After all the scandals among the televangelists and megachurch preachers over the last decade, no one should be blamed for thinking they are all in it for the money and the power. The love of Jesus has nothing to do with it.
Beth, I too like your putting so much well-stated thought in your reply.
I want to remark on your question "Or, is there some sort of purpose to having as many people as possible - sort of a cosmic game of 'how many can we pack into a phone booth'?"
It reminded me of the time I saw a full-page newspaper ad attacking the organization Zero Population Growth. It had been placed by THE major bank in Phoenix where I once lived.
"Why would a major bank attack ZPG?", I wondered until I did as investigative reporters do and followed the trail of money. Of course, with a population decline, the bank would finance fewer home loans.
Were I to see such an ad now, I would wonder if the bank is owned by the woman-hating Xians who these days also own the Republican Party.
It's sooo neat that you even ask this question, when the majority of people NEVER ponder it. There really is a beautiful answer to it. Does life have a purpose? The lack of having an answer leads to so many of the problems today. "Life is misery, why get out of bed? why go on living? HEY, I'll smoke some crack and not care."
Orderism offers this. Your purpose in life is two fold.
1. Your evolutionary, animalistic purpose is to reproduce and rear the young until survivable.
2. Your marvelous mind is free. It's free to make up a personal life's purpose and follow it.
The trick is, your life's purpose doesn't have to be the ULTIMATE PURPOSE -it can be ANYTHING as long as it's meaningful to you. If you follow your personal purpose you'll be happy. AND if it's for the good of all, it's even better.
Now, DID your life have meaning? Yes it did (or does) -but that's another subject
Orderism sounds very interesting - I notice you have a link to the website on your page. I will check that out.
Atheists have been big achiever and served their purpose and they have mattered the most historically. from ancient times the greatest achiever Buddha and in Modern times Einstein. Atheist are serious about the tasks they undertake and fulfill it with a great zeal and seriousness.
BUDDHA WAS A PAMPERED THUG WHO LOST HIS MARBLES
That's a good question and the answer to it will vary greatly from person to person. Individuality is the advantage atheists share in this regard. Unlike our theist counterparts, purpose in life is not mandated in scripture.
The only true purpose you have in life is to find and give meaning to it. After long periods of self-examination over a lifetime you reach your own conclusions. This position is one of the few that I have thought about where relativism seems to be an acceptable answer.
If relativism, in regards to the meaning/purpose of life, is not a sufficient answer then I can only think of two possible alternatives (then again, I haven't given much thought to the topic):
1) The purpose and meaning of life has a definite, undeniable answer. Any other meaning(s) you think you have discovered is misguided. [Theists and biologists might agree with this one, though for drastically different reasons]
2) Life has no purpose, any self determined "meaning" is only an illusion created by the individual (or masses) for personal benefit. [This one holds more ground but falls prey to this exception: at the very least, our purpose in life is to die.]
One thing to note is that I define "meaning" as something that one discovers through thought and leads to happiness. Also, it is not bound to morality. There are those who make it their purpose in life to benefit from the misfortunes of others, but that is an entirely different discussion.
So yes, an atheist can have purpose and meaning in their life. More so than their devote theist counterparts in my opinion.
Thank you so very much Rudy. Very thoughtful reply.
You have to discover the meaning for yourself.
There are no gods or anything to believe in or have to follow.
You are free to think things for yourself. No dogma to follow.