Ibrahim is right. Your purpose is a combination of luck, choice, and something else, perhaps talent/inclination. It may change.
Well, once you have life, it can't be taken. And you have to have liberty to pursue happiness, however you define it. I think "finding meaning and purpose" is not so formidable a project as religious believers make it -- so huge that only God can solve it. Not true. You'll find MANY answers in the 700+ comments.
I am just so impressed by the thought provoking responses I am getting here. Truly wonderful indeed.
I appreciate it!
Thanks to all of you.
Thanks, Tom. Rabbi Sherwin Wine used to say that traditional religion is "vertical" - salvation comes from "above." But humanism is "horizontal" - all we need for happiness is all around us: mainly, other people.
I like the Rabbi's metaphor.
Happiness doesn't travel vertically; it travels horizontally or not at all.
Alan I liked that you said that Humanism is horizontal - I never thought of it that way.
Thanks, Steph. Rabbi Wine was an amazing man -- all-encompassing intellect, spellbinding orator, great teacher, wonderful sense of humor. It was a great privilege to know him and be in his congregation for 11 years.
His courage in doing away with God and trying to create a humanistic Judaism -- something the rest of the Jews, in Detroit and elsewhere, thought blasphemous and crazy -- was a brilliant effort (which was very satisfying until I discovered the flaws in the concept, and his successor backslid into Bible stories). He was all about human dignity, which had no place in traditional religion.
I secretly wished I could see how a thoughtful, committed atheist faced death - but he was killed in a car accident (age 79!). Check him out: Sherwin T. Wine.
God was made in the image of humans, so when humans adulate god they adulate themselves, Humanism has brought nothing new to that equation, still humans adulating humans.
A few days ago I blurted out to a fellow "old fart" that when my body can no longer orgasm I will be ready to die. At long last I identified my life's purpose.
Decades ago, when I was leaving Catholicism, I read about the world's major religions. In the books I consulted, I found that ONLY ONE major religion, Tantric Buddhism, that regarded sex as a positive influence. ONE! ONLY ONE!!!
We can easily prove wrong the conservative claim that America was founded on Xianity. Yet many Americans throughout the nation's history grew up in Xianity and left for various kinds of non-religion. Their values continued to have influence.
For instance, to choose one of probably hundreds of instances, in the 1920s when my mother was in her upper teens, it was considered scandalous for women who were obviously pregnant to don bathing suits and go to public swimming areas.
So far in this discussion no one has admitted to sexual pleasure as a life purpose. Why not?
America was not founded on Xianity, but Xianity certainly had influence. DAMMIT!!!!
Showing you were pregnant in public being scandalous is so incredibly stupid. Religion dramatically messes-up our sex-lives. Mormonism sure did mine and my ex-wife's, as well as my mother's and my sister's. If I were closer to the rest of my mormon relatives, I'll bet the same could be said for them.
Tom -- Well said...hear, hear! Human well-being, one of the goals of all our actions, takes many forms.
Religion is all too often a vehicle for people impressing their individual sexual hangups on others.
Tantra is codified and institutionalized, but I bet there were plenty of ancient religions with a strong focus on sexuality (for a modern example, see "The Wicker Man" [original], one of the greatest anti-religion movies ever made) -- fertility rites, etc. Too bad the dominant Abrahamic faiths are so up-tight about sex.
Some forms of paganism celebrated sex but they weren't mentioned in the books I read in the 1950s.
"...pleasure is not really a purpose." ???
Where's your evidence?