My life has meaning and purpose because I live with a goal and purpose in mind. We can live an un-examined life. Or, we can choose to be introspective, think about the way the world is, and try to live in such a way as to leave it a more just, or clean, or healthy, or kind world. We have so many different talents to develop for both our own satisfaction, and also to share with everyone. When I think of a higher calling, I think "Johnny Appleseed"!
Like a good existentialist, I think that other than propagation of the species, life is inherently meaningless. All meaning is of human creation. I love this. It means I can choose to create whatever meaning I wish.
For me, life is exactly what it is supposed to be. It is not supposed to be happy or peaceful or wonderful. It is all of these and miserable and scary and painful and boring. I am given the opportunity to appreciate the full range of human experiences. For me, meaning is simply appreciation for the full catastrophe ;-)
I go to the carnival to get scared at the haunted house, thrilled by the roller coaster, confused by the house of mirrors, freaked out by the freaks, horny by the burlesque. It would be a drag if the carnival only had one ride.
Life is the same way. We get the opportunity to appreciate or fail to appreciate a full range of experiences. They don't have to be enjoyed to be appreciated.
Well said, Edward. Thank you.
Methinks I will steal (and paraphrase) some of your ideas for a Toastmasters Club talk. I've told its members I'm an atheist and have spoken of leaving Catholicism. I haven't yet spoken of existentialism.
Sweet! This site has actually helped me clarify my own thoughts about things and helped to resolve quite a few philosophical issues. Good luck with yer Toastmasters!
This site has helped me as well. I'm a new Atheist and I also need to clarify my thoughts and resolve issues as well. I still have a long way to go I think. I am so glad to have this site and the support of others here.
Right on! I was s-l-o-w to come to atheism. After dropping Christianity, I got deep in to Buddhism (and a little New Age stuff).
There are some brilliant minds here. Wonderful for sharpening the mental saw ;-)
Phillip Appleman, in his interview with Bill Moyers, touched upon this subject briefly. The whole conversation is worth watching:
Hope I've figured out how to create a link. If not, just copy/paste
Asa thanks for your interview link. Thanks again!
I fixed the link Asa - the other one didn't work.
@Rich - I'm familiar with cult retention techniques. Definitely includes the military. Humiliation, supression of original thought, and enforced uniformity are all preparation for instantaneous obedience in battle.
The scapegoat can be inanimate, as in the war on "drugs." Thomas Szasz points out that "scapegoat" and "remedy" have the same root - pharmakos. Murder the scapegoat, and we will all be saved.