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What is the Purpose of Life without God?

Updated on December 7, 2012

Godless purpose

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?


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    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 2 years ago from New York City

      Thank you, Paula. Glad you liked it. Ironically, atheists and agnostics, according to the many polls and surveys we have access to, tend to be *more* peaceful and "ethical" in every sense of the word, than the devoutly religious population.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 2 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Excellent read. I lean heavily toward your perspective. In fact, I was seriously taken aback at a Q&A some time ago here on HP. The question asked if "morality" could exist without there being a Heavenly Supreme Being. I remember thinking..."What? is this person for real?"

      Of course, all of the self-righteous, Bible bangers charged in with their loud and clear insistence that morality would not, could NOT be w/o "GOD."

      As horrified and disgusted as I was, I managed to ask a simple question, which of course was never ever approached, must less answered by any of these same Holier-than-thous."

      My Question: "Are you people actually suggesting that ATHEISTS do not know the difference between right & wrong, good & evil, love & hatred, concern & neglect? Do you believe they raise their children to be selfish, greedy, discourteous, disrespectful totally VOID of all morality?"

      Sometimes I find the blatant & egregious IGNORANCE to be more than a human being can bear.........Again, this is an excellent work. Thank you. UP+++ Peace, Paula

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

      Thanks, Andy. I appreciate that and it means a lot to know my writing can reach someone like that.

      I applaud your attempt to reach a higher level of understanding and to challenge old beliefs. It's not easy. In fact it can be downright painful to rethink existing assumptions. A lot of people just can't do it. They have to either stick with old ideas that don't work, lying to themselves because they're too intimidated by change, or they avoid the issue altogether through denial mechanisms.

      The pursuit of truth is one of the key things that makes us unique as human beings. And it has the power to change a person's life. I wish you the best on your journey.

    • profile image

      Andy 5 years ago


      I want to thank you for your ability to put my thoughts and ideas into words as I often struggle with. The past few months I've been experiencing some turmoil regarding my political, social, and philosophical ideas. Several of your hubs have helped deepen and clarify my changing beliefs. It is really incredible how much more at peace I feel with the world and with myself now that I have gained the courage to challenge what I have been spoon-fed my entire life. The truth is we can't know the truth, so why should I construct my life based on flimsy assumptions? Please continue to express your thoughts, and I hope that more will listen.



    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

      Hi Carl, lots of people have gone through something similar.

      There is a wealth of fascinating and inspiring literature out there from secular and agnostic thinkers. Great philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant and David Hume. Most of the great philosophers addressed the existence of god as well as important moral and ethical topics. I would suggest looking into them.

      Ultimately, only you can decide what you truly believe. You should look rationally at the evidence and arguments on all sides. Decide which are more convincing for you. Chances are, if you think church and prayers to God aren't going to solve any problems, you are already leaning toward a more secular outlook.

      If so, you might want to look at activities, jobs or hobbies that excite and interest you outside of religious life. Maybe something creative or artistic, maybe starting a business, or sports, or pursuing learning and knowledge.

      I firmly believe that true human fulfillment lies completely outside the walls of church. You're basically looking at a journey of self-discovery, which can be challenging and difficult, but also very rewarding and life-changing.

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      carl 5 years ago

      Im going through a rough stage of my life, my parents used to go to church every weekend, but 5 years ago they only have been going to church just when they need something, or seek success, i just don't see how going to church will solve problems, and im still in the middle of doubt and actually believing in god, but im trying to do some research in order to make a decision, any advice will be grateful

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 5 years ago from New York City

      That's right, Indigital.

      Religious laws are manmade creations typically originating in ignorance and backwardness. Better to toss them out and live your life according to reason and love for humanity.

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      Indigital 5 years ago

      Quite, I believe with God your only purpose is to be good to him and to live your life under his laws.

      When you're an atheist, you're granted your own life. You can believe that you're in control - you can deny any religious laws.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      Very true, Chef. Accepting responsibility for our own lives is challenging and scary. There's nobody left to appeal to. There's no one who can save you, and there's no one who can discipline you if you do something wrong. That is extremely frightening for some.

      But there is also the power to make your own rules and your own meaningful life.

      To make your life unquestionably yours--that is powerful.

    • secularist10 profile image

      secularist10 6 years ago from New York City

      Exactly, Winston. Secular purpose is our best bet, indeed, our only bet. History shows that "divine" purpose can lead to all kinds of outcomes and all kinds of problems, precisely because it is so nebulous and impossible to pin down.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 6 years ago from Citra Florida

      Hey sec

      Seems to me that God and Satan are the ultimate scapegoats. If we do something evil we can always blame the Devil, "Satan made me do it" or "I am following God's will". (God wants me to murder that abortion doctor) God obviously needs a lot of help doing his will and conservatives are there to help.

      One of the most absurd religious faiths I have ever heard of is that When you accept Christ as your personal savior it doesn't matter how you sin after that, you have a free pass into heaven.

      Those of us that remain rational realize that we have to take responsibility for our actions instead of blaming them on Lucifer. Life with or without God becomes a journey of self discovery, and many of us won't like what we find if we have no Devil to blame

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      AKA Winston 6 years ago

      Totally correct and a good subject. Besides, if there were a godly purpose, how could it ever be known, anyway, without sentient beings deciding which god was right and which method of knowledge was correct?