I’ve noticed that a large percentage of the population has an innate psychological drive and need for meaning.
People are terrified of nihilism. They think that nihilism equals certain and permanent debilitating mental depression. Or worse – they expect they would turn into sociopaths if they accept nihilism.
I have no such fear.
I’m happy. Nihilism is fine. There is no contradiction. I treat people around me well, and I’m nothing close to a sociopath.
I don’t need this existential worth that my younger self and every rationalization in most every head craves. I don’t need life after death. I don’t need any god. None of those things are psychologically important in order for me to feel contentedness.
This has been discussed countless times by countless people. Some percentage of us absolutely crave meaning, and invent it, at all costs. Some of us need it much less.
Truth and meaning are very often at odds. Chances are, if you have meaning in your life, either you realize that it is manufactured and you believe it in the same way that you believe in a dream, (exactly like believing in love merely because it’s fun to do and why not?), or you compartmentalize facts so that they can’t rub up against each other in contradiction to your “real” meaning.
If you want to have power in this world, you need to be a systemic thinker. If you are a systemic thinker, you need to let facts fight, regardless of emotional requirements. The big picture takes priority, even over temporary mental breakdowns. Can Casper the Friendly Ghost both fly through walls and catch a ball? Such questions won’t bother you if you allow your mind to compartmentalize facts. This is emotionally convenient, but comes at the cost of a coherent and therefore predictive and influential world view.
Morals and justice and equality and true love and each and every thing that you could ever hold dear are evolved responses. It is not real outside of your head. That’s fine. It’s fine to have these thoughts, and to believe in the dreams we have, if they make us happy.
But if you also want to manipulate reality, I give you permission to also realize and make peace with nihilism. It’s not as scary as people assume. It just takes several decades of constant adjustment. We can watch and get off on the movie, and at the same time know it’s a movie, and delight in why each aspect of the movie moves us. We can understand that our responses are evolved. It’s not a sin to know that there is no such thing as sin. And it’s human to behave humanely, even knowing there is no sin. We are evolved to be happy acting as if there were; we are evolved to get pleasure by contributing socially.
That’s not a bad deal.
No afterlife and no god is not any sort of let down. This mystery is a pretty good deal, for whatever it’s worth, or not worth.