Argument from the Meaning of Life

17 January 2006

Theists have often argued that atheism implies a meaningless existence, whereas a theistic worldview provides the possibility of a fulfilling, meaningful life. Although this argument is usually dismissed by nonbelievers, I believe that it actually serves some use in the debate. This argument, what I shall call the Argument from Meaning, can be formulated as such:

1. We should always adopt a worldview in which there is at least a potential for meaning and worth.
2. Atheism provides no possibility for meaning.
3. Theism provides a possibility for meaning.
4. Therefore, one should adopt a theistic worldview.

Non-theists have traditionally argued three separate points; (1) atheism doesn’t imply meaninglessness, (2) theism doesn’t imply meaning, or (3) it is inconsequential whether or not atheism can provide a meaning to life. Thus, they challenge each premise in the argument. In order to defend the conclusion, I will now defend each premise against all objections.

Does Atheism imply a Lack of Meaning?

In order to answer this question, we need to analyze several consequences of an atheistic worldview. The first obvious consequence is death. And not just temporary death, but eternal death. For, according to atheism, each individual will eventually die and be no more whatsoever.

Now, this actually creates quite a problem already. For, if we simply cease to exist sometime in the near future, then how can our actions have any meaning or purpose? Once we die, did it really matter whether or not we lived at all? We won’t have memories of our life, and our brief existence will be of no use to us at all. So how could it have been meaningful? We might as well have never been born.

Imagine a doomed astronaut, stuck alone in an escape pod that is flying into deep space- hurtling towards a boiling star. Can his actions inside that pod possibly have any meaning? Nothing he does can possibly affect his eventual death. His actions, thoughts, and beliefs are meaningless. So too, are our lives, as we hurtle uncontrollably to certain death.

But the nonbeliever may respond by saying that our lives can affect others. The actions we take while we are living can ultimately have a ripple effect in the universe- for good or for bad. We can improve the universe through our brief lives, and this is where we can gather ultimate meaning.

However, this response just brings up another, even more serious problem for the atheist. For, under the atheistic view, all of the universe will soon die out. 1 Once all life is gone and a dead universe is all that remains- what then can we say about our supposed meaning? Well, quite unfortunately, it dies out along with life. If the universe eventually dies out, then no action we make can possibly affect the end result of complete and total death. Not only is our astronaut flying towards death- so is our entire universe.

The Forgotten Dream

Neurologists tell us that we dream quite often during the night, but sometimes don’t realize it because we forget most of our dreams. In a way, a forgotten dream is analogous to the atheistic life.

There was once a time during the night in which we were experiencing the dream, but we can never know what that was like because we completely forgot we had the dream. We might as well of not had the dream, because it is of no significance. But our lives, under the atheistic view, are just like a forgotten dream. Although there was a time (such as right now) in which we are experiencing the dream (life), it is utterly meaningless because it is forgotten (as our lives will be once we are dead). Once we cease to exist, we will have no recollection of our lives. It will be like it never happened, just like the forgotten dream. But if the universe eventually ends as does our own life, then so too is all of life collectively a forgotten dream of no significance.

Atheist Responses

Usually nonbelievers will respond to this sort of argument by saying that you can make your own meaning, or find meaning inherent in life. But one cannot “make” objective meaning. Life either has actual meaning or it does not. Just because you can find things in your life to make you content does not mean that your life has meaning. “Creating” meaning is actually no more than deceiving yourself.

What is this concept even supposed to mean? A close analysis reveals that this type of argument cannot possibly overturn the problem of eventual (complete) death. Perhaps a person can create goals, strive to acheive them, and gain contentment both in the striving and in acheiving them. However, this does not overturn the problem of death. This person will still die and not remember his life, and the human race will still die and not remember this life nor remember his impact on society. The impending death of the entire human race looms over ANY attempt to construct meaning or worth under an atheistic paradigm.

With premise two of the argument supported, it is time to analyze premise 3.

Can Theism Provide a Meaning of Life?

Theism is in a good position to provide a meaning to life because it does not imply a lifeless universe in the distant future. Thus, our actions, thoughts, and beliefs can have an effect on the universe. Furthermore, many forms of theism (including Christian theism) maintain that our actions in this world directly or indirectly affect our afterlife. Thus, our lives are infused with tremendous meaning- because every choice we make could effect how we spend eternity. Furthermore, our choices could affect, for good or for worse, how other people spend eternity.

Theism also means that there exists a God who created us and to whom we owe our gratitude. And, according to Christian theism, God has given us a moral code to follow. Thus, we can meaningfully choose to behave morally and do what is good.

There have been some attempts to demonstrate that Christian theism eliminates the chance for a meaningful life, but all of these attempts are, quite frankly, extremely weak. For example, see my critique of Douglas Krueger HERE.

Should we Accept Theism Just because it Allows a Meaning to Life?

If premise 2 and 3 are supported, then we must simply support premise 1 in order to reach our conclusion. Should we adopt theism because it allows for meaning?

An atheist will probably claim that the answer to this is “no”, because it is foolish to believe something because it makes us happy. We should not believe in unicorns because we wish they existed, and we should not believe in God because we want Him to exist. Now, for quite a while I actually agreed with this argumentation. I am very concerned with truth, and the real issue is which worldview has more evidence. But there is actually a slight difference between the unicorn analogy and the meaning to life.

In the unicorn scenario, a person believes in unicorns because it makes him happy. This is clearly wrong-headed. But in the case where one chooses to adopt theism, the person is not seeking happiness, but a foundation for happiness. They are searching for an actual meaning to life, a reason to exist, a reason to keep on living a moral life. Why would one choose atheism when there is a chance that theism is correct? 2

Look at it another way- everybody behaves as though they have meaning. Everyone behaves as though persons should act morally. As J.P. Moreland points out: “A person’s real views are often seen in his spontaneous reactions to life rather than in his stated views. If someone were to steal a nihilist’s car, would he really react on the spot by saying nothing was wrong with the act?” 3 Everyone pretends that there lives have meaning, whether or not such is really the case. But if we are going to pretend that our lives have meaning, we may as well adopt a worldview in which it is possible that such meaning is not merely illusory.

Craig relates the idea of the “Noble Lie”:

“In a remarkable address to the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in 1991, Dr. L. D. Rue, confronted with the predicament of modern man, boldly advocated that we deceive ourselves by means of some ‘Noble Lie’ into thinking that we and the universe still have value. Claiming that ‘The lesson of the past two centuries is that intellectual and moral relativism is profoundly the case,’ Dr. Rue muses that the consequence of such a realization is that one’s quest for personal wholeness (or self-fulfillment) and the quest for social coherence become independent from one another. This is because of the view of relativism the search for self-fulfillment becomes radically privatized: each person chooses his own set of values and meaning. ‘There is no final, objective reading on the world or the self. There is no universal vocabulary for integrating cosmology and orality.’ If we are to avoid ‘the madhouse option,’ where self-fulfillment is pursued regardless of social coherence, and ‘the totalitarian option,’ where social coherence is imposed at the expense of personal wholeness, then we have no choice but to embrace some Noble Lie that will inspire us to live beyond selfish interests and so achieve social coherence. A Noble Lie ‘is one that deceives us, tricks us, compels us beyond self-interest, beyond ego, beyond family, nation, [and] race.’ It is a lie, because it tells us that the universe is infused with value (which is a great fiction ), because it makes a claim to universal truth (when there is none), and because it tells me not to live for self-interest (which is evidently false). ‘But without such lies, we cannot live.’” 4

Now, it seems to me like Rue is absolutely right- we must create a “Noble Lie”, and thereby fool ourselves into thinking we have meaning and worth, in order to live. But why believe a Noble Lie when one could adopt theism, which at least has a potential of being true? We need a meaning to life not in order to be “happy”, but in order to function. And instead of creating a farcical meaning to life in order to trick ourselves, we would be much more rational to adopt theism.

Conclusion:

In this article, I have argued that theism provides a possibility for meaning, and atheism does not. I have also argued that this is rational grounds for accepting a theistic paradigm. It is entirely foolish to follow- by choice- a worldview in which there is no potential for meaning. Humans require meaning, and they act as though they possess it, so it seems that the only rational option is to adopt a viewpoint in which such meaning is not illusory.

NOTES:

1. See my article HERE for this evidence.

2. If unicorn-belief was absolutely necessary for your life to have any purpose whatsoever, wouldn’t you accept it, or at least try your hardest to accept it?

3. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City, p. 119 See book review.

4. Craig, Reasonable Faith, pp. 70-71 See book review.






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  1. In your first paragraph of the “Atheist Response” section, you state that “one cannot ‘make’ objective meaning. Life either has actual meaning or it does not.” This argument is difficult for me to accept since you provide no proves of your claims. In addition, you suggest that “‘Creating’ meaning is actually no more than deceiving yourself”; please explain how this is different from theist’s meaning of life.

    Additionally, in your next paragraph you state that “The impending death of the entire human race looms over ANY attempt to construct meaning or worth under an atheistic paradigm.” Given that the concept of death applies to all living things, are you suggesting that other living species’ lives have no actual meaning as well since they obviously cannot have the concept of religion?


    Andy    Aug 21, 02:01 AM    #
  2. Andy,

    The reason that I do not offer an argument for the claim “one cannot ‘make’ objective meaning” is because I thought (and think) that this is true by definition. By objective here I mean actually existing in the real world. Something that is objectively true does not need to be known or perceived by anyone to be true, it is true in and of itself. For example, the chair I am sitting in is objectively here. It does not matter if nobody on the planet knows about the chair or if everyone thinks the chair is an illusion. The chair exists whether or not people believe it does.

    However, a chair does not actually, objectively exist just because people think it does. You cannot make a chair exist by thinking it is so. This is similar to the case for the meaning of life. A meaning to life can only be objective if it actually exists regardless of human thought on the matter. Humans may be able to construct “subjective meaning”, but I feel that this does little to relieve the problem of an objectively meaningless existence.

    Theists do not have to deceive themselves because there is an actual objective meaning to life under the theistic worldview. Or, at least, there is a possibility for an objective meaning. Theists do not need to ‘create’ a meaning, a meaning already exists which theists merely need to identify and/or try to fulfill.

    As to your last question, I would say that the life of animals have meaning only in that they affect humans, and they presumably are pleasing to God.


    Kyle Deming    Sep 2, 12:27 PM    #
  3. In essense you say: “I choose theism because if it is correct my life would have meaning”. But that is plainly insufficient grounds for choosing a believe. A believe must be chosen on the evidence (if you are skeptical). Weather or not a conclusion makes your life meaningful is not evidence. That would be putting the horse before the chart.

    A part from that, the question “what is the meaning of my life” is the wrong question because it assumes that you are subordinate to someone elses goals. If you are sovereign, you don’t ask that question because you are not interested what an outside entity wants from you. Instead you are driven by inspiration. For exampel the joy of creating, performing, interacting, etc.


    Thor    Dec 2, 12:14 PM    #
  4. Thor,

    I sympathize with your position, I myself am very skeptical about so-called pragmatic arguments. For example, I come to a relatively skeptical conclusion about the succes of Pascal’s Wager. I struggled for a bit about whether or not I would consider the Argument from the Meaning of Life to be convincing. However, I do stand by my conclusion. The fact of the matter is that it is completely irrational to adopt a worldview in which one’s life has literally no meaning. Not only is this irrational, it is also practically impossible, since everyone (or virtually everyone) acts as though they do have meaning. Once the meaninglessness of atheism is determined, one is basically compelled to reject it.

    Note that I am not saying “be a theist because it makes your life happy.” Rather, I am claiming “be a theist because it provides the only way for one to have a coherent, meaningful existence.” In fact, I’m not even claiming that theism makes a person more subjectively happy. There are plenty of atheists who seem to be relatively happy individuals. But we must adopt a worldview with the possibility for meaning.

    I think you are mistaken about the meaning of life. First of all, your response completely disregards the fact of death; as I point out in the article, the collective death of the human race and of all conscious beings is the real problem. Furthermore, you seem to be equating meaning with happiness, which I think is suspect. Just because you find joy in creating or whatever does not mean that such activities are ultimately meaningful.

    Sincerely,

    Kyle.


    Kyle Deming    Dec 4, 03:24 PM    #
  5. First off, I am a Christian but…If I was to follow the guidelines for meaning that you have created, and substituted Existentialism for Christianity, what would be the difference? I know that some existentialists are Christians yes, however, others are not, and they seem to have found great meaning in their lives. How is it that their meaning of life, so similarly sought out as your “theistic” way, is “illusory”? This answer would seem obvious to Christians, but very difficult to non Christians. How could you clear this up using your reasoning?


    — Dave    Jan 6, 09:13 PM    #
  6. Dave,

    Doesn’t existentialism just claim that there is no inherent meaning in life, and that all meaning is created? If that is the case, I don’t see how existentialism affects my argument. Meaning either objectively exists or it does not. Coming up with subjective meanings to life is, I think, futile.

    Sincerely,

    Kyle.


    Kyle Deming    Jan 17, 04:37 PM    #
  7. Kyle,

    Why do you consider it “completely irrational to adopt a worldview in which one’s life has literally no meaning”?

    This claim does not seem to be self-evident to me.

    Also, the fact that “everyone (or virtually everyone) acts as though they do have meaning” doesn’t seem relevant to me. Couldn’t we just be mistaken? I know people who act as if they are omniscient, but I know that’s not true.


    Brett    Jan 30, 05:05 PM    #
  8. i feel sorry for you that your beliefs are based on the argument that IF your right your life had meaning, one thing though how are you going to know if you are right untill you die and if you cant know if your right you cant be sure that you have meaning in your life.

    you cannot do something and then afterwards be told it had meaning if that is so than it would mean that nothing had meaning untill later on in life or death when someone validated your actions


    — Dan    Mar 7, 03:11 AM    #
  9. Okay, here are a few rebuttals. There is a good chance that these are theologically naive, as I’ve no training in that field, but I’ve done my best:

    Claim 1: If all things die, then their actions are as meaningless as a dream we cannot remember.

    Response: For an action to have meaning does not require it endure forever.

    Details:

    You mention the idea that all of our actions have a ripple effect on the universe, but declare that this is a poor source of meaning, as the universe itself must die. But why should that matter? Let’s suppose that I produce an effect that spans two billion years. Given that, why should I demand that my works be etched in eternity?

    The only reason to demand such immortality would be if one thought that eventual and inevitable obliteration destroyed meaning. But consider the following two statements:

    A: “On April 10th, 2010, at noon, John stabbed his brother. Ten minutes later, the world evaporated.”

    B: “On April 10th, 2010, at noon, John embraced his brother. Ten minutes later, the world evaporated.”

    One may state that there is no difference between the two people in the end. But to declare the end paramount is to emphasize a single moment of destruction over ten minutes of guilt or joy. In one universe, at 12:00, a man was stabbing his father. In another, he was embracing him. This is an objective difference.

    Yes, the earth evaporated in both worlds, but the key point is this:

    Noon, April 10, 2010, did not evaporate.

    It simply ceased to be the present.

    Of course, you could counter that the past ceases to exist, and that is precisely what makes it past. But then you have a problem for God – for if the present is all that exists, what does it mean to say that God is outside time? How can we have a Deity who looks at past, present, and future from the outside if an infinitesimally small present is all there is?

    Of course, as an atheist, I shouldn’t make that appeal. So, instead, I’ll note that Relativity suggests that our perception of time is illusory. Furthermore, the past certainly seems to be real, for we see its effects constantly. If the past were not real, there would be no factual difference between the statements, “Yesterday, the sun rose,” and “Yesterday, the moon turned to cheese.”

    So if an action had meaning in the past, it had meaning, period. It will always have had meaning. It may be evolutionarily advantageous for us to feel loss or fear mortality, but we should not let this dictate our moral judgments.

    Claim 2: Theism allows a meaningful life while atheism does not.

    Response: Theism gives us a purpose, but not a meaning. Atheism can do just as well.

    Having argued above that eternity does not create meaning, I’m left with a problem: what DOES create meaning? What makes actions meaningful?

    To the one who states that the search for eternal reward is a meaning, I can only reply that if there is no meaning in temporal rewards, then there can be none in an eternal reward. See above for an explanation.

    A better Deistic argument is that we do have a greater purpose: to do God’s will. But purpose and meaning are not the same thing. If I offer an employee a wage, and he works for it, I have given his actions a purpose – but not necessarily a grander meaning. The same goes for God. If God has a Will, it seems reasonable that this Will must be to some end. Therefore, the ultimate meaning of our existence would not be the service of God’s ends, but God’s own purpose in seeking those ends. But what is the meaning behind that purpose?

    This is worrisome, for I can apply this same tail-chasing logical process to all reasoning, to all mathematics, to everything. There are no known ultimate propositions, yet I have a pretty strong faith that, given some basic rules of number theory, 942 + 55 = 997. Given that I have faith in that computation, why should I have any less faith that Good and Evil – and therefore morality – exist? And if morality exists, might not we reasonably say that we ought to do good, and not do evil?

    Where is my evidence? Well, I cannot dissect the universe and find a particle of goodness, but I cannot find a particle of 997, either. Yet both mathematics and morality are powerful ideas of clear practical relevance. If anything, morality is more universal among humans than math. I could explain the rise of altruism evolutionarily, but I could also explain our ability to count in terms of our neurobiology. This does not mean that a hypothetical alien species would not be able to count or moralize.

    So I believe in math, Good, and Evil, but not in God. Consider these propositions:

    A) God exists, and is omnibenevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient.

    B) Good exists.

    The first entails the second. If God (as described) exists, objective good exists, and a plausible basis of meaning in life may be found. If objective good exists, however, it does not necessarily follow that the God of Proposition A exists. I have an impression that good and evil are real, but I have no such impression of God. Therefore, I believe Proposition B, but do not believe proposition A.

    A final question: If one wants meaning, why clutter up the belief that meaning exists with a belief in a God with so many other attributes? If Occam’s Razor favors one god over many, why doesn’t it favor only a bit of God over the whole deal?


    Paul    Apr 21, 11:12 AM    #
  10. Why is that most Christians can only see one point of view?


    neophyte    Sep 5, 04:30 AM    #
  11. You write: “Note that I am not saying ‘be a theist because it makes your life happy.’ Rather, I am claiming “be a theist because it provides the only way for one to have a coherent, meaningful existence.”

    You’re still offering the kind of pragmatic argument you claim to be skeptical of. That a meaningless existence feels unappealing to you, and that theism could provide a meaning, may give you reason to want to be a theist, but it doesn’t count as evidence for theism. Pragmatic arguments are those which argue for a position on the basis of practical consequences of assent. These consequences can be specified in terms of things like happiness, but they can also be (and in your case are) specified in terms of achieving abstract, metaphysical goals like living a coherehent or meaningful existence. (Though you fail to specify in what way life in an atheistic universe is incoherent!) Now, you do claim that it is irrational to adopt a viewpoint on which life is meaningless, suggesting that you think there is a link between normative rationality and pragmatics. But this link goes completely unargued for and seems prima facie absurd. You even seem to sense the absurdity in the case of statements like “It’s rational to believe in unicorns if it makes you happy!”

    The rest of what you write about the meaning of life is rife with the kind of bald-faced, controversial assumptions that atheists are bound to find frustrating. You fail to make explicit what “objective meaning” is, or even any criteria by which to judge lives/actions objectively meaningful. You nevertheless assert, without argument, that the inevitability of death without afterlife would render our lives/actions meaningless. Perhaps the implicit principle you use is that something is only objectively meaningful if it will have made a difference at every subsequence point in time. Why think this is so? Why can’t the Sisyphean ideal of doing something in spite of its coming obsolescence confer meaning? These are some obvious objections you ignore. Finally, you fail to state why we’re bound to find objective meaning worth wanting if it places such unrealistic demands on us. O.K., so I can’t affect the universe a billion years hence – I won’t have made a difference then. But why should I care about that fact now?


    mag    Nov 24, 02:36 AM    #
  12. Kyle, I’m not really sure what you mean by “meaning”. Please define “meaning” i.e. What is the meaning of “meaning”? :P

    I’m not trying to play with semantics here, but on the surface, it doesn’t seem like to have a solid argument here, which is why I want you to further elaborate. The fact that people behave as if their lives have meaning doesn’t actually prove that their lives have objective meaning. The lack of objective meaning in atheism doesn’t discredit its truth (assuming it’s true).

    I’m not an atheist; I just don’t find this piece persuasive.

    looking forward to your clarifications

    —Pat


    — Patrick    Mar 31, 03:44 AM    #
  13. Prove your premises, specifically the first one. I’ll admit that we should always choose the path that has the greatest meaning, but that doesn’t mean that every action will. Likewise, of the possible worldviews, we should pick the one that offers the most meaning, but only if we believe that said worldview is legitimate and possible. If God doesn’t exist, assuming a theistic worldview isn’t going to make your life any more meaningful. Likewise, if God does exist, assuming an atheistic worldview isn’t going to make your life less meaningful.

    Prove Premise #1.


    A different Patrick that the one that just posted.    Aug 3, 07:52 PM    #
  14. I’m not sure about the relevance of the so-called “universal death” for us personally.
    Let me take some points:
    1.There will come time when the Universe will cease to support life

    Me: Universe will continue to support life for TRILLIONS years.
    By the way,it still unclear if the Universe will stop to support life comeplete,there are debates right now about entropy,but even it will do so,then: Sun will end LONG before that.And the Earth will LONG before Sun,and all eveidence demonstrate that Homo Sapiens will be extint LONG before the Earth.Sorry,that the way the Nature works.So,my question: what of your personal effects do you expect to persist to the end of the Universe?

    2.There will come time that all traces of the human race will dissapear.

    Me: Again,most likely,but even if some traces WILL persist,it will be at the form of some intelligence that somehow is derived from us,but very different from humans.
    Christian Theologian writer Keith Ward describes that in his book “Pascal’ Fire” :“Even if some form of interlligent life will survive for ever,it will be more different from human life,than we are from dinosaurs(page 240)

    3.There will come time when humans will no longer exist.
    Me: It will come even previous two points will be positive,meaning: 1(universe will cintinue to support SOME KIND of life forever) and 2(There WILL be traces of the human race in the form of some exotic,unimaginable intelligence).
    So,how is it important to us PERSONALLY that some unimaginable form of intelligence derived from us could persist forever?
    And why not to be content with “limited meaning”?


    Alexander    Nov 18, 07:40 PM    #
  15. Kyle,

    In the light of Paul’s post, your pragmatic argument fails. Even if our lives, our actions, and the universe cease to exist, the meaning imbued in them does not go away. Moreover, theism does not necessarily provide any more meaning to life than atheism, as Paul demonstrated. Thus, both of the premises of your argument are refuted unless you are able to defend them against these objections.


    Midas Vuik    Jul 5, 03:17 PM    #
  16. Actually I think your argument may be more persuasive if it were an argument to hope in theism. Granted, this is a step back from full out acceptance, but it sets the individual up toward that end as I think you had intended.


    Timothy    Jul 10, 12:38 AM    #
  17. As Paul in the comments has mentioned, the points raised here are no good.
    If you have rebuttals for Paul that would be great, if not maybe this article should be removed or a comment added to the beginning that it has since been successfully refuted.


    SubJunk    Aug 17, 11:29 PM    #
  18. This is a pathetic argument, and anyone who accepts it in order to justify their religious belief is intellectually weak.

    How egotistical does someone have to be to demand a worldview with immortality?


    Clint    Oct 26, 09:39 PM    #
  19. I think that there is more that could be said about this kind of argument, and especially about Meaning itself (here synonimous with ‘objective meaning’).

    I can particularly remember all the doo-dah about ‘42’ in Hitchhikers guide to the galexy, whereby the computer retorts that the people will be able to work out the answer (‘what is the meaning of life?’) when they’ve understood the question.

    So i do think it is nessisary to define ‘objective meaning’/Meaning, so i guess i will give it a go:

    Def (A): An Chosen action has a degree of objective meaning (ie. is objectively meaningful) if it is not morally wrong and:

    - if the action is intrinsically valuble and/or morally right.

    - and/or will produce circumstances that are more intrinsically valuble than if the action had not been performed

    - and/or will on balance provide greater potentials for other meaningfull actions to be performed.

    And
    that the degree of objective Meaning is in proportion to the degree in which the above 3 critera are satisfied.

    in this way, i think that if a person thinks that no action or state of affairs has any degree of intrinsic value and believes that no action is morally right or wrong, then i cant really see how this person could say that any persuit has any objective meaning.
    (although i presume they would be quite happy to acknowledge that some things are subjectively meaningfull and valuble to some people)

    however if a person believes that life (the state and actions of living) is intrinsically valuble, then i can see that they would say that living and the promotion of life are meaningfull actions – in this ‘objective’ sense.

    also, i can see that Morally right actions are meaningfull without qualifiction, eg. it is Right to help sick kids, therefore it is a meaningfull persuit period – but if you disagree with this then i will label your position ©.

    Now there is another position that one may or may not adopt:
    (B): if what is ‘morally right’ := that which produces circumstances that are more intrinsically valuble.
    and ‘morally wrong’ := that which substancially decreases the intrinsic value of circumstances.

    if this – B – is adopted then the definition becomes simpler.
    for instance, utilitarianism may simply state an action is meaningfull if it works toward the goal of producing human happiness.

    now if one accepts my definition A, then origional argument can be reformulated / expanded as follows:

    1. we should allways (if possible) adopt a worldview in which there is a potential for human actions to be meaningfull (as defined above)
    2. an action has no intrinsic value unless it increases to the intrinsic value of the ultimate future OR that no action has intrinsic value.
    3. no temporary state of affairs is intrinsically valuble.
    4. therefore (aside from Morally right actions) the only meaningfull actions are thoes which increase the value of ultimate circumstances.
    5. if Naturalism is true, then it isnt feasible for people to perform any action that will influence the ultimate future in any way that increases its value.
    6. © OR (B) OR Moral Nihilism OR Naturalism -> Moral Nihilism
    7. therefore if Naturalism is true, then there is NO true potential for any human action to be meaningfull.
    8. if Theism is true then it is possible for people to perform actions that will influence the ultimate future in any way that increases its value.
    9. if Theism is true then there is a true potential for human actions to be meaningfull.
    10. therefore we should be Theists.

    WOW!

    anyway… I still think that there is a few things left to say about this kind of argument.

    perhaps i could offer my own argument to get at some of thoes thoughts:

    1. When selecting a Worldview, one of the things we should select for (to some degree) is a world view that maximises (to reasonable extent) the meaningfullness (as defined) of human life.
    2. if Theism is true, then some human actions do have ultimately valuble consequences
    3. this adds to the meaning of thoes actions and thus to the meaning of human life.
    4. if Naturalism is true, then human actions do not have ultimately valuble consequences
    5. thus Naturalism does not posess this particular bit of additive meaning that Theism will give
    6. this is a reason to begin to think that Theism provides a more meaningfull life (in the absence of contrary instances)
    7. thus we have a reason to begin to think that Theism posesses ‘an edge’.

    I wish to offer this kind of argument in as modest a fashon as i can.
    what do you think?


    Mark    Dec 13, 06:07 AM    #
  20. It’s pretty clear to me that meaning cannot be objective. One can put the words ‘meaning’ and ‘objective’ together, it does not make it necessarily make sense.

    Meaning requires some sort or entity to imbue it. Merely being alive, one automatically manufactures meaning in their life. Meaning is inherently subjective; a night to the theatre isn’t meaningless because it’s finite, or that the plot of the movie wasn’t entirely clear or something, the meaning I find there is entirely reactionary.

    Where does god get his meaning?


    Mike Wolfe    Jul 1, 08:17 AM    #
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