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meaning of life (how does an atheist feel?)

Written by Richard Carrier Isn't life pointless? Why should the atheist bother? It's all just going to end anyway, right? How does the atheist's life have meaning? The mere fact that consciousness exists, that some person exists who can see and know and create and manifest everything good for others and find happiness in living, is the most astounding thing of all. It does not matter if it is brief, for merely the opportunity itself is priceless and our being here, to acknowledge it, to study it, to know it, and to love it, gives the universe meaning. If we did not exist at all, then the universe would indeed be pointless, but since it becomes meaningful the moment we come to know and appreciate it, our lives share in that meaning and become the most valuable thing that can ever exist. From a point of view outside of time, everything, past and present, exists eternally: our lives sit forever like pearls on a string of time. What we do with our life, what we make of it, how we enjoy it, can never be taken away. It becomes a part of what exists, adding to its value, like gems in a purse. The sages have said it for millennia, and it is true. It really is love that is key: love of learning, love of doing, love of others, love of ideals, love of country or cause, anything, everything, is the foundation of meaning. If we lacked that, we would be miserable and our lives pointless even if we lived forever. Even if we droned on with praises for a supreme being in heaven for all eternity our existence would be superficial, trite, unsatisfying, and ultimately a torture. Thus, the key lies in finding your loves and pursuing them, manifesting that love in defiance of a universe that won't. What is worth loving? The potential of humanity, the power of reason, the comfort of another's love, the pursuit of knowledge and truth, the beauty and joy of human experience, and the nearly unlimited power of the human will to endure almost any hardship or solve almost any problem. And that is just the short list. How many wonderful people do we know, or could we know if we sought them out, who are worth loving, loving merely for the fact that we wished there were more of them in the world, and that they alone would give us a meaning to live? Even when I look at something magnificent in nature, the stars, the wilds, the musculature of a sea lion, the beauty of a nebula, I think to myself "How fantastic!" How pointless that beauty would be if I didn't notice and appreciate it. How valuable I am because I can. Immortality is inconsequential in this equation. We have no ground to fear death, for death is the end of fear itself, and what is to fear in that? We live for only one reason: because we love life, all of it, any of it. And if it disappoints us that there is not enough happiness in the world, not enough goodness, we can contribute toward rectifying that, and that is what gives our lives meaning. The more good things we can create or teach and thus leave behind for others, the more lives we can light up with our company and companionship, the more precious our short existence will have been, and the more satisfied we will be that we used our bank account of life well, and thus deserved our measure. I have faced death on a few occasions, and yet I was always calm and accepting. On the one hand I knew I would no longer have any worries or pains when I no longer exist, and on the other hand I had lived a good life and done some small good, things that would never have been had I not existed at all, and my short span of knowing, enjoying, loving it all was well worth it. By making the universe that little bit brighter and more meaningful, my own life had value and meaning as a consequence.

dean

what richard carrier is trying to say is that acoording to you guys we are going to die and nothing will happen. since nothing will happen whats the point of life? it doesnt matter how much good you do for someone because there gona die anyways and have no meaning. lets say you save a persons life all you did was prolong death and make them go through sickness, hatred, death of love one's and ect. it doesnt matter what that person does because its for no reason. atheism destroys reason, love, and faith. for example the president of the u.s (barrack obama) lets say he found out that the talaban was gona strike in washington. so he does some things to stop them and he saved millions of people. those people are gona die and go no where. so that destroys the reason of living. then lets say some of those people ended up being doctors. doctors save people. but all the doctor is doing is prolonging death. so there is no reason. my father was once arguing with an atheist the man got tired of arguing so the man wanted to end it. but before he ended it he told my father. "i wish i can be a christian you people are always so happy. you guys have reason to live. you guys believe that your going to heaven so you guys are always happy. me i am almost never happy because i believe after i die i go know where. i just sit and rot." so my father asks him "why dont you just convert." and the man sais "because god doesnt exhist and if i convert i will just be lieing. i wish i can believe." this man was depraved of happiness because he didnt believe in god. when you believe in god you have hope. everyday i wake up thinking im going to heaven so everyday im happy. and i find purpose in my life. and my purpose is to spread around the love of god. its not be lawyer, doctor, or athlete. thats not a purpose. your purpose is what you do for god. i hope you read this with an open mind.

god bless

Jonathan,

I do not think that belief in things that are not true and have no basis in reality gives anyone a meaning or purpose in life. Each person or individual has to decide for themselves what gives meaning to their lives, and I do not think that someone else should do it for them. Believing that after death you will go to paradise where you will live forever or claiming to know that a deity exists does not actually affect the realities of life.

Tell me how things that are irrelevant to atheists gives purpose or meaning to their lives? Atheists do not live their lives any differently from anyone else except they know what is real and what is bullshit.

Jonathan, do you have a reading comprehension problem or are you just so brainwashed that you automatically spew apologetic nonsense no matter what you read? I ask because it's clear that you've never read anything written by Richard Carrier before, and you got absolutely nothing from the paragraphs above.

This is from an essay Richard wrote in 2001 and which was later published in his book "Sense and Goodness Without God." In that book he explains not only why he is an atheist, but why methodoligical naturalism is superior to spending a life on your knees begging a non-existent deity for favors. This essay is now Chapter 7 of Part III of the book.

I would recommend that you read the book, but if after reading the essay above you concluded exactly the opposite of what it says, then Dr. Carrier's book is way over your head. Either that, or you're just too dishonest to acknowledge that your attempts to caricature atheists are ridiculous.

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