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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A tree is a fractal that has branching on top and in the root system. A human is part of a fractal tree of life, with roots in history and branches to future generations. 

Fractal, "a curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole. Fractals are useful in modeling structures (such as eroded coastlines or snowflakes) in which similar patterns recur at progressively smaller scales, and in describing partly random or chaotic phenomena such as crystal growth, fluid turbulence, and galaxy formation.

... On "social creatures"

There are so many variants on "social creatures", there are termites and bees, which are practically clone factories, there are horses and other grazers, some whales, and some birds, all have extremely different expressions of social behaviour. Now apes, there is a tremendous amount of variability in ape behaviours. From a biological perspective, I truly don't believe we are really meant to be soooo social as our civilisation is telling us. We are not bees or herring or Siskins.
You should find this piece of information useful: Dunbar's number A suggested cognitive limit to the number of people...

An ideal city size is thus provided, now the question is what would be the ideal distance between these societies, one week on foot, one month on foot? This is my dream for civilisation, for the human supposedly sentient brain to recognise our fundamental biology and stop trying to behave like ultra-social beasts, we are not 'that' social. :)

I'll try not to sound like a jerk, but...well... yeah.
My purpose without a god was the same purpose when I did believe in a god. To be a good friend, wife, daughter, and babysitter. 
Generally, nobody is born with a purpose, it's something that we develop and define within ourselves as we grow older and experience more of the world and society. So basically, yes... of course we have meaning and purpose in life. It's what we make of it. What we dedicate ourselves to. And cheese.

Rachel, you do not sound like a jerk at all. I like the add on ... cheese. 

Spud, your cartoon string says so much, very simply, and to the point. Thanks for sharing this treasure by Watterson.

I tend to hang around in the more scientific and philosophic realms of thought. So while I understand most of these responses I would actually take the position that it is a “throw away” question. There is no meaning to life… there is just life!


Purely from a scientific approach there is no meaning. There are facts and there are methods for measuring and proof but the facts are just that… facts. Do with them as you please.


From a philosophical perspective the thought process is much more interesting but one must first examine the question. What is my purpose here? My response is, define purpose. Does life have meaning? My response, define meaning.


Some think I am just being clever in my response but it is an honest response. Who made the rule that life has a purpose? Who made the rule that your life had to have meaning? Of course the immediate response you usually get… if life has no meaning or purpose, WHY SHOULD I LIVE? Now THAT is a great question.


Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. To start with, your mind and body are going to do everything they can to continue living. It is what is hardwired into your system. So right out of the gate everything about you tells you to live. Of course when the hardwired control systems in your body are out of balance or are overwhelmed by external forces there is such a thing as suicide, but those are the anomalies in the bigger equation.


Second, life is just life. Rocks are just rocks and clouds are just clouds. Life has no more purpose than a clump of organic matter sitting in on the ground or a ball of energy flying through space. No purpose, it just IS.


Bottom line…

Purpose is a human concept that philosophers like to play with in their spare time. The meaning of life is whatever meaning you assign to it. It can be productive or destructive. The choice is up to you.


- Peace, Chad

Thank you so very much Chad. I enjoy reading all the replies here. It is helpful to learn.

Best response of the of the entire discussion. It takes cojones to state a question is "throw away" :)

So true booklover, having raised great, rational and self assertive children can always be considered a great purpose.  Now as a member of the "Mens Shed" where I volunteer my services to help other men cope with men's issues. Gives' me a new lease on life and a great sense of purpose.

Also, my interests in studying Neurology and Psychology through books and online, gives me interesting insights into what makes us human and separates us from other primates.  Which also gives me knowledge that I can clout Theists with when they talk about god, free will and self-consciousness.

Neurology has pretty much given non-theistic reasons for all of these.

It's intriguing stuff, it also gives me a sense of purpose, because my oldest tenet has always been, from the age of 8.   Living is Learning.

I simply cannot find enough Learning Time.

I could live a million lifetimes and still consider myself as having not learned enough.

not enough hair here...

After last week's excellent response that this was a non question... I share with you the a poster to frame onto your wall, to accompany the statement:

TNT666, OK Looks good to me.



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