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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Thanks, Write4U, for your reply.

Re "OTOH, true happiness can be achieved only as a shared experience with another."

I don't want to engage in extended debate on points in your reply; here I will say only that I often see qualifiers such as "true" on terms such as "happiness".

I found much happiness while hiking in Arizona's Superstition Mountains. Because I was sometimes not sharing with others, was I experiencing an untrue happiness?

I also write for occasional publication. Once, when I found an incorrect statement in a nationally published law book, I researched the relevant law and found evidence that supported a change in the published work. I felt an entirely solo happiness. When I saw the nationally published correction, I felt another entirely solo happiness.

Long ago, enough people judged others that the people who wrote Xianity's rules devised "Judge not, that ye be not judged."

I found it easier to quit judging AFTER I found happiness, long after I quit Xianity.

You make good points Write4U - the pursuit of personal gratification does seldomly lead to a meaningful life. I personally enjoy helping others.
Write4U I agree that sharing experiences with another can help with a feeling of completeness.
Oh yeah I agree that in helping others and making someone else happy is a great meaning to life. I strive to do that myself.

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."

That's an interesting story Tom.
I know that bible verse you quoted "it is better to marry than to burn" many theists believe this.

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:

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.




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