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Austin Cline

Chickens, Eggs, and the Meaning of Life

By November 24, 2005

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It's common for religious theists to wonder how atheists can have any meaning or purpose in their lives without belief in some sort of god. Atheists, in turn, fail to see why any gods would be necessary for meaning and purpose in life. It's difficult for atheists to convey this because for theists, their god is so fundamentally important.

Alonzo Fyfe, the Atheist Ethicist, offers an interesting parable:

Imagine a distant land, occupied by humans, but whose customs differ from our own. In this land, a young girl faces her eighth birthday. On this special day, her parents give her a small paper box that fits in her hand, and they tell her, ďThis box contains an egg. It is very fragile, and you must take very good care of it. You must keep it with you at all times, but you must always make sure that it never gets too warm. You must keep it from being struck or dropped, because if this happens the egg will surely break.Ē

These egg boxes are made at a temple. There is an elaborate ceremony in which a priest puts a box together according to time-honored rituals. It is sealed shut then, with a prayer, it is said that an egg enters this world from a land beyond space and time. However, if the box is ever opened or the egg is damaged, it will return to the land from which it came.

If the egg survives until death of its owner, the personís essence will enter the egg. When the egg returns to its own land, it will carry that essence with it.

Thatís just the beginning of the story ó you should follow the link above and read the entire piece. Itís really well written and conveys a great deal. I donít know if it will make an impact, but I certainly hope that it does.

 

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