This is the fifth post in a series of posts providing counter-arguments to common religious apologetic arguments for God. Click here to see the list of all posts in the series.
This week’s counter to apologetic arguments for God will be defending against the “argument from the meaning of life.” The theist argument basically reduces to this: life exists, life must have meaning, and God must have created life and therefore gives life meaning.
Just as with the other arguments we have looked at in this series, this line of reasoning is flawed. When you lay it out in the manner above you can see the large gaps in the line of reasoning. For example, while it is true that life exists, we do not necessarily have direct evidence that life must have meaning, whatever that meaning may be. Additionally, we, the living beings we are talking about, determining for ourselves that life must have meaning, and determining that statement in itself is proof enough of God’s existence and his role as arbiter of life’s meaning is not only a baseless conclusion, it is incredibly self-centered and infantile.
In this argument theists are really trying to assert two separate hypotheses under the one argument. One, they are arguing that life has meaning. Two, they are arguing that only a god could provide life with meaning. The problem is really with that second hypothesis. There is no evidence that the second hypothesis is true at all. Humans assign meaning to things all the time, including their own lives.
Theists will usually then try to get around this by stating that human values are not capable of giving life true meaning. In this case they amend the first hypothesis so that it becomes about an external, cosmic judgement or value that gives our lives meaning. Again though, there is a problem. We once again have absolutely no evidence for such a cosmic judgement or value existing. So either way the theists try to phrase the argument, they cannot make a valid line of reasoning to their conclusion.
As with the other arguments we have looked at in this series, and as I especially mentioned last week, science has historically shown religious explanations for natural phenomena to be wrong again and again. The evidence of science shows that we are very likely mortal, as opposed to the immortal beings promised by religion. Part of the value of life comes from the fact that we are mortal, and that life is to be cherished while we are capable of doing so. If we were immortal, and this life just a prelude to another, then that would cheapen this life and make it next to worthless.
So what conclusion can we reach based on all of this? Our temporary, brief lives will only have as much meaning as we give them. Not only does that meaning come from us, but it does nothing to increase the likelihood of God’s existence.
It is precisely because of how short a time we get to enjoy life that we should place as much meaning, purpose, and value in it as we possibly can. So cherish your life. Cherish the lives of others. And let us just try to be the best people we can be, for ourselves and everyone else.