The meaning of life for an Athiest

Lungboy
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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.


Hambydammit
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 For New Atheists: Is This

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Lungboy
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I think purpose gives you a

I think purpose gives you a way to pass the time until you die and if that's enough for someone, then great.  But for someone interested in their life having meaning, it won't suffice.

I read the whole article and couldn't come up with the answer to the question: "What is the difference of dying a happy Atheist versus dying a happy Theist?"

The end result is, both are dead are have enjoyed their lives.  But life with only purpose is nihilism because the net result of dying old or young is the same.

If you take away religion without giving life meaning, it will result in anarchy.  Religion offered a check and balance against people that couldn't be punished even if it was just a placebo, but it kept violent outbreaks from continuing to escalate to mutual destruction.

There are social classes in India where the bottom class is treated worse than animals.  They accept this abuse and die starving and sick because they hope that they will be reincarnated as a higher class person in their next life.  In a world of atheists, why would people starve to death rather than steal from the wealthy?  Imagine you knew you were going to die unless you got food, but had none.  There is no God watching that would condemn you to hellfire.  Would you die, knowing that this was your only shot at life out of respect for the community?  This is just one example.  People would fight prison much harder as that would almost be a death sentence as well, likely killing to avoid it.

The end result is, we are animals and some act more primal than others.  Some people still steal, murder and cheat when they think they are going to burn forever in hell, I don't see how that would change for the better hellfire was taken away.

If life doesn't have meaning, we need religion to help preserve the social order and while we keep dying, life really has no meaning.


Hambydammit
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 Quote:If you take away

 

Quote:
If you take away religion without giving life meaning, it will result in anarchy.

You've missed the whole point of my article.  Religion doesn't give life meaning.  Life has the same meaning for theists and non-theists.  Theists just believe their life only has meaning because they're theists.

I'll be honest with you, Lungboy.  I have very little patience for nihilists or anarchists because I know far too much about human psychology to give even passing lip service to two things which cannot possibly exist in humans.

Let me put it another way.  Anarchy -- true anarchy -- is so fundamentally unhuman that for all intents and purposes, it's completely impossible on anything more than a limited and short lived scale.  Order will always come out of humans in groups.  Always.

There is no such thing as nihilism.  It's a philosophical position that's fun if you're a first year philosophy student, but once one realizes that it reduces to absurdity, it needs to get thrown on the trash-heap along with dualism, postmodernism, and pretty much every  ism from before the discovery of natural selection.

 

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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EXC
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The meaning of life is just

The meaning of life is just to get high as much as possible. To go from one fix to the next. This is true for everyone.

The theist just uses an imaginary 'friend' to help them get their kicks.

 

“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” Seneca


ClockCat
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:3

I don't understand why people have to find a meaning in everything.

 

Why does it require one?


OrdinaryClay
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Lungboy wrote:I think

Lungboy wrote:

I think purpose gives you a way to pass the time until you die and if that's enough for someone, then great.  But for someone interested in their life having meaning, it won't suffice.

The problem with equating purpose with something to pass the time with is that it is fleeting. Since by choice most people what to pass the time with things that give them pleasure. This often translates into hedonism.  People quickly find out that this is hollow and can never be sated. I'm a Christian. Whether you believe it or not my life has meaning that transcends my feelings or desires of the moment. This is what Christ meant when he spoke in John 6:35.
 


nigelTheBold
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OrdinaryClay wrote:The

OrdinaryClay wrote:

The problem with equating purpose with something to pass the time with is that it is fleeting. Since by choice most people what to pass the time with things that give them pleasure. This often translates into hedonism.  People quickly find out that this is hollow and can never be sated. I'm a Christian. Whether you believe it or not my life has meaning that transcends my feelings or desires of the moment. This is what Christ meant when he spoke in John 6:35.

I believe most lives have meaning beyond their feelings or desires of the moment. It's just not an objective meaning.

Take a look at art. What's the purpose? For a painting, it's just colored gunk on a canvas. As an object, it has no inherent meaning. Yet it is able to incite reactions in people. Different people will have different reactions, and so it still has no objective meaning; yet the subjective meaning is undeniable.

I feel our lives are similar. We have no objective meaning. But, other animals (including other humans) have a subjective reaction to us. As individuals, we get to help shape what those reactions will be: feelings of joy or anger, uncertainty or trust. We are living, naturalistic art pieces, like the painted desert or Denali or any other chunk of nature that makes us take notice of the beauty and just plain awesomeness of the universe. (And consider: without us here to appreciate the awesomeness of the universe, would the universe be awesome?)

Personally, I feel our purpose would be the same whether there's a god or not. If there is not a god, our purpose is to enjoy ourselves. Not in a hedonistic way (and atheism has no monopoly on hedonism; I've met many Christian hedonists, too), but in a balanced way. For me, the most satisfying emotions and experiences are always shared with my wife, and with my daughter. These long term, deeply meaningful relationships provide the greatest joy I can imagine. And to me, that is the meaning of life: sharing my joy with my wife and with my daughter. Not only does it incite joy in them as well, but it increases my enjoyment of my emotions.

If there is a god, I can't imagine him wanting anything else for us. If we are here because of a divine plan, that divine plan could only involve our enjoyment of life and love with each other. Otherwise, god is not good in the least, and is no god I'd want in charge of the universe. (This especially includes a god that is so petty as to require worship. I don't like that in humans; why should I like that any better in a god?)

Anyway, that's my two bits. I don't think Christians have anything over on atheists as far as purpose or meaning goes. It's all subjective, anyway.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


jcgadfly
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OrdinaryClay wrote:Lungboy

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Lungboy wrote:

I think purpose gives you a way to pass the time until you die and if that's enough for someone, then great.  But for someone interested in their life having meaning, it won't suffice.

The problem with equating purpose with something to pass the time with is that it is fleeting. Since by choice most people what to pass the time with things that give them pleasure. This often translates into hedonism.  People quickly find out that this is hollow and can never be sated. I'm a Christian. Whether you believe it or not my life has meaning that transcends my feelings or desires of the moment. This is what Christ meant when he spoke in John 6:35.
 

Any meaning to life should be brought by the one living it. OC, why do you need an outside force to tell you what your life is to mean to you?

John 6:35? Are you sure? The only meaning you have to your live is to satisfy your own spiritual needs?

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


The Doomed Soul
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jcgadfly wrote:OrdinaryClay

jcgadfly wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Lungboy wrote:

I think purpose gives you a way to pass the time until you die and if that's enough for someone, then great.  But for someone interested in their life having meaning, it won't suffice.

The problem with equating purpose with something to pass the time with is that it is fleeting. Since by choice most people what to pass the time with things that give them pleasure. This often translates into hedonism.  People quickly find out that this is hollow and can never be sated. I'm a Christian. Whether you believe it or not my life has meaning that transcends my feelings or desires of the moment. This is what Christ meant when he spoke in John 6:35.
 

Any meaning to life should be brought by the one living it. OC, why do you need an outside force to tell you what your life is to mean to you?

John 6:35? Are you sure? The only meaning you have to your live is to satisfy your own spiritual needs?

 

Oh such sweet dramatic irony...

He set himself up, so perfectly, no?

What Would Kharn Do?