I recently saw a person comment on theist's blog regarding the meaning of life. Why, he asked, does belief in God give meaning and purpose to life?
If the commenter means “belief” in the intellectual adherence to a propositional statement, I can understand the need for the question. However, what is being proposed by theists is not just personal adherence to a propositional belief in the existence of God, but the reality of His existence.
If God exists and has meaningfully created man with purpose then God’s existence does lend itself to man having intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose. On the other hand, if there is no God, and man is a product of time, chance, energy, and matter evolving through time into the human being then our value and purpose are only that which we give ourselves. There is not a rooted foundation for valuing our lives over any other sentient being or non-sentient being. We value ourselves, because we live and want to be valuable.
There is nothing that would say that we cannot declare ourselves valuable and give ourselves purpose. But there also would be no foundation for our intrinsic value, meaning, and purpose. Therefore, the reality of God’s existence does provide such a framework—a framework that gives intrinsic value to all humans from the most accomplished to the hermit living in the woods or the homeless man on the street. Notwithstanding, we could have only self-proclaimed value and we need to learn to accept the inevitable reality of having no intrinsic meaning and purpose. We may need to ignore the signs of design of our difference to the rest of creation and accept our lot in life.
If our belief in God is merely an illusion then humanity still has only self-proclaimed value and purpose. But if God really does exist and really did create man separate from the beasts, He is the Author of our existence and has endowed us with His special creative purpose and value. This would then be true, no matter who believes it or not. Thus, our worth would not be a matter of what intellectual proposition we adhere to nor what illusion we maintain, but what is really real.