This article is part of series on what I have termed the 'atheist godless type' (AGT). This article's primary concern is to dispense with, once and for all, any pretense to 'meaning' the world views of the atheist godless types feign to provide.

The introduction to the series of articles.

Other articles in this series:

In the delightful adventure story immortalized in the film The Princess Bride, the character of Vizzini uses the word 'inconceivable' in a variety of malapropisms which indicate that he neither understands the meaning nor has knowledge of the suitable context in which the word is to be used. At some point, the character of Inigo Montoya gently upbraids him by saying: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." I had cause to be reminded of the foregoing in thinking about how AGTs use (or rather, misuse) the word 'meaning.' The concepts of 'meaning,' like 'morality,' are not only pathological, but unresolvable issues for the AGT. Because the AGT world view entails only ad hoc meaning, i.e., no meaning at all, it is understandable that they would make so many mistakes in their use of that word. If the consequences weren't so terrible, the statements they make in an effort to prop up various façades of meaning would be laughable. Or, if the mistakes were simply semantic in nature on unimportant matters, we could take it as seriously as we take other aspects of language: important, but not essential to the staving off of the destruction of civilization. Unfortunately, we can't treat it so because in the diabolical mindset behind their misuse of this word, there's no comedy, no happy conclusion: only increasing misery, death, and savagery1I.e., the decline and ruin of civilization. wherever the AGT world view gains a foothold.

'Meaning' is an inflected form of the transitive verb 'mean.' Both Webster's Unabridged and the 2nd Edition of the OED define it as essentially: to have in mind especially as a purpose or intention (italics added). For there to be meaning, there must be a mind, and there must be a purpose or intention within that mind as regards something. When sensible people speak of a 'meaningful life,' their intent is to convey that the life to which they refer was lived (or is being lived) with purpose towards the achievement of some end goal that is estimable or worthy. For those yet living, it remains unknown whether the goal will be reached, but at any moment, the life being lived can be held up to a standard and judged. Whether a life is meaningful or not absolutely depends upon a standard that is external to the life being appraised. That standard cannot encompass the accidentals of life such as locale and accessories. It must have to do with the permanent things such as that which is good or evil and there must be a mind present with knowledge of the life lived. Only the most unhinged among us would declare that a life lived perpetuating evil was a life rich with meaning. But then again, it is the unhinged AGTs of the world who proclaim that 'good' and 'evil' are merely emanations of a burbling cauldron of electrochemical processes taking place in the cranial vault of the human animal, and so it at least follows that they would affirm such a malignant statement.

A fool might say "My life is meaningful because I say it is." Another fool might say "I have come up with a different standard of meaning and therefore I reject your basis of meaning and declare that my life is meaningful." A wise person might say "I have done my best to live a life that has been meaningful in the eyes of the Creator." If each person is free to define 'meaning' as each one sees fit, then a 'meaningful life' becomes meaningless, for each will be an ad hoc definition. Even if a particular man, in a particular place, at a particular time declares that 'such and so' is what leads to a 'meaningful life,' it will still be an ad hoc definition, and that same man can change it for himself at any time. His definition could end up being lost, it could be forgotten, and then some other man could come along and promulgate some other definition that 'so and such' is what leads to a 'meaningful life.' This approach to 'meaning' is akin to giving each person license to create their own personal dictionary where they can choose to define words as they see fit. Of course, for some words there might be a consensus that arises from time to time, but even if only a measly ten percent go around with their own dictionaries insisting that everyone else incorporate their unhinged definitions, it would be utter chaos. Constantly. Try to imagine what large-scale projects could be undertaken and completed successfully where each person was allowed to bring their own little dictionary by which they abided and expected others to do so. The answer is zero. This is why there has never been a civilization promulgated and built by the atheist godless types: it's inherently impossible. In case it's not clear, consider the word 'brave:' if everyone can define it as they see fit, then essentially, every act is a brave one as long as there's someone around to call it so.

To put the final nail in the coffin of any pretense to meaning proffered by the AGTs, consider that there have been an estimated 110 billion human beings who have ever lived. Some sources put the number closer to 120 billion. For the purposes of this discussion, it is immaterial. How many of those lives do we have detailed records of each and every day of their life including all actions taken or not taken? For the sake of attempting to conform to 'the external is all that matters' perspective of the AGTs, we'll have to pretend that thoughts and motives are irrelevant because they're even less knowable than are each and every action of every human individual. My guess would be the number is infinitesimal. Even a thousand would be a rather liberal estimate, but let's increase that a thousandfold and make it a million. This means that we would be able to make an appraisal as to whether those lives were 'meaningful' for less than 1/10,000 of 1% of those who are currently living or once lived. What standard would be used? How would it be agreed upon? Would those we are appraising understand our yardstick of meaning? Whatever standard happened to be chosen, it would by definition be ad hoc if defined by a mere human being. But then that leaves 109,999,000,000 people about whom no statement of meaning could ever be proffered. What if they had the misfortune to live in a time and place where atheist godless types had their ears and told them they could define their own meaning? The cruel reality is that their lives would be by definition (and ironically) meaningless. Of those who have lived and died, who are currently living and who will one day die, and those not yet born who will die one day, essentially nothing will be known as to what kind of life they led by any human being ever. Were they a good parent, a faithful son or daughter, were they hard workers or lazy, did they help or cheat their neighbors, were they brave or cowardly, were they the type who helped to establish and build civilization, or were they an atheist godless type who ushered in and accelerated the destruction of it? Per the previous numerical analysis, if 'meaning' is to have any definition worthy of the name, then for almost all humans who have ever lived, are living, or will ever live, 'meaning' or lack thereof cannot be ascribed to their lives if one adopts the AGT world view. The only mind that can ascribe 'meaning' and 'purpose' is the mind of God. If there is no mind with knowledge of a person's life and an eternal standard by which to measure it, then it is obvious that any protestations of meaning that the AGT might make are purely a figment of the fancy, a pure, unadulterated fiction that is not even worth the dust that 100+ billion human bodies have returned to the earth upon their deaths.

Summarizing the previous:

  • For the vast majority of human beings who have lived, are living, or will live, nothing is known or can be known about them as individuals by any human being.
  • Further, in the world views of the atheist godless types, there is no eternal standard by which a meaningful life can be gauged.
  • Hence, statistically speaking, according to the world views of the atheist godless types, it is an impossibility for any human life to have had meaning.

Absent a mind, an unchangeable standard, and knowledge of an individual's life, the determination of meaning is impossible. It is as futile for the atheist godless type to speak of a 'meaningful life' as it is for them to open their mouths about morality.

All of the preceding, is by definition, meaningless and inscrutable according to the atheist tenets. That, coupled with the so far insurmountable metaphysical challenge facing AGTs, leads ineluctably to the confirmation that as stated from the outset, there's absolutely no purpose in attempting to discuss 'meaning' with them. The AGTs even agree that they present no cogent view of living a meaningful life, for in a conference named Moving Naturalism Forward attended by Sean Carroll, Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, Terrence Deacon, Simon DeDeo, Owen Flanagan, Rebecca Goldstein, Janna Levin, Massimo Pigliucci, David Poeppel, Nicholas Pritzker, Alex Rosenberg, Don Ross, and Steven Weinberg, when the topic of the panel turned to 'meaning,' every single panelist was either as silent as a stone or simply fumbled about a bit, with the result being that the best that could be enunciated is that it is a real challenge which they need to overcome and that they have to come up with 'something' to combat the Christian proposition that the lives of all human beings are stamped with the imprimatur of the Creator.

If an AGT ever solves the threefold problem, or if one encounters an AGT and wants to share the Christian perspective on how their lives are imbued with meaning, the following could serve as an outline:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Genesis 1:27

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 1:28

God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

John 1:1-5

But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

Matthew 12:36-37

And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

Luke 16:26

First, God created what we consider to be the universe. Subsequent to that he created man in His image and unlike everything else He had created, He blessed him. In the process of creating the universe and all that is in it, at each stage God said that it was 'good.' Only after He had created man, blessed him, and given him dominion over the earth, did He declare that it was 'very good.' Finally, we are told that God identifies Himself with language. This grants a holiness and separateness to language which cannot be overstated nor overemphasized, especially in this time of decline. It is this that explains why it is that to the Christian words matter: every word spoken is infused and suffused with that which is ineffable and inestimable. That there is an accounting for every idle word lends it all the more gravity. It is no mere coincidence that the study of languages in general and standards of English in particular have fallen with the ascendancy of the atheist godless world view. In fact, the whole educational enterprise is on the brink of irrelevancy if not collapse. Just as there is an infinite chasm that exists between the AGT and the Christian as regards their status with the Almighty, there is also an infinite chasm between the AGT and the Christian as to the meaning and relevance of words and life.

To the unhinged mind of the godless it's all too simple. To state it is simple. To cast aspersions upon it and deride it is also simple. But to live it takes constancy, reflection, concentration of will, humility, energy of soul, repentance, submission, and none of those are easy. For the godless types, they're impossible.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Matthew 22:39

Super easy to state. Inversely proportional in difficulty to obey!

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