Hope and Meaning In a Secular World Part 1: How Will You Be Remembered?

One of the strongest supports for the existence of religion is its ability to provide hope and meaning. Even I will admit that religion’s ability to provide hope and meaning is quite good. Religion provides answers to philosophical and existential questions, it provides moral support and social needs too.  Many supporters of religions do rightfully ask unbelievers ‘How does your life have meaning?(although sometimes asked quite smugly). There are many ways  unbelievers find hope and meaning. This blog will explain some of the ways I and other unbelievers find hope and meaning. It will be in 4 parts:

Part1: Secular Immortality

Part 2: Causes

Part 3: The Arts

Part 4: The Natural World

Part 1: Secular Immortality

Some time ago I saw a video in which senator Al Franken reveals Thomas Minnery’s deceit in his testimony before the senate. Minnery had submitted the testimony as part of an effort to fight the potential repealing of the Defence of Marriage Act. Minnery is the Vice President of Focus on the Family a strong anti-gay hate group. After watching the video I wished I could tell Minnery ‘You’re legacy will be one of hate. You will be remembered as someone who stood between people and their right to be happy. You will be remembered as a hate-monger. Mr.Minnery is this really how you want to be remembered?’ I can’t imagine anyone honestly wanting to be remembered this way.

There are only two known ways in which we can live forever: through our kids (in DNA) and in people’s memory. Atheists, humanists and other secularists take pride in knowing that by living an exemplary life now that after we die our immortal life will be a good one .

Your immortal life could  live on in people’s memory for many generations through pictures, videos and word of mouth. After you die you will be there in someone’s memory doing the things they remember you for. What that is is up to you. Would you want your legacy to be one like the Thomas Minnery’s of the world will be?

In our children our immortality is both physical and non-physical. Not only do our children provide us with immortality through their memory of us but through DNA. A physical part of us can and very likely will be passed on for generations.

In conclusion, Humanists take strength from knowing that being kind, caring and all of things that often take great courage and strength will not go to waste. Through other people’s memory’s you and all of the great things about you will live forever. An exemplary life leads to the kind of immortality that not only do we know is possible, but is one worth having.


4 thoughts on “Hope and Meaning In a Secular World Part 1: How Will You Be Remembered?

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  1. Well said on all the Secularist parts, but I have to disagree with some of the praise you give religions. Hope is only really valuable when it’s based on something real. Religions provide false hope, which probably feels the same to the receiver, but I personally find it unethical.

    Depending on the religion, I find them quite limited in adding to philosophical discussions. Christianity for example doesn’t really have a moral system as such. It has moral commandments, but I’m unaware of any part of the doctrine that explains WHY these commandments are moral. I find these kinds of ‘philosophies’ only provide more question without ever really providing a satisfactory answer.

    I also don’t understand how religions provide meaning to life. Supposedly a deity has some kind of plan for you. Okay, so what? Why is this deity’s opinion on how you should spend your life more important than your own? All it really is, is a dictator telling you what to do and think. For some people that seems to be good enough, but I find it significantly less meaningful.


    1. Religion does provide meaning for billions, this is obvious. However you are right that it is hard to understand that when you have exposure to the right kind of information and education. You are also right that the kind of meaning religion provides isn’t the best kind either. However there is no doubt that it does and it’s quite powerful; which, in turn, is far too dangerous tool in the wrong hands.

      P.S. I have been a lot nicer towards religion lately but don’t think my opinion has changed. I still think religion is the result of weaknesses in our psychology and so therefore dangerous. I still think the world would be better off without religion. I have only changed my approach so that the religious understand that I am not the angry atheist that so many think unbelievers must be.


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