I am an atheist. I came to the conclusion that as a result there is no express purpose in the world. Unlike you people I don't perceive this as a bad thing, the purpose of my life is to further the human race in whatever way possible. That doesn't mean that I'm about to go commit suicide or discredit Ghandi. It just means that I make my purpose is to further human as well as my own goals and quality of life. If that makes me a humanist then I suppose the answer to this question is no, but I would consider this to be nihilism.
When constrained within the framework of naturalism, the inevitable conclusion of all species is that we will cease to exist. The implications of such a worldview leads to nihilism. Our behaviors are unrelated to our destiny, so why live like a Mother Teresa as opposed to a Ted Bundy? The efforts of good people everywhere to better the lot of the human race, all comes to nothing. Does it really matter if we ever existed or not? Does it really matter if our species dies out? Even if we reached the pinnacle of technological advancement, we must answer the simple, two-word question we tend not to ask ourselves. “Then what?” We are the accidental by-product of nature - the result of matter, plus time, plus chance. There is no reason for our existence. Anything and everything is insignificant in an indifferent universe.
Not every atheist is a nihilist, but every atheist who is intellectually honest and understands philosophy is. If there is no greater power, nothing beyond this life, then there is no MEANING, and thus the atheist must necessarily be a nihilist in order to be honest. (To clarify, we're talking about your stereotypical atheist, Dawkins fans and the like, not Buddhists, for example, who believe in a proper "greater meaning" and spirituality.)
Atheists who should know better but still aren't nihilists are simply in denial -- usually because, deep down, they know there's something horribly wrong with nihilism (or at least they know they can't defend it; many atheists I've dealt with actually are nihilists but they hide this fact until it's dragged out of them).
The deniers will say "we create our own meaning," "we find meaning in being good people," etc. etc. But that's nonsense. Inventing a meaning for yourself -- in your own head -- is NOT the same as there actually BEING a meaning. Not by the definition of meaning used here.
Those who make that argument are engaged in equivocation (a fallacy), at best.
What I think of atheism (not atheists): If there is no God (as a creator), then the world seemingly *just* exists. If it *just* exists, then we (as humans, who is merely part of the universe) *just* exist ultimately. Simple enough?
If we *just* exist, then we have no objective (mind-independent) purpose, meaning, and values for our existence. Only such we can have (assuming we are rational and creative beings) are subjective (or personal) purposes, meanings, and values. In other word, if there is no God who created the world and us, He cannot be the source of purpose, meaning, and value (since He doesn't exist). We are the source of them, but to what end? Whatever purpose it is that we come up with, the universe (apart from us) would be indifferent and will do things as it did before.
The universe is almost certainly (if only natural forces exist to do what it does now) going to end in a heat death. Not only that but humans are certainly apt to die. If the universe *just* exists, then our lives are as a result futile. Who cares if we live like mother Teresa or Hitler, we are going to the same direction. This was a long exposition to my reasoning on how atheism logically connects to nihilism.
Here's something to think about/fuel the discussion. Most of us live as if our lives have meaning and purpose to it. Is this better explained by atheism (in general) or theism?
If there is no God or immortality of any kind, then life is inherently meaningless. Atheists will often counter that "we should enjoy life". I'm not debating that, I fully intend to enjoy my life. But if there is nothing more, then my life is purposeless. In fact, I'm surprised atheists are so militant and annoying. If I truly believe there was nothing more than this short life, I sure as hell wouldn't spend it debating "those naughty theists". What would be the point of that. I'm on the fence about God and immortality, but like all normal people I hope there is something, else I become a nihilist.
The very title "atheist" only comes off as stupid and annoying. People who say they don't believe in God often run into information that confirms cosmic significance, and yet count that off as otherwise. They say that life is random and that there's no real moral standard, and yet when death ensues, all this blame is put on Christianity. They'd much rather that God didn't exist, and that life had no meaning.
I realize this doesn't apply to everyone, but atheism has no solid moral framework, and no eternal consequences for your actions. So basically, atheism gives you the freedom to conduct yourself as you please. Many people abuse this right, and that's why atheism can lead into nihilism. And atheism can lead into other more nihilistic philosophies such as solipsism, or vice versa. (Thankfully that doesn't happen nearly as often.
The belief that there is no god leads to the conclusion that humans are simply on earth because of evolution. This means that our existence has no purpose. In other words, no one "placed" us here so that we could achieve some great and final goal. We only exist because we are alive.
Unless the atheist believes in some other "source" of "absolute morality" or "objective meaning" that they do not consider to be a "god," then he/she is certainly a moral and existential nihilist. I think the two are very often related, as the atheist often rejects the gods of the religious and their attempts to project their personal preferences on the rest of the world under the guise of "morality." I have personally never heard an atheist make a case for either meaning or morality as anything more than man-made concepts. Furthermore, existential and moral nihilism are the rejection of these concepts on a universal scale as things that exist apart from humanity.
If God is dead, man is dead too. Any self-generated purpose is simply an illusion.
The set containing "1. Atheism is true" and "2. Life has a purpose" is formally inconsistent, in a broadly logical sense.
Practically this can be understood by any attempt on the part of an atheist to answer the question "Why am I here?". I propose that all answers result in an inconsistency with their worldview.
Your god isn't so great that people of other faiths need it in order to have purpose in their lives.
It's not so great that atheists lack purpose and meaning without it either.
How can you find purpose and meaning in your life without investing in fanciful mythology?
Simple: stories don't create meaning; wisdom and kindness do.
And no faith has a monopoly on those.
Basically nihilism can be caused by believing in the theory of evolution- one of the definitions of nihilism is "A belief that we are all 'thrown' into a universe searching for meaning and purpose" nihilism has some of the same meanings as atheism - but just because you're atheist, doesn't mean you will become nihilist. Another cause of nihilism (other than the theory of evolution) could be depression, or other mental disorders.
Are atheists existential nihilists? I think many atheists are existential nihilists to some extent because there is no outer purpose that dictated the meaning of life. But I think many atheists are not moral nihilists. So many people believe that if there is no divine influence that crapped out objective morality then morality is meaningless and cannot exist. Morality only exists because people made it in the first place. So yes atheism leads to existential nihilism
I do not believe that atheism leads to nihilism. Nihilism is, by definition, totally rejecting all laws and institutions. Atheism is only a rejection of matters of faith, which is believing in something without any compelling proof. An overwhelming majority of atheists in our society still respect the rule of law, which does have compelling proof that it maintains order. So the former doesn't necessarily lead to the latter.
Atheism is the lack of belief in a God or gods. That is it. The claim is: "A god exists." If you agree, you are a theist; if you do not, you are an atheist. Full stop. End of paragraph. Atheism does not address purpose; it addresses a single proposition: Is there a God?
I'm an Atheist, and while there might not be any objective meaning to my existence besides continuing to exist, I can, and do, find my own meaning in existence(subjective). But even if we grant for sake of discussion that Atheism necessarily leads to belief in nothing and that all is pointless(Nihilism), that doesn't make theism or an afterlife true by default, nor does it even make either one believable. To an Atheist, the question is moot.
Atheism is not believing in any type of deity. Nihilism is not believing in anything. Most atheists live happy and normal lives in comparison to their religious neighbors. Not believing in a deity is like not believing in Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny. A deity was never important in their life so it does not bare the same disappointment if one were to find out that their respective god did not exist.
Nihilism is the belief that everything is pointless or meaningless, but does not necessarily exclude the reality of a deity, Atheism, on the other hand is a belief that there is no god or supernatural forces. Atheists do not necessarily believe, however, that everything is pointless and meaningless, Atheists can find value and worth in many things. The two are not the same or on the same spectrum of philosophy.
Atheism is the belief that there is no God or Satan; no Heaven or Hell. Nihilism is the belief that life is senseless and pointless. Atheists never claim to believe that the lives they lead are in turn pointless, only that discussion of life after death is pointless. Nihilists do not believe that the contributions they have made today will make an impact on tomorrow.
However, it depends on what is meant by 'nihilism.' When I use the term I mean, "a belief that everything is without meaning or purpose." An atheist can have meaning and purpose in their lives, although it is not often considered to be an ultimate or transcendent purpose. Therefore, since atheists can create meaning and purpose in their lives, and because nihilism is the belief that everything is without meaning or purpose, the two do not always go hand in hand.