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For those without faith -- what is the point of life?


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I grew up Christian and stayed that way until my 30's.  Even though I was miserable, I still felt a purpose, like this world was some test and that the next world would be better for those who persevered.  Then I lost my faith, and don't see any purpose or point to anything anymore.  So for those of us who do not believe in some deity and nice afterlife, what keeps you going?  What is the point of life to you?  I recognize that the answers will vary because I don't believe in any absolute reason for everything.  I just want to see what might work as to a purpose or point to living.

Also, if you are religious or believe in some God or Allah or whatever, please leave me alone in this thread because I am looking for something that works for those of us who don't believe.

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Personally I think a lack of belief makes life all the more valuable, we're only here for a limited time and need to make the most of it. It's easy to forget that when dealing with everyday problems but life really is what you make of it. I live for the small joys and knowing that once life is over it's over, there's no watching friends and loved ones from above, just nothingness. This is something that keeps me going despite struggling with depression and a lot of other things, I don't want to miss out on anything, be it a good movie or watching my nieces grow up. 

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Beautifully stated, @lonelyforeigner! I agree.

OP, I'm agnostic (and frankly uninterested in determining whether or not God exists) and what keeps me going is the desire for experience, and the pleasure of connection and community. 

To expand on that, I find it incredibly liberating to remind myself that I'm here by genetic accident -- pure luck -- and that life has existed for millennia before me and will continue for millennia after me and that I'm a mere blip on the timeline. This may be depressing for some, but it's ineffably freeing for me. Sort of like how you're better able to dance if no one is watching you? The "lack" of God surveilling me makes me want to dance like crazy, take advantage of the infinitesimal spot of luck that brought me into existence, and soak up every little experience possible before my light goes out again. I want to travel, learn different languages, try foods, watch TV, experience parenthood, etc. -- these are all gifts that the world has to offer, but it's only offering them to you for a short time. 

Even more than that, I live for the experience of love, to spend as much time and forge the strongest connections with my friends and family, achieve my professional goals, and contribute to my community. 

There have been really dark times when this was out of my grasp, or seemed impossible, or even completely empty, but for the most part, the thirst for the experiences life has to offer keep me going, and the chief experience is the delight of love (romantic and platonic). 

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You are on the right track, but you have not gotten past the idea that we deserve to live forever through some kind of heaven or reincarnation.   Faith is believing in something for which there is no evidence, and it's not rational.   The human mind is the most powerful force in the universe, that we know of, and it's up to each individual to use their brain for his own advancement, and for that of the human race.  There is no pie-in-the-sky when you die, lies such as this have been perpetrated upon us by those who claim to know, but in reality, know nothing, for profit and power. It's time we reclaimed our birthright as Freethinkers, not sheep.  Gaining false hope through superstition is not possible for those who are not capable of believing in fairy tales, but living better than those who do have faith is within our reach.  

 

   

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I guess your asking what motivates you in life, instead of whats the point. I see life as a playground you explore i guess discovery, experiencing new and different things. Basically not to take life seriously at all and go where the wind takes me. If I die If I live i don't worry about it.

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Just being alive. You went into your mother with a lot of brothers and sisters (millions) of cells who died. You happened to hang on, and over come all  the odds for you to become the one cell that got with the one egg to make you. Chances were one in billions. On the same bent, this planet is only one in a billion of planets able to support life, and you are the lucky recipient of a world that can support you. That is not "God" it is statistical chance, proximity to a sun, the fact that your mother did not drink alcohol on the night you were conceived and a lot of other things. My favorite saying is from Nabikov, " The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness. " Those eternities being non-being, and after-being. You came from nothing, and will go to nothing. Now is the time to celebrate being you, unique, and alive.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/20/2017 at 9:46 AM, CoolCat7 said:

Have you tried exploring Buddhism?  In its purest form there is no God.  It's a really interesting system of belief.

This.

Why does anyone need life to have a point?  Fretting and speculating and arguing over this unknowable prospect means time away from actually living life.

An 80-year lifespan includes some 700,000 hours.  Each day that passes ticks off 24 more of these.  Live each of them.  Breathe.  Smile.  Help others.  Listen to some music.  Make some music.  Make something!  Love someone.  Tomorrow do the same.  Tomorrow do it better.  "If you are sweeping the floor, all that exists is you, the broom, and the floor."

Anything else is senseless sorrow/anguish.

 

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I find very little pleasure in life.  Pleasure is not worth living for in my life, since there is so little of it.  So my desire to have something to live for is not senseless angst, but a hope to have something with which to push through my misery.  When I was a Christian, even though I was miserable, I had a purpose with which to push through my misery.  That is why I mentioned that in my original post, I guess I wasn't clear though.  The main thing that has kept me alive is my fear of intense pain, and death usually comes with pain.  That isn't something to live for, a fear of pain.  I recognize that life is an accident and meaningless, I was just hoping that someone might come up with something to help get through misery since I have trouble experiencing pleasure.

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On 1/19/2017 at 4:07 PM, dude333 said:
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I grew up Christian and stayed that way until my 30's.  Even though I was miserable, I still felt a purpose, like this world was some test and that the next world would be better for those who persevered.  Then I lost my faith, and don't see any purpose or point to anything anymore.  So for those of us who do not believe in some deity and nice afterlife, what keeps you going?  What is the point of life to you?  I recognize that the answers will vary because I don't believe in any absolute reason for everything.  I just want to see what might work as to a purpose or point to living.

Also, if you are religious or believe in some God or Allah or whatever, please leave me alone in this thread because I am looking for something that works for those of us who don't believe.

The point of living is to enjoy ourselves. To have something that drives us every morning, to want to go after something in the real world. Whether it be big or small, as long as there's a desire, that's what drives living creatures to continue living everyday.

When a person experiences pain, every human being has a inner system that sends our body a signal that something's wrong. The way pain is delt with is by using methods to get us through, to make sure we're not constantly suffering. Learning to effectively deal with stuff without going crazy is pleasurable and meaningful.

So with that said, I completely agree with your point of views on Christianity. I keep hearing this over and over again.

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On 1/19/2017 at 2:07 PM, dude333 said:
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I grew up Christian and stayed that way until my 30's.  Even though I was miserable, I still felt a purpose, like this world was some test and that the next world would be better for those who persevered.  Then I lost my faith, and don't see any purpose or point to anything anymore.

What caused you to lose faith?

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I will make two points;

1 - the universe doesn't owe us anything, not even a purpose. Who's to say there is some grand "point" to all of this?

2 - in my opinion, and for my own life - the point is finding joy and happiness. The point is people. If we were alone floating around in space, we would be no better than not existing. Being together is what makes us human, and what makes life worth living. Laughter, love, feeling nature. Just being alive! How incredibly, astonishingly random are our lives on this little spinning rock? It's amazing.

I lied, my third point would be this: speaking from a place of mental illness, I have recently been thinking about this a lot. Especially when I feel suicidal. It really comes down to my previous two points anyway: for me, people are what matter. If I am unable to affect the world in the way I want to, or if I am unable to find a path where I can achieve joy and laughter on a regular basis... then I think the point of my life has become mute. I don't think everyone's purpose is the same. Just as unique as every other part of us.

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  • 1 month later...

EVERYONE HAS FAITH.  KNOWING BELIEVING AND FAITH ARE ALL THE SAME THING.  I HAVE FAITH THAT THE SUN WILL RISE AND FALL LIKE IT ALWAYS DOES.  THE POINT OF LIFE IS TO RECOGNIZE HOW AWESOME YOU ARE.  YOU HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO ELEVATE YOUR SELF IMAGE FROM WHERE EVER IT IS OR WAS WHEN YOU WERE EXPERIENCING YOUR SADNESS TO WHERE YOU WANT IT TO BE.  I USE ART THERAPY RELIGOUSLY TO HELP ENHANCE MY SELF IMAGE.  I ALSO AVOID ART THAT IS DEGRADING TO MY SELF IMAGE.  I DONT ADVOCATE WATCHING HOURS OF TELEVISION BECAUSE OF HOW IT USES IMAGERY TO COMMUNICATE TO VIEWERS THAT CERTAIN PERSONS ARE SUPERIOR TO OTHERS AS A RESULT OF HOW THEY LOOK.  TV IS TERRIBLY CRUEL IN THIS ASPECT SEEING AS MOST PERSONS THAT ARENT BORN WITH THE PHYSICAL FEATURES OF CELEBRITIES ARE ONLY GUILTY OF HAVING THE APPEARANCE THEY WERE BORN WITH AND CERTAINLY HAVE NO CONTROL OVER HOW THEY LOOK YET ARE CONSTANTLY BEING NEGATIVELY REINFORCED BY TELEVISION THAT THEY ARE SOMEHOW OF LESSER VALUE AS A HUMAN BEING.

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picassos mother and child 1921 is an excellant artwork and i think is especially therapuetic.  picasso has intentionally distorted the anatomical features of the mother and child in order that the viewer will not become distracted by presupposed notions of beauty and detract from the true meaning of the artwork which i believe to be the reverance the mother has for the infant.  When i look at this work i think about what could be going on the mind of the infant.  Any number of infinately imaginative things are going on in the mind of the child and it is nice knowing that despite all the rigidity of adult life we all have at our core retained something of our child like nature and i believe this is what the mother is seeing when she looks into her babies face.

 

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On 3/18/2017 at 0:01 PM, jonnymortal0472 said:

EVERYONE HAS FAITH.  KNOWING BELIEVING AND FAITH ARE ALL THE SAME THING.  I HAVE FAITH THAT THE SUN WILL RISE AND FALL LIKE IT ALWAYS DOES.  THE POINT OF LIFE IS TO RECOGNIZE HOW AWESOME YOU ARE.  YOU HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO ELEVATE YOUR SELF IMAGE FROM WHERE EVER IT IS OR WAS WHEN YOU WERE EXPERIENCING YOUR SADNESS TO WHERE YOU WANT IT TO BE.  I USE ART THERAPY RELIGOUSLY TO HELP ENHANCE MY SELF IMAGE.  I ALSO AVOID ART THAT IS DEGRADING TO MY SELF IMAGE.  I DONT ADVOCATE WATCHING HOURS OF TELEVISION BECAUSE OF HOW IT USES IMAGERY TO COMMUNICATE TO VIEWERS THAT CERTAIN PERSONS ARE SUPERIOR TO OTHERS AS A RESULT OF HOW THEY LOOK.  TV IS TERRIBLY CRUEL IN THIS ASPECT SEEING AS MOST PERSONS THAT ARENT BORN WITH THE PHYSICAL FEATURES OF CELEBRITIES ARE ONLY GUILTY OF HAVING THE APPEARANCE THEY WERE BORN WITH AND CERTAINLY HAVE NO CONTROL OVER HOW THEY LOOK YET ARE CONSTANTLY BEING NEGATIVELY REINFORCED BY TELEVISION THAT THEY ARE SOMEHOW OF LESSER VALUE AS A HUMAN BEING.

Why do you get to say what "everyone" has? I do not have faith. The sun rising and falling, that's called evidence, and a falsifiable observation.

You may have faith. I wouldn't tell you otherwise. But I don't.

I'm glad you are telling people to realize how awesome they are, though. We are all important.

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  • 5 months later...
On 2/5/2017 at 10:52 PM, RatBoy said:

This.

Why does anyone need life to have a point?  Fretting and speculating and arguing over this unknowable prospect means time away from actually living life.

An 80-year lifespan includes some 700,000 hours.  Each day that passes ticks off 24 more of these.  Live each of them.  Breathe.  Smile.  Help others.  Listen to some music.  Make some music.  Make something!  Love someone.  Tomorrow do the same.  Tomorrow do it better.  "If you are sweeping the floor, all that exists is you, the broom, and the floor."

Anything else is senseless sorrow/anguish.

 

I'm very late coming to this thread, but *shrug*.  

*I* need life to have a point.  For me, if it doesn't have a point then I don't want to be here. Now for some, that's a ridiculous notion, but for me, it's key to existence.  

And while I understand the notion of "senseless sorrow," I don't want *anyone* telling me my sorrow or suffering is senseless. 

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1 hour ago, rhyl said:

I'm very late coming to this thread, but *shrug*.  

*I* need life to have a point.  For me, if it doesn't have a point then I don't want to be here. Now for some, that's a ridiculous notion, but for me, it's key to existence.  

And while I understand the notion of "senseless sorrow," I don't want *anyone* telling me my sorrow or suffering is senseless. 

Pretty much my sentiments. 

As  @cheshire_chick said, perhaps there is no ultimate purpose for anything.

If there is any meaning to anything at all, it's up to us to give meaning to life, death, the universe and whatnot.

Sometimes I think faiith, belief, sceinetific knowledge  deduction, induction, logic, intuition...actually tell us more about ourselves than the world around us. Can't remeber who it was who said this, but it is the questions that define us, not the answers.

Meaning of my life? 42 is as good as any other meaning.

 

 

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6 hours ago, samadhiSheol said:

Pretty much my sentiments. 

As  @cheshire_chick said, perhaps there is no ultimate purpose for anything.

If there is any meaning to anything at all, it's up to us to give meaning to life, death, the universe and whatnot.

Sometimes I think faiith, belief, sceinetific knowledge  deduction, induction, logic, intuition...actually tell us more about ourselves than the world around us. Can't remeber who it was who said this, but it is the questions that define us, not the answers.

Meaning of my life? 42 is as good as any other meaning.

 

 

I posted this elsewhere, but I just got done reading a really good book, Keeping Faith without Religion, by Roger Housden.  He talks at length about suffering and finding purpose.  Probably not for everyone, but I found a lot of hope in it.  Gonna read and reread it.  There are a lot of great thoughts and quotes in it.  He draws from religion (minimally), science, literature, and his own personal experience.  It's just so good.

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There is no point that we know of.
There are options however - to continue life or not.

I prefer to continue. Life is beautiful. The Universe is amazing!

Oh, sure! I have severe anhedonia and I don't enjoy anything anymore, but I have this damn thing called "hope".
 

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On 8/23/2017 at 0:12 AM, rhyl said:

I'm very late coming to this thread, but *shrug*.  

*I* need life to have a point.  For me, if it doesn't have a point then I don't want to be here. Now for some, that's a ridiculous notion, but for me, it's key to existence.  

And while I understand the notion of "senseless sorrow," I don't want *anyone* telling me my sorrow or suffering is senseless. 

There is no point to life. LOL!

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On 1/19/2017 at 4:07 PM, dude333 said:
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I grew up Christian and stayed that way until my 30's.  Even though I was miserable, I still felt a purpose, like this world was some test and that the next world would be better for those who persevered.  Then I lost my faith, and don't see any purpose or point to anything anymore.  So for those of us who do not believe in some deity and nice afterlife, what keeps you going?  What is the point of life to you?  I recognize that the answers will vary because I don't believe in any absolute reason for everything.  I just want to see what might work as to a purpose or point to living.

Also, if you are religious or believe in some God or Allah or whatever, please leave me alone in this thread because I am looking for something that works for those of us who don't believe.

JOY is the answer! JOY is the key!

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