All things end. It's true. You will die. Your kids will die. Their kids will die. All life, eventually dies. Even our Earth will die, and our solar system, and even, one day, our universe. As they say, all good things, eventually, will come to an end. I don't know if anything exists beyond our universe, or if anything will continue to exist after our universe ends. Maybe, it doesn't. Maybe, this is the only time life will ever come into existence, and after this, there will be no more.
I suspect this is the thought that makes Christians cling to the idea of life after death and the need to believe in a new Heaven and a new Earth, one that will not pass away. It seems comforting to think that maybe we don't die or that the universe may have a chance of continuing on eternally. But, there's really no reason to think that any of that is true. It was something that I was told when I was small to keep me from being afraid of death.
It's my thought, and it's just a personal thought, so I'm open to be corrected, but I think that death scares most Christians. Maybe not the way they see death, but more accurately nonexistence. When I've brought up nonexistence to my Christian friends, it's seems as though they are unwilling to even begin to think that might be true. They see themselves as players in some giant narrative. They're soldiers in a war against evil. This, they argue, gives meaning to their lives. Their lives have a greater purpose.
Without this narrative, what is the purpose of life? Why are we here? I've always responded to that question by saying that I give myself purpose in life. I don't need a puppet master to give my life meaning. I choose what career path I want to pursue, the wife I want to marry, or how to raise my kids. My life wasn't written out before I was born. We sort of make it up as we go along. But, that doesn't mean it's less purposeful. It doesn't mean I love my family less than they love theirs. It just means that my life, my purpose is what I choose to make of it.
This is when the idea of nonexistence enters the conversation. "But if everything you've done is completely forgotten in 1,000 years and everything and everyone that you've effected no longer exists, how does your life really matter? It all fades away and is forgotten. So, it all is pointless." I don't think it's pointless. It isn't to me. It isn't to those that care about me. Life has meaning now. Not a 1,000 years from now. In fact, it's because life is short that makes it more important not to squander it. This is all there is. There's no second chances for the atheist. This is what makes our daily life more meaningful. It means that we need to stop and enjoy what we have while we have it, because once it's gone, it's gone forever.
It doesn't bother me to think that there's no heaven when I die. What would bother me, and what would make eternal existence horrific, is that while I was in heaven, I would know that there are others in ultimate pain and agony in Hell. I would never be able to stop thinking about that in Heaven. All I would ever want for those people is nonexistence. It would be so much better than being tortured for all eternity. When I think that that is how Christian view eternal life, it actually makes me glad that there's no good reason to think that's true.
As atheists, we don't have a narrative to our lives. There is no story we're living out. My life is meaningful to me and to those that I share it with. That doesn't make me think that my life is less meaningful. That motivates me to live my life to the fullest and share it with as many as I can.