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Austin Cline

Atheism and the Appreciation for Life

By June 5, 2005

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Some people have the impression that atheists can't appreciate life because atheists don't believe in gods and, typically, any sort of afterlife. Just the opposite is usually the case: because of the absence of any afterlife, atheists have a heightened appreciation for what they have here and now.

Ruirik writes:

I try to see everything, even what most people would consider ugly, beautiful in it's own way. I wake up each morning and am glad to be alive, glad to be sentient and in good health. I am cosmically lucky to be born where I was, when I was. Sure I gripe about some things, but basically (despite how I write in this journal at times), I am pretty happy. I simply get upset with people who will take a good things (life and freedom among two of them) and screw it up for others by making them do things that really have little bearing on life.

Why should I care? There are a few reasons I suppose, but I have one overriding one. This reason is, depending on who you talk to, I am either going to burn in Hell or am worm food in the not too distant future. All my thoughts and memories I have influenced and were influenced by will pass away within a few hundred years. This is a shame to, as the world we live in is my heaven. An imperfect heaven yes, but heaven nonetheless. As a result I truly want people to enjoy things more, because I believe this is the only shot you and I have to enjoy it all. My heaven, my life is fleeting, and I know I'll be gone soon. I f I could fulfill a wish I would like humans to leave Heaven in at least as good of condition as we found it. It's a beautiful world if you look around a bit. I do hope that despite my coming from it at a different angle others can appreciate (if not agree with) my point of view.

This is pretty similar to what most of the atheists I have encountered seem to believe. A significant number of atheists could read this and nod in agreement. So why do so many theists think that an atheist's life must be without meaning? Probably because they haven't bothered to ask they made some assumptions based upon their own attitudes and that was it.

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