It seems to me that, philosophically speaking, there are basically two views of life's meaning. One is that the meaning or purpose of life, indeed, of the universe itself, is something outside of or greater than ourselves, even fixed from the beginning of time and remaining constant, regardless whether or not we agree or go along with it. This is essentially what constitutes a religious attitude toward life, even if one avoids belonging to any particular church or religion.
The second or alternative view is that the universe, and consequently our life in it, is essentially meaningless except for whatever meaning or purpose we ourselves choose to put into it. And although it is evident that at least some persons can pursue their own purposes with an almost religious fervor, it appears (almost from the origin of the word itself -- which has to do with tieing or binding ourselves back to something greater than ourselves) that this second attitude is essentially irreligious.
Which attitude or view is best?
Intellectually, the latter seems to have an advantage in today's world with its bias toward scientific proofs compared to popular religion's reliance on gut feelings and myths and legends dating from humanity's childhood.
Morally speaking, although religion has produced more than its share of scondrels, in most recent times, the greatest criminals and butchers of humanity have been men notible for their scorn for religion, even while sometimes cynically using it or imitating it to forward their murderous designs. Compared to Stalin, Hitler, Mao or Pol Pot, Osama bin Ladin seems like a curious throwback born out of time.
Psychologically, however, is where religion seems to most shine.Although religion seems to sometimes have produced its own forms of emotional disturbences, by far the largest share of neurosis can be classed as "existential" -- a certain interior hollowness or lack interior peace traceable to not knowing why or for what one exists.
R W Kropf 6/11/05 Meaning.doc 05-06-11.html