Even if God exists He’s left us to stand or fall on our own. Since we’re not living with God in any practical sense, then for all practical purposes there is no God.
This isn’t a comforting idea except in the sense that we don’t have to fear being punished by a psychopathic tribal God who sets flippant and unachievable demands on His own children only to torture them for eternity for losing at a game He set them up to fail at and that only took a few moments to play and that they didn’t even agree to play in the first place. Aside from than that great relief, it’s frightening not to have a coddling parent to wipe our asses for us, but if that’s the conclusion the evidence points to then that’s the reality of the situation, and wishful thinking isn’t going to make it any different. In fact, denying reality will only cripple our ability to arrive at any truths we could gleam from objectively analyzing the evidence around us.
A lot of atheists get hung up at this point. They conclude that God doesn’t exist, and then they sit back like they’ve won, but coming to a conclusion on the existence of God is just getting out of the starting gates. There’s still a lifetime of questions you need to figure out to ask and then figure out how to answer after that.
The big question now is, “If God didn’t create us then why are we here?” The big question is not, “How did we get here?” because that answer lies in some physical process…which, except for the first step, would be the same process as if God had created us. The point is that, how we got here is just details. The big question is, why?
This is the most important question anyone, theist or atheist, can ask themselves because it indicates what we should do with our lives. Unfortunately, just as you can’t prove whether or not God exists you also can’t prove why the universe was created. As a result, intellectuals have become just as divided and dogmatic over this question as they have over the existence of God. Some people assert with absolute certainty that life has no meaning. Others assert with absolute certainty that they’ve found the one true answer. People have come up with all sorts of convoluted and/or convincing arguments for their side of the debate, but the fact remains that unless you were present before the universe was set in motion you don’t know for a fact why it was set in motion.
So what do we do about this? Shit in our hands and give up? No. Even if we can’t answer the question of whether or not life has meaning, the fact of the matter is that we do exist, and we still need to figure out what to do with our lives.
Let’s start figuring this out by making the assumptions that has life no meaning, there’s no absolute value to anything, and there are no absolute truths…other than that there are no absolute truths.
This relieves us of any responsibility to search for any kind of greater understanding of existence or to follow any particular moral code. However, the fact remains that we’re here, and unless we’re just going to kill ourselves we need to figure out what to do with our lives.
If we decide not to kill ourselves then that means we’ve decided to survive. If we’ve decided to survive then we’ve defined at least one goal to accomplish during our lifetime: survival. Once we’ve set a goal we should follow the best practices for accomplishing that goal. This means that if nothing else, the nihilist should strive to master the art of survival, which is to say, responsibility. I won’t get into the skill of responsibility here, but suffice it to say that responsibility involves making decisions based on a cost/benefit analysis of what will benefit you the most in the long run.
Aside from survival we have no other obligation to do anything else in particular…with one exception. At this point we can choose to do nothing or we can choose to do something. Either way we still must make a choice. That translates into exercising our free will. That means we must exercise our free will, if in no other way than to surrender it.
If we choose not to exercise our free will then there’s really no reason to continue surviving except out of fear of death, but in that case we’re really not living for anything. So we’re as good as dead anyway. If we choose to live then the only course of action we can pursue that is even relatively meaningful is to continue exercising our free will.
However, if we choose to exercise our free will then we’ve defined a goal, and once we’ve set a goal we should follow the best practices for accomplishing that goal. In order to maximize our free will e need to define our wants while freeing ourselves from any evolutionary or socially influenced desires.
In order to do that you need to study your body, your mind and your society. Ultimately this path will lead you to what psychologists refer to as self-actualization and what Buddhism refers to as enlightenment. And it’s going to take your entire life to accomplish. So far from nihilism being an escape from responsibility, it should ultimately lead you down the hardest, most responsible path a human being can take…unless you decide to just kill yourself.
If you liked this post, you may like these:
- It’s okay to be lost
- The value of life
- Reality is amazing
- The cosmic perspective
- The relationship between sanity, reality, truth, religion and science
- Enlightenment Through Logic
- The Map of Everything
- The prime prerogative
- The value of knowledge
- Life is an existential dilemma: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
- The danger in telling people life has no meaning
- Reading for truth
- 11 ways mainstream academic philosophy has come to resemble religion
- Deep thoughts by the wise janitor
- Ethics without religion -you’re already doing it
- My secular theory on ethics
- Another attempt at explaining my secular theory on ethics
- Reasons to be kind outside of religion
- Karma ghosts
- The non-believers’ 7 deadly sins
- My theory on sexual morality
- Demonizing pleasure is a failed experiment
- Cost/benefit analysis of hedonism
- Should you let friends borrow money?
- Why and when you should have a problem with authority
- Why it’s bad to be conceited
- Self-subjugation is not a virtue
- No action is an island
- The Tao of Booze
- The drug talk
- Why you should be sober
- 6 accurate and 6 inaccurate ways to judge people
- 8 steps to becoming a genius
- My approach to thinking/problem solving
- The science of thought
- Your ability to think obligates you to
- How to think critically
- How to solve a problem using a team
Agnosticism and Atheism
- Agnostic nihilism
- Agnostic atheism
- Do agnostics fear death?
- An agnostic theory on why God is so cruel
- An agnostic take on God
- An agnostic take on Pascal’s Wager
- An agnostic take on intelligent design
- So you don’t believe in God. What do you do now?
- Should reason be considered a legal religion?
- Reason vs faith: part 1, part 2
- Predictions on the New Atheist movement
- Meta Atheists V.S. Pop Atheists
- A biker looks at social conformity
- A biker looks at bad weather
- A biker looks at the road
- A biker explains why we ride
- A biker wonders again why he rides
- A biker looks at crying
Originally published at thewisesloth.com on December 11, 2009.