No God? No meaning?

Hitchens - meaningWe can all get what the late Christopher Hitchens is complaining about here.  The claim that without God, life has no meaning.  There was certainly a lot in his life that must have given him meaning.  There’s a lot in all our lives, regardless of what we believe, that gives meaning.  We ought to be careful not to denigrate what others find makes their lives worth living.

But is that what is meant when we, as believers, say that without God there is no meaning to life?  No, it’s not.  Finding satisfaction in friendships, experience of love, good books doesn’t require belief in God for us.  If you believe that scoring more touchdowns than anyone else gives your life meaning, then it can give someone subjective meaning to their lives.  If you score more touchdowns than anybody, it will indeed give you meaning.  Subjective meaning, though.  That is, the meaning that we ourselves give to our lives.

But without God, that’s the only type of meaning we’ll ever have.  To have objective meaning, you need something outside, larger, and greater than yourself.  Without God, the only meaning or purpose in the universe in that which we assign it ourselves.  Without God, our lives are puffs of vapour that will only have the meaning we attach to them.  Without God, our world and all history is not – can not – be headed in any direction.  Without God, we’re left making good things (friendship, love, irony, humour, parenthood, literature, music, battling for the liberation of others…) into ultimate things.

And it’s in that way, that without God – objective meaning evades us.



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