Yes we are and I’m also grateful that we are and that I’ve been able to recognize and embrace meaning without letting letting the role that evolution and biochemistry plays in our experience of meaning make it feel counterfeit. After all our capacity for analysis is equally dependent on evolution biochemistry and we feel no compulsion to chuck it in the debris pile. I find the value of moving toward what is meaningful increases life satisfaction. Every step toward meaning gives me that sense of authenticity that the article referred to as being on a path with heart. Isn’t it interesting that a path with heart cannot be deduced in advance by analysis and reason but can only be discovered by living and feeling? I mean one could conduct a study and see what life choices are made by people who report high levels of meaning in their life. But I have more faith in the process of living than to put all my eggs in just the cerebral basket. Besides people with great satisfaction from the meaning they find in their life are somewhat scarce.
Meaningful and beautiful:
Very nice discussion! Thanks Dale for quoting me. I find this subject fascinating and it’s very near to my heart. Nicely handled by you as well MountainMermaid!
My question is what happens when the most striking coincidences occur as you begin to think other people don’t exist?
“You will be like God, determining not only good and evil, but even reality itself.”
As one New Age believer explained to me nearly 30 years ago, it’s what happens when you see your intentionality as coming from the same place the universe occurs.
Take these, for example…
I expect all of us will recognize them as mathematical formulas and thus impute meaningfulness, whether or not we have a clue what they mean. Hopefully a good number of us will recognize the quadratic formula from algebra and some more Euler’s identity (and not incidentally its beauty).
But someone who had no exposure to math and physics will essentially see meaningless characters and visual noise. The point is that meaninglessness is in the eye of the beholder and their subjective experience and conclusions. A relevant side note is that if we recognize and impute meaningfulness to the unrecognized formulae without understanding the mathematics, we are doing so on faith. If we do not and say they are meaningless, it is subjective denial.
It depends on what is being evaluated. Currently-widely-recognized symbolic languages are objectively meaningful to those who can read them. Whether one can understand any of them or not is also a matter of objectivity: one can (or partially can) or not. What is subjective here is a person’s recognition of her own ability to determine the meaningfulness of the symbolic language.
The reader’s recognition is a matter of her subjective evaluation, which may be accurate, inflated or undervalued.
Here are some examples of symbolic language that are meaningful to me, perhaps meaningless to others. Whether you or I can recognize them, much less understand them is a matter of objectivity. Whether they are meaningful or meaningless to you is objective.
One’s assessment of one’s own ability to grasp the meaning, however, is a subjective matter.
No. We are either doing it on the advice of someone trustworthy, who does understand, or we are doing it in ignorance, which is not faith.
Here are examples of both real and fictious writing systems. A mixture of the potentially meaningful and the objectively meaningless. Although I can’t decipher any of them I know some are fictitious and some real, because I looked for exactly this kind of thing. However, I do need to trust the author of the table that she is telling the truth about the contents. She does, however, explain in an article about the different writing systems, though, so I have evidence that she might be telling the truth.
Not knowing that, if I were to impute or attribute meaningfulness to these unrecongized writing systems, I would be acting in ignorance, not faith.
Here are some examples of objectively meaningless use of langauge. These are all nonsense phrase. Recognizing them as such is not a denial of anything. It’s a recognition of fact.
Some further points:
There are profound differences between symbolic languages and the elements of synchronicities.
Languages work because there is a wide “agreement” on the meaning of the elements of languages. We can learn the languages (or Language Games: Language game (philosophy) - Wikipedia) and communicate with a wide range of others, who also use that langauge. This gives languages a fair amount of objectivity, which makes them effective enough for humans to continue to use the as we do. The use of language is NOT a matter of faith. It’s a matter of cultural learning, which makes it effectively fairly objective.
Synchronicities mean what the “reader” says they mean. The “grammar/form” and “vocabulary/content” of synchronicities is entirely dependent on a single individual’s identification of what counts as “vocabulary/content” and how those elements fit together in a “grammar/form.” The meaning in this case is produced entirely by the “reader.” While that meaning may feel faith-afirming, there is no objective way of evaluating the verity of the meaning. So, while the “reader” may find meaning in the interpretation, no one else is obliged to accept the reading, because there is no way to evaluate it.
An unwillingness to accept the subjective reading is not a matter of faith or disbelieve, but a recognition of one’s inability to evaluate the reader’s interpretation of what the reader considers a synchronicity. This strikes me as a healthy skepticism that protects from a great number of misdirections and abuses.
No, not with respect to the maths examples. If we see them in the context of something we would find reasonably trustworthy and have before (as we would – they would not just be floating around somewhere¹), say a lay level scientific magazine, that is not ignorance. That is faith in a source.
Sets of co-instants with objective meaning implicitly tying them together² obviate the rest of your examples. Jim’s delightful example of how God can pleasingly care for his children in his providence is not one of those and indeed the meaning was not as clearly and objectively described by the circumstances as are the multiple discrete and otherwise dissociated events in the groupings I cite.
¹ETA: And if we did trip over one in isolation, we would not necessarily impute meaningfulness to it immediately, but we certainly might suspect that it did have meaning. And we would not be wrong. (Like Jim’s examples.)
²ETA: Jim had a thread connecting the events in his examples – maybe not a cable, but still a thread.
(They are at least meaningful for the purposes of your illustration. ; - )
Earlier, and this is my subjective understanding of the meaning in the post, Kendel granted the nature and meaning of Mueller’s experience, but categorized it as the experience of a sacrificial servant. Whether a person deserves a favorable providence is a tricky determination from our limited view. It also doesn’t factor in the grace that God can show to an unworthy individual. It is most difficult to read this from the outside, and difficult still from one’s own first hand perspective.
George Müller’s phenomenal numbers of co-instants were all sets, at least sets of two, because they were answers to prayer, and objectively. (Another thing admirable about him was he would not leave his morning devotions until he was happy with God!)
If you would engage in a little sci-fi, they may be objectively obscene to some alien culture. XD
I think smile and make someone happy is easily adduced.
I recognize Omniglot : )
My dear friend, of course you would recognize as well as know what it is.
Even when I had not yet known of it, but had only been searching for an example. : )
Lest we forget, Rich Stearns was not smiling at his, and my illness did not make me exactly giddy. I expect it took a bit before Maggie’s trauma subsided as well, but I’m sure she was very thankful for (not to mention incredulous at ; - ) each instance of God’s sovereignty immediately! How about the disciples in the boat.
Retrospect of those events make us glad though, and give us bright hope for the future, strengthening us and making us glad to share, even in an irreparably broken world.
As I said,
One must often trust an author. I deliberately used the word “trust” in my discussion rather than “faith” because we have some fairly technical uses of “faith.” Such meanings indicate a difference in our trust in our Lord and our trust in an author of a website, book, article, etc. For the sake of clarity, I am relying on definitions of “faith” such as Hebrews 11:1, for example:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
My faith in Jesus is quite different from my trust in the writing of even a long-dead mathematician like Leibnitz, whose work and life have an extensive paper trail that can be followed. Jesus requires something quite different from us. (See also John 20:29 – Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”). I used “trust” to attempt to speak clearly.
We (Many other Forum participants and I) have been over these before. There is no need for further discussion.
Which is different from having any sort of objective (culturally agreed on) meaning in themselves.
Dale, I’ve see good and bad examples of outcomes from people relying on what is, in this thread, referred to as “Synchronicities.” Someone like Müller, or my friend Pat, at least have some street cred both in their demonstration of faith and lives of extreme service. I’m willing to hear their side, and I have. But even in their lives, with their great faith, I see a good deal of subjectivity in interpretation of what counts as a word from God and what it is understood to mean. There are no guarantees of understanding or outcome. And in that lack of guarantee, our faith in what we can’t see or understand is required. I don’t put my faith in synchronicities or omens or the like, but in Jesus.
Furthermore, I dislike additional implications of the word “Synchronicities” which have nothing to do with our Lord answering prayer or loving his children. It is too esoteric with hints of occult for my taste. My cousins are wrapped up in Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry in Redding, CA, among the worst of the worst abusers. Others I know are wrapped up with charlatans like Benny Hinn.
My personality is naturally skeptical, and I find this a good thing, although imperfect. It does not eliminate faith at all, but it makes me a wary customer of spiritual matters beyond Scripture, which I believe is strictly closed.
Gary Friesen’s old book, Decision Making and the Will of God (IVP) has been instrumental in the development of my thinking in areas such as this, if you’re interested. You are under no obligation to be.
Yes, as I said early on. Or did your ‘also’ mean ‘too’. It took me literally years before the obvious ‘co-instants’ and ‘co-instance(s)’ (denoting not a chance!) occurred to my denseness while I was looking for a suitable replacement for the merely coincidental.
Oops. Snagged the wrong quote.
I always wonder when someone points to God’s role in their survival of a tumor scare what such people must think of all their fellow Christians who are not so lucky. Inferior faith or just less favored? To say nothing of the fact that death awaits us all. And as for we nons surely we souls all have perished long ago. Or maybe God doesn’t play God with the time and manner of our departure?
Some may recall that I would have been fine with ‘leaving’, and our dear late Glenn Morton did not have it easy. Others may recall that God is inscrutable and that he designs/assigns trials for his children individually to strengthen them. He is in control of all our times and places and he is not playing the games others do.
I went ahead and edited to say: Furthermore.
I am comfortable with the concept of co-incidence or coincidence. I understand theological arguments against the term. I also see much evidence that God allows nature to take nature’s course as He made it to do. In the end, I am not willing to discuss or consider God’s direct intervention in a great number of things that are hideous beyond belief. I am not willing “try to learn” from such experiences of mine and others. As I mentioned earlier:
The evil comes with the good for the believer and the unbeliever. They are synchronous. I decline to interpret beyond that.
Anyone is welcome to see differently.
If the Lord wants me to, He will make it clear himself.
That is not totally unreminiscent of these:
ETA: I’m not the cold analytical guy that may sound like and I’m not playing a game pretending to be something I’m not. Some might recall that I’m one who gets damp eyes pretty much every day when I’m watching the evening news and have to get a fresh tissue.