Friday, March 14, 2014

On Purpose and Meaning.

A lot of atheist sites have been elucidating the subject concerning the meaning and purpose of life. There are even these atheist sites that employ short stories just to send the message. Yet still believers assume that non-believers think there is no meaning and purpose in life.

God believers imagine that living in this planet includes a definite purpose and meaning. According to Christian believers, we are created by God because of a certain specific cosmic purpose. They pose that if humans were just created by random chance, then we don’t have any purpose. Rick Warren, the author of "A Driven Purpose Life", even believes that God has given ethics because life has a  purpose and meaning. He asked his readers, why should you even think of being good if you only have a short life here on planet Earth? William Lane Craig also thinks that atheists imagine human life is just an insignificant moment before the perpetual grave. Another Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, claims that wonder, truth, love and security are essential components to have a meaning in life and only Christian theism can satisfy these conditions.

It is rather strange to these Christian apologists think that belief in God automatically gives someone a sense of meaning and purpose. It seems a Christian believes that any person who doesn’t believe in his God have no purpose in living. I often wonder, so there is a god who created some rules to be obeyed, and if you don’t comply with them you roast in hell for all eternity… Does that constitute meaning and purpose in life? Is there really a meaning in life if you are living in a fool’s paradise? Do frightening and agonizing people with all kinds of imaginary fears and guilt-feelings promote a purpose in life?

According to Rick Warren, “Measured against eternity our time on earth is just a blink of an eye, but the consequences of it will last forever.” Is seems Mr. Warren is suggesting that a Christian believer’s life is about fear of God. Warren even stressed that we are rewarded for our faithfulness to God on Earth, and that every time you respond correctly to some adversary in your life, God notices and makes plans to reward you in eternity. Then that gives the impression as if Christians are motivated in life by the rewards of heaven and the avoidance of hell. If Rick Warren is correct, then your purpose in life is about deciding whether you obey God and get your rewards or disobey him and pay the price! Then every reason and importance of life rests in the will of God. To the question, "Why should I do x?" believers will answer, "Because it is the will of God." If we continue to ask, "Why should I obey the will of god?" they will answer, "Because he will reward or punish you accordingly, either in this life or in an afterlife." Then the power of this supernatural being has thus served as a standard. A believer resides his life, not because he desires life’s fundamental consequence, but because he fears its sanction—in this case, the wrath of god. Surely this seems to be a very shallow point and significance to life.

So ok… ok, I have already talked about how believers assume that they have a certain meaning and purpose in life. How about non-believers? Do non-believers also have a sense of meaning and purpose in life? God believers assume that humans have a so-called grand “cosmic meaning and purpose” in making life livable yet have overlook that we can still make some kind of meaning and purpose in life even in a smaller personal meaning. Just look at Mr. Zacharias’ claim. Do you think that wonder, truth, love and security are exclusive to God-belief? Hey! I can feel awe at the universe when I look at the stars in a clear night yet I don’t believe in a god. I can go trekking in Montalban, Rizal with my friends and marvel at the natural beauty of the mountains, the hills, the river, the, trees, the rocks and every living beings in the forest, yet I don’t believe in the existence of Jesus Christ – nor did I go there to be a pilgrim of that “Estampang Bato” – a big rock that is being venerated by delusional worshipers in Montalban. As a human being I am touched by the arts – the ultimate expression of creativity, and feel wonder and love even if I don’t consider the possibility that Allah exist. Woah! I can even relate to mysticism, even if I don’t believe that Krishna is a real thing! I am touched by literature, even those who were written by god-believers. Hehehe, reading poems written by Pablo Neruda can even give you a sense of meaning than reading all those apologetic literatures being put up for sale in those Christian bookshops and Bible House. Mr. Rick Warren, Mr. Ravi Zacharias and other Christian believers should note that 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 can give someone’s life a meaning and purpose even if the person doesn’t believe the delusion of a god-belief.

Atheists can enjoy life even if they don’t believe in a so-called cosmic purpose. Just think about it, believers imagine that all his action on this planet is guided by God, just like what a certain song said, “God is watching us in a distance…” So my life doesn’t include a certain voyeur in the clouds… Big deal! That doesn’t make my life dreary. I can enjoy life just like any typical God-believer, minus that big fat man in the sky. The difference between me and the believer is that I don’t deceive myself in so-called “supernatural cosmic meaning and purpose.” The universe doesn’t care. Nature doesn’t give a damn. It doesn’t need you or me or anyone else on this planet. The universe will keep on moving even without you. All the planets in this solar system will keep on rotating and revolving even if you were not born. Meaning and purpose is a human idea, it’s how you justify your existence. However, it doesn’t require an assured God-belief in order to work. Bear in mind that every person in this planet have the goal of surviving – of staying alive and being happy for yourself and other people. That already signifies a purpose. You don’t need a so-called cosmic purpose to be happy. To live in a so-called divine purpose is to live in an illusion. Are you living life because somebody assured you that a supernatural God in heaven is gazing at you – and you are existing because of trepidation of retribution or the gains of remuneration… is that your purpose in life?

Can you only sense a meaning in life if you believe in immortality… a life after death… as what these Christian apologists want us to consider? So you can’t have a meaning in life because life is so short, huh? Yes, as an atheist, I don’t believe in eternal life after death. Sure, we’re all going to become fertilizer to our neighbor’s lawn someday. That may be shocking. But do you think I need to take a placebo just to experience a meaning in my life? Then what will be the difference between a junkie and a god-believer? Drug addicts take drugs to escape the realities of life. Are we going to believe in God to flee from the realities of death? Why not draw a different yet positive outlook. Since we know that life is short, we should try hard to experience all the meaning we can within that short range. You have a limited number of days, hours, and minutes… so you should do your utmost to fill each of those days, hours, and minutes with meaning. Fill them with learning and try gaining wisdom - with concern for the poor, with love for friends and family, with doing a job well, with fighting against evil and obscurantism.

The shortness of life is not really a hindrance. The mere fact that my consciousness exist, that I can talk with people I sometimes hardly knew, that I have a loving family and supportive friends, that I can write my thoughts on my blog, that I can share my ideas and philosophies to others, that I am born with the ability to solve problems are enough to give the universe a meaning and my life a purpose. Let us remember that the minute a person's value his life, it becomes meaningful. When a person shares this meaning to other people, it then has a purpose… and you don’t need to believe in a god to accomplish that.

Until next time.

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