Saturday, January 12, 2008

Time passes

It occurs to me that this is what life is. A series of stops-and-starts, but always progressing forward. You can't fight it. I'm not even sure if you should fight it. So, what do we do with that? Religion, or theism, gives you the perception that this life is a temporary stop on the way to something better. It allows you to not deal with the reality of this being it. Because, whether god exists or not...whether heaven exists or not, this is the only time you will be who you are now. This is the only time you will have the people around you that you do now. This is the time to treasure and treat like gold. Why waste all that time trying to prepare for something that is likely to be non-existent. It's like spending two hundred dollars a week on lottery tickets. With the exception that we know the lotto exists...so, you're actually better off buying the lotto tickets. Yet, I bet I could find a hundred theists, right here today, that wouldn't put money on the lotto. Spending your life like there will always be a tomorrow is extravagant.

17 comments:

Poodles said...

I always thought that makes a good argument to turn pascals wager on it's head. To the christian: What if there isn't a heaven? What if you don't get to see your loved ones again, shouldn't you live life like this is all there is, because it is the only fact we have to go on?

Perpetual Beginner said...

Your parents must have had you fairly young. I'm pretty sure you're either my age or younger, but my parents are 72!

Atheist in a mini van. said...

PB: My dad was twenty-seven and mom was twenty-six, I believe. Not too, too young.

My older brother, though...yeah, they were young. He's nine years older than me. The math makes my stomach queesy.

My grandparents just passed their 62nd anniversary and my parents, there 41st. That's a lot of time.

Poodles: I think so, too.

prairiedawn said...

Can we please not confuse religion with the belief in God. Religion is a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion. Unfortunately, religious doctrine tends to be rigid. In the best circumstance, a believer in God is more fluid, questioning; not content to be spoon fed answers but actually questions and examines their faith

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Can we please not confuse religion with the belief in God.
I suppose we could, but they do seem to go hand-in-hand.

Religion is a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects
True. What does that have to do with the argument? Would you care to elaborate? You generally don't have a religion without a belief in a higher deity. It is that belief in a supreme being that underlines their ideas about the afterlife, is it not?

In the best circumstance, a believer in God is more fluid, questioning; not content to be spoon fed answers but actually questions and examines their faith

I'll buy that as well: I still don't see how that relates to the original post/argument? Even if you're purely a theist with no religious leanings, we might assume that you believe there is something after death, correct?

prairiedawn said...

I'm going to have to ask you to bare (SP?) with me. I'm new to writing responses and I know I don't always express myself well and I go off tangents, in case you haven't noticed :)
Anyway I guess my point was that your comment (Religion, or theism, gives you the perception that this life is a temporary stop on the way to something better) gave me with the impression that your view of people who consider themselves religious was fixed. So I suppose that was my long winded way of saying I hope you and everyone really has an open mind when it comes to the differences among us.
Does that make any sense?

amarullis said...

I completely understand those feelings about your dad. My dad turns 64 this year (can't wait for the "When I'm 64" sing-along at the party). This year I will be the same age he was when I was born. I am his little girl and an adult in his eyes at the same time. It is very strange and wonderful. About valuing life now, I agree that no matter your beliefs about what comes after, it is so very important to experience all you can in this reality. For me, I have seen a lot of doubt, fear, and guilt from religious people I have known, that has clouded them from the joys of life. For some though, they do experience a more full life because of their beliefs. I guess it just comes down to the person.

Prairiedawn- I think you can be assured that the people here are very open minded. I am sure many people here that are non-believers, such as myself, have had experiences on the way to admitting their lack of belief, that exposed them the myriad of interpretations on belief that people can have even if they sit side by side on the same pew at church. Some of the people here are theists, which in itself tells you that they would be open minded (save the few that made their close minded views very well known). I think if you looked at the statement "Religion, or theism, gives you the perception that this life is a temporary stop on the way to something better" as a generalization, though one statistically very accurate, it may help.
Also, another thing to think about is that most Americans (no matter their religious beliefs) generally think of Christianity when they make statements about religion, but never clarify this, as it is generally understood and/ or is unconscious. When I have managed to get friends from the UK to talk about religion (which is a subject they seem terribly bored by!), the same assumptions can not be made.

prairiedawn said...

amarullis--Thanks

Katie said...

I almost make the same argument to my students who think they can sit around and just think they can "get by." I have to avoid some of the religious argument and points because it is a public school but it still works.


My older brother, though...yeah, they were young. He's nine years older than me. The math makes my stomach queesy.

Oh yeah I can agree with you on that from my own experience. I'm 11 and 10 years younger then my brothers. My parents are 58 and 63 (my dad) and here's the kicker, I'm only 22.

Perpetual Beginner said...

Theists can run a huge gamut in their beliefs about an after-life and the meaning of this life. Religions tend, by their very nature, to limit the range of beliefs of the people that adhere to them.

For one example, fairly extreme I think, I'm a theist. I fully agree with Pmomma's view because I don't know what an afterlife is going to be, or look like, or if one actually exists at all. Plus, I think it's irrelevant (which confuses a hell of a lot of my co-religionists). If I do good things because I'm afraid of God, or because I expect to get things from it - what good am I? I try to be the sort of person who even if I knew absolutely I were going to Hell tomorrow, would still try to do good today, not for a reprieve, but simply because it is good.

For the record I practice as an Episcopalean, partially for their inclusiveness, partially because my husband wouldn't be comfortable with the UU's, and partially for the beauty of the service and music.

As far as I can tell, Pmomma, I'm about four years older than you, and my parents had me when they were eight years older than your Dad was.

Cari said...

Actually, Judaism makes no claims on the afterlife. The Jewish philosophy is: since no one who's died can tell us what it's like, how could we possibly know whether there is an afterlife or not? So in that respect, Jews are a lot like atheists: We know we have to make every day matter for its own sake, not some potential reward in the sky.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Hi Cari!!
I'm not sure that's true. My SIL is Jewish and we've had discussions about this before. Her understanding was that the soul is a part of God and, because of that, the soul is eternal. It can never cease to be. And, at death, it goes back from where it came - God. So, ultimately, every soul returns to being part of God, which is perfection and heavenly. On the way back to God, there is an accounting. You will see your life as you lived it and then you will see your life again, albeit changed, as it would've been if you'd made every choice "using God's perfect wisdom and in perfect service to Him".

It's not your typical heaven. But, it's still an everlasting process.

Cari said...

Hmm, that's interesting. Several different rabbis have told me what I posted on your blog, but I hadn't heard what you said before. I think I'll look into this. Do you know what branch of Judaism your SIL belongs to?

Atheist in a mini van. said...

It is interesting. I believe you - I don't think you're lying.

My SIL is, to be slightly catty, "whatever kind of Jewish she needs to be whenever she needs to be Jewish." I have asked her which branch she followed, because I do know there's more than one, and she looked at me like I was insane. She grew up in Southern California, so I'm assuming she was exposed to a fairly liberal and modern Judaism.

Thranil said...

PM said: "You generally don't have a religion without a belief in a higher deity. It is that belief in a supreme being that underlines their ideas about the afterlife, is it not?"

Coupling religion tightly with a belief in the supernatural is, from what I can tell, a westernized concept. Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism are three religions that do not have anything to say about a supernatural deity (although myths and supernatural powers have been attached to & have distorted these religions over time). I don't have a argument to make, I just wanted to point that out... :)

Regarding the blog post: I've recently been reading "The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality" by Andre Comte-Sponville, and it actually has something to say about these types of things. I recommend it to anyone (theists included) who really want to think about life BEFORE death.

Vamp said...

PM's SIL said:"...You will see your life as you lived it and then you will see your life again, albeit changed, as it would've been if you'd made every choice "using God's perfect wisdom and in perfect service to Him"."

THAT SCARES THE SHIT OUT OF ME! Think about how many forks in the road we've come to and then taking a path thinking it was a good one, only for it to be wrong. Oops! Geez, I wonder where my live would've been...again very scary to me. Not that I'm a bad person, I just know I've made some bad choices in my life.

AND... it would make a cool a book/movie. :)

amarullis said...

Thranil said "Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism are three religions that do not have anything to say about a supernatural deity (although myths and supernatural powers have been attached to & have distorted these religions over time)."

I listened to a program on my local public radio station a couple weeks ago that was about the definition of religion. They were very detailed on the different things required for something to be considered a religion. They excluded Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism as religions, considering them as guides to reality or philosophies. I guess it all depends on the criteria you think of when you think of religion, but I thought it was interesting you had used those examples.

- my word verification is "foopdirf." Seems like that should mean something. Maybe its Gaelic :P