(Created before February 7, 2011, last updated March 4, 2016)
I initially wrote this as a note on Facebook. However, I may as well post it here as it may benefit any passer-by who isn't fortunate enough to have me on Facebook.
I was thinking about how to answer this question yesterday. My answer is obvious and simple: we were made by God to glorify Him. But what about the people who don't believe in God per se. What reason would an athiest/agnostic have for living?
I thought about some potential answers, each one of them I shot down for various reasons.
1. Answer: Live for fun. We only have one life, why not live it to the max?
Q: How then could we condemn the youth who go on drinking binges and die of alcohol poisoning? There's nothing wrong with having fun with life! Different people have different ideas of what is "fun."
Q: What about the president of the United States? Do you really want him to have the mindset of living for fun?
If this was the real reason for living, think of the laziness and productivity that would result.
2. Answer: Live to find happiness. This answer is a bit deeper and more well thought out than the "fun" answer. However, what makes one happy?
Q: How could one condemn the psychopath? He is only doing what makes him happy, even if his idea of happiness is twisted.
Q: How could we condemn the cannibal or the polygamist? They are only doing what makes them happy!
Q: How could we condemn the man who spends his family's money gambling? After all, some people are more than happy spending money on stupid stuff.
All in all, finding happiness in and of itself is rather selfish. When God is the source of one's happiness, it works out, as such things as morals are things one strive for, not ignore.
3. Answer: Live to be productive. That way you are leaving the world in a slightly better state than you entered it in.
Q: Not to sound mean or ignorant, as I believe God loves everyone, but what about someone who is mentally handicapped? You know, the people who go through life as vegetables, not being able to do much other than drool. What is the point of their living if the reason for living is to be productive?
Q: How could we condemn the workoholic? The father that is at work too much to appreciate his family (you know, the most popular moral of the story in movies by far)?
Q: How do we weigh something as productive, and something that isn't?
Q: Are we really willing to accept the fact that if we are doing something vain like playing video games or driving around looking at beautiful scenery that we aren't fulfilling our reason for living?
4. Answer: Live for the sake of family/friends. We are getting closer to a more noble answer.
Q: What about the orphan? What about the people with no family/friends? What reason do they have to live?
5. Answer: Live for the sake of other people. So far I'm liking this answer the best. After all, it gives little reason to be selfish, and it makes room for morals. Live because you are improving the quality of life for others, and because other people want you alive. An orphan can therefor find a reason to live just by making life better for their peers. A human vegetable therefor has reason to live because there are people who want them alive, because of a natural instinct to care for the helpless.
Q: Again, are we really willing to accept the fact that if we are doing something vain like playing video games or driving around looking at beautiful scenery by ourselves that we aren't fulfilling our reason for living?
Q: How do we know if we are living to our fullest, whether our productivity at work or our time spent with the family has a greater impact on improving the quality of life for all other people?
So there you have it. I'm stuck: without God, what is the reason for living? Please feel free to help me answer this question, or put in anything that I have missed.