Since I left religion, I've read enough history to conclude that the people of Abrahamic times, with all the tyrannizing and killing they knew, found life so awful that they formed groups that fantasized a happier future life.
Their leaders occasionally found people whose lives were happy. Rather than risk losing followers, they demonized what made those people happy. This resulted in, for instance, Paul's saying "It is better to marry than to burn."
Over the centuries people rebelled. One metaphor for evolving, coming up out of the mud, has a lot of truth in it.
Re sexual hangups: While I was supervising volunteer sex educators at SFSI.ORG, I told newly-trained volunteers, "If you have any hangups you don't know about, our eight-year-old callers will help you find them."
Tom, sexual pleasure - just as any other pleasure - is a fine reason to get up in the morning (or more appropriately, to go to bed in the evening), but it fails to qualify as a life purpose. As I wrote earlier, but perhaps shoddily, a legitimate purpose needs to combine three attributes: it makes life imperative, irreplaceable and beautiful. Good sex or good food may make life beautiful, it partially makes life irreplaceable, but it fails to make life imperative. The beautiful part is self-evident. The irreplaceability is only partial, because your sex partner might have just as good sex with an alternative partner were you not to have existed - or, she might not. The imperative part is completely absent, since people will continue having sex whether you live or die.
Shakespeare's life had a "purpose", as nobody else could have written those sonnets and plays. His work is imperative, irreplaceable and beautiful. But neither you nor I would be another Shakespeare.
Michael OL, sexual pleasure is more appropriate in the evening than in the morning?
To each their own. (To you, yours. To me, mine.)
Imperative, irreplaceable, beautiful?
I could attach any or all of those adjectives (and others too) to lots of things.
My take on WS's plays? Some very quotable lines buried in some very long fiction.
I prefer non-fiction, though I'm biases toward my own n-f.
Existentialism is all about creating meaning. Here is a link to a discussion from the group Existential Atheists: http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/existentialatheists/forum/topics/...
Thank you, Edward, for the link to the existential thread. A few minutes browsing it told me I'm going to spend a lot more more time reading it.
I first heard of existentialism when I was in college in the 1950's and its honesty impressed me most favorably. I learned soon that many college philosophy professors disliked it and even refused to acknowledge it as a philosophy. I perhaps cynically decided they disliked it because it made most of their lecturing unnecessary.
Again, thanks Edward.
Thank you Edward I will check out your link to Existentialism.
Right I agree JS you don't need mythical creatures to have meaning in your life. Life's meaning is what you make of it - exactly.
The wealth of replies to Steph's original question demonstrates very clearly that people are quite capable of finding ways to make this brief life worthwhile. Once you discard religion's false premise that NO meaning is possible without their fantasies and fairy-tales, a multitude of possibilities appears, and "meaningful life" becomes a non-issue.
I suspect that this whole question more reflects the arrogance of the hardcore christian point of view. This is represented by the whole "I am the way and the truth and the life; no man comes to the father but by me" bullshit. They have THE ANSWER ... and if you don't conform with their answer, you must be some pitiable wretch who does little more than survive. Their programming, their indoctrination won't permit them to believe otherwise.
Hey Loren! Yes it does reflect the xtian arrogance - I was wondering how to counter their attacks. And I have so many wonderful replies to help me.
I thank everyone for their help.