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The Emptiness of Atheism

Updated on March 20, 2012

The Belief System of Nothingness

I always find it sad to hear people who believe they have found some degree of freedom in atheism (I just read one such hub). While I certainly understand how one may find themselves an agnostic, I can't comprehend the emptiness that is, and must be, atheism. The notion that we are simply here by a non-divine accident, and that there is therefore, nothing more.

A life where love doesn’t actually exist

When one actually intellectualizes the atheist’s belief system, there is nothing but emptiness. Let’s take for example, the love we have for our children. Given that atheism concludes that we have no soul (remember a soul is divine), we therefore do not actually love our children. In the strictest sense, the atheist must conclude that what we believe to be love is simply a chemical reaction taking place inside our bodies. There simply can be no other explanation, because there is no greater meaning. There is indeed no love in the world, only reactions resulting from some outside stimulus. So, in the atheist’s world, love is an illusion only meant to perpetuate the species, but certainly not real. I had a friend who was an atheist once say, “I may be an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I’m not spiritual.” Well, actually, that is exactly what it means. You believe that there is no spirituality, only empty chemical reactions in our incredibly complex, but accidental brains. There can be no spirituality in the world of the atheist. The agnostic, yes, the Christian, of course, but the atheist, no.

There can be no actual right or wrong

Secondly, if atheism is indeed the state of man, there is no actual right or wrong. The natural laws as defined by man are simply made up to necessitate community. The exist only to reduce the suffering one man my impose on another, but as with love, it is only a myth. In the world of atheism, it really doesn’t matter whether you harm someone else, other than the potential harm it may ultimately bring on the aggressor. Because he that was harmed, is nothing more than an organ. Consciousness is but an interesting accident, but nothing more. Suffering is irrelevant, because like love, it isn’t real beyond the chemicals that react with one another to produce pain.

A belief in nothingness

There are those atheists, who are understand that their belief system actually means life is without meaning. They have come to terms with the idea that we are all just empty vesicles, and that as a result, nothing has consequence. You live, you die, and in between, your body reacts to stimulation that ultimately doesn’t matter. However, most who call themselves atheists have never truly thought though the logical progression of their belief system. The claim to love, they claim spirituality, they claim pain, but logically speaking, these things don’t actually exists beyond the base level of a biological reaction if you are an atheist. I don’t draw these conclusions as a believer, but as a thinker who simply carries the belief system to its logical conclusion. It is indeed interesting to see someone become an atheist because they believe no God has come to their rescue. How incredible self centered. They are willing to eliminate the consequence that is humanity, simply because they didn’t receive divine intervention when they hoped it would come. I certainly don’t have answers to many questions of divinity, but I can tell you that I want no part of a belief system where love, kindness, altruism, and ultimately humanity are not real.

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    • twosheds1 profile image

      twosheds1 5 years ago

      Your hub was well-written, but I have to disagree with you on a couple points. First, love is real whether or not one believes in the soul, but that doesn't mean that love didn't come about for reasons related to the survival of the species.

      Next, you're assuming that what is right and wrong is only determined through religious means. Looking at Leviticus, it's obvious that what we think is "right" has changed over time, and not because God has said to us "OK, you can start cutting your beards." Society determines our values. Yes, religious beliefs are part of society's values, but they aren't all of it. Freedom of religion, for example, directly contradicts the commandment against having no other gods (that's the 1st commandment, IIRC). Doing good things is good for the survival of society, and it would be with or without religion.

      Third, and probably most important, you assume that one needs a god to provide "meaning" to one's life. I have to ask, why does life need to have meaning? Or why do I need to look outside myself to find meaning in my life? I'm a parent, and I find meaning in my life in parenthood, friendship, and writing hubs. Rather than making life empty and meaningless, my nonbelief has made my life all the more meaningful and precious, because I know that it's limited. I know that I won't be reunited in an afterlife with my loved ones (or dead rock stars), so that means I need to make the most of the limited time I have. Life is short but sweet for certain.

    • alahiker28 profile image

      Vicki Parker 5 years ago from the Deep South

      You are not correct on all of your points, but I understand what you are trying to say. I am NOT an atheist, so don't misunderstand me. But atheists do love their children, see the difference between right and wrong, and though their world is void of a creator, they do not feel emptiness.

      As you can see from your article, atheists are very passionate about what they believe. The world is full of individuals seeking solace from some belief, even if what they believe in is nothing. I talked to a life-long Jew recently who didn't even know that Jews believe in God (Yahweh).

      Try your arugment from more of an ontological standpoint. You'll get more votes "up" from the atheists : )

    • Carneades-Georgia profile image

      Carneades-Georgia 5 years ago from Augusta, Georgia

      People just prattle about meaning without God!

      " Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate meaning to which God nor the future state can further validate." Inquiring Lynn

      People get so frustrated that we atheists don't need an owner who gives us meaning: we aren't His clay, and He is no potter,since evolution formed us!

      What I'm posting now counts now! Why the anguished cries that oh, we forlorn beings without Him won't be immortal in Heaven.That response suggests psychological treatment: read Albert Ellis's " The Myth of Self Esteem " to learn how to avoid such wailing and Robert Price's " The Reason-Driven life" to learn how to let reason,not the delusion of faith guide one to that more abundant life!

      My hubs answer the arrogant accusations against us atheists in effect.Answer there their points instead of using faith!

    • jdflom profile image

      Jonathan 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      asherruth: I find part of your response to TR's article a bit condescending, but nonetheless, you are definitely entitled to your opinion. Despite how you may feel about it, I can assure you as an atheist, I fine much joy in life and treasure each day. I find joy in the things I experience and people I meet.

      Having many friends, and some of whom are theists, I definitely understand your point of view; however you should try having an open mind about an atheist point of view and not be filled with such conceit. I've written several thoughtful responses on TR's article (which I agree is well thought you and well written, too), all of which offer such an opposite point of view from what you describe.


    • asherruth profile image

      asherruth 5 years ago

      Very well thought out article and well written. I for one, have to say that I would be extremely depressed to think that our life on earth is all there is, with nothing more meaningful to look forward to. I would not have reason to wake up in the morning or to face the pain and hardship associated with this life if it not for the joy in knowing that there is a peace that surpasses all understanding and a joy like none other awaiting us in the end. I wrote a hub on the near death experience that you might find interesting.

      Thank you for a thought provoking and inspiring hub.

    • jdflom profile image

      Jonathan 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA


      Let me expound a bit more, because you do bring up a good point.

      I think that just because there is no inherent known meaning, does not mean there is no meaning. I don't think humanity was necesarily an accident, I think that somewhere in the (loose term I am coming up with on the spot) "rules of the universe," human life, animal life, plant life and all of the molecules and atoms and elements that make them up are meant to be.

      In a way, it just is, but there is definite evidence that we are made up of the same stuff stars are made of.

      I believe that evolution shapes us... I think the environmental factors over hundreds of thousands of years or more explain the difference in appearance between the different continents as well as the different animals and plants that have grown.

      So, on the one hand, in a way it was an accident, but on the other hand, once that accident formed this planet, the rules of the universe allowed life to form. And that, to me, is meaning.

      I hope that maybe what I said, which is purely my opinion, as I cannot speak for all atheists, helps you understand an atheist viewpoint where there is meaning to be found.

      Lastly, I think that since the universe is capable of giving life with certain conditions, I believe the possibility of other life forms to exist somewhere out in space. It only seems logical.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City


      Well, I thought you were interested in a more intellectual conversation. A conversation about ideas. But your continual reflexive deferral to terms like "sludge" and a caricature of atheism/ agnosticism indicates otherwise.

      I have indeed addressed your main argument. Let me try to clarify one last time.

      "I am saying that without foundations basis, no value can exists."

      I agree. And the existence of God alone does not provide any such foundation. But simply thinking does provide such a foundation--the foundation of valuing the human mind itself, which can then lead by deduction to further ideas of value.

      Thus we do not need God to develop a sense of value or worth.

      "You can’t on the one hand suggest that there is no actual foundation in any of our beliefs, and on the other hand explain how our being is somehow noble."

      As I said in my first comment, this represents common misunderstandings of atheism/ agnosticism. I do not, nor do most nonbelievers suggest that there is "no actual foundation to any of our beliefs."

      Concepts of nobility do not need to originate with a third party to be meaningful.

      "God... does not need to jump through your hoops."

      I wish I could take credit for inventing logic, but I can't. As such, these are not "my hoops." They are hoops that logic itself erects in the face of your God concept.

      "Further, even as you live in a belief system without a foundation, you continue to argue for meaning."

      More needless caricatures. My belief system does have a foundation.

      It was worth a try. Bye bye.

    • Atheist Anthony profile image

      Atheist Anthony 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      So in essence of your argument Mr. Brown, you strive to get your point across as without religion our deaths cannot be noble and without a belief in god, life was for nothing?

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 5 years ago from Nashville, TN


      I have no interest in this becoming an esoteric exercise in academic views of theology of or the lack thereof. However, I will at least respond. You arguments are not addressing my original point. I am not making the argument that the mind is worthless and I have therefore not fallen into a logic trap. I am saying that without foundations basis, no value can exists. Again, there can be no meaning without a foundation upon which that meaning is built. If you are an accident born of sludge and you die to rot as sludge, there was never, nor could there have been, meaning in it.

      Frankly given you belief system, I can’t understand why you wish to ascribe value to anything other than as a trivial exercise. You can’t on the one hand suggest that there is no actual foundation in any of our beliefs, and on the other hand explain how our being is somehow noble. In terms of your logic string relative to God and his belief versus our beliefs etc that you articulated. That is simply over thought. God, or spirituality, or however one may tie humanity to core truths does not need to jump through your hoops. You simply need to believe what you already know. You as a human have an innate belief in good and bad. You may choose bad, but you know the difference. Further, even as you live in a belief system without a foundation, you continue to argue for meaning. Your need for meaning and your innate knowledge of good and bad would certainly negate your logic chain of God’s inability to reach us. Religious study aside, your core principles (those not learned but known) and your need meaning are the internal manifestation of the God touch.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City


      I think you responded to my comment somewhere in there, not sure exactly.

      You said: "All of those things that you ascribe to being human are worthless without a basis for worth."

      This is actually a fascinating phenomenon. Here's why: you need to posit on blind faith that God gives worth.

      Suppose I assume that God exists, no argument. Ok, now I believe that God is the creator of everything, has a plan, etc. The problem for the theist is that you cannot actually logically deduce meaning from this. You need to assert that meaning on blind faith. First you assume God exists, THEN you further assume that God's meaning applies to us.

      If you disagree with this, then you should show me a logical proof of how the existence of God itself logically leads to worth that humans should uphold.

      So you see, actually the belief in God is not so strong a basis for worth or value after all.

      Just because God values something does not mean we should.

      On the other hand, suppose there is no God. We have only our minds, ourselves. Now, just by thinking, you are admitting that your mind has value and worth. Because if it did not, you could not be thinking. To deny the value of the mind is illogical because the mind is the very thing doing the denying, LOL!

      From this basic sense of meaning, further meanings can follow.

    • Davesworld profile image

      Davesworld 5 years ago from Cottage Grove, MN 55016

      I speak only for myself here, but it is the emptiness of atheism that started me down the road to Christianity. For the overwhelming majority of my adult life I was a professing atheist, but no longer. There is more to life than can be explained away as just a bag of chemicals following natural laws. That view is empty in my opinion.

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Read Atheist Anthony’s comment for the stupid thing. I appreciate what you have had to say, and you are the only commenter that seems interested in a discussion without condescension. In my mind, that makes you much more interesting and reflects an open mindness that many don’t share.

      In terms of what I am saying, I don't need to be in your head. I absolutely believe that you feel joy, and sorry, love, and curiosity. You enjoy humanity just like we all do. The point here is that with a belief system that does not include a fundamental basis for creation and morality, there is no meaning. All of those things that you ascribe to being human are worthless without a basis for worth. This is the second step in that atheist belief. As an atheist, you believe in the accident of humanity. There is no attribute to create fundamental meaning to anything. If we are accidents and orbs of turning chemicals, then everything we feel, think, etc. is irrelevant. This is not an argument for who you are or how you feel; it is an argument that there can be no fundamental meaning in nothingness.

    • jdflom profile image

      Jonathan 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      T.R., how can you tell us that it's meaningless and trivial when you aren't in our heads and thoughts? I don't feel it's meaningless and trivial, I just don't believe that a higher power was responsible. There are a lot of things in this life that I value and have meaning to me.

      I believe that natural law was manufactured, but it's to keep order and peace because not all humans (which has nothing to do with theist or atheist) will keep order and stay under general morals, but I do believe that the majority always will. I think this is proven, otherwise we would not have laws.

      I also don't see where anyone called you stupid, in fact I praised you for expressing your point of view. Anthony merely suggested that the idea of atheists not knowing right or wrong was stupid, but he didn't call you stupid.

      To me, a lot of things are interesting and have value from mixing baking soda with vinegar to the origin of the human race... I think that's going to be a simple agree to disagree thing.

    • T. R. Brown profile image

      T. R. Brown 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Very interesting, first you come out of the gate and call me stupid for something I didn't say. Had you read the hub closely you understand that I did not indicate that you could not tell right from wrong. I said that under your belief system there is no right and wrong. Natural law must be manufactured because we are all nothing more to humanity than conscious beings reacting to stimulus. Without something more, you consciousness is nothing more than an interesting accident. Don’t call me stupid again, without attributing my points correctly.

      Further, I never said you felt empty because of your belief system, nor did I indicate that atheists are not capable of curiosity and therefore human advancement. Clearly that is not true. However, under you belief system, it is meaningless and pointless, because this is all trivial. This is the very issue I took with atheism as a belief system. Without spirituality, however you may define it, there is no meaning. By definition all that we experience, all that we feel, is nothing more than chemical reactions. If you study your science, you would understand that these reactions are the basis upon which the human brain works. Because you believe this was a simple accident created along some evolutionary path, it is meaningless. It is as trivial as mixing baking soda with vinegar. There is clearly a reaction, but it nothing more. Under your beliefs the reactions that take place in our brains are no more interesting than the mixture I discussed previously. The coincidence of consciousness does create meaning in the reaction.

    • Atheist Anthony profile image

      Atheist Anthony 5 years ago from Philadelphia

      Nothingness? no. As an atheist the afterlife for me correlates more into the realm of scientific theories. As for atheism having no sense of right or wrong, that's just stupid. It doesn't take an idiot to figure out killing is bad but evidently it does take the idea of a higher being for Christians to figure that out.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

      Common misconceptions and myths about atheism.

      Lack of belief in God no more leads to emptiness or nihilism than lack of belief in Santa Claus. You might want to take a look at my hub "Top 10 myths and fallacies about atheism."

      In the absence of God, people can and do find other reasons to find love, beauty, happiness, etc.

      Just because we can explain the chemical reactions of the body and brain doesn't mean we can't embrace them and feel them and allow them to enrich our lives. Why must it all be chalked up to a mysterious divine force for it to be meaningful?

      In the absence of God or the supernatural, it is us human beings who determine our own fate, destiny and purpose. There is nothing more empowering and enriching than the notion that we can write our own story. We do not need an external authority--whether God, government, our boss, a dictator--to give us meaning or purpose. Only children need that kind of external authority to tell them how to live.

      Finally, if atheism/ agnosticism really did lead to emptiness and purposelessness, then you cannot explain the countless accomplished people through history that were nonbelievers: Einstein, Edison, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, tons of writers, artists, thinkers, musicians, athletes, scientists, actors and business people.

      Today, the most prominent and influential people on earth are overwhelmingly nonreligious or very weakly spiritual. Seems like good company to me.

    • jdflom profile image

      Jonathan 5 years ago from Sacramento, CA

      As an atheist, I disagree with you in that it's just emptiness and nothingness.

      I am amused by coincidence and chance and often think about it in many forms.

      I am capable of love and other emotions and I am happy to be in love when it's happened. Love has nothing to do with a divine belief, or a soul -- which is merely my opinion. True, it may just be chemicals, but those feelings are still there regardless of the belief.

      I cannot speak for all atheists when I say that I also believe that my energy will live on in the sense that when I die, my decomposing body will become fertilizer for plants that will be consumed by humans or animals, helping to continue the life cycles. My contribution in that form brings me happiness as I enjoy life and want others to enjoy as well.

      I also disagree with your statement about right and wrong. Right and wrong is picked and chosen by everyone, atheists and theists. It's opinion based no matter what. A Christian religion may have tenets that stipulate right and wrong, but not all Christian's follow them, just as atheists have a sense of morality, and it differs from each person. Often times the basic rules of morality or right and wrong coincide between atheists and theists. Remember, we are a civilized nation and we have laws for a reason which are setup to protect us (among other things, but I am not trying to get political).

      Ultimately, I applaud you for expressing yourself, you aren't wrong in having your opinions on the matter, I just simply disagree with you. I would urge you not to feel sad for atheists, as most are happy in their understandings of the world -- just as theists are happy with their faiths. I certainly don't feel bad for theists, nor would I tell them they are wrong -- believing in a higher power or not is a personal choice since there is no absolute proof one way or the other.