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← ‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’

‘How do atheists find meaning in life?’ - Comments

asyouwere's Avatar Comment 1 by asyouwere

Amen, Paula.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 20:38:24 UTC | #909625

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 2 by Premiseless

Concept resilience? Conceptual receivership? How does one breach such a brain barrier succinctly? How do you tell a blind person what colors you can see, let alone how they enable sight, without use of the other, poorly substituted senses? But what of concepts when there are no equivalency metaphors to relay your emotional reality? And what of theirs when consumed by an emotional morality filter?

My basic premise is that believers are incapacitated from chat about belief absent critical mass emotional bias, weighting every thought toward a fictional assertion. It's an odd demand they, often sincerely, then bully the truth with. It amounts to a worse evil than they can register or even perceive the existence of, in comparison to what they brand as evil.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 20:53:36 UTC | #909626

Metamag's Avatar Comment 3 by Metamag

Speaking of how religion constructs meaning you have to watch this brilliant video.

Some atheists might not like it but I think it would be foolish not to co-opt obviously successful mechanisms and push ourselves forever to the margins.

Make sure you favorite it and spread it around, in fact I'm surprised this site hasn't picked it up already.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 20:56:30 UTC | #909627

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 4 by Andrew B.

I have Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, Horace Silver, Frederic Chopin, Claude Debussy, etc. Why the hell would I need Jehovah or Jesus to have meaning? I have more meaning than I know what to do with!

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:01:39 UTC | #909630

zombiewoof's Avatar Comment 5 by zombiewoof

How many times must this question be answered?

I enjoyed the article nevertheless. Thanks, Paula.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:17:29 UTC | #909632

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 6 by aroundtown

My meaning is secured in "this life". I posted the following observation in another post but I will state a part of it again because it is one of my core understandings and it helped me when I stripped off the affliction of religion.

I feel we should point out a hugely fantastic benefit to the religiously affected, and that is a full and useful life right now. They are instructed to adhere to religious dogma and deny an attachment to the real world because they will secure another un-ending life to come. This is criminal to my sensibilities and strips away personal accountability which affects the life presently lived. If you know this is your only world you are going to attempt to take better care of it, for your benefit and the benefit of your offspring. Possibly suggesting a brotherhood of humanity would be a better option but we know what happens when this is broached, it is labeled socialism.

I think it has some merit but it may not be an absolute for all. Living your life thinking you get another bite at the apple is just one of the tools religion uses as an incentive for you to follow along and believe the fantasy indoctrination so they can keep those collection plates full in my opinion. I now have a life that is a thousand times larger than the religiously choked life I was living before.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:24:56 UTC | #909633

Quine's Avatar Comment 7 by Quine

Excellent piece, Paula! Glad to see these ideas put forth in a prominent media publication.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:35:26 UTC | #909636

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 8 by Mr DArcy

The correspondent was blunt: “Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?”

Cheeky bastard! The same reason that s/he doesn't just go out and kill him/herself.

Life is precious, and there's only one chance!

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:43:42 UTC | #909638

Mrkimbo's Avatar Comment 9 by Mrkimbo

A strong, clear and well-written piece. The absolute awfulness of heaven is something we atheists could point out a lot more. Also liked one of the comments, asking how any moral person could be really happy in heaven knowing about the billions screaming in unendurable agony in hell.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 21:53:14 UTC | #909641

some asshole's Avatar Comment 10 by some asshole

Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?

Given the facts revealed by even a quick glance at human history, the question should be reversed: Why don't you theists just go out and start killing atheists and people who are the wrong kind of theists right now?

Oh, that's right, you already are.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:02:29 UTC | #909644

Cook@Tahiti's Avatar Comment 11 by Cook@Tahiti

If heaven is so perfect and this world so corrupt and unjust, why don't THEISTS kill themselves? Why do they grieve when a loved one 'departs'? Shouldn't they be happier that their loved one has gone to a better place?

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:02:52 UTC | #909645

Teknical's Avatar Comment 12 by Teknical

We won't go out and kill ourselves because our genes will not let us.

As 'some asshole' has already said, that is what religion makes people do. Worse still it does it under the pretence that it is doing everyone a favour.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:06:54 UTC | #909646

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 13 by Schrodinger's Cat

The correspondent was blunt: “Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?”

Ah yes......the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Surely the more pertinent question is why anyone convinced of a glorious afterlife in the celestial fluffy meadows bothers with this life.

I think Shakespeare answered that one quite nicely.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:07:08 UTC | #909647

Metamag's Avatar Comment 14 by Metamag

Comment 11 by Rtambree :

Why do they grieve when a loved one 'departs'?

Because realization that a loved one is now a rotting malodorous corpse is a visceral thing that no amount of fantasy fluff can ameliorate, that realization just cuts through it and the fluff is only later woven into new narrative.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:12:17 UTC | #909649

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 15 by phil rimmer

Purposes are discovered not given.

Given "purposes" are called jobs.

Only evolution has the mechanism for the creation of purpose.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:22:01 UTC | #909652

yanquetino's Avatar Comment 16 by yanquetino

Excellent, Paula! As always! Thank you!

The irony is: if Christian's are so sure that there is a better "afterlife," why are they so opposed to euthanasia? You'd think they'd want to help a loved one who is suffering a painful, debilitating, terminal illness enter that "glory" sooner rather than later. But no: they would rather force them to hang on as long as possible in abject misery. Go figure.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:33:37 UTC | #909655

Rawhard Dickins's Avatar Comment 17 by Rawhard Dickins

We realise that something as complicated as life is worth preserving and we understand that we should treat others as we want to be treated.

Simple .. and it doesn't take a command from a supposed god or ancient text.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 22:39:27 UTC | #909657

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 18 by Rich Wiltshir

Is this really the best they can offer?

They say stuff like “Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?” whilst their internal dialogue is "they're honest, rational people so they'll obviously try to answer my criticism instead of highlighting the fact that it's a crap criticism and I haven't got a chance of delivering an intelligent argument to defend the religion that I'm so heavilly invested in that acknowledging it as balderdash (religious types don't say 'bollocks' because it's more sinful than bullying 16 year olds who protest about non-compliance with the separation of church and state) will mean admitting that I've been wrong about something. Bloody hell, I hope they talk about purpose.. I hope they talk about purpose... I hope they talk about purpose"

Picture their turmoil when we just say "IS THAT THE BEST YOU'VE GOT?" then sit back and watch their faces as the inner voice says "what am I going to say... what am I going to say... what am I going to say... buybull quote... buybull quote."

Until they spit out "The fool says in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none that does good" and hope you'll respond to another empty rant instead of simply saying

"is that the best you've got?"

... "what can I say?... what can I say?... what can I say?... ah, I know"

"I don't understand why you started this conversation. Why are you here...Get thee behind me satan" I'll pray for you.

"AND I'LL PRAY FOR YOU," as Richard D quoted recently.

Then they go back to their little debriefing sessions at the cult shop and say how brilliant they were at destroying arrogant atheists. And the next time they see you they'll demand that you don't disrestpect them or their religion or their dog.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:18:42 UTC | #909664

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 19 by Alan4discussion

find meaning in life?’


Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:23:41 UTC | #909666

hemidemisemigod's Avatar Comment 20 by hemidemisemigod

The correspondent was blunt: “Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?”

For the same reasons our ancestors didn't....all the way back to the first creature that ever had the capacity to kill itself but didn't. Suicidal species have a tendency to go extinct. Stop me if I'm getting too technical. :-)

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:33:48 UTC | #909669

Billions and Billions's Avatar Comment 21 by Billions and Billions

Terrific article. I also read the "research shows..." (link) and found an interesting statistic: only 0.2% of the criminals in USA prisons are atheists; a much smaller ratio when compared to the overall ~10% atheist population.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:36:49 UTC | #909670

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 22 by QuestioningKat

Thanks Metamag, I do enjoy TED talks.

This article and TED talk speaks to me immensely. I appreciate the writings of Eric Maisel who speaks on this topic of creating meaning in our lives. I've tried starting topics such as this one on other sites but they have never taken off. Perhaps they didn't have a fight factor or are too focused on psychology and emotional issues.

I like de Botton's view of Atheism 2.0 maybe because it addresses the issue of "what's next" after you figure out that there is no God. It doesn't argue or condemn but attempts to build some sort of future that addresses our emotional needs or making of meaning. It focuses on what I consider to be true spirituality.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:47:46 UTC | #909672

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

It's pretty much a perfect piece, and I'm a harsh critic. I am a great supporter of the "get-back-at-em" tone used.

I don't want meaning in life, thank you very much. I'm lazy enough as it is. I don't want to wake up each morning with some great heavenly to-do-list nagging at me, like homework set by God.

Wed, 18 Jan 2012 23:50:40 UTC | #909673

nancynancy's Avatar Comment 24 by nancynancy

Excellent article, Paula. I agree with every word and am very glad you are spreading the message.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:02:14 UTC | #909675

78rpm's Avatar Comment 25 by 78rpm

Excellent article by Paula Kirby. And the comment by Andrew B. (comment 4) is much like what mine would be---I already have more meaning than I know what to do with. For ritual I watch birds return from their migrations every year, and see the plants sprout up and the seeds germinate in the spring, and I don't need Jesus or Jehovah or any of that ilk to cause me to think "What a piece of work is Life!"

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:13:51 UTC | #909679

MilitantNonStampCollector's Avatar Comment 26 by MilitantNonStampCollector

Comment 13 by Schrodinger's Cat :

The correspondent was blunt: “Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?”

Ah yes......the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

Surely the more pertinent question is why anyone convinced of a glorious afterlife in the celestial fluffy meadows bothers with this life.

I think Shakespeare answered that one

Theists could hold hands and jump into the Grand Canyon en masse. Hey, they get to see Jeebus. Fair deal to me.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 00:31:01 UTC | #909681

phaedrus19's Avatar Comment 27 by phaedrus19

Great article Paula. Any books in the works?!

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 01:58:58 UTC | #909689

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 28 by RichardofYork

Really wonderfully put Paula , thank you

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 01:59:10 UTC | #909690

Net's Avatar Comment 29 by Net

TED: We are alone. For millions of years we've searched the cosmos... and after all the suffering, after all the chaos and desolation of the void -- the one thing we've found that makes the emptiness bearable is each other. That's why I sent the message. That's why I made contact.

ELLIE: Something my dad -- they -- said. 'After all the suffering, after all the desolation of the void -- the one thing that makes the vastness tolerable is each other.'

these two excerpts from the film, "contact" say it all for me.

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 02:04:09 UTC | #909691

Chomolungma's Avatar Comment 30 by Chomolungma

The correspondent was blunt: “Why don’t you atheists just go out and kill yourselves right now?”

Even if atheism really did lead to total nihilism, why would we kill ourselves over that? It's not like we'd have some obligation to follow our beliefs to their natural conclusion out of logical consistency or whatever, we're nihilists remember, we don't recognize obligations!

Thu, 19 Jan 2012 02:33:45 UTC | #909692