Some people have told me that they tried to find god and believe in him because they were looking for meaning and purpose in the world. But then many religious people have said god is so complex and powerful compared to us we couldn’t begin to understand him, let alone understand his purpose for our existence. So why even search if we can’t possibly understand?
What sort of greater purpose would an all powerful being have for what is essentially an ant farm in comparison to him? Us being like an ant farm to god is one of the only purposes I can think of when reflecting back on history. There’s been a lot of chaos and suffering throughout human history, and those who believe in god often claim he’s all powerful, so it makes me imagine god as someone who likes to watch things burn for his own entertainment, much like reality show fans, only he’s able to do something to stop the chaos but doesn’t.
I think most of the time people say god gives life meaning and purpose because they are parroting the claims of other religious people before them and haven’t thought it through. The only explanation I’ve gotten for god giving things meaning is that it must be the case because of a feeling they have. It’s sort of a variation on the argument for god from design, an attempt to find order in the nature of things that isn’t actually there. I think the line of reasoning that god gives meaning and purpose to life speaks to those who are uncomfortable with settling on “I don’t know” as an answer. This is often referred to as “the god of the gaps argument”, whatever we can’t answer for sure is filled in with “god”. It’s about seeking a relief from the anxiety of existence by slapping a simple answer on things.
I also think god giving all of us meaning and purpose cuts into that whole “god gave us free will” thing, but I’ll save free will for another time. But I’ll at least pose this question, if someone is given a predestined purpose, do they have free will?
To me, the important thing about meaning and purpose is that we all find our own. There’s something much more special and valuable about everyone finding it for themselves than relying on feeling a sense of meaning from religious belief. It’s also one of those instances where I think belief in god as an answer to complex life questions can halt deep thinking.