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October 29, 2006


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Hi. My name is Stephanie. I am participating in an assignment for my Philosophy course at Dallas Christian College. I was wondering if you could answer a couple of questions for me.
1. How do you find meaning in life?
2. Have you developed a belief system?
Thank you for your time.

1. What do you mean by 'find meaning in life'?

2. Atheism is not a belief, it is a lack of belief. If you mean by what system do atheists commonly interpret the universe, then we generally use the scientific method and humanism.

If you are a Christian or have a belief in any other theistic religion I suspect that by "meaning of life" you mean "meaning beyond or after life".
If you accept that your life ends the day you die, then there is no need to seek a meaning beyond that point because, to state the obvious, there will be nothing beyond that point. The only context in which a "life" could have a "meaning" would be for the duration of that life.
There is plenty for the duration of a life within which one can find meaning. Of course if one has been repeatedly told since chidhood that there is a hereafter and that meaning can only be found in external or supernatural forces, one is bound to encounter some difficult in finding a satisfying "meaning" in Earthly existence.
In saying that, wouldn't you agree that all "meaning" in the context of one's life is rather subjective?
Two people, one a Christian the other an atheist, commit equal acts of goodness towards their fellow man and live equally generous lives to the day they die. Whose life has more "meaning"?
I say that the "meaning" of a life (in the sense I think you ask) has a real, if subjective value, only to the individual concerned. Beyond that there is no meaning. Why should there be? It's not a difficult concept to come to terms with, nor is it in the least bit depresing - especially if you have any idea of the scale of the Universe and our utterly insignificant, infinitesimal smallness within it.

Looks like a lot of atheist blogs are being spammed with these questions, Uncredible Hallq being just one more of them.

Have you developed a belief system?

Have you, Stephanie? Or has someone developed one for you? One of my major issues with organised religions is that they tell you want to believe. You can't choose what to believe and what not.

As an atheist, I'm free to agree with Biblical sentiments such as "thou shalt not kill", and "thou shalt not steal", but I don't have to agree with the idea of smiting non-believers, or doing nothing on a Sunday. I can take a cherished belief out and examine it in the light of damning new evidence and thenceforth disbelieve it.

What I believe from day to day is not immutable and unchangeable. I'd hate that. I used to believe that, regardless of questions of divinity or mortality, Jesus was a great man; now, I'm not even sure he ever existed at all.

Both my parents were pretty religious when I was young, but they were enlightened enough not to have me baptised until I was old enough to understand what it meant.So I'm still unbaptised.

They know I'm an atheist, and it hasn't led to a family schism. They don't try to convert me, and have even been a little converted by some of my arguments.

I try to live a decent life, I try to treat people with respect, and I work hard, but I don't do so because I'm scared someone's going to cast me down into a fiery pit for all eternity if I don't.

Stephanie, are you not going to answer the question:

What do you mean by 'finding meaning in life?'

You're not going to learn much about philosophy if you aren't going to discuss it.

I mean, I know you're not one of those christians who thinks these two questions are going to stump us poor dumb atheists and have us falling to our knees and converting, so your post was obviously made with the intention of learning, right?

She probably isn't, but the professor who assigned this might be. The first question sounds a bit like a challenge.

Of course, I could also see it being a perfectly legitimate inquiry. Sometimes it's hard to tell.


Exactly, which is why I think it speaks volumes that Stephanie, or those who posted these questions on the other blogs (Uncredible Hallq at least anyway) have not responded to my question or anything else posted in response to hers.

This question is identical to one that showed up on God4Suckers a few days ago, but with a different name. Not much of a 'philosophy' assignment if the lecturer has written the question for you. But now I'm just being picky.

Well, it was assigned at a Christian college. For them, philosophy isn't "What's right?" but instead "How do we prove we're right?"

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