It took me a while, especially since I was brought up in a Baptist family with a Baptist youth pastor.
After learning that God is not real, there is not afterlife and this is the only chance I have, I have just put it in my mind that this is reality. I live my life every day as if it may be my last day now. I am no longer a stupid, lazy Xtian who figures if I don't get it right this time, I'll have all of heaven to be happy.
Dropping the idea of an eternal life has made me a better person.
To me the purpose of life is to live, survive, procreate, care for the herd, teach, share what we learn, spread our seed, adapt, progress, evolve...
I think our time here is very special..what we learn we pass on. The human race.. as all life is, Is a relay race... in life we contribute to the survival of humanity and thus the Earth's own unique shape of life in general. To me it's beautiful that our contributions live on.
I think when I die it will be exactly the same as how it was before I was born. That nothingness. Kinda like the time when i'm sleeping but between dreams.
"Remember fondly, those you've loved who have passed away. As long as you remember them, they will live on. You are their afterlife."
For me I think this quote from Joseph Campbell sums it up...
I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.- Joseph Campbell
Actually, most of the time I do not even bother thinking about it. Sometimes I am even happy that this life is the only one I have and shall have. At other times, I would rather be dead. In sum, I do not want to live for ever either way, so I can only win.
There's really no such thing as "forever" anyway. Not in THIS universe.
No roasting in an ocean of fire. No boring Heaven, either.
It always intrigues me that the religious can be so absolutely certain, so authoritarian, so dictatorial. And these certainties have been falsified again and again throughout history. So they just make up new certainties. They are just making wishful assumptions. Nothing they propose has ever been shown to be correct. Only doubt and uncertainty have resulted in progress toward a tentative notion of what is real. Only a willingness to ask questions and pursue rational thought as best as can be done has created advances in human health, welfare, compassion or any other other category of well being.
I was a philosophy major, got an MA. My favorite philosopher was Ludwig Wittgenstein who held that many philosophical problems are due to mistakes in or misunderstandings of our use of language. When we die, we return to the state before our birth. Note that I didn't say "the state we were in," because before you are born, there is no you yet. I think Wittgenstein might analyze death this way: simply because there is a word for it doesn't make it exist. We don't have a word for before we are born analogous to "death." By having the word "death," it implies there might be a second state we go into, whereas there is nothing. The universe just starts doing without a you or me over again the same way when a leaf falls off a tree, the universe goes on without that leaf.
There is no such thing as death just as there is no such thing as a "we" before we are born.
This denies the grief that is felt by the living. I cannot prove that trees do not grieve when their leaves fall, but I believe that people* grieve when others die. Therefore, death is an experience - at least for those who are alive.
Interesting - my favorite philosopher is Bertrand Russell - who knew a thing or two about Wittgenstein..
* Other animals seem to grieve, albeit for shorter periods than is typical for humans - chimpanzees and wolves have been observed to display behaviors similar to human grief when members of the group/pack have died ...
I recently saw a documentary in which a female Chimpanzee carried her dead baby around with her until the poor little thing was barely more than a skin-bag full of bones, before she finally abandoned it.