One of the complaints religious people often make about atheism is that it’s devoid of purpose. If you’re not living for God (or the afterlife), then what’s the point of it all?
In his new book Life in Light of Death (Pitchstone Publishing, 2016), author James A. Lindsay counters that argument by making the case that accepting our own mortality is a starting point for having a more fulfilling life.
In the brief excerpt below, Lindsay summarizes the case he will be making in the rest of the book:
If you want to be happy, you must accept that you will die. And so will your loved ones. Yes, you and those you love will die. You each will end interminably and eventually be forgotten, and happiness in life demands realizing this fact.
Realizing that you will die will not immediately make you happy. Quite the contrary. To find happiness in the shadow of death requires reckoning with it bravely and fiercely until the full light of life shines through. This light remains obscured until you know what death means for your life and the lives of those you love.
Everything that matters becomes much more clear once you apprehend the facts of mortality. Truly knowing that you are going to die teaches what may be life’s most valuable lessons: life is short, some misery is guaranteed, and yet happiness, contentment, and fulfillment are possible. The clear conclusion that follows is that seizing happiness — and helping others to do so too — while we have the chance may be the only thing that makes sense to do with our time. So, the first thing to do is acknowledge is that you are going to die.
Contemplating the brevity of life creates gratitude and a unique opportunity to live more fully. In fact, very little offers the opportunity to see life’s potential like death. Contemplating death is looking into a mirror, and it allows us to see our lives differently, in ways as if for the first time. What stands out in death’s reflection of life is what matters most. By seeing plainly where we will find meaning in our lives, we have the opportunity to live for it, which is to say to really live.
Life in Light of Death is now available on Amazon.