Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936) an English classical scholar and poet captured
the meaningless of life in a naturalist worldview in this brilliant poem :.
Tell me not here, it needs not saying Tell me not here, it needs not saying, What tune the enchantress plays In aftermaths of soft September Or under blanching mays, For she and I were long acquainted And I knew all her ways. On russet floors, by waters idle, The pine lets fall its cone; The cuckoo shouts all day at nothing In leafy dells alone; And traveller's joy beguiles in autumn Hearts that have lost their own. On acres of the seeded grasses The changing burnish heaves; Or marshalled under moons of harvest Stand still all night the sheaves; Or beeches strip in storms for winter And stain the wind with leaves. Possess, as I possessed a season, The countries I resign, Where over elmy plains the highway Would mount the hills and shine, And full of shade the pillared forest Would murmur and be mine. For nature, heartless, witless nature, Will neither care nor know What stranger's feet may find the meadow And trespass there and go, Nor ask amid the dews of morning If they are mine or no.
To this, atheist zoologist Richard Dawkins’ sum up brilliantly:
“We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA. … This is exactly what we are for. We are machines for propagating DNA, and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object’s sole reason for living.”1
“DNA neither cares nor knows. DNA just is. And we dance to its music”2
Meaningless. All is meaningless if atheism is true. Our sole reason for living is to reproduce, pass on my genes to another meaninglessness gene. Meaningless generations dancing to meaningless music.
You may be tempted to created your own subjective meaning. Self-delusion yourself to fight despair.The Meaning Delusion. But that would not do. If atheism is true, creating your own subjective meaning is meaningless.
For this I cry out:
As the Universe grow cold,
It meaningless becomes old,
Was its meaning not told,
Yes, but the wise are old,
While their young’s are cold,
When should I unfold
Its meaning again to be told
- Royal Institution Christmas Lecture, ‘The Ultraviolet Garden’, (No. 4, 1991)
- November 1995’s Scientic American p.81-85