What matters more than God

I write a lot about God and atheism. That’s because I find value in living with both eyes open, and because I think God goes away (that is, the concept “God” loses its function) when we live with both eyes open. Atheism has been an important step in my own intellectual journey, and so I’m happy to share my reasons for disbelief with others.

But.

God–or more precisely, belief or disbelief in God–isn’t actually all that important. That is, believing or not believing in God doesn’t make the biggest existential difference for most people (in my estimation–I haven’t actually surveyed anyone). What could be more important than whether or not a benevolent superpower created the world and everything in it, you ask?

Death.

Life after death.

Or, as I see it, the fact that there is no life after death, that death is the end of all conscious experience (for the organism that dies).

The most existentially important realization I’ve had, and I think, one of the most existentially important realizations anyone can have, is that my life will end, and there is no hereafter. This is it. This one small shot at living well, and then the lights go out. Of course, I can’t imagine not thinking, what with my own nonexistence being quite literally inconceivable from a first-person standpoint. But the realization that this life is it is life-changing.

More life-changing, I contend, than whether or not there is a God.

The two are hard to separate of course. For most religious folk I know, the belief in an afterlife is all bundled up with belief in a benevolent diety. As some of my undergrads have asked, what’s the point of believing in God if there’s no afterlife? What indeed!

I have no plans to halt my attacks on (the idea of) God. But I thought I’d take a minute to meditate on this wonderful, profound, recalibrating thought.

We’re all going to die.

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