Why do Atheists see it as the best option?

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itsthesheppy:

Why is it difficult to accept that oblivion follows death? Oblivion preceded your birth. Was it so terrible?

How much did you suffer during the forming of the first ancient stars? Were you miserable when prehistoric life was still swimming around in the primordial oceans? When dinosaurs were walking the earth, did it bother you too much that you still had a few hundred million years before you'd eventually be born?

During the Napoleanic wars, were you beside yourself with anxiety, knowing that you had gone 13 billion years non-existing and now only had a couple hundred (a blink of an eye, really) before you'd be born? So you could live out a (hopefully long-lived and yet cosmically insignificant) 80-90 years of life before you went back to non-existing?

Of course not. You weren't the LEAST BIT bothered by having to wait 13.5 billion years to exist. And you know what? The billions and billions of years that follow your death won't matter to you either. You won't be there for them.

It's like mourning the fact that you missed a sunrise in Tahiti today. Sure, it was probably beautiful, but you weren't there and weren't thinking about it until I mentioned it. It's a non-thing. So enjoy that little time you've got. Live in the moment. Because there's no evidence of an afterparty.

It isn't that oblivion itself is painful or unpleasant in some way. It is the idea of losing essentially everything. Sure, you can live your life up now while you can for a few decades, but it doesn't change the fact that you're headed for complete destruction of self. You'll never be able to love, never be able to help someone again, never able to enjoy a movie with friends again, you'll be nothing.

Yes, you won't be around to mourn the fact that you lost those things, but that is ironically exactly the reason why it's so terrible.

Being wiped out and forced to fade into complete and utter cosmic obscurity is a fate that I have trouble imagining worse.

Well, for one thing, a lot of people would prefer oblivion to living forever.

Why do I see it as the best option? Because it's the option that doesn't make any unproven statements regarding the nature of the universe, and I simply consider believing in things without rigid evidence rather silly.

Plus, being bonded to beliefs that aren't supported by empirical and/or rational evidence is bound to get in the way of the pursuit of verifiable knowledge sooner or later.
In addition, religions have a tendency to be extremely conservative in their values. It's really confusing to me that you'd hold on to values from 2000 years ago without evaluating them critically (that is to say, without incorporating "God/Jesus said so" into the merits of the values).

Savo:

itsthesheppy:

Why is it difficult to accept that oblivion follows death? Oblivion preceded your birth. Was it so terrible?

How much did you suffer during the forming of the first ancient stars? Were you miserable when prehistoric life was still swimming around in the primordial oceans? When dinosaurs were walking the earth, did it bother you too much that you still had a few hundred million years before you'd eventually be born?

During the Napoleanic wars, were you beside yourself with anxiety, knowing that you had gone 13 billion years non-existing and now only had a couple hundred (a blink of an eye, really) before you'd be born? So you could live out a (hopefully long-lived and yet cosmically insignificant) 80-90 years of life before you went back to non-existing?

Of course not. You weren't the LEAST BIT bothered by having to wait 13.5 billion years to exist. And you know what? The billions and billions of years that follow your death won't matter to you either. You won't be there for them.

It's like mourning the fact that you missed a sunrise in Tahiti today. Sure, it was probably beautiful, but you weren't there and weren't thinking about it until I mentioned it. It's a non-thing. So enjoy that little time you've got. Live in the moment. Because there's no evidence of an afterparty.

It isn't that oblivion itself is painful or unpleasant in some way. It is the idea of losing essentially everything. Sure, you can live your life up now while you can for a few decades, but it doesn't change the fact that you're headed for complete destruction of self. You'll never be able to love, never be able to help someone again, never able to enjoy a movie with friends again, you'll be nothing.

Yes, you won't be around to mourn the fact that you lost those things, but that is ironically exactly the reason why it's so terrible.

Being wiped out and forced to fade into complete and utter cosmic obscurity is a fate that I have trouble imagining worse.

But you're been there already, is my point. You're talking about it like it's some horrible fate we're all doomed to, when it was a place we came from. Nobody pops out of their mother going "Holy CRAP that was a long 13.5 billion years to wait!" All that will happen after you're dead is more of what you were for 99.999999999999999999999% of the universe's existence. If it's a "horrible" fate, it must be the fate with which you've had the most experience, isn't it?

Except it should be the least scary thing ever. I go to sleep every night, just like most people. Ask me what I was doing at 3am this morning. Hell if I know. Probably drooling on my pillow and dreaming about being locked in my high school with no pants on. But I can't remember. May as well have never happened as far as my waking consciousness is concerned. I was unconscious, drifting in the closest thing to oblivion I will ever experience and to be honest with you, I like going to sleep. It's restful. Death is just a 3am that never goes away and honestly, there are worse fates.

Fates like existing forever. Think about what that means. You'd be forced to watch, helpless, as the human civilization meets its eventual terminus. You'd exist to see the planet annihilated in the sun's supernova. You'd exist to watch all of the stars eventually burn out, as the raw materials that they use for fuel are slowly, eventually spent, the universe growing colder, and darker, and more empty, until it is a place where nothing happens. Where there is not enough energy for life, or even time. And after the last molecule has finally decayed into some sort of quantum soup and everything has ended you still have the entire rest of eternity to go. And then what? Parcheesi?

Basically, all you'll end up doing is spending your life (the only one you'll get, growing ever shorter every day) coming up with imaginary solutions to a problem that doesn't exist. You were dead before you were born and someday you'll be dead again. Accept it. Live your life. Enjoy every moment and savor it, and then when the time comes, go resting assured that nothing about what you experience will be new. You won't even experience it. Nobody "experiences" death. We aren't there when it happens. Reminds me of something Epicurus, one of my favorite old wise guys, once said:

"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come,we are not."

Savo:
Being wiped out and forced to fade into complete and utter cosmic obscurity is a fate that I have trouble imagining worse.

I dunno, some religions sure try to come up with worse fates, like eternal torture in a hell or something.

Anyway, your fear of becoming obscure is one of the reasons a lot of us look to the future. We hope to impact the world somehow. Leave a mark. Maybe our names will be forgotten, but our actions, be they grand or small, can influence the world for the better. And that can be something as simple as going to work each day and doing a good job. Whatever you do, it leaves something of yourself and your actions behind, simply because of how the world works, how everything is somewhat interconnected and affected this way and that. For a lot of people, it's more practically leaving something of theirs behind even: Children to carry on their line, to keep improving us as a species, to keep reaching for new horizons and stars. I think I will be able to quite calmly go into oblivion one day. Especially if I can do so knowing that I did my part before I go. And, hey, enjoy life while you're at it. None of us are utterly self-sacrificing heroes of the community (otherwise we wouldn't be here), but that doesn't mean we can't do our work properly and leave a mark, however tiny.

itsthesheppy:

But you're been there already, is my point. You're talking about it like it's some horrible fate we're all doomed to, when it was a place we came from. Nobody pops out of their mother going "Holy CRAP that was a long 13.5 billion years to wait!" All that will happen after you're dead is more of what you were for 99.999999999999999999999% of the universe's existence. If it's a "horrible" fate, it must be the fate with which you've had the most experience, isn't it?

Except it should be the least scary thing ever. I go to sleep every night, just like most people. Ask me what I was doing at 3am this morning. Hell if I know. Probably drooling on my pillow and dreaming about being locked in my high school with no pants on. But I can't remember. May as well have never happened as far as my waking consciousness is concerned. I was unconscious, drifting in the closest thing to oblivion I will ever experience and to be honest with you, I like going to sleep. It's restful. Death is just a 3am that never goes away and honestly, there are worse fates.

Fates like existing forever. Think about what that means. You'd be forced to watch, helpless, as the human civilization meets its eventual terminus. You'd exist to see the planet annihilated in the sun's supernova. You'd exist to watch all of the stars eventually burn out, as the raw materials that they use for fuel are slowly, eventually spent, the universe growing colder, and darker, and more empty, until it is a place where nothing happens. Where there is not enough energy for life, or even time. And after the last molecule has finally decayed into some sort of quantum soup and everything has ended you still have the entire rest of eternity to go. And then what? Parcheesi?

Basically, all you'll end up doing is spending your life (the only one you'll get, growing ever shorter every day) coming up with imaginary solutions to a problem that doesn't exist. You were dead before you were born and someday you'll be dead again. Accept it. Live your life. Enjoy every moment and savor it, and then when the time comes, go resting assured that nothing about what you experience will be new. You won't even experience it. Nobody "experiences" death. We aren't there when it happens. Reminds me of something Epicurus, one of my favorite old wise guys, once said:

"Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come,we are not."

I've heard it put that way before, and just being honest with you, it doesn't do much for me. Assuming the oblivion view of the afterlife is correct, it doesn't encourage me much that I've experienced it before. All I have to work with is my own existence, and I despise the idea that one day I wouldn't be here in some way shape or form. I won't be around to ponder the suckage of not existing, but that doesn't make it suck any less. I might be caught in that 3:00 AM deep-sleep, but I don't have any dreams to keep me company and I won't ever wake in the morning to realize just how rested I feel.

Call it selfish or even stubborn, but I don't think I will ever find any level of satisfaction or peace in the perspective you espouse.

I respect your view, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree on that matter.

As for eternal life being worse than death... well, if it comes down to nothingness or end of humanity insanity fueled Parcheesi games with my fellow ghosts, that'd be a tough choice. I'd be inclined to say the latter... but 50,000 years or so might change my tune, so I can't really say.

Also, let's venture out on a limb here. IF there is some kind of benevolent deity/entity (whatever you want to call it) who exists beyond me comprehension and has gone to all the trouble to set up this wonderful afterlife for me, I'd bet he's worked out the kinks in some way I can't understand. And plus, if we want to get away from the whole "heaven" thing and its various borderline unanswerable questions, reincarnation isn't a bad choice.

Skeleon:

Savo:
Being wiped out and forced to fade into complete and utter cosmic obscurity is a fate that I have trouble imagining worse.

I dunno, some religions sure try to come up with worse fates, like eternal torture in a hell or something.

Anyway, your fear of becoming obscure is one of the reasons a lot of us look to the future. We hope to impact the world somehow. Leave a mark. Maybe our names will be forgotten, but our actions, be they grand or small, can influence the world for the better. And that can be something as simple as going to work each day and doing a good job. Whatever you do, it leaves something of yourself and your actions behind, simply because of how the world works, how everything is somewhat interconnected and affected this way and that. For a lot of people, it's more practically leaving something of theirs behind even: Children to carry on their line, to keep improving us as a species, to keep reaching for new horizons and stars. I think I will be able to quite calmly go into oblivion one day. Especially if I can do so knowing that I did my part before I go. And, hey, enjoy life while you're at it. None of us are utterly self-sacrificing heroes of the community (otherwise we wouldn't be here), but that doesn't mean we can't do our work properly and leave a mark, however tiny.

I like your way of looking at it, but again, it doesn't do much for me. Yeah, we can impact the world in little ways, but ultimately it won't be worth much. In 2000 years, the vast majority of us will be a .00000000000000000001 point font footnote on the pages of history, unless you do something that has a significant impact on the world. I might have helped some people, but I don't view that as being very comforting when I'd be staring into non-existence.

I just seem to look at these things differently than you folks do.

The Universe has no purpose. Great! I can invent my own.

Seriously, when I was a child, I wanted to believe in a benevolent god but evidence for this was lacking and arguments claiming that were just dumb. I was caught between wishful thinking and what I could reasonably determine and I couldn't unite the two. At the age of 14, I realised the only way to resolve the conflict was to dump one of them and it sure wasn't going to be the quest for knowledge.

I could have made the other choice and been happier. After all, ignorance is bliss. But who wants to give up the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom for bliss? Who wants to stand still? He that increases knowledge increases sorrow but, for me, not increasing knowledge increases sorrow as well. So I'll learn anyway. Indeed, I enjoy learning and understanding.

We have a short life on a rock in a vast, indifferent Universe and there's nothing you can do about that. Well, better make the most of it then.

Savo:

itsthesheppy:
-snip-

I've heard it put that way before, and just being honest with you, it doesn't do much for me. Assuming the oblivion view of the afterlife is correct, it doesn't encourage me much that I've experienced it before. All I have to work with is my own existence, and I despise the idea that one day I wouldn't be here in some way shape or form. I won't be around to ponder the suckage of not existing, but that doesn't make it suck any less.

Wrong. It makes it suck a LOT less. To the point where it doesn't suck at all. You're making yourself feel sucky, now, in your life, about a time in the universe where you won't be around to appreciate any suckitude. Can you spot the madness here? It's like eating a steak, and crying because tomorrow, the steak won't be there because you've eaten it already. Just eat the steak, man, enjoy it.

Also, let's venture out on a limb here. IF there is some kind of benevolent deity/entity (whatever you want to call it) who exists beyond me comprehension and has gone to all the trouble to set up this wonderful afterlife for me, I'd bet he's worked out the kinks in some way I can't understand. And plus, if we want to get away from the whole "heaven" thing and its various borderline unanswerable questions, reincarnation isn't a bad choice.

Reincarnation is a band-aid. It kicks the can down the street but eventually there won't be anything to incarnate into and then we're back to the problem of what to do with the rest of eternity.

Also I would hope you could notice the point in your post above where you start making things up. "I'd hope he'd think of something" you say, as if we're talking about hypothetical Superman plots and not, say, discussing what may or may not be the true nature of the universe. I feel you are coming as close as you can to admitting that your views of the afterlife are manufactured purely to ease you mind, only here's the problem: they aren't, are they? On this silly little gaming forum I've already got you reaching into your imagination to solve problems I poked in the afterlife hypothesis without really breaking a sweat.

It's just weird to me, I guess, that you reject out of hand a fate that holds for you no suffering whatsoever, supplanting it with one of uncertainties and troubling questions and implications. Like, is that really better? I'm not sure it is.

I think I can help you make sense of it.
You said "I honestly can't comprehend the concept that the world is better once you decide there is no God."
Try to understand, generally, Atheists are not Atheists because they think it's "better", but mostly because they think it's 'logical'. Hell, many of them may indeed agree that it would be "better" if there were some kind of god/overseer, giving the world a definitive meaning. But for your typical Atheist, "it would be better that way" isn't a reason to believe in something. Atheists generally base their belief that there is no higher order on evidence (or lack there of) and logic. Their logic may not be the same as others' logic.
But while many Atheists also dislike religion, it's not that they want for there not to be a god so much as whether they like it or not, observation and stock taking leaves them with no evidence that one exists.

Your big bang comment left me with another thought.
Science and religion are often thought of as locked in an eternal battle for credit for how the universe works. But why? Science is real, water melts, boils, freezes again, science explains how. And does that conflict with anything any religious text tells you? No. Is it hard to suppose that science, that thermodynamics, quantum fields, gravity, electromagnetism and all that good stuff are systems put in place by a divine entity(s)? Saying "science is how the world works" on its own is not to say that god is not in control, or doesn't exist.
There are lot of interesting conversations that can arise from this. If science is a show of god's power, then is it right for we men and women to be utilising it? Is that to be considered tapping into god's power? Trying to step to him?

And also (and this is just me on a rant now;D) not believing in god does not equate to believing in the big bang. I'm agnostic (or possibly an atheist. Can't decide, don't care) and I think the big bang theory is only slightly less baseless than the idea of gods. While the universe may have been made by a giant explosion that happened literally for no reason and completely without cause, what little evidence there is for it is incredibly negligible considering how massive and complex the world is and how little we understand so far. We dare to claim that background radiation is the "proof" of the big bang? There could be millions of factors we're not even aware of to explain background radiation. So you have to keep in mind, there is faith to be found in "science" as well (http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/god-does-not-play-dice)

But getting back to your question of why religioun is so often ridiculed in the media these days. Well, people make fun of one another all the time for being different. Sometimes over a drink, sometimes with guns pointed at eachother's necks... But why is it so accepted now that religious people are idiots? I don't think it's as cynical as it looks. People who may laugh or scorn religion, often aren't doing so because they think that your belief that there is "something else" is bad, but rather the history that surrounds it. Example: Catholosism. Right now in Australia (possibly elsewhere) there's a HUGE racket about a whole lot of pedophilia and hush up of such on the part of catholic priests that's recently come to light. So at first glance, it would appear that catholics are bad/stupid people for following said men. There's a lot of politics that surrounds our more western religions, to the point where the fundamental belief in something unknowable but good up there in the sky, is rarely the point of argument, even if it's claimed to be.

But yeah, as I said in my first paragraph, your mistake in trying to understand atheists is in thinking that they believe there is no god because they like to think that. Some of them may, but fundamentally what one might "like" to believe holds no sway over what one sees in the way of evidence.
I would "like" it if death weren't the end. And I really hope that when I die, I'll find out that it isn't. But until then, I have nothing on which to base the assumption that death won't be the end.
There's a difference between saying "I'd like to believe it" and "I'd like for it to be true". And if it is true, it will be true whether I believe it or not. So when somebody tells you they don't believe in god(s), don't take that to mean they have no hope that things will be alright in the end. It's just that hope comes from places other than faith.

itsthesheppy:

Savo:

itsthesheppy:
-snip-

I've heard it put that way before, and just being honest with you, it doesn't do much for me. Assuming the oblivion view of the afterlife is correct, it doesn't encourage me much that I've experienced it before. All I have to work with is my own existence, and I despise the idea that one day I wouldn't be here in some way shape or form. I won't be around to ponder the suckage of not existing, but that doesn't make it suck any less.

Wrong. It makes it suck a LOT less. To the point where it doesn't suck at all. You're making yourself feel sucky, now, in your life, about a time in the universe where you won't be around to appreciate any suckitude. Can you spot the madness here? It's like eating a steak, and crying because tomorrow, the steak won't be there because you've eaten it already. Just eat the steak, man, enjoy it.

Also, let's venture out on a limb here. IF there is some kind of benevolent deity/entity (whatever you want to call it) who exists beyond me comprehension and has gone to all the trouble to set up this wonderful afterlife for me, I'd bet he's worked out the kinks in some way I can't understand. And plus, if we want to get away from the whole "heaven" thing and its various borderline unanswerable questions, reincarnation isn't a bad choice.

Reincarnation is a band-aid. It kicks the can down the street but eventually there won't be anything to incarnate into and then we're back to the problem of what to do with the rest of eternity.

Also I would hope you could notice the point in your post above where you start making things up. "I'd hope he'd think of something" you say, as if we're talking about hypothetical Superman plots and not, say, discussing what may or may not be the true nature of the universe. I feel you are coming as close as you can to admitting that your views of the afterlife are manufactured purely to ease you mind, only here's the problem: they aren't, are they? On this silly little gaming forum I've already got you reaching into your imagination to solve problems I poked in the afterlife hypothesis without really breaking a sweat.

It's just weird to me, I guess, that you reject out of hand a fate that holds for you no suffering whatsoever, supplanting it with one of uncertainties and troubling questions and implications. Like, is that really better? I'm not sure it is.

(I'm going to respond to your post paragraph by paragraph because I don't feel like breaking the quotes up)

I won't be around to appreciate the suck, but it does bother me in this life now what I could become. You make a good point in saying that it is pointless, but it's not like we can flip a switch and stop caring about it. Religion, the afterlife, and all that entails, is indeed an interesting topic and one that I can't help wondering about. Nonexistance is a concept that I don't care for, and nothing I've read in all my years on teh Interwebz make me prefer it over an afterlife.

I fully admit to making things up about the afterlife, I was purely hypothesizing there. My point was that if, for the sake of discussion, there is some magical place beyond our natural comprehension where we go after we die, I wouldn't be too surprised if there are answers, again beyond our comprehension, to our problems with such a place. It's largely pointless speculation, just my ramblings about the possibilities within an afterlife.

As for reincarnation, I've actually thought recently about that possibility myself. We solve the problems with eternal life to a large degree, but it begs the question as to where we go after the universe ends. THE UNIVERSE REINCARNATES. Just kidding, I don't think there is a really satisfying answer (at least not one that I'm personally familiar with).

One thing that I should make clear however is that my views of the afterlife are not manufactured based on what is happiest for me. If I had my way, I'd believe 100% in a paradise filled with unicorns, pizza, and sunshine, but years of debating religion and listening to arguments from both sides of the atheist/theist fence have led me to take beliefs about the afterlife with a large grain of salt. What beliefs I have are rather loose, I've been talking more in this thread about whether belief in the afterlife makes you happier, or unhappier.

Finally, I would much rather have a fate filled with uncertainty, than one filled with emptiness. Better to make the jump into the unknown, rather than to sink into oblivion, in my honest opinion. This comes back to what I'd like, not what is likely, just so you know.

ten.to.ten:
For me personally it was a huge relief to realise that Yahweh didn't exist, since most of his worshipers say that I'm, at best, doing something abhorrent by just existing, and at worst that I deserve to be tortured for all eternity because I have a relationship with a man instead of a woman. It's hard to see Yahweh as anything other than a petty, sick, vindictive, hate-fuelled monster, and I'd rather have my consciousness terminated than be tortured for all eternity. Can you possibly see how to someone like me it's better for Yahweh to not exist?

Even if I wasn't gay, I couldn't believe in gods because I see absolutely nothing that suggests that gods exist. It doesn't matter what I want to believe, or what I wish the truth was, I can't lie to myself. There's nothing there.

An excellent point. It's suggested in the opening of this thread that when one does not believe in god that they are only rejection a positive outlook. But as you show here, that's not true. While it may be true for one man, to another, the existance of god is something negative, even when those two men are looking at the very same god.
Also, I wasn't sure, but Yahweh is god as described in the Jedaism, right?

When it comes to religion and the afterlife, there is no "best option". For me it's not even an option.

I'd much prefer if there was a life outside of my mortal one. However, I lack the faith to continue to believe in the picture of the afterlife painted by most religions. Atheism just becomes the default after that.

I hold the exact opposite view.

Our existence being an "accident" as you put it, make us incredibly lucky. I did not have to be here, yet I am. My existence is far more valuable than one that was planned or created.

A similar argument can be made for eternal life. I find Eternal life completely devoid of meaning. Let's say I give you a thousand dollars, you'd probably be very happy, buy yourself some things. Each dollar would have a concrete value, it would give you some happiness. Now suppose I give you a Brillion-Trillon-Uptillion dollars. What's the value of one dollar to you now? What are you going to do after you buy the planet? See, eternal life makes everything meaningless. Every day just one more among the infinite ones you have. Me? I value each of the days I have *because* they are finite.

I have no qualms in saying that if I was offered eternal life I would refuse it. No regrets. Even eternal life on earth would eventually be unbearably boring. After you've accumulated vast wealth and done every single thing that you could possibly do, what's next? Heaven is even worse, an eternity of no problems, no challenges, nothing to achieve but to just "be". That truly sounds like hell to me.

I can see that you like to notice the lighter side of things, that when you think of God, you think of infinite love. But that only works if you ignore all the abominable, horrible things that happen under God's watch. All the things he would be ultimately responsible for. I can't turn the blind eye and only notice what I want to notice. Like Sir Richard Attenborough said, "when people talk of God, they mention flowers and butterflies, but not the worm burying into the eye of a two year old African child, slowly making him blind. If God created everything, he also created that worm". Beyond the lack of evidence, I rather think there's no God and those horrible things "just are" than to think that there is one that behaves like that.

Ultimately, the evidence is lacking. God stands for that which science has not figured out yet. That's why God keeps retreating, as science advances. Even if we never figure out everything, that doesn't mean that what remains unknown is supernatural. I cant believe in God to pretend that now everything has an explanation: "God did it", "God ways are mysterious" "the timing of God is perfect". I embrace the notion that we don't know everything and must strive to understand.

I see the world in all its intricate detail and I stand i awe. But from your post -and correct me if I'm wrong- you see the same world and if it wasn't made for you, then its a dark thing. Its like you look at your life, and decide that its not good enough, that there must be something brighter and better after.

I really, really don't get it.

itchcrotch:
An excellent point. It's suggested in the opening of this thread that when one does not believe in god that they are only rejection a positive outlook. But as you show here, that's not true. While it may be true for one man, to another, the existance of god is something negative, even when those two men are looking at the very same god.
Also, I wasn't sure, but Yahweh is god as described in the Jedaism, right?

Yahweh and Jehovah are both transliterations of the "tetragrammaton" (which is represented in the Latin alphabet as YHWH), which is the original name of the Judeo-Christian God. In most English translations of The Bible Yahweh is usually referred to as "The Lord", with a major exception being the Jehovah's Witnesses who refer to him as Jehovah in their Bibles. I prefer to call him Yahweh to differentiate him from other gods or the idea of there being a god in general.

Savo:
I just seem to look at these things differently than you folks do.

Yeah, you apparently do.

But then, I've never been religious nor believed in an afterlife, so perhaps it's more about "being used to the idea" than some great understanding or revelation that I'm more comfortable with oblivion than you. *shrug*

In 2000 years, the vast majority of us will be a .00000000000000000001 point font footnote on the pages of history, unless you do something that has a significant impact on the world. I might have helped some people, but I don't view that as being very comforting when I'd be staring into non-existence.

See, why does that matter? History didn't remember tons of heroic people of the past. But their actions still changed reality.
History is a very flawed, very selective documentation. But causality means things are always affected by our actions, even if other human beings fail to realize/fail to remember our actions in the long run.
What I mean is that I don't think it matters that much to be remembered, because our actions have effects in and of themselves, because reality itself is a sort of record, whether they remembered or not.

Also, while our actions as regular people may be forgotten more quickly, perhaps it gives you some comfort to know that not even those with "a significant impact on the world" will be remembered forever? It appears that nothing is forever. So as our species moves on, the details of our history are relegated to archives and forgotten by most. Even the greatest of our time are eventually lost to our memory.

I'm speaking long-term here, of course; we may remember for a few thousand years, but I'm very doubtful people will know the details of this early era of humanity in a few million years, despite our record keeping. Not to mention the role that legends and fabels play in how we look at history. For a relatively recent example, look at Macbeth. How many people remember his actual role in history? And how many people remember him as a guy cavorting with witches from Shakespeare?

There is no absolute certainty with history, nor will there be in the future. Because even if our technology for record keeping would become impeccable, the people who do the recording will always add their own biases and perspectives. And the cultures who are to examine that history later may interpret it vastly differently as well.

OP, I know I'm coming onto a 4-page thread and responding without reading the whole thing, which is usually something I don't do, because I suspect more people than Skeleton have said this by now. Still, I'm going to reiterate it: This is not a choice for most people. A few, maybe, on both sides. Religious people going through the motions for years even though all of their being rejects the idea of a god. Atheists who yearn to find a spiritual system where they could believe without conflict with science or their personal ethics (I feel especially badly for those, because there are *a lot* of people out there who don't know there are religious options other than the Abrahamics). But most theists and most atheists? Didn't choose it, they were either (like you and I) inclined to some degree of belief and thinking our lives would be immeasurably poorer without it, or inclined to disbelief and can't imagine the illogic of religious belief.

I'm an advocate of pluralism because we're simply not all the same. We want different things, we're awed by different things, we need different things.

I am an agnostic theist with an apatheist for a husband. You talk to him about religion and beliefs and he just looks at you blankly. He has no interest in the subject, period. It's like you went on about the joys of accounting-- it just baffles him. I've asked him if he's an atheist, and his answer is invariably "that would require me to give a shit". On balance, he finds my Pagan rituals more interesting to observe than his mother's Christian ones, but he has no emotional investment in any of them. Which, in turn, baffles *me*. He's been sitting in the background (sometimes I'm not able to drive due to disability, so he's kind an offers me a lift) observing at rituals that moved me to tears, and he paid no attention to it at all. I'm all "but that SONG! and that INVOCATION! that was beautiful!" Him: "huh?"

Yeah. We're just built different.

Skeleon:
There's no hope in sitting back, doing nothing and trusting in outside intervention. But there is hope in trying to make things better for each other.

I quote this response to note that this is dependent on particular religion-- mine doesn't advocate doing nothing and trusting in outside intervention. In fact, it presumes both Gods and ancestors (especially ancestors!) won't be thrilled if we do this, and we in turn expect them to occasionally kick us in the backside when we need it. Most of the advice our lore offers is just good sense (treat guests and hosts well, care about family and community, etc.).

There are more than a hundred billion galaxies with billions upon billions of stars, some with planets, others without. We are not the center of the universe, simple as that. We are part of a larger thing. The wonders of the natural world are unimaginably great. Isn't that enough to inspire awe?

And, to underline the "we're all built differently" point, atheists offer up this one so often and I have *no idea* wtf they expect me to do with it. I can't go there, so it's basically looking at a picture and saying "huh. pretty." It doesn't inspire awe at all, for me. It inspires indifference. Yes, these are things that are real. If I could travel in space, as I could to the sea, perhaps I'd be more moved by it. But mainly it's "but what does that DO?" It doesn't impact my practical life. It doesn't give me inspiration to get through a life with disability, show me ways to deal with bills I can't pay and all of that other practical stuff that I actually do use my religion to psychologically organize. It hits Skeleton on an "oh, WOW" level and does nothing for me at all.

Skeleon:

Savo:
I just seem to look at these things differently than you folks do.

Yeah, you apparently do.

But then, I've never been religious nor believed in an afterlife, so perhaps it's more about "being used to the idea" than some great understanding or revelation that I'm more comfortable with oblivion than you. *shrug*

In 2000 years, the vast majority of us will be a .00000000000000000001 point font footnote on the pages of history, unless you do something that has a significant impact on the world. I might have helped some people, but I don't view that as being very comforting when I'd be staring into non-existence.

See, why does that matter? History didn't remember tons of heroic people of the past. But their actions still changed reality.
History is a very flawed, very selective documentation. But causality means things are always affected by our actions, even if other human beings fail to realize/fail to remember our actions in the long run.
What I mean is that I don't think it matters that much to be remembered, because our actions have effects in and of themselves, because reality itself is a sort of record, whether they remembered or not.

Also, while our actions as regular people may be forgotten more quickly, perhaps it gives you some comfort to know that not even those with "a significant impact on the world" will be remembered forever? It appears that nothing is forever. So as our species moves on, the details of our history are relegated to archives and forgotten by most. Even the greatest of our time are eventually lost to our memory.

I'm speaking long-term here, of course; we may remember for a few thousand years, but I'm very doubtful people will know the details of this early era of humanity in a few million years, despite our record keeping. Not to mention the role that legends and fabels play in how we look at history. For a relatively recent example, look at Macbeth. How many people remember his actual role in history? And how many people remember him as a guy cavorting with witches from Shakespeare?

There is no absolute certainty with history, nor will there be in the future. Because even if our technology for record keeping would become impeccable, the people who do the recording will always add their own biases and perspectives. And the cultures who are to examine that history later may interpret it vastly differently as well.

You very well could be right by saying that it's all about being used to it. I was raised religious until I was probably 13 or so, so you might call it a habit that's hard to break. As you said, I'm probably never going to get a sudden revelation and be just fine with the thought. And I'm ok with that, I'll live my life as fully as I can and see what happens at the end. At this point, I'm honestly just saying that I'll find out when I get there. I have no hard proof either way, so there's little point in spending large amounts of time worrying about it.

Even after abandoning religion, I've always leaned towards the agnostic theist/deist side of the fence, so my beliefs on the afterlife are loose at best. Whatever happens, I just hope it's good :D

Having a legacy of some sort is a little reassuring, but I'd call it more of a band-aid then anything else.

@Polarity27

And, to underline the "we're all built differently" point, atheists offer up this one so often and I have *no idea* wtf they expect me to do with it. I can't go there, so it's basically looking at a picture and saying "huh. pretty." It doesn't inspire awe at all, for me. It inspires indifference. Yes, these are things that are real. If I could travel in space, as I could to the sea, perhaps I'd be more moved by it. But mainly it's "but what does that DO?" It doesn't impact my practical life. It doesn't give me inspiration to get through a life with disability, show me ways to deal with bills I can't pay and all of that other practical stuff that I actually do use my religion to psychologically organize. It hits Skeleton on an "oh, WOW" level and does nothing for me at all.

Funnily enough, that lack of practical use is what I see in religions, hehe.
The thing is, though: Christians in particular often argue by virtue of the "awe-inspiring creation" of their god, supposedly. The Sagan-like point of view many Atheists have is, perhaps especially in people surrounded by very Christian folks, possibly something of a reaction to those arguments, I could imagine.
As for the main point you made: Well. Okay, the sea. What about mountains? I love hiking, but while I do get to travel quite high into the mountains on those occasions, I'm not an expert climber. I don't actually reach the snowy mountaintops, the glaciers. I don't actually travel around the craggy tops like a spider. Aren't those mountains still incredibly awe-inspiring, even if you don't climb to the top? Or, to go back, isn't the ocean very awe-inspiring, even if you are just on the beach and watch the waves but don't actually swim in it or travel out to sea on a boat?
I don't think the issue of access has that much to do with whether something inspires awe. Hell, when it comes to the universe, the mere concept of its unimaginable size is awe-inspiring, little more than that is needed.
But that's not how it is. We do sit on the beach and stare out into the sea. We have telescopes to look towards the horizon. And sometimes we even, very carefully, put our feet into the cold water and move a little bit into the sea, only to pull back out, with our tiny baby steps we consider space travel. And you know, maybe one day we will actually build a proper boat and set sail for real.
I dunno if these analogies make sense to you or not, but that's basically how I see the quite impractical wonders of the natural world.

Polarity27:
I can't go there, so it's basically looking at a picture and saying "huh. pretty." It doesn't inspire awe at all, for me. It inspires indifference... If I could travel in space, as I could to the sea, perhaps I'd be more moved by it. But mainly it's "but what does that DO?" It doesn't impact my practical life.

Seems to me you just perfectly answered your own question, of why your husband finds rituals and religious ceremony utterly unmoving.

Warning: Writing this just after reading the OP.
It isn't about positives and negatives. Reality doesn't care about what's better.

If people are talking about positives they're probably refering to the attitude of being able to believe in yourself and your ability to accomplish things, rather than attributing everything to a god.
It only seems darker because of fear of the unknown. People like to fill gaps with God to avoid having to worry about it. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't, afterall. You're worried about there being no cause.
People usually find stepping into atheism to be refreshing and positive if they were religious because they realised they don't have to be afraid of the unknown, and can work forward to understanding the universe, instead of being content with the comforting answer they already had.

In the traditional view of God it seems any good we do is God's blessing whereas any bad we do, we deserve it. It encourages hating oneself for existing.

Apart from some religious people being completely illogical haters.

Also, picking a religion. Beyond being brought up with it, and therfore having no choice (which btw, is why some people find naturally following the most popular religion of their native country stupid, because it implies "truth" based on tradition, rather than reason), how do we pick one? If you follow most Judeo-Christian beliefs fundamentally (as in by the word) you have to become someone who goes around murdering people who disagree. This brings out this terible culture of cherry picking beliefs and still claiming to be a follower. If you can take the good bits out why be a follower at all?

I think many people forget believing in a god doesn't mean having to be a specific religion. You can figure out what yourself they should be like. Why is the god of Judeo-Christian religion perfect? Why does something have to be perfect to have the ability to create things?

There is so much doubt in an atheist mind towards these notions, so we are merely unconvinced and find it illogical. Someone has to prove their point through evidence to us. Even if you somehow prove a god exists, you still have your religion yet to prove.

And "accident" is a weird word for it. It merely happened that way. I don't think the claim is that the big bang was the start but just as far back and we can go based on current evidence. We aren't neccesarily against a god existing. We just want to be able to prove it first.
I tihnk you assume that a lack of a god implies no natural order, which is incorrect. Things have properties and therefore act in accordance to those. Also, the only reason we can comment on our existence is because we exist. Something that doesn't can't. Do you get what I mean? We may not be special, but that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the pure chance it was that we exist.

deadpoolhulk:

So to me, when I try to think of the concept of their being no god or divine power of any kind, and consider a universe where the big bang was an accident and everything is because of how science works. I can't help but see it as darker. You see in my beliefs , we are special, we are all loved truly by a God that truly desires our lives to be full of peace and joy. (I'm not going to start on the classic "bad things happen to good people argument" this is more or less the cliff notes.)
my beliefs hold that the world, maybe even the universe, was created for humanity and that there is a distinct, and concrete meaning of life and everything. No I do not have the arrogance to claim I know what the meaning is.

So is this abotu why we think it's "the best" option, or why we aren't operating under wish fulfillment, or what?

The phrasing is kind of horrible and slanted. For one, I (an agnostic) don't see the lack of a God or Gods to be a good thing. I do, however, find it hard to look at the world around us and see a loving or even caring God. Nobody runs around going "life is meaningless...YAY!" or anything like that.

Like science, however, things are often about the strongest evidence, not what we want to be true. I want a happy world where there is no violence or greed or need or hunger. I'm not going to insist this is reality, though, because I have senses that draw in information. Similarly, I'm not going to put stock in something that I want when I can see no influence whatsoever.

Palademon:

And "accident" is a weird word for it. It merely happened that way. I don't think the claim is that the big bang was the start but just as far back and we can go based on current evidence. We aren't neccesarily against a god existing. We just want to be able to prove it first.

"Accident" is part of the typical jargon used to specifically influence perception of your beliefs.

The Creationism argument has changed the language without people really noticing. It's common to portray atheists as cold and sad people.

Zachary Amaranth:

Palademon:

And "accident" is a weird word for it. It merely happened that way. I don't think the claim is that the big bang was the start but just as far back and we can go based on current evidence. We aren't neccesarily against a god existing. We just want to be able to prove it first.

"Accident" is part of the typical jargon used to specifically influence perception of your beliefs.

The Creationism argument has changed the language without people really noticing. It's common to portray atheists as cold and sad people.

I was aware of that. I was trying to point that out to them by making them consciously question it.
Do we even know exactly what type of religious person they are? They said devout, but I don't know if they're a creationist.
Edit: Part of the problem I have debating them and why it's easy for them to call strawman on me, because even in the same sect each person can have different beliefs, even if they claim to be the same. So I often don't know what to argue.

Quaxar:
Might I interject with a counter-question there?
You say you believe in the Christian afterlife, but why? Because you like it? That's a pretty weak justification considering there are countless other religions out there with their own books and stories.
What if you're wrong and the Greeks were right and you get denied access to the aferlife because they didn't bury you with two silver coins to pay the ferryman? What if you don't pass the tests of Anubis and get your soul fed to the crocodile-headed demon Ammit because your body wasn't prepared properly? What if your soul gets destroyed on your way through the trials of Xibalba because they failed to provide you with the items needed to complete them (a dog, water, a jade bead, and gifts for Michtlantecuhtli)?

Similar to you, I don't understand how belief in a certain type of religion can be justified when there's so many that are logically all equally valid but with drastically different requirements.

They don't work that way. Are you Greek? Egyptian? Nahuatl? If not, they don't apply to you. The idea of both universal religion and being able to pick a religion would have been way weird to the ancients (and it was, when Christianity came along, which is why Christianity morphed so much in some of the parts of the polytheistic world it tried to convert-- it had to, or people wouldn't have been remotely interested). To the point where, except for the Romans, polytheistic cultures had no word for "religion" that was separate from the word for "culture"; most are some translation of "our way".

Of course they have different requirements, the requirements make sense to *that culture* and were never meant to be applied to people who weren't part of it already. That, and I can speak to the Egyptian one. You had to try pretty hard to have your soul thrown to Ammit, in the sense of being that much of a complete shit of a human being. "Body prepared improperly" alone wouldn't have done it. You'd be in far more trouble if you were an Egyptian and died outside of Egypt-- Egyptians had an existential fear of permanent exile of the ka (ka, right? I never could keep the ka/ba thing straight).

deadpoolhulk:

Can someone please help me understand why it's seen as better to believe in a world where life is an accident and holds no meaning. And once you are dead, all that greets you is oblivion. Yes that is the negatives of Athiesm, and that's the point, I can't think of plus sides to it.
Thank you for your time.

That OP was a bit wall of texty, I'd suggest double-tapping the return key more.

Onto my explanation:

Belief 1: Life is an accident and holds no meaning, and once you are dead, all that greets you is oblivion.
Belief 2: Beliefs contrary to my own are inaccurate.
BELIEF 3: Beliefs contrary to belief 1 are innacurate.
Belief 4: Inaccurate beliefs cause their holders to make mistakes.
BELIEF 5: Beliefs contrary to belief 1 cause their holders to make mistakes.
Belief 6: It is better to not make mistakes.
BELIEF 7: It is better to not be a holder of beliefs contrary to belief 1.

People reason or guess Belief 1
They usually also hold Belief 2
This causes them to reason BELIEF 3
They usually also hold Belief 4
This causes them to reason BELIEF 5
They usually also hold Belief 6
This causes them to reason BELIEF 7

It's kind of complicated I know, I should make a handy flow chart.
http://postimage.org/image/qi7urs3rf/

Silvanus:

Polarity27:
I can't go there, so it's basically looking at a picture and saying "huh. pretty." It doesn't inspire awe at all, for me. It inspires indifference... If I could travel in space, as I could to the sea, perhaps I'd be more moved by it. But mainly it's "but what does that DO?" It doesn't impact my practical life.

Seems to me you just perfectly answered your own question, of why your husband finds rituals and religious ceremony utterly unmoving.

Yeah, but at least I have a "pretty!" response to photos of stars, nebulae, and the like before I forget it and move on to something else. The thing that inspired the "huh?" thing (actual conversation, too!) was a song sung by a friend of ours, for which she wrote both the lyrics and music, at a ritual we were both at. It moved me to tears, he could only remember that "someone was singing something". It was really odd to me that he was so non-present for it, I guess, and I think it did drive home exactly how profound his level of disinterest actually is. He has a very religious mother and a very outspokenly atheist father, so I think I'd wondered for a long time whether the conflict between the two just turned him off to the idea. But nope, just no interest there at all, not even in the "play anthropologist to this thing I'm at that I'm not into" sense.

Come to think of it, back when I took him to LAN parties, I probably couldn't have told you anything I heard in the room while I was there, because video gaming didn't interest me (at the time) at all. Same sort of thing-- he'd say "that battle was awesome! remember when X said Y?" and I wouldn't remember at all. I don't run into a lot of apatheists, though; lots of atheists, but people usually have *some* opinion on the subject.

It's not better. But it's reality.

You are not special. You are not better than someone else because you believe something they do not. You are not a snowflake. Once you realize this, it frees you to pursue whatever it is you wish without worrying that you'll be punished for no longer being special. I do not think humanity is the only sentient species in the universe, or for that matter on this planet. Elephants mourn the passing of the dead as do other species. This realization, of our own mortality, is at the center of what makes humans human and yet it exists elsewhere on our world. But for some reason this realization has led to a universal delusion that something must come after. Religion in all its many shapes and permeations is largely about the afterlife and a sense of belonging, that if someone does not believe what you believe then they must be evil, or if they do, then you must congregate and spread the word. All of these are instinctive reactions to the knowledge of death, nothing more. So no, I'm not wasting 1/7th of my life, or roughly 10-15 years, worrying about what in your opinion comes after death. I plan to be buried fresh, in a pine box, so that my body might properly decompose and feed the earth around it rather than poison that same ground as millions are so content to do today.

Polarity27:

Quaxar:
Might I interject with a counter-question there?
You say you believe in the Christian afterlife, but why? Because you like it? That's a pretty weak justification considering there are countless other religions out there with their own books and stories.
What if you're wrong and the Greeks were right and you get denied access to the aferlife because they didn't bury you with two silver coins to pay the ferryman? What if you don't pass the tests of Anubis and get your soul fed to the crocodile-headed demon Ammit because your body wasn't prepared properly? What if your soul gets destroyed on your way through the trials of Xibalba because they failed to provide you with the items needed to complete them (a dog, water, a jade bead, and gifts for Michtlantecuhtli)?

Similar to you, I don't understand how belief in a certain type of religion can be justified when there's so many that are logically all equally valid but with drastically different requirements.

They don't work that way. Are you Greek? Egyptian? Nahuatl? If not, they don't apply to you. The idea of both universal religion and being able to pick a religion would have been way weird to the ancients (and it was, when Christianity came along, which is why Christianity morphed so much in some of the parts of the polytheistic world it tried to convert-- it had to, or people wouldn't have been remotely interested). To the point where, except for the Romans, polytheistic cultures had no word for "religion" that was separate from the word for "culture"; most are some translation of "our way".

Of course they have different requirements, the requirements make sense to *that culture* and were never meant to be applied to people who weren't part of it already. That, and I can speak to the Egyptian one. You had to try pretty hard to have your soul thrown to Ammit, in the sense of being that much of a complete shit of a human being. "Body prepared improperly" alone wouldn't have done it. You'd be in far more trouble if you were an Egyptian and died outside of Egypt-- Egyptians had an existential fear of permanent exile of the ka (ka, right? I never could keep the ka/ba thing straight).

Well yes, but my point still stands. Who's qualified to say that the Abrahamic religions are right and all the rest is bogus? What if there's only so many hurricanes because we never sacrifice bulls to poseidon? Could you objectively chose Judaism over a Sibirian tribe's belief? On what qualities?

The simple fact that there is more than one religion in the world and they disagree on important points means that at least one of those has to be wrong.

deadpoolhulk:
And I don't get it. I really don't guys. I honestly can't comprehend the concept that the world is better once you decide there is no God.

Perhaps someone has already said this, but that right there is your first mistake. You make the same error in the thread title. The majority of atheists - including those who think of themselves as religious simply because that's how they were raised or because of the society they live in - aren't chooseing anything. There's no big decision. People believe, or they do not, but they cannot choose to believe something they know to be untrue or vice versa.

Put it this way - you're a very devout Christian. Can you choose to stop believing in God, even though (in your own mind) you know he exists? If so, when did you choose to become Christian, and why?

It's not a decision people make. It's a belief. Belief in God, or lack thereof, is not a switch a person can just throw to change their mind.

Slightly more OT, what you're talking about is pretty much the logical fallacy known as Pascal's Wager. It states that it's better to believe than not, given the chance of God's existence and subsequent wrath. It fails to take into account the equal validity of other religions, meaning in the long run it probably is better to be an atheist than follow a different religion - would you rather your significant other left you, or that they cheated on you with someone else? It makes sense God would be more pissed off at followers of the "wrong" religion than he would at non-believers.

ten.to.ten:
For me personally it was a huge relief to realise that Yahweh didn't exist, since most of his worshipers say that I'm, at best, doing something abhorrent by just existing, and at worst that I deserve to be tortured for all eternity because I have a relationship with a man instead of a woman. It's hard to see Yahweh as anything other than a petty, sick, vindictive, hate-fuelled monster, and I'd rather have my consciousness terminated than be tortured for all eternity. Can you possibly see how to someone like me it's better for Yahweh to not exist?

Even if I wasn't gay, I couldn't believe in gods because I see absolutely nothing that suggests that gods exist. It doesn't matter what I want to believe, or what I wish the truth was, I can't lie to myself. There's nothing there.

In subjects like this, why is it always the Jewish/Christian/Islamic god brought into this back and forth argument instead of other gods from other religions?

Grandcrusader:
In subjects like this, why is it always the Jewish/Christian/Islamic god brought into this back and forth argument instead of other gods from other religions?

Because most of us are from a Western background and that was the god that we were raised to believe in.

Palademon:

I was aware of that. I was trying to point that out to them by making them consciously question it.
Do we even know exactly what type of religious person they are? They said devout, but I don't know if they're a creationist.
Edit: Part of the problem I have debating them and why it's easy for them to call strawman on me, because even in the same sect each person can have different beliefs, even if they claim to be the same. So I often don't know what to argue.

Ah. I'm used to people not seeming to understand that. My bad.

Personally, the specific faith doesn't matter to me as much as the concepts involved. If they want to believe in a deity because it makes the world a happier place for them, then that's fine by me. But that doesn't make it the "right" choice.

Coppernerves:
It's kind of complicated I know, I should make a handy flow chart.
http://postimage.org/image/qi7urs3rf/

A little bit cheeky, but I like it.

Polarity27:

Of course they have different requirements, the requirements make sense to *that culture* and were never meant to be applied to people who weren't part of it already.

Because the rituals weren't considered relevant to others, or because people in one culture didn't give a rat's ass what happened in the afterlives of people from other cultures-- "Yeah, they all just have a shitty afterlife. Whatevs!"

Seanchaidh:

Because the rituals weren't considered relevant to others, or because people in one culture didn't give a rat's ass what happened in the afterlives of people from other cultures-- "Yeah, they all just have a shitty afterlife. Whatevs!"

The former. The assumption was that people from other cultures had their own gods and would end up with their own folk in the afterlife-- because why in the world would you want to be stuck with strangers and unfamiliar divinities after you die? (Admittedly, spending eternity with your family is a lot of people's idea of hell now (and probably then, too, for some people), but still preferable to these cultures-- and to many modern non-Christian ones that aren't individualistic-- than ending up separated from your people.)

Quaxar:

Polarity27:

Quaxar:
Might I interject with a counter-question there?
You say you believe in the Christian afterlife, but why? Because you like it? That's a pretty weak justification considering there are countless other religions out there with their own books and stories.
What if you're wrong and the Greeks were right and you get denied access to the aferlife because they didn't bury you with two silver coins to pay the ferryman? What if you don't pass the tests of Anubis and get your soul fed to the crocodile-headed demon Ammit because your body wasn't prepared properly? What if your soul gets destroyed on your way through the trials of Xibalba because they failed to provide you with the items needed to complete them (a dog, water, a jade bead, and gifts for Michtlantecuhtli)?

Similar to you, I don't understand how belief in a certain type of religion can be justified when there's so many that are logically all equally valid but with drastically different requirements.

They don't work that way. Are you Greek? Egyptian? Nahuatl? If not, they don't apply to you. The idea of both universal religion and being able to pick a religion would have been way weird to the ancients (and it was, when Christianity came along, which is why Christianity morphed so much in some of the parts of the polytheistic world it tried to convert-- it had to, or people wouldn't have been remotely interested). To the point where, except for the Romans, polytheistic cultures had no word for "religion" that was separate from the word for "culture"; most are some translation of "our way".

Of course they have different requirements, the requirements make sense to *that culture* and were never meant to be applied to people who weren't part of it already. That, and I can speak to the Egyptian one. You had to try pretty hard to have your soul thrown to Ammit, in the sense of being that much of a complete shit of a human being. "Body prepared improperly" alone wouldn't have done it. You'd be in far more trouble if you were an Egyptian and died outside of Egypt-- Egyptians had an existential fear of permanent exile of the ka (ka, right? I never could keep the ka/ba thing straight).

Well yes, but my point still stands. Who's qualified to say that the Abrahamic religions are right and all the rest is bogus? What if there's only so many hurricanes because we never sacrifice bulls to poseidon? Could you objectively chose Judaism over a Sibirian tribe's belief? On what qualities?

The simple fact that there is more than one religion in the world and they disagree on important points means that at least one of those has to be wrong.

Don't disagree with the last sentence. I just get bothered when people talk about polytheistic religions in exactly the same terms as they talk about Christianity when it comes to universalism, because a lot of people actually don't understand that polytheistic religions aren't universalist. That thing monotheism does, the "there is only one god, *our* god, and all the others are false and all the other religions are false", isn't a thing polytheism does. The answer to "are the Greeks right or are the Egyptians right" is basically "yes", IMO.

But I definitely do think asking a monotheist why they're so confident that their god is the only one, and why they aren't even a little bit worried that their ancestors were right is a useful one, at least from the perspective of getting them to think on their privilege a little. Polytheists are constantly asked if we're not scared the Christians are right and we'll end up in hell, but asking them the same question is considered absurd. And yeah, anything to get both Christians and Atheists to stop acting like the world is made up solely of Atheists and Abrahamists is a good thing.

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