If there is no afterlife, then clearly there is no meaning in the life we live now; there is no justification for Hawking to say he wants to do more with his life when ultimately it becomes meaningless.
If there were no eternal consciousness in a man; if, at the bottom of everything, there were only a wild ferment, a power that, twisting in dark passions, produced everything great or inconsequential; if an unfathomable, insatiable emptiness lay hid beneath everything -- what would life be but despair?
Soren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling
PS: your Chrysostom quote is one of my favourites.
Brilliant quote, and thank you.
Its a charity he supports. Maybe he wants some of those kids to have a better life. Or some of the kids of those kids. Or some of the kids of those kids of those kids. Or...
But any sort of charity wouldn't matter, there would be no meaning to be charitable to children who have no meaning whatsoever.
The idea that just because there is no super-duper-eternal-meaning, that that means there can be no meaning at all, is simply not true. And as a sometime agnostic I find this idea you are putting forward (which I hear often) to be frustrating.
It's frustrating because it's true. If God doesn't exist, then all that remains is nihilism. Any atheist who says otherwise is simply kidding themselves
. If there is no such thing as an afterlife, everything we do here on this earthly life has absolutley no objective/absolute meaning whatsoever, and even a subjective meaning is self-refuting when one adopts this worldview. Not only this, but everything is permitted. There would be nothing to stop a man from nuking the whole world without some future judgment.
Do you think I suddenly stop caring for my family when I struggle with believing in God and the concept of eternal meaning?
We are looking at this logically, if there is no meaning at all in life, no absolute meaning, then you have no reason
to take care of your children. None. Any reason that you try to support your argument is delusional, because you could be wrong; this is the fallacy of relativism.
In those moments it's not important to me that my life might not matter a bazillion years from now. What I do in this life might have meaning 10 years from now, and maybe even in some small way (through the family) 100 years from now. That's good enough for me.
But in the 100 year span the whole world ends, what meaning did you give it then? And how will you know your life gave any meaning 10 or 100 years from now, you won't and it simply wouldn't matter what you did.
I think it's unfortunate that you can't or won't accept that such temporary meaning could be important to someone. I say this not to insult you: a number of posters here believe that, and even my own priest--who I much admire--goes along with this basic idea. I just think it's unfortunate.
I want absolutes in life, not ones that are simply temporary or fleeting.
1. there is no God (however so defined); and
2. matter spontaneously self-existed (or whatever variant theory one might wish to confess); and
3. abiogenesis is true; and
4. evolution of species by natural selection is true,
then all human relationships are meaingless biological processes, which are reducible to apparently yet more meaningless chemical processes, which are in turn reducible to apparently yet more meaningless physical processes.
I am not saying this to heap trash on your spiritual struggle, Asteriktos, just saying that the idea that "no God = meaninglessness" is a timeless one and that timelessness is a function of its power.
Post of the month!