The Atheist Afterlife
What is an Atheist afterlife?
"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand." -Woodrow Wilson
Atheism is commonly characterized by both Atheists and others of different religious beliefs as having no afterlife. Quite simply, you die, and you're done. That's it.
No one just ends.
The first issue of afterlife is really any issue of consciousness. But requiring consciousness to qualify for an 'afterlife' is a very strict limitation and is very narrow-minded when you really think about it. Such as when you're asleep, just because you aren't conscious doesn't mean you no longer exist and that you are no longer relevant to the world around you. Consciousness is not required for you to still have an impact. Consider a simple example, you offered advice to a friend, and afterwards went to sleep. Your friend, while you are sleeping, will continue to be affected by your advice, and may conjure up new actions to take in regards to the topic. Is this not something you have caused? Instead of sleeping you could have died in a tragic accident.
Now draw this out, perhaps you died that night, but your advice changed that friend's decisions for the night. They will also continue to impact his decisions from there on. In fact, at least to a small extent, you impact everyone you interact with. This impact echoes on throughout time regardless of whether or not you are alive. In other words, what you have done will affect everything you've come in contact with and indirectly affect that which those things affect, forever.
A simple smile to a stranger could start a ripple of positive behavior that extends permanently.
- So what is an atheist afterlife? It's legacy. It's the changes you've made in the world that live on after you die. Friends, children, co-workers, strangers, anyone and anything you've come in contact with. Even if you no longer are conscious as an atheist death would imply, you will permanently affect existence.
Live a good life, be a good listener, a good friend, a good parent, just be positive and you will have an admirable afterlife. Who couldn't die with a smile on their face if they knew their life was spent creating happiness that will ripple on throughout eternity.
That is something people of all religions and those who don't have religions should all agree on. Don't be a jerk and follow the golden rule. Whether someone who dies moves onto some form of conscious afterlife or not, the things you did in life are still left behind and carry on.
As a sidenote for brain-food, this also highlights exactly how critical one individual life is for the whole. Positivity and negativity spread like a disease. It's easy to only think of yourself, but never forget the massive impact you can have on this world.