Jennifer Fulwiler explains why she converted from atheism to Catholicism, but frankly her explanation makes little sense. She clearly doesn’t understand context and she confuses what she wishes to be true with what actually is true. And it’s all about the meaning of life:
One thing I could never get on the same page with my fellow atheists about was the idea of meaning. The other atheists I knew seemed to feel like life was full of purpose despite the fact that we’re all nothing more than chemical reactions. I could never get there. In fact, I thought that whole line of thinking was unscientific, and more than a little intellectually dishonest. If everything that we call heroism and glory, and all the significance of all great human achievements, can be reduced to some neurons firing in the human brain, then it’s all destined to be extinguished at death. And considering that the entire span of homo sapiens’ existence on earth wouldn’t even amount to a blip on the radar screen of a 5-billion-year-old universe, it seemed silly to pretend like the 60-odd-year life of some random organism on one of trillions of planets was something special. (I was a blast at parties.)
By simply living my life, I felt like I was living a lie. I acknowledged the truth that life was meaningless, and yet I kept acting as if my own life had meaning, as if all the hope and love and joy I’d experienced was something real, something more than a mirage produced by the chemicals in my brain. Suicide had crossed my mind — not because I was depressed in the common sense of the word, simply because it seemed like it was nothing more than speeding up the inevitable. A life multiplied by zero yields the same result, no matter when you do it.
The first part is absolutely true, of course; the entire span of a person’s existence on earth is not even a blip on the radar in the context of the physical and temporal existence of the universe. But just because our lives have no grand, universal meaning doesn’t mean they don’t have any meaning at all. You do not matter to the universe but you certainly matter to the people around you. You can experience joy and sorrow and the full range of emotions, you can make your own life and the lives of others better, reduce their pain and make their lives more happy and more fulfilling. And the fact that you only have a limited amount of time to do this makes it all the more important that you not put it off dreaming of eternal life on a cloud.
But more than this, she is making an is argument out of an ought argument. Even if you think that it would be nice if there was a God to give all of this some grand purpose — and I don’t agree with that premise at all — it doesn’t magically make that reality exist. Even it were true that the lack of a God makes everything we do meaningless, that doesn’t mean you should believe that there is one if there isn’t.
Not knowing what else to do, I followed the well-worn path of people who are trying to run from something that haunts them: I worked too much. I drank too much. I was emotionally fragile. Many of my relationships with other people were toxic. I wrapped myself in a cocoon of distractions, trying to pretend like I didn’t know what I knew.
I’m afraid you’re projecting your own illogical conclusions on everyone else. The notion that life has no grand, universal meaning to the universe does not haunt me at all. It’s just reality, whether we want it to be or not. And I don’t have toxic relationships, nor do I need to pretend not to know what I know. Nor do I drink too much (or hardly at all, for that matter). I do work too much these days, but I work at something I really believe in so I’m okay with that.
Fulwiler has two key problems here: She wants to replace the reality she doesn’t like with a fantasy she does like, and she assumes that everyone else leapt to the same illogical conclusions she did before deciding to indulge in that fantasy.
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