Thursday, 8 November 2012

God and Desirability of Purpose

During debates on the existence of Gods one sees the question of purpose of life being raised quite often (take example of Lowder vs Fernades debate , audio can be found here ). The idea being that if there is no God then life would be utterly meaningless and purposeless. But I find this extremely puzzling - not the actual question of purpose of life ofcourse (that itself is quite a genuine question) but what confuses me is why  such a question being raised in discussion aimed at assessing God's existence?

Suppose one were to concede the maximum  that without god there simply cannot be any purpose of life and nihilism is the only option for the atheist. What follows from that? It seems quite obvious that the only conclusion one could establish from this concession is that : therefore atheism is depressing.

But surely that's an irrelevant conclusion. Reality has no obligation towards us to make us feel good . It might be that perhaps reality may  indeed turn out to be quite depressing. The mere fact that a belief makes us happy, content and provides psychological / emotional comfort is itself no reason to conclude that the belief is true.  All of us can think of a million examples of cases where a lie might make us feel happy and truth can make us depressed. There are a large number of truths which we may find undesirable such the death of our close relatives or failure in a particular task , yet we don't declare them as false merely for that reason of being emotionally painful. The desirability of a belief is completely independent of its truth .Therefore it follows that the question of "what is the meaning of life" , while it might be an interesting puzzle for humans to ponder (perhaps the most important),  it is completely irrelevant as an objection against atheism in the context of God's existence. It is nothing more than an emotional argument.  

If it is indeed the case that life is absolutely meaningless then the correct rational attitude towards this is to face our situation with courage and humility rather than to take refuge from it in comforting lies.. However  I believe the concession that without god nihilism is our only option itself is quite an exaggeration. While one may not have any ultimate  and cosmic purposes without god  that doesn't stops us from assigning a subjective purpose to it. More on that in later posts.


  1. nice looking blog! so true too, wanting something to be true doesnt make it true, otherwise i would be a prophet

  2. absolutely correct and beautifully expressed! looking forward for more :)