Thursday, August 24, 2006

Purpose Without Meaning

As an atheist, sometimes I miss the comfort that faith could provide me. In particular, it would be nice to feel that my life had purpose; that I was here for some reason. But for me, that faith is not an option. It is not enough to follow religious principles, I have to first believe. There are too many things about religious beliefs that make it too difficult to believe: blinding oneself to empirical evidence, the overtones of social manipulation, intolerance, and an overriding belief, arrogance really, that you are right and that everyone else is wrong. For a nit-picky person who writes essays on truth and honesty, it just would not be honest to do so. One thing that I do believe is that human beings, because of their lack of purpose, are all the more heroic and tragic. Consider: if there is no reward or punishment for good behavior, then why behave at all? As I blather about over and over, it is because we choose to. This choice, to be a blessing or a curse the world, is what it’s all about. It’s what sets us apart, at least as far as I know, from other animals. We know what good and evil are, and we always have a choice. Whether we consciously make it or not, we make that choice every day of our lives. If a person behaves a certain way because they are convinced that, if they do not, something is going to beat the living shit out of them and toss you in a lake of fire for the rest of eternity, that’s just an exercise in common sense. There is a choice, but not a very good one. But what if a person decides to treat the world as they would be treated without anticipation of reward or punishment? That person is saying “I think this is good because I say so.” It is a decision against hopelessness and meaninglessness. It is a statement of existence, saying “I am.” Rather than giving an interpretation, I think I’ll just end on that thought.

2 comments:

heather said...

Very nice writeup. Good food for thought.

Whatever said...

Thanks! It is a well known fact* that people who read and comment on blather-n-rants are beautiful, intelligent, thoughtful, intelligent and generally all-around good human beings!

* = according to the center for creative statistics