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7 years ago  ::  Oct 08, 2011 - 11:35PM #61
Posts: 8,225

Oct 6, 2011 -- 5:50PM, shirleyj227 wrote:

Being an atheist does not really fix anything does it.


No, but it does give you an incentive to fix things for somebody that God isn't going to fix either.  Maybe that somebody is you, maybe somebody else.

If it is to be it is up to me to do it. 

I find that a liberating, demanding, and inspiring thought.  If something needs to be fixed, neither God nor atheism is going to fix it.  And there is always something that needs fixing.  Endless opportunities to make each day worth dying for.  

If the shoe doesn't fit, don't cram your foot in it and complain.
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7 years ago  ::  Oct 16, 2011 - 3:44PM #62
Posts: 3,242

Shirley, you may be clinically depressed, which is the emotional equivalent of having a blocked sinus and being unable to taste the flavor of any food.  If it aches just to wake up, there are pills for that.

Maybe you're coming to realize that whatever caught your attention before, whatever enthusiasm seized you at one time, it's not doing it now.  Maybe you're in a rut.  If so, it's not toxic unless you interpret as a reason to end your life.  It's boredom.  It's restlessness.  It's a good, old-fashioned midlife crisis, which is nothing more than the sudden realization that it's time for a change.

I think any attempt to explain life is doomed to failure because you're describing something so much larger than yourself, something you're standing in, something you haven't reach the end of.  It's a little like Heidegger's discussion of being.  Heidegger said it's impossible to define being.  To ask, "What is Being?" is to depend upon an understanding of Being as the question, itself, depends on an understanding of Being.  "What IS Being?"  All you can really ask is "What does it mean to ask what is Being?"

Religion attempts to explain life.  In doing so, it waxes poetic without realizing that all it's doing is engaging in poetry - and then expecting others to play along.  With religion, you either believe it or you don't.  There's nothing but authority behind it, the authority of the prophet.  In some faiths, people are pressured into belief by rewards of Heaven and threats of Hell.

Philosophy attempts to explain life - or some aspect of it - without all of the rewards and punishments of religion, and in a straight-forward way.  At least in philosophy, you begin with questions and with the understanding that any answer given can be questioned and analyzed further.  I like the honesty of philosophy, even if the end result can be endless mazes that go nowhere.

Science attempts to explain the world around us but with more restrictive standards and scope.  As in philosophy, the best explanation wins, but it's not a scientific explanation unless it meets very demanding standards, not the least of which is verifiability.  Can it be tested?  Can the results be duplicated?  This gets lost in all the media-reported junk science, science based on surveys and maybes, science that skips peer review on its way to the press conference.  In the meantime, even science - with all of its standards - is limited to the types of questions that can jump through all of these hoops.  

What science can't explain, we leave with philosophy, which is a more sophisticated and democratic approach than religion.  But figuring out the meaning of life is a tall order.  I don't think it's necessary to figure out the point of the movie in order to watch it.

What good is life if it is impermanent?

I don't know.  I'd rather it weren't.  I'd like there to be a sequel to this story, preferably a happy one.  But there's no scientific proof of it.  That doesn't mean there isn't an afterlife, just that anybody pretending to tell you what it's like is full of bat guano.  They speak of things for which they haven't any basis whatsoever.

So, what if this is it?  What if this is all there is?

I'd still rather have this than to not have it.  I'm not sure what "not having it" would be.  It might be like the last second of the last episode of The Sopranos.  One big, black nothing.  If there is no consciousness in death, where is its sting?  What is there to fear?

The point is that you're not dead, at least not right now.

Have you ever found yourself in bed, a few minutes before it was time to get up, but not in any hurry to get out of bed?  You knew your time was short but you weren't in any hurry to give it up.  Notwithstanding its impermanence, it had value to you.

Life is like that.

Nobody would be happier than myself to find that there really is an afterlife, and that the universe is in better hands than anyone ever expected.  But I'm not going to live my life according to their silly stories, manipulated by their promises and threats.  They don't know anything I don't know, and I don't know of anything beyond death.

One thing I do know is that it's possible to have something and to throw it away foolishly, because you didn't appreciate what you had.  Aesop invented a fable about a dog who walks over a bridge, with a bone in his mouth.  When he sees his own reflection in the water below, he decides to scare the other dog.  He'll bark so loud, the other dog will drop his bone; then, he'll have two.  But when he barks, and the other dog drops his bone, he discovers that he's lost what he had in the first place.

I've had my own low moments, when I wondered whether there was any play left in the life before me.  I decided that death awaits us all, making it unnecessary to pull the plug any earlier than necessary.  Some things, once done, cannot be undone.  In a way, we're already dead, all of us.  There's nothing to fear.  Make the best of it.

Look back at your life.  Imagine it in five-year increments.  What would you have missed if your life had ended at any one of those intervals.  

If I had died at 40, I'd have never known my six-year-old daughter, and the joys she has given me.

If I had died at 35, I'd have never gotten into woodworking.

If I had died at 30, I'd have never had a chance to be a teacher.

If I had died at 25, I'd have never had a chance to be a lawyer.

If I had died at 20, I'd have never gone to college, or gotten married.  I'd never have seen the Grand Canyon.

If I had died at 15, I'd have never known what life could be like on my own.

If I had died at 10, I'd have never started my journey away from the religious teachings of my childhood.

If I had died at 5, I'd have never taken up the violin and never have had my first kiss.

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