I am a Quaker and try to follow Quaker principles: Peace, Community, Equality, Integrity, and Simplicity. I also believe in personal responsibility to cooperate with others for the common good. My primary criteria for how I evaluate actions are:
1. How will they affect the amount of human suffering?
2. How will they affect opportunities for people to lead full and productive lives as they may wish?
What is the meaning and purpose of life? How did it all start? Is there a God who created the world and all in it? If so, what is S/He like?
I believe that there is no way that we can find any reasonable answers to these questions, that they are unanswerable. Many persons have faith that they know the answers, but even the faithful don’t agree.
One possible definition of God is the source of all that we do not understand. Attributing to God any desires or human feelings is pure speculation.
Every living being came into life with hereditary characteristics which, modified by experience, determine how it responds to stimuli, that is, what it thinks, wants, decides, and does. This is true of all life, vegetable as well as animal, except that the process is significantly different for different forms of life.
We like to think of ourselves as rational beings. It appears to me that most human decisions are, to some extent, at least, irrational. It is not clear to me that there is a fundamental difference between rationally-based and emotionally-based decisions. Those who make decisions with the likelihood of better outcomes can be considered to be more rational, but the difference is really just in how effective they are in deciding how best to achieve their goals.
People enjoy and people suffer. I value enjoyment and deplore suffering. I believe that each of us has a responsibility to try to allay the suffering of others and to make the world more joyful.
People enjoy different things. One kind of enjoyment is in itself no better than another, except insofar as they lead to different results. Some prefer listening to a symphony to watching sitcoms on TV, but neither is intrinsically “better” than the other any more than one flavor is “better” than another. However, both are “better” than killing people, because the latter causes suffering.
We tend to strive for status. That, however is a zero-sum game: any increase in status by one person involves a decrease in the status of others.
Searching for some ultimate meaning of life seems to me to be utterly futile. I enjoy being alive, thinking and doing, setting and achieving goals, and cooperating with others for our mutual well-being. For me, that is enough.