an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

Glass Half Empty?

I used to be a Christadelphian, recently a few people who I used to know when I was a believer found me on Facebook, and one has been asking me various questions around why I no longer believe. Today he sent me the following

What is the joy/hope in believing in evolution? Do you just accept that when you die that’s it and there’s nothing more?…eg no resurrection or even reincarnation. It just seems to me that it’s a very sad and dismal view of things, definitely pessimistic and ‘glass half empty’ viewpoint. I guess you’d say “if there’s no God to raise me then I accept my fate (death)”.

This is a common question thrown out by Christians desperate to have a reason to believe, and the answers are always the same….here’s what my reply was –

It’s not about ‘joy/hope” it’s about accepting reality as it is. Yes, when I die I will be gone, but think of this – I’m one of the lucky ones! So many potential people who could have been here instead of me will never live! For me to exist so many incredible things had to happen – a universe had to exist that was stable enough for suns to form in it, those suns had to be able to generate heavy elements, planets had to form around those stars, and (on at least one) life had to arise via abiogenesis….even getting to the point where life exists is amazing but that’s only the start of it! That life had to evolve over vast periods of time, increasing in complexity until higher life forms appeared, then one particular species had to become self aware…..and even then EVERY SINGLE ONE of my ancestors had to survive long enough to successfully reproduce, and they had to reproduce at the exact times they did, all the way through history for ME to be born….even if my parents had conceived on a different day I wouldn’t be here. And you say that’s not enough?? The fact that every single one of our ancestors, going back over three BILLION years was a success isn’t enough?? When the asteroid hit the earth that wiped out 99% of all living things our ancestors saw it…and SURVIVED!

I glory in my fate! Because dying means I had the chance to live! 

Dawkins, Hitchens, practically any atheist who’s ever thought about the question have answered pretty much the same way – it’s a common trope from the non-faithful, but that’s because it’s how we feel.

He responded by asking ‘what about the future?’ and claimed that he wanted to live forever – here’s my reply to that

Aren’t you grateful for the only life you have? Where does this (frankly perverse) idea that ‘forever’ is ‘better’ come from?

The future is what my children, and their children, and *their* children will inherit – it is not our place to hang around and stifle each subsequent generation – don’t you think the idea of the Kingdom is utterly grotesque? No more children being born, no chance to live in a world where you can make your own decisions, forced to exist in an eternity worshipping an insecure being? How is that a good thing? An eternity of absolute stasis….you’d go insane.

This idea that immortality is something to be sought is obscene. Also, here’s a conundrum for you – the very act of wanting more life is greed, which is a sin.

I glory in my fate because I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the minute number of sentient beings in this Universe to have experienced life, and to have been self aware enough to understand how amazing that is. Make no mistake, being self aware and alive puts you in a tiny minority even when you consider just our planet. You should be grateful that, not only are you alive, but you’re also living in a place where it’s comfortable to be alive, in a time when global disease, war, and mortality is the lowest its ever been – don’t believe me? Do some historical research, you’ll find that (far from what the press would have you believe) we are now safer, healthier, wealthier, and less likely to die in a war than ANY of our ancestors, EVER. If you think that isn’t true, try and find a period in history that had greater medical knowledge, higher standards of living, and fewer wars.

There’s no pessimism in accepting reality, not unless you chose to look for it.

So, how does your magic, superstition, and Bronze Age ‘wisdom’ compare?

I look forward to his reply, and will report it here if it’s something interesting.

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