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Does life have a meaning?

The answer lies at the heart of one's personal philosophy or religious belief. For theists, the meaning of life is to serve God. For atheists, the meaning of life is generally more complex to define. For a theist, life cannot be meaningful without God - an assumption vigorously challenged by many atheists.

Implications to Other Questions


Experts and Influencers

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Agree
Experts In Philosophy


Keith Augustine    Atheism Activist
Agree
What makes our lives meaningful is that we find the activities we engage in to be worthwhile. Our determination to carry out projects we have created for ourselves gives our lives meaning. We feel that life is meaningless when most of our desires which we regard as important are frustrated. Whether we regard life as meaningful or meaningless depends on the degree to which our important desires are frustrated.
01 Jan 2000    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is there life after death?
   Disagree

Evan Fales    Philosophy Professor
Agree
...first, it is necessary to say something about the problematic phrase, 'the meaning of life.' What is it supposed to mean? As a rough first attempt, we might say that a life is (or is not) meaningful if it is worth living. But worthwhile for, or to, whom? Is worth a matter of subjective appreciation, of being valued, by some person or persons? Or might the question whether a life is worthwhile have an objective answer, quite apart from what anyone thinks about the matter?
28 Apr 2005    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Is there life after death?
   Disagree

Experts In Religion


The Catholic Church    Largest Christian Church
Agree
Show with your enthusiasm that among the many ways of living that the world seems to offer us today, all apparently on the same plane, that only by following Jesus is the true meaning of life found and because of this, true and lasting joy.
21 Dec 2005    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Can we handle the truth?
   Agree
Is there life after death?
   Agree

Experts In Seduction


Mystery    Pickup Artist, Celebrity, Author
Agree
The purpose of life is to survive and replicate and we've got 28,000 days -- all of us -- approximately, give or take, to make that happen.
06 Aug 2007    Source


Disagree
Experts In Seduction


Heartiste    Pickup Artist
Mostly Disagree
When there is no second life or higher power to appease; when our lives are machines — complex misunderstood machines cunningly designed to conceal the gears and pulleys behind a facade of self-delusional sublimation, but machines nonetheless — grinding and belching the choking gritty smoke of status-whoring displays in service to our microscopic puppetmasters [...then one must rationally embrace hedonism]. Are you prepared to embrace the meaning of your ultimately inconsequential existence?
04 Dec 2008    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Can we handle the truth?
   Disagree

Experts In Art


Francis Bacon    Artist
Mostly Disagree
I think in a very positive way. ... I think that man now realises that he is an accident, that he is a completely futile being, that he has to play out the game without reason. ...man can only attempt to make something very, very positive by trying to beguile himself for a time by the way he behaves, by prolonging possibly his life by buying a kind of immortality through the doctors.
01 Jan 1963    Source


Neutral
Experts In Philosophy


Jean-Paul Sartre    French Existentialist Philosopher
Neutral
Life has no meaning the moment you lose the illusion of being eternal. ... It is up to you to give it a meaning, and value is nothing but the meaning that you choose.
01 Jan 1969    Source


Experts In Cognition


Robin Hanson    Economics Professor
Neutral
[P]eople mainly want to know the meaning of _their_ life; they consider life in general mostly for hints on that. ...It seems what people want is a satisfying story about their place in the universe. Since characters are the most important elements of a story, the main “place” that matters... is their social place–who they relate to and how. ...People think their life has less meaning when enough aspects of it are determined by “impersonal” forces that refuse to take social sides.
07 Sep 2010    Source

Sub-Arguments Of This Expert:
Can we handle the truth?
   Neutral
Is trying to "change the world" foolish?
   Mostly Agree


Comments

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0 Points      MTC      23 Feb 2013      Stance on Question: Disagree
To believe life has a meaning is an inherently religious belief. Once you understand that the universe itself has no purpose; life, as a part of the universe, also has no inherent purpose.


0 Points      matt      29 Feb 2012      General Comment
the meaning of life is to make it whatever u want it to be. when your life is fulfilled that u have achieved your meaning of life and you die. so next time someone close to you dies, think of it as they have fulfilled their life. but people are entitled to their own opinions at the end of the day, thats just mine


0 Points      TZX      16 Feb 2011      Stance on Question: Disagree
Not only is life meaningless, the question itself is meaningless.


0 Points      blacktrance      10 Feb 2011      Stance on Question: Agree
Life has whatever meaning we chose to give it. Most of all, life is required for anything else of value.


0 Points      Emmsey Squared      06 Dec 2010      Stance on Question: Neutral
What is meaning? I cannot find a real idea for the word meaning. When we think of meaning, we think that there is a reason why people or things act in certain ways. But really, if there is meaning for say a ball dropping to the ground; where of course the ball dropped because of gravity acting onto it. You can say that the trajectory of the ball can be calculated using Newton's laws of motion. So if you take into account that all things can be calculated then, you have a world where nothing matters, all of your decisions have been were decided because of an outside environment. The motion of the moon, can determine tides and ocean conditions. Say, you were a fisherman and you drowned because the moon caused the tides to shift. What is the meaning of that life? If your life could be determined then there if no meaning for it, as all things must have happened, and without a choice, you are merely a machine.

So I guess, you people want the meaning of your life; I guess that you don't matter, it really depends on what your actions did to the people you've met that mattered.

P.S. I didn't take into account quantum physics here, because I'm not an expert in it.


0 Points      outabreath      12 Nov 2011      Stance on Question: Mostly Agree
I kinda get where you're going. If God knows all therefor he knows what's coming. If he's as powerful as is believed, then he has the power to change the course. That he doesn't must mean that all is the way he wants it. That must mean that free will doesn't really exist. He already knows who is choosing what direction. That must be the way he wants it. Free will is an illusion. You think you have a choice, but, . I don't even know what my point is. I'm frustrated, Gods happy. I like porn. Would like to have acted in pornos, but, I have a winky. God gives me the desire, but, not the equipment.God knew all this ahead of time. He must be having a laugh. Gods a saddist. I may have a winky, but, my jiz is lethal, according to the doctor. I would beable to get 9/10 women pregnant,but, my wife was no.10 that I couldn't. Andrea Yates had five kids that she drowned.God couldn't give us one of them. Atleast one would have made it to adulthood all things being equal. I guess that's the meaning of my life, to be frustrated. Thanks God.



0 Points      Benja      28 Apr 2010      General Comment
This question is almost a result of excessive "far-mode" thinking. Take a fragment of our lives, when we're caught up in the moment, and it's obvious our life is meaningful and purposeful. We want to win the game we're playing, grill the sausages on the BBQ, throw the stick into the waves for the dog, etc. It's only when we take the big - arguably the biggest - picture view and spookingly try to grasp who we are in 3rd person, that the things that seem concrete deconstruct into surreal abstractions.

I think it's healthy to contemplate a big-picture view ocassionally - it can help us gain perspective and give us a valuable course-correction (e.g. this comb-over isn't fooling anyone). But I don't think it's healthy to dwell in that space for too long - it's not what our cognitive machinery is optimized for - it evolved to make sense of much more immediate concerns. Excessive contemplation inevitably leads to existential angst, which if left untreated, will metastasize into a religious conversion or the adoption of a philosophical framework.


1 Point      Adam Atlas      27 Apr 2010      Stance on Question: Neutral
I'm not sure if "Does life have a meaning?" has a meaning. As with many deep-sounding philosophical questions, this one quickly dissolves when you notice that "meaning" is just not something that the universe does. Imagine the universe before any life formed, anywhere. Who is there to give meaning to anything? What's the meaning of a star or a galaxy or a black hole? I wouldn't even say there's no meaning; I'd say it's a wrong question. (Of course, I'm working under the assumption that there is no God, and this is not the place to debate that if you disagree.) Does this mean that life is meaningless? No. It means that looking for meaning at that level is a category error. Meaning is something that minds do, and if you look at it from that perspective, then you will be able to find a meaning for your life (provided that you keep in mind that you're creating it, not seeking it). If you look for some outside force to impose a meaning on your life, you'll find religion or become a nihilist. Neither of those allows your mind to live up to its potential.

So "Does life have a meaning?" is not a useful question to ask. A better question is "Can life have a meaning?", and the answer to that is definitely yes.


1 Point      eabdow      29 Aug 2011      General Comment
Means of life: if you are hungry you look for food, if you are thirsty you look for water, if you are sexually exited you look for sex and so on. That is the actual meaning for life. Otherwise you are deviating from living your life.