Tuesday, May 29, 2007


10:49 AM Posted by: M., 12 comments

It is kind of amazing how I value life way more now that I dont believe in an afterlife. I mean, I really would like an afterlife, but now I don't have confidence in it, so I have to really make this life the best possible. It is crazy, because I really think about that every single day--I need to be around my friends and enjoy life, I need to get my things in order to travel, I need to do what I want to and what will make the most difference and be the most satisfying...before, it was just about getting by and waiting for heaven to be perfect.

What do you guys think?


Heather said...

I think living life to the fullest is a great plan no matter what one believes. :) And lack of belief in the afterlife might lead to more enjoyment of this life, because this is it. A danger in belief of the afterlife can lead to is that one can treat this life like a 'stepping stone,' and say that nothing done here utlimately matters so long as one gets into paradise.

B Wark said...

You gotta live this life, theres a "shock" around every corner.

exapologist said...

My experience is similar. I feel liberated and excited about life. Since this may well be it, each day (more often than not) is infused with more urgency and significance, and more moments are throbbing with the pulse of life. What a blessing for the moments of life to really *matter*, and for them to matter *now*!

Another big thing is a newfound and thrilling sense of *autonomy* -- learning about things, joyously following a line of inquiry wherever it leads, judging by my own lights how I will live. My own will and thought is no longer shelved, as it was when I lived the surrogate life of a christian. I feel like a "grown up" in a way that was never satisfied during my life as a Christian.

Also, I'm no longer in a constant state of inner tension, constantly have to use all my wits to "harmonize" my view of the world with the clashing world of my experience. Now I can just follow the arguments, the evidence, the discussion where it leads with lightness of heart.

Oh, and I no longer have to live with the tension of loving and enjoying and growing close to people who were nonetheless "outside the fold". It's so much easier to be myself and let others be themselves, without pretense, even if they disagree with me.

Greg said...

Forget about heaven and live for today. Not bad, but it leaves us with a big 'if.' Who and what do I trust? Even my suspicions are anchored in trust. Why should I trust or distrust afterlife?

Naturalism, relativism or existentialism would be great, but they seem to require too much trust, and in addition, they suck and at some point become absurd.

zilch said...

Dance the wave, no matter what you believe.

Greg- at what point does naturalism suck? I'm 57 and it doesn't suck so far. Absurd it is indeed; but so are all other belief systems, including Christianity. We're all navigating unknown seas, and no chart is perfect. All we can do is laugh at ourselves and sail as best we can.

Greg said...

One of the points where I think naturalism sucks is that it doesn't explain enough. I don't like to have to trust so much.

Seems like "all" statements belong to some omniscient narrator. In navigating unknown seas I wonder if some charts might be better than others.

As we're laughing at ourselves, sailing as best we can could become boring.

zilch said...

Greg- this is probably not the appropriate forum to debate Christianity vs. Naturalism, unless Marie wants to- it's her sandbox. I'll just say that I don't believe in an omniscient narrator, but I have no quarrel with those who do, unless they don't behave nicely.

Heather put it very well. It is obviously quite possible to live life to the fullest as an atheist or as a believer. I have two good friends who are some of the happiest people I know- both very intelligent, successful in their respective fields, and well loved. One is a very pious Catholic, and the other an atheist.

The danger heather spoke of, of treating this life as a stepping stone, is not only dangerous for those who believe it. I remember one poster at "raptureready" saying she had no problem pouring weed killer down the drain because Jesus was coming soon anyway.

Jason said...

Hey there.

I came about this post from The Cubicle Reverend. I've been thinking about what you said regarding living for heaven.

Perhaps strangely, I've never taken that view. I believe in heaven and that I'll get there one day, but that is not TODAY (hopefully - as I look around nervously). Today my motivation is to do the best with what I'm given today. I want to be a blessing to people wherever they are. Can't say I always succeed, but that is true life.

In reading some of your other blog, I applaud you for taking the great chance of following your quest. It sounds like with your family this is a risk (which is too bad). Yes, I'm a Christian, but I've always appreciated people who walk in integrity with what they believe. I may not agree, I may desire something for them that I believe could be better, I may approach them to that effect. But I won't denigrate them because of where they are.

Honestly, I'd rather see someone with your intellectual courage than someone who blithely goes along not thinking about what they believe. So live life for today. I will too. Maybe I'll hear more from you in this conversation.


marie said...

Hey guys!!

Thanks for these. I have been really busy so I havent been able to give as much time to this as I would like, but thanks for your answers...it is encouraging that even though a lot of us differ on here in our beliefs, we do all seem committed to living this life to the fullest whether it is our only life, or just the beginning.

Greg, you had some interesting questions. I think that you will only see the answers of nonchristians as sufficient if you were able to see life through our view. It is very easy for me to imagine a fulfilling life without having to rely on a "truth" like religion--but I think it would be near impossible for a christian to see it that way from within their mindframe.

thanks for coming over, Jason! Thank you for the kind words--if you have a blog, could you send me the link? I am having trouble accessing through your username, but I would love to read it and continue these conversations

JumpingFromConclusions said...

I appreciate life more now than I did as a Christian I think. It's more about living to live life than trying to live the Americanized "Christian" way. I never really thought that much about heaven, really, except as the alternative to hell. I did, however, worry a lot about hell, even when I was a Christian.

Now, I go on living life in generally the same way I did before; I just worry less about an afterlife.

But one thing I have really enjoyed about the beginning of post-Christian life is the expansion of my sense of humor. Leaving Christianity really opens up a lot of humor that was "out of bounds" before. Not vulgar stuff or anything. . . but I can enjoy quality satire now (stuff I knew was funny before, but couldn't admit it in fear of some divine rage). I guess I just don't have to worry about laughing about something now, when it might have been "sinful" to laugh at it before (even though it didn't hurt anything or anyone to laugh about it).

Jason said...

Hey, glad to touch base. My blog is Spoiled for the Ordinary. I'd love to have you stop by.


Jason said...

Nice, I screwed up the link. Let me try again:
Spoiled for the Ordinary