October 31, 2006

The Meaning Of Life Without God


Click Cartoon To Enlarge It

Well at least believers are consistent. Most think that they have something over us infidel selfish Godless people of the abyss. They seem to think that if God doesn't exist, there can be no meaning to life.

Alrighty then, lets give the believers the benefit of the doubt. Now I ask them, but NEVER get a very good response, if I get one at all: Lets assume God exists, what the hell is the meaning of life?

Lets look at some of the answers:

To be closer to God in heaven.
What is the purpose of being closer to God? What is the big deal? It still isn't meaning, it is more a reward. Why would God need a bunch of people close to him? If he is all perfect, he wouldn't need anyone else.

To achieve perfection
That is pretty boring. And it is something we don't need God for. Unless you need lots of time to achieve perfection. But then what? Do you vapourize? Absolute nothing is perfect, I guess. Again, what is the meaning of being perfect?

To live for eternity in heaven
Again, what kind of meaning of life is that? It is a reward, but not a meaning.

Lets face it, with or without God, the meaning of life is what we subjectively give it. What is the meaning of the life of dung beetle, or a fruit fly? Do dog's have a meaning? Oh yeah I forgot, only God knows and he works in mysterious ways.

Of course, all theists say there is a plan. Yes, we are all just actors in God's big play. That would mean that our purpose is to act. But what is the meaning of the plan? Oh yeah I forgot, only God knows and he works in mysterious ways.

Atheists at least know this is our only shot at life. We don't fall back on false hope. We can make our purpose to live life to the fullest, and strive for happiness, to give our lives as much meaning as we can to ourselves and others.
While theists, could put off living while deluding themselves. In the real world though, both theists and Atheists wind up living there lives, and they are probably likely to experience just as much out of life as the other. Only, Atheists don't deny reality under the guise that there is some magical meaning that nobody can figure out.

There are many defeatists out there who swear that without God, there is "no meaning." Well sorry to break it to you, but with God there is the same "no meaning" either. Of course, there are those who think that they are serving God, by blowing themselves up. That is another way to give life "meaning" I guess.

I also am tired of the "you aren't spirititual, you can't understand what I understand." I can't understand what these theists understand because they can't understand it either. They can't even begin to be able to put it in words. Can you say self-deluded?

Apparently, Jewish Atheist sort of subconsciously stole the idea of this particular post. God had nothing to do with it......this time.

38 comments:

  1. You forgot about the love thing. Apparently God needs humans to love him. He loves you, like really really loves you. He gets upset when you don’t love him, like really really upset, like hurt you, really violently sort of upset. Never really understood the concept myself, I’d be happier with just being liked or tolerated.

    Apparently God could have just created people who loved him automatically but this wouldn’t have been as satisfying as having most of us burn in hell for making the wrong decision.

    The whole Bible seems to be about God feeling isolated and unloved by mankind, like we don’t have enough to worry about already!

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  2. Below is A cut and pasted rabbinical answer to the question of the meaning/purpose of life.
    (A fundamental of Judaism is that there is nothing a human being can do for God. God has no needs. In the Shema, the Jewish pledge of allegiance, we are commanded to love God B'chol Nafshecha - "with all your soul."
    Since God is perfect and has no needs, He cannot take; He only gives. Creation is not for His benefit. It is one continuous gift of pure altruism, an act of complete giving without getting anything in return.
    "God's purpose in creation was to bestow of His good to another."
    The function of creation is to give mankind meaning, fulfillment and pleasure. Attaining these is our life's purpose.
    This is intrinsic to being human. Just as a pen cannot be anything but a pen, a human being cannot be anything but a pleasure-seeker. Everything we do stems from this innate drive.)
    My personal interpretation of the meaning/purpose of life and creation is that we are all here to perform a mission each person individually. To do more than just blog watch tv etc etc etc…

    That purpose could be supporting your family, an act of kindness you perform that impacts someone else in a way you will never know the pay it forward sort of effect. Ultimately performing an act of kindness could be perceived as something you do selfishly to give yourself the pleasure of knowing you did something nice for someone, or it could be your automatic response to act in that manner.

    The mission of life why God created us is trying to find your purpose/mission and to fulfill it.

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  3. Jhrhv, you idea of purpose and meaning of life really does not need a God to fulfil it.
    Also, if you say God only gives, I guess you don't believe in the Exodus when God took away the lives of Egyptian first borns.

    Of course, there is no evidence of the Exodus ever happening so God is off the hook on that one. And I know the Orthodox have a great spin on everything so they can rationalize the offing of Egyptian firstborns as an act of giving anyways.

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  4. Ack, sorry didn't mean to steal your post. :-)

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  5. we are all here to perform a mission each person individually.

    Where I live here in New Zealand the other day some teenagers were sitting in a car inhaling gas from a BBQ gas cylinder. They were all having quite a jolly time until one decided to light a cigarette. I don’t need to spell out what happened next suffice to say that we now have a new Darwin award candidate.

    Mission accomplished I guess.

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  6. Reading your post there, as a Jew, I do have a question: Why does my own belief in God (or disbelief; I am personally very agnostic), contradict my belief that this is, as you put it, our only shot at life.

    There may be a world to come, and we may have a chance to get there, but we have only one chance here. For our own sakes, we should make the most of it.

    Of course, I could be wrong...

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  7. After reading your post, I have a few questions:

    Why is God, or no-God, needed or not needed for there to be meaning in life? Can't we give our own lives meaning through our own actions and moral struggles?

    As a Jew, and an agnostic one at that, I believe that there may be world to come. But does that negate my concurrent belief that, as you put it, "this is our only shot at life?"

    We live, we exist, we grow, we die. Whatever comes after cannot affect us; time doesn't work that way. What we do now may affect what comes after, but who can prove that?

    It seems, to me, that the meaning we seek should come from within ourselves, however we choose to articulate it.

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  8. Funny, but I don't consider myself "spiritual" and I'm an Orthodox Jew. The term "spiritual" is a favorite of Hollywood leftists and mystics who are searching for a religion that approves of their petty, self-absorbed, narcisistic lifestyles. The way I observe God is trying to perform mitzvos to the best of my ability with the belief that it is the best possible blue print for a meaningful life.

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  9. This is all pointless. I was wrong too. Today I saw God.

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  10. AA, that comment from the person who yesterday said we all have to talk like computers or something like that sheesh. I smell a double standard maybe its just propane.

    BEAJ, how I think is the right way to act doesn't need a God you are right on that. But kindness is one of the primary lessons. You can learn them from just about anyone but I think the bible is the first book which made them popular.

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  11. Michael, that is my point. God is really not needed to give life meaning.

    MZ, that is a good answer, but life without bacon is meaningless.

    Shlemazl. We trace back to bacteria.
    So if God made man in his image God might look like this.

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  12. jhrhv

    sorry 'bout that. Good point though. It does get confusing if you're not sure if one is speaking literally or metaphorically.
    The propane story is true and did only happen last week - I couldn't resist the temptation.

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  13. Why are people so insistent that life *has to* mean anything? We are here by a random accident of evolution - there is no purpose or meaning to our lives, other than that which we individually choose to bestow on them.

    Just because your life has no meaning, doesn't mean you can't do something meaningful with it.

    Angry Atheist.

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  14. A meaningful life comes from the desire to eat chocolate.

    Choloate Deities
    http://www.chocolatedeities.com/deities.php

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  15. BEAJ-

    First of all, GREAT cartoon! Your best yet, IMNSHO.

    Now, if I may, to the answer:

    Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth, little man?

    Oh, snap!

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  16. hope this fits. Words and music by Eric Idle

    Some things in life are bad
    They can really make you mad
    Other things just make you swear and curse.
    When you're chewing on life's gristle
    Don't grumble, give a whistle
    And this'll help things turn out for the best...

    And...always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the light side of life...

    If life seems jolly rotten
    There's something you've forgotten
    And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
    When you're feeling in the dumps
    Don't be silly chumps
    Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

    And...always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the light side of life...

    For life is quite absurd
    And death's the final word
    You must always face the curtain with a bow.
    Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
    Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

    So always look on the bright side of death
    Just before you draw your terminal breath

    Life's a piece of shit
    When you look at it
    Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
    You'll see it's all a show
    Keep 'em laughing as you go
    Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

    And always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the right side of life...
    (Come on guys, cheer up!)
    Always look on the bright side of life...
    Always look on the bright side of life...
    (Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
    Always look on the bright side of life...
    (I mean - what have you got to lose?)
    (You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
    What have you lost? Nothing!)
    Always look on the right side of life...

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  17. That song is quite possibly the best bit of advice ever given.

    I like to think that if man had a purpose he would be like a slave or an appliance. Your toaster has a purpose but you don't - how absurd. Not at all. This is where people get all tied up in knots over the transcendant which is just a fancy term for finding your own reason to live or something. Man is more than a replicating machine yet that is his foundation. Consciousness and empathy is a sort of byproduct of a very long evolutionary process. We see this thing all the time in evolutionary development and human invention. Wings enabled flight yet their original 'purpose' was not for flight.

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  18. Mike-

    Where were you when I created the heavens and the earth, little man?

    Not quite sure what you are on about here Mike. Can you expand on it a little? The original, slightly different, quote was written thousands of years ago by someone pretending that the words came from the creator. Now if the words were literally written in the sky with stars or something I would be inclined to be more impressed.
    We don’t believe in the supernatural because the only proof we have are the writings and feelings of people with dodgy credentials. All other evidence points to natural processes.

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  19. No, I think Mike is saying that he played a rhetoric-spouting deity in some school play.

    Bacon, your conversations with god always entertain me.. the first one especially! You're yet to top that one.. better keep trying though :)

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  20. AA-

    It was (obviously, or so I thought) a joke. If any meaning's to be drawn from it, it's to add fuel to BEAJ's fire: that to try to devise meaning from biblical passage is silly beyond words.

    Anyway, didn't the "Oh, snap" part suggest that I wasn't exactly on god's side in this debate?

    Oh, whatever. Who the fuck cares anyway?

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  21. Ooops sorry.

    The new rule now is that everyone has to be clear about what they are saying to stop embarrassing slip ups like this. It's getting us all into trouble.

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  22. Anyway I thought it was Dougman doing the parody.

    There seems to be a lot of commenters called Mike - almost as common as ones called anonymous so one is never quite sure.

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  23. If you click Mike's name it will lead you to his blog.

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  24. Now there's a moderator! Allows my comment to stand, explains it, and even directs the gang to my blog!

    Yee-hah. Maybe there's an omnipotent deity afterall. And he eats bacon and razzes the lord-in-heaven.

    {Ducks lightning bolt}

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  25. Everybody finds meaning in life without realizing it. The few of us who can't find meaning suicide. The rest of us, well we keep on keeping on. God serves only as a justification for doing or not doing certain things.

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  26. The concept of eternal life, is selfish by nature. Eternal life for whom? For the individual. The atheist who believes in dying, believes also in leaving a legacy for the remaining to continue. Completely altruistic, a different plane.

    The concept of god, provides psychological support. The atheists learns to live without it. Psychological strength.

    The concept of perfection lacks a good risk/benefit ratio. It is asyntotic. We do need perfection. Efficiency is what the atheist wants.

    Plan? What will "God" do when the plan is fulfilled? Destroy everything and start again?

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  27. Lex, Marco, the point of this entry was that having to need a God in order to give meaning in life, is just ridiculous, yet theists throw this in Atheist's faces all the time. But when asked to examine their claims, once again, they have no point.

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  28. That cartoon was terrible. You should stick to writing blog posts.

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  29. Just came across this site. How sad. Anyway - that's my opinion. So many words and you seem to be so intelligent and on top of it. You may not find meaning but, according to Jesus Christ (regardless of who you associate him with) YOU MEANT A LOT TO HIM. HE DIED FOR YOU. Receive it or not.
    You can't fit a (for you potentially) infinite God into a finite mind. But you can fit him in your hearts.

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  30. Love gives meaning to life. You may ask how that is and I don't think I can explain it but if you ask people what gives meaning to their lives, they most often mention loved ones.

    Now if loved ones can constitute ones meaning in life, why not the love of God?

    Matt

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  31. Again, it is up to the individual, to me love enhances life and gives some meaning to it. Love exists...it is a state that either exists or doesn't.

    Again, there is no proof that God exists, but if your love of God gives your life meaning, that is up to you, but I can't see how the love of God could be the meaning of life.

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  32. I think you had started this subject by allowing that even if God exists, then still there is a question as to meaning. So I thought we were bypassing any need to prove that God exits.

    If your love, which is I would guess is an imperfect love, gives "some meaning to it", then can you not imagine, however dimly, a more perfect love which would give even more meaning to it?

    Matt

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  33. Matt, right, you can bypass it. But I still can't see that the meaning of life is loving God. The idea of loving any specific being no matter if it is "perfect" love, doesn't constitute meaning for me, I need a lot more. And I don't believe in a perfect love either....I think that is a delusional state.

    But whatever works for you. If you want to say that the meaning of life is your love of God, I can't relate or understand how it is, but if it is how you define meaning, so be it.

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  34. Hi,

    Perhaps you can't believe in a perfect love because you still havn't completely accepted our premise that assumes that there is a God.

    But if God is real, then He created you as well as me and therefore it probably isn't a case of "whatever works".

    The stronger the relationship between me and my beloved, the more blurred the line becomes between my self and my beloved. I think that in our deepest heart, we all long to have such an intimate fellowship with the One who created us.

    But such a relationship of love requires a certain surrender of my own independence. I cannot be the master of my fate and captain of my soul and still hope to enter into such a relationship of love.

    And there is the rub. I have to chose whether to live a meaningless life or to surrender my independence.

    Matt

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  35. Great points. But the one thing is, the Bible should be read as what it really is: a symbolic moral code. I mean, you don't have to accept the mysticism, but at least follow the moral codes (no murder, adultery, etc.) If you condone that, well...there's no hope for you.

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  36. Robert, morality is very relative from one culture to another. That being said, we are hardwired not to murder, rape, and steal, etc.
    The bible just wrote down what we already knew would not lead to successful life cycles.
    If mankind didn't live by "moral codes" that you describe, we would have been extinct a long long time before the bible was written.

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  37. Re: "with God there is the same "no meaning" either" - you have self-admittedly no authority on which to say this. It's a defensive and comforting guess. Re: why does God need us - any religious person will tell you the need is ours and ours alone. You can say you're above this need, and even put bacon in your URL, but its a lot of protesting... ; )

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  38. Rutka, you have to hope that God will come up some kind of meaning that neither you or me have thought about yet.
    On paper, I can't see how there would be "meaning" to life with or without God.

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