Is there an afterlife? (Civility please?)


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Sovereign Court

No, you die. As your brain shuts down and begins to rot you cease to exist as a person. Your body simply becomes a piece of meat. There is no afterlife.


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Yes. But with lots of diamond dust and a sufficiently high-level cleric, you can come back again.


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Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.


BlackOuroboros wrote:


And then what? Remember, we are talking about eternity here. You are going to run out of problems before you run out of time by definition because problems are a finite quantity.

Problems always have a way of multiplying exponentially as you solve them.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Aranna wrote:
So if you believe then yes.

Belief does not make something true.

I'd like to think all the rules arguments we've seen on the forums proves that.


Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Probably not "every" pagan religion, though it is a common idea.

Hinduism and Buddhism don't really have an afterlife, as I understand it, just the cycle of reincarnation. Hinduism is focused on building karma to move up to better reincarnations and Buddhism on breaking out of the cycle entirely. (I'm aware that's horribly reductive, simplistic and probably outright wrong in some ways, but I think the gist is roughly accurate as far as "afterlife" goes.)

Project Manager

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Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

You are mistaken.

The Torah says nothing concrete about an afterlife, and there's no real agreement in Judaism as to whether it exists, what its nature is, etc. Some branches of Judaism believe in a robust afterlife (e.g. Chabad), but as Judaism is largely concerned with action over doctrine (which is why you can have atheist Jews who still participate in Jewish religious life), it's largely left to the individual.

Some Pagan traditions believe in an afterlife, some don't. A lot believe in reincarnation (which I wouldn't classify as an "afterlife" presuming it involves returning to a normal human life on Earth). Some believe that the only thing that remains of you after death is your reputation/legacy, which I wouldn't qualify as an afterlife.

Of the twelve classical world religions (this is basic doctrine; obviously individual sects and individual believers may deviate from these norms):

Baha'i: Heaven/Hell-like afterlife, eventual bodily resurrection
Buddhism: Reincarnation
Christianity: Heaven/Hell, bodily resurrection (some sects)
Confucianism: Nonspecific/not a focus
Hinduism: Reincarnation
Islam: Heaven/Hell, bodily resurrection
Jainism: Reincarnation (some heaven/hell-like afterlife, but it's temporary en route to next incarnation)
Judaism: Nonspecific/not a focus
Shinto: Hades, essentially (souls go to another place, but it's not about punishment/reward)
Sikhism: Reincarnation
Taoism: Nonspecific/varied: immortality, afterlife, dissolution into the Tao, etc.
Zoroastrianism: Heaven/Hell, bodily resurrection


I think the idea of reincarnation definitely falls under the purview of an "afterlife". Even if you don't think there is a nirvana waiting after you transcend the cycle.


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Kryzbyn wrote:

I think the idea of reincarnation definitely falls under the purview of an "afterlife". Even if you don't think there is a nirvana waiting after you transcend the cycle.

Nirvana is complicated, especially in Buddhism. In at least some variants, it really is nothingness.

Sovereign Court

Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Believing in something doesn't make it true. Proof does. Conclusive, repeatable, empirical proof.


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Hama wrote:
Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Believing in something doesn't make it true. Proof does. Conclusive, repeatable, empirical proof.

So things that aren't proven aren't actually true? They only become true when proven? Weird.

I'd always assumed there was an actual truth out there and our attempts at proving things were just trying to decipher what it was.


Hama wrote:
Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Believing in something doesn't make it true. Proof does. Conclusive, repeatable, empirical proof.
K wrote:
Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow.


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The heart of the reasoning is really not "is it true?" but "does someone's belief make it true?". The answer to that is a resounding no. You can believe anything you like, and it will not change what is true or not in the slightest.

Of course, that also ignores the concept of belief. So long as the truth is not revealed to us, we can act as if our belief is true, and take strength and comfort in that. We can all feel the longing to meet someone who died so long ago. We all carry our ghosts with us. Add in the certainty that you won't have to fear death, and the desire to see evil punished, and it is easy to see why people want to believe in an afterlife.

But eventually, we will all find out if there is one, or if oblivion awaits us. And whether we believe in one or not changes nothing.

The belief in an afterlife is a matter for how we choose to live our lives.

Sovereign Court

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thejeff wrote:
Hama wrote:
Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Believing in something doesn't make it true. Proof does. Conclusive, repeatable, empirical proof.

So things that aren't proven aren't actually true? They only become true when proven? Weird.

I'd always assumed there was an actual truth out there and our attempts at proving things were just trying to decipher what it was.

No, just that without proof, we don't know. And belief is a poor substitute for knowledge.


Sissyl wrote:

The heart of the reasoning is really not "is it true?" but "does someone's belief make it true?". The answer to that is a resounding no. You can believe anything you like, and it will not change what is true or not in the slightest.

Of course, that also ignores the concept of belief. So long as the truth is not revealed to us, we can act as if our belief is true, and take strength and comfort in that. We can all feel the longing to meet someone who died so long ago. We all carry our ghosts with us. Add in the certainty that you won't have to fear death, and the desire to see evil punished, and it is easy to see why people want to believe in an afterlife.

But eventually, we will all find out if there is one, or if oblivion awaits us. And whether we believe in one or not changes nothing.

The belief in an afterlife is a matter for how we choose to live our lives.

And since the truth isn't knowable till we die belief is all that matters.


Hama wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Hama wrote:
Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Believing in something doesn't make it true. Proof does. Conclusive, repeatable, empirical proof.

So things that aren't proven aren't actually true? They only become true when proven? Weird.

I'd always assumed there was an actual truth out there and our attempts at proving things were just trying to decipher what it was.

No, just that without proof, we don't know. And belief is a poor substitute for knowledge.

Even you operate on a set of beliefs NOT truths. Most of what you know was told to you by a person, book, or media propaganda outlet. And all of that knowledge wasn't something you would or even could go out and prove. So you either believed or didn't without any first hand proof.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Aranna wrote:
So if you believe then yes.

Belief does not make something true.

I'd like to think all the rules arguments we've seen on the forums proves that.

One of the reasons I don't care for Clerics of Ideas.


Aranna wrote:
Hama wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Hama wrote:
Aranna wrote:

Is there an afterlife? Yes.

It is accepted as truth that there is one if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, and even every Pagan religion if I am not mistaken.

So if you believe then yes.

Believing in something doesn't make it true. Proof does. Conclusive, repeatable, empirical proof.

So things that aren't proven aren't actually true? They only become true when proven? Weird.

I'd always assumed there was an actual truth out there and our attempts at proving things were just trying to decipher what it was.

No, just that without proof, we don't know. And belief is a poor substitute for knowledge.
Even you operate on a set of beliefs NOT truths. Most of what you know was told to you by a person, book, or media propaganda outlet. And all of that knowledge wasn't something you would or even could go out and prove. So you either believed or didn't without any first hand proof.

no... But it IS repeatable, or at least verifiable in most circumstances. The only my way to do the afterlife thing is to actually die, which puts it in a weird box.


Extrapolation isn't perfect but it is pretty good.

we know that consciousness is a product of the brain

If the brain isn't working because it's been destroyed, its a very, very strong conclusion that consciousness goes with it.


Freehold DM wrote:
no... But it IS repeatable, or at least verifiable in most circumstances. The only my way to do the afterlife thing is to actually die, which puts it in a weird box.

I'm reminded of Daffy Duck's act at the end of "Show Biz Bugs" episode of Looney Tunes.


I go with the comments of the people who began this thread, stating that any afterlife is likely beyond human comprehension. I agree that just waking up immortal in an eternal paradise has a lot of issues with it, and seems unlikely.

But at the same time, I do believe that there's SOMETHING after death. For the simple reason that I cannot accept that this universe happened by accident. To believe that existence is completely meaningless and nothing you do will ever matter as the universe either collapses or fades into a uniform void is simply too nihilistic for me. From the grandest acts of distant stars, to the simple reactions of chemical bonds, SOMETHING has to be guiding this universe.

Otherwise, I see no point in prolonging existence, and sapience is the sickest joke played on us by evolution.

Sovereign Court

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I see a point. I like being alive and living a life. I don't need a bigger meaning.


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Hama wrote:
I see a point. I like being alive and living a life. I don't need a bigger meaning.

Just as Razcar cannot accept the concept of an afterlife, I cannot accept that. If you can, however, I hold you no ill will.

I don't want to go farther in describing it, because I'll start to sound really depressing. Not that my life sucks, but accepting that means life sucks by default.


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Trigger Loaded wrote:
accepting that means life sucks by default.

I disagree completely -- it just means life will probably suck if you sit around focusing on all sorts of mopey nihilism instead of acting to make it NOT suck for the brief time you're here.

YMMV.


Kirth Gersen wrote:

I disagree completely -- it just means life will probably suck if you sit around focusing on all sorts of mopey nihilism instead of acting to make it NOT suck for the brief time you're here.

YMMV.

Indeed. I had hoped that YMMV was a given, considering the post was meant as a reply to somebody who didn't agree.

To clarify, this isn't (wholly) the fear of the annihilation of consciousness. As I said, I doubt whatever the afterlife may be can even be conceived by a mass of semi-solid tissue floating inside a calcium dome. It's the fear that everything is meaningless, that life, the universe, and everything was just a big accident, a meaningless blip in the constant nothingness that is the ideal state.

Again, props to those that can still continue and have fun knowing all that. I just can't wrap my head around why.

Project Manager

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The idea that something has to be lasting or intentional to be meaningful is interesting.


Trigger Loaded wrote:
It's the fear that everything is meaningless, that life, the universe, and everything was just a big accident, a meaningless blip in the constant nothingness that is the ideal state.

Oi! No need to get personal!


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Drahliana Moonrunner wrote:
Sissyl wrote:
As you say, some grow lax about this life. Most worrisome, a rather vocal subset of christianity now claims that the Rapture is coming, when Jesus will return and meet all his believers up in the clouds of nuclear fire.
That lot has always been around... The specifics may change, but there have always been those who argue the nearness of Armageddon in order to scare up faith when higher appeals don't work.

Even Paul (Saul) of Tarsus, author of a few of the letters in the Christian bible, believed that the world would end within his lifetime. Not only is it not new, it's been a constant since the sect began.


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Jessica Price wrote:

The idea that something has to be lasting or intentional to be meaningful is interesting.

I'd say confusing. And not in a "I'm on a message board so I'm saying 'confusing' when I mean 'wrong'" kind of way. I mean truly confusing to me. I cannot understand why meaning has to be externally validated and objectively present to be meaning, and I've never run across anything that can adequately explain why that is the case. It feels like a relic of theology or that impulse that makes someone who's really into something get irritated when everyone else isn't really into that thing... I'm not expressing myself well.

Point is, I find the quaquaverse over-full of meanings--so many that it is difficult (no, impossible) to even process them all. Every aspect of being has the potential for more meaningfulness than I will ever get around to understanding, let alone enjoying. To look at the vastness of everything and say "well that's empty and hollow" genuinely, truly baffles me.

"What am I missing, to not see nothing?" he asked, apophatically ending his post.


@Scythia: Which, of course, is a reason for Christians to avoid ascribing perfection to the other things he said. Personally, I think he was simply human - a fairly good one, with some genuinely great things to say (1 Corinthians chapter 13 comes to mind), but ultimately fallible just like the rest of us, and all of his letters should be read accordingly. ...Heck, the chapter I just cited more-or-less explicitly says as much.


All I know is I keep wondering whether or not I'll end up a 12th level paladin when I die...


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Thomas Seitz wrote:
All I know is I keep wondering whether or not I'll end up a 12th level paladin when I die...

The good news? There's an afterlife.

The bad news? It consists entirely of "should the paladin fall or not" argument threads.


I think that's more like Hell than a reward...


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Thomas Seitz wrote:
I think that's more like Hell than a reward...

Yeah, but what are you going to do? I think the theology is inarguable there... gotta just roll with it and hope no one brings up goblin babies...


What am I going to do? Complain the board supervisor that I'm a freaking paladin that doesn't need this crap! I need a castle, a holy avenger, and horde of demons to fight!


Thomas Seitz wrote:
What am I going to do? Complain the board supervisor that I'm a freaking paladin that doesn't need this crap! I need a castle, a holy avenger, and horde of demons to fight!

Yeah, see, that kind of complaining will definitely lead to a fall.

Check. Mate.

*spikes board*


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*headdesk*


Nothingness wrote:
Oi! No need to get personal!

Jeez, you compliment a guy an abstract concept by saying everything wants to be it, and it takes it like an insult. No pleasing some cosmic aspects.

quibblemuch wrote:
To look at the vastness of everything and say "well that's empty and hollow" genuinely, truly baffles me.

Confession, I have a bit of a hard time figuring out the rest of your post. This line speaks out to me, though. So apologies if you mean something different than how I'm about to respond to it.

I agree. I cannot look at the vastness of everything and say "Well, that's empty and hollow." But if I accept that there is no greater purpose, no cosmic plan, no higher power behind it all, then the only logical conclusion I can come to is that it is empty and hollow. I just cant conceive of doing otherwise.

I will admit I'm kind of drifting from 'is there an afterlife' to 'is there a god (Or similar higher power),' but I do feel that the two rather go hand in hand.


What do you mean by "logical"? Can you explain the steps from "there is no greater purpose etc." to "empty and hollow"? And what do you mean by "greater purpose, etc."?

Perhaps somewhere in the steps and definitions there may be clarity.

To put my confusion another way: I look at how MUCH there is and am overwhelmed. It confuses me that someone looks at the same abundance and says "There has to be more."


If there is some being behind it all, what gives that being purpose and meaning that all the immensity of the universe lacks?

It seems to me that there are at the least a large number of unstated assumptions hiding in that logic. Wouldn't give me much peace of mind to find out when I die that we're all characters in a overelaborate version of The Sims. :)


quibblemuch wrote:

What do you mean by "logical"? Can you explain the steps from "there is no greater purpose etc." to "empty and hollow"? And what do you mean by "greater purpose, etc."?

Perhaps somewhere in the steps and definitions there may be clarity.

To put my confusion another way: I look at how MUCH there is and am overwhelmed. It confuses me that someone looks at the same abundance and says "There has to be more."

I'll try to explain, with a concession that this is just my thought process, which may be insufficient for you and anyone else. I do not begrudge you for that. Still, I'll make another reference to Razcar. He cannot bring himself to believe in an afterlife. I cannot bring myself to believe in any purpose to existence if there is nothing beyond or above it.

So, first, I'll answer the second question. What do I mean by 'greater purpose?' Saying 'god' feels too limiting to me. A god implies an entity with a comprehensible thought process, one that can be bargained or reasoned with, one with understandable motives and emotions. It implies a person. And I doubt (Not 'don't believe,' just 'doubt') that who-or what-ever is running things is a person with a few more hit points and spell power than the rest of us.

'Greater purpose' allows for far more possibilities, that whatever is guiding us exists beyond time, or is more of a collective consciousness of all existence, or, as thejeff mentioned, we could simply be simulations in some sort of cosmic game of SimUniverse. (Which amuses me, honestly.) It allows for something we can't conceive of, which seems more likely to me.

=====

So, next question: "No greater purpose" to "Empty and hollow."

If there is no greater purpose/force/something beyond it all, then everything came from nothing (The big bang) and will return to nothing. (The heat death of the universe.) Everything in between means nothing.

Imagine existence as a line. Beforehand was likely a straight line of nothing before the Big Bang. (Or, perhaps, it starts at the Big Bang.) Eventually, it will resume being (or become) a straight line with the heat death of the universe, as molecules decompose into atoms, and those atoms decompose further. Sure, in the however many eons stuff happens in between, that line might fly all over the place. Pull back far enough, and it becomes a meaningless little blip. Pull back even further, and it isn't even noticeable. And if time is infinite, that means you can pull back far enough for the entirety of existence to be reduced to such insignificance.

Nothing you, I, or anyone will do will matter. Any happiness is just fooling ourselves with an electro-chemical reaction in our brain. Morality doesn't matter. Other people don't matter. You don't matter. I don't matter. Everyone could live in utter agony for a thousand years until death, or a thousand years of unparalleled bliss, and neither would make a difference. Our atoms will decompose like everything else in the universe, reducing all to nothing.

Again, I don't think my life is bad at all. I'm a bit pessimistic at times, but overall I do have a good life. But if there's nothing beyond, than it doesn't matter.

Hopefully that gives some idea. If you feel I'm still missing some critical steps, I can try again to explain. It could simply be something I cannot describe, because the leap to go from A to B is so obvious to me that trying to describe it doesn't occur to me.

Part of it is I don't want to describe some of my thoughts on the issue, because I'll sound very grim, and perhaps run afoul of certain board rules.


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Yes, of course nothing matters.

On a cosmic scale.

Even if there were an overdeity or afterlife, every piece of existence you have ever known would still be inconsequential. Your afterlife would be meaningless as well.

Existence and meaning are not the same thing. Infinite existence does not mean infinite significance.

You have roughly 80-100 years to make your life meaningful TO YOURSELF, and even if you're the happiest and most powerful man on earth in the grand scheme everything you accomplished is meaningless on a cosmic scale.

The presence or absence of an afterlife doesn't change that at all. Why does continued existence imply a greater meaning? It has no bearing on what you do in the here and now. Whether you can sit in the great beyond and reminisce about the things you did while alive or not, the fact remains that your ability to affect that universe is reduced to nothingness. The universe itself is largely meaningless to you because you have severed your bonds with it in one way or another.

If you want life to be meaningless, it will be. If you do not, it won't. That's really the only thing that matters, not how long you exist before and after you die.

Ironically, the kind of attitude you're talking abut here would probably leave you completely unsatisfied with ANY kind of afterlife. Either it is a series of finite tasks (which, ultimately, are "meaningless and pointless" for the sole fact that they ended) or it is one long uninterrupted for eternity experience. At which point it is EQUALLY MEANINGLESS because it is simply a thing that is ongoing ad infinitum and cannot matter to either a finite universe (can't cram infinite time into a finite time frame) or to anything outside the concept of a universe or space or time or anything else because the concept of "mattering" is in itself pointless in that kind of context.


Meaning is what you make of it. It has to be judged on the scale of what is being judged, too. As you say, pull back far enough and none of it is even noticeable. So, judge your meaning on your own scale. MAKE your own meaning. And if you can't find your own meaning, helping others will usually help you find yours.

But what if joy and bliss and such are only chemical reactions? Take a good look at that "only". They are, but the chemical reaction happens in a unique environment. All you are is chemistry... and pretty awesome such.

Where you see a lack of meaning, I see freedom. Where you see gross matter, I see something utterly beautiful and awe-inspiring. People talk about statues crying blood and turning water to wine as miracles. I would say that truly is child's play compared to the miracle of even one child born healthy.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:

Belief does not make something true.

I'd like to think all the rules arguments we've seen on the forums proves that.

I believe this is true.


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Trigger Loaded wrote:

Imagine existence as a line. Beforehand was likely a straight line of nothing before the Big Bang. (Or, perhaps, it starts at the Big Bang.) Eventually, it will resume being (or become) a straight line with the heat death of the universe, as molecules decompose into atoms, and those atoms decompose further. Sure, in the however many eons stuff happens in between, that line might fly all over the place. Pull back far enough, and it becomes a meaningless little blip. Pull back even further, and it isn't even noticeable. And if time is infinite, that means you can pull back far enough for the entirety of existence to be reduced to such insignificance.

Nothing you, I, or anyone will do will matter. Any happiness is just fooling ourselves with an electro-chemical reaction in our brain. Morality doesn't matter. Other people don't matter. You don't matter. I don't matter. Everyone could live in utter agony for a thousand years until death, or a thousand years of unparalleled bliss, and neither would make a difference. Our atoms will decompose like everything else in the universe, reducing all to nothing.

I see it differently. Because the universe is as far as we know, totally indifferent to our presence, perhaps even lacking in life and meaning... The meaning we give to our lives, to the lives of others matters that much more. We may very well be the small candle in the Great Dark, but it's that small candale which keeps the Darkness from being total, and if that candle's burning is limited... each of the moments of that brief burning means that much more.


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Marcus Cole wrote:
I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, 'wouldn't it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?' So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe.


Olaf Stapledon's Starbreaker and First and Last Men are an excellent way to explore the pits of this particular type of existential despair... and rise out of them.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Trigger Loaded wrote:
I agree. I cannot look at the vastness of everything and say "Well, that's empty and hollow." But if I accept that there is no greater purpose, no cosmic plan, no higher power behind it all, then the only logical conclusion I can come to is that it is empty and hollow. I just cant conceive of doing otherwise.

And to this I see the answer being that I have the ultimate freedom to define my meaning.

Even if all I do is define it as "being a gamemaster and telling fun stories for other people". If there is no greater purpose, I can decide my purpose.


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The meaning of life is to give life meaning.

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