I’d constructed the ultimate sandwich
Perfection in bread, cheese, and meat
But there’s something I don’t understand, which
Has been making it harder to eat
See, although it is surely delightful
There’s a truth that I cannot suspend
That at some point, I’ll reach the last bite full
And the pleasure will come to an end
And my life, too, is not everlasting
And the Reaper will pay me a call
It’s the same, whether gorging or fasting
So why am I eating at all?
Since nothing in life lasts forever
There’s one life, all too brief, here on earth
The argument’s not even clever
That a transient joy has no worth
There are joys in this life to be tasted
There are days filled with utter delight
There is too little time to be wasted
There’s a sandwich—enjoy every bite!
I’m sure you’ve seen it–I only had to type “why don’t ath” when google filled in “eists kill themselves?”, and suggested over 2 million hits for the phrase. Some are pretty horrendous, and are good, moral religious believers suggesting that atheists ought to kill themselves, but it’s the others that I am interested in. Those that suggest that life is meaningless if it is not followed by an eternal afterlife. That life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” (to use Hobbes’s delightful phrasing), and that ending it early would be preferred, were it not forbidden by God. Hell, perhaps the most famous writing in all of literature, Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, explores the question:
… Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
But atheists have no dread of that undiscovered country, so why don’t we just kill ourselves?
I’d answer, but I have pets to play with, food to eat, kids to call, reading to enjoy, poetry (well, verse) to write, music to listen to, football (and football) to watch (Man City is, as I write, up 2-0 over Man United), lesson plans to make, cider to drink, (ok, now it’s 3-0), a book to put together, and much much more. Nasty life indeed.
(FWIW, I do think that suicide can absolutely be rational, and should be an individual’s choice. If a religious prohibition on suicide means someone lives years of misery and pain, wishing they could end it, I don’t count that as a case in religion’s favor.)
(ok, 4-0; I may have to try writing a post during my Browns game…)