Making Life Meaningful Without Religion [new Theist vs. Atheist series column]

The opening of my latest column in the Theist vs. Atheist debate series at EveryJoe:

“The quest for a meaningful life comes naturally to us. As infants we delight in exploring the world and developing our powers — hearing and seeing and tasting, crawling, eye-hand coordination, vocalizing, and social interaction with parents, siblings, and family pets.

“As children our lives becomes more complicated, yet we continue to grow in the strength of our reason and we develop emotional resiliency and more powerful bodies to meet the challenges.

“This natural process continues into adulthood until we are capable of embracing the adventure of life fully — with commitments to meaningful careers, romantic loves, becoming parents ourselves, experiencing the profundities of art and philosophy, traveling to exotic places, including to magnificent past cultures by means of history and to the vast reaches of the universe by means of science.

“But along the way, bad things can happen to sabotage us …” [Read more here.]


Here are the links to other columns in the series.

2 thoughts on “Making Life Meaningful Without Religion [new Theist vs. Atheist series column]

  • July 31, 2015 at 11:07 am

    This shows an odd notion of “meaning”; meaning here does not mean “interesting” or “challenging”. This is the problem with atheists: the cannot see the whole of mankind; they cannot see man in the wretched state he is in. They do not understand sin.

    They confuse their shallow self indulgence with “meaning” or “fulfillment”, or even “happiness”. They are like people who have been cut in half. Besides a narrow view of the human condition, they have absolutely know understanding of the religious experience.

  • August 1, 2015 at 1:47 am

    Hi Harumpf:
    Meaningful certainly can include interesting and challenging experiences. It’s hard to imagine an uninteresting or unchallenging life as meaningful.
    But your real issues seem threefold: (1) a hugely generalized claim about the wretched state of man. That may be your circumstance, but why do you deny that others’ lives can be positively significant for them?
    (2) is your equation happiness with shallow self-indulgence. Again, why so? In my experience and judgment, happiness is a major accomplishment.
    (3) Your suggestion that religious experience is something other than (or does not involve?) interesting, challenging, fulfillment, and so on. What is it we’re missing, then? Absent an explanation, your sneering tone is certainly inappropriate.
    Overall, though, your brief comment fits with the claim I made in an earlier article in this series — that religious belief often is a matter of deep pessimism about the natural world combined with vague claims about the supernatural.

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