If life has no 'meaning' or 'purpose' is it still worth living?
I'm an atheist and I know that friends of mine who are people of faith frequently don't understand how I can consider life worth living if it is temporary and organic, rather than eternal and divine in origin.
But I wonder what others think? I'm NOT wanting to start another debate between religious and non religious folks - I am wanting to find out how different people, particularly those without a religious belief - make life worth living.
For a highly evolved & extremely self-actualized person, the answer is no. The highly evolved &/or extremely self-actualized person is of the school if life cannot be lived on his/her terms, then what is the point of life. Such people do not believe in merely existing but fully fulflilling his/her full human potential & to live a well-lived life. Highly evolved &/or extremely self-actualized people believe in living an extraordinary & an above average life. They view an average life as a life WASTED.
The highly evolved & extremely self-actualized person believe that he/she was put on this earth to fulfill his/her life purpose whether it is fame & acclaim, having a great/stellar career, being a teacher helping the disabled, or being an adoptive parent. He/she believe that it's his/her dharma to fulfill that particular life purpose. This is the person who refuse to settle for less to what he/she is & his/her goal. To settle for less means to be an inauthentic person in his/her eyes. The highly evolved & extremely self-actualized adamantly refuse to settle for a gray, monotonous life of quiet desperation.
However, many people just exist.They really don't care if their life does not have any purpose whatsoever. As long they are alive, they are happy. To them, any type &/or any quality of life is infinitely better than its alternative. There are some who live life as a sentence, thinking as long as they are alive, fine. To them, a gray, monotonous life is fine by them.
Thanks for your perspective. I'm sure there are many people who think exactly this way. Your definition of the highly evolved and self-actualized person doesn't include an ethic of care towards others. Just ego fulfilment? It's brave to be so honest.
Yes life is it still worth living, and don't forget it.
Yes, life is worth living in every way whether you are an atheist or a Christian. Every person has a right to live and not just exist on this earth. Just think we are here on earth for a reason and that we will all find out by ourselves. It is up to us to live the life we want to have. Some of us aspire to become rich, some of us are happy just to have enough to live on and some of us are greedy to want more and more. I am just happy to have my family and friends around me, a roof over my head, food to eat, and a job to go to but this is me.
You are not an atheist. Nor are You human ... not even a body. You are consciousness/awareness. And with that in mind, yes life is worth living. Check-out the rabbit hole, it goes deeep. lol
All the best to everyone! : )
P.S. Great question!
Herbal tobacco? LOL Thanks for your cosmic perspective. I remain convinced both of my atheism and my humanity, however!
Cheers! : )
I was just providing another perspective.
On another note, even science will tell You nowadays that our perception is lying about how we see "matter"/bodies. Ever heard of dark matter? (Not here to prove anything though.)
All the best!
Mr. happy--You are not happy and all animals are conscious and some aware, but not all are self aware. You are in denial and like the rabbit find solace deep in a hole. It is insulting that you can define others.
Religion is a very personal thing and it is a hope that there is a supreme power to help you. But having a worthwhile life is entirely different. You might not believe in god and that does not make you a lesser person. You might trust god and that does not mean you live a worthy life.
It is the way we live our lives that make it worthy or unworthy. When you are honest, caring and humane you live a good life even if you do not trust god.
But when you are arrogant, dishonest and inhumane your life is not worthy even if you have implicit faith in god.
The simple answer? No, if life has neither meaning nor purpose, it is not worth living. But then, simple answers never do really accomplish much, do they?
That simple answer would be based on the premise that worth is defined by such things as meaning and purpose. But even if your view is that life "is [merely] temporary and organic," this does not negate the notions of value, purpose, and meaningfulness. What you closed with is the essence of this relationship. We "make life worth living" by our own actions. Beliefs, too, can come into play to make our lives seem worth living. But our actions are what count.
I think there may be one faulty assumption in your question, and I see your religious friends as piling on yet one more. I think your question sets up a false dichotomy between "worth" and the concepts of meaning and purpose. I don't ascribe to this dichotomy, so I see a life without meaning or purpose as decidedly not worth living, by definition.
By our actions we create meaning and purpose to our lives, and by so doing, make them worth the living. People of faith rely heavily on external forces for largely the same satisfaction with the added layer of trust in unseen forces and objectives outside of, or beyond this life we live.
I think psychology has a very useful concept for this question. It is the notion of an operational definition. My operational definition requires meaning and purpose for there to be worth. I don't know if that is the best answer, or even a good answer, but it is one answer, and it is mine.
Thank you. Whatever else it may be, it is certainly a richly thoughtful and fascinating answer which gives insights into just what we think we mean when we talk about ideas of meaning and purpose and how we ascribe worth to our lives. I like the idea
From my perspective (an atheist), life is like winning the ultimate lottery. A string of unlikely events converged over billions of years to create you. To a theist that might seem like evidence of a creator, but when we take into consideration all the galaxies, stars and planets in the universe, it's really just a game of statistics. Life can happen if X, Y and Z conditions are met. They meet approximately 10% of the time (I'm making up these examples). On one planet, it might never happen. On 100 billion planets, suddenly life has a chance.
The unlikelihood of you existing goes up with the struggles life goes through, but the moral of the story is that your existence is precious and one of a kind. Realizing that we are experiencing something so rare, in a universe so big, is humbling and inspiring. In my mind, it makes life infinitely more fantastic than if it was created by a deity.
Hi M.T. Dreamer. Well, yup, I'm with you on all of that! I don't want to get into a god debate here but I do think the 'divine purpose' concept actually subtracts from the significance of life - god's little game - rather than adds anything to it.
Even if life was only temporary and organic, rather than eternal and divine in origin, it would still be worth living. Creatures on earth would still need us to care for them. Parents would still need to care for their children. People would still need to care for each other. A person could still find joy in a sunset.
I do believe in God. I have found that many supposedly religious people think it is their duty to judge everyone else and that is so anti-God because these people are prideful and are typically motivated by a desire to have power over others and that is not being Godly. Right now I am judging them. Not to feel superior though. We can state right from wrong; we can state our opinions but to play judge means we don't acknowledge our own faults. That's why God says to take the stick out of our own eyes first. People who judge constantly do so about everything, every little petty thing and they end up slandering people too just so they can judge someone, just so they can be right.
I am a bit late to this conversation, but at 70+ years, an Atheist for about 55 of those and one who has experienced life, my perspective may be of benefit.
I recently participated in a symposium at a local Univ and the question up for discussion was, "What is the essence and Purpose of Human life"? For me the essence of human life is our capacity to reason, without which we would still be swinging from trees. There would be no understanding of what we perceived, experienced and no value placed upon it. There would be no question, why and there would most certainly be no answer. The purpose is our own, but that is predicated on living in a free society absent government and religious dictims, as to who and what you are.
Life, as time is simply the expenditure of energy measured by us. The capacity to reason, as the talent to write, paint, act etc. varies in all of us, as no two snow flakes are identical, as a consensus of 'purpose' is, perhaps, an illusion. Life is energy. a process of expenditure, but to what end?
Having and raising a family, children. A sense of fulfillment, contribution in pursuits of dreams and ambitions; life and all that energy now have value and purpose, as days, time move at a much faster pace.
Life can only be worth living if 'you' can give worth to your life. The gods cannot do that and the government cannot do that, as then you are merely a resource and not alive.
Hi stuff4kids! How's it going?
Let's look at your question--how its worded and what that can tell us. You ask, 'If life has no meaning or purpose, is it still worth meaning?'
The key words in your question are 'meaning,' 'purpose,' and 'worth.' You seem to be saying something like this: Say, hypothetically, that life has no meaning or purpose; is life still 'worth' living?
That is, you ask us to at least hypothetically concede life as meaningless or purposeless, and then weigh the question of 'worth' separately.
Is life worth living? Presumably it is or it is not. But I keep coming back to that word 'worth' again. What is the test to determine life's 'worth' or 'worthlessness'?
Think of it this way: You pick up a rock. To the extent that the object is only a 'rock,' it has no particular 'meaning' or 'purpose,' at least, as it pertains to human life. If the rock is just a rock, it has no 'worth' either.
But if the 'rock' turns out to be real gold, it is suddenly endowed with 'meaning' (it means that we can exchange or sell that rock for cash); it has 'purpose' (to the extent that gold does or at least did have some relationship to human currency systems); and the 'rock' has 'worth' in that we can sell or exchange it for cash.
But note that all of this is only so because human beings declared that this should be so for ourselves. History might have gone another way and human beings might have chosen not to endow 'gold' with any value whatsoever; and we might have simply let gold rock stay in the ground.
But notice again, that in using that analogy I am making a suggestion about the nature of human life. Perhaps the spirit is the only real and the fleshly body is something we can 'take it or leave it.' But no tradition I know of holds that position. I hear that Buddhism believes that it is desirous to try to escape the 'endless cycle' of death and rebirth, for whatever reason.
When you think about it, then, stuff4kids, when you ask the question (Is life 'worth' living?), you are, perhaps, unintentionally, making an assumption about the nature of human existence that would appear to contradict your avowed atheism? Do you follow me?
That is to say: From what possible perspective are we expected to make a determination about the 'worth' or 'worthlessness' of life, if not from the point of view of a bipartite way of being divided into soul and body? Is being 'incarnated' a good thing or not?
I have just about run out of characters, so I'll stop here.
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