How Can Atheists Find Meaning and Purpose???!

I’m back posting again after a long break…I guess I needed it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a little tired of the God-debate (i.e. whether God exists). Nevertheless, there are other things to discuss in the Philosophy of Religion, and other interesting questions in life, besides whether an Omni-God exists (1). 

For example, I constantly hear that atheists can’t have meaning and purpose in their life. It’s often conceded that atheists and agnostics can have “subjective meaning”, but it’s impossible for there to be objective meaning without God actually existing (this is NOT the same thing as asking whether God exists. Instead we are asking what would follow IF God exists or does not exist, particularly what would follow about meaning.).

I’ve said before that I don’t know how God would change anything in regards to there being such a thing as objective meaning. But I’m not sure objective meaning is even logically possible. Perhaps “objective meaning” is like a square-circle [or a good Nickelback song 😉 ].

But getting practical, how do atheists find meaning? Well whether that meaning is subjective or not, it really isn’t that hard of a question to answer. Many atheists, including myself, partially find meaning in helping others (yes, most atheists are not evil ‘commie’ dictators). Like Shelly Kagan has said, helping someone else is not diminished one iota by the fact that the sun will eventually explode. Nor is helping someone diminished by not having God in the equation.

Next, many atheists find meaning in nature, whether that be a hike in the woods or observing an eclipse. One doesn’t have to link any of these experiences to theism, religion, or even ‘spirituality’.

But what about the fact that most atheists don’t believe in an afterlife? How is anything meaningful given the reality of death? Huh?! Checkmate, atheists! 

Okay, there is a lot to unpack here. First of all, indeed, there are some atheists who believe in an afterlife, so it’s unclear how this question by itself would even be a potential problem for those particular atheists; that’s because atheism only addresses the topic of God’s non-existence and/or persons who don’t believe in God. At the same time, however, it is true that many atheists are naturalists who deny things like disembodied minds. Secondly, and to get at the heart of the matter, if it is true that we give ourselves meaning, then this question misses the point; a crucial point here is that there aren’t very good reasons to think there is such a thing as meaning outside of us. Thirdly and finally, even if there was such a thing as meaning outside of ourselves, it’s not crystal clear that an afterlife is necessary in order to meaning.

(1) A Being that is all-powerful, all-loving, etc.



19 thoughts on “How Can Atheists Find Meaning and Purpose???!

  1. Objective purpose would be instrumental. Kind like the purpose which a shovel has.
    Say what you like about Kant, but he had it right on instrumental purpose when it comes to other people

  2. Meaning is neither lost nor found. Meaning is created … by the person involved. If someone is selling you that they know what your purpose in life is, grab your wallet and back away, you are in the presence of a con man.

      1. Green Peacemst

        Nothing against “imagination,” but “anywhere but” reveals how your accusations of “poorly informed” about “purposes existing” is your “sadly” unjustified assertion. Psychology would be and is often enough sadly used as if individuals can be isolated, sanely. Freud didn´t get far in terms of actual mental health, despite his accomplishments, but even eventually yielded about the “historical” value of God. But, Freud fainted as Jung started to stretch his wings. A striking image.

        While our consciousness and its imaginative and key other functions are key in fulfilling our ability to seek, find, and understand, and so on, we are hardly in Camus´ existential dilemma except by psychological defense mechanisms like denial. You can “imagine” that there is no sociocultural foundation that makes your freedom of thought and religion itself state in English and not Russian or Chinese, and your obviously wrong. Just as sustainability has been articulated by the Christian FDR´s UN´s efforts, the ancient Assyrians, Greeks, and Roman cultures have died in their original contexts, and knowledge of it all has only been sustained by the University-based efforts that followed monastic school models. Meditation and prayer aren´t random playthings. They are part of the religious method to perceive what science only demarcates as it compartmentalizes, usually limiting the philosophy that makes it. Physical laws, and quantum probabilities? And how could that have possibly been sustained without Jesus´ Good Samaritan package as the central objective of a civilization? That is now following George Fox, Gandhi, and Al Gore types, in associating our direct spiritual relation to the Universe´s Creator and Source, through Jesus. You can choose to ignore things. As long as they are not yet a truck bearing down on you.

  3. Hi I loved this post as I myself being Buddhist am non – theistic. I could very well be wrong, but my understanding of the God, believer, is that all their thoughts deeds and actions are by Gods will – nothing more nothing less.We Buddhists however, are very analytical (sometimes annoyingly) and don’t really tend to accept anything we haven’t tried tested seen and proven – hence the reason we are non believers in God. Because we don’t accept God as creator, we see things in much wider vision, learning and experiencing from the world around us whatever culture religion or faith it may be. So to answer the question – Can atheists find true purpose – living is our true purpose.

  4. Afterlife is not a matter of belief. That would be self-delusion. It is a matter of finding proof, and knowing, or not finding proof and not believing.
    As for Atheists, the accumulation of knowledge and abilities during a lifetime only to have to them vanish into some cosmic soup does seem distinctly pointless and depressing.

  5. “Many atheists, including myself, partially find meaning in helping others (yes, most atheists are not evil ‘commie’ dictators).”

    If objective meaning is, as you suggest, a “square circle”, it seems to me that meaning derived from being an “evil commie dictator” is no different from meaning derived from “helping others”. Everyone makes up meaning for themselves, no?

  6. As an atheist? I found a whole lot of meaning and purpose in my life.

    Since 2007 when I came out about my own story about three priests spending the night gang raping me in a church? I met literally tens of thousands of victims and survivors just like myself.

    I have worked helping hundreds of victims go from victim to survivor.
    I have actually saved the lives of victims seeking to end their own lives over what happened to them by those perverted Christian priests and pastors who raped them.
    I have worked with parents and loved ones of victims who did commit suicide.
    I have kept their memories alive in a blog I do.
    I have worked to expose…no lie, seriously, over one hundred thousand pedophile priests and pastors of the Christian religion through various blogs I have done and on social networking sites.
    I have even testified before my state Senate Judiciary committee seeking to end the statute of limitations against child abuse, child rape and other child crimes, which is the biggest hinderance of victims getting justice for the crimes committed against them and a favorite tool that these same pedophile priests and pastors and their leaders who protect them hide behind to get away with their crimes..
    And the top thing that has given meaning and purpose to my life?
    Was adopting my daughter, who had been the victim of her disgusting, perverted, Christian sperm donor, who spend years raping her, using her as a sex toy, while her mother, aunts, uncles, pastor, church members knew what he was doing to her, but did nothing to stop it. My purpose there was to make sure? He went to prison, she got justice. And? I was successful in that.

    And for all of this? I have been attacked, insulted, denigrated, defamed, gotten death threats, threats of beatings, being told that I deserved to go to hell, etc, almost thrown into prison for it, and even many other things done to me by Christians for exposing all this and standing up to it. Even losing custody of my youngest son, because during the custody hearing? The Catholic judge actually stated, because I had been raped by priests I was going to rape my own son, despite all the evidence to the contrary. A child? I have even been forbidden to talk to, see, or communicate with in any way.

    So I gotta say, thanks Christians for teaching me the real truth about your vile, evil, disgusting, hypocritical, dangerous, religion of hypocrisy. And giving me true meaning and purpose in my life.

    1. Here is another purpose I have found in my meaningful life.

      I have lived by the addage, those who fail to remember history are only doomed to repeat it. So I have spent almost 45 years studying history.

      I studied the history of the “Founding Fathers” and all the things that Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe, Howe, Washington, Franklin, Paine and many others said about the founding of this country, their rules and laws, and especially? On the separation of church and state. And? I can refute any assertion that any Christian says that this country was founded on the Christian religion or the laws were based on the Christian religion.

      I have studied almost all the religions that humans have created. The Abrahamics, many of the Pagan ones, etc. I have a specialty in studying the Abrahamics. I can show and prove, through real evidence and proof? The complete and total hypocrisy of the Abrahamic religions, especially Christianity, how it is all based on one massive set of lies, designed to control the human population through fear.

      I can show all the atrocities committed by Christians. How they actually rose to power. How they kept power. And how they are now again? Attempting to regain that power. And I can debate Christians and Muslims on any of this. I can prove where their religious beliefs have been proven false far too many times, through facts, science and truth and real evidence.I can prove where their beliefs were stolen from to have theirs created.

      Of course? Many Christians and Muslims refuse to hear the truth. And that is sad. See, I was actually? Once like yourselves. I know the bible better than most Evangelicals and Fundamentalists could ever know it. I know how their bibles were created. The true history of their bibles that even they do not know about, were never taught about, etc.

      One for instance is? Why did the leaders of the church who created the bible during the Nicean Council keep that book from commoners until Gutenberg invented the movable print and made the first bibles for the common man and then? The church did all it could? To stop him, destroying his printing press, destroying his copies he had already printed. So why did the founders of your religion and their successors keep that book from the common person for 1,075 years and if you were a commoner? You even had a page from the bible? YOU could be put to death, you could have your hands cut off, you could have your eyes taken out. Because YOU were not a priest of the church.

      Why did they pick the books they did pick and leave some out that actually? Changed a whole lot of the narrative of the New Testament as well as the Old Testament? Including that Jesus may have married and had children?

      This is just one of the things you have to question if you are actually going to base your whole life on a book, a religion or a worship. If not? All you are? Are a neo-maxi, zoom-dweebie, brain-washed and brain-dead robot for that religion.



      It is far past time to throw away those Bronze Age superstitions and falsehoods of our ancestors that has caused far too much hate, far too much bigotry, far too much misogyny, far too many wars, too many deaths, too many terrorist acts, too many mass genocides. All for what? A belief that some invisible dude in the sky actually cares about you? That if you do not believe you might not get into their version of the afterlife? Jeesh, wake the hell up and smell the coffee will ya?

      1. Green Peacemst

        You had a shocking and violent experience, you shared. And you´re not alone out there. But to confuse the basis of the religion with Jesus and the good in his Jewish context and legacy is a crass confusion. You apparently haven´t studied enough Biology and Psychology to have learned that human evolution drives human “sin,” and that Jesus defined the good that impulsive and misguided humans lust to violate. Science is widely abused by corp biz profiteers, and atheists get their Biology, Sociology and so on all blind in their scapegoating. Jesus is the good founder of your Western experience. Stop confusing powergrabbers and what have you with Jesus, for God´s sakes. GAndhi, FDR, Eleanor, MLK, and Al Gore are simple enough evidence.

      2. Really? You Abrahamists are just like your vile and disgusting, degenerate, pedo pervert god. It was your god who approved the law that if a virgin is raped? She must marry her rapist.

        It was your disgusting, vile and evil god who ordered his Tribe of Benjamin to invade Gabesh and slaughter all the inhabitants save the virgin girls, those? His tribe of Benjamin could rape and then force into marriage.

        Maybe you ought to visit my blog, especially all the pages I got on you Christian degenerate pedophile perverts.

        Oh and not once has your god or Jeebus, the Dead Jewish Zombie still rotting on a stick EVER answered the prayers of a child being raped in a church by a Christian priest or pastor, a Jewish rabbi or a Muslim cleric. So your god and Jeebus? Must LOVE the sounds of all those children screaming and crying as they are raped huh?

      3. Hey moron. Science is what gave you the computer to run your mouth on. Science is what gave you the cell phone to run your mouth on. Science has given you many freaking things. Science has done more for the good of humanity than ANY psycho Christian has. Matter of fact? Christians committed the three worst cases of mass genocide in recorded human history. Bunch of disgusting, hypocrite, slaughtering and butchering scumbags you Christians are.

        How many billions have you disgusting, psychotic Christians murdered since 322 AD? Billions actually in your 1,700 year history and you know what you disgusting loser? I want to see Christians reap what they have sown, against Pagans, Native Americans and many others and see you all butchered and slaughtered, just like you Christians did to us Native Americans, to the Pagans and to many others.

        And? YOU Christians? Should in fact? All be put to death.

      4. As an Militant Atheist? I am the exact result of the evil from you disgusting, degenerate Abrahamists. I am the equation you disgusting hypocrites never counted on. Cause as far as I am concerned? All Abrahamists? Should be wiped off the face of the earth. Just like you Christians taught us Native Americans when your Christian Taliban ancestors tried to wipe us off the face of the earth under their ChristoTaliban Manifest Destiny theology and laws.

        Again, ALL Christians, ALL Abrahamists? Deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth for all the evil and harm your disgusting, hypocrite filled, degenerate religions have caused humanity.

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