One aspect of religion I just don’t get is this desire or need for an afterlife. Oddly enough this is probably one of the aspects that attract so many people to religion in the first place.
I don’t think people realize just how long forever is. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to live to be 120 years-old or maybe even 500 years-old. Okay, I might even grant you that living to be 1000 or 2000 years could have its benefits. But after a while life would get pretty boring.
I remember having a conversation with my philosophy professor in grad school about this. For whatever reason, I made making some off handed comment about how life is too short. He disagreed and made and went into a rant style argument that life was too long. He cited that people waste so much of their valuable life on meaningless things like television shows (I think he named the “Honey Booboo” equivalent of the time) and other forms of entertainment that just mindless time wasters. Life, he said, isn’t valued enough by people because it is too long.
This got me thinking about just how much of our lives we do waste and how much more we could accomplish in life if we actually lived it. This brings me to the next issue I have with the concept of an afterlife. People are so busy living to die that they aren’t living to live. What I mean is that some religious believers are so focused on how to get to the next life that they don’t focus on living this one – which for the record is the only one that actually exists.
That of course is another important problem I have with the concept. It is completely made-up. There is no evidence that there is any kind of afterlife. In fact, the only reason why we even have such a ridiculous concept in the first place is because of our own arrogance. We think the universe revolves around us and that we are so damn important that even after we die the universe couldn’t possibly just go on without us. Somehow we must be transferred somewhere else to live on in some other more permanent location. We fear the fact that at some point we will cease to exist.
But why should we fear such a thing? We know that the world existed independently without us before we were born, so why does it seem so strange to think that the world will continue to exist independently without us after we die? Shouldn’t we instead focus on living the life we have and making the world a better place from us being here? We are part of a tapestry of humanity, a tapestry of life, and a tapestry of existence. We have a responsibility to those we care about and to future generation to make the most out of our lives regardless of whether they are too short or too long.
We all fail at this of course, but I think we need to take a moment every now and then and start asking ourselves, is this the best possible use of our time? I love television and movie; they give me lots of ideas and spark my imagination, but some shows are just a waste of my valuable time. Why do I still watch them? Why do you?
Is church a valuable use of time? Maybe it is if you believe you need it in order to get unlimited free lives, but for me life is not a video game. We have one life to live and I think we need to learn how to start living it. We need to start respecting the fact that we only have a finite time to live and we don’t even know how long or short that time is.
The belief in an afterlife cheapens the life we actually have. It shifts our focus away from the here and now. This fiction eats away at our actual lives. Thomas Paine put it best when he said the following:
“Of all the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny in religion is the worst; every other species of tyranny is limited to the world we live in; but this attempts to stride beyond the grave, and seeks to pursue us into eternity.”
- Theists Will Drown In A Lake Of Semen (skepticink.com)
- WooHoo, I’m Skipping Purgatory! (skepticink.com)
- What humanist military chaplains can offer (Video) (examiner.com)
- Interview: ‘The Transhumanist Wager’ author Zoltan Istvan (examiner.com)
- Dear Christians: Have You Heard The Harsh Reality? (skepticink.com)
- Religious Segregation Starts Early (skepticink.com)