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Your_Majesty's avatar

If you are old and an atheist,would you worry about your next life?

Asked by Your_Majesty (8212 points ) June 2nd, 2010

If you an atheist. You realize that your time is coming closer as you get older from years to years. As the rule as an atheist you don’t believe in the miracle of the next life. Would you worry about your next life? What you think would happen to you(your life) after you’re dead? Will you suddenly become pragmatic and go to church to buy your way to heaven? So how could you handle this issue?

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94 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

Most atheists don’t believe in an afterlife.

Vunessuh's avatar

Doesn’t make much sense to worry about your next life if you don’t believe in it.

janbb's avatar

Nope – I would (and do) worry about ending this life in the best and least painful way possible.

Cruiser's avatar

Do what any old dyed in the wool atheist would do and live each day like there is no tomorrow. LITS! Rock it if you got it!! Woo HOO!

Jeruba's avatar

I am, and I am, and I don’t. This is the only life that causes me any thought and concern. When it’s over, my body will become part of the natural cycle of things, just as if I were an opossum or a dolphin or a tree.

jaytkay's avatar

I’ve known a couple of people who grew a lot more religious as they approached death.

They weren’t atheists (like me), but they went from casual and indifferent to enthusiastic.

It’s Pascal’s wager. If you believe and you are wrong nothing happens. If you disbelieve and are wrong, you burn in Hell for all eternity. So you might as well believe.

I don’t see a downside for them.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I doubt it. The possibility of death is always there, and I’m not running for a church. I’m not sure why that would change as I age. Not believing in god isn’t a CHOICE I’ve made, I just don’t believe it. I can’t force myself to believe it, and I see no sense in pretending to believe it… so my answer is no.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Jeruba

No one, even Theists, would deny that your body becomes part of the natural cycle of things. The question is what happens to your spirit or you soul.

@Doctor_D

Believing or disbelieving in an afterlife is irrelevant. There are many so called Theists who live their physical lives engulfed in greed, lust, and deception. There are numerous Atheist friends of mine who live their lives based upon honesty, integrity, charity, humility… all the character traits that religion supposedly promotes, yet sans the dogmatic Gods they foist upon us.

Religion is a LIE!

Yet I fully expect to know all of you in the afterlife.

Ivan's avatar

I’m a young atheist, and I already worry about that.

Response moderated
earthduzt's avatar

no, maybe my very energy when I die will will escape into one of the many subatomic black holes that rips into space time everyday and I will help seed an alternate universe…or maybe there are alternate universes that once I die in this one I will be in control of myself again but slightly different in another in one of those other universes…or maybe I will become a singularity and slip out of this universe to create my own…I know one thing, when I die..I will just die physically…my energy will not leave, no ones energy does. The same amount of energy that existed in the creation of this wonderful place is the exact same now and will be until the end of time…I will just be in a different form….oh the possibilities!

YARNLADY's avatar

No, there’s no point in worrying, since there’s no afterlife.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@earthduzt

When you say “my energy will not leave”, that’s just like saying “my checkbook will not leave”. It may not leave, and you may indeed be different, but that “energy” will not be yours any longer.

@YARNLADY

How can you make such a confident claim?

Vunessuh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Because it’s what she believes in. Plenty of people make confident claims about God’s existence. It’s simply what they believe in. That’s how. What’s the problem?

AmWiser's avatar

It does not matter whether one says they are an atheist or not, we all return to the Creator when we leave the flesh. What the Creator does with your soul is up to Him. Should one suddenly become pragmatic, that might be a good thing ‘seek Him while He might be found’ or something like that

earthduzt's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies It may not be my energy then, but it is my energy now so I think I can say it is my energy because it did belong to me…once I get to that point I won’t know any difference…but it is my energy.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Vunessuh

I agree there’s no point in worrying. I’m just asking for support for the claim that there is definitely no afterlife. It’s no different than asking a priest to support his claim that there definitely is an afterlife. It’s a reasonable question, and claiming that “I believe it” is a non answer. What evidence are the beliefs based upon?

@earthduzt

So if it may not be your energy then… then where is the “I” that “will just be in a different form” and who is the “I” that “won’t know any difference”?

Vunessuh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Unfortunately, the question didn’t ask anyone to provide evidence. That’s not what this is about. The question asks if atheists worry about their next life. Most of us don’t because that’s simply what being an atheist is. Along with not believing in God, most don’t believe in Hell or the Devil or an afterlife either. Our beliefs aren’t irrelevant just because we didn’t provide evidence, especially when that’s not what the question calls for. So to say that our “I believe” or “I disbelieve” responses are non-answers, is redonkulous – for lack of a better word.

earthduzt's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Well it may or may not be…I like to believe that it is, no none knows for sure…and yes I will be in a different form…my matter self will be gone, but my energy self will be alive…it’s my energy so again I can say it is mine and that I will be in a different form, if it is not me after I die..well I won’t know any difference so it won’t matter at that time. So for now until then I say I or me, or you, or her, or him, or it, or whoever….plainly we just don’t know what really will happen…it’s fun to believe in something…because really it won’t matter in the end.

YARNLADY's avatar

I base my statement of the lack of evidence. For more on proving a negative, see this excellent article.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Though im not old, I can say it does make me comfortable knowing the matter that makes up my body will go on forever. No it wont be in the form of a human anymore, but maybe a tree, maybe an animal, maybe even someday a star. So while, my conscious mind and my personal wont live on, my matter will. Always serving a purpose in some way or another.

I find this notion much more enlightening and relaxing than the idea of a heaven.

netgrrl's avatar

Why would I worry about something I don’t think exists? Way too many things going on in this life. Old age is too late to try & hedge my bets.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Vunessuh

You know I’ve often wondered about that. I know that Atheism specifically rejects any type of Deity, but does it automatically reject any type of afterlife? Is it possible to be an Atheist and still believe in some form of a sentient awareness in an afterlife?

@YARNLADY

I understand that you have not been met with any evidence to support your believing in an afterlife. Does that mean there is no evidence, or does that mean you haven’t found any that satisfies you?

I for instance have found evidence that satisfies my belief in an afterlife. And although you may think you are aware of any evidence that I could provide, perhaps you are unaware of it. That doesn’t mean to suggest that becoming aware of it would convince you otherwise, but are you absolutely positive there is no evidence?

And what exactly (or theoretically) would you consider proper evidence to sway your position? What would it take to change your mind?

@earthduzt

Energy and Matter are essentially the same things. They are in different forms at opposite ends of the spectrum so to speak. Just as ultra violet and infra red are both light at opposite ends of the spectrum.

You can’t really say that your matter self will be gone but your energy self will be alive. Energy/Matter are one just as Space/Time are one.

When you say, “I will be in a different form”, do you realize that “form” requires physical substance to be a “form”? Form is physical.

If there is an afterlife, do you suppose it will be a realm where physical form exists? Is it reasonable to suggest that realm may be one of the form-less? All we need are examples of agents that are formless to suggest that formless agents do in fact exist. And if formless agents do exist, then there is more than meets the eye of our physical realm based upon that which is formed by physical energy/matter. Does that make sense?

JLeslie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think the Eastern religions don’t believe in God but believe in reincarnation, which I would count as an afterlife.

I think if there is a heaven or afterlife, and if their is a God, there is no way God would punish people for having not worshipped Him. If there is any type of judgement it would be based on if we lived by the golden rule. That is what I believe at least.

lillycoyote's avatar

I suspect there may be some atheists who might get a little anxious and wonder, near the end, and many, if not most, who would not. No need for people who don’t believe in an afterlife to worry about an afterlife. Unlike many people here and and elsewhere, some people do not go through life in a state of absolute certainty regarding thing that cannot be known with absolute certainty. The world, the universe is too complicated and nuanced for many of us to be absolutely certain.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@JLeslie

I think @Ivan is fond of claiming that Buddhists are Atheists. Correct me if I’m wrong here please. But the idea behind it is that Atheists don’t believe in God, and thus Buddhists qualify. I could be wrong and do not wish to misrepresent his thoughts.

Maybe I’m mistaking this with his views about Agnostics. I can’t remember.

JLeslie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I think Buddhists are atheists, that’s the way I understand it. Atheist means not believing in God. Why? Did I write something confusing?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well you just said Eastern religions. That would include Taoists, and I think they believe in a form of God. And Buddhism is considered by many to be more of a philosophy than a religion.

El_Cadejo's avatar

Though I cant say definitively as Ive never really studied Buddhism but from my talks with a shaolin monk i would say Buddhists fall under agnostics rather than atheists. They dont say there is or is not a god but simply they don’t know.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes I think there are many different branches of Buddhism actually. Like Pentecostals and Baptists.

JLeslie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Oh, I see, yes I was vague. I don’t know enough about all of the eastern religions, and I should not have worded it in a way that grouped them altogether.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I do it all the time too.

talljasperman's avatar

I worry about my past and forget the present and regret the future… But the next life details I’ll find out about when I get there

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@JLeslie

OK well back to the point though. In essence, am I correct to believe that Atheism is satisfied by just rejecting the possibility of a Deity? And thus, an Atheist can indeed be allowed to believe in some form of sentient afterlife, albeit without a God being to share it with?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I was at the deathbed of over 200 individuals while working nearly 3 years at a hospice. Some of them were atheists. Not one worried about the afterlife. Didn’t seem to bother Jews much, either. On the other hand, there were a few Christians that held the bedrails in white-knuckle fear of hell at the very end. One was gay who, in shear terror asked the head nurse if he was going to hell because he was gay and the bitch said yes. She was reported and never disciplined for this and she still works there

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Guess who’s going to hell in that story.

MissA's avatar

Being an athiest, I would believe, frees you from worrying about any thoughts of a next life. What makes you think otherwise?

JLeslie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I would say yes, but I am no authority, it is just my opinion. I say you get to believe whatever you want. But, as I said at the top, most atheists I know don’t believe in an afterlife.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

oh hell here comes rarebear. I’m gettin outta here!

Rarebear's avatar

I’m a relatively old atheist and I don’t worry about the afterlife one bit (although I do worry about death because my daughter is still young). My grandfather was 101 and was an atheist until the day he died, same thing with my father, who died at 73. I’ve lived a good life. That’s enough for me.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies chicken!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yeah that’s one of the qualifiers I meant to ask about.

Define Old.

tranquilsea's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus What an evil thing to say to someone who is dying. Actually, maybe hateful is a better word. She sounds like a really bitter person.

As to the original question. I don’t worry about where I am going to go when I die. I suspect that my consciousness will just diminish to nothing but when my mom died I felt her go somewhere. So where ever she is I would like to be too.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Emotionally, I yearn for an afterlife reunited with a loved one who passed far too young. Reason tells me that is infinitesimally unlikely. Life is reduced to the existential concept of duty, as with the physician in Camus’ “La Peste”.

The problem with Pascal’s Wager is that an omniscient deity would see the motive and likely condemn the contrived “believer” anyway. You cannot force yourself to genuinely believe something that reason rejects; the most you can do is assume the external trappings of religiousity.

Rarebear's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Okay, I’m not that old. I’m 46. But I’ve known people my age to die.

JLeslie's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I have a hope that my grandmother was reunited with her father who died when she was 5. She missed him her entire life.

Rarebear's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land I look at Pascal’s wager more simply. If a being didn’t want to let me into their party because I wouldn’t play with him before I died, then I don’t want to go to the party anyway. Humph.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Rarebear Exactly right. If it exists, the other venue would likely throw a better party. As Mark Twain put it…heaven for the atmosphere but hell for the companionship. Entropy is the most likely outcome anyway; materials recycled into the ecosystem.

MissA's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land And, let’s hope it’s not near an oil spill.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m a deist who doesn’t believe that god is a dick. So I don’t worry to much. If there is no god, then that’s that, no afterlife probably, unless consciousness consists of sturdier stuff that we imagine, so if I have no consciousness, and if dead is dead then what’s the problem? And I strongly suspect that god, if there is one, is not anywhere close to being as big a dick and a hard ass as most religions portray him to be so I’m not worried there either.

MissA's avatar

@lillycoyote That’d make a great t-shirt: “God is not a Dick”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@lillycoyote

God is not a Dick, but he plays one on OT.

YARNLADY's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I was raised in a very religious family, but it never made any sense to me. I tried all the things that were supposed to help, but they never did. No one tries to say a flower or tree has an afterlife, so why bother to make that claim about humans? There simply is no proof either way, and I simply choose to accept what seems most sensible to me – there isn’t an afterlife, just wishful thinking.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA Great idea! I think I can at least get the bumper stickers into production pretty quickly. :)

MissA's avatar

@lillycoyote I guess if you don’t want to offend anybody, you could say “dicklette”.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

How about, God is not a Cunt.

those are much worse than dicks

MissA's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies How so? It does sound worse. But, I’m not sure why. Maybe because we call Richards Dicks…not the same for the C-word.

Silhouette's avatar

I’m an old atheist and I handle my next life like this…there ain’t no next life so I enjoy the one I have now. I belly up the life’s buffet and make a right pig of myself Burp.

What I think happens after I’m dead is my family has me toasted and tosses me out in my backyard.

MissA's avatar

@Silhouette…and no guilt and no propaganda and agendas. We’d all be happier if we enjoyed life now instead of worrying about that which may never come to pass. If it ends up that we get a bonus round…that’d be great!

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA Who says I don’t want to offend anybody? :)

Silhouette's avatar

@MissA I’ve stepped into my fair share of guilt, I just don’t wear it like a hair shirt. Keep in it mind as a reminder not to pull that stupid stunt again but that’s about as far as my guilt goes.

bolwerk's avatar

Part of human biology is the need for continuity. At the very least it makes sense to worry about what will become of the self for the sake of those around, such as progeny. Religion offers a convenient and elegant answer to that problem. It may not be accurate or likely, but it’s elegant.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Even if one can’t enjoy life, at least make the most useful contribution possible.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@bolwerk

I hope there’s no religion in the afterlife.

MissA's avatar

@bolwerk I don’t find anything elegant about the hoodwinkings of religion. Do you really?

lillycoyote's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Why not? Because I’m really not a big fan of the c-word, using the word cunt in a derogatory way towards woman bothers me, it’s not a word I would ever use, and unless someone is actually describing a woman’s anatomy, under particular circumstances, unacceptable. Sorry to be so earnest and boring and preachy on this one.

MissA's avatar

@lillycoyote Baby, I’m right there with you on this one.

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m am an athiest (I am unwilling to say that I know 100% that there is no god, but I am 99.99% sure.) and I’m not old, but neither am I
young. I never worry about an afterlife. I’m waiting for sweet oblivion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@lillycoyote

Sure I understand, and I never use the word either. But, the most derogatory term that can possibly be used towards a male persona, is Cunt. Best to stick with Dick on this one.

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA Yes, absolutely and @RealEyesRealizeRealLies This matter is now settled, I assume.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Oh yeah, sure yes and settled sorry dear friend.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

so when do I get my bumper sticker?

MissA's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Probably as soon as @lillycoyote receives another promotional email from Vista Print!

lillycoyote's avatar

@MissA and @RealEyesRealizeRealLies I believe that @MissA only suggested that “God is not a Dick” might make a good slogan or whatever, about 5 minutes ago. I need at least a little time on this thing, Plus it’s 1:34 a.m. here and maybe I could run to the 24 hour Kinkos right now, but I’m not going to.

Jeruba's avatar

I should amend my comment with a clarification: I mean that I think that is all that happens when I die. All. Period, the end.

Merriment's avatar

I’m getting older old and I am an atheist and I have to say I don’t waste a single moment of my time thinking about the “afterlife”.

As challenges come up I will not flee to the church seeking god to give me a get out of hell free card. Instead, I will meet those challenges as best as I am able. I will also take comfort in the thought that any suffering/loss I encounter isn’t a judgment, punishment or indictment from a vindictive god but rather just an example of the universal truth that shit happens.

bolwerk's avatar

Some theists have little to worry about in the next life either. Judaism is quite agnostic about the afterlife.

ragingloli's avatar

Probably not in the supernatural sense.
By the time I am in my eighties, we might have the technology to upload our consciousnesses to computers, so I would worry about my “afterlife” in that sense, as a digitalised consciousness inside a computer and the vast expanse of the internet or its successor.
A Ghost in the Shell.

LostInParadise's avatar

For me the division between being young and old works like this. When you are young, take in as much as you can and when you are older, concentrate on giving back. Make sure that by the time the end approaches, you made an effort to make this a better place. You only get one chance.

Symbeline's avatar

Fuck all that shit. I’d rather worry about my life as it happens right now, rather than whatever comes after it, if anything at all. As for ’‘buying’’ my way into Heaven, I’m an honnest person, if God’s real, He knows it.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@Symbeline Exactly right. Unless the game is rigged, a merit system should apply that doesn’t consider trivialities like religious affiliation. If we’re going to speculate on fantasy, I’ll pick Valhalla with a certain lady at my side.

El_Cadejo's avatar

@stranger_in_a_strange_land Atheist Wager: You should live your life and try to make the world a better place for your being in it, whether or not you believe in god. If there is no god, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent god, he will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in him

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

@uberbatman Exactly correct. A jealous or malevolent deity isn’t worthy of worship anyway.

Austinlad's avatar

No. Living in some mytical afterlife isn’t living.

janbb's avatar

@Austinlad Would it matter if there were an “h” in it or not? :-)

faye's avatar

Wouln’t God know if you only “believed” because you were scared of “hell”? I don’t know if this has been said- looong thread- if so, sorry.

JLeslie's avatar

@faye Good point.

superjuicebox's avatar

Thats why i’m agnostic.

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