Existential nihilism, life is without meaning, we are all dust in the wind. Again, when we lived in a more religion-fueled society, life’s “meaning” could simply be found in God, and many folk’s “meaning” still is. But for all the rest, who do not believe in a higher power, afterlife, or grand scheme, it is easy to see how they would find life completely lacking in objective meaning, or significance. After all, a lack of cosmic “meaning” is what we see all around us constantly. Countless living things die every day, and it does not impact much of anything. When we look to the stars and see how big everything really is, and how small we are in comparison, it is not unusual to feel insignificant. Especially for those who do not believe in a divine being, who do not have the faith that someone is watching out for them or that there is a celestial plan for them personally. There are many people who say things along the lines of “How can someone look at all this (nature) and not think it has a purpose?” But in my opinion, there is something a little bit romantic about the meaninglessness of life. If one stops and considers all that has been accomplished by us humans (not just in the grand scheme of humanity, individuals as well), the amazing things we have built and how far we have come on our own, it sounds almost impossible. And the thought that we did it, not for the plan of some divine god, but just because we can, is incredible. We have accomplished more than any other form of life (that we know of), and it was for absolutely no reason at all.
To finish up, I wanted to talk about the negative stigma on nihilism and nihilists. When someone comes along and says “Morality is arbitrary, life is meaningless, I believe in nothing” they are automatically seen as crazy, or just plain wrong. There is this cultural stigma on nihilists where they are seen and portrayed as “bad” people, who want to do “bad” things and use the belief in non-believing as an excuse to get away with it. When most hear the word “nihilist” they envision someone who is just depressed, antisocial and whose life is full of debauchery and sin.
Whereas, in reality, a nihilist is someone who accepts the way life is, and is able to live anyway. While there might not be an objective morality or meaning that does not mean that there cannot be found a subjective morality or meaning. Different societal norms dictate what is moral (lawful), and there are many versions of those, all subjective. All dependent on one’s location and culture. You can choose not to believe that your life is special and created for a specific purpose and still find importance and meaning in yourself and what is around you. Some find that meaning in family and friends, food, music, love. There is no reason that subjective should mean lesser, who can say an objective meaning to life is more meaningful or more important than a subjective one?