One “argument” many atheists run up against is, “What’s the point?” Because if there’s no God, there’s no divine plan, there’s no ticket to eternity, then life must be pointless, right?
When my kids were young, I struggled with a way to import to them that even though they didn’t believe in a deity, or weren’t spending their lives prepping for an eternal afterlife, that their lives mattered.
It’s easy, particularly with today’s scientific capabilities, to feel pointless about it all. We are on a speck of a planet in just one galaxy, among countless other galaxies. In the scope of the universe, my existence is as insignificant as a single skin cell is to my entire body. If it sloughs off, or it doesn’t, my body will go on without a notice. The universe is kind of the same way–with our whole planet (which is why I’ve never understood why occupants of Earth don’t take care of it better–it’s like there’s some superpower who’s going to fix all of the damage we’re doing).
But what finally occurred to me, and what I’ve imparted to my children is that the experience of life itself is enough. You’ve got a ticket to the ride. Against all odds, after millions of years of evolution, and billions of years of the evolution of your environment, you’ve made it! And it won’t always be fun, and it won’t always be comfortable, but you’re here. Not only that, but you’ve landed in a place and time where you can become educated, you can think for yourself, you can grow, and you can explore. And unlike kids in other parts of the world, you can do this, right now, in relative safety.
But just as important as your journey is the legacy you’ll leave behind to those who follow you. The way you live, the things you learn, the compassion you show, the solutions you come up with for making everyone’s lives better, those are the things that matter. Not because of eternity. One day, the sun will burn out, life on Earth will be impossible. Unless somehow we have found another like planet, and have used science (not prayer) to get there, then it’s very possible that everything we’ve done here, good or bad, will be lost to the ages.
So, the question is, then, what can we do for the next generation? Can we find or support ways to clean up the planet? Can we show how we value education, in hopes that someone else might break out of the cycle of ignorance and mythology that keeps women down? That keeps children starving? Can we agree not to live in fear, so that we can be the most effective we can be?
And, can we be grateful simply for the amazing happenstance of our existence in the first place? Why can’t that be enough? For me, it is.