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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That is wonderful booklover. I also enjoy helping others. I do think by helping others you have meaning and purpose.

teph, I learned that helping others can be a rewarding experience if there are rewards for me as well.

During a year as president of a student club I did not delegate work and did too much of it. Burning out persuaded me to learn how and presiding began to bring me rewards. I didn't need a heart attack in middle age to tell me I had been a workaholic.

I now regularly caution activists in other organization that:

1) martyrdom has no rewards,

2) we give therapy to alcoholics and exploit workaholics, and.

3) workaholics hurt their organizations by failing to develop future leaders.

True Tom

Taking too much upon yourself has little reward in the long run and has health risks.

I learned from a young age that team work brings more rewards to the members than trying to be a solo workaholic leader.

Had a workshop manager like yourself who burned out and ended up suffering severe depression, so severe he can no longer function as a human being, came close to suicide many times. 

The new manager learned from his mistake, plus my advice.

He always delegate evenly among us all (including himself) evenly.

We would meet at least twice a week and discuss strategies.

Help each other out,

The workshop motto changed from

"Do as the workshop manager tells you to do or else!"


"Never be afraid to ask for help because we are all here to learn together!"

Yes, a much more relaxed workshop.

A much more relaxed workshop manager as well.

The previous manager was driven by EGO, he had to be the shining light, super workshop manager that senior management took notice of.  Instead he burned himself out is now a mess. 

I studied business management and knew from the start that he was approaching it the wrong way, I often had a go at him about his tactics, tried to help him see what he was doing. He wouldn't listen.

Egos aren't worth it, better to be seen as a good people person, they make the best leaders.

My son is such an excellent people person (fair, polite, decisive, firm and caring) that every company he works for notices this instantly.  From his very first job, he has not been with any company for more than a month before they either offer him a management position or create one for him.

He puts his fellow workers above his own ego.

He loves being in management and those supposedly under him enjoy having him working and sharing the load with them.

Less stress all around!

Good question, Steph. Let me start by posing a counter question:

If there was a creator, how would that give a measly mortal meaning and purpose? After all, wouldn't we more or less be pawns in a supernatural melodrama as well as being in a practice run of sorts for "real" afterlife? Sure, we'd have free will, but it would still play second fiddle to the divine plan. Never mind the fact that all of our lives would really just be practice runs for that second, eternal life many refer to as "afterlife".

As for purpose and meaning, that's easy.

I have a two-year old son to raise. That gives me all sorts of purpose.

I see people all around me that aren't free to think for themselves due to indoctrinated beliefs and untapped critical thinking skills like skepticism. That gives me all sorts of purpose.

I'm fortunate enough to have that emergent property of biological neural networks commonly referred to as "consciousness." That, in a way, gives me and every other human all of the meaning and purpose that could ever be." In fact, without it, we wouldn't even have words like meaning and purpose. Heck, we wouldn't have words at all.

What a wonderful reply Lightnin' Lives. I also really like that counter question. It gives someone something to think about.

I do think that planting the seed of freethought to others gives you purpose and meaning. Maybe someday others will be free like we are today.

Glad you dug it!

Frankly, there are so many sources of motivation, purpose, and meaning out there.

The idea that you need god for that is patently absurd.

How about "Christopher Hitchens Seed" instead?


Freethought seed sounds better, IMHO. Hitchens seed sounds more... biological, in origin, if you catch my meaning.

............ Tee hee!! :-D

What floors me about believers and the whole concept of purpose is that they seem to think purpose is ASSIGNED by their god, whereas I personally think purpose is DISCOVERED by the individual and EVOLVES as that individual changes and grows.

This whole business is right up there with the false ideas if god's will and god's plan for his creation. For instance, if a christian mother determines that her purpose is to raise her children, once that task is complete, Where Is Her Purpose Now?!? For that matter, was her sole purpose before she became a mother just to prepare for that purpose? Couldn't there be more than just ONE purpose which could coexist with another or with many others?

For myself, if I have a purpose, I see it as serving myself and others as I can, as growing and learning in the directions which my interests lead me, and in enjoying this life so long as I have it.

That holds me pretty well.

Well put, Loren. I refer to your point of view (which I share) as the cliche "happiness is a direction, not a destination."

It might be a cliche, but it's a damn accurate one in my opinion and has served me well thus far.

Actually I'd have to echo Loren here as well. Our purpose in life is just that, 'ours', our choices and the method by which we discover and carry them forward.




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