Absolute Meaning – Nobody cares

Just some random thoughts about the old, quite honestly, boring, argument, that for every atheist, life has to be completely meaningless and if we (the atheists) were clever enough to realize this, we would die out of despair (yeah, sure)… This goes into the same direction as my previous posting „Absolute Morality„, but has some merit of its own…

Let’s, just for a moment, accept the idea that any meaning of your life can only come from some kind of divine being, which defined this meaning before creating you. While this sounds really horrible, the important point is simple:

Reality doesn’t change just because we don’t like it. So the answer to the question „Is there a divine being“ does NOT depend on the conclusion that we would draw from one answer or the other. It doesn’t matter if you prefer the idea that there is a divine being – or the other idea, that there is not, because your preferences don’t change anything.

So, if there is NO divine being, then – according to the premise above – life is absolutely meaningless, true. But that doesn’t imply that there must be a divine being, it just tells us, that it would be – as long as we accept the premise – preferable if there was one, but not that there is.

So, simply put, for a rational atheist it doesn’t matter if life would be meaningless without a god, because this doesn’t lead to the conclusion that there is a god. An atheist would have to accept that conclusion, but nothing else. What would be the alternative? Lying to yourself, convince yourself that there must be a god, just because you don’t like the implications? You can’t choose reality.

But, of course, we don’t really accept the premise at all. Yes, there is probably no absolute meaning of life, but that doesn’t mean that your life has to be meaningless. If you measure „meaning“ only by looking up to some kind of absolute judge, ok, then it will be meaningless, but atheists don’t do that. Instead they realize that you have to find your own meaning and have to accept the simple fact, that it will never be an absolute meaning, that very likely, in 10.000 years, nobody cares about you anymore (for most people, even much earlier than that). But that doesn’t imply that your life cannot have meaning – just that this meaning will not be be absolute or even a „meaning for the whole universe“. It’s a meaning for you, for the people you share your life with, for the people you influence.

So, the whole „argument“ of a missing (absolute) meaning fails on more than one level. Firstly, it simply doesn’t matter if there can be meaning without god for the question „Does god exist?“ and secondly, the fact that there probably is no absolute meaning does not imply that your life has to be meaningless.

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5 Kommentare zu “Absolute Meaning – Nobody cares

  1. I too am an ex-Catholic. We never read the Bible growing up, did you? The reason I ask is that when I began reading it at the age of 21 (30 years ago), I was shocked by how many wrong ideas I had about Jesus. Have you ever tried to put aside all your biases (against Christianity) and read one of the Gospels?
    Thank you for reading my comment.

    • Oh, we did, at least in the typical Sunday-school cherry-picking kind of way (technically, we didn’t have „Sunday-school“, but „religious instruction“ classes during normal school hours, another one of these privileges the church has here). Of course you only get the nice parts then, love, tolerance, etc.etc. – at least if you got a more liberal teacher, which I mostly had. So I didn’t really „read“ the bible until I was much older and honestly, if I have biases against Christianity, it’s also because of that. If you read the bible without filtering it through your belief, it’s hard not to notice what a horrible cruel book it is, how bad the people (especially god) act in it and how many bad things even Jesus said.
      Honestly, really reading the bible can, imho, only have one of three results: Either you choose to ignore most of what you read (which most liberal Christians do) or you become a conservative Christian fanatic or you become an atheist. As I already wasn’t a believer then anymore (probably never was), I took the last path, obviously.

      • I think you are right about the three choices. I respect you for at least reading the Bible. I have communicated with many atheists that mock Christianity without ever having read the Bible.
        Take care.

      • Honestly, Atheist often have a surprising knowledge about the bible (I even read the book of Mormon, albeit only partially – not because I really wanted to, but because it stood around in the library of the place I used to work for a year, wouldn’t have spent money on it). Of course, some atheist don’t – but so don’t many Christians 🙂 But for atheists, there are at least two logical reasons to do so: a) They went from „believer“ through a phase of insecurity, when they notice that something with their religious belief is wrong, so they turn to the bible and find it not helpful (and then become an atheist) or b) to more easily argument „against“ Christianity. There are probably other reasons, too, but these two seem kind of likely.

  2. „Reality doesn’t change just because we don’t like it. So the answer to the question “Is there a divine being” does NOT depend on the conclusion that we would draw from one answer or the other. It doesn’t matter if you prefer the idea that there is a divine being – or the other idea, that there is not, because your preferences don’t change anything.“

    This is true. Reality has never changed in spite of how much I don’t like it. I still work at trying to change reality, but I know it will take more than wishful thinking.

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