I have been an atheist for some time and I recently realized something that I am curious about. Resulting from depression I have come to see that through resenting myself I create distance with those around me. At the same time I have no purpose to a creator (being an atheist) to live and life seems to become bleak. I began to wonder and feel that the more I begin again to care about people the more I realize how essential they are to an atheist life. When caring about people we find our God or purpose so to speak. Do philosophers say anything about how without God you must care about people to feel like life has purpose beyond hedonism? Any expansion to my question is fine since I am pretty hazy due to feeling down these days. Thanks

As a theist, I would love to welcome you back, but in all honesty I suggest that atheistic philosophers have worked quite hard to argue that life without God can be deep and satisfying and while pleasurable not hedonistic. In fact, one member of this panel, Louise Antony has edited a book called Philosophers without God which you might find hopeful and uplifting. You might also look for Robert Solomon's Spirituality for the Skeptic or The Really Hard Problem:: Meaning in a Material World by Owen Flanagan. Some atheists do place a premium on caring for other persons, but some also care about other things --for example, caring for nonhuman animals or wildlife areas, artwork, science, and so on.

If you want to compare atheistic and theistic views of values, you might check out a recent book I co-authored with the American artist Jil Evans' The Image in Mind; Theism, Naturalism, and the Imagination (Continuum, 2011). Sorry to hear that you're feeling down! I hope things turn around for you asap.

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