October 14, 2007
It seems common to think that Atheists cannot have a positive outlook on life, because the non-existence of god somehow denies life of any meaning.
I recently attended a funeral (not someone I knew, but I was there to support the family) followed closely by a wedding. And then, as if it was all part of some higher plan (irony intended), I find myself listening to this podcast which I downloaded a while ago, but hadn’t got around to listening to yet.
The funeral certainly reminded me of death (which, one might imagine, might be an unpleasant thing to think about), but because of my recent “brush with death”, I was able to appreciate the wedding so much more. Knowing that life will end (and will not go on forever, as many religious people might hope for) made the celebration much more special that it might have been otherwise. As Joseph Brisendine explains in the podcast – how long could you have a orgasm for before it became boring? Life is wonderful precisely because it ends.
If we were to “transcend” death, and live in a “perfect place” for eternity, nothing in this life would be special or have meaning, because we’d always be longing for this “other world”. And isn’t this exactly what religion teaches us? Religion (at least the Abrahamic ones, and probably most others) teach of an “after” life, which is supposed to be much grander and more fulfilling than this life ever can be.
It is claimed that without “God”, life cannot have purpose, but Nietzsche suggests (at least, Brisendine talking about Nietzsche) that it is only without God that this life can have any meaning.