For this article I wanted to write about how atheists view life and death. Since a friend of a friend has such a great article about life on his blog, I will cover it first and reserve the discussion on death for another article. This is reprinted here with his permission as I cannot hope to discuss the evangelical view of life and compare it with the atheist view of life.
How should we approach this thing we call life? At this moment, we are living, breathing, thinking human beings. Someday, beyond our next breath, we will die. Our bodies will cease to be alive. Death is the one certainty in life. No one escapes death.
As a Christian, I viewed life this way:
1. Life is given to us by God.
2. Life is a preparatory time for life after death.
3. Troubles, trials, and adversity will certainly come our way but these things are part of God plan for us. He is testing us, trying us, and developing a longing in us for Heaven.
4. While pleasure and happiness have their place in the human experience, it is far more important to know the joy of the Lord, and if need be deny oneself pleasure and happiness for the sake of God’s Kingdom and the eternal reward that awaits those who run the race God has set before them.
5. While there is nothing wrong with material things they do have the power to corrupt and distract us from that which really matters. As the Westminster Catechism says :What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
6. Life is lived with God, his will, and eternity always in the background. Death is seen as a promotion from this life to the next. While we will leave our loved ones behind for a time, we know that if they are followers of Jesus we will see them again in Heaven.
As an atheist, I view life this way:
1. Life is given to us by our parents.
2. This life is all we have. There is no life after death, no second chances, no do-overs. This is it.
3. Troubles, trials, and adversity will certainly come our way. These things happen to most everyone, and it is the price we pay for being among the living. Sometimes these things happen due to our bad choices or rash, foolish decisions. However, many things befall us simply due to luck. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong circumstance. Bad genetics.
4. Pleasure and happiness are to be sought after since this life is all we have. In seeking pleasure and happiness we should consider the affect on others of our seeking pleasure and happiness, but we should not allow others to stand in way of our pursuit of these things. Life is too short to allow others to dictate the parameters by which we live our lives.
5. We should seek after those things which give our life meaning and purpose. While there is a place in the human experience for living for the sake of others, this should not be at the expense of our own meaning and purpose. While narcissism is not a trait most humans value, neither is living a life that belongs to everyone but the person living it. ( and this includes living a life for a deity)
6. Since life is defined by the space between birth and death it is important for us to live each day to its fullest. Every day we live means we are one day closer to death. While death may provide a release from pain and sickness it is bittersweet. Bittersweet because we are leaving behind those things which mattered to us. Above all, we are leaving behind those we love.
While it would be easy to say “how sad” I found it to a reminder of how important it is to value and cherish the life we have. We spend so much time doing things that are meaningless and that add nothing to our life. I know it is very easy to get sucked into normalcy, to just go with the flow. We tell ourselves, Tomorrow. Perhaps a Bible verse is appropriate here:
Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. (Proverbs 27:1)
If you’d like to read more of his journey, you can find his blog here:
Fallen From Grace