- Do what God tells you, even if it’s an immoral act (e.g. murder your son/daughter) because, “his ways are greater than ours”.
- Don’t do what God tells you not to because he really hates people making fun of him. I guess being God means you can’t have a sense of humour.
- Why? Because might makes right.
- Do no harm.
- Why? The world is a much nicer place to live in for everyone.
This is a follow up post to “The meaning of life according, to a couple of Christians”. Unlike the Christians who presumed to speak on behalf of everybody, I’m not so arrogant as to make such a claim. I am speaking on behalf of myself and nobody else. It will be made clear why at the end.
What is the meaning of life? What a big question!? Huge even! People study in very specific fields their entire lives to try to answer this question, and I’m going to give it a go. Little old me with no training in any field one would normally attribute to being necessary to even attempt such a question as this…wish me luck. (Theologians aren’t qualified either, but nobody gives them a hard time.)
I ranted about the stupidity of a couple of Christians, trying to answer this question with their god goggles on (The meaning of life, according to a couple of Christians). I believe it’s important, not just to criticise bad ideas, but to try and provide some ideas of my own. Hopefully, if they’re any good someone will appreciate them, and if they’re just as dumb someone will criticise them (I don’t mind…really). So here it is: The meaning of Life, according to the Belfast Atheist.
Fucked if I know, is the most honest answer I can give.
Ok, I can do better than that. First off, let us look at whether or not the question is relevant. Does there have to be a meaning to life? It would be very easy for me to dismiss the whole idea of there being a meaning to life. By wording the question as “WHAT is the meaning of life?” there is the assumption in the question that there is a ‘what’. What if there wasn’t a meaning to life? The question itself negates the entire possibility that there is no reason, or ultimate purpose, for life what so ever. And it is a possibility, maybe not a pleasant idea, but it’s on the table. I don’t trust ideas that sound to good to be true. By posing the question in this why, the asker is making an unsupported assumption that there is a meaning to life. Logically, anyone put in the position of answering it, is justified in stating, “Until you can demonstrate that there is a meaning to life, I’m under no obligation to answer the question of what is the meaning of life.”
It’s like those believers who ask, “Who created the universe?” (Very annoying question! Even when you point out the flaw in the question they still repeat it like a mindless parrot.) Until you can demonstrate that the universe had a creator, your question has no answer. It’s the wrong question. It’s a false question. First we have to ask, “Did the universe have a beginning?” If you answer yes, the second question would be, “How did that happen?” Third (which may, or may not be relevant) would be, “Why was it created?” or “Why does it exist?” The question of “Who created it?” only becomes relevant when you have successful demonstrated that it was created by a ‘who’.
The Darwinian meaning of life, like the Darwinian theory of evolution, says nothing about the origin of life. Now that life does exist, its primary focus is on the survival of genes (See The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins who does a good job of explaining altruism and self sacrifice).
As true as the Darwinian answer is, it’s not very satisfying. Surely our lives have more importance than that. And if our lives do carry more importance, where does that importance come from? You will have no doubt noticed that I have replaced the term ‘meaning’ with ‘importance’. This is because, whatever meaning our lives have, importance is our best measure of meaning. How meaningful our lives are, is directly correlated with how important our life is to other people, and also how important it is to ourselves. (Note for believers: If you can’t demonstrate that your god even exists, you can’t complain that I’m ignoring him. The meaning of our lives is not measured by their importance to a non-existent sky daddy!)
The alternative: The idea of having a meaning, which was decided by someone/thing else, a very common idea in religion. Besides not having any reason to think its true, I can think of reasons why I don’t find it desirable. Having the meaning of life decided makes it arbitrary. God could have chosen anything to be the meaning of life, and he could easily change his mind. What if the meaning for life has came and went, and nobody told us. Our lives today would just be something that occurred afterwards. For instance, when Jesus made the claim that he would return within the lives of people around him (Mark 13:30, Matthew 10:23, 16:28, 24:34, Luke 21:32, 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Maybe the second coming has happened, just not as anyone expected, and all life is now is the remnants.
Is it not more empowering to be in control of our own meaning? I’m arguing for the desirability of a self-proclaimed meaning. By choosing for ourselves how we want to live our lives, by choosing our own path, our meaning becomes more powerful and meaningful to ourselves.
Is it true that we can choose our own meaning? I have chosen to work towards dispelling superstitious thinking and to promote scepticism and rational thought (I can’t imagine any of the proposed gods supporting that.) I made that choice, and I feel that I’m contributing to creating a healthier, more sustainable society. I’m only a small voice, but this is how I have chosen to add value. This is how I wish to make myself more important to others, and feel more important to myself.
Only you can decide how you wish to add value, to others, and also to yourself. Nobody else can tell you that. They can make recommendations, such as I am here, but ultimately it’s up to you.
To prove that the meaning to life question involves anything supernatural, such as a god, requires proving the supernatural to be true. This has never been done!
…as long as everyone adheres to only one religion, otherwise all bets are off. Religion divides people. It divides people more than any other force on the planet. Why is it so hard for people to see that? Christians are all connected with their faith in the risen Christ, except they’re not. There are thousands of different versions of christianity and they all think the others have it wrong. It’s easy for the Pope to meet with Jewish and Islamic leaders and make small talk about being united in faith, but when it actually comes done to it, they are completely opposed to each other.
I wonder how many of you Christians realise why there are so many variations. It’s simple really, one church splits into two when they don’t agree, which then splits into four, and so on.
Religion is the great divider.
Interesting local news to make my point: Orange Order action over UUP attendance at Kerr funeral
Those of you who are not local to Northern Ireland may not be familiar with Ronan Kerr, the Catholic Police Officer who was killed by a car bomb. The story in a nut shell is two high up members of the Orange Order (Protestant/Unionist) attended the Catholic funeral out of respect. For this Mr Elliot and Kennedy have my respect for their humane act which goes counter to their religious conviction which denies them the right to attend any Catholic Masses.
For showing an ounce of humanity they now face disciplinary hearings. Don’t tell me religion and faith brings people together. It never has, and it never will! Unless you count bringing people together in confrontation!
I get accused a lot for being angry with god. I want to make it perfectly clear that it’s not your non-existant tyrant I’m angry and frustrated with, it’s you stubbornly ignorant merchants of mis-information and bigotry!
I wouldn’t ban religion, but I do promote abandoning religion in favour of embracing rationality.
We have bill boards and bus campaigns, perhaps this could be our next step.