Finding purpose after religion

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Freefromgod's picture
Finding purpose after religion

Hello everyone. I have only recently discovered that I am an atheist. It took a lot of searching to discover this. At first I was a christian and I threw myself into it. The only problem was that I kept on discovering things that made no sense to me. So then I tried Buddhism and went deeply into it only to find myself facing teachings that went against rational thinking. Finally I tried Hinduism with the she result. I wanted to believe but kept coming across irrational beliefs that I couldn't ignore. So here I am. I've found no religious belief system that I could square with basic rational thinking skills. My problem now is I'm experiencing a lack of purpose or meaning. This is one thing religion provides in abundance. So I'm just looking to hear from others who may have experienced something similar and what they have done.

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Pitar's picture
You cannot justify, or

You cannot justify, or "square" as you put it, living and purpose logically. The two are mutually exclusive.

All those questions about existence with their designer postulations, ad nauseam, also carry no purpose. There will be no eureka moment that ever props purpose up as a revelation.

People live and die without purpose. What they do in that short span of time is not purpose, or even purposeful if we need to extrapolate to that detail of cold hard truth, leaving humanity without resolve for contributing anything significantly useful in the overall picture of existence.

Atheism is a bitch, but it answers the question succinctly and truthfully.

Now, if you can't live with that assessment of who you are there's religion. It was and remains the emperor's new togs of purposeful finery. Within its sanctuary of conjuring and imagery you can reside safely deceived and free of logic. That asks much more from the psyche than atheism because self-deceit takes a lot of work to keep those doubts buried.


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Algebe's picture
FreefromGod: "My problem now

FreefromGod: "My problem now is I'm experiencing a lack of purpose or meaning."

Keep looking for purpose or meaning. That's your mission. If you're free from god, you're free to look in all sorts of places for your answers. Life's an experiment, a voyage of discovery. You find the answers by walking the walk and thinking the thoughts, not by reading the book as the religions tell you.

LogicForTW's picture
As algebe said.

As Algebe said.

Revel in your new found freedom to find your own purpose and meaning. You do not need other humans telling you a bunch of fantastical lies telling you what your meaning and purpose is.

I personally picked enjoying life. Doing things that make me happy and satisfied, and discovering what those things are.

Freefromgod's picture
Thanks for the posts. Finding

Thanks for the posts. Finding purpose and meaning to life through religion can become an ingrained habit. For so many years I sought an ultimate purpose to the universe and I wanted there to be a God. I tried different religions and gave each my all only to discover that they didnt stand up to reason. I do find a sense of freedom in realizing that its up to me to discover meaning in life (my own meaning). I also feel empowered to use my own reasoning and critical thinking skills to navigate this journey, not to mention inspired by other people who relied on the same skills, people like Socrates, Kant, and Hume. Still,, I do miss the sense of ultimate purpose religion gives. Its pretty heady....opium for the masses I guess. Maybe, like opium, there is a withdrawal period.

LogicForTW's picture
I would not be surprised if

I would not be surprised if their is a scientifically measurable withdrawal like symptom from things like major changes to worldviews or similar.

I like your opium comparison ;)

Diotrephes's picture


If you want a purpose in life design a light speed engine for a space ship, develop a cure for a major disease, or learn how to cook.

Pijo's picture
Welcome! Since I live in

Welcome! Since I live in northern Europe, I cannot help with talking to believers, but I think I can point out that you don't have to find meaning of life alone - there are thinkers and philosophers that help you in answering that:

Flamenca's picture
The video link does not work

The video link does not work :(

Tudor Jinga's picture
Here is a scientific point of

Here is a scientific point of view:

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture
I beg the question does

I beg the question does somebody really need a single identifiable purpose? Or do you feel it's necessary because you lived your life believing that you needed to have one?

Personally, I am glad that I am able to pick and choose what I want to do for myself and what I want to do for this world, rather than all that being predetermined for me. Now That's What I Call liberating.

Tao DeVine's picture
I too was born a raised a

I too was born a raised a Christian and as a child was a firm believer to the point that I was baptized at 11. Then puberty hit. Parts of my brain that weren't fully developed while I was a child suddenly went online, providing degrees of thought not previously available to me and because of that I began to spot the holes in my Christian paradigm. I also tried out other religions only to at first be fascinated by all the things that did make sense but after that initial awe faded, the holes became more apparent. For me, my 'spiritual purpose' (which is the impression I'm getting from you when you're using the word purpose is that you're meaning it more on a spiritual scale than simply life purpose) no longer had a religious foundation, it was grounded in science but I believe that the two are more similar than most atheist would like to admit in that one's 'spiritual purpose' is simply a desire to fully understand. In its religious format for me, that meant a greater understanding of God, Jesus, the Bible, right and wrong etc. In its scientific format that means a greater understanding of all things including the religious persons desire to understand God, Jesus, the Bible, right and wrong. For me I have spent years reading into matters of physics, neurology, and psychology in order to understand the difference between reality and my perception of reality out of the desire to understand what is, what is not, and how it is that things I believe to be real only exist within my perceptions of reality but cannot be found anywhere within reality itself.
So I guess what I'm saying is that if you are seeking spiritual purpose then simply take what you already have and expand it. You were a Christian so take the desire to understand God and expand it to a desire to understand the Universe, take the desire to understand the Bible and expand it to the desire to understand culture, take your desire to understand what is right and wrong and expand it to understanding the psycho-neurological processes involved in judging something as being right or wrong.
You may feel that you no longer have a purpose you had as a Christian but the truth is that purpose is still there and actually has very little to do with religion, you're feeling a bit lost because you're in a state of transition. Like everything in the Universe, you too are also changing, that doesn't rob you of purpose it just creates the opportunity to change your purpose along with yourself.

Freefromgod's picture
Thank you all for your posts.

Thank you all for your posts. They have been helpful, I've always had a deep desire to understand the universe and find meaning in that understanding. Previously I searched for that understanding in religion, but after finding each religion I investigated full of holes that I just couldn't accept I decided to look to people who dedicated their lives to using reason, critical thinking, and the scientific method to understand reality. Finding meaning and purpose seems to be a personal journey, but it could be useful to familiarize oneself with the discoveries of great thinkers and philosophers of the past and present. I think finding a purpose that is both personal and bigger than oneself can be quite fulfilling and provides a focus for our energy.

Wecx's picture
The purpose of life is to

The purpose of life is to obtain maximum happiness possible without infringing on the happiness of others. Life is only valuable because of death, if you live forever in heaven then life truly becomes meaningless on this earth.

Freefromgod's picture
Yes, the maximum happiness.

Yes, the maximum happiness. This is not hedonism (which is maximum pleasure). Its more Epicurean, and makes a lot of sense to me. Abraham Maslow built a whole system related to this and a whole branch of psychology is dedicated to it, positive psychology. There is plenty of scientific backing to this approach as being both useful to the individual and society.

Tao DeVine's picture
If you desire a bit of

If you desire a bit of history concerning man's perceptions of himself, as well as the emergence of materialism and modern science then I would certainly suggest reading The Soul Made Flesh by Carl Zimmer. Only by understanding how our modern precepts developed can we truly acknowledge the giants upon whose shoulders we stand.

xenoview's picture

Welcome to AR! Are you an Atheist? Religion controls the way you think. Now you are free from the guilt and shame of sin, and the fear of hell. Life has meaning without religion, all religion can do is offer an afterlife, an afterlife you must have faith that it is real. No religion can ever prove that their god or gods are real. No religion can prove there is an afterlife. As science learns more about life, nature, and the universe, religion begins to shrink and lose followers.

faith in God follower's picture
to freefromgod: what you are

to freefromgod: what you are telling us is that you are not really free at all! You are searching for something, My recommendation to you is fill yourself with jesus Christ. Immense yourself in the spirit of the living god. Why don`t you volunteer at a shelter or a local soup kitchen or join a bible study. You see it`s when we really do in to others that we really find fulfillment in this life. life isn`t in things we accumulate it is what we give of out time of ourselves. Material things like Jesus once said they decay and on fleeting but if you store up riches in heaven, That`s what counts here. So I pray for you and hope the best for you, feel free to contact me thru this site whenever you wish.

Algebe's picture
Science Follwer:

Science Follower:

Why do you think we need Jesus to find fulfillment by helping others? Riches here on Earth are resources that can be used to make the world a better place. Don't you think doing good to store up riches in heaven is a bit selfish and hypocritical? How about doing good because it's the right thing to do? In any case, "riches in heaven" are just a pie in the sky.

LogicForTW's picture
Are you trying to convince

Are you trying to convince someone that sign on name is literally "free from god" to accept your god and his son? Maybe if you had actual real evidence of your god, but you don't other than "good feelings."

Also this is the atheist hub, not the debate forums, as an atheist hub we should not be subject to proselytizing here. I respect theist only discussion boards and do not discuss atheist topics there or try to convert theist there. Why can't you do the same?

mykcob4's picture
You are not allowed in this

You are not allowed in this section science follower. You are not an atheist.

SecularSonOfABiscuitEater's picture


Freefromgod's picture
I appreciate all the support.

I appreciate all the support. I feel liberated to discover my own meaning and purpose in life rather than have them dictated to me. I am also grateful that there is a rich history of men and women who used reason, critical thinking, and the scientific method to navigate their own journies. Happy travels, fellow atheists!

MCD's picture
You're looking for a reason

You're looking for a reason to live... how about life, liberty and the pursuit if happiness

Deidre's picture
I recently left religion

I recently left religion again and have been sorting things out, and I think it's natural to feel this pull to "replace" religion or faith. Especially Christianity, because that religion teaches that one's faith should be consuming. So when you leave it, life can be scary or like there's a void that needs to be filled. I'm learning to take each day as it comes and enjoy life for what it is without trying to escape into something else. Secular meditation is also helpful as it calms the mind and can help you feel centered. Hope this helps a bit ...I can totally relate to this topic!

Freefromgod's picture
Yes, I have recently went

Yes, I have recently went through a difficult time and secular meditation was very helpful. The book Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat Zin presents solid science on the benefits of meditation. Stay strong, Deidre.

Flamenca's picture
Congratulations on your de

Congratulations on your de-indoctrination! Well done! I've just read 'Waking up: a guide to meditation without religion' by Sam Harris and he has convinced me to try mindfulness (thus meditation) from an atheist point of view. I tried to practice it many years ago, but since it was full of religious bs I finally gave up. On his website there's a couple of guided meditation examples for free.

Lemna Minor's picture
If you need a quest, why not

If you need a quest, why not make atheism, critique of religion or secularism a purpose? Too few people write friendly scepticist blogs, or educate people on the fallacies of religion - there are a few, but not enough, especially not many nice ones, that are kind of easy to understand and accept when you are still a believer or partly a believer. Most people just rant or write spiteful - others, mostly thosw who never were religious, write too respectful, not daring to challenge the right to propagate any myth as truth ..
You could write about your journey, what brought you to outgrow religion, you could write small essays on research into origins of myths and historical origins of bible etc. and about your quest to find a purpose for your life. It is good to have a purpose and personal mission in life - I find "simply have fun" a bit shallow, I must admit - a hobby, a goal, a bit of daily learning and growing can make life much richer. Yes, it can be self exploration, studying social dynamics, a hobby.. a diary - lots of things Try it out!

Freefromgod's picture
Funny you wrote that, Lemna.

Funny you wrote that, Lemna. I started looking into WordPress for blogs last night for that very reason. Thanks for the support.

Xeonicus's picture
I know this thread is a week

I know this thread is a week old. I apologize if posting in it is inappropriate. I just wanted to contribute my own thoughts to OP's original query as it was a scenario that I dealt with myself for a long time.

I might suggest reading Nietzsche, his thoughts on nihilism and how you move beyond it. In my mind, there is an acceptance that things are meaningless, there are no values and no purpose. After that, you can either despair or realize that these things still exist, because you create them yourself. In fact, you have always created them (or society imposed them on you). Life is what you make of it. You decide your purpose, you decide your values, and you decide what gives you meaning when you wake up in the morning.

I also see your avatar picture and had one additional comment. Personally, I am a transhumanist. I do maintain a skeptical, level-headed perspective in that regard. I would be lying however if I said I didn't entertain fanciful hopes for what can be achieved in the future. It's entirely possible that in 30 years I will be disappointed with technological advancement. "Rapture of the nerds" as it has sometimes seriously been called, sometimes jokingly. When I am an old man, I will upload myself into the cloud, and if I can't, I will return to star dust.

mykcob4's picture

I don't believe Nietzsche at all. I don't even trust him. I think that he was a very smart brilliant man that got everything wrong.
I don't think that the world around us is of our own construct. I think that is an egotistic view and entirely unrealistic however esoteric it is.
As for finding purpose. It is up to you. Find your purpose. You can make your mark on humanity of just smoke cigars on your porch. In the end, it doesn't matter.
I choose to do both, just the way I roll.


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