There is no one "meaning" in life

"People say that we’re searching for the meaning of life. I don’t think that’s it at all. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances within our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell.

Comment: An occasional or rare joy at JUST being alive is all that is really needed. A meaningless life is tolerable as long as you think and know this experience can happen. Religion only adds to misery by offering answers that are not answers. You don’t actually need answers. You need the rapture.  So it is possible to have a meaningless life and be compensated by this flash of meaning.  The psychological meaning of life matters not the spiritual or any other kind.



There's supposed to be a big difference between what the meaning of life is, and people finding something meaningful in their lives.


Finding something meaningful is more important than the meaning of life.  Somebody telling you you are made for eternal life is nothing compared to finding a meaningful job etc.


It is better to be strong in the midst of despair than to feel your life has meaning never mind ultimate meaning.  Religion worries more about how to promote a good God in the face of so much evil in the world.  The problem of evil ignores the importance of being strong and worries about meaning instead. Thus the problem of evil in doing so is itself evil and it is evil to respect it. 
Religion likes to talk about the meaning of life.


The idea of the meaning of life means that you exist for one reason and so does everybody else. We all exist for the same divine purpose. Atheists take a more liberal approach which tells you that life has meaning but it is up to you to give it meaning. Life is whatever you make of it. Let us stress the you. The you means that you alone own yourself and you don't answer to anybody not even a God for how you live it.


Religion does not admit that if there is a question about the meaning of life there is a bigger one about the meaning of suffering. Why is it so reticent? It does not want to look like a crutch that manipulates people into feeling better and grows richer in the process.
The "meaning of life" is like a soundbite used by religion to suck people in. It appeals to people who want one magical answer that is going to make their lives dynamic and full of purpose. It is just not that simple.
You must make the purposes of your life yourself and you do that by living in the world and availing of its opportunities instead of trying to fool yourself with magic and prayers and sacraments and religions. There is no one purpose. It is cruel and manipulative and hypocritical and ignorant to say there is for we all get through the day by having countless reasons for living. Those reasons change from day to day. Our feelings change all the time. It is cruel for religion to want to take away the sense of "meanings" in life you have to replace it with a God formula that promises meaning.
Religious people are offended by psychological egoism - the idea that whatever we do, we ultimately do it to benefit ourselves - for they advocate altruism and a love for God free from all self-interest. But they keep members in the religion and get converts by dwelling on the issue of, "The meaning of life? What is it all about?" But when we do good things for others and find that happiness just appears in us it follows that the question is really irrelevant. The emphasis put on the question shows they are not the disciples of altruism and selflessness they pretend to be. At best they are religious manipulators. They distract us from the most important principle of all and rob it of its supremacy. That is bad in itself.


Religion says there is an ultimate goal for our lives but cannot answer us when we ask what the goal is. The answer that we are to spend eternity enjoying a relationship with God is very general. It is too general to be an answer. And it is about the enjoyment not the relationship. It is not really about God being the goal.


You only accept a non-answer as an answer if you are in turmoil.


Page 212 of Keith Ward's book, More Than Matter? (Lion, 2010) is interesting. He concludes his book by saying that his arguments for the existence of a loving God and the immortality of our souls show that these things MIGHT be true and that gives meaning. Reading between the lines if you assume that your life will be worthwhile though you don't know exactly why that is enough. It is not enough to justify building a controversial religion of Heaven and Hell and hatred of women and divinely inspired books endorsing violence on. That would be sheer exploitation.
If theories and guesses can give meaning then how could there be one way to get meaning? Why can't there be countless meanings?


The idea that God has one big purpose for you or only one purpose is pure narcissism. Whey can’t he have a purpose this morning and a radically different one tonight? The believers do not want this suggestion for it proves we can give ourselves purposes by getting a new purpose day to day.  If God can give us different purposes we can do that ourselves.  But one thing we cannot do is give ourselves one big purpose in the way a God can do it.


What if God gives your life a big purpose or a sole purpose and part of achieving it involves you feeling there is no purpose?  If God's plans can be very painful for us then why not?  The talk about purpose is not about how we feel.  Yet religion tries to draw you in by stirring up your feelings!  It is the feeling of purpose not having a purpose that matters to you if you are honest.


Looking for meaning in life in the ultimate sense, overlooks the fact that we get our own meaning anyway without thinking of the ultimate. This day to day meaning matters more to us than any vague talk about life having any ultimate meaning. It is meaning in practice we want and get. We get meaning in just doing things and forgetting about meaning. If we didn't get meaning we would be suicidal. And we don't need theoretical or religious dogmas about the meaning of life. These theories only serve to draw us away from the sense of meaning we already have by default. They try to take you away from it and entrap you in a cycle where you suppress your natural sense of meaning to favour a religious or spiritual one - an artificial one - and keep following religions and gods to try and deal with the problem they have created for you! It is cruel psychological manipulation.

The majority of believers do, most of the time, consider their families and careers more important than God - a huge amount more important. They do good for their families and enhance their careers. That gives them meaning though it can't give them ultimate meaning in the religious sense. The good they do for strangers hardly registers for them on their meaning of life scale. And do they care? No. The good they do for family and to advance career can't give them ultimate meaning if Jesus (read his Sermon on the Mount) is to be believed. He said that if you serve those who love you or who serve you back or if there is a return you can't expect a reward from God for you have already got your reward. 
Jonathan Sacks "The three questions that every reflective individual will ask at some time in his or her life: Who am I? Why am I here? How then shall I live? The ...21st century has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning."

If we ask those questions sometimes then meaning cannot be that important for we can get along just fine and enjoy our lives the rest of the time...

What gives Sacks the right to say that it is only God is the answer? What about people who believe in supernatural forces that bless them but not in the Jewish Christian God? I suspect that those who say religion gives them meaning are getting it from the idea of the supernatural, not specifically God as such. They feel they can cuddle up to some magical force that is going to make things okay for them one day.

The suffering person needs one thing: the strength to keep battling and facing the pain in order to open the door and get the chance to overcome it. The person needs the strength not a sense of meaning. The strong person fights on despite everything telling him to stop trying.  The meaning religion tricks you into thinking you need has very little to do with helping you to cope.  Not all of us will suffer hugely or for long.  Religion plays on your assumption that you will be one of the very unlucky few!!


If the stone falls off a cliff and you see how pretty it is and take it home to put in your garden you will regard it as adding to the meaning of your life for the meaning sense comes from a lot of little things and the little things are really what give it importance.  You will invest the falling of the rock with having a purpose.  Do you necessarily think God made it fall?  No - you can feel it has purpose without a clear belief in God or even thinking of a supernatural agent.  We don't want to think things happen just because they do.


People talk about the meaning of life. By that phrase you would expect to mean being fully alive and feeling fully alive. As reason is a part of you and of life then reason has a role to play in allowing you to have meaning and giving you meaning. Without reason even a God is no good! If we were more rational and careful our lives would grow. If reason and so on says there is no God then we will get meaning by denying him. By caring about and following reason and evidence and thus ourselves we go on a path that might lead to God being abandoned as a superstition and a crutch. They are fundamentally non-religious tools.

No Copyright