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Atheistic Dilemma - How do you deal with your mortality?
Posted: 14 February 2011 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Afluenza, in my opinion, refusing to answer the chief question on theism by assuming the position of uncertainty doesn’t exempt you from the problem that all agnostics and atheists suffer from. You still have to deal with it just as much as everyone else does.

From your post, however, I gather that you have personally found a way to deal with this issue. Would you be so kind to share some of your insight with us?

Exmachina, here is my answer:

From an examination of your initial post, I think that the way you are starting off is actually hurting your ability to cope with this very real problem. It’s a problem that we all have to deal with. It all comes down to how each individual chooses to deal with it. Before I continue, I have to say that if you find that the only way for you to be able to healthily cope with life is by believing in something (including things that are non-verifiable), then by all means, do what it takes. Just don’t try to force it on your neighbour. But if you see yourself as mature enough (I’ll explain that later) to actually face the issues full on, consider my take. Just know that it’s not original.

Here’s a couple of things that I think you need to rethink:

1.  You stated that the best thing you’ll be leaving behind is an imprint in the dirt. That’s not necessarily true. Look at history and you’ll realize that many people have contributed greatly to history and the progression of our civilizations in various ways. Many of these people were also atheists and agnostics. You could be one of those people.
2.  You speak of one’s acceptance of myths as a “luxury”. I can’t say that I see it that way. Being a former devout Christian (I used to preach the Bible, write and lead Bible study lessons, attend and work at a Bible college, and was mentored by a handful of Dallas Theological Seminary professors.), I understand the perceived “benefit” of being able to rely upon such teachings as a way to deal with “the unknown”. Now being free from such mental trappings, I can honestly and openly explore, discover, and appreciate the world as it is, accept and embrace people whom I would have normally shunned away (homosexuals, for example), and pursue the very things that bring me deep and lasting happiness (my wife, my daughter, friends, education, video games and video game design, assisting those who have real and urgent needs, etc.). Having to hide behind a myth that keeps you blind to the rest of the world is not a “luxury” to me. In my opinion, the life that I am now living is much more “luxurious” in comparison to what I used to know. And I’m just getting started (I left religion somewhere in the 4th quarter of 2008). Trust me. It’s possible to really be happy without religion.

Having said those things, I don’t want to give you the illusion that life is one big theme park to me. I have the same problems as everyone else. It’s my perspective that is the key. It’s still realistic, though. I realize that I am likely going to die one day, and that there is a strong chance that there is nothing on the other side, just non-existence. My ability to accept that as a possibility has made me more useful and productive in THIS life. I’ve learned to appreciate the now, and to make proper use of my time, while still enjoying the ride. It’s called maturity, friend. Once you mature to the point that you no longer require a heavy reliance on mythology and fantasy in order to survive the problems of life, then you are truly growing as a human being. You decide what the meaning of life is to you, and you live your life based upon that. If you don’t think that you can do that, you need to realize that you’ve been doing it your whole life, even as a Christian. They don’t have any real advantages over you, nor atheism as a whole. They’ve just decided what the meaning of life is to them, and now that you have left their circle, you must once again rethink your life and chart your own course. You have no other choice.

I hope this helps. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Posted: 14 February 2011 11:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Affluenza - 14 February 2011 10:59 AM

Get your hand ready…

“To support life”...

monkey-slap.jpg

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Posted: 14 February 2011 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I just try to accept my mortality in spite of my ego.  However I am trying to put off the end as long as possible. hmmm

However, I am not trying to live forever, as some research in the medical field seem to be attempting to allow us.  If they succeed and death becomes voluntary to any extent we will be facing a new moral dilemma:  How to decide to die and get out of the way of the younger humans?  Wonder if each one of us is going to require our own Mubarak moment?

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Posted: 14 February 2011 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I do my best to not allow my preferences affect what I take to be the case outside of those preferences. But for anyone who’s really interested in this issue, I highly, highly recommend Shelly Kagan’s course on death at Yale:

http://www.academicearth.org/courses/death

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Posted: 14 February 2011 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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A number of points and concepts were raised.  I’ll respond in no particular order

1. Purpose - that’s entirely a human concept.  Imagine a universe without any conscious life.  Things would just happen according to physical laws but no purpose could be assigned.  Therefore, it’s silly to talk about purposes as if they were intrinsic. 

2. Meaning - the same.  There is no intrinsic meaning to the universe or to us as inhabitants of it.  We make our own meaning by our actions as we live our lives.

3. Death - everything happens according to physical laws.  Life occurred because of an interesting (to me) confluence of chemical compounds.  The sun appears to come up each morning because of the structure and functioning of our solar system.  It would be silly and a waste of time to become concerned about whether or not it will come up tomorrow or angry because it came up this morning.  As we understand more of how our environment (including us) works, the less emotion we should bother applying to it.  Within limits we can modify some things and that’s fine, but we have to accept what happens beyond those limits.  We have to recognize that we are temporary, short term phenomena and enjoy ourselves during that time.

4. My feelings about dying - Big deal.  I’ve had quite a few pleasures and some tragedies in my life.  I like to think that I’ve helped more people than I’ve hurt.  I hope that some of the positive ideas I’ve mentioned to others and things I’ve done will help those following to live a bit better lives.  And, I smile at the thought of those following who go through all the stuff I’ve gathered during my life saying, “What the hell is all this crap?”  smile 

Occam

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Posted: 14 February 2011 05:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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My Uncle Harry, the brother of my grandfather, was a hoary, juicy old man. Born in Russia, he was a lifelong criminal and ne’er-do-well, who disintegrated towards death one body part at a time.

I adored him.

We still tell stories of him., twenty years after his death.

I hope to be considered a juicy, hoary old women, who’s exploits are talked about twenty years after my death.

That is how I accept the idea of my own demise. We are all the stories we tell about ourselves, and the stories people tell about us when we’re not around.

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Posted: 14 February 2011 06:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Bees Mom - 14 February 2011 05:26 PM

My Uncle Harry, the brother of my grandfather, was a hoary, juicy old man. Born in Russia, he was a lifelong criminal and ne’er-do-well, who disintegrated towards death one body part at a time.

I adored him.

We still tell stories of him., twenty years after his death.

I hope to be considered a juicy, hoary old women, who’s exploits are talked about twenty years after my death.

That is how I accept the idea of my own demise. We are all the stories we tell about ourselves, and the stories people tell about us when we’re not around.

I have an ‘eccentric’ aunt like that. She had two doctorate degrees and had a 20 year affair with a very famous married man (even the young ‘uns would recognize him). She parlayed the relationship into a small fortune, when he bought her a luxury car and large home in the Bay Area. She used the equity to purchase a half dozen homes a business and several small airplanes. She married a man and put him through flying school so she could fly all over the world—which she did. She would invite us along, but we refused to fly with uncle at the stick. She frequently ran for public office, but never won. She is listed in books with many ‘firsts’ in the Bay area. She is included in the biographies of her famous paramour, and everyone recognized that she was an extra-maritial girlfriend.  We tell stories about her 25 years after her death, and my children will repeat the stories to their children. She was an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary life,  I hope half as many are told about me! smile  People keep telling me ‘I ought to write a book’ about her.

(edit) she died at the age of 60 after her car was hit by a drunken driver.. downer

[ Edited: 14 February 2011 06:28 PM by asanta ]
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Posted: 14 February 2011 08:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I deal with my mortality by making the most of life while I live it. Occam nailed it, the universe existed before humans evolved and will exist long after our planet is a cinder in the Sun’s expanding envelope. In the overall scheme of things we are nothing more than a transient life form on a planet no one but us has heard of orbiting an average G type star in a beautiful spiral galaxy. Our lives have no more meaning than we give them, and that meaning will be lost as the universe ages. No one will remember us as the universe expands and undergoes a heat death.

But we are special in one way. We can look at the sky and wonder what is out there. We can ponder our fate and wonder if there is a purpose to life. We can laugh, we can cry, we can party. Tom T. Hall said it best. The true meaning of life is “faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

[ Edited: 14 February 2011 09:43 PM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 14 February 2011 09:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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DarronS - 14 February 2011 08:57 PM

I deal with my mortality by making the most of life while I live it. Occam nailed it, the universe existed before humans evolved and will exist long after our planet is a cinder in the Sun’s expanding envelope. In the overall scheme of things we are nothing more than a transient life form on a planet no one but us has heard of orbiting an average G type star in a beautiful spiral galaxy. Our lives have no more meaning than we give them, and that meaning will be lost as the universe ages. No one will remember us as the universe expands and undergoes a heat death.

But we are special in one way. We can look at the sky and wonder at what is out there. We can ponder our fate and wonder if there is a purpose to life. We can laugh, we can cry, we can party. Tom T. Hall said it best. The true meaning of life is “faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

Darron I was following you in rapt reverence, than you slapped me with the cold honest erotic fact of the matter.


That other eternal humanly dilemma:
Is it me and my party… er, er,  or those kids back at the house.

[ Edited: 14 February 2011 09:45 PM by citizenschallenge.pm ]
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Posted: 14 February 2011 10:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Yeah, well, when you get right down to it, what else matters?

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Posted: 14 February 2011 10:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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DarronS - 14 February 2011 08:57 PM

I Tom T. Hall said it best. The true meaning of life is “faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

I’d substitute “faster planes, younger men, more Hawaii, and more money”

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Posted: 14 February 2011 11:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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asanta - 14 February 2011 10:21 PM
DarronS - 14 February 2011 08:57 PM

I Tom T. Hall said it best. The true meaning of life is “faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

I’d substitute “faster planes, younger men, more Hawaii, and more money”

aah,  but you’re part of that new fangled liberation thing…
...  you know who’s been calling the shots the previous upmteen years. . .

Although, I know, i know, when you scratch the surface a little, we all know who’s kept home and hearth alive all these generations, while the guys have been off, partying & killing themselves.  And ain’t nothing like a sweet, smart woman to get any guy to do her biding. {that sweet smart woman that’s been back there at home taking care of the kids…
jeez it does get complicated in a hurry, doesn’t it.}

grrr

~ ~ ~

Anyone here ever read: “Wild Steps of Heaven” by Victor Villasenor

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Posted: 14 February 2011 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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citizenschallenge.pm - 14 February 2011 11:01 PM
asanta - 14 February 2011 10:21 PM
DarronS - 14 February 2011 08:57 PM

I Tom T. Hall said it best. The true meaning of life is “faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

I’d substitute “faster planes, younger men, more Hawaii, and more money”

aah,  but you’re part of that new fangled liberation thing…
...  you know who’s been calling the shots the previous upmteen years. . .

Although, I know, i know, when you scratch the surface a little, we all know who’s kept home and hearth alive all these generations, while the guys have been off, partying & killing themselves.  And ain’t nothing like a sweet, smart woman to get any guy to do her biding. {that sweet smart woman that’s been back there at home taking care of the kids…
jeez it does get complicated in a hurry, doesn’t it.}

grrr

~ ~ ~

Anyone here ever read: “Wild Steps of Heaven” by Victor Villasenor

*Takes Citizenschallenge’s shovel away*

Quit digging that hole there, Mr..

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Posted: 14 February 2011 11:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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wink

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Posted: 15 February 2011 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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ExMachina - 14 February 2011 06:12 AM

Being a newly converted Atheist at approx 2 years since my realization. I had run into the biggest problem that I think that most Atheists go though. It’s the question of how do you deal with the idea that you are going to die and that the best thing you’ll be leaving behind is an imprint in the dirt? With Christianity, they can look forward to a super happy fun time for eternity with the guy they think is just super. But Atheists don’t have that luxury that so many other beliefs have. We have to accept that this is it. That there is nothing else. So how do you deal with this idea? Or do you not deal with it at all?

Try to really imagine this ‘super happy fun time for eternity’. Wouldn’t that heal you from this idea? What will you do? Playing harp all the time? Being at the dancing? Continuously under the nice warm sun (?) enjoying one woman after the other? Or better an eternity of Valhalla? Or do you unite with god? But who is then enjoying this eternal happiness, if you as identity do not exist anymore?

For me, I have to cope with it. The universe made my life possible. This complex organic structure that constitutes me is a product of natural laws and chance, a very low chance. What if the asteroid would not have killed the dinosaurs? What if my parents would not have met? I arose in the universe, I will disappear again. In the meantime, the only thing I can do is realise this at any moment that here I am, a conscious being in an unconscious universe. The sheer fact of this ‘being able to realise’ is of such a high value that there is a deep basis of happiness in me, even if there is a lot in me and in the world that does not make me happy at all. And I know that there are 7 billion other beings in this situation. Or even more if you take less stronger conscious beings in account.

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