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Who suffers the most from the trend of extended adolescence?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

My friend Tracy sent me this interesting post. As I read it, I thought I was going to disagree with him about who is to blame for the mess he describes, but as we’ll see in a bit, I don’t.

Here’s his intro, which pretty much everyone agrees on:

The Five Traditional Milestones of Adulthood

Something magically happens between adolescence and young adulthood.  There are five traditional milestones of that mark entrance into adulthood that sociologists, psychologists, and the general population have used as a proxy to determine when someone has reached that tipping point of maturity.  It is at this time adolescence is shed and emotional maturity comes to full fruition.

These are:

  • Leaving Home
  • Becoming Financially Independent
  • Completing School
  • Marrying
  • Starting a Family

He has some examples to illustrate who is and isn’t mature:

Examples of Adults:

  • A 25-year old teacher with a college degree, who works full time, is married, has a child, owns her own home, and pays for her own living expenses
  • A 65-year old janitor with a high school diploma, who works full time, is married or widowed, has children, owns his own home, and pays for his own living expenses

Examples of Extended Adolescence: 

  • A 30-year old who has part of their rent and bills covered by parents, endlessly enrolls in colleges or universities seeking additional degrees or credentials, single, without children.
  • A 45-year old high-school dropout living on social welfare programs who spends his days getting drunk in bars

OK, then he talks about who suffers the most from “extended adolescence”:

What is particularly interesting is the interaction between biology and the paradigm shift that has occurred with so much of the younger generation suffering from extended adolescence. Women have a specific, limited window of time in which they can genetically reproduce and to which they are attractive to potential mates.  This so-called “biological clock”, written into the code at the very deepest core of our DNA, puts a limit on childbearing for females.

  • Fertility: Female fertility peaks at 20 to 30 years old.  After 30 years old, fertility drops by 20%.  After 35, it drops 50%.  After 40, it drops 95%.  As for in vitro fertilization, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that women in their early 40’s have, on average, only a 3% to 5% chance of having a baby through this method.
  • Down Syndrome: At 25, a woman has about 1 chance in 1,250 of having a baby with Down Syndrome; at age 30, a 1-in-1,000 chance; at age 35, a 1-in-400 chance; at age 40, a 1-in-100 chance; and at 45, a 1-in-30- chance.
  • Miscarriage: Only 9 percent of recognized pregnancies for women aged 20 to 24 end in miscarriage; 15 percent of women aged 25-30 miscarry; 40 percent of women over 40 do and more than 50 percent miscarry at 42 years of age.

These limitations do not apply to men (an 80 year old man can still reproduce).  Men have virtually no opportunity cost to waiting to find a mate.  If they want to spend their twenties working their way up their field, putting money in the bank, playing video games, and hanging out with friends, they can always wake up one morning and decide they are ready to settle down, get married, and have kids.  As such, the biological cost of extended adolescence is significantly and substantially higher for women than it is for men.  Females suffer from a Mother Nature-induced “use it or lose it” policy.

So, should men be expected to ride to the rescue of women who are the end of the their fertility period? Should men make things “work out” for women who refused to marry when they were in their 20s, when they were fertile and attractive?

Nope:

This fear was encapsulated by Kay Hymowitz in a book called Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.

[…]As one reviewer somewhat critically noted of the book, “Hymowitz wants the child-men [those suffering from extended adolescence] to man up so that women don’t have to become spinsters or “choice mothers” at the expense of their careers. Might women alter their own behavior? “[T]he economic and cultural changes are too embedded, and, for women especially, too beneficial to reverse.” So the answer is no. Although it is women who are becoming disenchanted with the way things are, and although it is women who have created this situation, it is [in her opinion] men who ought to change.  And they are to change precisely when women are ready.”

The reviewer is correct because men are acting rationally within the confines the new paradigm.  In today’s world, men are presented no social, financial, emotional, or reproductive advantage by adjusting their own life to the ticking of a potential mate’s biological clock.  It is for the woman, to borrow a phrase, “too damn bad”.  It may not be fair, but in a finite world, there is an opportunity cost to every decision we make.  That has always been one of the central themes of this blog.  Incentive systems drive nearly everything in civilization from the type of people we attract into certain industries to the kind of behavior we reward.  The incentive system for men has changed and society now reflects this reality.

I actually blame the pastors and parents for allowing women to delay marriage, and then blaming men for not marrying women who pass their fertility date. Pastors and parents don’t challenge young women’s feelings with the truth about what she ought to be doing in order to grow up early and attract a man during the time when she is younger and fertile. They want to let women decide what to do at every point in their lives, based on their feelings “in the moment”. The refusal to make judgments leads to women having delusions like “I can have children when I’m 35” and “I can change a bad man into a good man after I marry him” and “a degree in English is as worthwhile as a degree in computer science”.

Feminism has a lot to do with it. Women used to be taught by pastors and parents that they should choose chaste men with good jobs, work histories and savings. But feminism says that men don’t have any special provider role, and now the main things that women look for in a man is that he is attractive, fun, and lets her do whatever she feels like doing – no matter how crazy and irrational it is.

One woman recently told me that a female friend of ours, who is dating a penniless 28-year-old student, who has never worked a day in his life need not worry about him. She said “if they marry, he’ll drop out of school and start to work and provide for her”. She is 33, and she thinks that marrying a full-time student is a good idea, because he enthusiastically supports her crazy plans to pursue fun, thrills and travel into her mid-30s. She tells him that God is telling her (through her feelings) to pursue fun and thrills through travel – a position she held when she still an atheist in college, mind you. And she intends to keep up the traveling for as long as she can, even if she isn’t out of debt until she turns 40. And he, in response, is both unwilling to, and incapable of, questioning her plan from a practical point of view. She likes that he lets her fly the plane, even it it means she’ll crash it and kill them both. There is something mentally wrong with a man who stays in school until he is 30, and thinks that he is fine to be in a relationship with a woman. Only men who show aptitude for the provider role should be taken seriously by women.

Pastors and parents don’t dare hurt the self-esteem of sensitive little girls by telling them to study hard things, get full-time jobs, move out of the house and focus on marrying a man who can provide during their 20s. And what happens when the “fun-thrills-travel until you’re 35” plan explodes and no one wants to marry her? Well, then, all pastors and parents who applauded when she delayed marriage blame men for not wanting to marry her. But men don’t marry 35-year-old women. At age 35, the value proposition of marriage to men has been greatly diminished by age and infertility. (Or worse: by promiscuity, cohabitation, divorce, and children from other men) There is a window of opportunity for a woman to invest in a man with her youth, beauty, support and encouragement. Once that window is closed, a man who has a good education, a good resume and good amount of savings has no obligation to marry. All the battles have already been fought as well as they are going to be, and without a woman there to help him. He doesn’t have any emotional connection to a woman that would cause him to either get married or stay married, because of the help he received when it really mattered. Believe me when I tell you that single women today are very intentional about passing up good men so that they can be “free” to travel and have fun. They know exactly what they are doing, but hope to somehow escape the responsibility for their choices later.

New study: women seeking to have a child should start before age 32

Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com
Brain vs Heart, from: theawkwardyeti.com

Dina sent me this sobering piece of research from the New Scientist which is perfect for all the young feminists who have been taught in college that marriage should be put off, and women can easily get pregnant after age 40.

Excerpt:

It’s a question many people will ask themselves at some point in their lives: when should I start a family? If you know how many children you’d like, and whether or not you would consider, or could afford, IVF, a computer model can suggest when to start trying for your first child.

Happy with just one? The model recommends you get started by age 32 to have a 90 per cent chance of realising your dream without IVF. A brood of three would mean starting by age 23 to have the same chance of success. Wait until 35 and the odds are 50:50 (see “When to get started”).

The suggestions are based on averages pulled from a swathe of data so don’t give a personal prediction. And of course, things aren’t this simple in real life – if only family size and feelings about IVF were the only factors to consider when planning a family. But the idea behind the model is to help people make a decision by condensing all the information out there into an accessible form.

“We have tried to fill a missing link in the decision-making process,” says Dik Habbema at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the creators of the model. “My son is 35 and many of his friends have a problem deciding when to have children because there are so many things they want to do.”

It’s a scenario that will be familiar to many; the age at which people have their first child has been creeping up over the last 40 or so years. For example, the average age at which a woman has her first child is 28 in the UK and has reached 30 in Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In the US, the birth rate for women in their 20s has hit a record low, while the figures for those over 35 have increased over the last few decades.

The decision is more pressing for women thanks to their limited supply of eggs, which steadily drop in quantity and quality with age. Female fertility is thought to start declining at 30, with a more significant fall after the age of 35.

[…]The new model incorporates data from studies that assess how fertility naturally declines with age. The team took information on natural fertility from population data collected over 300 years up to the 1970s, which includes data on 58,000 women.

I have often tried to talk to young women about the need to get their lives in gear. I advise them to work summers during high school, obtain a STEM degree in university, minimize borrowing money by going to community college for the generic prerequisites, don’t have premarital sex, get a job related to their STEM field straight out of college, pay off their debts, move out of their parents’ house, start investing from the first paycheck, marry between age 25-30, and then start having children after the first two “stabilizing” years of marriage. This is sound advice, rooted in my careful reconnaissance of the things that human beings care about and need in their old age. This advice is not bullying, it comes from reading many, many relevant papers. It comes from putting the knowledge gained from reading the papers into practice, and seeing results where appropriate.

I am giving you the numbers. Straight out of a peer-reviewed study. Don’t follow your heart. Don’t listen to your friends. Follow the science. Make your decisions within the boundaries of reality. God will not save you from foolish decisions.

Related posts

Women verbally abuses man for refusing to have sex with her on the first date

Click for larger image of chat with crazy woman
Click for larger image of chat between a sensible man and a crazy woman

Dina sent me this horrifying article from the UK Daily Mail.

It says:

A man received a barrage of abuse over texts after refusing to sleep with a woman during a date.

The screenshots of the messages, which were posted to image sharing site Imgur last night, show the man’s female date initiate conversation before launching into an angry rant.

The unnamed woman even goes so far as to suggest that her date had no right to turn down the opportunity to sleep with her, asking him whether he was gay and telling him no only means no when a woman says it.

‘Can I ask you something?’ the woman says.

Once her unnamed date from the the night before agrees she continues. ‘Why didn’t we have sex last night?’

The rational man writes, ‘I’m not really sure. Just didn’t feel like it. That bad?’

It seems as though, according to the woman, it certainly is bad, as she goes on to send some foul-mouthed messages.

‘It kind of ****** me off because I took a good 2 [sic] hours out of my time to get all ready, shave my legs, and what not… I’m actually super ******* ****** I wasted 2 hours of my time getting ready for nothing.’

The confused woman goes on to add, ‘I literally kept giving you hints and was trying all night.’

However, the man stands his ground and replies: ‘I just didn’t want to. Sorry bout it lol. What’s the big deal, it’s just sex [sic].’

But the woman just can’t accept no for an answer and loses her cool completely at his response, as she writes: ‘The big deal is I wasted 2 [sic] hours…Okay **** that a whole night trying to have sex with you and you just ‘didn’t want to.’

‘Like what’s the issue? Are you actually gay and lying? Am I that ******* hideous? Not that ******* hard to whip your **** out???’

And she even argues with the man’s protestations of ‘no means no’ as she claims that the anti-rape catchphrase only has significance when she uses it. 

However, the man still manages to keep his composure and cooly answers the message, calling the woman ‘hypocritical’ and repeatedly telling her that he ‘didn’t need reasons’ to not want to have sex with her.

He also sarcastically remarked: ‘Rape is only rape for women, got it.’

Taking the comment seriously and without any explanation, the woman replies: ‘Basically.’

Read that part in bold carefully. She thinks that if she asks for sex, then the man has no right to tell her no. Compare that with the hysteria we are seeing from feminists over the “rape culture” on university campuses, where an unwanted kiss can now be prosecuted as sexual assault, and speech that offends a woman is “sexual harrassment”. Where is the chastity and the modesty that we should expect from women? Is anyone brave enough to tell this woman that her approach to relationships is destructive and harmful?

The real underlying problem is feminism

I am seeing a lot of people trying to blame men for the way that the culture has gone ever since feminists pushed the sexual revolution on us. I think we should be blaming feminism. Feminism is the idea that there are no differences whatsoever between men and women. As such, the feminist prescription for the culture is that women start to work like men, drink like men, and have sex without feel bad afterwards like men. That’s what they’ve been teaching women to do in the schools for some time, and guess what… young women believe this and they are acting on it. The normalization of fatherlessness through the generous single mother welfare programs pushed by Democrats just makes the problem worse.

Young women these days want to get attention from men, but they don’t want to be saddled with the responsibilities, expectations or obligations of a relationship with him. So, they are very proud about not listening to a man, not caring for him, not investing in him, not auditioning for the role of stay at home wife and mother in any way. They try to get attention from men who have no interest or aptitude for marriage by showing skin and jumping into bed on the first date. They have been taught that their selfishness, i.e. – career, travel, fun, etc., is more important than pursuing marriage. Marriage-minded men are avoided because they are “sexist” for expecting her to develop the skills necessary to actually perform as a wife and mother. The feminist approach of promiscuity-not-marriage basically ruins the woman’s ability to commit to a man for life in the way a non-promiscuous woman could.

Women have a narrow window from 18-35 where they can invest their youth and beauty into the life of marriage-minded man, in order to build relationship capital with him that will keep him committed to her as she ages and loses her looks. Obviously, the more she focuses on learning useful skills, both professional and domestic, the more she will be able to attract a good man – a man with a long-term plan who is prepared to commit to a woman through all the stages of her life. Her late teens and 20s is the time to demonstrate ability to be a wife and mother. But a feminist woman’s purpose for a man has nothing to do with marriage. She doesn’t look for men who want to get married, she avoids them. She just wants to get attention and to show off the handsome men she can attract to her friends.

Older women seem to be telling younger women to not marry too soon. Older women tell the younger women to have fun with their sexuality, to focus on fun and thrills and travel and having experiences. Don’t worry about marriage, have fun with hot guys. But the truth is that women cannot waste a moment of time finding a good man early and building her value with him by investing in him. From the time a man starts to work, he can benefit from a woman’s support. As this Washington Post article notes, a wife can have an enormously positive impact on her husband’s income, career and health, during these early years. When a woman decides not to make it a priority to find a man early and apply her youth, beauty and femininity to encourage and motivate him, she is losing out on being married to a strong man who will be there for her as she ages. Men do fall in love with women who invest in them – if they are good men. It’s her job to find a good man, and to make good decisions with her life in order to attract him.

Marriage to a man is not something that a woman can “put off” with impunity. The choice to party and travel and have fun in her youth comes at a price. What sort of person would put off investing into a retirement fund early so she can waste the money of thrill-seeking and adventures? Everyone knows that sooner you find something worth investing in and start investing in it, the more of a return you will get over the long term. You can’t just hope and pray for a retirement fund to materialize at age 35, after you spent all the years before having fun and traveling around. You have to build it up over a long period of time. Similarly, you can’t just find a perfect husband at age 35 when you are ready to stop all your selfish fun-seeking and travel. You have to build that man into a competent husband, by helping him with his health, career, saving, and so on. Men and women benefit from each other, and they do better as a unit. The sooner they start to function as a unit, the more they can help each other, the more wealth they can build, the more of an influence they can have.

When you present the need to rollback feminism to man-blaming pastors and parents, typically, they will tell you that we have to keep the feminism intact, and men simply have to marry women who are acting like the women in our news story (until they reach age 35). I have had Christian men tell me that although I was chaste and industrious in my youth, I must now lower my criteria and continue to pursue marriage to women who, like the woman in the story, have not prepared themselves in any way to be content with the roles of wife and mother. I’m sorry, pious parents and pastors, but I am not on board with your “make it work out for her so she’ll be happy” plan. Women like the ones in the news story are not prepared for a life-long commitment. Pursuing fun for the first 35 years of one’s life does not prepare a woman for marriage. Feminism is not compatible with self-sacrificial love for a husband. The time to fix the new generation of young women is now, though, so you all should get started with them. Get started rolling back their feminism instead of taking it as a given. Don’t talk to me about my obligation to marry, you need to focus on producing marriage-minded women who reject feminism. Then we’ll talk.

Who suffers the most from the trend of extended adolescence?

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

My friend Tracy sent me this interesting post. As I read it, I thought I was going to disagree with him about who is to blame for the mess he describes, but as we’ll see in a bit, I don’t.

Here’s his intro, which pretty much everyone agrees on:

The Five Traditional Milestones of Adulthood

Something magically happens between adolescence and young adulthood.  There are five traditional milestones of that mark entrance into adulthood that sociologists, psychologists, and the general population have used as a proxy to determine when someone has reached that tipping point of maturity.  It is at this time adolescence is shed and emotional maturity comes to full fruition.

These are:

  • Leaving Home
  • Becoming Financially Independent
  • Completing School
  • Marrying
  • Starting a Family

I hate not being married and not having any children, but I can’t marry a feminist and that’s all the church seems to be producing these days. The other ones I had finished by age 23 (debt-free).

He has some examples to illustrate who is and isn’t mature:

Examples of Adults:

  • A 25-year old teacher with a college degree, who works full time, is married, has a child, owns her own home, and pays for her own living expenses
  • A 65-year old janitor with a high school diploma, who works full time, is married or widowed, has children, owns his own home, and pays for his own living expenses

Examples of Extended Adolescence: 

  • A 30-year old who has part of their rent and bills covered by parents, endlessly enrolls in colleges or universities seeking additional degrees or credentials, single, without children.
  • A 45-year old high-school dropout living on social welfare programs who spends his days getting drunk in bars

OK, then he talks about who suffers the most from this, and it’s women:

What is particularly interesting is the interaction between biology and the paradigm shift that has occurred with so much of the younger generation suffering from extended adolescence. Women have a specific, limited window of time in which they can genetically reproduce and to which they are attractive to potential mates.  This so-called “biological clock”, written into the code at the very deepest core of our DNA, puts a limit on childbearing for females.

  • Fertility: Female fertility peaks at 20 to 30 years old.  After 30 years old, fertility drops by 20%.  After 35, it drops 50%.  After 40, it drops 95%.  As for in vitro fertilization, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine states that women in their early 40’s have, on average, only a 3% to 5% chance of having a baby through this method.
  • Down Syndrome: At 25, a woman has about 1 chance in 1,250 of having a baby with Down Syndrome; at age 30, a 1-in-1,000 chance; at age 35, a 1-in-400 chance; at age 40, a 1-in-100 chance; and at 45, a 1-in-30- chance.
  • Miscarriage: Only 9 percent of recognized pregnancies for women aged 20 to 24 end in miscarriage; 15 percent of women aged 25-30 miscarry; 40 percent of women over 40 do and more than 50 percent miscarry at 42 years of age.

These limitations do not apply to men (an 80 year old man can still reproduce).  Men have virtually no opportunity cost to waiting to find a mate.  If they want to spend their twenties working their way up their field, putting money in the bank, playing video games, and hanging out with friends, they can always wake up one morning and decide they are ready to settle down, get married, and have kids.  As such, the biological cost of extended adolescence is significantly and substantially higher for women than it is for men.  Females suffer from a Mother Nature-induced “use it or lose it” policy.

I don’t think that a Down syndrome child is insurmountable, but it’s more challenging.

So, should men be expected to ride to the rescue at the last minute, to make things “work out” for women who refused to marry when they were in their 20s, when they were fertile and attractive?

Nope:

This fear was encapsulated by Kay Hymowitz in a book called Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men Into Boys.

[…]As one reviewer somewhat critically noted of the book, “Hymowitz wants the child-men [those suffering from extended adolescence] to man up so that women don’t have to become spinsters or “choice mothers” at the expense of their careers. Might women alter their own behavior? “[T]he economic and cultural changes are too embedded, and, for women especially, too beneficial to reverse.” So the answer is no. Although it is women who are becoming disenchanted with the way things are, and although it is women who have created this situation, it is [in her opinion] men who ought to change.  And they are to change precisely when women are ready.”

The reviewer is correct because men are acting rationally within the confines the new paradigm.  In today’s world, men are presented no social, financial, emotional, or reproductive advantage by adjusting their own life to the ticking of a potential mate’s biological clock.  It is for the woman, to borrow a phrase, “too damn bad”.  It may not be fair, but in a finite world, there is an opportunity cost to every decision we make.  That has always been one of the central themes of this blog.  Incentive systems drive nearly everything in civilization from the type of people we attract into certain industries to the kind of behavior we reward.  The incentive system for men has changed and society now reflects this reality.

I actually blame the pastors and parents for this. Pastors and parents don’t challenge women’s feelings with the truth about what she ought to be doing in order to grow up and be well-positioned in the future. They want to let women decide what to do at every point in their lives, based on their feelings in the moment. The refusal to make judgments leads to women having delusions like “I can have children when I’m 35” and “I can change a bad man into a good man after I marry him” and “a degree in English is as worthwhile as a degree in computer science”.

Feminism has a lot to do with it. Women used to be taught by pastors and parents that they should choose chaste men with good jobs, work histories and savings. But feminism says that men don’t have any special provider role, and now the main things that women look for in a man is that he is attractive, fun, and lets her do whatever she feels like doing – no matter how crazy and irrational it is.

One woman recently told me that a friend of ours who is dating a penniless 28-year-old student who has never worked a day in his life need not worry, because “if they marry, he’ll drop out of school and start to work and provide for her”. She is 33, and she thinks that marrying a full-time student is a good idea, because he enthusiastically supports her crazy plans to pursue fun, thrills and travel into her mid-30s. She tells him that God is telling her (through her feelings) to pursue fun and thrills through travel – a position she held when she still an atheist in college, mind you. And he, in response, is both unwilling to, and incapable of, questioning her plan from a practical point of view. She likes that he lets her fly the plane, even it it means she’ll crash it and kill them both.

Pastors and parents don’t dare hurt the self-esteem of sensitive little girls by telling them to study hard things, get full-time jobs, move out of the house and focus on marrying a man who can provide during their 20s. And what happens when the “fun-thrills-travel until you’re 35” plan explodes and no one wants to marry her except losers? Well, then, all pastors and parents blame men for not wanting to marry her. But men don’t marry 35-year-old women when the value proposition of marriage has been greatly diminished by age and infertility. (Or worse: by promiscuity, cohabitation, divorce, and children from other men)

Women who think that they can play the fool through their 20s and early 30s, calling their feelings the voice of God, and being affirmed by parents and pastors in their crazy views, are in for a surprise. Men have needs and feelings too. Men respond to incentives. Marriage-minded women need to actively repudiate feminism, or they must live with the consequences of their failure to engage.

Andy Bannister and Michael Ruse discuss how atheists find meaning in life

Two horses fight it out, may the best horse win!
Two horses fight it out, and may the best horse win!

I’m summarizing the most recent episode of the Unbelievable show.

Details:

Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse joins Justin as we spend a second week looking at Andy Bannister’s new book ‘The atheist who didn’t exist’.

Its amusingly titled chapters include ‘The Peculiar Case of the Postmodern Penguin (or: Why Life without God is Meaningless). Michael and Andy debate whether it’s a problem that atheists can’t have meaning with a ‘capital M’.

Here is a summary of the discussion between Ruse and Bannister, and my comments below the summary.

The MP3 file is here.

Summary:

  • Ruse: ultimate questions are serious questions, and some religions are attempting to provide serious answers to those questions
  • Ruse: there is a psychological element to belief in God but it’s not a complete explanation, but it can apply to non-belief as well
  • Bannister: there are psychological reasons why people would prefer unbelief (quotes Thomas Nagel and Aldous Huxley)
  • Bannister: (to Ruse) what do you think would follow next if you got new information that caused you to believe in God?
  • Ruse: I’d feel scared, I’d think of all the reasons that God would dislike me, rather than any reasons why God would save me
  • Bannister: according to the Bible, God is not so much interested in mere belief, but in active trust in him
  • Ruse: without being smug, I just completed 50 years as a college professor of philosophy, and I have a sense of worth from that
  • Ruse: if God turns up, and says that 50 years of being a professor is not good enough, well, I don’t know God, I’m sorry, I did my best
  • Brierley: Andy, explain to us this story of how a penguin explained to you how he invented a subjective meaning in life for himself?
  • Brierley: (reads the story)
  • Bannister: when it comes to reading a book, the real meaning is the meaning the author intended the book to have
  • Bannister: readers can inject their own meaning into the book that has nothing to do with it, but the author gives the real meaning
  • Bannister: meaning in life is like reading a book – you can make up your own meaning, but the author’s meaning is the real meaning
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) on atheism, is there any objective meaning?
  • Ruse: “obviously, someone like myself cannot have meaning with a capital M in that sense”
  • Ruse: the real question is and atheist can find a sense of self-worth, “I find that I’m happier within myself, I can find meaning”
  • Bannister: what would you say to someone who drinks away the family inheritance and gets the same sense of happiness you have?
  • Bannister: what would you say to all the people who are unable to get “a sense of self-worth” from their career, because of where they are born, sickness, etc.
  • Ruse: I have nothing to offer them, some people are born into such awful situations that they are bound to be bad people
  • Ruse: these unfair accidents of birth, etc.,  fits with atheism better
  • Ruse: what we should do is change society so that more people can build a sense of self-worth through achievements
  • Ruse: that way, they can say to God “I used my talents” so they can create feelings of self-worth and happiness (apart from God)
  • Bannister: meaning in life cannot be answered without answering questions related to identity, value, which are rooted in the overall worldview
  • Bannister: on the Christian worldview, you have an infinite worth, your value isn’t determined by circumstances, earnings, friends, etc.
  • Bannister: your value comes from what Jesus was willing to pay to save you, namely, giving his own life for you
  • Bannister: when I travel to meet other Christians in other parts of the world, they have a happiness that should not be there if they are getting happiness from wealth, fame, achievements, etc.
  • Bannister: but when you come to the West, many people who have wealth, fame, achievement, etc. are unhappy
  • Ruse: well maybe who look after a flock of sheep every day may get a sense of self-worth from that, or from other jobs
  • Ruse: I do take Christianity very seriously, it is a grown-up proposal to answer grown-up questions – it works if it is true
  • Ruse: we don’t have to follow Nietzche’s statement that if there is no God, there is no meaning in life – we can find a middle way, we can achieve meaning in life by using our talents to achieve things
  • Bannister: I disagree with Michael, I don’t think that the meaning you invent for yourself is authentic meaning
  • Bannister: distracting yourself with amusing things and happiness is not an answer to the problem
  • Brierley: (to Ruse) are you saying that you have searched for ultimate meaning, and you are settling for subjective meaning?
  • Ruse: my subjective meaning is not second class to objective meaning, “I feel a real deep sense of achievement, of meaning, of self-worth, of having used my talents properly, and I don’t feel in any sense a sense of regret” (what matters to him is how he feels)
  • Bannister: notice how Michael keeps bringing in value judgments. e.g. – “use my talents well”, that implies that there is a right way and a wrong to use your talents, which assumes an objective scale of right and wrong, which makes no sense in atheism
  • Bannister: an atheist can sit in a sun room and enjoy the feelings of happiness generated by the light and heat of the Sun, without asking whether there is a Sun out there
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, my concern is not whether something makes me happy or makes me feel fulfilled
  • Bannister: ultimately, at the end of the day, I think there is only one real reason to wrestle with these questions of meaning, and that is to find truth
  • Ruse: sometimes we reach a point where we cannot get to true answers to some questions, sometimes we look for truth, but then give up and confess “I cannot find it” and then move on from there

Is it possible to dispense with God’s advice on your decision-making and achieve something that affects a lot of people, or makes people like you, or makes you famous, etc., and then have that please God? “Look, God, I did something I liked that affected a lot of people, and made them feel happy as they were on their way to Hell because they rejected you”. Will rap musicians answer God by pointing to 50 years of leading people away from chastity with godless music? A lot of people went to see the “NWA” movie that celebrated musicians who have an anti-Christian view of women and violence. Can NWA present their “artistic work” to God and claim that God should be pleased with their successful efforts to get rich and famous? Having feelings of achievement doesn’t mean anything to God.

So what is the standard? How you imitate Jesus – self-control, self-denial and self-sacrifice to honor God – that is the standard. If I had to choose between giving up two hours of my life to summarize this discussion for my readers, and all the fame and fortune that people who make godless TV shows, movies and music have, I would choose to make this debate summary. My goal in life is not to have fun, thrills, travel and feel happy in this world. I have a Boss. Doing without fun, thrills, travel and happy feelings in order to put points on the board for my Boss is objectively meaningful. It’s may not seem like much compared to what James Bond does in million-dollar movies, but at least I am wearing the right uniform, and playing for the right team.

I was telling Dina recently, isn’t it remarkable how rarely in our culture that people actually talk about the big questions? If you look out at the culture, everything seems to be about feeling good, having fun, being liked by others. Not much about ultimate questions, and certainly not a truth-based assessment of the alternatives. .