Looking at this question from a theistic or an atheistic perspective must surely come to the same conclusion? The purpose of life is to continue survival. As Darwin said, it’s not the strongest that survives, it’s the one most adaptable to change. It’s an animal’s instinct to survive, and that’s why certain animals gave evolved to develop measures to ensure survival.
If we are to accept the abundance of evidence for Evolution, then we weren’t planned, or created, we came to be through being able to adapt, and evolve to suit our surroundings. So we have to look at life from a nihilist perspective.
“Nihilism argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.”
Obviously this is an extremely sceptical way of looking at our existence, but it’s accurate. When I’m dead, I’m sure it will not be long before I’m forgotten about. My wife will no doubt remember me as she’s younger and will probably outlive me, but I’ve no children or immediate family, and when she dies, so will any memory of me. I’ve made no real contribution to the world, so does my life have intrinsic value?
Love is what some people may call a reasonable meaning of life, but scholars claim love is a disease, or a psychological affliction. You can’t really think logically when you’re in love. You put the feelings and preservation of the other person before your own, and that’s not instinctive survival is it? Love can make you feel special, but it can also be your downfall, as when it’s taken away, it can ruin you.
Does leading an ethical, virtuous life give it meaning? Does adhering to the Golden Rule give your life meaning? (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) This is a moral philosophy and if you adhere to it, you’ll make your time, and the time of others that surround you better, but is it meaning?
The meaning of life is perhaps the biggest question humanity has, and in my conclusion, looking at it from an unbiased, and logical perspective is – there is no meaning to life other than continuing the species. Sex has become pleasurable through evolution to encourage procreation, and the more we procreate, the more likely we will prosper as a species. We aren’t part of the food chain, and we have no natural predators, so the only way we can disrupt the continuation of humanity is destroying the world we live on.
I’ve spoken to theists about the meaning of life, and I’ve been accused of being a nihilist, but what makes them any different? Say God did make them. They spend their whole life obsessed with and worrying about sin, and they kiss God’s ass in the hope they’ll be judged fairly so they can enjoy their rewards in Heaven. So let me get this straight. They live this life as a servant, worrying about sin, waiting to die, so they can have an eternal life as a ghost. And that means their life has meaning?
As a Humanist I think that whilst we are here, we should try to be decent people. I adopt and foster animals and I help a few charities as I have compassion, empathy and humility, and I like to think I could leave this world slightly better than when I arrived. But does my desire to do good mean my life has meaning? After all, we are just a reaction to chemical changes that started billions of years ago.