In a previous post, I indicated what I consider the “dangerous” realisation that there is no top-down meaning; that our actions aren’t found to be important by anyone (or One) other than ourselves. This idea destroyed and continues to destroy many ideas I embraced (and that I encounter). Based on this, one must ask what follows.
One might become nihilistic, depressed and/or commit suicide; one might also choose to deliberately ignore all the evidence and conjure up bizarre claims about energy and so on, inflating our solipsism to the point where we view our actions as – from a top-down, metaphysical perspective – meaningful. These are just two, quite extreme, ways people respond to what they realise is a meaningless (from a top-down perspective) existence.
Many of us grew up with the idea that “right” and “wrong” were synonyms for God’s likes and dislikes. Pork and alcohol, premarital sex, praying regularly, clothing in special places, strange rituals, respecting one’s elders: these were the types of ideas that fit the bracket of “morality” for me, when I was young and considered myself Muslim. Looking at that list now, one can see how utterly solipsistic it is. From dietary to fashion, the invocation of God had little to do with what I realise now actually morally matters: the wellbeing and reduction of unnecessary suffering of others. For my younger self – and for many others –we need not worry about the well-being of others because that is God’s domain. What’s the use of interfering, when life is dependent on how much love you’ve earned from God? If something bad happens, it is because you have upset God somehow: you haven’t prayed correctly, bathed correctly, dressed correctly, respected correctly, thought correctly. Of course, “correctly” was a synonym for whatever God wants. Morality therefore became merely about how much or little you thought God loved you, followed by what you planned to do about it.