If There is No Life After Death, I Might as Well Kill Myself Now

happiness

A recent commenter stated:

Second, you mention in one post that you care about the journey, not the destination, of your readers. If the destination for all of us is only death, I can’t think of anything more depressing, anything less motivating for caring about the journey. Who gives a flip about the journey if the end is death? The journey for all of us is full of pain and suffering, in one way or another. If death is the only end for all of us, I’d rather end it right now. The last person I would trust to help me on my journey is a preacher of a hopeless death.

Over the years, countless Christians have said to me that if they believed that this life is all there is that they would kill themselves. Of course, this is little more than hyperbole since I seriously doubt people like this commenter would actually kill themselves just because they are disappointed there is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

The above mentioned comment reveals a view held by many Christians, that life is filled with pain and suffering and our journey is one long test of endurance. For Christians who think like this, the only reason for enduring life is that there is a divine payoff after death.

I know a good bit about pain and suffering. Long time readers know well my story and the health problems I have. Yet, I would never say that my journey is all about pain and suffering. Yes, I wish I didn’t have to live with pervasive, chronic, unrelenting pain. But, the pain is not the sum of my life. If it was, I would be the first to say that it is time for me to hop on the long black train.

I have everything to live for. A wonderful wife, six awesome children, and nine grandchildren. Need I say more about why, whatever pain I suffer on my journey to the grave, is worth it? There is so much to live for and I don’t need the promise of a divine payoff to make my life worth living. I don’t need a God for my life to have meaning, purpose, and direction.

Many Christians have a hard time understanding people like me. They can not envision a life without God. Their life revolves around God, Jesus, the Bible, and the church. I totally understand where they are coming from. For most of my life, I thought the same way.

When I first deconverted, I was lost for a time. This is a common problem for people who were once deeply immersed in Christianity. Once God, the church, and the Bible no longer had any authority over my life, I was forced to determine for myself how I wanted to live my life. In humanism I found purpose, meaning and direction. Since this life is the ONLY life I have, I have EVERYTHING to live for.

The above mentioned commenter thinks my life is hopeless. Without a promise of life after death and eternity in heaven, what is there to live for?  Atheists live such a hopeless life, or so many Christians think. Let me close out this post with some of my hopes:

  1. I hope my family lives long, prosperous, peaceful lives.
  2. I hope my grandson grows up to play baseball for the Cincinnati Reds so I can watch him play.
  3. I hope at least one of my granddaughters becomes a scientist.
  4. I hope the Cincinnati Reds win the World Series and the Cincinnati Bengals win the Super Bowl.
  5. I hope that someday all the weapons of violence in the world will be destroyed.
  6. I hope that my wife and I will grow old together and that we will continue to have a blessed life.
  7. I hope to travel to many of the places on my bucket list.
  8. I hope we will end income inequality in America.
  9. I hope we will pass immigration reform, allowing millions of hard-working people to become US citizens.
  10. I hope scientists will find cures for many of the diseases that kill us.
  11. I hope we will figure out a way to control world population and in doing so make sure that every human has enough food to eat and clean water to drink.
  12. I hope Americans will begin to take the threat of global climate change seriously.
  13. I hope I win or inherit a few million dollars so I can have one awesome party and buy a house for each of my children.
  14. I hope to someday get my book done and publish it.
  15. I hope to take a photograph that is published in National Geographic or a photography magazine.
  16. I hope to master Photoshop.
  17. I hope all my internet friends  live long, happy, prosperous lives. For those of them that live with pain and disability like I do, I hope that they find purpose, meaning, and happiness, despite their suffering.
  18. I hope Bernie Sanders is the next president.

And for today? I hope that the Cincinnati Reds continue to pound the Pittsburgh Pirates and end up in first place at the All Star break. Most of all, as Polly and I go out tonight to celebrate our 36th wedding anniversary, I hope we have a wonderful time. (anniversary is on the 15th) I hope both of us will reflect on how our marriage has prospered and endured despite of us. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, if I am not too tired when we get home that we might…………….

ricky gervais quote about life

 

 

Comments (24)

  1. Carmen

    Well, I rootin’ for ya, Bruce and hope you can stay awake to really celebrate your Anniversary! Kudos to you and Polly! xo

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Carmen! And thanks for the cool weather you are sending our way. Too bad it isn’t here yet. Sweltering hot and humid today.

      Reply
  2. lynn

    wonderful and funny post, Bruce! love it! ya’ll enjoy your day!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Lynn. We had a wonderful night on the town. We took a slow, country road drive home. It was quiet and relaxing.

      Reply
  3. Kristine

    I hope Bernie Sanders is our next president, too! Happy anniversary :)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Kristine!

      Reply
  4. Zoe

    I saw her comment. Like you I’m not sure she realizes or those who say so, what they are saying. It seems such a flippant thing to say, especially when so many suffer with mental illness and thoughts of ending their lives.

    Thank you for this post Bruce.

    Happy Anniversary to you both! <3

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Thanks, Zoe.

      Reply
  5. Erin

    If all that kept any of us from offing ourselves was belief in an imaginary god, we would have missed out on the brilliance of scientists like Einstein, Hawking, Turing, Sagan…oh, wait. :)

    I have WAY more reverence for life as an atheist. Before, I lived my life with the sole purpose of not pissing off god and making necessary amends when I perceived I had. Now, I live to make other people’s lives better.
    (I am not saying that Christians don’t also make a difference, only that one doesn’t need god in order to be passionate about helping others.)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Same for me. Life becomes very, very important when it is the only one you will ever have.

      Reply
  6. Steve

    Beautiful, my friend; made me cry ;)

    (Although you left out Elizabeth Warren as the VP :)

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yes, I definitely want her to be VP.

      Reply
  7. Charles

    Bruce said, “The above mentioned comment reveals a view held by many Christians, that life is filled with pain and suffering…”

    Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals would naturally feel this way because they have two parallel levels of pain to cope with in this life. They have the layer that every other human being on Earth is subject to physically and emotionally. Then they have the extra layer of pain and agony that their narrow-minded religious system imposes on them and that they in turn make even worse by fretting themselves nearly to death about it throughout their lives. No good movies, no dancing, no boys swimming in the same water with girls, and a long list of other ridiculous bullshit designed to make life as “holy” (read that word “miserable”) as possible on the Earth. As I have often heard it described to me during my life, “Their goal is to comb the world for any tiny, visible flame of human happiness they might find and snuff it out as quickly as possible.” Jesus said that the burden He would place on his followers would be easy and his yoke would be light. Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism are hellbent on turning that statement inside out and making the burden as hard as possible and the weight of the yoke unbearable.

    …And then when 88 percent of their children leave their religious system and never come back to it for the rest of their lives, they sit around like dumbfounded fools and wonder why. “We don’t understand it.”

    I think they should adopt that as their motto: “We don’t understand.”

    Bruce and a lot of the Christians on this planet would agree that there is a helluva lot these people do not understand…and probably never will because they keep their heads buried in the sand like scared ostriches.

    Reply
    1. sgl

      well stated! particularly enjoyed:

      “… they sit around like dumbfounded fools and wonder why. “We don’t understand it.”

      I think they should adopt that as their motto: “We don’t understand.” ”

      maybe have to convert “we don’t understand” to latin or greek, so it sounds more sophisticated. ;)

      Reply
  8. limey

    Goodness, what a particularly unthinking thing to say. It not only shows a lack of understanding, but an unwillingness to understand.

    I’d be tempted to respond that if Christians have heaven to look forward to, then surely it would be better for them to hurry the journey on.

    Reply
  9. Stephanie

    This makes no sense to me. If you have this great afterlife waiting for you why not hop on that now and skip the suffering? See how that works? If you believe this is the only life you have then you have to make the most of it. Granted, this is easier if you have a relatively good life. Life isn’t fair for the Christian or the atheist. This is why we must work to make things better for people since this is all they may experience. I can see why if you have a difficult life the promise of a reprieve after death is appealing. You are finally righted after all the wrongs. Not that the Christian idea of the afterlife is really fair, and don’t know how you could possibly make it such. You could live a life of suffering and then suffer for all of eternity. What a deal! Anyway, nice list Bruce.

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Yeah, most of the Christians I know that talk a lot about heaven and life after death seem to be in no hurry to get there. :) seems to me that they would want to go to Heaven right away! Or….perhaps they doubt if there really is an afterlife and if there is not, they, like the rest of us, want to live as long as possible.

      Reply
      1. joyce

        Yep, that was one of the questions I asked my mom when I was about 7. “heaven sounds great!,” (both grandmothers had recently gone there, and I was promised to meet up with them too) “so let’s kill ourselves and go there too!”.

        “Oh no,” she said, “that’s a sin, and then you’d go to hell.”

        There’s always a catch.

        Reply
  10. Charles

    Limey and Stephanie.

    The key word is “Weltanschauung.” The thing you need to remember is that this thing you call “our present life on Earth that we need to make the best of while we can” is not part of the Christian fundamentalist and conservative evangelical worldview. The 100-lb salami you call “life” is read by them instead as the term “perilous obstacle course.”

    Go watch the Arnie S. movie “The Running Man” and the first “Hunger Games” movie. Whether they would admit to it or not, the fundies believe that this thing we call life is not a miracle of love to be enjoyed but rather an intentionally defined (from the moment of one’s birth to one’s last breath) as a LABORATORY CRUCIBLE (with a maze of intentionally installed obstacles, sorrows, and horrors) that is specifically designed by God for no other purpose but to test the “worthiness of souls” for eternal life.

    If you want to be even more clinically cold about it, this thing we call “life on Earth” is the Quality Assurance/Quality Control Department in a huge factory that manufactures a product called “human souls.” The one’s that make it through the long battery of QA/QC tests get to go to the retail store called “Heaven.” Those that fail even one test in the battery get thrown into the waste basket.

    Can you imagine how this worldview, operating either consciously or unconsciously, would color a person’s world? Can you imagine what it would be like to be trapped in a hunger game or running man nightmare contest for 70 or 80 years on this Earth—the destruction it would wreak on a person’s mind and emotional well-being—and what it, in turn, would do to the other people who come in contact with them? I firmly believe that this is a major portion of what the Apostle Paul was referring to when he described the Old Testament law as the “way of death.” He meant mental and emotional death in this present life as well as some sort of eternal death after that. In light of that and in a very real sense, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals who buy into this QA/QC view of life are quite literally THE WALKING DEAD.

    …And then when 88 percent of their children leave their religious system and never come back to it for the rest of their lives, they sit around like dumbfounded fools and wonder why. “We don’t understand it?”

    Well, duh!!!!!!!

    Reply
    1. Bruce Gerencser (Post author)

      Great comment, Charles.

      Reply
    2. sgl

      like your QA/QC analogy, it actually explains quite well how many act.

      also, re: “…And then when 88 percent of their children leave their religious system and never come back to it for the rest of their lives, they sit around like dumbfounded fools and wonder why. “We don’t understand it?””

      yeah, i don’t understand it either — i mean, why DO those 12% stick around!! ;)

      Reply
  11. Becky Wiren

    Congratulations on 36 years. Bob and I are coming up on 32 next months. He and I were both conservative, strict religious fanatics and now, he’s atheist and I’m a theist, neither of us is any kind of conservative. (Well, we’re older and live quiet lives, but not thinking wise.) If someone had told us when we got married what we had in store, we wouldn’t have believed it. Anyway, life HERE and now has much to recommend it, and glad you 2 have a wonderful marriage.

    Reply
  12. justin

    Bruce,

    Trite statements like the commenter’s are very telling, and maddening at the same time. I don’t think their words mean what they think they mean. It’s sad that the religion they’ve put so much energy into has given them no substantive answer to the serious questions of life.

    As someone who wakes up to stare at the Abyss every day, I find that I see, like you, those around me that I love with much more clarity. That clarity gives me strength to face the future, and ironically, without fear.

    Reply
  13. Justina

    Bruce, you want to master Photoshop?
    Awesome! :D
    I’m a former Photoshop grunt hahaha

    Reply

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