An atheist blogger wrote…
If there is no heaven or hell after we die, if there is only nothing, the same kind of nothing that existed before we were born, then we return to nothing when we die. Therefore, it seems to me we have to make full use of what little time we have.
Realizing this is IT, that we have no second chance, no reincarnation, no opportunity to try life again, we have to make the most of this life. Each one of us is alive as only a spark of life in a long existence of the Earth and the universe. So…
One might finish this way…
I would like all the money that I can get by with stealing. I want to make people serve me against their will. I want to have people that disagree with me imprisoned. I want your stuff. I want to drink myself silly and yell profanities at your children. I want to drive on the wrong side of the road with a monster truck. I want to…
That’s what I think is making the most of this life and if there is no heaven or hell, if there is no-thing when we die, then this person is absolutely right. They are right because what they are presupposing, what they would like you to presuppose, is that there is no accountability in the afterlife because there is no afterlife. They would like to propose that there is no afterlife because they would like to propose that there is no soul. They would also like you to accept that there is no god. Here are some other things that they would like you to presuppose…
1) I want every moment of my life to experience all my sense. 2) I want to exist as a fully human being, 3) having access to all my sensory organs. 4) I want access to as much learning as I can possibly squeeze into my incredibly short time on the Earth. 5) I want to be earnestly engaged in living, 6) and in seeing that every living being has the same opportunity as I. 7) A humongous change has to occur in culture for this to happen.
Let us look at this critically.
- Assuming that this is merely a case of bad grammar, this person wants to experience each moment of their life with all of their senses. I am actually not sure what they mean by this. I suspect the statement is an attempt to be poetic about existentialism. I’ll take the liberty to reword this, if you’ll forgive me, please. I would like my life to be abundantly full and fully experience it (physically). This experience must be physical because there is no-thing else to experience life with. There are only physical stimuli. Remember, there is no soul to experience abstractions like love, joy, peace, etc. These things are only illusory (according to their view), made up by us to compensate and explain our physical stimuli.
- To exist as a fully human being is once again a strange wish to have. Do they exist as a partial human being? Of course not. They explain what they mean next in (3).
- To be fully human is, by their standard, having access to all my sensory organs. They say this as if there is no access to some of their sensory organs. Let me interpret again. I hope I am not out of bounds here. What they really mean to say is that one is not fully human who cannot experience maximum freedom while seeking pleasure; or satisfaction is found in the physical experience. This is consistent because in this persons view, there is no other part of being human to experience. There is no soul to love or experience real emotions. There are only physical stimuli to cause us to have illusions which result in our fooling ourselves into believing we are experiencing true metaphysical connections. The thing you feel when you lose a relative or find a mate or pet your old dog is only firing of neurons in your brain. It’s not really love or sadness or peace.
- To experience maximum learning is one of the greatest virtues of life. Life is short and our goal should be maximum knowledge. Hmmm.
- The wish to earnestly engage in living must be another restatement of (1) and (2). This is an ongoing theme with this person. Living (physical experience) should be maximum. Alright already!
- We finally get to a desire for something outside of self. Unfortunately, it is only a desire that others experience this physical experience that is so fundamental to this view. At least there is some attempt here to assert a morality. It must be good, in their view, for people to have opportunity to be existential.
- A humongous change must occur for this to happen. I’ll say.
Let’s take another look from another perspective…
- My physical senses are great sometimes. Sometimes they’re not. I don’t think I want to experience them to a greater extent. Maybe I would like to experience some of the more pleasurable of them more often or more intensely, maybe. On the other hand, it would be great to love more, hate less, and experience less anxiety. It would also be great to be loved more and hated less.
- I would also like to exist more fully as human. This can only happen, in my opinion, if we admit the obvious. We are not merely physical. To be fully human is to be a person, not just a body. We are more than bodies reacting to environment. We are persons who are. We exist as persons who experience love, retain memories, understand and communicate abstract ideas, long for rightness, desire relationships, and need deep understanding. There may be a claim that these are not real experiences, but that is what the claim must be, ultimately. One cannot be a physicalist and have the luxury of these things we take for granted as human persons.
- I would like to put forth the idea that mere physical experience leaves one more empty than full. This is because we know intrinsically that there is more to us than mere physical. Satisfaction actually gets farther from us if we continue to seek physical pleasure while ignoring our non-physical needs. We all know this as true. That’s why we long for deep, abiding relationships and understand that this is not fulfilled by physical contact.
- Learning is a great thing, but why is it? If knowledge is acquired exponentially, and there is no purpose in it, why is it good or virtuous? Knowledge, on its own, is neither virtue or vice. It is just knowledge. Knowledge should lead to some greater thing. It should lead to more abiding or deeper relationships, moral acts, kindness, etc. In fact, I would say that if one holds knowledge that could be used for these things and fails to use that knowledge, they would be immoral in their inaction.
- To be earnestly engaged in living would, in my opinion, be using knowledge, along with wisdom, to engage in good or right moral acts and deep, abiding relationships as described above.
- To work for equal opportunity is definitely a fine virtue to pursue. This is only coherent in a world in which we believe in inalienable rights endowed to all people. That is only possible in a world created by a person who creates people with those given rights.
- A humongous change must occur for this to happen. Amen.