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Feb 22 2012

Why I am an atheist – Thomas Lawson

I’m an atheist because I don’t need what religions are selling. It’s all about death, really. No one wants to die. Scientists are working on extending lifespans and religious people are working on eternal life, reincarnation, etc. Isn’t one life enough? Sure, it sounds great to live forever, but it would get boring I’m sure. Everyone loves the idea of heaven because no one really thinks about it. I see this life as heaven. Heaven shouldn’t last forever. I equate it with a trip to Disney World. Would you really like to stay at Disney World for a year? A month? All expenses paid? It sounds great! But even little kids would be crying to go home before too long. It would lose its charm.

Now that I’ve had kids I look forward to that day (hopefully far away) when I can rest and look back on my tiny contribution to this special world. A world that happened to settle into a spot that was conducive to it creating life. How fantastic! And it will be enough just to say I was here. That I got to be born. That I got to live when billions of others didn’t even make it out of the womb. And that my genes (through evolution) will eventually be in every human on earth, just like our genes contain bits of ancient Egyptians and other Africans. No one thinks about heaven, but at the same time it’s all they want. But only if their lives don’t feel like heaven. I have what I need in this life. And it’s enough. And now I get to experience things all over again through my children. What better gift? But I’ll have had enough when I’m old. If I spent my entire life wondering where I was going when I died, I’d forget to live.

Thomas Lawson
Canada

62 comments

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  1. 1
    stevegray

    Terrific comment: If I spent my entire life wondering where I was going when I died, I’d forget to live.

  2. 2
    Michael

    I wrote a poem back in the 80′s on that idea, basically considering how time seems to go faster as you get older, and extrapolating to what it would be like to be immortal. Essentially life would seem to whiz by, that you would no longer feel connected to it as friends/family would grow old and die too quickly for you to be involved, and it would only be the long-term problems like starvation, poverty, etc. that would be noticeable to you.

    I really think we need to re-engineer how our life cycle works. Rather than having 20 years to reach our prime, then a slow downhill for the next 60 or more, it would be nice if we had 20 odd years to reach our prime, but then remain at our prime for the next 60 or so years, then as we reach the end of our lifespan, we rapidly age over a year or two to signal the end of our life.

  3. 3
    markr1957

    Once you realize you don’t have anything to worry about after you die death becomes just something you know is going to happen one day.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met an Xian who doesn’t have some hidden secret ‘sin’ they’re worrying about, making the prospect of an eternal fire dance all too real for them, and making death a real worry while they’re still alive.

  4. 4
    6756756tuytu5

    Is this the same Thomas Lawson that wrote the book that inspired PZ to have these “Why I’m an Atheist” segments?

  5. 5
    Dhorvath, OM

    I dunno, even a long life is pretty disjointed. I sure don’t feel all that much in common with the fourteen year old who became me, even the twenty five year old is pretty distant, and it’s not until I get pretty close to now that who I am and who I was become all that similar. Living forever seems to me unattainable when I don’t really feel like I have lived as long as this chemical event that I am has been happening. So immortality kind of perplexes me, short of some kind of infinite mental storage and instantaneous processing, the idea kind of resembles death to me anyways: who I am now sure won’t be looking at stars in ten thousand years.

  6. 6
    kevinalexander

    A few months ago I had my son and his wife and daughter over for dinner. Sipping coffee after dessert we were talking about -whatever- when we had one of our power failures.
    I got up and found some candles and lit them. My daughter in law smiled and said that we should have done that before we started the meal.
    My son told a joke that I snorted at which extinguished the flame on one of the candles. A small voice (she’s eight) said ‘The candle’s gone out grandpa’

    I looked at her and then at the candle and said ‘No, it hasn’t, it’s right there’
    ‘You know what I mean’
    ‘You said it went out– out where?, out the door? out the window? Is the flame floating around somewhere? Somebody better call Shirley MacLaine. The candle’s having an out of body experience.’

    I explained to her that people use the word ‘gone’ when something ends because of the way that our brains work. Getting an idea or seeing something for the first time is like writing on paper with a pen. Once it’s there it’s there, you can’t unwrite it. It’s just easier to think of something as having moved out of sight than it is to contemplate non-existence.

    That’s where I stopped. Her mother sends her to catholic school and I promised my son that I wouldn’t be subversive.

  7. 7
    grahammartinroyle

    I admit that I get confused when people say they want to be immortal and live for ever, just what exactly do they mean?

    Do they mean carrying on as we do now, slowly getting more and more decrepit, our bodies falling apart and failing us? Have a look at some really old people, doubly incontinent, unable to wash themselves, go to the toilet by themselves, unable to feed themselves etc. This is with our lifespan as it is, if we were immortal I hate to think what state our bodies would end up in.

    No, what people mean when they say they want immortality is that they want their bodies to be fit and healthy for ever. But this then brings up another question, is it just them that gets to be immortal? If that is the case they’ll get very lonely. All their immediate family will die, including their children. Watching your children age and die while you stay young would be horrific. Having to then watch your grandchildren go through the same ageing and dying process, then your great grandchildren etc. would be torture.

    Not only would your family be dying off, so would all your friends. I know people say that you can make new friends but let’s face it, most 50yr olds have very little in common with most 20yr olds, what would a 1,000yr old have in common with a 20yr old?

    No, what these people mean is that they want all their family and friends to become immortal too. That now brings in it’s own set of problems and questions. If one persons family and friends are to become immortal, then it follows that all these other people will also want their family and friends to become immortal as well. Basically, this turns into everyone on the planet becoming immortal.

    If that happens, the planet begins to fill up rather fast and overcrowding, wars over scarce resources become more common but ultimately futile as no-one ever dies. We would end up with a planet full of starving people, full of pain and hunger, but unable to escape from that pain and hunger as they cannot die. What a wonderful scenario, not quite what was imagined by those wanting immortality I bet.

    The only way to avoid that scenario would be for the eradication of children! I’m not certain that I would want to live in a world where no children were born.

    I know goddists claim that they will obtain their immortality in heaven, which is infinite in size so that my little diatribe doesn’t actually matter but what they are all expecting is a rerun of this earth and this life. Why not just make the most of this earth and this life while we are here instead of having dreams about a rerun. As you so eloquently put it, people are so busy wondering what will happen after they die, they’re forgetting to live.

  8. 8
    Thomas Lawson

    It’s been a while since I wrote this. But this…

    That I got to live when billions of others didn’t even make it out of the womb.

    …really hit home today, because some friends of mine recently suffered the death of their one-month-old. She had a few physiological complications and a violent, confusing birth. That little girl made it out, spent a few weeks in hospital, about two weeks at home, and back to the hospital for a few days before she died.

    -

    If all we have at death is our last thoughts it is comforting to know that she was able to see her parents and siblings, and hear their voices, and feel their hands and arms holding her. For all we know she was able to use these short experiences to form her last dream, which to her might seemed to have lasted forever. I like the idea of that, and we should all be so lucky to have good thoughts like that at the end, and there’s no doubt she did. It is a damn shame that so many people fill their heads with suffering and damnation.

    -

    I’m happy not to believe in hell, so it will not be one of my last thoughts, and this little girl was not around long enough to have her mind poisoned with such tommyrot, so she was able to die peacefully.

    -

    Thanks for posting my entry, PZ.

  9. 9
    damonbarth

    Well said Thomas, I agree. All we really leave behind (unless we come up with a cool theory or create an invention) is our children and the way we touch other people’s lives through philanthropy, good deeds etc. But if you ask most Christians or conservatives, atheists are evil. They don’t understand how much more we value our short time here.

  10. 10
    Synfandel

    These testamonials are personal and Mr. Lawson’s is as valid as any other. That being said, his reason for being an atheist is very different from mine.

    Mr. Lawson is essentially saying that he’s an atheist because he finds the idea of finite existence preferable to the prospect of eternal existence. Eternal life would bore him. For me, it has nothing to do with what I prefer; it’s simply about what I know is and what I know is not. It’s not about whether I would become bored if I had eternal life; it’s about facing up to the simple facts regardless of how I feel about them.

    I’m an atheist because I don’t need what religions are selling.

    Whether I need it or not is irrelevant. I know that what religions are selling is snake oil.

  11. 11
    Glen Davidson

    I can’t say that the line of reasoning used means much to me. Living eternally might be nice, it might be hell, but that’s about as important to me as whether or not I might like to be a lion or a hummingbird.

    It’s not going to happen, no matter what I do, or what I believe.

    Glen Davidson

  12. 12
    Thomas Lawson

    #10 @Synfandel:

    Absolutely right. I suppose I wanted to reach theists more than atheists, and theists aren’t known for their love of logic and facts. Logic and facts are irrelevant to the theist. Logic and facts won’t work with the Jehovah’s Witness at your door. Conversations on an emotional level will. There are as many visions of heaven as there are minds in this world to create them. Every person’s is different. But the idea is not to convince them that heaven isn’t real; it’s to convince them that it is unnecessary.

  13. 13
    Rich Woods

    @damonbarth #9:

    All we really leave behind (unless we come up with a cool theory or create an invention) is our children and the way we touch other people’s lives through philanthropy, good deeds etc.

    I have zero intention to create children and I don’t particularly care if no-one remembers me after I die. That certainly won’t stop me from doing good deeds, but I don’t see anyone’s memories of me outlasting me for more than a generation or two, and I’m not losing any sleep over that.

  14. 14
    Janey Q Doe

    I posted something very similar to this on my blog awhile back. It strikes me that we only really get enjoyment from things because of their scarcity. A couple of days off work sick can be a nice chance to snuggle up on the lounge and watch some bad TV, a couple of weeks off sick drives you up the wall. I have the sneaking suspicion that eternity would be rather dull.

  15. 15
    Synfandel

    I have the sneaking suspicion that eternity would be rather dull.

    Even if you got to spend that eternity gazing adoringly upon the countenance of your god and singing his praises? Twenty-four-seven? Forever?

    Some people are just hard to please.

  16. 16
    grumpypathdoc

    Does anyone else have a remembrance/flashback to the scenes in the movie “Highlander” when Connor MacLeod has to watch his wife grow old and die, while he lives on. Still makes me tear up. But then I’m getting old too.

    Que a little “Queen”

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L8-FTvSVxs&w=420&h=315

  17. 17
    Thomas Lawson

    I don’t read a lot of vampire literature (none, really), but I thought it was a common theme that the vampires are always lamenting that what they really want is to grow old and die.

  18. 18
    Synfandel

    The wish to be able eventually to die is one of the central themes of Sean Connery’s 1974 sci-fi film “Zardoz“, in which a elite society of immortal humans lives in a domed city—pursuing art, science, literatue, etc.—while mortal savage humans live in a sort of post-apocalyptic wasteland outside the dome. Their pampered and privileged eternal life becomes more than they can bear. It’s a bit weird and is stylistically very much a product of its era, but it makes some insightful points.

  19. 19
    incognito

    Another fabulous atheism story. I’d love to see these all bound together and sold as a book! But then I work in a library so that makes sense to me…PLEASE PZ!!!

  20. 20
    ginseng

    I always hate it when people tell me how boring a very long life would be and that it is good that we die. Well, you can die if you want but I would like to choose by myself when it is my time, thank you very much. 80-85 years is way too short and I don’t need condescending remarks about how that is enough.

    I don’t buy the argument that a society consisting of long-living people is doomed and that the only wish they have is to die. There is no evidence for this. Life expectancy has increase a lot in the last 100 to 200 years – you could say that from the viewpoint of someone living in 1800 we are a long-living society. But have humans lost their will to live? Not at all.

  21. 21
    Janey Q Doe

    I know, Synfandel, I know.

  22. 22
    Koshka

    Thomas,

    Thanks for your story but this

    That I got to live when billions of others didn’t even make it out of the womb.

    sounds life a right to lifer statement. What exactly didn’t make it out of the womb?

    Whilst I am happy that you have such a wonderful life, I somehow see it as criticism of others who do not have such a rosy outlook on life. A bit like a stranger coming past and telling you to smile.

    Maybe I am just having a shitty day.

  23. 23
    Koshka

    ginseng,

    My father almost died a few years back from a heart attack. He thought he was dying and without medical intervention he would be dead.

    He didn’t want to die then and now at about 70 he wants to die less than ever before even though his quality of life is less. He believes that old people generally value life more than young people for the simple reason that they have less of it left.

  24. 24
    andyr

    Just like to say that I am looking forward to dying as spending eternity in heaven with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit will be marvellous beyond my wildest imaginings.

  25. 25
    Therrin

    That doesn’t speak very highly of your imagination.

  26. 26
    Rev. BigDumbChimp

    Just like to say that I am looking forward to dying as spending eternity in heaven with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit will be marvellous beyond my wildest imaginings.

    Nope

  27. 27
    Koshka

    andyr,

    When you are dead everything is beyond your imaginings.

  28. 28
    'Tis Himself

    andyr #24

    Just like to say that I am looking forward to dying as spending eternity in heaven with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit will be marvellous beyond my wildest imaginings.

    Spending more than 30 seconds gazing at a sadistic, narcissistic megalomaniac and his two sidekicks would bore me to tears. But that’s just me.

  29. 29
    andyr

    Koshka
    my body will have died but my spirit will live on

    ‘Tis Himself, OM
    I don’t recognise the description. I know a God of love, mercy, compassion.

  30. 30
    Koshka

    andyr,

    As a child I was told by my RI teacher that in heaven the streets are paved with gold. How marvellous is that!

    And fucking pointless!

    By the way, I have this bridge going cheap. Do you want to buy it?

  31. 31
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    my body will have died but my spirit will live on [doesn't exist, any more than my imaginary deity, and cease when I die.]

    Fixed that for you. Reality check.

  32. 32
    feralboy12

    Just like to say that I am looking forward to dying as spending eternity in heaven with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit will be marvellous beyond my wildest imaginings.

    Wow, this earthly life must seem like some kind of wretched chore in comparison. It’s like you’re waiting to get off work or something, and then you can really enjoy yourself.
    So do you spend the tedious days and weeks watching the calendar, feeling like 2038 or whatever will never get here?

  33. 33
    andyr

    Koshka
    No thanks, don’t need one. Already have access through the atonement of Christ.

    Nerd
    Wrong, you haven’t fixed anything as nothing needed fixing. Christ fixed it all many years ago

    Feralboy12
    No, I enjoy life very much. Eternity will just be so much better.

  34. 34
    John Morales

    andyr, I pity you.

  35. 35
    hillaryrettig

    Thomas, that was remarkable. You’re quite the visionary.

    I would love to read more of your writing.

    I’m so sorry about your friend’s enormous loss.

  36. 36
    diane

    This was a lovely essay, and I thank you for it. I had a mother-in-law who lived a tortured life trying to be good enough to capture Jesus’ attention. Everything was tinged with ‘do this so I can get into heaven.’ I often said, “Why don’t you do right and you can get into heaven {if there is one.}” Doing good, doing right, enjoying life just seemed like enough to me. I enjoyed your essay very much.

  37. 37
    Thomas Lawson

    #22 @Koshka,

    The out of the womb sentence was in regards to miscarriages.

    -

    That is all. Thanks, everyone.

  38. 38
    Cipher

    Eternity will just be so much better.

    Hmm. And where’d that interesting little tidbit of information come from? What’s your evidence for it?

  39. 39
    Anthony K

    I know a God of love, mercy, compassion.

    No, you don’t.

  40. 40
    Koshka

    Thomas,

    I am not wishing to be an arse about it but I find your comments about the baby’s death flippant.

    In particular

    I’m happy not to believe in hell, so it will not be one of my last thoughts, and this little girl was not around long enough to have her mind poisoned with such tommyrot, so she was able to die peacefully.

    As a parent I would rather my children grow up to be happiest of clappers than be dead at seven weeks.

    I do not pretend to know how your friends would react but it would piss me off. This is along the lines of “Well at least he is with Jesus now”

  41. 41
    dameonmanuel

    I think it makes atheists look a bit silly when they offer a rationale for living as an atheist, with obvious intent of drawing a contrast with a life of religious backing, when said notion of a religious life is so narrowly defined and poorly informed. The notion that “it’s all about death, really” ranks alongside many ID-backers’ misconceptions about evolution. It resonates with other atheists, the same way as talking about the “irreducible complexity” of a Timex as a metaphor for the inner workings of various human balls (eye- and otherwise) resonates with fundies and the uneducated. The funny part is that the second paragraph’s central point, that this life is heaven, dovetails with common interpretation of New Testament teachings (do a quick Google search on “kingdom of heaven is within you”).

    Also,

    Would you really like to stay at Disney World for a year? A month? All expenses paid?

    Yes, and longer. Disney World is essentially a centrally planned city based on a single, collective industry. It’s a city, albeit an expensive one to live in, where visitors must to pay to enter the main districts, and with an unusually high level of time-killing thrill rides, stage performances, museum attractions, and such. I dunno, does this hypothetical require that I go on the rides every day? Is there a quota? Honestly, the place is large enough that I could handle certain minimum hourly requirements with regards to going on the rides without being concerned about getting bored of the same rides. At say 4 hours per week, given the time spent waiting in line, I would probably not ride on the same ride more often than once every several weeks.

    I guess that there is also the issue, if one chooses to regard it as such, of having a largely transient population–not a whole lot of the people who are at Disney World at any given time actually live there. The same is true of cities like Venice and Rome … to the extent that I could live in one of those cities, I see living in Disney World as entirely feasible.

    The question starts to seem more than a bit stupid when one considers that there are also restaurants, cafes, a small but fixed population of “cast members” (to supplement the need for stable, face-to-face companionship), shows, attractions (with rotational schedules), exercise facilities, nature trails, campgrounds, bike trails, etc. I am sure that it outranks many of our hometowns in the range of activities offered. And I’m assuming that the resorts have this thing called “internet” which makes it easy to stay connected with one’s friends, family, social networks, and business.

    So would I be able to spend a month—gasp! perhaps even a year—in a place with a lot of restaurants, cafes, regular local folk, shows, rotating attractions, exercise facilities, nature trails, campgrounds, bike trails, etc., etc., all expense paid? Yes. Yes, I think I could tolerate that.

  42. 42
    Thomas Lawson

    #41 @dameonmanuel:

    Thank you for your comment. Sounds like you’ve contemplated this scenario before. What a lovely time you would have in Disney World. And your personal contribution of a turd in every toilet would hopefully satisfy your need to leave your mark.

  43. 43
    rapiddominance

    Koshka, #40

    I noticed the same “issues” that you did.

    Also, the author SEEMS to be suggesting that he’s going to look back on his life’s contribution with satisfaction after its gone.

    I tried looking at it to mean that he will reflect on his life during some form of retirement. Unfortunately, that only makes the problem worse.

    Thomas Lawson, #12

    You said that you “wanted to reach theists more than atheists.”

    Is that why you submitted your testamonial to the FTB’s?

    andyr, #24

    Do you think that Jesus wants you proselytizing to a blog readership that has specifically said that they don’t welcome “godbotting”?

    For whatever your purposes were, your comment comes across as a taunt or condescension. You should be able to figure out WHY without me holding your hand.

  44. 44
    dameonmanuel

    @Thomas, no, I hadn’t given it any thought before now. It’s just that the hypothetical seemed a rather stupid way of making your point, after a couple moments’ reflection on it. The fact that I’d probably need to vacate my lower intestine into Disney’s latrines every now and again, during the year or so of my stay, doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be a perfectly fine place to live, notwithstanding any restrictions you may need to impose in order to repair your hypothetical back into service for your argument. No need to go into pissy, coloncollapsed-atheist mode (just to emulate your language of faecal imagery here). As for leaving a mark (on the world, metaphorically, or at least I assume that that’s your meaning), you are either operating under an imaginary set of guidelines on this hypothetical, or you are not a very creative thinker. Certainly I could use my background to help cast members achieve their post-Disney dreams of attending post-secondary and graduate schools (a free service, obviously, to pay back to humanity my all-expense-paid, yearlong stay at Walt Disney World; also because I doubt Disney would be receptive to an academic-skills peddler hawking his admissions consulting business out of the Polynesian Resort); ditto community service in the city of Orlando on evenings and weekends.

    Anyway, I nostalgia’d hard, back to my childhood, in responding to you; many thanks for that.

  45. 45
    Nemo

    And that my genes (through evolution) will eventually be in every human on earth

    I hate to tell you, but it doesn’t necessarily work that way. In fact, the odds are better that your particular genetic inheritance will eventually be attenuated to nothing (even if you have countless technical “descendants” who no longer carry any of your genes).

    Now, death… death is a big part of how we got here. It’s a driving force in evolution, and even today, with social change far outpacing biological evolution, we depend on death, more than ever, for progress. Most people past a certain age never really change their ideas, and so the only way that bad ideas get replaced with better ones, on a mass scale, is when the old generation dies out. So, you could say, death is good for humanity. But for individual humans, it sucks the big one.

    If human lifespans get drastically extended, it’s bound to slow the pace of progress, even before taking into account the necessarily lowered birth rate. Personally, though, I’m willing to pay that price. Because I don’t want to die, and there are lots of other people I don’t want to die, either.

    P.S. What’s with the sudden wave of godbots?

  46. 46
    Crudely Wrott

    Someone at some point was quoted as saying something relating to people who don’t appear to have any idea what to do with this finite life while fully expecting to be granted yet another one that does not end.

    I have yet to plumb the full depths of the irony this presents.

    They are also not reticent in stating as much for no apparent reason or for any other reason. It’s tiresome, friends and neighbors. How can one not feel fatigued, even beleaguered, by endless claims most spectacular based upon the scantest of evidence which boasts the singular advantage of being buttressed by the certainty of each an every supplicant!?

    *ah. so that’s what an interrobang is for. handy; and so /rant (I really can deal with it but I don’t like to have to. kwim?)*

  47. 47
    nmcc

    Andyr:

    “Just like to say that I am looking forward to dying as spending eternity in heaven with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit will be marvellous beyond my wildest imaginings.”

    Well, what’s stopping you? Go find the nearest train and throw yourself under it.

  48. 48
    piscador

    I’m an atheist because I don’t need what religions are selling.

    That’s a great opening line. It’s going into my quote file.

    Thanks

  49. 49
    piscador

    Andyr:

    I don’t think you grok how long eternity really is. From James Joyce:

    Last and crowning torture of all the tortures of that awful place is the eternity of hell. Eternity! O, dread and dire word. Eternity! What mind of man can understand it? And remember, it is an eternity of pain. Even though the pains of hell were not so terrible as they are, yet they would become infinite, as they are destined to last for ever. But while they are everlasting they are at the same time, as you know, intolerably intense, unbearably extensive. To bear even the sting of an insect for all eternity would be a dreadful torment. What must it be, then, to bear the manifold tortures of hell for ever? For ever! For all eternity! Not for a year or for an age but for ever. Try to imagine the awful meaning of this. You have often seen the sand on the seashore. How fine are its tiny grains! And how many of those tiny little grains go to make up the small handful which a child grasps in its play. Now imagine a mountain of that sand, a million miles high, reaching from the earth to the farthest heavens, and a million miles broad, extending to remotest space, and a million miles in thickness; and imagine such an enormous mass of countless particles of sand multiplied as often as there are leaves in the forest, drops of water in the mighty ocean, feathers on birds, scales on fish, hairs on animals, atoms in the vast expanse of the air: and imagine that at the end of every million years a little bird came to that mountain and carried away in its beak a tiny grain of that sand. How many millions upon millions of centuries would pass before that bird had carried away even a square foot of that mountain, how many eons upon eons of ages before it had carried away all? Yet at the end of that immense stretch of time not even one instant of eternity could be said to have ended. At the end of all those billions and trillions of years eternity would have scarcely begun. And if that mountain rose again after it had been all carried away, and if the bird came again and carried it all away again grain by grain, and if it so rose and sank as many times as there are stars in the sky, atoms in the air, drops of water in the sea, leaves on the trees, feathers upon birds, scales upon fish, hairs upon animals, at the end of all those innumerable risings and sinkings of that immeasurably vast mountain not one single instant of eternity could be said to have ended; even then, at the end of such a period, after that eon of time the mere thought of which makes our very brain reel dizzily, eternity would scarcely have begun.

    To which, Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett added, “… [and] you still won’t have finished watching The Sound Of Music.”

  50. 50
    andyr

    From some of replies I’ve got it should be freethought(unless you are a christian).com
    Are you afraid of other views or is it just you like your own views to be always reinforced and not challenged?

  51. 51
    Cipher

    andyr, still waiting on your evidence for your claims.

  52. 52
    Koshka

    Dameonmanuel,

    You are trying to come off as a wit and you manage to come across as an arsewit.

  53. 53
    myeck waters

    andyr, you are free to think what you choose (or what you think you are choosing at any rate), but around here, when you make a statement of fact (aside from trivial things, or subjects which have enough evidence to be considered reliably true, like gravity or evolution), people will ask you to provide support for your claim.

  54. 54
    Koshka

    andyr,

    You do realise a free thought is not something your parent’s religious leader tells you when you are 6?

  55. 55
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Rich Woods, #13:

    I have zero intention to create children and I don’t particularly care if no-one remembers me after I die. That certainly won’t stop me from doing good deeds, but I don’t see anyone’s memories of me outlasting me for more than a generation or two, and I’m not losing any sleep over that.

    Damn straight. And no parent of a young child knows how that child will ultimately turn out, either.

    Koshka, #22: That rubbed me entirely the wrong way, too. They weren’t other people; they were fetii. And I agree with you about #40 as well.

    nmcc, #47: I snickered.

    As for immortality, “Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.” – Susan Ertz, Anger in the Sky, 1943.

  56. 56
    Thomas Lawson

    #40 @Koshka:
    Of course it was more of a “if we have to die, let it be like this” statement.

    -
    #43 @rapiddominance:
    Did you recognise your error when you followed that comment with a response to a theist?

    -

    #44 @damemanuel:
    You’re welcome.

    -

    #45 @Nemo:

    Just repeating something I read in Anarchy Evolution by Greg Graffin.

  57. 57
    Anthony K

    From some of replies I’ve got it should be freethought(unless you are a christian).com

    Ah, don’t even worry about it. We give all sorts of theists the gears. Christians are in no way special.

    Are you afraid of other views or is it just you like your own views to be always reinforced and not challenged?

    Have you challenged anyone? So far, all you’ve done is offer an slow child’s version of heaven.

    “…and then, and then there will be gumdrop trees, and pizza fountains, and I’ll have a pony, and, and, my pet dog Barky will be alive again, and…”

    Careful, little guy. You’re gonna tucker yourself out.

  58. 58
    Anthony K

    Whoops. Blockquote fail.

    Must be god smiting me for my blasphemy.

    Not YHWH, though. That one uses bolts from heaven. It’s Vishnu what fucks with your HTML.

  59. 59
    a miasma of incandescent plasma

    sounds life a right to lifer statement. What exactly didn’t make it out of the womb?
    That rubbed me entirely the wrong way, too. They weren’t other people; they were fetii.

    I didn’t get this angle at all. I took it like Dawkins’ famous quote about the possible DNA combinations that could be here instead of your particular DNA code outnumber all the sands in Arabia or whatever… from Unweaving the Rainbow…

    We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here.

    Dawkins uses the word “people” here as well. I think I’ll give the OP poetic leeway and assume he’s not a sly pro-lifer.

  60. 60
    Anthony K

    Dawkins uses the word “people” here as well. I think I’ll give the OP poetic leeway and assume he’s not a sly pro-lifer.

    Yeah, pretty much.

    Of course, the ‘fetii aren’t people’ line rubs me wrong too, only because I don’t like cutpoints placed on gradual processess mistakenly treated as if they weren’t just cutpoints placed on a gradual process.

  61. 61
    RFW

    Why are people afraid of death? Who would want to live forever? You’re born, you live, then you die, and if you were a good person in life, a few people will have pleasant memories of you for a few decades afterwards.

    But if you lived forever, even the beauties of burgeoning life in spring would start to get tiresome after a few millenia. To say nothing about one’s increasing decrepitude.

    Heaven and an afterlife of bliss is a lovely idea, but it’s nothing more than wishful thinking.

    A refusal to accept one’s inevitable death is quite common, witness all the people who die intestate. Evidently they can’t accept death even to the limited extent of making sure they have wills.

  62. 62
    rapiddominance

    Thomas Lawson, #56

    THAT was a very good point.

    And if I’m honest about it, I think I could figure out what you meant in the two or three statements Koshka and I noticed that were suspect.

    Testimonials are a “feelings” sort of thing anyway, and the real dumbass (and/or asshole) is the person that would read one analytically and criticize it like its a science essay.

    Even Koshka’s language suggests that he thought maybe he was being a little bit of a hardass (the “bad day” thing).

    Anyhow, I’m going to pull my pants back up now. Have a good one.

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