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Debunking Christians on Meaningless Life WithOut God

by Adrian Barnett
One of the major misconceptions about atheists is that we have little or no respect for life - human or otherwise. Because we think that all life is some accidental freak of nature there is no meaning or purpose to it all, and it is all pretty worthless. We cannot possibly gain the same enjoyment and fulfillment from living that believers do. We care nothing for the suffering of others, as they're all just wormfood in the end.

What fresh lunacy is this? (to quote Harry Hill.)

Yes, life on this planet is a lucky accident, probably similar to countless other emergences of life on other planets. No, there is no particular purpose or meaning behind it all - why should there be? What right do we have to consider ourselves special?

However, as an atheist, I consider all (well, most) life to be sacred (if I can use such a word). Atheists know that we only get one chance at life. This is it. This is all you get. No reincarnation, no heaven or hell, no second chances. You only get one go, and to mess it up or waste it is the most terrible thing.

Make the most of your brief span of awareness. Educate yourself so that you can see the wonders of the universe for what they are, without the fog of religious belief. Swim in the Indian Ocean. Watch the sunset at Uluru (Ayer's Rock). Tickle a baby. Climb a tree. Learn to unicyle. Massage your partner. Take up pottery.

Gain pleasure from making other peoples' lives better. Some people live in appalling conditions, earning in a week what you might earn in one hour (if that). Support an orphanage.

Some theists seem to have this bizarre notion that atheists are sad, dreary, selfish people who only ever consider themselves, have no concern for anyone else and mope around all day wondering how they can get to Heaven without having to believe in Jesus and be nice to people. (Funny just how wrong some people can be, isn't it?)

I am often asked "Why bother? If life is a meaningless accident, with no ultimate goal or purpose, why not just kill yourself now? Why not even go on a killing spree and end the worthless lives of everybody else? What stops you ending it all?" To which I would reply - "Have you ever built a snowman?" After all, snowmen are ephemeral objects, soon to be melted in the sun. A snowman has no ultimate purpose or goal, and in a few weeks there will be no trace of it's ever existing. We build snowmen because all of us, theists and atheists, live here and now. In the context of our own brief mortal lives, we are able to enjoy this life and gain pleasure from ultimately pointless acts. It is fun to build a snowman, or climb a mountain, or watch the sunset, or go for a long cycle ride in the countryside. The purpose of these things is not "out there" somewhere, waiting to be achieved - the meaning is in what it means to ourselves. I am not overly concerned about some future fifty billion years from now, but I am concerned about the future of humanity here, now and for the generations that follow. That is the context of a mortal life, and that is why I "bother" to live and damn well have fun while I'm doing it.

There is no meaning to life itself. There is no purpose to the universe. You can, however, give life meaning through your actions. Make the world a better place for yourself, your contemporaries and your descendents.

Atheists can, and often do, lead a full and enjoyable life. We know that this is all we get, and all that everybody else gets, so we do the best that we can for ourselves and others. It's no good praying for people dying in a third-world country - there's no God to help them, only people. If people don't do it, nobody else will. I am sickened whenever there is a major disaster in the world, and some politician or church leader says that the victims desperately need our prayers. No they don't. They need someone to go and dig them out of the rubble, comfort the bereaved, find out why the plane crashed, bring them food and medicine. Prayer is not going to do that - people are. There is an orphanage in Kenya, called the Diani Childrens Village. The kids there have no family at all, and live in, well... a hovel. Do they need prayers and Bibles, or do they need love, money, food, clothes and education?

As an atheist, I consider all life to be sacred. A life and a mind are terrible things to waste. Make the most of them while you can, and help others do the same.

Is that such a Bad Thing?

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