Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Things that make you go "hmmmm"

So, I got a comment on my last post and I would like to address them here in a new post. This is from the commenter "hmmmm."

"Are you afraid of dying?"

Certainly the thought of non-existence is scary. But as a society we have developed irrational belief systems to help deal with them rather than accepting that at some point we will all stop being. Death is frightening, but using delusions to quell that fright is irrational. I would rather not die if it were possible, but it's not.

"Do atheist believe in a type of after-life?"

Well, there are always ranges of belief in any system. I think you'll find that most don't. The end is the end. But, an essential part of you, the things that make you who you are, can live on. Your DNA can live on through countless generations. Your thoughts can live on in what you write. Your good deeds can live on in those whom they have touched.

"You need proof to believe in God or gods. What kind of proof do you need to believe?"

How about an amputee regrowing a limb? If God is real, prayer works, and the miraculous is possible, this shouldn't be a problem. People claim to be healed by God all the time. But, the healing never presents itself in a way that is inexplicable. If a devout amputee prayed and had a limb grow back, that would change my mind. Or, how about seeing a pillar of smoke and a pillar of fire? How about food for all the world's poor starving children showing up out of nowhere. Baskets and baskets of inexplicable food and no one ever starves to death. How about all diseases disappear? There are all sorts of ways.

"For example, if you lived in the 1700's could you not believe in space travel?"

This is an interesting question, because the notion of space travel would probably have been violently suppressed. The idea that one could breach the heavens where the lord lives! Blasphemous. But, therein you hit upon an interesting point. Without religion, maybe I could have believe in it by the 1700's. How many scientists and thinkers were put down by religious authorities for thinking outside the box? Epicurus, Galileo, Socrates.

I think I would answer your question this way. If I were a man who lived in a low valley all his life surrounded by mountains, I would have a certain outlook upon the world. I've never been outside of my valley and have never seen anything of the world other than that place. It might seem tall and imposing and claustrophobic. Let's say one day I decide to climb that mountain. I start slowly at the bottom. It takes time to gain altitude and often I find myself backpedalling to avoid a fissure or clinging to an unsafe precipice. But, eventually, I make my way to the top of that mountain and see the vastness of the world with my own to eyes. How wonderful that moment would be!

Now, I'm not the mountain climber, I'm just a very grateful lackey who's had the fortune of much greater men than I clearing the way for me. I refuse to make apologies for the time and era I'm born in.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

1 comment:

hmmmm said...

"Are you afraid of dying?"

If you find that you are afraid of dying, why? If you are an atheist and there is no after-life, what is there to be afraid of? Non-existence? Leaving loved-ones alive? Missing out on experiences not yet experienced? Why the fear?

If there is no after-life, what is the purpose of life? If enternity isn't an option, what do you live for and what do you die for? Why live? Why die?