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If there isn't a God, why do I feel as though life has meaning?

Please Help Me – random speculations at 4:00 AM in the morning!

I suppose if there is not a creator then there is no true meaning to life. Life just happened to be a quirky burp of happenstance. Although for some reason it is very hard for me to grasp this concept. It makes no sense to me. I guess that is why we have this great public service known as 'Ask The Atheists’.

Posted: November 8th 2009

Mike the Infidel www

“I suppose if there is not a creator then there is no true meaning to life.”

This is only a problem if you’re discussing how the universe should be rather than how it is. If it is actually the case that there is not a creator, then yes, there is no divinely given purpose to life. Whether or not this idea is appealing is irrelevant to whether or not it’s true, which is (to me) the more important question. I’m more concerned with what most accurately reflects reality as opposed to what most makes me happy.

Imagine you’re a member of a religion that says that the universe is filled with an invisible, intangible, undetectable gas, and that you believe that this gas is what makes gravity possible. Why, it’s just crazy to say that the gas doesn’t exist! If it didn’t, we’d just go floating right off the planet!

Of course, the argument from the supposed consequence of the absence of the gas doesn’t actually give us any insight into whether or not the gas is actually there. A universe where people believe such a gas causes gravity (in a way that fits all the current scientific understanding of gravity) is identical to a universe in which no such gas actually exists.

Arguing that there must be a God because you feel a sense of 'given’ meaning in your life is a combination of the fallacy of the argument from final consequences (arguing that the consequences of a claim are undesirable does nothing to alter the truth of it) and the fallacy of the unstated major premise (letting a major assumption go as a given; in this case, that we actually do have an ultimate divinely-given meaning).

Posted: January 22nd 2010

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Eric_PK

You are correct – if there is no god there is no true meaning to life.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how god gives meaning to one’s life – I’m don’t think following a path that some deity has laid out gives one meaning – it’s just doing what somebody else tells you to do.

The meaning of life is whatever you make of it.

Posted: November 9th 2009

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Dave Hitt www

This is a variation of the question mankind has asked ever since we became humans: “Why are we here?”

If you were told your only purpose in life was to make your dad happy, you’d reject that as a goofy recipe for a dull life devoid of any real accomplishment. But most theology insists our primary reason for existence is to serve our heavenly father.

The meaning of my life, the reason I’m here, is entirely different than yours, which is different from the guy down the street. As an atheist, you get to pick the meaning of your life and the answer to the “Why am I here” question. There are thousands of possible answers: to educate people, to understand the universe better, to invent things, to build things, to break things, to write things, to entertain people, to heal people, to hurt people, to enjoy yourself, to feed people, to help the poor and downtrodden, to exploit people, to enrich yourself at the expense of others, to increase harmony, to create havoc. . .and you’re not limited to just one selection. You get to pick as many as you like. You’re also free to change your mind any time, for any reason, adopting new meanings or discarding old ones as you grow an mature.

This is an incredible freedom and responsibility, and vastly superior to “you’re here to serve god.”

Posted: November 9th 2009

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Steve Zara www

I can’t add much to Logicel’s answer, but I would like to point out that we should surely be happy that we are free to make our own meanings rather than having meaning imposed by a God.

Posted: November 9th 2009

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bitbutter www

“I suppose if there is not a creator then there is no true meaning to life.”

If by 'true meaning’ you have in mind something along the lines of an absolute and objective purpose to human life, or an eternal significance attached to our actions, then I think you’re right, there is no 'true meaning’ to life.

The good news is that we don’t actually need 'true meaning’. As a species we’re psychologically hardier than that. We can thrive on a much more modest form of meaning; meaning that we create for ourselves.

Incidentally, since I don’t believe that absolute meaning exists, for me, this more modest version is true meaning, though I expect it’s not what you had in mind.

The universe doesn’t owe us anything. And the sooner we’re able to come to terms with this, the better.

Posted: November 8th 2009

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logicel

I will try my best to explain why there not being a creator and hence life having no absolute meaning, is a boon and not a curse to me.

I see no evidence of a theistic being intervening in this universe. There certainly is room for an insipid deistic version, a creator who made everything, then walking away and forgetting about its creation. But, then again, such a being would be superfluous. We see this happening in our ordinary lives: a father brings into existence a child, and then abandons the family, the father never to be seen again. It is possible, with care and support, for that child to grow up into a healthy and balanced adult. A biological father is not indispensable.

However, I can detect, with abundant evidence, interventions and interactions being done by people. History, science, art, my husband, friends, the European social model, all lend support and knowledge so I can grow in character, assisting me in my efforts to contribute to society the most I can. When I am as mentally stimulated as I am and as loved as I am, greed need not apply. I do not want or need more. I am fulfilled and satisfied. I am not compelled to make up things out of thin air and pretend they are real. But hey, if doing that makes you sleep better at night, be my guest. Your right to religious beliefs are intact.

I came into existence because it was possible. I will exit existence because it is inevitable. And in between, I will live life to the fullest, that is, a life full of love, ethics, and meaning. And I totally adore 'quirky bumps’! They are so gracious, allowing so many interesting things to happen.

Sometimes, at night, when all is quiet, I muse that there is no sky daddy that loves me and watches over me which makes me breath a sign of relief. I rejoice in that awareness, embracing the continuing possibilities that life holds, realizing that I do not have to remain stuck in time as a child beholden to a divine sky daddy, that I can continue to grow, until I die and am no more.

There is meaning in my life because it is so easy to accomplish that I am always stunned by theists’ insistence that there can’t be any without a god. Molecules in motion seem to terrify them, while they stimulate me, giving me the opportunity to be and make my own way.

Your question belongs in the same mailbag as how can there be love without god, how can there be morality without god, on and on. It is all the same circular nonsense. Humans create meaning, and at one time, when we did not know better, the human-created god hypothesis gave life meaning. It is however, at present, long past its due-date. I can’t think of anything more meaningless and empty than religion with its pat, trite, predictable, and know-it-all-without-any-evidence answers, all to be had for a little groveling in front of the sky daddy via its earthly representative in question. If you heard one genesis story, you have heard them all.

If you are entertaining the notion that the existence of morality, love, and meaning necessitates a god, then you need to take a critical thinking class. In addition, also take a psychology class and discover why it is important to be grateful to the right entity, which in our case, are other humans, not some imaginary deity.

You give meaning to your life. PERIOD. Or perhaps you need to work in that area a bit more?

Posted: November 8th 2009

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