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've have read widely and deeply in history, mythology, and philosophy. I keep coming back to the extistentialists. Life has the meaning we give it. I think this is true regardless of whether you try to think things through on your own or you buy into an elaborate social construct like religion and let others do your thinking for you. In either case, humans are attempting to give their life meaning.


Reply to Glen...I don't doubt it. There's a very powerful hallucinogen that grows in the Middle East - probably the source of many a prophetic vision.  But what happened?  They wanted their rituals to be the only path to a psychedelic experience?

Write4u, we can see your statement, “Native americans used peyote and mescaline for centuries in their rituals”, is true in the speech of Chief Seattle’s before congress in 1854.  If anyone is unfamiliar, it’s worth your time.  Brings out our connection with the planet. 

What a sad irony that his people had it right all the time and had to suffer at the hands of the opportunistic invaders.

He states a thesis of mine that I’ve written about for decades.  “If all the beasts were gone mankind would suffer from a great loneliness of spirit.”  I’ve recently written elsewhere on these pages, there are only 264 species of monkey left.  If the gorilla goes extinct, people will hate one another even more than now.

It’s been my Lament of Tieresias.  I predicted it but can’t do anything about it.



Yeah Allen, Diana named at least three if memory serves. I think one of em was some kind of lettuce. Special sealed chambers where the smoke would be thick and the high would be legendary.

I believe that there is a principle to everything, and that the purpose of everything is to function according to the way of that natural principle.

The basic principle of all things is to exist in a natural state of harmony.

In the cosmos above and around us; there is a natural tendency for all things to exist and co-exist in a natural state of harmony.

Davy, wouldn't the fact that humans are causing the extinction of thousands of species, refute these lofty sentiments.

Consider the photo below.  It’s the largest iron mine in the world—right smack in the middle of the Amazon Rain Forest.



I can't say that God or religion ever gave my life any purpose or meaning. If anything, atheism emancipated me from all that useless superstitious baggage. Whatever meaning and purpose I have in my life is entirely the result of my own thoughts and actions.

"Meaning," "purpose," to the extent that those terms apply to the range of one's own life connote what we highly value or value more than anything else we might value. As such I not only don't see why atheists cannot have a meaning or purpose in life, but I would also argue that they are uniquely positioned to have more authentic meanings and purposes for their lives than theists. The meaning and purposes of the lives of theists are often prescribed for them by their religion and as such they are obligated to adopt those meanings and purposes (values) as opposed to discovering them for themselves. Atheists don't have to follow any external prescription and are, therefore, more likely to be authentic about what gives their lives meaning and purpose.

Good post, Dana, I certainly agree.  There’s a line in Mirror Reversal, that the cosmos is nature’s greatest spectacle.  Just knowing it’s there and marveling at the ineffable beauty make life worthwhile, if even for the lifespan of a mayfly.



Well said, Richard. The cosmos, biological life, what's given--all of it is rife with mystery and presents multiple avenues for discovery.

Yes it can. I will admit that one of the hardest things for me to come to grips was that if there was no god then there was no "higher calling". It put me in a depressive episode for a while. However, the one thing that I did realize was I can take full control of my life and give it purpose. My story is not predetermined by some deity, but is currently being written and re-written by me. I am in my early twenties and I realize i only have fifties years left on this earth before I return to my true home. This has ignited this sense of urgency to leave something behind for future generations. I don't care about being wealthy, but worry about how I can use that wealth to impact the world. I write short stories, poems, raps, songs and other writings just to leave something behind just in case I meet an early demise. I've made it my mission to add to the collective human knowledge.

I know that was a little long winded, but the short answer is that being a non-believer has amplified the meaning and purpose of my life and caused me to take control of it. Just remember that your destiny is in your own hands so choose it wisely.

Well spoken. "Higher calling" from within, not from without. As for me, the final step taken to remove myself from religion/Christian dogma tyranny brought profound relief. I felt depressed by the belief(s), have experienced empowering release and freedom since. So refreshing. And honest. And true to self. That, of course, and much, much more.




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