As An Atheist Can Your Life Have Purpose and Meaning?

I was wondering what other people thought about this.

I realize we weren't born with a purpose. No creator or "higher calling".

But as a non believer can your life have meaning and purpose without god?

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Thank you Tony for your words of encouragement. I will not try to dwell on my past. It's hard to do that at times. Very good advise. Thanks!

Richard, thanx. So nice to see a community of nontheists. Refreshing. And yes, my life has meaning. I love it ... and have no intention of squandering it, the only one I have.

@ Write4U

 

All right! Delightful story, and well told. I'm convinced that to be totally engaged in whatever-is-now brings huge meaning along with it. Comes with the territory. And delightfully so.

I loved the story you told us Write4U! Wonderful!

Thanks, Mr. Teach. One of the least undestood prpoperties of language is our ability to create well-formed sentences that have no meaning. "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" is a classic example. I think "What is the purpose/meaning of my life?" is another.

Alan, there's "This statement is false" but it requires a few moments of thought.

But does "One of the least understood properties of language is our ability to create..." describe a property of language or an ability of mind (whatever mind is)?

@ Tom - A complex philosophical question, which I am not qualified to answer but will anyway.

Language is far too powerful a tool for our chimp-brains.  We can talk about imaginary things as if they were real.  In the case at hand, I think one is spoon-fed all that stuff about purpose and meaning AND the answer (religion) well before one is able to decode/unpack the sentence in the usual manner (i.e., the process that tells us when literature, song lyrics, and the like are real or just stories).

So it's a property of mind + language + early indoctrination (think catechism).  

Pardon the off-topic comment, but I read many posts on this thread about what religious indoctrination has done to members personally.  But there’s another aspect we should consider about what religion has done to the nation culturally. 

Consider this:  I’d appreciate further comments. 

Religion has made us a nation of criminals!  Over 80% of males in the country admit to at least one time in their life engaging the services of a prostitute.  This is a criminal act, penalized by heavy fines and even jail terms.  Lives have been ruined and the names of Johns have been scorned throughout the community in much the same way as depicted in the Scarlet Letter in the 18th century. 

About the same percent of adults in the country admit to using marijuana at least once in their live, including three presidents:  Clinton, W. Bush and the current holder of the office.  Countless lives have been ruined by jail terms, fines, revoked driver licenses, detention centers, loss of jobs, and disgraced reputations.  

I’ve researched extensively the former crime and consider the War On Drugs a fiasco and national disgrace.  There’re many reasons for the prohibition of mj, but religion definitely shares part of the responsibility.  A major reason for the reluctance of the churches to accept legalized mj is that the substance deconditions users and often brings them to higher levels of consciousness.  Church officials want a flock that accepts and obeys the dictates of the canon and grass causes users to question and think independently. 

Also, the religious concept that “God helps those who help themselves,” has caused immeasurable avarice and venality on the part of politicians and other leaders of the community.  It enables them to rationalize their ill-gotten gains.  Political corruption has gotten so bad that I proposed recently at a humanist meeting that it be considered a treasonous offense against the people.  A lawyer in the group contemptuously acted like I was crazy, and said “don’t hold your breathe.”  I didn’t get a chance to respond, but I would have answered, if this government weren’t of the few, by the few, for the few, things would be different.

As documented on 60 Minutes last Sunday, lobbyist Jack Abramoff got three years in jail after ripping off 80 million dollars of tax payer’s money in his despicable career.  What a joke, only a nation of criminals would tolerate it.  A ghetto kid who robbed 80 dollars from a street corner bodega would get double that. 

No joke:  The man goes to church every Sunday and avows to be a man of God. 

An interesting reply. Certainly religion is part of the problem, we all (should) know that it allows people to justify immoral behavior without rational justification. I agree that we need to defend ourselves against religion as a part of any real solution to changing our societies for the better. And I find your argument regarding the war on drugs compelling. However, with or without religion, corruption is part of human nature. There are plenty of atheists who would just love to make the very economic arguments which have led our country from prosperity to the brink of another Great Depression. What we need is a greater moral vision, one which religion is obviously incapable of providing, and one which atheism has been struggling to provide, but as yet has failed. Humanism is the leading candidate, but is too novel and nebulous a concept to sway enough Americans from their comfort zone. Too many of us are nihilists, Objectivists, or any other manner of weak ethical philosophies which are unworthy to challenge religious doctrine for moral supremacy. We are still very much in a dark age, dominated by superstition and delusion. It's impossible to say how or when things will change for the better.

Jedi, you certainly have a point.  Post-WWII Russia had to be one of the most corrupt states since Nero's Rome.  Religionists could point their finger and say look at what the lack of religion does to government and society. 

I sincerely believe, as you mention, that humanism might be the answer.  As a species we have to evolve to a spiritual point where leaders break away from monkey roots.  The ruler has to ask him- or herself, what's more important, my own luxory or the wellbeing of millions of people. 

Write4u, thanks for the comment and link.  Indeed, cold-war atheist Russia existed over 25 years ago and is in no way indicative of all atheist states. 

The nairaland report is excellent:  Paul found that secular societies have lower rates of violence and teenage pregnancy than societies where many people profess belief in God.

We can easily see the connection (etiology) between sexual repression and sex crimes as examplified by Catholic priests.  Also, the disgraceful number of incarcerated in this country exceeds all other countries of the world combined, over 2.3 million.  Puritanism might have something to do with it.

 

 

Love the turn this discussion has taken. Bravo!

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