Over at Kingdom of Priests, David Klinghoffer poses (possibly disingenously) the question: “Anyway, I have a challenge for atheists and secondarily for agnostics. From where do you derive meaning in life?”
As you might suspect, this is one of the topics addressed at length in my book:
Another common objection to the points raised in this book is that religion serves as a source of comfort or meaning or purpose for people. I have no doubt that this is indeed the case; however, serving as a source of comfort does not make a belief true. After all, the “Harry Potter” books serve as a great comfort to me (or at least they did until J.K. Rowling callously outed happily-in-the-closet headmaster Albus Dumbledore), but you will rarely find me arguing that Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft is a real place, that use of the Avada Kedavra killing curse is actually unforgiveable, or that Quidditch merits inclusion as an Olympic sport.
Furthermore, if you’re going to choose something false to give your life meaning or purpose, there are many more exciting choices than whatever religion your parents happened to practice. Why not the belief that the eight-year gap in your life starting in the mid-seventies was caused by aliens who abducted you and took you to the planet Phaelon and studied you and filled your head up with star charts in an attempt to demonstrate that humans only use 10% of their brains? Or the belief that you might have been brainwashed into becoming a killing machine by Chinese Communists in league with your mother, Angela Lansbury, during the Korean War? Or (especially) the belief that the new green variety of processed food-wafers from the Soylent Corporation are not made from high-energy algae at all, but are in fact made out of people?
Personally, I choose to look for meaning in beautiful, mundane events, and (with the revelation that your religion is false) I suggest that you do the same. In case you have trouble finding your purpose, here are some possibilities:
- Prove to Amy Fleming that she was a fool for breaking up with me
- Get the high score on the Galaga machine at the bowling alley
- Read all the books in the Sweet Valley High and Sweet Valley Twins series
- Use every restroom in every major league baseball stadium
- Finish writing anti-religious polemic
- Try every flavor of Jelly Bellies
- Sing “Don’t Stop Believing” at karaoke
- Learn to say “duty” without giggling
- Get to spin the big wheel on “Price is Right”
- Meet Morrissey without crying
If you have further suggestions, just leave them in the comments.