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Dec 21 2012

So Long As The World Is Ending…

It’s ok. We all know atheists have nothing to live for, anyway.

I found this verse while looking for something else. I had completely forgotten writing it, so I’m reposting it, on the chance that you have completely forgotten reading it. It was based on a comment overheard, about how “atheists have nothing to live for”. I tried my best to put myself in the position of someone who actually believes that…

You’ve nothing to live for, my atheist friend–
No hell or no heaven, to fall or ascend
When your time on this planet has come to an end
No reason at all to go on

If heaven and god are the myths you report
And you vow to be clear-eyed and not to distort,
Then life, as you know, is remarkably short
And nothing at all once it’s gone

You must be disheartened! I cannot conceive
The depression of people who do not believe
Where worm-food’s the most they can hope to achieve
And death is an ending, outright.

No cloud-covered heaven, its streets paved with gold
Where everyone’s happy, and no one grows old
The story that innocent children are told
To keep them from crying at night

No future past death; just the here and the now
Just the days and the nights that your life will allow
You could try to extend them, but no one knows how
No hope for a shot at hereafter

Just puppies, and babies, and flowers, and fun
Rainbows, and kisses, and seashells, and sun
Elephants, penguins, and whales by the ton
And giggles and childish laughter

Just cities that sparkle by day and by night
Forests and fields that may stretch out of sight
Eagles and airplanes and seagulls in flight
And water or wine in your cup

If you’re lucky, there’s children, and laughter, and tears
A chance to re-live all your heartaches and fears
Through their eyes—but it’s only for so many years
So you might as well just hang it up

No halo or harp-strings—and surely no wings
Just real-world delights, but no heavenly things
There’s music, but not from an angel who sings
Just your daughter, who plays you her song

No stuff to have faith in, just stuff you can see
No reason to hope or to wish it could be—
This view is pathetic, I think you’ll agree
Or maybe… just maybe… I’m wrong

If all that we have—all that life consists of
Is the love of our families and friends—just that love
With no hell down below, and no heaven above
Is that an intolerable end?

Suppose that this lifetime is all that we get
No heaven’s reward, and no hell for a threat
(And we’re not Blaise Pascal, and just placing a bet)
Should I pity my atheist friend?

There’s reason for pity; I’m wasting my time
Which from his point of view, is a horrible crime
If we get but one life, then I worry that I’m
Being foolish by waiting for more

The years, days, and seconds, they fly by so fast
Each heartbeat, one more that is now in the past
One life to be lived, and you know it won’t last…
So live it—cos that’s what it’s for!

8 comments

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  1. 1
    garysturgess

    Personally, when the whole “so after you’re dead you’re just dead? That’s so depressing” argument comes up, I don’t usually bother to try and say, “Well, it makes life more precious” or similar. It’s not that I disagree with that sentiment, you understand, it’s just: what does it matter? Suppose they are right, and that one life really is depressing, and brutish, and short. So what? It’s not a “my way sounds nicer” situation; it’s a “that’s the way that it is” situation. You can either face that and make the most of it – which is what most atheists do – you can sink into despair – which, if you’re really not having much fun, is understandable – or you can make up a fairy tale. Ideally you go for the first option, but even if the choice is between the last two, fairy tales aren’t real.

    Mind you, that makes for a much less interesting poem. Mine doesn’t rhyme, for a start. ;)

  2. 2
    garysturgess

    Oh, by the way, spoilers: the world didn’t end. :)

  3. 3
    left0ver1under

    It’s 1:30 in the morning on Saturday here in Taiwan, and nothing has happened…

    …Unless Douglas Adams was right about the Earth having been destroyed and nobody noticing because it was rebuilt.

  4. 4
    Cuttlefish

    I actually had a poem about something very much like that, garysturgess. I’ll have to see if I can find it.

    And I love having access to a world of people who can tell me tomorrow has already arrived.

  5. 5
    Joan

    I was inspired by this event also, but the result was waaay more pedestrian and hedonistic than your
    inspirational verse. I guess this might be one way to avoid the fiscal cliff, though. Some wiseacre said the world did end for the Mayans.

    Ragged Ends

    They say tomorrow the world will end.
    My God! What can we do?
    The Mayan calendar predicts
    This time it’s really true.

    Let’s have a final party,
    Say goodbye to all our friends.
    We cannot leave a thing undone.
    Tomorrow’s when it ends.

    We’ll rent a fancy restaurant
    We really can’t afford
    And order lots of gourmet food
    Enough to feed the hoard.

    We’ll tear up all our bills right now.
    No one will now collect.
    And might just burn our mortgage too
    Who cares if we defect?

    Let’s drink that fine vintage champagne
    Reserved for some occasion.
    No need to save it anymore.
    I won’t need much persuasion.

    I’ve saved some extra sleeping pills
    I think that these will do.
    I plan to sleep real well tonight
    These ought to get us through.
    ***
    It’s morning and it seems
    I’m still alive! I am! I am!
    Oh no, my dear, the world’s still here!
    All I can say is “damn!”

  6. 6
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    Well, it may not have ended, but we did have another spectacular end-of-days party. Everyone mourns the lack of apocalypse when the next morning hangovers hit. We seem to be having those more often of late. So whats the next doomsayers prediction? I need to know how long I have to restock my booze cabinet.

    Love the verse Cuttlefish, its another one I have to save to give to the fundies back home.

  7. 7
    blogofmyself, writer of papers

    Ah, I always love posts about this subject. The world is an awesome place, and I’m happy to spend my short life living here.

  8. 8
    Taslima Nasreen

    Whenever I read Cuttlefish’s poems, I become speechless for an hour. He knows the magic.

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