Be it atheists or theists, many may feel human life may be purposeless or untenable; i.e. a never ending search or a "why" question that's perhaps not worth asking.
I think there's a viable alternative to especially the "purposeless" based outlook, with the introduction of a recent concept called "teleonomy", which is an atheistic/scientific way to describe nature in purpose driven language. (In fact, as seen on Wikipedia/teleonomy, Richard Dawkins; recently introduced the treatments “archeo” and “neo” purpose. See his video/speech "the purpose of purpose".)
Anyway, for example, using the laws of thermodynamics, we can try to objectively discover non-trivial goals that humans may undertake, as far as nature goes. (i.e. grand purposes for the human species, that reasonably transcend the desires of individual humans, while seeking to be objective, much like how Science tends to follow the evidence, aiming to describe what the cosmos actually is, rather than what people may want the cosmos to be.)
Note: One may reasonably grasp an understanding of the summaries below, without clicking on the associated wikipedia etc sources. One may however get an even more wholesome understanding, by toggling the links conveniently provided throughout the summaries.
Hypothesis A - An atheist PhD psychologist named Michael Price, hypothesizes that future humans are probably supposed to replicate universes : "Michael's variant of Cosmological Natural Selection I":
Hypothesis B - An atheist computer scientist named Jordan Bennett, hypothesizes that a grand human purpose is probably to create Artificial General Intelligence : "Why the purpose of the human species is probably to create artificial general intelligence?"
Crucially, Science can reasonably describe how organic life began (namely, via evolutionary principle etc) and also, reasonably where human life perhaps seeks to go (again, via evolutionary principle etc, as described in the hypotheses above.)
"Where/what was a human purpose 'before it was stuck in the realm of religion'?"
There was no human purpose to life; evolution does not require a purpose.
"what preceded religion?"
Community, kinship, the need for protection from predators.
"Michael Price’s and Jordan Bennett’s attempts at purpose."
OK, I am now going over to read your recommendations and then will return and answer your questions agains.
Slow down, Joan.
Watch Blue Gray’s Brain Episode 1 video above. The words “stuck in the realm of religion” are between 2:45 and 3:10 in the 5-minute video.
You wrote “There was no human purpose to life;....”
Try “There was no purpose to human life;....”
Human purposes included getting food and water, along with community and the need for protection from predators.
And, if a need for protection from predators preceded religion, predators also preceded religion.
Good advice, Tom, "Slow down." Yes, I have gone back to the original Blue Grey Brain's discussion point and trying to make sense of a field in which I have little talent. I should be able to grasp the ideas, or reject them, if I claim to be a behavioral scientist. I guess I have to rethink that claim.
So far, I am having trouble with Wilson's Evolution Biology Lecture because he uses as an illustration the effect a beaver has on an environment. I forget the word he used but it implied that because the beaver selects trees of one variety leaving the forest full of coniferous trees, poisoning the groundwater.
My perception is that the beaver changes the components of the environment, but does not ruin it. A beaver usually finds a wet area with seeping water to build a dam. The beaver is selective in which kind of trees he kills and eats or uses for a dam, leaving behind a different forest. The groundwater does change as plant life changes. the Mycocizal enzimes of one kind of tree is different than the enzimes of another tree. The new forest is an evolved forest, not a ruined one.
I seem to not be able to get beyond that statement as I listen to Wilson's lecture. I guess I will have to stop there and figure it out before I go on.
As a behavioral scientist, Joan, you are able to grasp or reject the ideas in Blue’s discussion, or you are able to suspend judgment.
So you can imagine the universe coming from nothing, multiverses, strings, dark matter, black holes, et cetera, but without empirical evidence you suspend judgment, don’t you?