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What is the Purpose of Life without God?
God is the rock that gives meaning and purpose to the lives of many. Many believers think that without the external presence of God, life is all but meaningless. Human beings are nothing more than bags of protein and water who happen to have a disposition to helping each other. There is nothing inherently special about them.
The fact is that purpose is very much possible in a godless universe. True purpose originates with people themselves. It is sentient beings that manufacture purpose because the very concept of "purpose" has no significance without sentient, intelligent entities to experience it.
Freedom and independence without God
One way to think about purpose in life without God is to use the analogy of parents and children. When a child grows up and becomes an independent adult, is there no longer any direction in their life without the guiding hand of a parent? For most people, their life actually expands and becomes more interesting in the absence of parents taking care of them and telling them what to do. Rather than withering into a rudderless, confused and mediocre existence, their freedom and independence empowers them to think about what they really want, to pursue their dreams and realize their full potential.
The dynamism and thriving of places where individuals are free to do largely whatever they want, demonstrates the power of freedom in human life. By contrast, there are other societies where a central leader directs people's lives and gives them instructions on how to live and what they should want. They have failed to approximate the long term viability of free countries.
Meaning without God
The free human sacrifices the security of a powerful overseer for the opportunity to succeed or fail at forging his own destiny.
Meaning without God can be found in all sorts of places. Some find it in pursuing a passion: sports, business, art, music, literature, scholarship.
Some find it in pursuing love or happiness. Some find it in revelry and "joie de vivre." Some seek constant self-improvement, others to protect and care for the people they love.
Some try to change the world, others just try to change one person's life. Some seek to understand the universe, others to understand humanity, and others simply to understand themselves.
Some live in the body, others in the mind, some in both. And some live in neither, but devote themselves to the external world.
Is earthly meaning less majestic than divine guidance? Perhaps. But it is also unquestionably ours. A godly purpose forces us to conform to a larger plan. An earthly purpose allows us to make our own plan. It can empower us to grow beyond what we already have. Whereas the godly plan means a fate that we have little control over, embracing freedom means that we write our own destiny.
We don't know if God exists, but we certainly know that we exist, and that there are real things in this world that we love and care about and are drawn to. Embracing and living fully in the world is the first step to discovering true purpose. Everything that humans need to thrive lies within this world, and within ourselves. And it always has.
If you don't believe in God, what is your purpose? What keeps your life going?