Meaning of Life – Without a God

At best, I really do not like the winter holiday season. Not because of the Christian overemphasis on retail sales instead of their religious creeds, or the religious aspect itself, but because I never really celebrated Chanukah, or Christmas, or Festivus, and rarely celebrated a New Years.

At worse, I hate it. Despise is a better word… No hate is good here.

Most of my celebrations as a kid were spent in my dad’s bicycle store, trying to find solitude after 6-weeks of noise, customers and whining family members who became my father’s “forced labor.” That meant quiet contemplation in the then empty basement.

The end of the season, the celebration of the circumcising of Jesus, New Years Day for the rest of us, demands that we set personal goals, “resolutions,” for the coming year. Most are without imagination – weight loses, new job, new spouse, old spouse, no spouse, going back to school, finally graduating from school, et cetera.

Most, if not all, of these self-promises will be broken within 48-hours of 12:01 am, January 1. If you are a member of one of the Abrahamic religions, you are committing a sin by breaking a promise – even to yourself. Shame, shame.

I am not in fear of such a sin. First because I am an atheist and the moral codes of biblical law seem silly to me. I do not think I could stone my wife for adultery. Divorce her, yes. Cause any physical harm? Maybe to her lover…

Yet, my moral code does say “don’t break a promise, even to yourself” and doing so is simply wrong.

World peace and harmony for nations and religions is a goal can never be kept nor obtained. If fact, there is no way to achieve this lofty goal. Even atheists disagree with each other on how one should practice their (our) unbelief. Is that anything like an Uncola?

Star TrekThe ideal planet as imagined by Gene Roddenberry and Star Trek, where atheism and rationalism are the majority beliefs, where nations have become one under the “Federation,” and weather is controlled by man, is just too farfetched to occur in our, our children’s, grand children’s, great-great-really great grand children’s life times. My crystal ball doesn’t go further than that.

Many of the traditions, including those of making resolutions, go a long way back, many from the Greeks and Romans, some from the Sumerians and Egyptians. As we all know, though there are a few who will never admit, most Christian holidays were usurped from Pagan and Druid festivals. Not to place blame here…

I believe that my personal tradition of drinking a dram of honey mead and running around the house, outside, three times at midnight on the winter solstice – naked – is just fine for me. At least no one has called the cops. Yet.

No pictures either. “Tanks gawd!” (Said in a Yiddish accent.)

In fact, I think we demand too much of ourselves this one day of the year. We are taught not to let go and simply “be.” Most of us, and here I do include myself, do not know who “we” are. I ask my students to define themselves without using their jobs as part of the description – most have a very tough time with this assignment.

It took a friend of mine to finally tell me that I am a guru, a sage, a teacher, well before I started teaching college. But that descriptor may be changing, and my friend and I have been long separated through moving and time. I still think of myself as a sage, but through multi-media instead of just the classroom or on a one-to-one basis.

So who are you and, may be more important, why are you that person? It is a hard question to answer and maybe that should be the only “goal” for the new year, to discover who each of us really is.

I have discovered that most do not like to just sit and think, to meditate about the world around them, to contemplate the larger questions of life. Some say atheists do not have the ability or basis to search the question of meaning of life because for them, me, there is not God to answer to, the one who made the “rules” in the first place.

I am still wondering which god or gods those of religion are referring to.

Atheists, I, would take strong exception to that mindset. However, the question of the meaning of life is usually limited to the here and now, not what happens after we die. Nontheists know the answer to that and it is found in an old children’s song: “The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out/ They eat your guts, then they spit them out…”

OK, a bit gruesome.

Painting by Bellini, Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Oh yes. Jesus’ circumcision? Jewish tradition and law requires the male child to be circumcised eight days after birth. If the child Yashua was born at midnight (really 12:01 am to be most accurate) of December 25 (by tradition, not actuality), then the entire day must be counted. Eight days later is January 1. Tada!

And for this you want to party? Oy vey.

So if you want to make unkeepable promises to yourself for the new year, please, knock yourself out. I think I am going to find another bottle of mead, relax in the living room to contemplate life – naked.

I hope this finds you all well and in great spirits for the coming year.

 

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About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place). He is the winner of the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing. He is also an editor and award-winning speaker. His book, "A Christian Nation? An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs" is available on Amazon, com as a paperback and eBook.
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