I've been watching the teams debate here in this forum and, although I consider myself agnostic; I tend to sympathize with the atheist argument, on most levels. But, I also see no harm in religion if it is kept in perspective. I ran across a comment by an atheist the other day that I have seen before and I'm not quite sure I understand the logic. The last time I saw it, it was stated like this (I've simply copied and pasted, leaving the spelling errors intact:
In fact, if a god exists and life is eternal then life is cheep. Who cares if you die or a billion are murdered? They all go to heaven if they have been good.
But if like ends and there is no waking up dead, then life is precious and of greater value.
My question is, do atheists honestly believe this? Because, it seems illogical to me. In my mind, anyone that sees some type of continued existence after this physical one would have more respect for life.
I believe in a continued consciousness in some form; therefore, not knowing what form that will be I consider myself much more concerned about my dealings with this world and those that are in it. If we do, in fact, continue on; who would want to look back with regrets?
Atheism, in my mind, is the philosophy that cheapens life. You only live once, for a limited amount of time. In my mind, that philosophy makes you more prone toward acting in your own self interest.
I'm interested in an explanation.
Why would you value it more? That would make no sense.
If you only had a limited time, then that's it...then you should actually put a higher value on living life and making an impact on those who surround you.
Not knowing what form? But, continued existence would lessen the value of life, because you believe your own consciousness would continue on. Thus, what you did here makes no difference.
It's only regret, if judgment is what you receive afterward. If it is just continuation of consciousness, then you would have no regret.
Atheism is the flip-side of the coin of Christianity. Part of the duality of humankind. Without religion, Atheism wouldn't exist to begin with.
Actually, I value YOUR life, as much as I value my life. And, I am not atheist. The problem is many people are selfish, not self-interest. There is a difference. Being self-interest is about self improvement. Always being interested in improving upon yourself. I have a hub if you're interested?
But you aren't looking at the whole picture. Against almost impossible odds we are exchanging views here. How many other sperm cells did your representative out swim to enable you to question anyone's idea of life?
You and I both won the greatest lottery of all, life! Do we spend it worrying about what comes after? Or do we appreciate our luck and the experience?
When we die, we will be in the same place we were millions of years before we were born. I have no bad memories of that time, do you?
those that believe in a better life after this one include the pastor that murdered an abortion doctor because he thought it pleased god, and also the 911 terrorists. In the extreme, they don't care if they die, because they believe they will be rewarded in heaven.
Most that believe in a better life eternally spend most of their life preaching to others, trying to 'save souls', and have their lives run by the those who interpret the books of this invisible deity.
Those that consider this to be fairy tales and accept responsibility for their own lives make their own meaning and make the most of their short life.
And then there's those that don't care one way or the other - they live recklessly, irresponsibly etc.
(In my mind, that philosophy makes you more prone toward acting in your own self interest.)
Don't kid yourself - everyone acts in his own self interest. Mother Theresa didn't take actions for the sake of others - she acted as she did because she believed her actions were called for as part of her religious beliefs. In other words, she acted as she did because it made her feel better about herself - she acted in her own self interests.
We all do.
I agree. There is no human action that isn't motivated by some degree of self interest. But, the degree varies wildly from decision to decision.
I simply think that a belief in a continuation of consciousness gives one a feeling of connection to the past, present and future and causes one to value all life to a greater degree. I would assume the Christian belief in a god would make them feel this also.
I can't see how the belief in nothing past a seventy to eighty year existence would cause an atheist to care about all life; as much as they do their own. There is no sense of connection.
(In my mind, anyone that sees some type of continued existence after this physical one would have more respect for life.)
Without knowing it, you have placed a severe limitation on the definition of life, while at the same time embracing the Christian ideas of afterlife. Does the Christian dominionist who believes in life after death have more respect for the life of an animal than the Buddhist or the Jainist? What about the atheist who helps fund an animal shelter?
Or is it only human life that is important?
Reality always sucks because it never cares what we think. But here is reality: if life has a value, it doesn't change based on anyone's opinion about it.
The value of life doesn't change, but the quality of our existence and those of future generations (not only humanity) depends on our actions. Selfishness is not something we can afford to allow to continue.
I'm not certain you are right in your assessment of me. I don't think I have much in common with Christian philosophy, but I don't know what that is. There are so many definitions of it. As many as there are Christians, it appears at times.
(the quality of our existence and those of future generations (not only humanity) depends on our actions.)
This has nothing to do with valuation of life but about moral decisions - and they are not the same - and moral decisions are certainly not made in better manner by theists.
Yet moral decisions are greatly influenced by how much value we put on things other than ourselves. Other life.
But, as I've already learned from this thread; the argument that the atheistic philosophy puts more value on life is referring to the individual and not to life in general. I do believe that philosophy is well suited to the celebration of self.
As said before, the word atheist is a religious construct.
Those who do not have in a super daddy in the sky understand why we are here, and is not about self, or our eternal life, it is about continuing the species and hopefully improving the life experience of our offspring and fellow humans.
No greater purpose needed.
Well said Earnest. If some folks didn't have Satan to blame for their own actions, they might take responsibility themselves.
But it is hard for some to even question things they have been instructed since childhood to not think about. Some never get over the indoctrination. As you can see from these very forums.
Live a good life! One does not need 9 more commandments to follow.
The fact that I know this is the only life I have makes me appriciate each minute that much more. When I do something to help another, I do it because t is the right thing to do and not because I am seeking some reward when I die. II know that organized religion does a lot to help some people. It also does a lot more to hurt others. I have to wonder how many religious people who contribute to a cause are doing so because it is the decent thing to do, or are simply hoping to but their way into the reward they have been promised. When I look in the mirror I see the person I have shown the world I want to be. I believe that religious people see the person they have been told they are by another.
I suppose if a person hears it repeated often enough that they are somehow superior to eveyone else, they will eventually begin to believe it. If they are the superior people on earth, they have no reason to question their actions that do harm to another person or a group of people. Too many christians here in the bible belt believe they are better than everyone else they meet and everone they have never met.
I agree, Stump! Wasting one's life being righteous and depending on having a blast after death is a no win situation. Be good to people and enjoy the act of living. It doesn't take an old novel full of ancient myths to understand our purpose here. To live!
I think I can do it!
Where do you live at "in the Bible belt?' I wonder what kind of 'religious people' you have met and are referring to. I don't know many that fall under these typecasts, though without a doubt I have met some that do...
Glenda I live in Spartanburg, SC. Preachers arounf here dont simply preach to their congregation. They take out full page ads in our paper to comdemn homosexuality. The quality of education in this state is appalling and it shows in the actions and thoughts of the general population. Spartanburg has 7 seperate school districts and the average from 8th in the state to 56th out of 77 districts in the state, Now those who rank in the top 10 to 15 are quite proud of this fact. They simply ignore the fact that they rank 8th in a state that ranks 45th in the entire nation. How does one take pride in being almost the best of the worst? It's like taking pride in being the smartest person in room filled with blundering idiots. Doesn't take a lot of effort to achieve that status, does it?.
Most of these people are southern baptist or evangelicals and the bigotry from the days of slavery is still alive and well around here. People my age still think of blacks as being less than human.
I know there are some intelligent people in this area and they are on the increase as more and more people from the north a settling in this area. That is not a slam against the south but a nod to the better education people in the north were provided with. I started school in the north and when I moved here I was a full year ahead of my class. In the eleventh grade I signed up for a reading class as I love to read. Imagine my suprise when I discovered it was a last ditch effort to teach students HOW TO READ befoe giving them their diploma. They still got the diploma whether they passed the course or not. Knowing how to read was not a requirement to graduate and these people are proud of the education they provided students.
Your experiences are not untypical in the deep south, Stump! In many cases, religion promotes ignorance in this part of the world.
Bigotry, superstition, religious fundamentalism, indoctrination of children at an early age, all of these things contribute to ignorance and hatred.
I've witnessed it often.
I think the following quote from the movie Gladiator sums up how I think about this topic.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity."
Judging by the atheist responses, I can see two things.
A. They limit themselves to two options.
B. They don't see that their responses prove they don't value all life, just their own. It is the more selfish philosophy when comparing it to those who believe in a god.
No, that is simply untrue.
What is obvious is your attachment to your myth, and that you see and read selectively.
Ernest, as bizarre a this may seem to both camps; I think both options are off base; and most everyone I know agrees with this assessment. There's no Eye in the Sky, but neither is the extent of the destiny of our consciousness to fertilize the earth.
There are more than two options, but were there not; valuing life goes a great deal further than valuing the few piddly years of our own existence here, or the lives within our tiny circle of influence. Valuing life would involve a connection to not only the 7 billion humans, but also everything in the universe; whether I see it as 'alive', or not.
To limit the circle of interest and concern is, in my mind, the definition of selfish.
Without the tag of atheist, I will speak for myself.
I do not see any "atheists" here who do not consider the greater good of doing for mankind as well as their own.
I do see religionists separate themselves from the rest of mankind by excluding them on the basis of their belief not being identical to theirs. They exclude each other.
Religionists don't get along with other religionists for long, as you will see in the history of these threads.
I wasn't judging the individual, I was questioning the philosophies of theism, as opposed to atheism. I'm sure the atheists here are dandy people. As I said, I see more value in the atheist argument on most levels. Not this one. Not by the manner in which it has been presented.
Valuing one's own life for this brief moment in time above all else is selfish and devalues everything else that has come before, or will come after. Each of our physical existences is a tiny spec in time, yet there is a great deal of focus on the individual. This thread runs through the responses thus far.
Am I to understand that you are supporting future lives other than your own?
In that case, look after your children and grandchildren well, and be loving to others.
If you mean forego the life of loved ones for some future theory of immortality then I think you're nuts!
No Ernest. I don't advocate that one should forego anything. But, the question wasn't about me, or my philosophy. I am looking for a better understanding of the far ends. When I read the threads, atheism comes off as highly focused on self. I simply find it strange that the statement I quoted in the OP is considered a valid argument.
Let me be plain about the OP
"Atheism, in my mind, is the philosophy that cheapens life. You only live once, for a limited amount of time. In my mind, that philosophy makes you more prone toward acting in your own self interest."
Not believing in a god or gods is simply not believing.
Where did you get the idea that it is a philosophy?
I don't believe a lot of things.
Disbelief in a crazy psychotic bronze aged myth requires nothing more than common sense and does not require any philosophy at all.
But, as I believe you have stated, you are not an atheist. You and I are probably similar in philosophy in many ways. It doesn't take belief in, what you call, a bronze age myth to see the possibility of other ways. Not all ways are limited to the question of the existence of any god. But, it appears to me that the philosophy of atheism lacks insight, in the argument of the value of life.
I also consider myself an agnostic. I don't know if there are "gods" or not and don't really care. If there are, I'm not too impressed with them or their supposed human intervention.
At any rate, if the way things are on earth now is indicative of their omnipotence, then they are not much better than us mere mortals. I don't know if they exist or not, but I'm not going to waste my only known life worshiping something which may or may not exist.
I see no point in a deity or deities hiding themselves and depending on, for the most part, the most ignorant of representatives to convince others of their being. Sorry, but there it is. I cannot force myself to believe things which are not only illogical, but contradictory, for the most part.
I'm not at all sure I understand what that has to do with question of who values human life more. Am I missing something in your argument?
There is no meter to gauge whether those who buy into religion have any better grasp of life values than anyone else. Do you really expect to find out this way? If so, good luck to you.
I agree with you on that point, but it appears the atheists do; since they are using it as an argument. I had hoped one of them could offer an explanation to show they understood, and believed in their statements. Something to back the statements up. So far, no luck
Something seems to be amiss.
To value life? It is based on one's own understanding of themselves and not what is actually believed. Beliefs are not truth.
To put a value on this life that I am living, then I must understand my life. To understand my life is to know and learn that my life isn't the only thing that matters.
To have a belief that my life would continue on after dead, would lessen the value, because what I do here and now, and in the future, would not matter, because after dead, my consciousness would still continue on. That means, one would live for themselves and only for themselves in the here and now and future.
This isn't a difficult thing to understand. If one is confused about it, then one is confused about knowing and understanding of themselves, which means that they have no understanding of purpose or meaning of life. Having no understanding of purpose or meaning of life, means one cannot value their own life or life around them.
Something is amiss. You have misunderstood. Look at your post. How many times you've used the words I, my, one and self. You focus on the individual, not the totality of humanity. It is self-ish. I put the dash in to help you remember that selfish involves a focus on self. It devalues life, because your explanation is all about you.You are not the totality of life.
It is not that there is anything inherently wrong by doing it; it is simply your limited way of viewing the universe.
But I cannot see the world through your eyes, Emile. Did you check your own posts for the number of times you used the word "I" in your statements? Whose opinion and life experiences would you rather I give? Yours?
If so, you need no input from others here.
Yes..when we speak, or type, we do use the term I. But, you understand, as well as I do, that this is not the issue.
I'm not arguing that I must know me so that my life has value, because my life is all that matters when contemplating the value of life.
I am arguing that when trying to determine the sum total of 'the value of life'; if your ego is the most important part of the equation, then your philosophy can only be seen as self-ish.
And where did I ever say I was only concerned with self, Emile? That is merely your take on my response, and wrongly taken, by the way. Helping others is its own reward. Gods aren't needed for one to possess basic values which determine the continuation of the human species. Even most lower species of animals have instincts which curtail them from eating their own kind.
Unless you believe they are worshiping some god or another and are merely following his commandments, they are following their own basic instincts.
Until another species of animal can sit down and discuss the value of life, I am left to assume that their actions are motivated by their own needs for survival.
It appears my curiosity has caused you some irritation. I apologize.
No need for any apologies, Emile! My only irritation concerns my own inability to covey my thoughts to you properly.
I think it has to do more with basic genetically transferred instincts which demand we protect our families and loved ones so the human race will survive and prosper. Sure, there will always be sociopaths who care for nothing but themselves, but most of us are concerned for the well being of our children, as well as those of complete strangers.
Adding mythical gods into the mix helps nothing unless we are trying to fool ourselves into thinking we cannot survive on our own merits like our ancient ancestors certainly did long before organized religion was invented.
Yes, I would agree that, for many, it is simple instinct for us to put the needs of family and loved ones first. Belief in a reward/punishment system dictated by a god is not required in order to do the right thing by way of others.
This confusion was, most likely, my fault. I assumed when the atheists spoke of the value one puts on life, it referred to the amount of compassion and long term concern in an over all world view the philosophies instilled; while the atheist argument is much more limited in its scope.
Before you can FOCUS on the totality of humanity, you must first understand self. Or did you miss that in my post?
Your philosophy comes through loud and clear. Thanks for asking for clarification.
I thought you were one of these rare reasonable Christians, good for you, you get along somewhere on middle grounds. I find my own middle ground from both extreme ends of the poles.
There was only one atheist statement you gave, I can clearly get
I believe in a continued consciousness in some form; therefore, not knowing what form that will be I consider myself much more concerned about my dealings with this world and those that are in it. If we do, in fact, continue on; who would want to look back with regrets? \
Icnasia wrote this Quote
I think the following quote from the movie Gladiator sums up how I think about this topic.
"What we do in life echoes in eternity."
What a horrible example of a group mastering life, Christian main purpose is to Inspire to go to extreme happiness heaven just so you can numb themselve and us from smiling down on earth and hell.
I see no sense in carrying any regrets in life, Why would anyone want to do very little about regrets in the future wail dwelling in med evil times as a gladiator, Christian soldier, or deal with Satan’s endless contradiction, then present it all as grace, it’s all so, bark raving mad
If anyone finds sense in Satan, please join my hub- Save Satan fan club
One thing I'm pretty sure of. If the Christian concept of god is right; then we're all screwed. Them as much as us. Their idea of a god enjoys inflicting pain way too much.
Emile R ... your question is a valid one.
This may seem off topic but I think that most people do place different values upon their own life at different stages in their life.
The value of life actually remains the same who ever we are.
And certainly, the importance related to death should be different for those that do not believe in life after death than for those that do.
If someone kills me and there is lie after death, that wouldn't be the same as they killing me i there isn't life after death.
The consequences of their actions are different.
That is a very interesting point. I've never considered that. I suppose, if there is no hope of consciousness beyond death, murder would have to be considered a much more heinous action.
And also If someone had killed me 50 years ago they would have stolen much more from me than if it were to happen today.
I fear death less now than I did even 30 years ago than I do now,
Sometimes i see life here in the physical plane kinda like going to the amusement park.
I would hate it more if I got kicked out of the part 15 minutes after entering through the gate than I would after i had ridden all the rides at least once.
The value of being in the park remains the same as long as I am in it.
But the fear of being expelled decreeses as the sun goes down.
Are you crazy? If you get kicked out before dark, you miss the fireworks.
But, I don't know that I agree completely. I think, in many ways, life gets more precious as we get older. I'll admit that I don't suffer fear of death; but the older I get the more I realize the less I know and I'm not anxious to stop the learning process.
I can understand in a way what was being suggested in this post. Because the religious believe that there is somewhere to go after their body has ceased to be, they may be less likely to fight to hold onto this physical life. Consider some religious terrorists, who blow themselves up, believing that they will have a reward in the life to come. The atheist, who believes this is all there is going to be more likely to hang onto it, believing oblivion is what awaits us all.
I am obviously terrible at expressing myself. No, it wasn't that, but you make a valid point with the terrorists.
I see a continuity. Your consciousness aware before, during and after this life. I would think the religionists are, in some ways, similar in philosophy. I just think it would lead you to have a more compassionate view for all life. You would feel more of a connection.
But, I'm beginning to understand the statement I included in the OP by the atheist. They are arguing on the level of just a personal philosophy, not world view. So, I guess they are probably right. They would, of course, value their lives on a higher level.
lots of believers don't want to see this next life they long for though. I know a christian that is considering getting a hysterectomy because she is scared to get the same cancer that killed her mother
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