Friday, October 07, 2005

Would You Want to Know?

I don't believe in the afterlife (no surprises there). But if there is in fact an afterlife, would I want to know? Absolutely. I would much rather know the truth than to adhere to an incorrect belief simply out of pride or desire. But what about a theist who believes in an afterlife? Would they want to know if they were wrong?

In past posts I have argued that an eternal life would have no value. I have argued that having a finite amount of time in one's life makes that life much more valuable than it would be if it was an eternal life. Still, the thought of my consciousness expiring (most likely in less than 100 years; a relatively short time) doesn't exactly give me comfort. So why do I adhere so strongly to a non-afterlife worldview? Because I believe it is the truth. I would rather ingest a cold hard spoonful of reality over a spoonful of sugarcoated bullshit any day, because I value reality over my own desires of how I'd like things to be.

But what about the theist, the pro-afterlifer? I've previously argued that there are no theists in foxholes, because every time a pro-afterlifer's life is in danger, they work very hard to remove themselves from that danger in an obvious act of self-preservation. They act as if their consciousness is finite, despite their claims of believing the contrary. I think that in many instances, the theist adopts the pro-afterlife stance out of a desire to not have to face their own semi-subconscious knowledge that their life is indeed finite. The thought of their consciousness being only temporary is unsettling to them (as it is to me to a lesser degree). The key here is that, unlike me, the pro-afterlifer values his/her own desires over reality. They would rather ingest a spoonful of sugarcoated bullshit rather than a spoonful of cold hard reality. And as a consequence, they (or their religious authorities) spend hours and hours coming up with rationalizations to convince themselves that what they are ingesting isn't sugarcoated bullshit.

I personally believe that most pro-afterlifers wouldn't really want to know. I also believe that most of them would deny that they wouldn't want to know. And I believe that most pro-afterlifers get around this intellectual dishonesty by trying really hard to convince themselves that the afterlife really does exist, and this way they can lie to themselves by believing that they do want to know the truth, and that indeed, they already "know" it, for the truth to them conforms with their desires.

To test this belief of mine, I have started a thread in the General Apologetics section at Christian Forums dot com asking Christians if they would want to know the truth if there was no afterlife. I don't expect too many good (read: well thought-out) answers, after all this is Christian Forums. But that's okay because Christian Forums provides what I believe to be a very accurate demographic/cross-section of the English speaking Christian body. This is the Christian message board for the everyday Christian, and it will expose just how much, or how little, these people even understand these concepts.

So next time you are in communication with a pro-afterlifer, you should ask them this question. In addition (assuming that you the reader is an atheist), you should ask yourself this same question but in reverse: If there was an actual afterlife, would you want to know? I think most atheists can honestly answer "yes," but I don't think most pro-afterlifers can honestly answer the same, and this only serves to undermine the validity of their position.

31 comments:

Francois Tremblay said...

Definitely post the results of this informal survey.

Tanooki Joe said...

An interesting experiment indeed!

Aaron Kinney said...

So far I only had two Christians respond. They both said that "yes" they would want to know.

When I asked them what kind of evidence would convince them that there was no afterlife, they said "if God said so."

Jesus Christ. :P

Delta said...

Lol @ "if god said so". That's hilarious. Although I must say that I disagree with you that people on the christian forums represent a good cross section of christianity in america today. Only really strong christians go online to christian chat rooms and forums. Most christians regard christianity as a sort of bumper sticker or something of that nature. They go online to talk to their friends on AIM and download porn like the rest of us.

The experiment might also be a little weird because with christians the whole notion of truth is a skewed. Many christians believe that if they believe in something, if they have faith in it, that it makes it more likely to be true. While most probably don't believe that faith alone makes something true, I believe that many think that faith is a parameter in the equation that equals truth.

Andrew C. said...

In response to delta:

The Christians you describe in your first paragraph (the bumper sticker ones) are what I would call "bad Christians." I would also call the Christians "that think faith is a parameter in the equasion that equals truth" irrational Christians.

I like the way you don't profile us. : )

Oh yeah, I would call the "if god said so" person an irrational Christian.

I haven't been on christianforums.com very much, but they seem like a pretty rational bunch.

Yes, I would like to know the truth about the afterlife. However, I think the evidence shows that there is an afterlife.

Now I have a question for atheists: What if Christians are right? What if there is an afterlife, and you're going to Hell whether you like it or not unless you accept Jesus as your saviour? Your faith doesn't affect whether or not you're right or I'm right. If I'm right, you might go to Hell. If you're right, then what do I have to lose?

hashishan prophet said...

Andrew Christolater - you are warned!

This is PASCAL'S ERROR - SIN - WAGER. For you have denied the fact that I AM THE LORD THY GOD - CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.

1. If an atheist be (I think not) and deny my Lordship, I shall be merciful with her, and heal her doubt, and lead her by the paths of righteousness unto my kingdom.

2. Yet if a CHRISTIAN deny my Lordship - which by hewing to the false monkey-christ you must do -- I will cast yon christian out of my kingdom into the FLAMING PITS OF HELL (which are LMC or SMC in this era) and you shall be tortured and crucified and eaten and forced to share in the squalor of the monkey-christ! This is the penalty for Christians!

3. She alone who SANCTIFIES my name Hashishan will receive the GLORY prize of eternal sexual congress with my risen and holy body. Praise the Lord who I AM!

(THerefore the most dangerous course is the CHRISTIAN for I AM The most jealous and zealoud of gods and I will destroy all christians do to his betrayal of me when I was terran as his MOTHER!)

Praise my name. I am God. I am your mother. Praise me.

Aaron Kinney said...

Andrew said:

Now I have a question for atheists: What if Christians are right? What if there is an afterlife, and you're going to Hell whether you like it or not unless you accept Jesus as your saviour? Your faith doesn't affect whether or not you're right or I'm right. If I'm right, you might go to Hell. If you're right, then what do I have to lose?

You stand to lose everything, unfortunately. You are bringing up Pascals Wager. And the only REAL lesson to learn from Pascals Wager is to not even MAKE a bet, because the h ouse always wins!

Andrew, there is more than one religion on the planet. What makes you think you got the right one? Statistically, your chances of picking the "correct" religion are much lower than picking the winning number in a casino roulette game.

Now what do you stand to lose if you are wrong? How about your life! You will have wasted a lifetime of money and time donating to the wrong church and praying to teh wrong (or nonexistant) god. You will have wasted your life living a lie, believing in something that isnt real, and totally deluding yourself. You will have supported religious causes that have hurt and killed many. You will have based your life on a bullshit book. Your total life will have been an embarrasment.

For more detail, please check out this well written article at Strong Atheism.net

hashishan prophet said...

Aaron, my prophet and lamb, speaks the truth. The Lord anointeth him with oil.

For many are the churches and temples of this world. Many are the idolators who shout, "Lord, Lord," and believe their salvation secured. They are deluded: this I the Lord decree. The Catholics are manifestly false and the Christians are manifestly false and the Jews are manifestly false and the Buddhists are manifestly false. Even my beloved Rastas are manifestly false.

There is no God but God. I am that God. There is no creed but the one true creed that will bring salvation. That true creed is HASHISHAN. I am the Prophet and God. I am Holy and Blessed among women. I preach castration and menstrual baptism. Will you please join me?

He that believeth the false creed will perish; yea, he will be tortured withal. But who among you have the knowledge of that true faith? None but my PRECIOUS followers.

Aaron approaches the table of truth. Praise him! He is blessed in mine eyes.

Aaron Kinney said...

Hashishan Prophet has anointed me and blessed my words of wisdom. With this kind of endorsement, how can anyone doubt what I say????????

hashishan prophet said...

Aaron, my much-loved prophet! With your words of wisdom, my heart runneth over with joy! I love you, my precious angel - first born child of the light which beameth out of the hearts of the temple guards. Your God loves you!

I give unto you this endorsement - that whatsoever you shall speak against the CHRIST, that wisdom will be heard and assented by the ears of the unwise. Each will devour the essentila, brave soul!

Let me ask you a question, and each of you, and hark: If you could know the TRUTH of the LORD Hashishan - would you want to know. The Lord hath revealed herself in this AGE and been mocked for her nudity. I speak that I will reveal my naked truth unto you if you will accept the gift of that truth openly. You will never escape the mighty of the LORD once visions cleans. You are my pretty one of the Lord. Praise!

Tanooki Joe said...

Aaron, do you know what this means? Now you can tithe!

Francois Tremblay said...

"The Christians you describe in your first paragraph (the bumper sticker ones) are what I would call "bad Christians.""

No such thing as a good Christian, except when they deconvert.


"Oh yeah, I would call the "if god said so" person an irrational Christian."

No such thing as a rational Christian.


"Yes, I would like to know the truth about the afterlife. However, I think the evidence shows that there is an afterlife."

No such evidence exists.


"Now I have a question for atheists: What if Christians are right?"

They aren't.

Aaron Kinney said...

I only tithe to institutions where the object of worship is a hot naked chick. Since Hashishan Prophet seems to have recently changed gender to a female, I suppose I can now join the Church of Hash.

hashishan prophet said...

Aaron, my darling boy, know thou that I AM the eternal feminine. I have blessed you with the gift of lust for my voluptuous corpse. I have also rededicated you as my Only Son, the Son of God, and the Dear Leader in the age to come. Behold, I have consecrated our love with a lovely shrine, to be seen upon my gospel, which is that website dedicate unto the Hashishan Prophecy.

There shall be ever present Divine Nudity in the Kingdom to come. Which is very soon. Hail.

Tanooki Joe said...

Actually, I meant you could tithe others.

Mmmm, tax-farming...

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know if we would really want too many theists in foxholes, they tend to strap bombs to themselves and scream out "praise allah" before blowing up themselves and a busload of people.
Just to let you in on something, since I remember clearly my theistic days, when you say things like "swallow a spoonful of cold hard reality" it tends to scare theists away from even considering atheism, I know you want to be perfectly honest with them, but if you want any of them to listen to you, you have to choose your words carefully, otherwise you're just beating your chest in a show of "who's more honorable". It's sort of like talking to a kid (not to be condescending to any theists out there) you don't neccessarily have to suger coat anything, but don't tell them that if they step out the front door they'll be raped and beaten to death.

Aaron Kinney said...

anonymous, I understand what youre saying. Recently a friend of mine (who is a Psychology major) took a course on "persuasion" and was telling me about persuasive techniques. There is a certain way to go about trying t convince people of things, and I really want to learn more about persuasion. It could help me deconvert more Christians.

Chad said...

Aaron,

I suppose you are completely objective? No biases, no preconceptions toward Christianity or people of faith? Because the think that's difficult for me to grasp is the harsh, condescending tone toward those of faith. I mean, if you're right then you and other commenters here would simply be stating fact. Instead, it appears you are caught up in quite a bit of emotion and hatred toward Christians. Is it possible that this could sway your judgement? Is there room for error in your analysis? If not, you would seem pretty similar to the fundamentalists afterall.

Aaron Kinney said...

Hey Chad thanx for dropping by! I enjoy your Eternal Revolution site from time to time and especially liked the exchange you had with I Am. :)

Okay, no Im not the most objective. Im not gonna lie to you. I mean, look at the title of this blog: "Kill The Afterlife." Its not exactly subtle.

I set up this blog as a materialistic, militant, anti-afterlife and anti-religion site. What I try to do here is present good arguments against afterlife and religious belief, as well as emotional appeals to help motivate atheists to take action and evangelize. I also of course welcome theists to come in and comment and have informal debates about the things I post in here.

You claim I am caught up in a bit of emotion. Yes that is correct. My life and the lives of my peers are VERY important to me (shouldnt it be that way with everyone?) and therefore I am fighting passionately for what I believe is right.

No I dont hate Christians a priori. I DO hate CHRISTIANITY and all religions, but thats hating the game not the player. If I hated Christians, I would be in a world of hurt because my whole family is Chrstian, and the majority of the world population is religious.

There are some individual Christians that I hate, but thats because of their actions not because of their beliefs. I hate Eric Rudolph and made a post about him. I hate Dena Schlosser and made a post about her. But I only hate those people because they terrorized and murdered in the NAME of religion.

You asked if there is room for error in my analysis. Im not exactly sure what youre asking, but I will say that I am open to the possibility of being wrong. I would rather know the truth than pridefully stick to my position. I welcome any religious person to bring in proof of an afterlife in here and post it.

Please understand Chad that I used to be a very devout Christian (Lutheran to be exact) and only 8 years ago did I deconvert to atheism. Im a passionate, high energy person in general, whether its racing my Mustang or debating the existence of God or partying my ass off. So you will see some of that energy come out in my writing.

So please dont get me the wrong way Chad. Yes I hate all religions because I believe that they cause massive damage to society. My loyalty is to myself and to my peers and all of our happiness as individuals, and I will fight against what I believe to be the enemies of this. But I dont hate individual Christians unless you give me a really strong reason to. Im have civil and constructive conversations with Christians all the time.

If you want to see how I conduct myself when I communicate with Christians, try clicking on the link in this blog post to Christianforums where I started a thread about the afterlife. Do a search on that site for all my posts and see how you like my conduct. They enforce the rules pretty strictly over there.

OR I got an even better idea: You should download my guest appearance on Gene Cooks "The Atheist Hour" over at www.unchainedradio.com. I made a post about it a couple weeks ago and it should be in the September archives of this blog.

Anyway, if you want to discuss with me the things I write about, I would be happy to engage you. You can experience firsthand how I conduct myself with Christians, namely you. As I said before, Ive enjoyed the things you wrote on the Evangelical Atheist blog and Im sure we can have a productive conversation.

(holy shit I wrote a book just now!)

Aaron Kinney said...

What I meant to mention about my guest appearance on "the Atheist Hour" with Gene Cook is that I received multiple compliments, both on the radio show and afterwards on my blog comments, from Chrisians who thought I was very friendly and amicable during my appearance.

Anonymous said...

Well I don't mean persuasion so much, but just don't say things in the harshest manner possible, as with the example I used above. If a kid (or maybe just anybody new to the area) is about to go outside and you tell them they could be raped and beaten to death, though you may be telling the truth, it isn't as bad as it sounds, you COULD have that happen to you, but the chances aren't as great as the above example implies, which is that it's almost certain that it will. Though reality is cold and harsh, it's not so much as would come to mind when reading from an atheist that it's cold and harsh. When a theist reads that, the idea that us atheists live in a world of gloom and despair, with a bleak outlook on the future comes to mind and they would rather have faith and cling to the fact that we can't be absolutly one hundred percent sure and that since we can't know for certain, they decide to stay faithful. They say to themselves "well shit, they don't know for certain, they're just humans and are fallible, the universe is too mysterious and beautiful to have happened on accident, and their outlook is bleak and miserable, not to mention if they're wrong they'll burn in hell forever, and they tend to be mean arrogant assholes who spoil all of the fun, so why the hell would I want to join them?". What they need to understand is that it can be harsh and cold, but that it often isn't. Damn, writing that almost turned me back into a theist, but I guess I'll stay atheistic.

Chad said...

Hi Aaron, I appreciate your explanation and would be interested to learn more of your 'deconversion' experience. That sort of change is always interesting to me. (I just spoke with a Christian friend about her conversion from Buddhism over the weekend and it's fascinating.)

Sometimes it's hard for me to distinguish between being passionate in a particular cause (which is admirable, particularly in the midst of such a largely apathetic culture) and anger/hatred toward a certain group of people. And I certainly think it's easy for the former to bleed over into the latter. But I think the distinction is an important one and I agree it can be done.

I'm glad to know you've checked out my site and read the exchange with I AM. I respect what you guys say and like to read your thoughts. It's only when I feel like that respect is not reciprocated that I get frustrated. Condescension seems fairly prevalent among atheists toward Christians and other theists. For instance, Francois writes: "There is no such thing as a rational Christian." Honestly, what is the point of that sort of drivel?

Anyway, I'll look forward checking out some more of your stuff, Aaron.

Anonymous said...

Sorry if my above comment is hard to read, I really should space out my paragraphs.

Aaron Kinney said...

Thats okay anonymous. Practice makes perfect. Please for all of our sakes, stay atheistic! :)

Hey Chad thanx for the quick reply. Yes I agree that its easy to interpret things that are said, especially things that I write, as being mean spirited or condescending towards Christians.

When I am spouting off rhetoric, or writing arguments for posting on this blog, my full distaste for religion shines through. And its easy for a Christian reading what I write to take it personally. The best I can do is try to differentiate between attacking the Christian ideology, and attacking an individual Christian him/herself. When I am engaged directly with a Christian, I give them respect and treat them as an equal, and I enjoy it when they treat me the same way. The only Christian I feel like I ever deliberately treated poorly during a conversation was Paul Manata, and that was because he was throwing more ad hominems at me than a drunken sailor arguing with his estranged wife. But even then, Manata and myself made amends to an extent and agreed to treat eachother more respectfully.

Well maybe I can share my deconversion story sometime. Its not action packed or anything though. It was gradual.

One reason I think the condescending thing comes out sometimes is because, to an atheist, Christians and all religious people seem so deluded. It seems like a blatantly obvious adherence to a superstition. To a fairy tale. To a Santa Claus story. To a myth invented in a time when humans thought the world was flat. To an atheist it just seems so silly, so illogical, and so embarrasingly obvious that one cannot help but to have a little bit of condescention leak through their writing.

Im not saying that its right. I agree that its counterproductive to our shared goal of convincing our opponents of the "truth" of our positions. But I dont know how to solve the condescention problem. The best I can personally do is try to focus my derision on the ideology, and not on the individual believer. However, there are times when derision is appropriate IMO, like in cases of Rudolph, Schlosser, or these Rapture Ready nutjobs. I mean just look at what they write in my most recent post where I quote them. Its insane and it really honestly scares me. But even then, I think I did a fairly decent job of focusing my derision on their rapture beliefs and not them as human beings?

The Wanker said...

You should feel lucky your conversion wasn't action packed, mine happened in about three days, and boy were those some helluva three days, oh well.

Tanooki Joe said...

*golf clap for Aaron's little defense of himself*

Well said. It kinda needs to be said sometimes that just because most atheists value logic, reason, and objectivity, it doesn't mean we turn into Vulcans or robots or something. We're people too, we can be as illogical and irrational as anyone at times, we do stupid stuff sometimes, and we sure as hell can be emotional (one of the meme I really want to kill is the notion that you have to choose between reason and emotions, and can't use both). But hey, we work at it. :)

Chad, you have to understand sometimes that Christians like you can be hard to come by. Most theists that come to an atheist site are looking for an argument, not a discussion. Most just want to score heaven points by confonting the heathen, and just snag some worn-out apologetics to through at us that we've probably seen and refuted a hundred times, and just ignore or responses, and claim victory. It can kinda make a person a little grouchy, ya know? So, when a good Christian comes along, they can get lost in the shuffle.

Aaron, I must compliment you on being openminded and courteous in your discussions. You and I disagree on many things, but it's always been a joy to discuss things with you, which is more than can be said for more than a few atheists.

Also, you've caught DUBitis.

The Wanker said...

He caught dawhatsis?

Aaron Kinney said...

LOL thanx Tanookie Joe! I appreciate it :)

ghostdancers_way said...

Aaron,
I have a question. What about those of us who believe that we continue to evolve forward or devolve backward from one life to the next based upon how we live our lives in the here and now?

My belief is that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and many others were in fact ascended Masters who reached the pinnacle of their own quest for Nirvana. Or they became ONE with the universe from which they sprang.

I have a belief, one that empirically demonstrates itself to me from the first day I found it. It is not based upon faith, but upon actions, my own, how I live my life and share my willingness to demonstrate that the life we have here and now is the one we must be focused upon.

I would be very interested in your analysis of this belief or life pursuit.

I will tell you this, my belief was brought about by a life changing event. I once was a homeless addict with nothing to live for and now I am what is commonly referred to as a citizen. That was more than 18 years ago. I am aligned with no major religions as I find most of them so offensive, as to make me want to shower whenever they are brought to my attention. Having said that, I also know many people who are a part of those same religions who are fine, warm and wonderful human beings.

I believe that what I do here on this plane at this time will further me in my growth as a human being.

Aaron Kinney said...

Ghostdancers_way,

I believe that you are talking about reincarnation of some sort, correct?

Well I have a big problem with reincarnation, and alot of it is moral. I made a post about it awhile back, and it is entitled, The Evil of Reincarnation.

Anonymous said...

Hashishan prophet..........aka, Sara, Lyara of operation terra.

Again the PIG speaks. Hi, Sara