Dust and Ashes

On Ash Wednesday Bill gave us a little homily taken from Genesis 3, 19.
In sudore vultus tui vesceris pane, donec revertaris in terram de qua sumptus es: quia pulvis es et in pulverem reverteris.
No problem with this at all.  But Bill goes on to say,
The typical secularist is a reality denier who hides from the unalterable facts of death and impermanence. This is shown by his self-deceptive behavior: he lives as if he will live forever and as if his projects are meaningful even though he knows that he won't and that they aren't. If he were to face reality he would have to be a nihilist. That he isn't shows that he is fooling himself.
There is something rather slippery about the word 'meaningful' here.  It would have been nonsensical if Bill had said of the secularist that he lives as if his food is tasty even though he knows that it isn't.  What is it about 'meaningful' that with one hand it can be granted and with the other taken away?

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