HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

How Atheists or Sceptics about religion have a sense of the value of life
 
You think life is worth living for you would not be here if you did not.
 
If you say life is worthless you must consider it worth your while to say that meaning you do consider your life to be worthwhile.
 
A sense of meaning is default and automatic and cannot be destroyed except by extreme mental melancholy - you have to be mentally ill.
 
You must make the purposes of your life yourself and you do that by living in the world and availing of its opportunities instead of trying to fool yourself with magic and prayers and sacraments and religions. There is no one purpose. It is cruel and manipulative and hypocritical and ignorant to say there is for we all get through the day by having countless reasons for living. Those reasons change from day to day. Our feelings change all the time.
 
Broadly there is the meaning as in why you would do good, why you would be happy and why you would suffer? The question for why do good is considered the paramount one. Indeed the others cannot matter if it does not matter. Do good is broad as well - it refers to what you do for yourself such as getting a good hair cut, eating responsibly as well as what you do for others. God and the meaning of life are too often linked together. Let us deal with that problem first and then explore how a sense of meaning helps with goodness, happiness and suffering.
 
Nihilism says you must make no definitive commitment to anything for it will not last and all things are fleeting. But to not make a commitment is to commit yourself to not making one!
 
The God "Solution"
 
Belief in God is linked to meaning. That is an argument for belief. That is not an argument for God. It implies that if somebody came up with something as good as God or better then it would not matter. So that the God "solution" refuted already. But let us go on and get some idea of how nonsensical it is from so many angles. Its persistence is alarming and shows how religion is immune to truth.

Why does God give meaning?
 
Is it because many believers say so? But more believers don't care about God. So why believe them? To say God gives you meaning means you are boasting that you let him and that you are special for others have let him too and felt even worse.
 
Or is it because God is goodness?
 
Is good good because God says so or is good good even if he says it is bad? In other words, is goodness a standard that God did not make and that even he should live up to? The Christians answer that God is the standard of goodness. That means God has to define for you what justice means and what love means. All it does is tell us not to decide but to let God decide.
 
It is good in itself for goodness to be independent of any being. Why? Because even if God will never harm, to have him making good good is still in principle open to saying it is okay if he commands something terrible just for fun. The notion that goodness depends on God and that God is the moral standard is incoherent.
 
If goodness is independent of God, then it follows that the meaning of life is about it not God. In fact getting meaning in God would be evil. It is failing to get meaning in goodness.
 
Money cannot buy happiness, it helps you to be happy and is proof that God alone is not enough. Yet the word God means that which alone matters. To say that God uses money to bring you to him is
 
Religious people fear anything that they think could take their faith away from them. The atheist has faith, but not in God. The atheist has faith that it is worth cooking the dinner and that he will be alive to enjoy it. He is glad to have the endearing arrogance to assume and feel that he will be. That is better than having the stark humility of the believer in God who refuses to believe he will or won't be alive to eat the dinner. He is not allowed to second-guess God for what he wants or expects might not be God's will. God is always right so one must always take care to be in concord with him.
 
It is people who give meaning to life. If a religion didn't make a community nobody would bother with the religion even if it were true! It is not religion or God that give meaning. Atheists have died beautiful deaths surrounded by friends and family. Those who say God gives them meaning are never hermits. They think they see God at work in the people around them. It is thinking that that works not God. Thinking you see God is not equivalent to seeing God.
 
They say that unbelievers concoct a sense of meaning in life despite arguing that life has no absolute or intrinsic or objective value. The believers call that delusion. This objection is twisted and by it they show their mental disturbance. Life has value just because it has value. The baby values life though he does not believe in God. It is untrue that you need to believe in God to hold that life is valuable in itself. If life were really intrinsically valuable to you, you would not need to bring God into it as justification for attributing value to it.
 
If you told people you wanted creativity and wisdom and confidence and freedom you would be considered prissy. If so, then it is far more prissy to say you find them and thus the meaning of life in a God of creativity and wisdom and confidence and freedom.
 
The idea that God can give meaning and purpose to life is fallacious. God cannot need anything for he is almighty and all perfect. Meaning and purpose mean that you see your life as important and valuable. However, God ultimately reserves being prized for himself and he cannot be used as a ground for moral belief. Therefore it is only a God you imagine exists and the God you would like to exist that you get meaning from in your opinion. He is the God that fits your preconceived ideas of what is good for you. He is a mental idol - in other words.
 
Religion says that people are valueless if there is no God. That implies that you need to believe in God even if there is not one. With belief in God you can declare that people count and matter. They are intrinsically valuable. If you need that prop then you do not really value people. If you value people because of the horrors of not valuing them then you are forcing yourself to value them. That is not valuing them in reality.
 
If you consider people important enough to try and believe they have meaning then you already do value them at least more than you devalue them. Basically valuing people is a default. It is automatic.
 
The meaning or meanings of life have nothing to do with faith in God or God. They are distractions from what really solves the problem and so they hurt. They do harm. If you want meaning, then keep away from God and religion.
 
The objections to getting meaning without God
 
A stunning landscape with rolling hills and stately trees has no meaning until you give it meaning. When you go and walk through it and enjoy it it gets meaning then. Believers say that. They say that we have no meaning either unless God exists and gives it to us by putting us into his lovely plan. They think you are valueless but if you are valueless then if God treats you as valuable that does not really make you valuable. No its patronising and insulting. Better to make life meaningful without God if you have to do that! It will not lead to virtue but to passive aggressive faith. Do we see the hidden ingredient in faith that causes it to turn violent and enabling of violence so easily?
 
Incredibly Christians will tell a person how that person hardly registers in importance when you consider how big the universe is, how many people there are, and how long the universe has been around. They argue then that it is arrogant to say you can make meaning for your own life and do not need God to give it to you - a God who puts you in a vast universe and adores you with all his heart despite the unimportant status the universe gives you. But if there is no God or insufficient evidence there is nothing arrogant about trying to give your life meaning. It is not your fault that you are so small and being small does not make you insignificant. A tiny diamond is worth more than a hundred tonne of dirt. To tell you that you should not try to make the best if your life just because you are a dot in a vast universe is just cruel. It is obvious that you should still try. There is no alternative so in a sense there is no should about it.
 
Religion says that if you are just a collection of atoms you have no meaning. So they say you are more than that and there is a God and so life has meaning. You are intrinsically valuable. But you could still be a mere machine though you do not feel you are if there is a God. And what if God has some unexplainable way of giving you meaning if you are just a bag of atoms and bits and bobs?
 
Nobody can prove that faith in God or religion gives them meaning. Anybody who finds a way to feel reasonably in control of life will get a sense of meaning for we fear the mechanical and the random and the uncertain. Meaning does not come from the sense of control that religious faith gives. It comes from the sense of control that faith gives. Faith is more important and basic than religious faith. If you make a mistake with this control aspect and start depending on God that could be dangerous for it is looking for control in a disordered and unnecessary way.
 
Religion says that God and morality cannot be separated. Morality stands ultimately only on God. Religion then argues that morality is about what is supposed to be and the kind of person you must become meaning that morality implies there is a purpose for your life. This is the kind of logic that goes, "You can't call sunlight good. It is merely functional. It does a job." You cannot call your shoes good for they function as protection for your feet. But that is obviously deranged logic. Functional IS GOOD!
 
Religious emphasis on meaning and getting it from God is about honouring God not you. It is sought to please God and nobody else. That is the intention. If meaning made your life a misery and that others just as bad it would still be a duty if God comes first. People seeking happiness through meaning is ridiculous.
 
Why do good?
 
We should not need God or arguments to persuade us that good is good. We should simply see it. The truly good person sees good as good for its own sake. If we cannot manage that we will not be able to see our lives have meaning. We may need religion as a prop to delude ourselves but it is still a dangerous delusion. It is not the answer.
 
There is everything to be said for the fact that in relation to the meaning of life, you either see it is worthwhile for its own sake or you don't. Trying to find meaning shows that you are trying to find it artificially. It is like seeing beautiful flowers and searching for reasons to find them beautiful instead of just seeing them as beautiful. That would be forced and showing you are really trying to see what you cannot see. You end up pretending you see it or deluding yourself that you do.
 
If you enjoy the flowers, you simply enjoy them and do not have to check that you enjoy them. Checking will actually only spoil your enjoyment. It distracts from it. In reality you should be engrossed in the beauty. A sense of meaning and worth in life just happens. It is vile of religion to say you need God and religion to develop it.
 
The sense that your life is worth it will come from helping others. The best way to remain motivated and willing to help others even to the extent of greatly risking your health and life is to try and see the big picture. Try and see how many can benefit from and be inspired by your actions. If you see yourself as helping only a few, your motivation will not be very strong. Do not see just how many will be directly helped but think of the indirect benefits too. Perhaps the leper you treat will be able to find a wife and raise a nice family. Think also of the opportunities you are making - you give those opportunities to others even if they do not available of them. What matters is that you gave.
 
The notion that goodness has no real value without God or if we just all cease to exist one day is a bizarre one. And arrogant. Those who use this argument say that it has no ultimate value unless we live forever and there is a God.
 
The good you do has happened and cannot be made to not-have-happened. So its value has nothing to do with what you think of it afterwards or if anybody remembers it. Even if the universe dies one day, it will still have happened and still have been beautiful.
 
If giving what little bread you have to a hungry child is unimportant unless there is a God to approve of it and to remember it forever,
 
In summary, the good we do in this life has ultimate value without any recourse to God or everlasting life or religion. In fact they only get in the way of it - to what extent depends on the person. Good is independent of God and therefore independent of faith in God and so it follows that God then is not the same thing as goodness. So God is not God. An atheist can feel her life has meaning far more than a Christian can. Sadly, atheism has not grasped this properly yet.
 
Why be happy?
 
Life is worth living because you can be content. Have simple tastes that are easy to fulfil and keep.
 
Life is worth living because you can find what gives purpose in life by trying new things and shedding old ideas for everybody is different and has different needs and you need to find out what makes you tick.
 
When you can get meaning from deluding yourself that the lies the Church tells you are true that shows that it is in your power alone to give your life meaning. You can do it another way. Hope. Trust in yourself. That is why the view that religion should be encouraged for its fantasies make people happy is unacceptable and stupid.
 
Nietzsche mentioned the asking of, "If time was not linear but cyclic, I would have to do my life over and over again forever. It will not feel like a repeat but it will be. Would I be happy with that?" If I am then I see my life has meaning for me. If we do not notice that we should not be seeking meaning for our lives for we already have it, we will be taken in by religion. We will be fooled.
 
If one looks deep inside, one will feel at least a little love for everybody. Knowing the love is there and feeling it brings better feelings and attracts thoughts of love. If you love, your life will be meaningful and religious theories about the meaning of life will be irrelevant.
 
Why suffer?
 
Christians all believe that suffering should be endured with love and humility when it cannot be avoided. If that is good advice, it does not follow that suffering happens for the sake of giving you an opportunity to humbly love as you live through it. The believer who suffers and who feels no love is praised as long as she or he harbours no malice or vice.
 
Thus for Christians, the teaching of the meaning of life is not about making you happy but making you virtuous. If happiness comes it comes but is not intended for it is not what the enterprise is about.
 
Christians say that people realise their suffering has meaning and value. I think many of them mean that if you are alive and suffering that can be better than being dead.
 
Many "holy" people say suffering should happen and it is good to suffer in itself. That is a twisted doctrine and if you have to condone the evil done to you to feel better and to give it meaning you need psychiatric help. Many do it for they want to say God is right to let terrible things happen.
 
Many teach the following view. It is that: though suffering should not happen, God lets it happen and he is right just like a parent is right to let a child go to the dentist when some suffering is unavoidable. They are saying suffering is evil but there is worse evil without it. How do they know? You can't just say a thing like that - you need solid evidence that the alternative is worse. They are saying that without suffering we would likely end up being spoiled children who don't care about God or each other. This teaches that caring matters for its own sake. That makes no sense. Caring only matters because we are in a world of suffering. Caring matters because we see suffering as something to be opposed. If we were not it wouldn't matter if we don't care. God is using us to get us to care for him. Better a world of spoiled but happy people than a world where innocent babies die. Trying to find a divine purpose for suffering is self-defeating and leads to you refusing to admit that God is wrong if he exists. And it is judgmental of God to let suffering befall us because he thinks it is likely that we will be spoiled without it. He cannot be sure if it is likely enough to justify allowing suffering. The thought that he knows what we would be like just plays into the hands of those who say, "God commanded the murder of pagan babies in the Bible. He did right for he knew they would be murderers themselves if they grew up."
 
If God is what gives your life meaning then surely you crave being with him? Thus your suffering will only be worsened by belief in God. The more you suffer the more you will want him and to be with him.
 
Buddhism holds that craving causes suffering. If you are in great pain and you crave relief that makes the suffering worse. The Buddhist solution is to see all that happens to us be it good or bad as impermanent and unrepeatable. That is what we need not God. Having the wrong answer means we are still left with the problem. God religion is a hindrance.
 
I find the following method of making life bearable and more enjoyable extremely effective. The person you are most interested in is yourself. Therefore if you make the habit of recording your day in detail in a diary and putting in times and the most mundane things you are making sure you will remember the good in that day. You will be able to look back at the bad and good later with fascination. It makes the bad less bad because you know that reading about it and the lessons in it will bring you enjoyment and a sense of confidence for the future. When you experience something bad you can say that in years to come you will still be able to look back on it and want to. You will learn from it. It will console you and make you more determined to live a happier and more fulfilling life. Great suffering can be waiting for you around the corner - all you can do is get through it without making it worse.
 
The Christian says even the atheist can be unselfish. If so, I can give meaning to my death by consenting to death when it comes so that I may go to make room on earth for another. World over-population cannot go forever. It is said that if you get a reason to let your life go and accept your end then you automatically give meaning to your life.
 
The atheist may see suffering as a part of life that cannot be taken away or avoided completely. This leads to acceptance. It thrives on courage. All people have to simply accept it - faith in God is a separate issue. An atheist can accept it as well as a theist or believer in God. But it takes time and patience and it is a journey.
 
The Crutch
 
If a person feels their lives have no meaning and they need to believe in religion then what? Bringing God in would be trying to make a crutch.
 
The use of religion as a crutch needs to be discouraged. Christianity says that discipleship of Jesus may make your life worse. Jesus said his real friends lift their cross to follow him and that the world will hate them for it hates him. The Christian is to follow Jesus even if he or she feels their life was better and more purposeful without Christian faith. 
 
You cannot ever take away anybody's religious crutch no matter how hard you try. They listen to you and they make the scales fall away from their own eyes. They take off the bandages covering their eyes - if they wanted to keep them on they would plug their ears against you. Yet they may think they do want to stay blind but that is merely ambivalence. They do and they don't.
 
Finally
 
What about the thought that if life and the universe make no sense then they ought to make sense? Camus asked that question.  He made sense for it is obvious that if you have to choose, "Nothing makes sense but it ought to", or, "Nothing makes sense and it ought not to" then you have to choose the first.  Why?  Because you still have two oughts so the first one is the wisest choice.  An ought not is still an ought.  Meaning is a default and you need to let it be a default.  Meaning as in default is good and all you need but meaning as in God is trying to get away from that so it is bad.

 

If a plan for your life is so fundamental then it is the plan that matters not who makes the plan. Religion says that God and religion gives your life meaning by making you part of a plan. They are hijackers. It is not their's to give.
 
Good is real. Even if there were nothing at all there would still be some good. Good is abstract but true but needs no maker. God only gets in the way so he is not the source of meaning in life. The meaning of life is an illusion - it is very complicated so you must be aware that life has meanings not meaning. If you have such a terrible day that you feel like ending your life, remember how everything changes and how complex it all is. The meanings of life then can work their magic on you tomorrow. You can plant the seeds of hope instead of magically thinking that belief in God is going to solve all your meaning issues. A doctor who gives you aspirin for cancer is not helping you. You need complex treatment that is subject to careful and responsible and constant revision.