I would return the statement first by asking, “Why do you need to believe in a God or an afterlife to have a point to life – to have meaning in your life?”
Do animals other than humans believe in an afterlife or gods? Do sheep go to heaven and goats go to hell?
There is a lot to look forward to in life before our deaths. Perhaps a small list of some of the major things in my life that give it meaning and make it worth something would help here. What is the point of my life?
- Raising my daughters to be productive members of society
- Spending time with my family and friends
- Enjoying nature and Earth’s beauty
- Learning something new every day
- Leaving a legacy – contributing to society
In other questions, we discussed the psychological and emotional needs humans have and how those needs may have resulted in the invention or evolutionary necessity of religion. Fear is an emotion, but fear of death is psychological.
Most people need to know, both emotionally and psychologically, that life is not just a trip from birth to death. Religious beliefs give people hope and help to eradicate people’s fears and anxieties. Belief in an afterlife makes death easier for people. When a theist is on his or her deathbed, their beliefs about going to a higher place will comfort them. If belief in an afterlife helps people deal with death easier, then more power to them.
When I am on my deathbed, I will be comforted knowing that I lead a good life and I am leaving behind a legacy for my children. I will be comforted knowing that I spent my time here well. I will be comforted knowing that I did not waste my life. I spent my time educating my children and myself. I made a point every day to learn something new and to share that knowledge with others. I will die in peace knowing that I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish and that I taught my children to be the best they can.
We have a meaning to life, but many people do not recognize it. We are an animal, albeit an animal with higher intelligence and the capacity to philosophize, but an animal nonetheless. Our biological purpose (meaning, if you will) is to perpetuate the species through reproduction.
Our meaning of life is to reproduce and to raise our children to do the same. When we have accomplished this then we feel at peace, we feel that our lives have some meaning.
When you talk to the elderly and ask them what the most important event in their life was you get some amazing answers. For religionists, they expect to hear answers about going to church and loving god, etc, but that is not what you hear.
The biggest answer to that question is having and raising children. The elderly take great comfort in their children – knowing they accomplished their meaning in life by having and raising children successfully.
The second biggest answer to that question is some type of contribution to society – be it scientific, anthropological, or societal. The accomplished writer, artist, and scientist feel that they have contributed to society and helped the species along – they take great comfort in that.
When you talk to the elderly and ask them what they regret the most in their life you get almost the exact same thing – but from a lack of.
The elderly that never married and had kids list that as their biggest regret in life. The elderly that never contributed to society, in one way or another, list that as a big regret in their life. You will rarely hear someone answer his or her biggest regret with “I didn’t go to church enough.”
When it comes down to it the meaning of life does not need a god. Those that are reflecting back on their life know their meaning through their children and their accomplishments. They take great solace in being able to say, “Mission accomplished!”