Monday, April 30, 2007

My Beliefs: We Make Our Own Purpose in Life

I haven't written one of these in a while, but today I thought I'd write about a belief that's a major component of my worldview. If you've read much of anything I've posted here, you know I don't believe in the existence of a god. I won't go into the reasons why here, but I do not see a grand plan in the universe. However, contrary to what many theists believe about atheism, that does not mean I think that life is pointless. I do not believe we are all doomed to suffer meaningless lives just because there is no paternal figure in the sky watching after us. Instead, I feel we can and should make our own purpose in life.

Obviously, this is an entirely relativist position, which means that different people will come up with wildly different meanings for their lives, for better or worse. While this may not sit well with many people, to make claims against the reality of relativism is to deny the ample evidence of human history. Certainly, the Nazis did terrible things because they made their ideology their purpose in life, and other similarly distasteful individuals have found insidious purposes for their lives. However, that doesn't mean that people can't put forth the same amount of effort towards something positive. Whenever there's a major disaster, people turn out in droves to help, and aid money pours in to finance the recovery. This is not the work of a god showing his mercy. It's the efforts of a group of people working together to do something positive. In much the same way, the Nazis and Japanese were not stopped by an act of god. It took the herculean efforts of several nations over six years to end that nightmare.

Before I get into too much more of a tanget, Id like to make my point. Even though I believe we might be alone in the spiritual sense, there are still over 6 billion other people in this world sharing the human experience. When enough of us come together, we can either do works of great evil or do truly amazing things that greatly improve the richness of all our lives. It's your choice which path you choose. You just have to be willing to deal with how your fellow humans will view your actions. As far as I see it, we don't need to please anyone other than those with whom we share this planet. Technically, we don't need to please anyone. However, my position is that I want to make the world a better place for future generations so they have lives that are even more fulfilling than my own. If you want to suffer trying to appease a being who refuses to reciprocate, that's fine by me. I'm going to enjoy life and do whatever I can to help others do the same. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.


Tommy said...

It annoys me when theists always throw out the argument that if there is no god, there is no objective moral standard, and that therefore we have no grounds to say that Hitler was wrong to try to extermine the Jews.

For starters, regardless of whether Hitler was an atheist, a Catholic, or some neo-Teutonic pagan, the German people he ruled over considered theirs to be a Christian country, their culture was steeped in anti-semitism and the belief that the Jews collectively were guilty of killing Christ. Therefore, Christianity did not provide them with the objective moral standard that killing Jews was wrong.

Secondly, a person's belief that the God of the bible is real and that the Bible is the inerrant word of God is itself a subjective belief that the person believes is an objective standard. In other words, objectivity is in the eye of the believer.

Lastly, it is possible to show that practicing virtues of thrift, tolerance, generosity, charity, and so forth are measurably better for the individuals who live their lives by such virtues and for societies at large.

Lord J-Bar said...

I couldn't agree with you more on that one. I just say we need to live life with a sense of empathy so we feel how our actions affect others.