Since my life is brimmed with meaning and purpose--and god/God has nothing to do with it--I suppose I must answer to the "can" with a "must be the case, since it is." As an adult whose childhood was spent being thoroughly saturated with Fundamentalist Christian influences familywide, I admit to long-time struggle with those (now deemed preposterous) beliefs. And they've left their mark(s) indeed. I cannot imagine growing up without such influences. Ergo, without such polluting, invasive mental/psychological toxins. To those who were spared such: I envy you. With a smile, grateful that it is possible to have a history like that. For anyone. I do understand that people steeped in god/God beliefs have difficulty accepting that meaning can come independently, separately. I'm tempted to turn the question around: "As a Fundamentalist Christian, can your life have purpose and meaning?"
Well stated Chuck! I grew up with mad church involvement too. My experience moved from standard Presbyterian to Evangelical. I spent a minimum of 4 days each week doing church activities and went on frequent weekend retreats (aka brainwashing sessions).
Ironically, I remember the church turning us on to a video about the Moonies to help us guard against being sucked in to a cult. I ran into a friend from church years later and we both said at the same time, "We were in a cult!"
Coming out of the other side of that kind of indoctrination took years, but the experience has made me a deadly debater of the faithful.
Good post, Chuck. Doesn't it bother you that these people think there's no meaning or reason to live without God?
They never tried it.
@ Richard G
It's quite sad, actually. And yes, it bothers me that they hold themselves in such a limiting/limited state. Handcuffed, as it were, from truly living. Lives led of quiet desperation, I suppose. Incomplete human beings.
Meaning what's all this sh**about meaning ...we are... then we die full stop
the world we are born into is but a blink then all will be gone
lets talk about f***g greed the root of everything cruelty abuse torture of animals creatures boiled alive hung up alive and abused to induce better tasting meat slaughter of the mighty Wale.. horses donkeys..treated as if they were nothing more than a play thing a tool they don't run on f****g diesel could go on and on and on and on
ain't the human fantastic worthless not worthy of a GOD EVEN A BAD god ME ME ME ME ME ME
Happiness is the only good. The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so.
-- Robert Green Ingersoll
If that isn't the basis for having a dynamic and fulfilling purpose to one's life, it'll do until something better comes along.
RGI could have stopped after three after three of the above sentences.
He didn't, and the word I want to use is "servile" but I have no evidence of his emotional state at the time he wrote, or first uttered, the fourth sentence.
He could have said "A time to be happy is now" or "One of several times to be happy is now." Ditto for "place".
His use of "The" marks him as a man with tunnel vision. The world has more opportunities than can be seen while in a tunnel. Especially deep in a tunnel.
The NOAD defines "servile" as "of or characteristic of a slave or slaves". The Xianity I knew put a lot of effort into making me servile and for a time succeeded.
I'd been an agnostic for twenty years and a political activist (kind of radical) for five years when I heard a brother (fifteen years younger) say words much like RGI's fourth sentence above. I told my brother he sounded servile.
He got over it; he became and remains all but intolerably demanding. Like his older brother.
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.