“So you just believe that we die and…that’s it? That's kind of depressing.”
“Yeah, yeah it is. You get used to it.”
I still think we die and that’s it—no more consciousness, no more anything. And while I’m still sad that I will one day have to leave this world, depressed is the wrong way to describe how I feel. Sure, I could spend my time focusing on how one day I’ll die, but I prefer to ruminate on the fact that I exist at all.
And it is amazing.
I love this Calvin and Hobbes strip for being the exact opposite of how I feel, and yet capturing the awesome timeline of earth that currently sports humans. I don’t think humans are the final product, nor inevitable. We just happened to evolve the way we did, and one day we will become extinct. I am a link in the chain, a step on the stair. And I couldn’t be happier.
So here’s where my “religious” experience comes in (I prefer “mind-blowingly-awesome-natural experience, actually). I am awed by life on almost a daily basis. I look around me and imagine the impossible chance that brought earth to the point where I can look around and touch and feel and see and consciously think about everything—I look at the amazing diversity and tenaciousness of life and am floored. And when I think about how short my time is with it, it becomes even more precious. I desperately want to learn everything I can about this fascinating place I call Earth. I don’t want to take anything for granted, because tomorrow it could all be gone. Every random dandelion is amazing, that weird smelly ditchwater is home to thousands of cool microorganisms, and that cloud is slowly changing into a thunderstorm (rain, how cool is that? How many planets have a water cycle, huh?). I can’t take it all in: all of the awesome. And because life is so short, I can’t waste a minute of it.
I think most people share these feelings about the world. Many choose to thank God for creating everything for them, and they feel that this euphoria about life brings them closer to God. I think that attitude is rather like the above cartoon: selfish, and cheapening the emotions. “Wow, we have the chance to experience this world for one brief moment, against all the odds? Amazing! Oh, you mean it was made for me ahead of time, and this is all predetermined? I mean, it’s still nice, but not as precious or awesome.” I think that the near impossibility of this life is what makes it so unbelievably amazing.
People say atheists are uncaring and think only of themselves. They think we cannot have morals or emotions. We do. We have the same experiences as you. We just don’t believe it was created for us, nor that it will it last forever.