Despite being ontologically untrue, religion nonetheless provides an effective narrative framework for many people’s lives, providing effective (albeit scientifically untenable) answers to deep existential questions like: what is the meaning of life, and what constitutes moral behavior? The secular world’s answers to these questions are much less well developed. Saying, “There probably is no God, now go enjoy your life” ignores the sad but unavoidable fact that, for many people, going and enjoying life is not at all a simple and straightforward thing to do.

The “Now What?” Project is a working title for an effort to develop a reasonable yet compelling response for people who say: OK, you have convinced me, there is no God. Now What? As a first draft of an answer, Ron proposes the concept of “Idea-ism” (which needs a better name, but figuring that out is part of the Project), a world-view based on the scientifically defensible premise that memes or ideas are literally a form of life. This premise leads logically to answers for deep existential questions that are consistent with most people’s intuitions, and can even be considered spiritually uplifting, while remaining grounded in scientific fact.

This thought experiment is likely to lead to a spirited discussion, bring your questions and answers to the table.

Ron Garret is a software engineer, entrepreneur, blogger, filmmaker, ex-NASA-researcher and armchair quantum mechanic. His feature-length documentary about homeless people, “But for the Grace of God?” is available on iTunes and Amazon. He recently joined the board of the Humanist Connection at Stanford.

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