Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

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Levi
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Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Levi » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:22 am UTC

I am going to start by saying that:

1. I am a Christian.
2. I have logical reasons for my belief. (e.g., NOT: I think there is a god because I want to go to heaven)

My question is posed to atheists:
How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?

Everyone: Please read the thread before commenting.

There seem to be a lot of newcomers to this discussion that post responses to the very first post ... 4 pages later. Most of what you're saying has been said before. Repeatedly.

-Az

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Nath » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:49 am UTC

Levi wrote:1. I am a Christian.
2. I have logical reasons for my belief. (e.g., NOT: I think there is a god because I want to go to heaven)

Would you be interested in discussing your logic in the religion thread? This is something I've often wondered about.

Levi wrote:How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?

Nothing I do matters? This is news to me. It isn't, as far as I know, part of any grand plan, but it matters to me. It matters to me a lot more than it would if I thought I was merely some other being's puppet.

As for death: yes, it appears to be annoyingly permanent. But dying does not erase the life you've had: it merely marks one endpoint of it. Various people have put this much better than I could:
Billy Pilgrim, in Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five wrote:When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in the particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is 'So it goes'.

Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita wrote:Mourn not for those that live, nor those that die.
Nor I, nor thou, nor any one of these,
Ever was not, nor ever will not be,
For ever and for ever afterwards.
All, that doth live, lives always!

Elijah Baley, in Isaac Asimov's Robots and Empire wrote:My death is not important. No individual death among human beings is important. Someone who dies leaves his work behind and that does not entirely die. It never entirely dies as long as humanity exists.
...
The work of each individual contributes to a totality and so becomes an undying part of the totality. That totality of human lives -- past and present and to come -- forms a tapestry that has been in existence for many tens of thousands of years and has been growing more elaborate and, on the whole, more beautiful in all that time.
(This last one, incidentally, is what some people understand from the Hindu idea of re-incarnation.)
Last edited by Nath on Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:52 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Sicarius Barritus » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:50 am UTC

How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters?

The same way you get through life knowing that nothing you do matters on earth by the time you get into heaven. Just living. It's not hard.
Why do you keep going?

Why stop?
If there is nothing to look forward to by stopping, any progress forward has positive value.
Smelling a flower or eating a doughnut is preferable to oblivion.
Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile?

Cost/benefit.
Death = non-existence. Not blackness, not eternal rest, not reincarnation, but non-existence.
Keep going = possible happiness.
How do you survive?

Dumb question. How do you survive?
Eat, drink, and be merry. Survival is an afterthought.
Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?

I have accepted that death is inevitable, and that has let me fully appreciate the beauty of the living world. There is no running from death; just a slow trodge to meet it. I choose to smell the flowers on the way.
It's those who postulate the idea of an eternal paradise that are ignoring death or running from it. Far wiser is it to accept that you cannot live forever.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby blakat1313 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 2:56 am UTC

First off, how do you deal with the fact that life will eventually end? Unless you believe in reincarnation, you believe that your life will cease eventually. Everybody deals with that somehow.

I can't speak for everybody who shares my (lack of)faith, but I don't see life as not making a difference. You can use your life to help the rest of humanity, to make a lasting impact on the world. It may not have any kind of impact on you, but it allows you to extend your time on Earth by proxy. It's a lot like the ancient Greeks' belief that you would continue to live as long as people didn't forget you.On the other hand, you can also look at life as a limited time on Earth in which you can do anything you want. You can use that time for whatever you want and just do that.

As for the issue of thanatopsis(sp?), I don't really run from death. I usually just laugh when some religious type says that I'm going to end up breaking down on my deathbed because I automatically fear death. I can't remember the source for this quote, but it says what I want to say rather well, and I'll leave off with it.

"Do not fear death, instead live your life so that death is a completion of your life."

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Mane » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:02 am UTC

Levi wrote:I am going to start by saying that:

1. I am a Christian.

Okay
2. I have logical reasons for my belief. (e.g., NOT: I think there is a god because I want to go to heaven)

Like Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologian in early Christian thought, I assume you've read his arguments?

How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?

Why are you so fixated on death? All things must come to an end, but there is no point in dwelling on something to can't stop.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby fersrs » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:03 am UTC

Living is pretty fun most of the time. Also, I'm not sure if there's reincarnation or not, but I think there might be. Still, knowing you have only one life to live makes it that much more precious.

Edit: Also, if there is reincarnation, then the thing I am in the next life won't be me. It won't have my memories, it won't feel the same. It will just be starting from the same template.
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Intercept » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:23 am UTC

Why would you think atheists would think less of life? Christians are the one who think life is unimportant as they are a minor part of their existence.

Life is the most unlikely thing of all, and if you don't believe in an eternal afterlife, you damn sure better treasure it. I've experienced life and nonexistence, and life is definitely better, I'm sure as hell gonna enjoy it while I have it.
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:36 am UTC

I too would like to hear your logical reasons for your beliefs.


How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end


I find this to be a very odd question. It seems akin to asking me how I manage to enjoy a book, knowing it will be over soon. I don't really have an answer for *how*. It's a ridiculous question, and I just do.

Why do you keep going?
I keep going because this is all there is. I am motivated to avoid death. Why do you, being a christian, keep going? What motivates you to avoid death?

What you seem not to realize is that I intend to live forever, thus invalidating all of your questions.
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby TheMagicalTurtle » Sun Oct 26, 2008 3:47 am UTC

This question is so far distanced from the way that I think as to be unanswerable. I figure that might be significant, in a sense, to what you're looking for.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Nath » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:12 am UTC

Rilian wrote:What you seem not to realize is that I intend to live forever, thus invalidating all of your questions.

Pity about that second law of thermodynamics then, eh?

Intending to live forever, like intending to shoot lightning out of your fingertips, doesn't really mean that you can.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:20 am UTC

Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:What you seem not to realize is that I intend to live forever, thus invalidating all of your questions.

Pity about that second law of thermodynamics then, eh?

Oh, do elaborate.

So, when are you planning to die?

A friend of mine says he intends to live forever, but it's OK if he doesn't, because he'll be dead.
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:41 am UTC

Intercept wrote:Why would you think atheists would think less of life? Christians are the one who think life is unimportant as they are a minor part of their existence.


This idea, which seems mirrored in every other post to some degree, doesn't really answer the question. Unless I'm mistaken, Levi is mainly asking how does an athiest find a meaning in life, which the answers to have generally been circumlocutions of "we don't find one; we just don't care." Any mystical outlook (I say mystical since based off a previous conversation of the fora, athieism can ecompass people who believe in some sort of greater spirituality) would dictate that someone can and should enjoy the smell of a flower, but hard atheism would imply that this is a worthless throwaway reaction humans have due to an imperfect evolution; an evolutionary ideal being wouldn't waste time on such trivialities. You can claim otherwise, but I don't see how you can logically demonstrate how smelling flowers or living just for the sake of entertainment somehow justifies your existence. I suppose some people just don't have the capacity to care which one could say is the natural evolutionary ends (memetic or genetic) of humanity, but for the rest of us complete denial of spirituality is a rather discomforting idea.

->Nath:
I suppose I generally agree with your idea that human's acheive a form of immortality through their works continuing through the whole of humanity, but doesn't it take a degree of spirituality to decide that there is something fundamentally right about humanity, and that ultimately we will triumph in our endevours and keep going?

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Sicarius Barritus » Sun Oct 26, 2008 4:54 am UTC

Well nothing justifies existence.
Existence just is. Things can be derived from existence. Pain and pleasure. It's just logical to see out the pleasure.
Bubbles McCoy wrote: but hard atheism would imply that this is a worthless throwaway reaction humans have due to an imperfect evolution; an evolutionary ideal being wouldn't waste time on such trivialities.

That is just turning evolution into a religion. I wouldn't even call that atheism, as you are following a kind of 'higher power' and its dictates.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby tantalum » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:07 am UTC

Some people ask atheists: What's wrong with murder if there's no god?
The answer to this is: Wait, so the only thing that stops you from murdering people is God?

You ask atheists: What's good about life if there's no god?
The answer to this is: Wait, so the only thing that stops you from being a miserable pile of suicidal thoughts is God?

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby blakat1313 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:19 am UTC

Bubbles McCoy wrote:This idea, which seems mirrored in every other post to some degree, doesn't really answer the question. Unless I'm mistaken, Levi is mainly asking how does an athiest find a meaning in life, which the answers to have generally been circumlocutions of "we don't find one; we just don't care." Any mystical outlook (I say mystical since based off a previous conversation of the fora, athieism can ecompass people who believe in some sort of greater spirituality) would dictate that someone can and should enjoy the smell of a flower, but hard atheism would imply that this is a worthless throwaway reaction humans have due to an imperfect evolution; an evolutionary ideal being wouldn't waste time on such trivialities. You can claim otherwise, but I don't see how you can logically demonstrate how smelling flowers or living just for the sake of entertainment somehow justifies your existence. I suppose some people just don't have the capacity to care which one could say is the natural evolutionary ends (memetic or genetic) of humanity, but for the rest of us complete denial of spirituality is a rather discomforting idea.
Who says that life needs justification? A "hard" atheist doesn't have less reason to love life. You see, theists believe that something/someone created them. If this thing/person made them, it must have a reason. This means that the person must live for that thing/person. Atheists see no such forced purpose. Science tells us that life is a random happening, it could have happened here, it could have happened on the surface of Alpha Centauri. This means that life simply is. It lets atheists use their life for whatever they feel like. The only real evolutionary requirement of life is having sex. Believe it or not, most people rather like that. The rest, from a biological standpoint, is just details. You can live your life however you want because you won't have to justify your life.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Nath » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:23 am UTC

Rilian wrote:
Nath wrote:Pity about that second law of thermodynamics then, eh?

Oh, do elaborate.

http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html

Rilian wrote:So, when are you planning to die?

Tuesday, definitely. I just haven't decided which one yet.

Rilian wrote:A friend of mine says he intends to live forever, but it's OK if he doesn't, because he'll be dead.

Your friend's capacity for self-delusion is impressive.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:I suppose I generally agree with your idea that human's acheive a form of immortality through their works continuing through the whole of humanity, but doesn't it take a degree of spirituality to decide that there is something fundamentally right about humanity, and that ultimately we will triumph in our endevours and keep going?

What is this 'spirituality' thing I hear so much about, anyway?

In any case, I haven't decided that there's something fundamentally right about humanity, and I certainly haven't decided that we'll always triumph in our endeavors. It just so happens that I like humanity. The thought of it surviving and becoming more elaborate and more beautiful appeals to me. So I'll add what little I can to the tapestry. It isn't some divine quest; it's merely what makes me happy.

blakat1313 wrote:The only real evolutionary requirement of life is having sex.

Not even that, really. Evolution is merely a description of a natural process. It says nothing at all about what you should do; no more than the theory of gravity says that you should fall down.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:24 am UTC

Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:A friend of mine says he intends to live forever, but it's OK if he doesn't, because he'll be dead.

Your friend's capacity for self-delusion is impressive.


Elaborate on /that/.
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby HeroicFail » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:25 am UTC

I'd like to think that my actions will have a positive effect on the world.
I keep going because I'm not suicidal. I want to live and contribute to society.
I think people who do kind things because it's the right thing to do are cool. They aren't being threatened by eternal suffering or anything. In my opinion, it makes for a kinder world.

Death is going to happen to all of us eventually. I'm not worried about it.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Nath » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:27 am UTC

Rilian wrote:
Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:A friend of mine says he intends to live forever, but it's OK if he doesn't, because he'll be dead.

Your friend's capacity for self-delusion is impressive.


Elaborate on /that/.

Knowing that you'll never know the answer to your question doesn't mean that all possible answers are equally justified. To think that he'll live forever, whether or not he'd mind being wrong, is self-delusion.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:36 am UTC

Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:
Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:A friend of mine says he intends to live forever, but it's OK if he doesn't, because he'll be dead.

Your friend's capacity for self-delusion is impressive.


Elaborate on /that/.

Knowing that you'll never know the answer to your question doesn't mean that all possible answers are equally justified. To think that he'll live forever, whether or not he'd mind being wrong, is self-delusion.

I have no idea what you're saying. Please try different words.

Do you have a problem with this quote? "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." (Stephen Wright)
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Nath » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:44 am UTC

Rilian wrote:I have no idea what you're saying. Please try different words.

The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.
(In case you still have trouble with any of these words: there are dictionaries on the Internet now. :))

Rilian wrote:Do you have a problem with this quote? "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." (Stephen Wright)

As a mildly amusing one-liner, it's fine. As a serious statement, it's silly.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 5:48 am UTC

Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:I have no idea what you're saying. Please try different words.

The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.
(In case you still have trouble with any of these words: there are dictionaries on the Internet now. :))

Rilian wrote:Do you have a problem with this quote? "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." (Stephen Wright)

As a mildly amusing one-liner, it's fine. As a serious statement, it's silly.

I think intending to die is silly.
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby blakat1313 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:03 am UTC

Rilian wrote:
Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:I have no idea what you're saying. Please try different words.

The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.
(In case you still have trouble with any of these words: there are dictionaries on the Internet now. :))

Rilian wrote:Do you have a problem with this quote? "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." (Stephen Wright)

As a mildly amusing one-liner, it's fine. As a serious statement, it's silly.

I think intending to die is silly.

Fact:You are human.
Fact:Humans die.
Conclusion:You will die.
You might as well come to terms with it beforehand. It's not like you should have some kind of plan to die, but you need to accept that it's going to happen.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Telchar » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:04 am UTC

Levi wrote:I am going to start by saying that:

1. I am a Christian.
2. I have logical reasons for my belief. (e.g., NOT: I think there is a god because I want to go to heaven)


I am sincerely happy for you.

My question is posed to atheists:
How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters?


Let me clarify my beleifs before I answer this question. I don't beleive that God can't exist, because you can't disprove God. I simply beleive that it is more likely that God does not exist than that he does. It is therefore, fairly obvious, that if one thinks that is true, one should act as though God does not exist.

That being said, I prefer truth to delusion. I suppose I could try and convince myself of an afterlife, but if I didn't really beleive it, I would probably be more miserable for the effort. Dieing isn't really a fun proccess regardless of where you go after. The beleif that my conciousness dies with me is simply something one has to come to terms with. After you do, if really gives you a new take on life. You don't get an afterlife, so make the best of this one.

As far as the "nothing I do matters" part of the question, I find that very silly. Is what you do in life only meaningfull after you are dead? Is lifes meaning contingent on where you go after? That's like saying my chidlhood only has meaning if I go to law school as an adult. Your actions define who you are, and can have a very profound and very real meaning to everyone around you. My parents actions had and still have a very meaningful effect on me, and will probably continue to do so even after they are deceased. The question is really quite odd, and somewhat irrational.

Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?


Again, the above paragraph answers a lot of these questions. Life is not futile. Life is not about death. Where does this fixation on death come from? Honestly. I think most aethiests think a lot less about death than most christians if I had to guess. If the biggest thing about a beleif system is a place you get to go when you die, I guess you would think a lot about death. I don't. probably because my beleif system does not focus on where I go when I die. Aethiesm, as least my "brand", doesn't deny the possibility of an afterlife. It's just unknowable. We can't test it, we can't explore it, we can't know, so why fixate on it?
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Belial » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:05 am UTC

The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.


Is it?

As for the question "What is the meaning of life if there's no god?", which is just an elaborated form of the age old "What is the meaning of life?", my reply (cribbed heavily from infidels.org) is as follows:

What's the meaning of a cup of coffee? Just because it sounds like a question and the words all fit together doesn't necessarily mean it's not completely nonsensical to ask. There's nothing to suggest that "life" is the sort of thing that can even be expected to have a meaning. Life is, and then it isn't. Now let's play videogames. Or have sex. Or eat ice cream.
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Telchar » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:11 am UTC

Belial wrote:Is it?


Not dying some finite number of times (perhaps in parallel universes) constitutes immortality.


Why does that bring to mind a sort of Prestige-esque "man in the box" vision?

Pretty heavy assumption in anycase.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Belial » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:14 am UTC

Sure. You have to assume the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics, and a few other things.

Just saying. It's not *completely* ridiculous.
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby blakat1313 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:17 am UTC

I believe you're forgetting about the underlying principles of Quantum Computing. A Quantum Computer relies on Schrodinger's Cat, which is in direct competition with Quantum Suicide. We have working Quantum Computers, which means that Schrodinger's Cat has been tested and proven in one scenario. That's more than can be said of Quantum Suicide.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby EmptySet » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:24 am UTC

Levi wrote:My question is posed to atheists:
How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?


I think you have a misunderstanding of how atheists think. As others have pointed out, lacking belief in god doesn't automatically make you a horribly depressed nihilist, and people regularly enjoy things they know will end. They don't sit around going "Oh no! This movie is going to end in an hour! I'd better sit around being miserable instead of enjoying what's left of it!" Yes, that lovely spring day will eventually come to an end, but that doesn't mean it's any less beautiful while it lasts; and a painting is still a work of art, even though the canvass is finite. For some atheists, there is also the sense that humanity forges its own fate - that we decide for ourselves what is important, and enjoy things for their own sake, rather than waiting for some cosmic master to pat us on the head and give us a biscuit. In other words, people care, even if the universe does not.

Bubbles McCoy wrote:Any mystical outlook (I say mystical since based off a previous conversation of the fora, athieism can ecompass people who believe in some sort of greater spirituality) would dictate that someone can and should enjoy the smell of a flower, but hard atheism would imply that this is a worthless throwaway reaction humans have due to an imperfect evolution; an evolutionary ideal being wouldn't waste time on such trivialities. You can claim otherwise, but I don't see how you can logically demonstrate how smelling flowers or living just for the sake of entertainment somehow justifies your existence. I suppose some people just don't have the capacity to care which one could say is the natural evolutionary ends (memetic or genetic) of humanity, but for the rest of us complete denial of spirituality is a rather discomforting idea.


Hard atheism doesn't necessarily imply anything is "worthless". It's simply the statement that there is definitely no god.

The view you're trying to push here doesn't really make sense from the view of most atheists. It seems like a theists' misrepresentation of how atheists think. The line of reasoning seems to run as follows:

1. There is no meaning or purpose without spirituality.
2. Atheists believe they have no god.
-> Atheists believe there is no meaning or purpose.

The natural response from atheists is to yell "Who says you can't have meaning without spirituality?" It's similar in many regards to arguments about atheists and morality - atheists are typically happy to use a system of ethics constructed on human values, which many theists struggle to understand. Similarly, many atheists build their own meaning from 100% human-grown ingredients, rather than importing it from the Holy Kingdom of God.

Also, it's a bit odd to assume that atheists should be determining values based on "evolutionarily ideal beings" or "evolutionary ends". Why would they believe that they should try to imitate something simply because they believe it to be the end result of a physical process? Rocks are the result of a physical process. Then there's the problem of defining this ideal being in evolutionary terms, since evolution is tied directly to the environment. There are certainly circumstances in which enjoying the smell of flowers could be beneficial.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:36 am UTC

blakat1313 wrote:
Rilian wrote:
Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:I have no idea what you're saying. Please try different words.

The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.
(In case you still have trouble with any of these words: there are dictionaries on the Internet now. :))

Rilian wrote:Do you have a problem with this quote? "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." (Stephen Wright)

As a mildly amusing one-liner, it's fine. As a serious statement, it's silly.

I think intending to die is silly.

Fact:You are human.
Fact:Humans die.
Conclusion:You will die.
You might as well come to terms with it beforehand. It's not like you should have some kind of plan to die, but you need to accept that it's going to happen.


No, it is only a fact that many humans before me have died.
But, even if you were right, why do I *need* to accept it?
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby blakat1313 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:43 am UTC

Rilian wrote:
blakat1313 wrote:
Rilian wrote:
Nath wrote:
Rilian wrote:I have no idea what you're saying. Please try different words.

The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.
(In case you still have trouble with any of these words: there are dictionaries on the Internet now. :))

Rilian wrote:Do you have a problem with this quote? "I intend to live forever. So far, so good." (Stephen Wright)

As a mildly amusing one-liner, it's fine. As a serious statement, it's silly.

I think intending to die is silly.

Fact:You are human.
Fact:Humans die.
Conclusion:You will die.
You might as well come to terms with it beforehand. It's not like you should have some kind of plan to die, but you need to accept that it's going to happen.


No, it is only a fact that many humans before me have died.
But, even if you were right, why do I *need* to accept it?

You need to accept it because if you don't come to terms with your own mortality you treat life as if it is permanent.
In response to your assertion that I didn't prove that you will die, I say this: You are making a positive claim (x did happen, as opposed to x didn't) the rules of debate clearly say that you must give proof of your claim. Until such time as you render proof of your supposed immortality, I see no reason to continue discussing how long you will live.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Malice » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:45 am UTC

"Man is in love, and loves what passes." The fact that something will soon come to an ultimate end makes it more precious, not less. The atheist feels keenly every single second of his life. Am I doing, right now, what I want to be doing? What I need to be doing? Am I being a good person? He will never get a second chance. Now matters so much.

The lack of an external source of meaning does not imply a lack of meaning. I think things mean what we want them to mean. I choose to do this or that for my own reasons, not God's. Me, I generally find what I think is good (or funny, or beautiful, or exciting, or strange) and draw it to me, and if I can, create more of it, so that other people can share. That's what life is about for me. You explore what's come before you and what's around you, see it, understand it, appreciate, enjoy it, and then add to the mix, so that when you die other people can follow that same journey. What we do resonates. Woody Allen once said, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying." If the latter is impossible, I'll strive for the former.
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Rilian » Sun Oct 26, 2008 6:48 am UTC

blakat1313 wrote:You need to accept it because if you don't come to terms with your own mortality you treat life as if it is permanent.
In response to your assertion that I didn't prove that you will die, I say this: You are making a positive claim (x did happen, as opposed to x didn't) the rules of debate clearly say that you must give proof of your claim. Until such time as you render proof of your supposed immortality, I see no reason to continue discussing how long you will live.

What claim did I make? Please quote where I claimed that I will live forever.
And I'm -2.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby roc314 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:02 am UTC

Levi wrote:How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?
I find it useful to look at why religious people think the way they do. As I don't think that there exists any god, rather than looking at it and saying "god says we should not kill others", I look at why religious people have the morals and beliefs they do.

Theists find meaning in life usually through the belief that there is something larger than themselves. They find meaning in that the existence of a higher being means that their lives have a purpose beyond the time they are alive. There can be other purposes in life besides the theist. As an atheist, I am free to choose whatever greater cause I want to be part of. I personally think that the progression of humanity, specifically society/civilization is such a worthy cause. I may not exist after I die, but I can have a positive impact on future generations, which is sufficient for me to want to work towards that goal.

A nice advantage of atheism is that I can temporarily change my purpose whenever I want; there is no one true god that I cannot stray from. If I am feeling nihilistic one day, then I can say there is no purpose. On other days, I can say that the purpose of life is to be personally happy. Or I can say the purpose is to pass on my genes and knowledge to my descendants. I can choose to focus my life on whatever I want, and I rather enjoy that freedom. :)
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby blakat1313 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:04 am UTC

Rilian wrote:
blakat1313 wrote:You need to accept it because if you don't come to terms with your own mortality you treat life as if it is permanent.
In response to your assertion that I didn't prove that you will die, I say this: You are making a positive claim (x did happen, as opposed to x didn't) the rules of debate clearly say that you must give proof of your claim. Until such time as you render proof of your supposed immortality, I see no reason to continue discussing how long you will live.

What claim did I make? Please quote where I claimed that I will live forever.

Rilian wrote:What you seem not to realize is that I intend to live forever, thus invalidating all of your questions.

It may not be a direct statement of "I will live forever," but this clearly implies that you believe you will live forever.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby telcontar42 » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:11 am UTC

Levi wrote:How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?

To me, this thread really demonstrates to me how varied atheists views are. Almost all of the points people have made, I find unsatisfying. It's not that I think that they are bad ideas, its just that in my own personal philosophical development I have considered most of these points and I can't really accept their logic.

In the past couple of years, I have really struggled with these questions. By accepting, with almost complete certainty, that there is no god or any other sort of supernatural phenomena I have to accept the fact that I am merely a biological automaton whose actions are most likely fundamentally based solely on physical laws and random chance. This was a disturbing thought for me. Given that fact, what value does life have? Why should I not kill myself or others? What basis does morality have? These questions are hard to answer without a god (and I would argue they hard to answer with a god, for example, how do you know your god is good?, what justification do you have for following him?, how was he created and why does he exist?). Eventually I realized that I had to accept these facts and live my life the way that I believe that I should. I have no choice but to give in to my biological imperative. If I am "programed" to act in a certain way, then I will think that it is the best way to act. It is impossible to separate my intellectual and biological influences, because they are the same. Ultimately you just have to accept that you should act however you want to act, and accept the consequences of those actions.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby kellsbells » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:33 am UTC

Levi wrote:How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?
Honestly, my answer to this question is best summed up by xkcd itself. So far, I find life pretty enjoyable, and I would like for it to continue. And no, I don't ignore the thought of death. I don't need the idea of another life somewhere else to validate this one. So what if this doesn't matter later? It matters to me right now. In fact, I'm a little inspired by the idea that this life is all we have, that this is not the rehearsal. That thought is actually what keeps me going, because I feel like I better enjoy it while I can.
A good pun is its own reword.
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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Mane » Sun Oct 26, 2008 7:35 am UTC

Belial wrote:
The gist of it:
Wanting to live forever is understandable. Actually expecting that you'll live forever is silly.


Is it?


Now, now, don't make me put you in the Box. :lol:

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby Iv » Sun Oct 26, 2008 8:53 am UTC

Belial wrote:Sure. You have to assume the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics, and a few other things.

Just saying. It's not *completely* ridiculous.

I prefer to place my bets on SENS

@Levi : The thought that life will just end is pretty scary. All the atheists I know who thought about it had to cope with a several months existentialist period that is somehow depressive. Then, a small part of our brain responsible for self-motivation kicks in back and make us move again. At this time we know that our urge to do things is not rational but exists nonetheless. From there, various philosophies can be adopted.

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Re: Atheism and Its Effect on One's Life

Postby anouk » Sun Oct 26, 2008 9:49 am UTC

Levi wrote:I am going to start by saying that:

1. I am a Christian.
2. I have logical reasons for my belief. (e.g., NOT: I think there is a god because I want to go to heaven)

My question is posed to atheists:
How do you get through life thinking/knowing that eventually it will end, you will cease to exist, and nothing that you do matters? Why do you keep going? Do you ever have moments were you just give up because it's all futile? How do you survive? Do you just ignore the thought of death and run from it?


Would you like to share your reasons for your belief? I'm curious :)

How do I get through life knowing that it will eventually end, and I won't exist, and nothing that I do matters?
Well that's just what it is, just the same as one might believe the pearly gates await them, I believe that when you are dead, you are dead. As for the nothing that I do matters part, of course it matters, I can donate blood to help others, work for charity, just be a nice person, and strive to enjoy my life and be happy. It would matter to me more if I spent my whole life being bitter and selfish because I will be dead one day.

Why do I keep going?
Why not? There are so many things to do and see, why shouldn't I?

Do I ever have moments I give up because essentially it is futile?
Yes, but I get over it. Do you ever doubt the existence of your God? I do think 'Whats' the point?! We are all going to die anyway', but then I think about the last part of my first answer. I have trouble with the difference between Existentialism and Atheism, personally, I see the line blurred in a few areas. Hmm, perhaps I flit between Existentialism and Atheism, Does what I believe really need a name.

How do I survive?
On lembas. No really, it does wonders for your skin. Actually I'm not sure how to answer that, just the same as everyone else does?

Do I ignore the thought of death and run from it?
No, probably closer to the opposite, perhaps I have come to terms with it am indifferent to it or have accepted it rather than ignore it. You can hardly run from death, so why bother? I could run from the idea of death, but that would just be silly.
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