The Paradox Of Nihilism- A Problem For Atheists And Humanists


During my many years of diving into philosophy as an atheist/humanist, I came to a conclusion which many of my fellow atheists have also arrived at- life has no meaning or purpose. The basic tenet of nihilism is that life has no purpose or meaning. There are many forms of nihilism; Moral Nihilism- all moral values are subjective and meaningless Cosmic Nihilism- the universe does not provide any meaning or purpose to human life. Epistemological Nihilism- knowledge does not exist or it is impossible for humans to attain. Existential Nihilism- life has no inherent meaning whatsoever, and that humanity in an individual and collective sense has no purpose The problem with nihilism is a paradox and I thank Joshthefirst, jamesid29 and many christians who pointed this out to me, The paradox can be simply put as- Nihilism says that life has no meaning, if that is true, then there is no objective truth and therefore, nihilism itself has no meaning. Furthermore, a musician once remarked that "that the absence of meaning seems to be some sort of meaning". Many atheists end up being nihilists. When it comes to morality, the christians usually pulverize atheists when it comes to moral nihilism- "if you dont believe in any moral values and say that all morals are subjective, how then can you criticize the bible's morality?" The solution for atheists and humanists The solution starts with knowing what kind of Nihilist you are. An epistomological nihilist would have a harder time with the paradox. In denying knowledge, he or she is contradicting his or her own knowlegde. A cosmic nihilist, can separate a universal/cosmic meaninglessness from the indvidual human's existence. My solution to this paradox is to separate the meaninglessness on a universal level from the logic that exists in the reasoning of the individual human life. What I mean is that, life has no intrinsic meaning and we are a spec of dust in terms of the whole universe but that does not stop us from creating our own purpose. To further explain this, I will use the quantum world to explain. In real life, when you put your finger on something, you are touching it and you can feel it. However, in the quantum world (when view things to a very microscopic level), you are not actually touching anything, there is a space between your finger and what you are touching. In the quantum world, everything thing you are doing becomes meaningless. Does the quantum world change the fact that you are touching something with your fingers? No! What the quantum world analogy explains is that the meaninglessness of a particular thing does not change the reality of another. We are but a speck of dust in the cosmos. That does not stop us from existing and functioning in the very speck of dust that we call our planet. Life might have no grand purpose but that does not change the fact that we exist with reasoning capabilities in a physical world. The fact is that I am not a moral nihilist. I am a cosmic nihilist. Morality is a useful tool when it comes to shaping society. Life might be meaningless in that there is no cosmic purpose but that does not change the fact that our survival and well being depends on our actions- actions towards our fellow human beings and environment. Now, I'm a moral universalist, which is opposed to moral nihilism. I believe in some form of utilitarianism in the sense that the outcomes of our actions are a strong factor in shaping morality for the society. Moral universalism takes the view that some system of ethics can be applied to everyone, irrespective of sex, religion, culture. Moral universalism is another topic for another day.

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