In 1882, Nietzsche famously declared, “God is dead, and we have killed him.”
To atheists, this might seem like good news. To Nietzsche, it certainly wasn’t. He knew that without the God idea, human beings would find something or someone to pin their spirituality on. Be it a charismatic “Glorious Leader,” or a collective movement, like social justice, nationalism, celebrity worship, hedonism, or obscure diets.
That’s because, as Andrew Sullivan said in 2018, religiosity, as opposed to religion itself, has always been a central driver of human behavior. Regardless of whatever faith we might or might not have, it’s a fundamental part of our psychology.
As Jonathan Haidt argued in the Atlantic, “There is a God-shaped hole in everyone’s heart.” And it needn’t be filled with religion or a supernatural deity. But if we don’t fill it with something, we’re likely to be very unhappy. More recently, on the Tim Ferris Podcast, he shared that people who go to church or any other type of organized religion tend to be happier than people who don’t. But research shows that this has little to do with what you believe in and EVERYTHING to do with regular participation in a community.
Something about communing weekly with a group of people that you feel some sense of mutual moral responsibility towards makes us happier, and more complete as human beings.
As always, it’s mankind’s never-ending search for meaning.
Be it religious, financial, consumerist, political, or career; we’re all searching for something. And when we deny ourselves this, it can turn out pretty ugly.
The one thing you can say about careers is that everybody wants theirs to be more fulfilling and meaningful than it already is. Whether you’re a billionaire or working in a warehouse, whatever meaning it gives you, you still want more.
The bad news is, that hunger never goes away, even if you try suppressing it. The good news is that hunger will keep you driving forward as a human being, which, when all is said and done, is the whole point of being alive.