I think the reason that Atheism fails on the question of life’s meaning is because the underpinnings of Atheism are typically materialism and naturalism. That is, the world is strictly material with no spiritual of supernatural potential or dimension, and that it’s existence must be explained as having come about by purely natural means. Every Atheist knows that these two underlying beliefs about the world guide us to the philosophical conclusion that life has no objective meaning.
As a result Atheists must result to the tagline “life has the meaning that you assign to it.” This philosophy has helped to suppress the nagging truth that Atheism provides no real basis for motivation towards positive action for the planet. This is because when analysed fully one must admit that even if you assign meaning to your life temporarily it doesn’t equate to any ultimate meaning within the Atheistic worldview.
If the world is purely material and there is no God or eternity then ultimately everything in it will cease to exist and nothing has any ultimate meaning. Even our best efforts at “making the world a better place” will lose their significance after our Sun expands or explodes and eliminates life on our planet. Therefore, in order to retain feasibility within the Atheistic worldview the tagline “life has the meaning that you assign to it” is regurgitated and chanted hypnotically so that the logical outcome of such a worldview will be avoided at all cost.
Nihilism, which is the belief that life is ultimately meaningless is the logical conclusion of the Atheistic worldview. However, because this would severely damage the potential for this movement to grow, prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris have repeatedly stated that they reject nihilism, even though Atheism has it within its core fabric. This rejection of Nihilism by those whose worldview is the perpetuator of it, is a strange occurrence that can only be explained by a desperate attempt to preserve the legitimacy of their worldview as a whole.
Life’s meaningful nature, like objective morality, is self-evident to all rational people. The urge to make a difference and leave a lasting impact is woven into the fabric of our DNA. The most logically consistent position for being motivated to make a real difference in the world is to affirm that life does have ultimate meaning. This doesn’t mean that Atheists cannot live a life that feels or appears to be meaningful, it simply points out that to do so would be inconsistent with the fundamental meaningless of life that is a core component of their beliefs.
If you’re like me, you want to be able to live as consistently as possible, especially on an issue as severe as the meaning of life itself. Belief in eternity, ultimate meaning, and true legacy is the most rational position to take for a person motivated to make a difference in the world. One is free to live contradictory in this regard by having an Atheistic worldview and yet seeking to live purposefully. But this person cannot claim to have to most rational underlying position on this topic. Logical inconsistencies are never rational.
The reality of life’s ultimate meaning deals a death blow to the Atheistic worldview. However, popular atheistic voices have tried to keep the dead philosophy animated with their pithy taglines and inconsistent advocacy. Don’t buy into the false notion that Atheism retains a logical basis for life’s meaningfulness. If you are a Nihilist Atheist then by all means I commend you for being consistent in your worldview, but it remains nonsensical for Atheists to claim that you can still believe in ultimate meaning while rejecting God and eternity at the same time.
Written by: Kyle Bailey, D. Min.