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Life has meaning because its meaningless

Andrew Sullivan recently posted something from a reader who was a former atheist who converted to christianity. Most of the time I enjoy when Andrew posts things along these lines. He makes it no secret that he is a catholic. But he also presents all different kinds of opinions. One such opinion in response to the converted person was this from Will Wilkinson. First the person's reason for converting:

If everything that we call heroism and glory, and all the significance of all great human achievements, can be reduced to some neurons firing in the human brain, then it's all destined to be extinguished at death. And considering that the entire span of homo sapiens' existence on earth wouldn't even amount to a blip on the radar screen of a 5-billion-year-old universe, it seemed silly to pretend like the 60-odd-year life of some random organism on one of trillions of planets was something special. (I was a blast at parties.) By simply living my life, I felt like I was living a lie. I acknowledged the truth that life was meaningless, and yet I kept acting as if my own life had meaning, as if all the hope and love and joy I'd experienced was something real, something more than a mirage produced by the chemicals in my brain.

Will's response:

If you ask me, the best reason to think "life is meaningful" is because one's life seems meaningful. If you can't stop "acting as if my own life had meaning," it's probably because it does have meaning. Indeed, not being able to stop acting as if one's life is meaningful is probably what it means for life to be meaningful. But why think this has any logical or causal relationship to the scientific facts about our brains or lifespans? The truth of the proposition "life has meaning" is more evident and secure than any proposition about what must be true if life is to have meaning. Epistemic best practices recommend treating "life has meaning" as a more-or-less self-evident, non-conditional proposition. Once we've got that squared away, we can go ahead and take the facts about the world as they come. It turns out our lives are infinitesimally short on the scale of cosmic time. We know that to be true. Interesting! So now we know two things: that life has meaning and that our lives are just a blip in the history of the universe.

Another way to put it is how Angel does when he uses the Wolfram and Hart elevator to go to hell and it takes him right back to the spot he was on earth. I can't remember exactly how he puts it. But after some typical Angel brooding, he comes to the conclusion that if nothing we do matters, then all that matters are the things we do. I think that is basically that is what Will is saying.

We don't have any evidence that there is a god and a heaven and thus what we do will have meaning beyond our lives and our universe. And what we do know is that we are just a bunch of electrons bouncing around. But the fact that we know this and are self aware is why we seek meaning. And the fact that we want our lives to have meaning bestows meaning onto them. If that person who converted is more at peace with herself that's great. But a belief in god is not necessary in order to find meaning in life.