[A paper read on the 4th Anniversary Foundation of the U.P. Atheists Circle (UPAC).]
In a society where being a believer is the norm rather than the exception, the nonconforming atheist is left out with nothing to hold on to and with no one to be with - to touch his unwary heart with passion and care, to hear his drama of life in times of desperate human needs, to tender the groaning pain of the sufferings he oftentimes cannot escape with, and to restore to him the sanity to continue a life he must endearly live with throughout the last breath of his ironic existence. Leaving all certainties behind, in a place he too calls his own, he is no different from the man which the crooked world wanted him to crawl --- deus
The Mysterious Death
"...there will be a last day, a last hour, a last minute, and that will be it... off the edge."
- Thomas Nagel
The View From Nowhere
The View From Nowhere
I do not know if believers are more fortunate when their death occurs since, after all, there will be a life after death for them after their demise. Maybe I am not in the position to tell something of what fortune they have for believing a such. But I presume that no atheist will ever cling to the idea of immortality once their existence perishes or vanishes from this so-called world. And with this issue arises the division among atheists who subscribe to to the idea that death is not evil since it will terminate their absurd existence once and for all, and those who believe that death is a misfortune even when life is no longer worth living. (1)
If life is absurd or meaningless or nor worth living, it may sufficiently follow that the event of death will be most welcomed. However, granted that life is not unworthy to be lived by and the experience of living is simply a one-way ticket chance to an opportunity that will not come again (the opportunity to exist), how are we (the atheists) going to deal with it when we know that vis-a-vis our existence is our capability to be non-existent?(2) So, if death will be the permanent termination of existence, the confusion arises whether it is a bad thing to die or not, and whether it is rational or not that we fear the occurrence of death. I intend that if an atheist does not fear death, knowing fully well that there will be no more of life that he will ever experience after his termination, there will be only two valid reasons for believing so. First, he had already enough and may be well satisfied of what his life had offered him. Second, life for him is not worthy to be lived by, and so might as well believe that all is well that ends early. (3) Should death, however, be a misfortune or an evil thing to an atheist, I am most likely to conclude that death, for him, is such an event that must be feared of. And this latter conclusion creates the trouble in the mode of existence of an atheist.
We fear death because we are anxious about the opportunities that life has to offer in the future, and of which death prevents. The loss of life for such a kind of atheist means so much to him because all his chances of experiencing meaningful events within his lifespan will eventually come to an end. And this fact an atheist cannot just calmly accept. For the hour of existence is not something that is static or dull, it changes from one phase to another. Within the universe of space-time dimension, existence will come only once. And it is but awkward to think that time will not remain going on while one existence does not. We cannot stop this movement of time. (4) Everything must go on. And everybody, the atheists as well as believers, will have his last day, a last hour, a last minute, and that will be it... off the edge.
A Plea For Meaning
"The man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unhappy but hardly fit for life."
- Albert Einstein
Ideas & Opinions
Ideas & Opinions
Wouldn't it be nice to realize that efforts crown a person's hardships and trials with satisfaction and contentment? Wouldn't it be better than if we believe that a life worth living can be attained in a life of effort? I propose that the problem of the meaning of life is a question of purpose or value - purpose of what you're doing and value of what you get in return. And it is my position that believers do not take it a big issue to them to bother themselves if their lives are meaningful or not since a redeemer is always present-at-hand. But the absence of God or a God in the existence of an atheist can be all that is the case to the latter.
It is futile to believe that life is meaningful if you are an atheist since one already knows what a meaningful and meaningless life means. An objective point of view can always warp subjective satisfactions, contentment and happiness that deals head-on the problem of the meaningless life of an atheist. Thus, it is my contention that a Godless yet meaningful life is absurd and seems inconsistent with the mode of existence an atheist usually lives. Purposeful? Yes. But meaningful, no. A subjective point of view can indeed make a lifespan busy, happy, satisfied and comforted as long as desperation and less failures don't get in the way. But this will not necessarily make the atheistic mode of existence, in any manner, meaningful. Implicity, for an atheist to say that his life is meaningful is no less differnt in making a mockery out of himself - pretending a life happily lived by amidst the hanging question of the essence of his cosmic existence (why is he born and why should he die later on? What for are the things that he's doing and to what value must he be attached to anybody?). As Thomas Nagel puts it:
"In viewing ourselves from the outside we may find that the things that we do are nothing but mere pretensions and aspirations helping ourselves and our lives not to be boring and insignificant. We, thus, become, indifferent to our own lives... And in dealing our lives seriously, we somehow manage to question the things we do in finding out their significance in our lives. Thus we step back from our own selves to reflect the things we do. In becoming aware of the events that come in our lives and the activities we undertake, we cannot help not to take an objective point of view of the cosmological purpose which, together with our existence, we cannot eliminate in our selves simply because it is the home we dwell, the place we live in." (5)
It seems, therefore, that life from without is but arbitrary, and the things we do, pretentions. Atheists live and die for nothing. Anf if they however managed to care about others, that creates more the problem: the fact that other too will die whom they might emotionally attached with. And just as their lives (the other) are arbitrary, so are the lives of atheists.
It is absurd, so to speak, because it is what makes up the human situation. So, the absurd is part of an atheistic life - it is a way in perceiving the true human situation. (6) And if atheists regard their lives as meaningless, yet they are not unhappy, ang therefore, are hardly fit, for life, it is not because life is possibly meaningful to make them fit for it but it's because life is necessarily meaningless that makes it hardy fit for them.
1. Richard Wollhelm, quoted by Nagel in his book.
2. Allan Pasamonte. Dyeing the Hours of Consciousness (An undergraduate thesis submitted to the Department of Philosophy, UP Diliman,April 1997), p.2.
3. Abstract Layug, "Selling the Drama" (A poem), published in PALAPAHAMAN (A journal of Philosophy, UPDiliman), First Issue, circa March 1996.
4. Pasamonte, pp.5-6.
5. Thomas Nagel, The View From Nowhere. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).
6. Thomas Nagel, Mortal Questions. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988) p. 23.