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Forever and ever, Amen…?

Posted by Eye4Cards on May 16, 2008

The idea of eternal life is, at first glance, extremely desirable. Once you try to wrap your mind around infinity you start to see the limits to limitlessness. To experience all, see all, and to constantly be on the cusp of knowing all forever starts to sound like you yourself are a god. Desirable? Perhaps. Until boredom sets in. What will you be caring about a trillion years after you are dead? How about 10 quadrillion years, or 100 sextillion, or 500 septillion, or even a billion octillion eons? Our little neighborhood in the Milky Way will be condemned in a few billion years. Perhaps the human race will have moved uptown by then. Perhaps this life is a quiz before the test which is your afterlife. God only knows.

I wonder what it would be like to have bouts of depression for a few billion years in a row. The assumption is that all of our worries die when we live on. What if we are the result of one of God’s migraines much like Athena gave Zeus a splitting headache when She was born? That would explain why He seems so pissed off in the Old Testament and more mellow in the More Recent Testament. Maybe He’s bi-polar; good or evil, feast or famine, live or die. We at least know He is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).

It is not the specific length of time that you have to experience existence, but that there is a length to it. To know a beginning is to know an end. Without one there is no reference for the other much like you cannot know good without knowing bad or know the difference between day or night.

Besides, why bother with a preface to eternity? If there is an all-knowing and all-loving God He should do us all a favor and do away with the foreplay. And to base the quality of my afterlife on the quality of my belief in him in this life is ridiculously unfair. It is a life long challenge just getting out of the shadow of his blissful ignorance using the faulty, limited, reasoning faculties that he has given us in the first place.

As Galileo so succinctly put it:

“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”

(Thanks to Foxy Goddess for reminding me of this gem in her recent response to John Loftus’ News Sentinel interview)

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Atheist churches

Posted by Eye4Cards on May 14, 2008

VJACK over at atheist revolution had an interesting post about the idea of atheist churches.

There were a lot of interesting reactions and replies to the idea.

I think there has been a serious misunderstanding over the years of reading too much into the word atheist. Many theists continually use the word to imply the “religion” of the unreligious, and many times this use is intended as a derogatory slant toward anyone who doesn’t believe whatever specific dogma they call their own. It is a loaded word with a negative connotation built right into it. It is reminiscent of the Romans calling the early believers of Christ “Christians” or little anointed ones in an effort to slight their belief in a monotrinistic (oxymoron: belief in one trinity god) god.

Many atheists convolute the problem by giving too much importance to the label. Much of this is in self-defense. I know I have certainly found myself having to explain what my definition of atheism is and having to justify it with numerous arguments and posts. It is such a mind-numbing waste of time and energy arguing repetitive points to people over and over. It is necessary, but it takes time away from the more important topic; and that is, what do you center your life around that gives it meaning and value while leading you astray of organized belief in God?

I find I hardly ever dedicate time to this question, which I have read several times in different places and phrases. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in something.

The following is part of my reply to VJACK as to why atheists do not need to compete or mirror their organizations after churches, especially since there are already plenty of worthy, secular candidates to choose from to donate your time and energy to:

I don’t want to get caught up in a theological arms race and waste loads of cash and time that can be better spent by donating to local secular charities and organizations.

The reason why there is not a proliferation of atheist churches is because (at least from my point -of-view) atheism is not the central tennent of their belief systems. It’s already been said, but the only thing the label “atheist” does is let others know one’s stance on religion.

Being atheist is not what is important; it is secondary. What is important are beliefs that different atheists stand for and what their lives are built around, such as teaching, practicing science, medicine, etc.. There are no holy books that must be scrutinized and regurgitated. The closest atheists come to dogma is learning how to think critically and rationally and the scientific method and peer-review. Those things are there for our education, not for worship.

The punny guy that I am, I do find the idea of “atheist churches” to be attractive from the perspective of irony and ridicule. But it is not worth the problems it will cause by adopting the idea, no matter how comforting some of the social aspects are of belonging to a church. Even if most atheists are by metaphor black sheep that have been led astray of the flock, there is always some comfort in simply talking with like-minded people in a brick-and-mortar building no matter how effective and helpful the internet freethought community may be.

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