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Philosophy Of Life/death


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Have you ever wondered whether or not Christians know exactly what they are saying when they quote Hebrews 11:1?

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

I have - I have often wondered whether or not some Christians are not ultra enlightened former atheist/agnostics. It is a dark theory, but it is a theory nonetheless. A theory that claims that the same line of reason and logic that pushed us away from Christianity could also be used to completely deconstruct and devalue the parts of our lives we have left (like our happiness, etc), had we any motivation to do so. So the difference comes down to motivation. I basically started thinking that a belief in an afterlife/thesupernatural may be so deeply embedded into our lives that to choose to ignore such a belief would be equivalent to choosing to ignore happiness, or optimism, or other similar emotions. I started wondering whether or not we are simply meant to lie to ourselves.

 

We as humans are sensitive creatures. We like to make the uncertain certain. If our friend misses a dinner he had said he may attend we aren't willing to let it rest at that. We speculate until we find what we believe is a reasonable solution (he probably got sick, he probably got stuck in traffic). We often pick the solution that we like the best, instead of the most logical, even if two answers are roughly equal possibilities (we would rather think "He may have had a family illness" than "he doesn't like being with us").

 

This, to me, is a common trend in human behavior - self deception. We see ourselves as we want to be. We forget the parts of ourselves that we don't like. A usually selfish man will remember the (much fewer) times he actually acted selflessly when attempting to create an image of himself in his mind. In fact, he will tweak many parts of himself. People have been known to see themselves as more attractive than they really are, as more outgoing, etc. It is all part of self deception.

 

Our memories are the main culprits. As our brains are pretty much designed to forget (imagine, for a moment, though, what your life would be like if you could remember everything), our past reality is hopelessly skewed. No matter how true-to-reality we strive to make our memories, we all know that our memories are not perfect, that we forget things we do not want to remember ourselves doing. So our memories are (to varying extents) causing self deception.

 

Where am I going with all this? Well, when I break down spirituality, and isolate it from all thoughts of specific religions, etc, I see a desire very consistent with our human 'flaws' so to speak. Take optimism. Is optimism not faith based? Do we have any good reason to be optimistic? Is optimism realistic? Of course we know that we will be happier if we are optimistic, we have even seen studies which tell us that optimistic people get better faster from illnesses. But that isn't answering the question. WHY should we be optimistic? We have to take that leap of faith before reaping the benefits of this strange self-fulfilling emotion. It is an outlook on life, nothing more, yet it changes things. We have no reason to believe in it. Could we say "BUT I JUST WANT TO BELIEVE IN OPTIMISM, SHOULDN'T THAT BE OK?" Sounds reasonable, I mean who are you hurting? But before we talk about this further first lets look at your beliefs regarding death. When you think about death, what do you WANT to believe? Many people would admit that they want to believe that their consciousness somehow survives death. Some people who are not willing to believe this, at least are able to retain hope that they are wrong, even while staying true to the logic that brought them to the conclusion that God or an afterlife does not exist. In the same way optimism promotes mental health, the simple belief that there is an afterlife seems to comfort and uplift many people.

 

So what is the difference here. Optimism is something ingrained in us, something we wouldn't think to question. An optimistic view towards the afterlife seems, to me, to be an extension of what humanity's brains want to believe. We attack the optimism related to an afterlife because many other human beings have capitalized on humanity's desire to make the certain uncertain. People who have chosen to want to live on after they die, people who are uncertain about what happens after they die, will likely be willing to latch onto a religion that confidently tells them that they will go to X location when they die and experience X. Ahhhhh, now they can sleep easier.

 

This brings me right back to my first statement. Look at what Christians believe.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see

They recognize that their faith is confidence in what they hope for. How solid is that? Not much more solid than optimism. Or the desire to be social creatures. Could this be nothing but an expression of what evolution (if you believe in it) seems to have formulated our bodies to need as of now?

 

So when I ask you what your philosophy of life is, I am asking whether or not we should allow ourselves to divulge in the human joys unhindered. I am asking whether or not I should see myself as a person who has no right to look down on those who hope for an afterlife as long as I decide to continue lying to myself in other ways. As long as I continue to forget the things I don't like about my life, why should I look down on people who choose to forget that their deaths may not be as glorious as they hope. I made my first statement, because it is what I have started thinking in my own life. I said that they could be ultra enlightened former atheists/agnostics because I began to wonder whether or not there is any point to denying ourselves a belief at least in an afterlife if we are going to allow everything else in our lives to remain the same.

 

Or I could be completely delusional. That is also possible. Please tell me how you choose to live your life. Are you happy? Sad? Do you deny things to yourself for the sake of your ideals (your atheism/agnosticism, etc)?

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Ok guys...I don't know what the heck is wrong with me. Sorry if I offended you with the way I wrote that or anything. I tried to get my ideas across as clearly as I could...there is so much more to it too, I just didn't want to make that too long.

 

Honestly I wrote this post as sort of a call for help. I have no philosophy in life, and the stuff I have been thinking about (the stuff above) is freaking depressing. I need someone to debunk me, honestly. I kind of think this all relates to a traumatic event I went through recently - it really caused me to re-analyze my life (it was a near death experience). I am feeling like these thoughts are driving me insane. I need to know what my purpose in life is. I want to feel like I have a right to be happy. I dont care if I die and I don't go anywhere after I'm dead. I really don't. Not as long as I can feel that I was in the right to be happy while I was here on earth. I don't know why but I can't stop thinking about the reasons why it would be WRONG to be happy - like being hypocritical, etc. I think this is what I'm trying to say, or something like that I don't freaking know any more. I'm getting all jumbled.

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I am sorry you went through that traumatic experience recently. No doubt about it, traumatic events can and do often cause us to think things through like what is our purpose in life and such questions as you pose. I think most people on this forum went through at least one, and possibly even more, traumatic events which caused each of us to ask the same questions you are asking. Most certainly, leaving Christianity behind caused me to re-think many things that before I just took for granted. And, like so many people, there have been other traumatic experiences in my life which had profound impacts on me.

 

I think my philosophy of life is something like to seek happiness for myself and those whom I love but not to do it in such a way that unjustifiedly deprives others of their happiness. You talk about it being wrong to be happy. The only way I see that is if your happiness deprived someone else of their happiness in a way that was unjustified. For example, if having a lot of money made you happy then so long as you make your money honestly there is no problem with that. But if you steal your money from someone else, that would be wrong because you have unjustifiedly deprived someone else of what may have made them happy for the sole purpose of achieving your happiness.

 

I think my philosophy of death is that I want to avoid it for as long as possible but I accept that it is inevitable and will more than likely result in a total loss of all consciousness like it was before I was born.

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Yeah, no philosophy for life isn't good - at least that's what I'm told. What Bart Ehrman talks about makes total sense to me - he follows the theme of the book of Ecclesiastes. Enjoy your food, drink, relationships, work, and do good.

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