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So what do you suppose they meant by this?
I would guess that they’re not prepared for the finality of death. That is, maybe if they thought there was an afterlife, they would be prepared to abandon the misery of this life and hope for something better afterward.
It’s just speculation though.
Hmm, I guess in a situation like this I shouldn’t complain that they capitalized “atheism”…
Do all Christian sects teach that suicides are sent to Hell? I would guess that any so-called Christian suicides are not true believers, because if you REALLY believe in the literal reality of Hell, why would you take the risk? It’s like what Hitchens has said about those child rapists in the clergy. How could they really believe their own teachings and do such heinous acts?
SP, I had the same impression. And we’re so often told that atheism “has nothing to offer.” Nonsense – atheism saves lives!
Do all Christian sects teach that suicides are sent to Hell?
No, just Catholics.
UPDATE: Actually I should have checked my facts first. As it turns out, Catholics do not believe that all suicides go to Hell (they clarified their position on this in a recent update to the catechism). Since neither do most Protestants that I’ve ever heard of (since most Protestants don’t believe you can lose your salvation simply by sinning), I guess that makes very few Christians who actually do think suicides go to Hell. (In fact, I don’t know of any major groups that teach that.)
I have heard people say things like “Sometimes my faith is the only thing that keeps me from killing myself,” meaning their faith is the only thing that compensates for their misery or the only thing that gives them any hope. Whether or not that is valid I don’t think is the point with this. My first impression was that the illustrator took such a sentiment and juxtaposed atheism where the opposite used to be, just to mess around with the idea and see what reaction it would produce. Artists do whimsical stuff like that, mixing up things in unexpected ways just to see what happens. I know, I am one.
Mike, thanks for the clarification.
Richard, that’s a good point and I suspect you are right.
Well, I definitely do not think there is a causal relationship between atheism and depression or theism and depression. But, I do think there are depressed atheists (and theists). If this guy is depressed and feeling suicidal, maybe the reason and skepticism that brought him to atheism has made him realize the finality of this action and has staved off this choice. Either way, it sounds like a person who would need help regardless of how he feels about god.
Okay, this is is good – even if it is true, at least the person is, intentionally or not, rational (i.e. only one life to live).
While I can’t say what the author of this postcard truly meant (if he or she was indeed serious), I can understand the sentiment. Dying looks different depending on if you believe you go somewhere wonderful or don’t go anywhere at all. A person who is moderately depressed might think heaven right now looks like a good deal, but to think permanent oblivion looks good requires really deep depression.
My therapist calls this “Letting God off the hook” and there’s something to it. There are ways inside and outside religion to do this. As an agnostic, the thing I say to myself is “the Universe is not out to get you.” If there is no God beating down on you, then there is no sin that you are being punished for. You are not being singled out for a special calling that never comes, etc.
Believers can turn to the book of Job. Mind you that scholars feel that the whole business of the bet was added later by some pundit who didn’t get the rest of the story. Job loses everything. He has three friends who tell him that it was somehow his fault even though he was a virtuous man. Then God comes to Job in the whirlwind and says “You can’t hope to understand why this happened. Just live a good life.”
And I think both are powerful messages. I can’t hope to understand why, in this wide wide universe, I was born with bipolar disorder. Sure I know the science. But if I ask a bigger Why I am burdened with a despair for which there is no answer. And so the best thing to do is not to ask the Why, to just live through episodes of the disease as best I can.
I think this person said Goodbye to All That. And I understand.
Great points Joel. Very well said. And I definitely wish more Christians, especially those who automatically and insensitively spout off “God let this happen for a reason” to anyone who has suffered a tragedy, would read the book of Job and take to heart God’s reply. Sometimes shit just happens and even God doesn’t have a good answer for us.
Sometimes shit just happens and even God doesn’t have a good answer for us.
Mike, would that be that god doesn’t know or he’s not revealing the reasons to us at the present moment?
Or we are not capable of comprehending the reasons.
Or the reason is simply that it’s just the way things are.
Or we are not capable of comprehending the reasons.Or the reason is simply that it’s just the way things are.
It sounds like a shell game to me.
Well, take your pick. There’s not always only one right answer.
Old Beezle: The Jobian answer is that the Universe is a hell of a complicated place. God does things and they ripple, occasionally causing harm where it was not intended. (Change God to Universe and you have a nice atheist/agnostic description of why bad things happen to good people.)
I think this person said Goodbye to All That. And I understand.
Yes! This is the way I understood the postcard, too. After years of struggling with the paradoxical and insensitive teachings of my family’s religion, and after years of feeling as if I’d been abandoned or disregarded by “God”, I finally quit the god game, and it’s been quite freeing. My life is mine now, and I have control. Sure, difficult situations arise, even seemingly unsurmountable ones. Once I stopped feeling as if there ought to be some kind of god-related aspect to various situations, I felt much less paralyzed by circumstance and more able to see clearly and be proactive about things. Gone, too, was the despair I’d sink into over how a loving god could “let” this happen, or would refuse to respond to prayer, or would randomly “reward” someone else in a similar situation but “punish” me.
In short, I stopped letting a non-present, non-responsive entity make me feel like crap all the time.
MikeClawson said,December 17, 2007 at 11:44 pmWell, take your pick. There’s not always only one right answer.
December 17, 2007 at 11:44 pm
Then the reasoning is always up to us. I just don’t see how a god is involved in any of it and, if he was, why he’s only partially involved.
Joel Sax said,December 18, 2007 at 1:30 am (Change God to Universe and you have a nice atheist/agnostic description of why bad things happen to good people.)
Joel Sax said,
December 18, 2007 at 1:30 am (Change God to Universe and you have a nice atheist/agnostic description of why bad things happen to good people.)
Once again–no god. Arbitrary and random. People came up with reasons to try to explain the chaos and put a framework on the void and the god-concept is an offshoot of that.
I think I know how this guy feels…
Being an atheist, I am 99% certain that if I kill myself, that’s it: the end of the road. Once dead, I am completely removed from a position where I am able to do any good. And there’s no turning back from that position once I’m there.
I have contemplated suicide a couple of times, and each time I remember that if I did, I would lose every chance that I have of doing good – of improving the world, making things right with my parents, or whathaveyou. And I find that I’m not ready to give that up.
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