If there is no heaven then. . .

Hello avid readers!

One of the things that I think perhaps is hardest to deal with when one is seeking to accept and understand, possibly even be, an atheist, is the fact that we must give up the idea of an afterlife.  If there is no supernatural being guiding and dictating everything, then there cannot reasonably be any sort of afterlife.

I think it is fair to observe that humans are afraid of death more than anything else.  Someone asked me the other day why humans were more intent on living longer rather than living better.  My answer was simply that we are afraid of dying, and therefore, no matter how bad the qualify of our lives, we still prefer them to death.

So, if there is no afterlife, no heaven or hell, what are we to suppose is the purpose of our lives here?  It might be, and I think I can say at least for myself that I’m leaning in this direction, that our collective purpose is simply to be.  We don’t have any more glorified purpose for existing than any other thing in the entire universe; we exist because we exist, and our purpose is simply to exist until we die; afterwards the matter that makes up our bodies will be absorbed and eventually recycled.

So, if we accept that our purpose is simply to be, what should propel us to try for anything in life?  That’s where self-actualization comes in.  We are being told more and more by the culture around us that self-actualization is an important part of our lives, in fact more important than financial or other types of success.  I think that I agree wholeheartedly with this idea.  Self-actualization, seeking to fully realize who you are and then harmonizing who you are with the world in which you live is an admirable goal, and I think too, and admirable way to achieve our purpose of simply being.  We must find solace in who we are and what we do each day, not because of some higher power telling us what is right or wrong, but because any day could realistically be the end of our existence; memory only lasts so long and once we fade from the memory of those we knew and interacted with, there will be no trace of who we were anymore.  So my friends, let’s live simply to be and not worry about what comes after.

until next time,


  1. #1 by Ty on November 1, 2009 - 5:59 pm

    Jim, you may want to read the new book by John Spong aptly titled Eternal Life: A New Vision. I found it to be quite helpful.


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