffering is not worth thinking about. The fact that we all suffer should be a greater reason to have compassion for others and to scorn this world of absurdity.
And in this weird wasteland of meaninglessness, we will continue to push the boulder of life. Not because we might reach the top and be done, but because in this suffering we might experience the sweetest, the most fulfilling, the most genuine and the most beautiful of life that our human mind can offer."


How would you come about explaining the essence and the meaning of religion who believes in such a philosophy?


Waiting for a reply really soon,

Thank you,


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4 answers to this question

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Well first off, for an atheist he seems to be a bit far off the deep end.

ultimately he doesn't even know if his own philosophy is truth. It's fine if he has an idea or belief, but at the end of the day he is assuming there is no greater purpose in our existence. 

Not much more needs to be said. Without objective evidence, in a scientific sense, world religions aren't in a position to prove themselves, but just the same, this persons aggressive stance also cannot be demonstrated. So you're kind of I'm a position where you can say, ok good luck! And move on from the conversation.

also, ah...absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Not that we should believe in magic unicorns and invisible dragons, but given the unknowns of the universe, it is pretty bold to state that there is no purpose (or greater purpose) for our lives or of our lives, given how little we know.

Edited by iCambrian

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A religious man having a dialogue with an atheist is a waste of time, it would be like speaking in different languages with each other where one will not understand the other.

Atheist will talk based on logic and what seems to make sense, while the religious will argue based on belief and disregard common sense. The two will communicate in different frequencies which can not be recieved by the other.

Both are right in their own views depending which side the bystanders happen to be they will only receive the message of their side and not the opposite side.

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Very interesting topic (mostly to my love of Camus hahah). The quote you posted here (which is my fav quote from him hahah *points at his signature*) doesn't actually mean that there is a power to be satisfied. It is from a narration from Camus in which he meant that whatever destructive power is pushing against us (our hope, belief in ourselves, our goals in life), there is always a constructive positive power pushing in our favour. Just see any person whose miserable life you wouldn't be able to bear. See them, loyal to their struggles, with hopes and goals in life. What is this beautiful power that it is within them? See yourself, see your darkest moments, moments you would never have imahined you would face. There is an irresistible force in all humans pushing us to continue. That is the "invincible summer".

As for Camus' philosophy. I take for granted he has read the most important works from Camus. Now ask him, how does Camus represent Mersault, the absurd man? In the first line of The Stranger, Mersault is shown as a person who can't even remember in which day his mother has died. That should be the first hint towards Camus' real view on the absurd man. Now, lets go to the Rebel. Revolt is the answer to absurdism. And from revolt, Camus develops a whole mechanism towards a moral code actually. Camus doesn't encourage man to embrace or accept the absurd. The Rebel is precisely the book to refer here. The myth of Sysyphus, and Camus' humanism, is not based on the rejection of beliefs and religion. If your friend believes so he is VERY wrong. Camus view on religion is clear, but one shall not rush to poor conclusions.

Camus view religion as a form of suicide in the myth of Sysyphus. What is suicide for Camus here? Suicide is trying to avoid the absurd by hiding in a belief out of fear. A person who acknowledges the absurd yet decided to bring meaning to his life through religion is actually not suiciding. Remember the human moral agency that Humanism defends. It is, INDEED, a different approach to religion that is (in my experience) RARELY seen in religious people, because they may fear questioning their own beliefs (dogmatic static approach that cannot co-exist with humanism).

Camus, thus, argues that there must be a process, but he doesn't choose nor recommend in any way an "end". Avoiding the process through religion or whatever philosophy is suicide. Passing through the process, though, of revolting against the absurd, may drive you to very different ends, and a religious doctrine may be one of them. At the end, the reason Sysyphus was happy was actually because he had a purpose, not because he acknowledged there is no purpose.

I believe one of his quotes really fit this idea:

"Don't walk in front of me... I may not follow. Don't walk behind me... I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend"

Edited by Bakir

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Brother Hasnain Rajab Ali has given a good answer to the Atheist, He say: 

Take nothing and mix with nothing and see the result A wonderful Universe.....it is same like your mon cook take nothing and mix with nothing and the result is Delicious food...is this a theory of a Atheist.

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