On my recent post, “Is there a ‘meaning to life’ for nonbelievers“?, there was some good discussion, but a goddie tried to interpolate him/herself into the discussion in response to the comments.
First, reader jblilie said this:
I think I agree [with] all that you said.
The things I enjoy make my life meaningful to me. There is nothing else as far as I can see.
I fail to see how abasing one’s self before some overlord provides a “better” “meaning” to one’s life than the things you mentioned.
Maybe their meaning is: If I do these various rituals and abstain from X, Y, and Z, then I get to live forever after I die — and that’s the purpose in my life.
The odious Rick Warren gives the game away in the Title of his most famous book. They find a purpose in their life by boot licking their god. (“I found my Special Purpose!!!!” and “The new phone books are here!”)
And then the goddie, reader “ajmgw,” attempted to post this response, which I’m putting above the fold:
The question of meaning is valid, but must be understood in a different way. How can meaning come from a mindless process, no guidance just time and chance? In that kind of a world an atheist cannot give a justification for a difference between good and evil. If we are simply pond scum, the result of mindless processes over millions and billions of years, who decides what is right and wrong? The atheist cannot explain the existence of mind and morality. In order to do so they unwittingly must borrow from the Christian Worldview. As Greg Bahnsen said, “Like a petulant child they sit on their father’s lap and they reach up and slap his face.” According to the atheistic worldview, right and wrong are the results of chemical processes in our brains, a by product of survival of the fittest inherited from our common ape-like ancestors. In that case one doesn’t even have free will, but the chemical processes are in control.
The response encapsulates basically every misconception about atheists and morality that exists. If you want to discuss what this reader said, go ahead; I’ve informed him/her that the responses will be on this page and in the comments, and I’ll allow him/her to address the comments if the person has something substantive to say.
But note that the commenter makes a sharp a distinction between “free will” and “chemical processes.” Ajmgw is clearly one of those who has a dualistic notion of free will. Maybe the compatibilist readers can educate the commenter on how that form of free will is simply wrong, and the REAL kind of free will—the one we want, the one worth having—is perfectly compatible with a morality reflecting chemical (and evolutionary) processes.
We’re pond scum! I prefer to think of us as Joni Mitchell described it in Woodstock:
We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden.
Of course stardust doesn’t give us morality, either. . .