What is the point?

Apparently many Christians and Muslims feel pity for atheists because they think we are nihilistic, and live meaningless, empty lives. After all, they say, if there is no life after death, what is the point of living? Atheists cannot see any meaning to the universe, they say, because in our world view the universe is a cold, inhospitable place without purpose or design.

Well pardon me, but who’s being nihilistic now? Atheists derive all kinds of meaning and purpose, despite their impending doom and despite the fact that the world has no Creator.

Please try to be more positive, Christians and Muslims. Your life can have meaning even if you die at the end of it. And you can find your own purpose in life. You don’t have to be assigned one by a Creator. We’re not robots, you know.

When I write on this blog, do I sound nihilistic? If life is meaningless, why do I blog about it so furiously? The reason atheism is none of these things is because atheists understand the true meaning of purpose – that purpose is what we choose it to be. It can be literally anything you choose. Isn’t that an astonishing, positive thought?

“Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” – Thomas Jefferson

Let’s move on from ancient superstitions and myths and find some meaning and values for ourselves. Stop clinging to what someone told you your life is for. Instead, choose a meaning for yourself. It’s liberating, it’s empowering.

It’s the precise opposite of nihilistic.

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20 responses to “What is the point?

  1. I think you’ve just defined freedom 🙂

  2. This is so true. Our lives are now, this minute. We are, as Manja suggests, free.

  3. Whether or not something comes after death, we all choose the ways we treat ourselves, others, and this world. I’m glad most choose to leave it better for their having been in it.

  4. I encourage you to stop contemplating the narrow-minded dogma of all religion (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Atheism) It is our personal insecurity, our fear that if life might be something other than we “know” it that we are not safe. No matter what the truth about life, one person is as safe as the next regardless of differing “truths” aka opinions.

    To be emotionally insecure is to be enslaved; this is a fact we all have in common. So how do we become emotionally secure? Know who you are, love who you are, strive to reach your full potential, and stop allowing the opinions of others dictate your degree of peace and happiness.

  5. “Atheists understand the true meaning of purpose – that purpose is what we choose it to be. It can be literally anything you choose. Isn’t that an astonishing, positive thought?” Perfectly expressed. And thanks for the link-back.

  6. If I had to slap a label on myself, I suppose it would be “agnostic”. I don’t know what awaits me after I die, so I choose to live for the here and now. I want to be able to look at my image in the mirror each night and not feel regret or shame for anything I said or did that day. Some days I fail miserably, but I tell myself I’ll try harder tomorrow. I choose to be a good person. It isn’t something forced on me with threats of the fires of a hell I don’t believe in. Of course, my idea of what constitutes a good person probably differs with that of organized religion. 🙂

  7. The subtext that I see here is that nihilism is somehow bad. Why should that be the case?

    You are mistaken when you speak for all atheists. I don’t suppose that atheists have a common philosophy binding them together. The only thing that allows atheists to be grouped together is the lack of belief in god. That is all. Their personal philosophy for life and morality can be quite different from each other and can range from humanism on one end of the spectrum to nihilism on the other end.

    What is important, dear Christians, Muslims and fellow atheists who want to speak on my behalf; is to understand that there is nothing wrong in being a nihilist. If I don’t want to do anything with my life because I feel that there’s no point, I should be able to do so, as it is my life.

  8. What’s funny about the modern religious position on this is that it’s so different from the struggles of the thinkers who gave rise to their views. One of the greatest struggles in late antique theology is over whether the presence of an afterlife makes our lives on earth meaningless. For Augustine, the idea of an immortal soul was both a source of hope and deep trepidation, because he was desperately afraid that it would render his life experience on earth an exercise in futility. And you can run out of breath naming late antique/early medieval theologians who suffered nihilistic thoughts about the prospect of predestination.

    It’s so strange to me how mainstream religious views (I don’t mean to implicate individual practitioners in this) espouse so little religious desire, and so little religious humility, both of which seems like such incredibly important aspects of faith.

  9. As a non-believer, I see the value in having the freedom to make our own meaning. Indeed, I think that’s the situation whether we like it or not. I’m at peace with it, but I recognize that me being at peace with it is easier because, relative to most of humanity, I lead a comfortable life.

    Many people do not lead comfortable lives, and that lack makes them more likely to be hungry for meaning, to be part of something greater than themselves, for essentially pre-packaged meaning. I suspect that us telling them to enjoy their freedom to make their own meaning is a bit like a prosperous farmer telling poor hungry people to enjoy their freedom to grow their own food. In both cases, other things will have to be fixed before our advice is likely to be accepted.

  10. Lots of diverse responses to this post. Bravo! That was really the point of my message. Thank you all for your time and thought, even though I haven’t replied to each comment.

  11. Some atheists are nihilistic and some are not. Period.

  12. I agree with everything you say and I am not even an atheist! Plus so many of the worlds greatest atrocities, are in the name of religion. Most disturbing!

  13. as a nihilist I would like to know what Definition of nihilism you were using in your last sentence

    • Oh dear, I have given the nihilists a reason to live 😉
      I was probably thinking of some negative aspects such as that life has no meaning or value and that existence is purposeless.
      I think my article acknowledges that life is without objective meaning and purpose (strict definition of nihilism) but that is in itself a trivial and pointless definition, because meaning is obviously a quality that humans create for themselves. I will probably write a follow-up article to elaborate and fill in the gaps.

  14. 🙂 oh my – inspiring 🙂
    I’m watching you ( 😉 )
    ~ Eric

  15. I’ve been asked if Atheists are more likely to commit murder, how children of Atheists can grow up with morals, if Atheists deny God because they secretly think of themselves as God, and politely declined more than one invitation to the rapture provided I change my opinion of Obama. Yikes 🙂

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