This is my first attempt at a discussion, I am hoping this is a topic others find worthy of discussing.....in my opinion, this is the heart of what it means to be an atheist, and coming to terms with this issue. For theists as well, this is the heart of their delusion.....that this life is not as important as the "next", after their rapture, reincarnation, etc.
I admitted to myself about a year ago, once and for all, that there is no rationale basis for the existence of a god/gods, and trying and failing countless times to "convince" myself to believe in the Christian god....and even tried my hand at Buddhism briefly-to no avail. My rational, scientific mind would reject it every time. Even a confrontation with my father, who is a retired Pentecostal Christian Pastor, just further pushed me toward atheism....not out of spite, but just seeing a prime example of someone who has given their life, their mind, over to the delusion that the Christian god offers.
Since embracing atheism, I have found myself thinking frequently about the finality of this life, that I am truly "mortal". And that whenever the few decades I have left on this planet are over, that will be it. I have found my initial response to this fact to be at times anger....particularly as it pertains to my inability to be there for my 2 children, ages 3 and 13 months, once I pass away from this life. Were I a theist, I could comfort myself with the thought that I would see them again in "heaven" and be with them eternally.
I am curious what atheists, particularly those that have come from a theistic background, have done, or are doing, to address this hole that seems to emerge when a deity is taken out of the equation. Perhaps I am even generalizing too much, and there are those that do not share this feeling.
All comments welcome!
Can this life really be it? Yes, but there is so much here that we have not discovered, so much that we can still learn about it. Is there anything after life? No. Just death. The point of this life (since people are so dedicated to having a purpose) is to make it a better place for those who come after us, this is the only unselfish answer. It is selfish to live a life that's only goal is to get to "paradise" aka heaven in the "next life".
Speaking as one who is closer to the day of reckoning meeting my maker death than most others, let me assure you it gets easier. My kids have kids so, although I try to be and have fun, I'm simply not as relevant as I once was. (Which is OK because I don't have to work as hard.) I'm doing pretty well physically compared to many, but I still have DAILY pain resulting from my age. Even picking up a dropped pencil is no picnic. I can easily picture, in years to come, viewing death as a welcome release. It's all part of God's plan the grand scheme life.
Eternal life in heaven is not really much of a comfort for believers, I contend. If it were, at funerals, they would be saying (and feeling) "see ya later" as if dead dear ones are just going away for a bit of a holiday. In fact the atheist view might even be easier because the dead are remembered for their lives rather than some tenuous attachment to eternity.
I am partial to this from the movie Dead Poets Society
"Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
Fertilizing Daffodils.... I take comfort in knowing that the peoples lives I impact while I am here and the peoples lives they impact with things that may have come from me live on, even knowing full well that eventually that will fade and become less and less as the years after my death go on... However I also take comfort in knowing that once I am dead I too will be fertilizing daffodils until that too fades and there is nothing left... Of course I'll be dead so there is that. I want to make the most of my life and in doing so open others eyes to do the same, if I can improve even one persons life while I am here, I can die happy knowing that I lived for the sake of living and loved every moment of it.
I had an odd thought this morning. I was going to start a thread and then I realized it would fit just fine in this one.
I had this thought... What if there was some kind of weird entity that came to earth and gave us sufficient evidence that he did have powers we did not understand; maybe some kind of alien being or whatever. Maybe he performs some miracles or something. Then after we are all stunned, stumped, and amazed (for example, maybe he tells us the exact time an earthquake will happen somewhere and it does and he performs various and sundry feats such as this), we start to get afraid of him.
Then he assures us he is a good being and he is going choose me (Flower), for some unknown reason, to be allowed to make a decision for all forms of life on earth.
He explains to me that he has never intervened in the development of the universe; that he is from somewhere outside our universe, but he just happened to randomly notice us earthlings and felt sorry for our miserable plight.
He explains that he and others like him don't have suffering in their lives and he does not know how to impart this condition of non-suffering to us earthlings, but what he can do is offer me the choice of allowing him to destroy all life in our universe, without having anybody feel any pain at all; just 'poof' we are all gone; or, (choice number two) he will leave and go back to where he came from and let life continue to take its natural course in our universe.
If I could be convinced that he was telling me the truth, I would choose to go ahead and end it all for everbody everywhere, because then I would never have to look at the suffering and pain in another child's or animal's eyes and there would never be any more suffering again, anwywhere.
I would, I would do it. In fact, I will go so far as to say I wish life in our universe never happened, never developed, never evolved, never did whatever it did to come into being, because as far as I am concerned, it is not worth the suffering. I would rather that life never existed than to have seen some of the things I have seen in my lifetime.