A couple weeks ago, The Globe and Mail published a heartbreaking piece by Cerise Morris about her friend’s death and how it made her think twice about her atheism:
I have lived comfortably with the belief that this life is all there is, but the experience of watching my friend die put this comfort to the test.
Sandra’s dying made me confront the boundaries of my atheism as nothing had up to this point. I realized how profoundly comforting it must be to believe that this life is not extinguished forever, that this personality –- or soul if you will -– continues to exist on another plane. And how beautiful to imagine that people who matter greatly to you will be re-encountered in recognizable form.
It’s really the most difficult thing about being an atheist: realizing that there’s no afterlife. When your loved ones die, that’s it. But their memory lives on, as does their teaching — they’re never truly gone unless you completely forget about them. There’s something honest and poetic about that.
Religion ignores that entirely and offers a unsupported myth in its place. As Cerise points out, that’s a comfort that’s hard to drop… but if you want to be honest, you have to let it go.
If you can accept that truth, I think it allows you to live a much better life. You know that your actions and legacy matter and will hopefully be remembered. The truth encourages you to make the most of the one life you have and to connect with the people you love — you’re not going to see them in the afterlife, so cherish that time now.
(Thanks to Orson for the link)