I think that the only alternative for those who do not believe in a Creator is to believe that there is no purpose to human life and that chance combined with mutations and Darwinian natural selection has brought all life to Earth.
I still don?t see how that is ?the only alternative?. There were atheists and agnostics before Darwin. And there are still atheists and agnostics who don?t believe in Darwinian natural selection.
Also, I NEVER cricitized atheism: I merely asked a question, and unexpectedly received an overly defensive reply.
I?m not aware of anybody suggesting that you did criticise atheism! I also haven?t noticed any overly defensive replies to your question.
I never claimed, as suggested by Tom Grubb, that the lives of atheists and agnostics cannot be moral, useful and purposeful (in the sense of "purpose of a life", not in the sense of "purpose of life" - that is another factor which has led to disagreement; whilst I talk of the latter purpose, you talk of the former).
Er?I didn?t suggest that you made such a claim.
However, I think you make a very interesting point. It may well be true that religious people tend to think in terms of there being a god-given purpose to human life as a whole, whereas non-believers probably tend to limit this sense of a purpose to their own individual life. Religions, by their nature, tend to deal in ?universal? values and often attempt to enforce these values, by violent and other means, upon those who do not share them. Of course, one problem with this is that, since so many religions conflict with each other as to what the fundamental purpose of life is (and in many other things), they cannot possibly all be correct.
The problem that may arise with this attitude is that a person's "set of principles" and "set of beliefs" may not be constant (of course, I am not qualified to say whether they are or not). Any possible purpose to life, in my opinion, should be the same through all the various stages of life. Religion ensures that the purpose cannot possibly be changed. Surely that cannot be a bad thing?
I readily admit that my set of beliefs is not constant, but I fail to see why this might a bad thing! I try to temper my belief in something according to the quality of the available evidence for it. For example, I don?t believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster because, as yet, there is no convincing evidence for its existence. I would be astonished if, after all these years of people searching, such evidence did come to light. However, were this to happen, I would be quite prepared to add a belief in Nessie to my existing set of beliefs.
Also, I hope you?re not suggesting that the set of beliefs and principles of each individual religion is something that never changes. Religious teachings evolve. They may tend to drag far behind scientific and societal advances, but they do change.