For those of us who were religious before becoming atheists, you understand how religion gave us meaning. If you follow the rules (especially in Judaism where there are many) and learn the right books, you'll get a big piece of heaven.

As an atheist, what gives you purpose and meaning in life?

As a "new" atheist (I just "came out" to some of my family and friends recently), this is something I am struggling with.

Thanks in advance.

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The question of whether hunter-gatherers and other early societies were philosophers and whether the average person worried about the meaning of life is hard to assay with no surviving written materials, but I wonder if the question even would have made sense to them in the context we pose it here.

I was wondering that too.  I wonder if there would even be suitable words for the question in their language. 
I've never found the meaning or purpose of life to be a compelling issue, because I've spent my life in difficult struggles. 

The researcher who came up with the numerical estimates of leisure time in hunter-gatherer societies was Ross Sackett, who was checking Sahlins' ideas.   Yes, Sackett was looking at modern hunter-gatherer societies, but it's not clear why ancient hunter-gatherers would have had less leisure on average. I looked around a bit and didn't find anything contradicting them. 

The idea that hunter-gatherers were more satisfied than we are makes some sense, since humanity lived a hunter-gatherer existence for a long time and human psychology seems to be adapted to it in many ways.


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