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← From where should atheists draw their "comfort"?

From where should atheists draw their "comfort"? - Comments

MadEd's Avatar Comment 1 by MadEd

Dog is a present comfort in time of need.

At least my pooch has got me through some very had times in the last few years.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 10:51:32 UTC | #867118

mjr's Avatar Comment 2 by mjr

When I am on my death bed I will take comfort in the fact that I haven't wasted my life building up a AAA+ credit rating with a bank that doesn't exist. I will have experienced the wonders of living on a planet that has been developing for thousands of millions of years! To have lived in an age of reason is remarkably serendipitous. I could have been born in the Dark Ages or the Bible Belt (oops, sorry, tautology).

"The greatest gift we have is not love, but kindness; for love is always selfish."

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 11:22:29 UTC | #867126

robaylesbury's Avatar Comment 3 by robaylesbury

There's no easy answers to this. I just kind of accept that at some point I will have to make way for other's, as this is simply the order of things. I hope to have lived honestly and with some integrity, and I hope also that I have, in some small way influenced those around me in stimulating and engaging way.

I shall also try to be grateful for the outrageous luck that enabled me to have a tiny walk on part on this astonishing stage.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 11:52:57 UTC | #867134

mjs31's Avatar Comment 4 by mjs31

Family, friends, loved ones the same things religious people take comfort from. That they did the best they could in life and lived it to it's fullest. Believing in some imaginary friend is just a substitute for real friends and has the same sort of relationship except you don't put that kind of burden on a real friend. Personally it makes me feel better to know that there isn't some god out there who has the power to help me but simply chooses not to, who claims to care but does nothing. I take some comfort in that thought, at least its less depressing for me but you can spin that however you like really, it's all a perspective thing.

As far as the afterlife goes, it's kind of a double-edged sword. On the one hand sure what you can imagine to be a fantastic afterlife might be comforting but it's also comforting to know that there's no such thing as eternal damnation where people suffer forever for no good reason. It's also nice to know you don't have to kiss god's ass for all eternity.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 12:06:55 UTC | #867135

Muldanian's Avatar Comment 5 by Muldanian

I have yet to find an answer to this question. For me, the only advantage that religion has over atheism is the hope it gives for an afterlife. True, that hope is a false one, but it would still be better to have that hope as a means of overcoming the horror of non-existence. Richard Dawkins gave a lecture in which he pointed out how unlikely is our existence, and that we are the lucky ones, because there are millions of possible people who will never have existence. I have tried to take comfort from this, but it honestly has not worked. Knowing that I have an eternity of nothingness ahead of me, fills me with terror, and logic has not provided me with any answers.

I firmly believe the primary reason people are religious, is because we are the only species which is aware of our mortality, and therefore we need the comfort offered by the fairy tales of religion. Knowing that such fairy tales have no basis in reality is rather like opening Pandora's box. At least though, while I am alive, my atheism gives me freedom of thought and expression, which religion never would. And the wonder of the universe is made much greater, by knowing what science has discovered, than any narrow view presented by religion. How the view that we live on a flat disc, above which a dome, which extends only a few miles into the heavens can ever compare with the real complexity and awesome size of the real universe, that science has presented us with, I fail to understand. Yet there are many for whom this narrow view, with their small angry god sitting in judgement, will prevent them from ever being impressed by the majesty of existence. So, it is a trade-off. The lack of a false belief in an afterlife, is replaced by the wonder of reality, which science has provided.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 12:58:31 UTC | #867146

mjs31's Avatar Comment 6 by mjs31

Comment 5 by Muldanian

Knowing that I have an eternity of nothingness ahead of me, fills me with terror, and logic has not provided me with any answers.

You don't have an eternity of anything to worry about. Plenty of religious people spend their final hours in sheer terror at the thought of burning in hell forever because they might not have been a strong enough believer or didn't have enough faith. It's impossible to visualize not existing anymore because the existence that you have experienced from the perspective of your mind is all that you have ever known. However, thanks to the breakthroughs of science humans are living longer lives than we ever have before and there is hope that one day science will be able to make lives even longer and more enjoyable than any of us will ever know. Of course if the religious nuts get their way that will never happen.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 13:41:16 UTC | #867160

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 7 by DocWebster

Atheism is it's own comfort. Knowing that you won the cosmic lottery and didn't waste the precious little time you have being a slave to a scam should make you feel all warm and fuzzy at the end of your days. I admit to grieving a bit when I lose an acquaintance that did spend their lives chained to a lie and I know that they will never know the truth and be able to truly enjoy their precious gift of life but you can't choose another person's life for them.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 13:43:39 UTC | #867161

Sara12's Avatar Comment 8 by Sara12

Frankly, I find the ill-defined notion of after-life somewhat disturbing. The standard line seems to be about wanting to see deceased friends and loved ones again. Okay, fine, but what about after that? I mean, this is eternity. Just how many consecutive hours can you spend with even the best people? And what are you doing with them? When I spend time with friends and family, there is usually something going on, some event, or we're going somewhere, doing something, sharing something, reading material, swapping cooking recipes, or whatever the case may be. There's also lots of things I like to do by myself, hiking, cooking, reading, etc. If I had to spend eternity not doing any of the laundry list of things that make life worth living for me, then why would I want to go to this place? Very bizarre to me.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 13:56:03 UTC | #867166

schalkerforever's Avatar Comment 9 by schalkerforever

did you try alcohol ? ;))) works for me :)

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 14:23:33 UTC | #867171

masubi's Avatar Comment 10 by masubi

"To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die." -- Carl Sagan

To know all that is I will make its way back into the cosmos is what gives me wonder and comfort.

Live a good life,

Masubi

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 14:39:45 UTC | #867176

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 11 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 8 by Sara12

There's a can of worms ya've opened.....all sorts of questions will entail. A few of my favourites are:-

How old? I mean, does the story go that one goes to heaven at the age they die? Or can they chose? How does that go for babies? Can they pick an age they haven't been or is heaven littered with little babies, some with no parents I presume, as they will have gone to the other place? What if a person want's to go as a teenager, while their partner wishes to go in their forties?

Pets? Will pets be there? If so, what about all other beasts that have ever been? I mean, can animals sin?

What about the mansion? Do we all get one, or do we share? Will all my ex's be there, can I choose?

It's all head melt. Who'd have it?

See the 'The Invention of Lying' absolutely hilarious. This is the bit that is most apt for this thread.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 15:03:21 UTC | #867179

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 12 by Stevehill

I lost my much-loved wife to cancer in her late 40s. I was lucky enough to remarry, and I love my wife today.

I cannot however imagine how they might get on together in heaven. Or what my "duties" might entail.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 15:35:00 UTC | #867188

Sara12's Avatar Comment 13 by Sara12

Comment 11:

Yes, I've seen the movie, love it. Incidentally I saw it on a plane coming back from Iraq... The age issue is something has occurred to me as well. It always seems to me that conceptually, "heaven" is always left vague and ambiguous, allowing people to fill in the blanks with whatever might constitute "paradise" for themselves. That makes it easy for everyone to agree that it's a good place that everyone ought to want to go to. On the other hand, historically, hell is always made very explicit. Dante's Inferno and the like. What constitutes paradise is not necessarily going to be universal, however, pain and suffering as bad pretty much is universal. It's therefore much easier to make hell explicit and then simply say heaven is "not that." Any such specific questions on heaven are then summarily dismissed.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 15:38:10 UTC | #867190

JackR's Avatar Comment 14 by JackR

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 17:01:53 UTC | #867213

Craw's Avatar Comment 15 by Craw

Comment 5 by Muldanian:

I firmly believe the primary reason people are religious, is because we are the only species which is aware of our mortality, and therefore we need the comfort offered by the fairy tales of religion. Knowing that such fairy tales have no basis in reality is rather like opening Pandora's box

It should be the perfect opportunity to finally try and do something about it. There’s no reason people can’t live for millions of years. I can’t understand how the fear of death can drive people to believe the most ridiculous supernatural stories, but not to realize that science is the real answer, not even when they stop believing the stories. Longevity research should be the most well-funded field of science of all. If we can’t live forever, certainly we can die trying. If the reason we don’t try is because most people believe it’s already sorted out, then religion really is the deadliest, most paradoxical stupid thing that ever cursed humankind.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 18:56:14 UTC | #867240

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 16 by Robert Howard

Comment 11 by Ignorant Amos :

Comment 8 by Sara12

There's a can of worms ya've opened.....all sorts of questions will entail. A few of my favourites are:-

How old? I mean, does the story go that one goes to heaven at the age they die? Or can they chose? How does that go for babies? Can they pick an age they haven't been or is heaven littered with little babies, some with no parents I presume, as they will have gone to the other place? What if a person want's to go as a teenager, while their partner wishes to go in their forties?

I'm pleased that this thread has come up because what has puzzled me for ages about the concept of Heaven and Hell is: what if you make it to Heaven and on arrival discover that someone you love dearly went to "the other place"?

Presumably you will have to spend eternity knowing that this person is being tortured, is on fire, is screaming and crying and in constant pain, and will continue to suffer this way for ever and ever, with no possibility of pardon or parole. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Wouldn't this make your own eternity in Heaven unbearable?

I know that there are many thoughtful and decent theists on this site, most of whom I imagine don't subscribe to the Ann Coulter view that the primary form of entertainment in Heaven will be watching this suffering from above.

Surely I can't have discovered the proof that Heaven and Hell don't exist........

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 19:32:54 UTC | #867248

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 17 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by Robert Howard

Presumably you will have to spend eternity knowing that this person is being tortured, is on fire, is screaming and crying and in constant pain, and will continue to suffer this way for ever and ever, with no possibility of pardon or parole. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Wouldn't this make your own eternity in Heaven unbearable?

Indeed, those poor Catholic mothers of unchristened limbo babies....they will be in eternal hell no matter where they end up.......it's just such a load of bollocks how can anyone with just one brain be so daft as to believe it.....twenty stupid's isn't even nearly enough (does this count as ridicule?).

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 19:52:30 UTC | #867255

Charliewhite's Avatar Comment 18 by Charliewhite

The thing I just dont get about my Christian friends is the tears at funerals. With such strong faith they should be happy for the person getting into the afterlife. Saw Marcus Brigstocke's god collar and he spoke really well on how the death of his best friend changed his views on athiesim. Worth reading/ seeing.

When Richards father died at the end of the last year there were some interesting sympathy posts, some could have been from a church magazine! But again worth reading just to see how diverse views we all have on death. Most focussed on celebrating the life he had and the mark he had made. To my most cynical Athiest friends who work on the biological level and say love is just a evolutionary chemical impulse to advance the species this would be just sentimental nonsense.

In the most basic level you just have to accept Athiesim is not a Religion we can not tell you where to seek comfort.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 20:49:07 UTC | #867261

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 19 by Robert Howard

@Comment 17

Thank you for your prompt response, Amos (flip, I can't stop thinkin' of you as Paul now), but the link you provided was about limbo as opposed to aitch e double hockey sticks.

I'm certainly no theologian, but I would imagine that the concept of limbo was dreamt up when some of the more sensible and courageous mediaeval proles began to question why innocent babies should be consigned to the fires of hell despite the fact that, original sin notwithstanding, they had done nothing to deserve it.

I'm sure the early church fathers didn't want their God to be regarded as some baby-torturing psychopath.

My question is more about the folks in Heaven who've got loved ones who have definitely been sent to Hell. Not some Hell-lite such as limbo where you're not actually on fire but are possibly just a bit too warm for comfort but it doesn't really matter because you're only a baby anyway and you don't know any better.

No, the real-deal, fire-and-brimstone, Hostel and Saw movies-inspired version of Hell which gets Ms Coulter, Ann Widdecombe and the like moist "downstairs".

I just don't understand how if you've got a loved one suffering in this way, you could possibly manage to get comfy on His right hand.

(By the way, man, will you change your feckin' avatar photo back. The new one scares my dog).

:)

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 21:52:07 UTC | #867276

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 20 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 19 by Robert Howard

Yeah, I was aware of what ya were driving at, I was just throwing another angle into the mix. Those eedjits stuck in purgatory are in the same boat as the limbo babies, at least till someone stumps up the cash to get them out of it.

I hope your dog isn't too traumatised.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 22:07:36 UTC | #867281

aldous's Avatar Comment 21 by aldous

Hell has been quietly erased from the map. A poweful argument that religion deals with the imaginary. Heaven is not just completely unbelievable, it's quite unthinkable. What would be the 'you' that would survive and who would be the people you would encounter. Would 'you' be baby you or diseased 'you' in terminal illness. Would you encounter repulsive Popes and the like and as they appeared at which stages of their lives, as Nazi youth, as 'leering old villain in a frock'.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 22:43:17 UTC | #867286

Robert Howard's Avatar Comment 22 by Robert Howard

@Comment 20 by Ignorant Amos

Ah, no, she's fine. If she makes too much of a fuss, I just kick her around the living room a couple of times and she soon quietens down. I hope you didn't change your avatar image on my account. I was just foolin'. I actually liked it.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 23:05:29 UTC | #867289

The Truth, the light's Avatar Comment 23 by The Truth, the light

The reward of heaven is something most religious people just don't think through.

Personally, the idea of an eternal heaven would be absolute hell.

Someone (think it was Steve Zara) wrote a great description of the absolute tedium and boredom you'd experience in heaven.

I think after even just a few hundred years (never mind millions or billions of years) you'd seriously want to end it all.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 23:29:18 UTC | #867292

Rich Wiltshir's Avatar Comment 24 by Rich Wiltshir

I don't see your question as valid.

Religoon wraps people in unnecessary cloaks; remove the cloak and you've less weight to carry, you're less restricted in movement, less prone to unhealthy sweats that merely fester and smell beneath the cloak. The cloak of religoon is disabling.

Religion is a discomfort that they've acclimatised themselves to; religoon is the "Emperor's Nudity"

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 23:32:37 UTC | #867294

bendigeidfran's Avatar Comment 25 by bendigeidfran

Yes those are the ones we'll try to solve. All possible if you're not magic.

Comment 23 by The Truth, the light

Easy to imagine no boredom. What is required for boredom?

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 23:38:20 UTC | #867295

Graxan's Avatar Comment 26 by Graxan

What comforts me now that i'm all grown up and know what's real and what's not? Not a lot to be honest, with the closest thing being that of passing something of myself on in the form of my kids. I won't believe in bullshit though even if it does take away that afterlife security blankiet.

I would also say that there is a third type of person. In addition to those who await the embrace of heaven and those who flatly refuse the obviously made up and nonsensical like myself, there are people who simply never think about these things. I'm thinking of the happy-go-lucky, busy doing everything or even simple-minded (not necessarily in a bad way) types who live out their lives and merely grin or shrug at the end. These people have the advantage I would say.

Sun, 04 Sep 2011 23:44:32 UTC | #867296

rolan's Avatar Comment 27 by rolan

Comment 16 by Robert Howard

Surely I can't have discovered the proof that Heaven and Hell don't exist........

Not for the religious.

I am sure that those who justify the appalling morality of religious texts and the hypocrytical, contradictory, and malfeasant behaviour of religious organisations in terms of a bigger moral picture beyond our mortal comprehension (a.k.a 'God's plan') will likewise couch heaven as something we mere mortals cannot understand (but which will make blissful, perfect sense for those who get there).

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 00:23:18 UTC | #867299

seals's Avatar Comment 28 by seals

Death seems not that bad an idea, provided it happens at the end of a natural lifespan. And everything else, the whole universe, just continues automatically more or less like clockwork, without any effort by the deceased. We won't even be aware of not being aware. Sounds good to me!

Heaven with all its ramifications is an atrocious idea, a continuation of the bigotry, intimidation and oppression of religion, so no loss there. Very few were ever going to get there anyway, by most accounts - no animals at all, other than a certain species of ape - so its non-existence is one less thing to worry about.

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 00:30:23 UTC | #867301

Quine's Avatar Comment 29 by Quine

... couch heaven as something we mere mortals cannot understand (but which will make blissful, perfect sense for those who get there).

Not that hard, when you can just make stuff up. For example, eternal boredom can be avoided by a deity who periodically resets everyone's memories back to "just arrived."

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 00:34:42 UTC | #867302

AusQuestioner's Avatar Comment 30 by AusQuestioner

Hello.

Here in Australia a current affair program recently aired a report about the "isolated tribes of the Amazon" in which one of the young tribesmen explains why their is a lack of older people in the tribe. The young man goes on to say: "I will take poison before I am old. I will die and be re-united with my loved ones and because I die young I will remain forever youthful being able to fish and hunt as easily as I ever have for all eternity." Sounds much akin to most religions to me. Death = re-united with loved ones, eternal youth and happiness.

Back on topic and I believe in drawing my "comfort" from the knowledge that I am creating a more educated place for the next generation to inhabit. I take comfort in knowing that by my actions and words I have instilled a sense of boundless curiosity for anything new and a keen eye for bs. I read in another discussion a few days ago: "Aussies have a very strong BS-o-meter. It reads 0 and 1. If the needle moves to 1, you're speaking sh*t!" I found it quite amusing and quite true when I asked friends what they thought of it. All agreed strongly.

But as I was saying. Make your little part of the world as nice and comfortable as you can and take comfort in knowing you haven't perpetuated lies and falsehoods to another generation thus liberating us from superstition and silly rituals worshipping the sun.

Question everything. Always.

Col

Mon, 05 Sep 2011 01:48:50 UTC | #867314