If I have this right, Blogger Brian, you're hope is that others will hear your message of hopelessness, and deem it worthy of belief?
You would characterize the whole of existence as an accidental soup of random particles bouncing about in meaningless fashion, and then seek some modicum of consolation in having mastered the one true way of unblinking, tough-minded knowledge about "The Way Things Really Are." (or, at least that's what I seem to be getting out of of this)
In a world devoid of all divinity, where the total sum of your personal being is really no more than pointless dust, what could possibly be worth wanting? In keeping with the model that we're just auto-programmed meat machines, wouldn't gratification of our most base animal desires, a modest sense of social membership and that good ole' chimp-conferred drive for alpha status/prestige suffice?
What Brian did in his comment was draw conclusions from some observations about the universe and life on Earth. He considered that matter/energy is "pointless dust," that the human brain is "auto-programmed," and that we are naturally drawn to gratify "our most base animal desires."
Each of these conclusions can be challenged.
They aren't scientific facts, but rather assumptions drawn from a personal interpretation of evidence about reality. This is how meanings are made according to Paul Thagard (a professor of philosophy, psychology, and computer science) in a book I'm reading, "The Brain and the Meaning of Life."
This very morning I read the chapter "why life is worth living." Here's the beginning of his chapter conclusion.
If you want to reduce my book to a slogan, it could be this: The meaning of life is love, work, and play. A more nuanced summary would be better: People's lives have meaning to the extent that love, work, and play provide coherent and valuable goals that they can strive for and at least partially accomplish, yielding brain-based emotional consciousness of satisfaction and happiness.
I have tried to develop a naturalistic theory of the meaning of life, as constituted largely by love, work, and play. Each of these provides rewarding goals, which are brain representations of possible states of affairs imbued with emotional significance through a mixture of neural activities.
Observations of the pursuits and happiness of most people provide good reason to reject nihilism, the view that life is meaningless or absurd. There is more to meaning than happiness which is the result of satisfaction of more basic goals whose pursuit and accomplishment enable human lives to flourish.
The meaning of life is multidimensional, requiring the combination and integration of various kinds of goals, the most importance of which concern love, work, and play. Support for the importance of these realms comes from psychological and sociological evidence about their contributions to human well-being, and also from emerging neurological understanding of how they operate in our brains.
There's a lot of philosophical and scientific tofu (I'm a vegetarian, so don't want to say "meat") packed into those four paragraphs. I'll focus on one subject: goals.
Thagard says, and I agree, that "a meaningful life is one where you still have something to do, even if doing it may not make you happy that day, week, or year." Life isn't only about happiness, though that is a result of having goals satisfied.
You can have happiness without much meaning, and meaning without much happiness, so happiness is not the meaning of life.
We all (or almost all) do things that are satisfying, but don't necessarily make us happy. Raising a child, for example. Or pursuing a challenging educational degree requiring long hours of study. Or climbing Mt. Everest in a blizzard.
Seeking truth about the universe can be one of those things.
Religious dogmas almost always have "good news" for us. We're immortal souls. We're going to heaven after we die. God has a plan for us, so there's nothing to worry about. And so on. Yet many people find more meaning in life through scientific truth-seeking than religious belief-embracing.
But each to his own. This is one of the themes in my previous meaning-of-life posts.
Now I see that objective reality is one thing, and the meaning I attribute to it and my life is another thing. Nobody else can create that meaning for me.
...Each individual must determine, or choose, his or her own meaning of life, because life's meaning isn't a given like gravity or electromagnetism.
... find that some commenters on this blog, including me from time to time, fail to make a distinction between (1) a statement of collective religious belief and (2) a description of what an individual finds spiritually or philosophically meaningful.
There isn't a hard and fast distinction between (1) and (2), but they clearly are different.
Example: someone leaves a comment on a post that says Christianity, Islam, Sant Mat, Hinduism, or another religion is true, and I'm an idiot for not recognizing this. I'll respond along the lines of Oh, yeah, who says? Show me the evidence.
However, if someone comments, "I really enjoy meditating in the morning as [fill in a spiritual practice] teaches," what goes through my mind is That's great. I'm glad this person has found something that is so meaningful to him or her.
Likewise, it doesn't bother me to hear, "I don't know if my religion is true, but I get a lot of satisfaction from believing in it." This is humble, non-dogmatic, personal.
Whatever people want to believe, that's their right. They just shouldn't demand that anyone else accept beliefs that have no demonstrable convincing evidence behind them.
So this is one way Brian from Colorado misconstrued me: I'm not out to tell people what they should believe.
What I object to are religious believers who claim they have knowledge about objective reality (including a hypothesized metaphysical realm) that isn't backed up with demonstrable evidence.
I support what could loosely be called the "scientific method." Or, as Thagard puts it, "inference to the best explanation." This is the best way to arrive at both personal goals and universal knowledge.
Inference to the best explanation in science has the same basic structure as does reasoning in law, medicine, and everyday life. In all these domains, you should collect as much relevant evidence as you can, consider higher-level hypotheses and alternative ones, and accept the ones that provide the best overall explanation of the evidence.