I’m often asked, being an atheist, what my motivation in life is. Okay, I’m kidding, nobody’s ever asked me that. But if someone were to ask me why, if I believe there is no purpose to life, I continue to be optimistic about (some) things, continue to believe that people are (basically) good, I would direct them to this wonderful passage-in-verse I found a while ago at Pharyngula:
I believe in time,
matter, and energy,
which make up the whole of the world.
I believe in reason, evidence and the human mind,
the only tools we have;
they are the product of natural forces
in a majestic but impersonal universe,
grander and richer than we can imagine,
a source of endless opportunities for discovery.
I believe in the power of doubt;
I do not seek out reassurances,
but embrace the question,
and strive to challenge my own beliefs.
I accept human mortality.
We have but one life,
brief and full of struggle,
leavened with love and community,
learning and exploration,
beauty and the creation of
new life, new art, and new ideas.
I rejoice in this life that I have,
and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me,
and an earth that will abide without me.
I would also point them to this comic at xkcd, and say I’m the guy in the hat.
For most people, I suppose life is hard enough without the burden of knowing that everything they do is ultimately meaningless; that they are relatively simple collections of goo in an extraordinarily complex universe with nobody pulling the strings to favour them or their existence. I think this might explain why the religious among us get as upset as they do about blasphemy. I do, however, prefer knowing the truth, even if it isn’t entirely pleasant at first, to not knowing the truth and living in false hope. (I also don’t presume to be better at being able to handle the truth than anybody else, which is one reason I’m not averse to arguing with people about belief and non-belief).