I've been an atheist for a while, and I also don't believe in any kind of afterlife and have yet to be convinced of any supernatural phenomena, and I feel that there may be no "built-in", inherent purpose to the world. I mean, that doesn't make me sad or anything, but I just kind of want to sort it out in my own mind. Do you guys think we're clockwork of a sort?
This is the outworkings of atheism. Atheism as a system can't be liveable. There is no objective purpose, meaning, or value if there is no God. Were nothing more than a collection of atoms predestined to die. To say otherwise would be neglecting or acting inconsistent with the worldview of atheism.
Reality says another story. We have purpose,meaning, and value because God exists.
Ask an atheist. If s/he isn't an existential nihilist, then such persons would not be existential nihilists by necessity.
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Life has purpose, joy, and meaning. Those things are not given to us by a God, or secured by any afterlife. They are endemic to the human experience. We are the ones who give meaning to things. We are the ones who take joy in our lives. We are the ones who decide our purpose. And that's true whether God exists or not.
This idea that atheism leads necessarily to nihilism is nothing but a soundbite that gets circulated in theistic circles. It's meant to paint religion/belief in God as central and necessary to human life, when it is not so.
When we go on holidays, we have fun, and make the most of it. We don't mope around thinking about how this bliss is temporary. It is not atheism that creates existential nihilism, but each individual person's outlook on life. Lack of belief in a deity does not equate to lack of belief in the purpose of life. That is, to find joy, and live it to its fullest.
If there is no higher power, and we simply enter oblivion when we die, doesn't that lend itself quite well to fervent hedonism? If I believed in these things, I would simply revert to a very animalistic sort of lifestyle, viewing the ultimate good to be enjoying oneself and attaining great happiness during our allocation of time on Earth. I feel like many religious people simply have trouble empathizing with atheists because it's such a horrible "sin" in so many religions, which is, of course, ridiculous.
A lack of belief in a god or gods does not preclude someone from finding or seeing intrinsic value in life and living organisms - they are two separate positions and points of view.
The belief in any gods - who cannot be detected in any physical sense and must be accepted on faith - does not have control over how a person perceives the value of other forms of life for which the person can have physical interactions with and come to understand and appreciate as similar and equally as valuable as themselves.