I have never "voiced" my beliefs before but I had this need to write and this is what came out...or at least a brief rough draft of what goes through my mind when I hear friends and families conversations.
I respect all opinions and this is mine. I believe in having my own beliefs. I believe in not denouncing others faith. I believe in the end nothing matters, nothing we have done, said, believed in or not believed in, people we have loved, hated, missed, or loathed, because in death it is all the same. Just as we were all born the same way (we all were conceived as a result of a man and a woman, or technology I guess...) we will all die into nothingness. Believing in (a) God(s), or believing that aliens may have created us, using us as experiments, or any other belief people may have, to me they are all just ways for man to satisfy the need to know, to know the meaning of life, to have a meaning of life. When actually there is no meaning to life other than our primitive instincts to breed and keep our species alive, we have no more meaning to life than a cat or an elephant or a maggot in the trash. I believe the theories of how we came to be, either scientifically or biblically, are inconsequential; hmmm let me rephrase… everything we think we know, everything we believe is irrelevant and meaningless.
I am not sure if I consider myself Atheist, I have seen so many destroy the concept for me. I feel as though that goes with any belief and I choose not to label myself whether I am "text book" believer or a loose follower.
You can't believe you are an atheist. Either you believe in a God or you don't.
I agree though. In the end we are no better than a maggot in the trash.
So poetically nihilistic it is. :)
Nihilistic is the word that came to my mind as well.
I believe our lives have a meaning, however temporary that meaning is. I may never change the world in a major way, but I have helped people make their own lives better. I do think mankind has made a royal mess of things, and we are definitely not any better than a cat or elephant.... I do think we are better than maggots in trash though, but primarily because I hate every maggot I have ever seen and don't quite hate every person I have ever met ;)
Atheism is just another word, to me, to describe my lack of belief in any gods. You could use humanist, rationalist, skeptic, nihilist, or pretty much any other word if you ever feel the need for a label. Or, if you are a loose follower (of what god/s?), perhaps deism is closer to what you believe to be true, or even agnostic. But really, do you need a label? I don't think so :)
It is true that in the end nothing matters.
But now, at the present moment, what we do matters. For the future especially.
We are here. What next?
a) foresee your imminent death and loose all your motives
b) acknowledge death and find a way to live life to it's full until death comes ( optionally, making a change while you're at it for the next generation of humans to enjoy )
I may be misunderstanding you, but I think what we do in the here and now does matter. It may seem inconsequential in the context of seemingly infinite time and space, but we don't exist in the infinite. We exist in the here and now and what we do here and now matters to us and it matters to others who exist in the here and now.
For example, if you were being tortured you would probably agree that your pain and suffering matters to the extent that you want it stop. I doubt you could take much comfort in knowing that a million years from now your suffering won't matter because you exist in the here and now, not in the distant future. Similarly, if you were to torture someone else you can be assured that they believe their suffering matters even though it may seem inconsequential a million years from now.
So, while our lives may be finite they have meaning and our lives (and all that comes with being alive) matters to us right now. And I think that is important to remember - especially when you ponder the infinite and other esoteric concepts that really are beyond our comprehension.
You make a good point, and maybe the most valuable thing about our momentary existence is the fact that we can contemplate it at all. In fact, we can create meaning in our life, any meaning at all, and pursue that meaning.
You could decide that your meaning in life is to create the most perfect experience possible. A lifetime of suffering might go into a perfect experience that lasts a moment - like viewing the world from the top of mount everest. For me, I often stop to evaluate my current mood, surroundings, and comfort just to consider if I would be happy if time were to completely and permanently stop in that very moment. I have had several where my answer was a definite yes.
So our lives have absolutely no meaning in the greater scheme of things, but they have as much meaning as we want them to have within the short time we have to contemplate such matters.
How you live your life does matter because it's accumulative. In the end, it won't matter, but hopefully you're a long way from the end.
So, if you spend your life learning, you will receive the benefits of knowing more and it could make you happier. It does me.
If you take care of your health, it might serve you for a long time.
And if you care about others, they might care about you.
The path from maggot to Think Atheist goes through some amazing non-maggoty machinery does it not? If you really meant the words as I read the words you roundly contradict yourself.
If you think slaves enjoy going to work in the morning just like their masters you should go sign up as a galley slave at the earliest possible chance. Or just be my slave. I'm thirsty, where's my coffee?
But seriously, try reading Stuart Kaufman's "Alive in the Universe" and lay off the Quaaludes.
My life has no meaning unless I find meaning for it. To start with I was christian. My life was to serve my parents relegion beacuse it had to be true. Mommy said so. (Mommy dosen't like talking about welegion any moar wiv me...) Then, I called shenanigans and it became to find meaning. An alternate purpose. My life now is for me to live and be happy, to support my friends and loved ones. It might not be the most socially or 'morally' accepted way to do things, but it gives me strong relationships, the ability to be everyone's friend and, when someone does die, I move on.
Case in point, last september, my friend got hit by a car and died. 2 weeks later and I was in prime position to support my friends having gotten over it myself. In comparison, some of said friends go quiet when his name comes up. (Peter, if you read this, sorry for reminding you...)
Additionally I have certain qualities that make me valuable to people. I will always be as honest as possible if you need me to. Sure, I can still joke, but if you need it, I will be honest. This may hurt people but, for example, just saying your wife or girlfriend looks good in what she's wearing just because it's what she want's to hear... It's silly. It's pointless.
Case in point, Peter (see above) may now be depressed, but I've conveyed my message and that, to me, is what counts because to not convey my message would mean I've just wasted my time.
Basically, you find a reason to live. You find your own meaning. If that meaning dies with your name, so be it. If that meaning pushes humanity to a golden age of prosperity, you will have changed the universe. What you do with your life comes form your attitude to it and that comes from the meaning you associate with it.
No meaning? No point.
That... was longer than I planned it to be.