Religion brings a calming sense of belonging and peace. It is the idea of knowing that you can find eternal rest and a warm welcome beyond the grave. But what if you’re secular? Can you find peace? How? This question comes up often when people are looking for a meaning to life.
The reasoning used for believing in an afterlife, is that god gives them hope of a joyful new existence. Without this afterlife, there is no sense of peace, no place within this world or after. Or at least that is the perception. We may see the world in a different light, but that doesn’t make it any less amazing.
When I look at the trees or the sky, I am amazed. Usually our tiny planet and its flora and fauna are attributed to divine creation. But when you consider how rare our existence really is, it goes far beyond the meaning placed upon miraculous creation.
Our planet contains the right atmosphere for life to exist. Without it, creatures and plants could not survive. There are uncountable numbers of planets within the universe, and we are able to inhabit this one out of all of them. We are an anomaly, a small chance of what could happen given the components that make up the universe and its planets. Each plant or creature is unique and intricate. It shows how diverse nature can be when life evolves over time.
It is amazing to me that we can breathe, see, create language, invent machines, and argue or ponder. Other creatures cannot articulate things as humans are capable of. We are all privileged to have been born as intelligent beings. That is not to say that animals are incapable of learning, but that their forms and brains do not allow for them to create and think in the same way as we do. Our bodies are amazing creatures that came to be as a result of millions of years of evolution in unfathomably small increments. Each of us is a testament to the complexity of existence and the world around us.
Everything has an impact. Even those that are dead, have left their actions, their ideas, their words, and attitudes behind to those near them. These memories impact others that carry them along throughout life. Such memories, can bring joy and encourage change in an individual for the better. A person that someone looks up to can pass away and leave them with examples of how to act and behave. That person carries on their memory through their own actions and thoughts.
This is true of ourselves as well. Our actions toward others, will leave an impact. The things we do and say can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Let’s ensure that what we leave them with is an example of kindness and positivity. The impact of one person doesn’t just end with the people they immediately interact with. People that know them may go one to influence other based on their previous friend’s influence. This is why it is so important to leave a positive message behind, because those words and actions can ripple out though humanity much farther than you may think.
The majority of children in developed countries are told from birth that there is a divine reward after their stay on earth. At times, just the idea of an atheist’s existence is seen as a threat to these views. How can someone really live without having a loving god, finding justice in god’s eternal punishment, or finding peace in his heavenly rewards and mercy? This can be a hard thing to separate, as religion provides comfort, peace with death, and a sense of belonging for many people. It is slightly selfish to see the deaths of thousands of creatures each day, and to think that our lives are more valuable than theirs.
We are animals just like them, and as them, we will one day reach the point where our bodies can no longer sustain us. Well, at least until we can become cyborgs and switch out body parts like changing out a graphics card. Seriously though, we eventually have to embrace the idea that our time living here will end. Belief in an afterlife prolongs the avoidance of this acceptance or realization of mortality. This is due to the fact that people believe that life will continue after death, so there is truly no end to existence. Facing the end of our own existence is a heavy subject to handle, especially when one is told that they will be able to live on forever.
Having a lifetime to come to terms with this fact of temporary existence, helps for one to gain an understanding of their own limited time as living beings. Because our lives are temporary, we learn to embrace it.
To realize that we are a part of this vast universe, among multiple galaxies, may make one feel insignificant. However, we are an anomaly. The fact that we are able to ponder our own existence and create and appreciate beauty, is something that not every living being will have the opportunity to experience. We are a rare occurrence, and the wonder overwhelms any sense of dread. It is the idea of knowing that we are not separate, but that we are a part of this vast world and a monument to what our universe has the ability to create.
We can still make the most of it, and enjoy the privilege we have been given to live as a creative, emotional, and reasoning being. The universe is not some distant abstract concept that we can never understand, we are a part of it and always were.
We can enjoy each moment, knowing that this feeling or this time will never come again. To do this, it is important to pursue the things you love and to cherish time spent with those that are close to you. These moments are not made less valuable by the fact that they will end. The most important part is to enjoy each day because you know that it will never come again. Due to this, atheists can embrace the joy they find during their lives, without focusing on primarily negative aspects or events. There will never be another chance to do the things you love again, so each day is like a beautiful moment to be cherished.
The final aspect of finding meaning of life, is in acceptance of death. From a religious perspective, life continues on eternally. From a secular perspective, one learns to understand that there is a temporary nature to their existence. There is still fear in the permanence of death, but it is overridden by the beauty of life, and the special moments we share with one another.