I have been told (following my previous article) that the only viable option for an honest non-believer is effectively a depressing life. Such a conception is one of those which I would really like to write against because I believe it to be entirely false.
I guess that ultimately the main reason behind such claim is the fact that non-believers do not generally believe in a purpose to life. Thus, some would claim, they do not have any basis on which to direct their lives. While this reasoning may sound fine, the problem I find with this argument is the assumption that without a purpose you do not have a direction. On the contrary, I believe that a direction does not require a purpose, just as the design of the universe did not require a designer but an evolution. Natural evolution is in fact an example where you clearly have a direction but not a goal. Who knows where evolution would eventually lead to? Who could have imagined our sophisticated intelligence a few million years ago?
Basically, what you need to have a direction is some kind of movement or change and a notion of what is better. In the case of evolution you have random mutations which provide the “movement” and natural selection which provide the notion of “better”. Similarly, I think that in my life I also have movement, born out of my innate desire to live, and a notion of better: that which is more peaceful, tolerant, liberating, loving, etc is better; that which is based on fear, mediocrity, anger, etc is worse. I think the concept is very similar – if not inspired from – the idea of discernment of St Ignatius of Loyola.
As for me, this is how I wish to live my life: like a child fully immersed in a game: enthusiastically participating, taking risks, tiring to get better at it, but with no clear goal or purpose. The beauty of this game is incredible! It is also a part of the larger game of the universe in its direction towards ever increasing sophistication. Through us, the universe is self-conscious! Through our thoughts, we are evolving the universe further and further.
While this gives me direction, still I do not have a purpose. I think the best metaphor for this idea is a never ending game: it has a notion of better, it is exciting, it may be challenging, it may be taken seriously, it may be exhausting, but you play it for the fun of it.
The fact that this game knows no end is what makes it even more beautiful! Eventually, when the times comes for me to stop playing the game, while knowing the game is not yet over because others will continue playing it (hopefully also using my contribution to improve the overall score), I shall be happy that I have had my turn in playing the game.