My Google alert sent me here today, to some ridiculously ass backwards article entitled “For atheists, death is the only point of life”. The author sites the belief Steve Jobs was inspired by, to live every day as if it were your last. She sees this as atheists fixated on death, and believes this negative fixation makes Christianity more appealing but she’s got it completely wrong.
Living is the point of life for an atheist. Life is precious because it’s finite; thus, we appreciate it and don’t squander it. In contrast, the author states the Christian belief is that “this life is simply a preparation for the fullness of life that we hope to experience after death”. Now you tell me who’s made death the point of life, the one who realized that they’d better make the most of the time that they’ve got or the one who is waiting for their “real” life, their better, perfect life to begin after death. If my “real” life wasn’t going to get going until after death, then death couldn’t come fast enough for me. Let’s get on with it, already! What value could you place on this life it it were nothing more than preparation, a rehearsal for your real life?
No, the believer has death as the point of life for they believe, or as the author put it, they hope it’s the gateway to life, the preferred and perfect life. Think about how they use death as a cornerstone of their belief. Their entire belief system is predicated upon death, or more specifically what will happen after death. Sin is the currency of this belief, like an ever increasing credit debt that if you let get too high, will prevent you from being able to access your preferred life after death and be forced to go to hell. It’s this threat of hell that the religion uses as leverage. It’s instrumental in so many of its arguments such as Pascal’s Wager and the so-called “fire and brimstone” sermons.
Death is a fixation for the believer. They can’t bare it so they pacify themselves with this fantasy of a next life. They can’t even properly deal with the deaths of others close to them. Talk to any believer just after someone they’ve loved died at what are the talking points? “He’s in a better place now”, or “I can’t wait to see them again someday”. They don’t ever fully come to terms with their losses and thus don’t come to terms with their own inevitable demise.
In contrast, I find the atheist stronger. The atheist doesn’t fear either their profound sadness and loss as those they love die nor fixate or fret about their own inevitable end. The belief the author sites as Jobs’ guiding principle, that you should live every day as if it were your last, is not fixated on death. On the contrary, it’s life affirming. It’s a slap of reality which is meant to wake you up and motivate you to not squander what you have, to love and appreciate every moment and make your life meaningful.
Nietzsche presented this idea via a story about a being who comes to you and tells you that your life is at an end, and that for the rest of eternity you’ll continue to repeat it. Afterwards he asked whether you’d view such a being as a devil or angel. Would such a fate be a sentence or a reward? If you made living the point of life, living well and meaningfully, then it should be a reward, but if instead you lived it as a mere preparation for some next life, then surely such a pronouncement would be seen as a sentence of hell.
So I would have loved to have shared any of this in the comments section below the article, but then I noticed the following:
Amazing how the religious closely moderate, censor and outright block contrasting views, no? It’s always lies that require protection.