“What is the meaning of life?” some people will sometimes ask? “What is my purpose here in this world?” people will ask. “Why am I here?” The answers to these questions will differ greatly depending on what what kind of worldview you hold. Are you an atheist? Are you a Christian theist? What are you? If Christianity is true (as I’ve attempted to show from the various posts on this blog in the past such as “The Historical Evidence For Jesus’ Resurrection” and some others), then our purpose in life is to know God and to make Him known. Our purpose in life is to love our neighbor as ourselves and to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, with all of our minds and with all of our strengths (Luke 10:25-28, Mark 12:30, Deuteronomy 6:5). And ultimately, being united with Jesus in Heaven for all eternity will fill us with a joy that know one in this life has ever known. In fact, the joy is so wonderful and so overwhelming that The Bible says that to spend even one day in Heaven is better than spending a thousand days anywhere else (Psalm 84:10). Can you imagine that? Think of the greatest vacation you ever had. One where you had the most fun you’ve ever had before or since then. The Bible says that Heaven is so great that to spend one day there is better than 1,000 days in that place and time you’re thinking about right now. That’s how wonderful Heaven is. And on the Christian worldview, our purpose is to know God, make Him known and end up in that place. Death, on the Christian view, is not annihilation. It’s entering unending paradise, at least if you know The Lord. On the Christian worldview, our purpose is to be with Jesus. We were made for Jesus, and it’s through fellowship with Him that our souls will ultimately be satisfied.
But what is our purpose on atheism? What is the meaning of life on atheism? What is the atheistic explanation for why we’re here? What does atheism have to say about a human being’s intrinsic value?
I definitely plan on elaborating on this point much further, but if you want a very short explanation, I would say that there is no purpose on atheism. Most atheists concede this point. After all, on the atheistic view, human beings were produced by blind, purely naturalistic processes (Macro Evolution). There was no intelligent guidance whatsoever in producing life on the atheistic worldview. Simply put, there can be no purpose to life if we came about by blind purposeless processes. To say otherwise would be absurd. You’d basically be saying that we have purpose even though we came through a purposeless process. The only way for our lives to have purpose would be if an intelligent being brought life about. In other words, in order for my life to have “purpose”, I’d have to be created ON “purpose”. You already know how the Christian would ask all of the questions above. But you also now know how the atheist would answer one of the questions.
“What is my purpose here in this world?” The atheist answer: You have no purpose. You were brought about by natural selection acting on random mutations over the course of billions of years. The human race exists simply because that was the way the cookie crumbled. Frank Tipler and Francisco Ayala calculated that the odds of human beings or creatures of the same level of intelligence as human beings coming about was 1 in 10^24,000,000 (1 chance in 1 followed by 24 million zeroes).
If atheism is true, then life has no meaning. Human beings are born into this world to live for about a century and then after that we die and (if atheism is true), our consciousness ceases and we rot in the ground. We cannot even mourn our own deaths for our consciousness is completely shut off. Every person is destined for the grave. Each one of us. No matter how much modern medicine advances, no matter how much science we learn, we cannot go against the second law of thermodynamics and prevent our inevitable decay. Everyone will die. There is no avoiding it. We have to ask then, if a person’s life ends in the grave, can it be said that his life had any meaning to it at all? Did it make a difference that he ever existed? Moreover, does it matter what we do in this life? Whether we live morally or not? Why should we selfless and loving if atheism is true? Why not live for self interest, looking out for numero uno?
Now, some atheists will respond by saying that what we do have significance. To give just one example, the actions of the people in the Civil Rights movement and that of Abraham Lincoln will have an effect on black people in America for years to come. Blacks will no longer be slaves, no longer will blacks be forced to sit at the back of the bus, we won’t have white/black only water fountains etc. And these effects will last long after those who fought for the rights of African Americans are long gone. The actions of George Washington and the other founding fathers had a lasting impact long after their deaths. That is true, and I don’t think it’s possible for this to be disputed. However, this overlooks one important scientific fact, and that fact is that the entire human race, indeed, all life forms on the planet will someday die.
Astrophysicists have long known that stars can only burn as long as they have hydrogen in their cores to burn. Stars expand as they grow old. As their core runs out of hydrogen and
then helium, the core contacts and the outer layers expand, cool, and become
less bright. This is a red giant or a red super giant (depending on the
initial mass of the star). It will eventually collapse and explode. A
star’s life span and eventual fate are determined by the original mass
of the star. Our sun is no different. Astrophysicists have calculated that in a few billion years, the sun will explode and all life on Earth will be eliminated.
So even though our actions have immediate significance, they have no ultimate significance. I debated an atheist on Twitter about this a couple of years ago, and he kept arguing that what we do have significance, but all he did was keep insisting that what we do has IMMEDIATE significance rather than ULTIMATE (or eternal) significance which is what I was arguing. He never refuted my point that if God does not exist, there’s no ULTIMATE significance to anything we do. Why should we strive to do anything in this life? What for? Just to have it all eradicated someday?
When the sun explodes or when the universe experiences it’s heat death, all of the advances of modern science and modern medicine will be all for not.
90,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years from now, no one will exist to remember the actions of Mother Teresa, of Abraham Lincoln, of the Civil Rights activists. No one will remember you or me. No one will thank the human race for any of the good they did, nor comdemn them for any of the evil they did. Why should try so hard to be successful in this life if atheism is true? For
what purpose? What’s the point? Everything will be destroyed someday. Why waste
the effort? Sure, it can have momentary significance, but no there’s no real
ultimate significance or purpose. The only thing one can do on the atheistic worldview is
struggle to see how long we can maintain our pitiful existence in this Hell
we call the universe. A struggle that makes no sense to begin with. Why
struggle for survival? Just to suffer some more? Just to die at a somewhat later date? If atheism is true, then that means we are born into this world to experience pointless and purposeless suffering for some 60-100 years and then we go out of existence. Eventually everyone will go out of experience collectively when the sun becomes a red giant.
worldview? Life’s too short to give up my happiness so that someone else can be
happy. You might say that being selfless is morally better (though one has to
ask where you get such an ability to discern morals anyway given no moral law
giver), but even so, what is the point of choosing between good and evil on the
Adolph Hitler? After all, in a billion years everyone Hitler influenced for the
worst will be LONG gone and their great, great, great grandchildren will be
long gone. Everyone Mother Teresa helped and showed kindness to…will be long
gone in a billion years. Eventually, EVERYONE will die at the same time and
there will be no more plants, animals or human beings given our sun (like any
other star) will eventually explode in the latter part of its life, and hence
there will be no more generations to follow. Even if you were to influence the
world in an extraordinary way, like Martin Luther King or George Washington, in
a billion years, it’s not going to matter one bit. All their hard work will be
destroyed one day.
“‘Whither is God?’ he cried, ‘I shall tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What did we do when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night and more night coming on all the while? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? God is dead and he remains dead. How shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?’ The crowd stared at the madman in silence and astonishment. At last
he dashed his lantern to the ground. ‘I have come too early,’ he said.
‘This tremendous event is still on its way—it has not yet reached the
ears of man.'”
so, like the crowd in the marketplace, go unknowingly on their way. But
when we realize, as did Nietzsche, what atheism implies, then his
question presses hard upon us: “how shall we, the murderers of all murderers, comfort ourselves?”
IN ORDER FOR LIFE TO HAVE PURPOSE, GOD AND IMMORTALITY ARE NEEDED.
purpose for living.
But more than that: even if it did not end in death, without God
life would still be without purpose. For man and the universe would
then be simple accidents of chance, thrust into existence for no
reason. Without God the universe is the result of a cosmic accident, a
chance explosion. There is no reason for which it exists. As for man,
he is a freak of nature—a blind product of matter plus time plus
chance. Man is just a lump of slime that evolved into rationality.
There is no more purpose in life for the human race than for a species
of insect; for both are the result of the blind interaction of chance