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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I suspect that this whole question more reflects the arrogance of the hardcore christian point of view.  This is represented by the whole "I am the way and the truth and the life; no man comes to the father but by me" bullshit.  They have THE ANSWER ... and if you don't conform with their answer, you must be some pitiable wretch who does little more than survive.  Their programming, their indoctrination won't permit them to believe otherwise.

Hey Loren! Yes it does reflect the xtian arrogance - I was wondering how to counter their attacks. And I have so many wonderful replies to help me.

I thank everyone for their help.

Their arrogance, their programming, their indoctrination..., call these three their API

For a moment, imagine it possible to take a chink from their API. Which emotion would we see?

Fear, methinks, resulting from uncertainty.

What say others?

It's what's happening NOW, Tom.  The believers are losing power that they assumed was theirs to wield, because it's power and influence they earned fraudulently.  At some level, they KNOW that ... and my personal suspicion is that THEY ARE FREAKED.

There is a lot that can come out of such a mindset, and damned little of it is good.  This is why we as atheists have to be prepared, at minimum in terms or arguments.

At maximum?  I talked about that here ... and I REALLY hope it doesn't come to that.

Tom...I think indoctrination and programming are the same, so I would propose an alternate "I" -- Isolation (from those who believe otherwise and even, in the case of many cults, from the outside world entirely).  It is in the vital interests of every religion to shield its members from anything that might engender doubt.  

Even liberal Jews and Christians fear isolation above all else.  Why else would they pay lip service on Sabbath and major holidays and ignore religion the rest of the time?  Gotta get their ticket punched, that's why.

Indeed, Isolation is a big part of it.  Brings me back to social psych days in the '60s.  Religion and cults have a lot of common attributes as part of the indoctrination process.

Humiliation is another good one.  Consider what the marines do to recruits during boot camp.  They’re isolated all right but they’re also called “maggots” and “ladies.”  Even their personal identity is taken away:  their hair is shaved off and they’re assigned numbers.  They have to refer to themselves as “Recruit No. so and so.”

How about the “Us and Them” meme.  Enemies or outside threats are created to add cohesion to the group.  If none conveniently exist then a scapegoat is created to serve the purpose.  That’s why I get so mad at homophobia.  To the Nazis, it was the Jews. 

It’s all part of the process called brain washing. 


Marines I know admit to having been trained to kill. It's their meaning and purpose.

This ex-sailor likes to tease them with "The best use of marines is to throw them overboard." Sometimes I add "...preferably near an enemy-held island."

See my reply below - I mis-clicked ;)

You are so correct Alan. Once there are no more fantasies then there is no issue about purpose and meaning. Once you drop the baggage of religion you are free to make your own choices and decisions - your own purpose and meaning become clear.

Tom I would say that uncertainty and fear - those are the underlying emotions Xtians are showing. I like the API remark - that's a very good observation.

Steph, The subject of teleology (the study of the purpose of life) is a major theme of Mirror Reversal.  The following scene takes place at the end when Prof. Cynthia Whipple faces final retribution at the hands of Mr. Morality.  I think it’s beautiful, but I wrote it. 


Mr. Morality’s heart began to patter in sweet anticipation as the van traversed the dreary dirt road twisting and winding its way up the hill to the farmhouse.  “Leave the gag off, I want to hear what she has to say when I recite the word of God.”

Cynthia gazed through the window at the darkness and vastness of the infinite heavens. She began to think of the end of life.  It wasn’t death that scared her, just death’s portal.  To her mind, she was going to the same place she had been before she was born.  Not sleep, but non-existence—the non-caring, dispassionate inertia of rock.  Nothing bothered her that went on during the billions of years she had waited to be born.  She doubted that anything in the future would inconvenience her in the least.  And missing eternal bliss won’t be a problem either.  Who the heck wants eternal bliss? Judging by all the squares she met in her life that believed in it, and even blew themselves up for it, they can have it.  Beatific vision, keep it.  Just give me my tropical lagoon with the inquisitive red uakari monkey and the orange-cheeked parrots of this life—even if for a moment, so I know what a real heaven is.

“Hey, Cynthia,” called her mother, Elizabeth, from the depths of subconscious memory, “would you care to be born?  Your father and I will love you and give you a good home.  In the vast universe you’ll be alone and insignificant, but in our loving home you’ll be important and rare. And we have enough money to lavish you with all the education your mind desires.  Through books, you’ll be able to converse with humanity’s greatest geniuses.  You’ll find that the more you learn about how you got here, the more you’ll appreciate how lucky you are to be alive.  Would you like to come to us?  We promise to love you.”

“Nah, not unless you bestow on me eternal bliss. Talk about missing the boat!  What an ungrateful position to hold.  Just the fleeting glimpse of the cosmos is enough to make life worthwhile.  Just to know it’s there, even if for the lifetime of a mayfly.  And in addition to nature’s greatest spectacle of the stars in the sky, I get sea otters teasing a polar bear and sliding down the icy mound.  My eyes get to behold a giant cloud of flamingo feathers flickering multi-hued rays of buffered light in the sunset.  And my hummingbirds!  Capricious pixies doing nature’s work of providing balance, making love to orchids, and performing aerial acrobatics for my enjoyment as they grant my primate eyes a feast of dazzling color.

“Plus I get Disney, the opera, Mozart and Beethoven, Rembrandt and Van Gogh, a career, adventure, travel, cooking, cinema, and the Internet. Plus through sex I physically touch the mammalian force that makes all the mundane chores and toil of life worthwhile more than anything else:  the moment we touch the force of all life that ever lived. 

The van reached the farmhouse and the gnomes jumped out to fetch another wheelchair. 

It is very beautiful indeed Richard and I thank you so much for sharing your writing with me.

It's very much appreciated!!




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