Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Meaning, and the emancipation of Man from objectivity.

Meaning is a curious word.  It comes in many forms and definitions, and very often it is used as a buzzword for theists as though it in some way validates their beliefs, even while it does not present any sort of evidence for theism.  It is a feel-good argument that, when correctly examined, really shouldn't make any reasonable person feel good at all.  Let us examine the argument that all atheists hear at some point or another: "Without God, life has no meaning."  This does sound rather like an egotistical simplification, doesn't it?  To many atheists, they would hear "Only people who believe in my religion have true meaning in their lives."  That is rather what theists are getting at, but they can't help it- the definition of meaning they are employing in this case is an objective meaning.  This is to say that the kind of meaning they are referring to is a meaning that can only be given to someone independent of one's own thoughts or opinions.  This meaning that they speak of is thrust upon us regardless of what we think or how we feel.  Now, what is so desirable about being told what to live for?  This definition of "meaning"- a universal dictation of servitude- does not hold any sort of appeal for me.  Imagine, if you will, that once you reach the age of reason, you are informed by a figure of authority what your job will be, who you will marry, and what type of car you will drive.  This would sound most unpleasant to anyone with a sense of self-respect.  However, the theistic "meaning" is far worse than that- it attacks human freedom on its most basic level: thought.  We are told that not only our actions, our speech, and our laws must all serve the specific purpose of glorifying a deity, but our very thoughts.  Everything about us, according to our theistic "meaning", must express servitude above all else.  This is our purpose; it is what we must do and what we are commanded to do for all eternity.  This sounds quite unpleasant when we look closely.  However, the Christian has his explanation all ready: We are quite free indeed; God has given us a choice.  We may either accept God or reject him.  Well, what does a rejection of God entail?  Unfortunately for those who are not content with eternal servitude, the alternative for them is eternal torture in "the fire".  Giving someone a choice between eternal servitude or eternal torture is not only immoral, but it is quite far from freedom; I submit that a God who truly desires freedom for us would simply let us choose to use our lives however we may desire, to whatever end, without thrusting horrible consequences upon us in an afterlife.  I am very unimpressed with this God's attempt at giving us "freedom".

This is the "meaning" that we are offered by the theistic God.  I could continue, but I believe that the unpleasantness of this God and his doctrine are quite apparent by now.  However, take heart- there is real meaning in this life.  It is not dictated to you; it is not eternal or immutable.  It is not something to be found, but something to be created.  This is subjective meaning.  As an atheist, I am free to say that I want to make music for the rest of my life.  I am free to say I want to be a writer, a philosopher, a scientist.  I am free to say that the greatest and most beautiful thing in the world is love, not an excessively distasteful book like the Bible.  Subjectivity is not a bad thing as theists often imply.  It is the opportunity for humanity to rise to its full potential and govern itself; to be unafraid to look towards the heavens and see no God telling them how to live, what to think, or what to feel.  The purest and most profound form of meaning comes from within.

1 comment: