[Note: When I first gave up Christianity, because I knew it wasn’t the right belief system (based on contradictions and such), I had to redefine myself. This article was how I went about it. It outlines what amounted to a deistic belief system, which I followed for a time. Eventually, I came to believe that even deism didn’t quite define the universe as it is; therefore, I became an agnostic, then atheist. Such is life. I post this for those who may wish to know a step on the path to where I am now, even though this particular step didn’t use logic and reason as strongly as I thought at the time, about fifteen years ago.]
Assume that the universe is as vast and complex as it seems. Also, it seems apparent that this is by design and not by accident, but let us assume that it is none the less. If it is not an accident then somehow it was designed or purposed by something. There are many names for this, but let us call this creator, God, or if preferred Life, The Eternal Source. Whether the creation of the universe was instantaneous or as a growth process is not important for this discussion.
Therefore, life in the physical realm must have meaning. All life has meaning, especially the life of a sentient being such as man. This is because a sentient has a self-awareness that most other life does not seem to have.
Every sentient has a purpose in its life, a goal which is approved by the Eternal Source. All sentients should, therefore, strive for this goal. Life which as reached this goal, life which has lived well is rewarded for its experience. Life which has not lived well is not rewarded. Whether or not there is punishment for these is immaterial, for ideally, life strives for the ideal, the goal for its own sake, not out of fear of punishment. How is life rewarded? Is there a heaven, a nirvana, a reincarnation? Does it matter? Perhaps the experience itself is the reward. Only know that those who have lived well are rewarded.
What is living well? Living well must include a belief in a value of the self, for if all things have a purpose, then the self must have value. From this value of self comes a like value for others. The violation of another’s self-hood becomes a violation of one’s own self. One’s beliefs of mankind includes the beliefs of one’s self-hood. So living well includes the non-violation of others.
One of the values of sentience is the ability to choose one thing over another. This allows for an endless creativity in any realm. Sentients of any species can also choose to deny their own existence, their own life. To do so temporarily can enrich a life – wake it up so to speak. To do so all the time is to enter a living towards death or non-existence. In such a state, all things are negative. There can be no further growth of the individual until it chooses to reaffirm its own existence.
The life of an individual often has a purpose that is suited to the
individual. The individual for a large part has chosen the path of
purpose and meaning he hollows. This is the creativity and beauty of
Each species has a general pattern of living, a set of rules governing the species, which often have a great deal of flexibility. For one to live in direct opposition to any of these results in at least the violation of the self, if not also the violation of others.
If a race requires food for self-perpetuation, then the regarding of
food as evil will manifest as a violation of the self. Every sentient requires learning for growth. To deny the value of learning is to doom oneself to ignorance and apathy. If a race requires two sexes for self-perpetuation, then sexual relations not requiring two sexes is a violation of the self. It is also then questionable if a chaste sentient has violated itself. If this self-restriction somehow enhances the purpose and meaning of others, if it has a life giving value to others, then it can not be a violation of the self. If this brings no enhancement to self or others then it is a violation.
With the value of the individual comes personal integrity, an honesty with the self. And this integrity also applies to others, for they too should have value and integrity. Therefore to live well includes both an honesty with self and with others.
This value of self and others leads directly to what is called the
Golden Rule. The rule being to treat others with the same value and
integrity as one should treat oneself. Or as it is said, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you..’ Often this is twisted in a negative way to say, ‘Do to others [evil], before they do it [evil] to you.’ It is obvious that those who follow the latter do not understand the value and integrity of the self.
Therefore, to live well, one must first value its own existence. From that springs the value of others, and the value of all life. If this is done, one will not violate either oneself or others. And finally, one must strive to realize a goal, a purpose that is derived from those values.
[Congratulations for making it through this… seems a little obtuse now, doesn’t it?]