The meaning of life for an Athiest
If you ask a thiest what the meaning of life is you'll usually get some starry-eyed comment on 'living to please God" or equally nebulous statement.
Asking many athiests will usually yeild a "to live" comment, but it's something I don't quite agree with. If you step back and look at at the human race and earth, if there is no God or divine purpose you can't really argue that life means anything at all. In the grand scheme of things a dense collection of living creatures doesn't affect the universe in the slightest.
If we all lived in perfect harmony would be as meaningless than if we all fought constant wars in the grand scheme of things. So on one side, I respect a Thiest's desire to be part of something greater. I understand that, but being part of a massive fraud is quite an exercise in futility which is what religion is.
I was brought up in a very strict religious household, but would enjoy religious debate with one of the people I went to school with. He had a really good grasp on religion and I will never forget how he explained it.
In the wild, an animal doesn't think about death unless faced with it. When starving, injured or threatened, the brain switches to a "fight or flee" mode that cannot be ignored. The animal either avoids death or dies, but it seems all creatures have this. Humans are no different and we have the same instincts. When in danger we are all familiar with the rush that comes over us.
But in one major facet, we are much different from animals. We are self aware. We know we are going to die, we just don't know when. So our brain needs to deal with that with the eventual fact that we are going to die. If we don't have any coping mechanism we would be in a constant state of panic and likely burn ourselves out as death is inevitable. So enter in religion and take your pick. I can't think of any religion that doesn't discuss life after death in some form. You are reincarnated. You are taken up to heaven. You are made immortal. You are freed from your body. You decide what sounds the best for eternity and then follow the guildbook set out by the religion's leaders in usually a weird, restrictive, often sexually repressive routine.
On the flip side, if you don't have that what gives meaning to your life? You may not fear death, but it doesn't give your life meaning. It's sad, but true.
Many years later, when I had moved out from my parents control and found my own way. I researched my own and many other religions and found greed and corruption in all. Many started out with good intentions, but invariably fell into the same pattern all to quickly.
With the introduction of social networking sites I was excited to get reacquainted with my old school friend to tell him of my change in mindset. I couldn't find him which was odd because he was very tech savvy. With enough time and searching I eventually discovered that he took his own life not long after he graduated from high school.
I do not know why, but when talking about the meaning of life he would just shrug and say it didn't really matter. I hope he didn't just give up.
I thought about religious zealots and alot of consideration and then I realized why it's so hard to let go of God. If you successfully debate a theist and dismantle every single one of his arguments, you have just unlocked his primal instinct. Religion has numbed their mind to the concept of real death and you've just opened it up. They have a choice, accept death or cling to the lie. As experience has shown, very few can accept death and many will either resort to personal attack, spouting dogma or actually fleeing (in a dignified god fearing way, no doubt)
But really, why should we accept death? Personally we don't have much choice in the matter, but as a race I know we could.
We are biological entities. Much to the contrary to what may religions tell us, we are not beautiful images of God flawed only because some woman took an apple from a snake. No, we are pretty messed up. Some are born blind, mute, with mental problems, missing limbs and so forth. As we grow up we have heart problems, cancer, diseases and at the end of it, we die and usually not in a pretty graceful manner.
For me THIS is my meaning of life. We must become our own Gods. While there are many people working on the issues that plague us, it's not urgent. Sure if we cure cancer, people will live better lives, maybe live a bit longer and healthier, but eventually the end is the same. But we'll just go to heaven where there is no more cancer so it's all good.
I don't think any of us will be alive to see this happen, but working to open people's eyes to the fact that they are dying will be my contribution. While I don't know what it would be like, but I would like to think that if people don't have the safety net of an afterlife with religous and political leaders pulling the strings, maybe they wouldn't be so keen to throw away their lives in war once they realize that one life is all they have.