Friday, August 12, 2011

Universal/Ultimate Meaning

This is an aspect of religious belief I have never understood. Many theists seem to have come to the illogical conclusion that if there isn't an ultimate meaning to life then there can be no meaning at all. Why? I don't see why what gives my life meaning has to apply to every other human being on the face of the planet. And, yes, my life has meaning.

I find meaning all around me. All those I love provide more than enough meaning to sustain me indefinitely. I also derive meaning from interacting with people in general. My job and personal interests add even more. It is astonishing to me that anyone could think that life is meaningless. The notion that being an atheist automatically makes my life devoid of meaning would be laughable if it were not so sad. I don't really know that such religious people would find life meaningless without God. I hope that is not the case. If it turns out to be true I can't help but pity them such a shallow and pathetic existence.

In a similar vein, I find it strange that many theists need to look elsewhere for meaning. The idea that the answer to life's meaning is "out there" somewhere seems like such a waste. The view that only God (or any external force or entity for that matter) can give you the answers is in many ways belittling. Humans are amazing animals. We are capable of so much. It is through our ability to think that we create meaning. There is a vast source of meaning that can be found in our personal relationships. Why overlook that? Each of us provides meaning just by existing. To me that is far more beautiful and profound than any concept, doctrine, or ritual any religion has ever produced.

All of this is, of course, my sense of meaning. Maybe it can work for others. Some may really need someone else to tell them what is meaningful rather than finding it for themselves. They may even need to believe that there is a "one size fits-all" answer to the question of meaning. I won't pretend to know. I just know what works for me. I know that I have an abundance of meaning in my life that can not be diminished by the ignorance and biases of others.

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