Purpose Driven Life, pg 15-16

“I do not speak for all atheists. The subtitle of this book is “How an Atheist Finds Meaning,” not “How All Atheists Find Meaning.” Each atheist is an individual, not part of a religion or creed. We do not agree with each other on all issues, nor should we. Atheism is simply the absence of theism. Atheists do not have a religious belief; we lack a belief in God or gods, and that is the only thing that unites us. (We might possess beliefs about other things, but we don’t have a belief in a god.) but I am certain that the views I express in this book are shared to a very large degree by most atheists on the planet. I have talked with thousands of them. I have read the writings of many hundreds more. To be sure, a small handful of atheists (including some well-known philosophers) are existential nihilists who think life has no meaning and ultimately ends in despair and emptiness. My religious opponents like to quote those pessimists, pretending that they speak for all of us. The cheery Schopenhauer, for example, said that the only thing better than suicide is never to have been born in the first place. I don’t share that view, and I don’t know any atheists who do. The atheists I know, virtually all of whom are happy and mentally healthy, might more properly be called anti-nihilists. We are mainly optimists who love our lives and find them to be full of meaning and purpose.”


Discuss!

3 COMMENTS

  1. @OP – To be sure, a small handful of atheists (including some well-known philosophers) are existential nihilists who think life has no meaning and ultimately ends in despair and emptiness. My religious opponents like to quote those pessimists, pretending that they speak for all of us.

    They seem much more numerous as strawmen in theological preaching from those who crave to be GIVEN a spoon-fed meaning in life, than from any living examples of atheists I have met!
    Those whose god-delusions dominate their lives, can certainly see only a reflection of their own empty heads, if the dominating false images, and directions from preachers and their god-delusions, are removed!

    This is what blinds them to the balanced fullness of lives driven by well-rounded educated minds which are free of god-delusions.

  2. People who have been raised in the religious environment are taught from a young age to be absolutely petrified of death. The religious adults all around children don’t hold back from frightening them with stories of burning in hell as a consequence of bad behavior. The only way to escape hell, Satan, damnation is to live meek lives in perpetual fear and obedience.

    Now with that sort of cognitive framework going forward, how can these indoctrinated individuals ever understand the mindset of an atheist who has no fear of the celestial dictator, no fear of Satan and no fear of burning in hell for all eternity for violating ridiculous, petty rules that concern no reasonable person alive in this century. They can’t imagine it and they’re afraid to try. It’s too difficult to go against convention. Much easier to remain tightly installed in the flock. Safety in numbers.

    It’s very interesting to be an atheist out there dealing with life’s difficulties and working through inevitable problems without whimpering, begging and groveling to an imaginary friend in the sky. Let the religious amongst us observe how this is done. They won’t believe it until they see it for themselves.

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