A model for answering the question how to live
The process involves the following steps:
- Answer: How do you know what you know?
- Answer: What exists and, therefore, what does not exist?
- Use the information from #1 and #2 to answer how you should act.
- I trust what I see.
- I see a flower.
- Because I see a flower and by observation I can pick it up, I pick it up.
This process happens all the time.
How we decide how we know what we know determines what we believe exists. And our knowledge about what exists informs what we can do.
The simple process only gets complicated when we start to entertain more questions extending each question.
How do you know what you know?
- Does what you know come from a supernatual being?
- Is what you know subjective or objective?
- Does God exists?
- Is there a soul?
How should you act?
- How do we know what is right or wrong?
- Is there morality in the first place?
From these questions arise complex answers from where religion, worldviews, and belief systems emerge. These worldviews differ because they have different answers to the questions esp. #1 and #2.
But now matter how complex these worldviews are, they all boil down to the same process you did when you picked up a flower.
- They defined how they know what they know.
- The defined what exists.
- They determined how to act based on their knowlege.
That is how they were able to answer that elusive question, How to live? This is how you will answer that question for yourself.
Both a Christian and an atheist may believe that we should act nonviolently. In this case, they have the same answer to #3 (how to act). But they have mutually exclusive reasons for doing so. The Christian is motivated by a belief in the Bible (#2). On the other hand, the atheist does not believe in the Bible, only science (#1) and, therefore, only believe in the existence of human beings that deserve to be treated justly.
You are lost in a strange place and you don’t know what to do.
You look for people to ask about where you are and what is out there.
What you will know about the place will largely depend on the people you ask.