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5/19/2003                                                                                       View Comments

The meaning of life

Is he cheating?Since leaving the stifling dogmatism of Christianity a few years ago, one of the questions that Christians keep broaching to me is, "What is the meaning of life to you now?"

Of course I know what they are trying to say. As a Christian I understood that the real meaning in life was found in serving Christ. Without Christ there is no meaning in life, so the dogmatic assumption goes. Without Christ, there is only the material world and whatever temporary pleasure can be gleaned from the few short years available to us poor pitiful mortals. Since my own personal philosophy has taken a definite turn toward an existential world view, and having been fully indoctrinated in the Christian perspective for most of my life, I can appreciate the concept that life without Christ does indeed appear to lack any definite point.

That is unquestionably true if you suppose that life can have no real design without some big guy in the sky calling all the shots. If what life needs to give it purpose and object is to have an all powerful, invasive, controlling, commanding, sovereign who tells us what our end is, well then I suppose that not believing in this entity does rob us of any clearly identifiable reason to live. People like to feel they are important, cared about, loved. In fact the search for significance is a popular topic of numerous self help books as well as occupying a whole field of psychological study which encompasses everything from educating and raising children to effectively managing and motivating adults at work. Even our language is intuitively reflects this basic human trait by using the term "significant other" to describe a person's chosen partner. The religion of Christianity certainly provides a suitable alternative for filling the perceived need to be "somebody special."

In my opinion, life has no real meaning. What I mean by that is that our individual lives have no "destiny" or "plan" or "script" written by Mr. Invisible for HIS own purposes. We are not here to accomplish some great purpose or achieve some great work that someone else preordained for us to strive toward. In other words I do not believe my life has meaning derived from an outside source.

When I was a Christian and confronted with this train of thought, I would think that if that there really was no GOD, then hedonistic pleasure seeking was all that was left to being alive. I now embarrassingly admit to having a very stunted and immature viewpoint.

So much of what we do today is in some way related to computers. The laptop I am typing these words on has a clearly discernable reason to exist - to serve me. Without me to provide power and programming, it will never awaken or produce anything at all. Clearly the thing only exists to robotically serve its owner. I, however, am not like that. Although the Christian would be obligated to disagree with me, I live and move and have my being regardless of the gods or goddesses of the culture I live in. I am a self programming entity. I feed myself, providing my own power. I have my own ideas, which I develop and produce without being commanded to do so by any outside source. I decide who I will be with, what I will do for a living and how much effort or time I put into any project I want to be involved with. My computer is my slave and cannot ask for anything for its own pleasure, but can only run its automated programs. I am not a slave, I am autonomous. I automate myself.

I find my own meaning and my own reason to live.

It could be argued that my personality is something I have very little control over. So many of my preferences and desires were mapped out for me in the structure of my genetics inherited from parents or ancestors. Much of my thinking process is either enhanced or inhibited by education and upbringing. I had neither control nor the ability to resist much of the programming received during my formative years. Still, none of that gives me any real meaning. Analyzing my past simply helps to explain some of the ways I may view reality since reaching adulthood. You might say I have a set of tools either given to me by nature or education which allow me greater or lesser opportunities to find my own meaning in life.

It is my perspective that the Christian is no different in this respect. He or she has really only found his or her own meaning in life by devoting themselves to what they believe is a worth while project, or person. They have not been given any more purpose than the next person, but they believe they have a ordained goal to strive after, so they are content.

Anyone who finds something they really like to do, that makes them feel important, that gives their life significance and love has found meaning in life. When I rapped my life up in Christianity, I was constantly disappointed, finding that the significance I craved could be snatched away quickly by those in the power positions of "chruchdom." I no longer face that obstacle to finding satisfaction and enjoyment in life. When I was a Christian, all my eggs, so to speak, were in the one basket. Now I find significance and meaning in so many interests and avenues that I find it difficult to fully immerse myself in any one of them. There is just not enough time.

Far from finding less meaning in life since leaving Christianity, I have found so much meaning in life that I often find I can't keep up with it all. I know my life is short. I am reminded of it everyday. Because it is short does not give it less meaning to me, it actually gives it more. Everyone has heard the expression, "If I could have just had one more day with ..." or, "I was so fortunate that I got to spend an hour with ...." or "I remember that day when my child was born" or something along those lines. A day or an hour is very short, yet can have very great meaning. It is not the length of time we have that gives life its value, it is the person possessing and living that life who gives the life value.
Meaning in Life:

Christians like to attack us Atheists with something like "Well, what meaning does YOUR life have? I have eternal life!" The fact is, their "eternal life", according to the Bible, will be spent kissing the ass of a petty desert deity suffering from low self-esteem- THAT'S the vaunted and bragged-about "meaning" to THEIR lives!!! The Book of Revelation clearly reveals that the Christians will spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the next trillion billion quaddrillion years doing NOTHING but singing praises to a god that just can't get enough compliments. Now THAT'S real meaning in life, isn't it???Mark Smith

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