To speak of things happening for a purpose or a good reason presupposes such things as rationality and personality. But an immaterial world cannot provide that. Stuff just happens, and we have to accept it. Speaking of purpose or meaning is foolish in the atheistic worldview. But don’t take my word for it – listen to what the atheists are saying.
There are various versions of what is found in my title. Other formulations would include ‘Nothing happens in life without a reason’. And if something does not take place, a related saying is: ‘It wasn’t meant to be’. We hear these things being said quite often.
Where exactly such sayings first originated is unclear, but they are rather common, especially among non-Christians, although believers can say things like this as well. And those who are into things like the New Age Movement can also toss out these rather trite sayings on a regular basis.
Here I want to look at these sayings in a bit more detail. Mainly I want to look at whether these things make any sense for those with a secular, materialistic, or atheistic point of view. If we all exist without any ultimate purpose or meaning, then to speak about things like reasons or what is meant to be is all rather out of place.
Indeed, to speak of things happening for a purpose or a good reason presupposes such things as rationality and personality. But an immaterial world cannot provide that. Stuff just happens, and we have to accept it. Speaking of purpose or meaning is foolish in the atheistic worldview.
But don’t take my word for it – listen to what the atheists are saying. They constantly make it clear that in their worldview there is no such thing as purpose and meaning. A few representative quotes will suffice here.
“When we reject belief in God we must give up the idea that life on this planet has some preordained meaning. Life as a whole has no meaning.” Peter Singer
“We are children of chaos, and the deep structure of change is decay. At root, there is only corruption, and the unstemmable tide of chaos. Gone is purpose; all that is left is direction. This is the bleakness we have to accept as we peer deeply and dispassionately into the heart of the Universe.” Peter Atkins
“Darwin enabled modern secular culture to heave a great collective sigh of relief, by apparently providing a way to eliminate purpose, meaning and design as fundamental features of the world.” Thomas Nagel
“We may yearn for a ‘higher answer’ – but none exists. . . . We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers for ourselves – from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.” Stephen Jay Gould
When Dawkins was asked about the purpose of life he replied, “Well, there is no purpose, and to ask what it is is a silly question. It has the same status as ‘What is the colour of jealousy’.” Richard Dawkins
“Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear . . . . There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.” William Provine
“Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hope and fears, his loves and beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruin – all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy that rejects them can hope to stand.”