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Is this life worth more than the next life?

Whether you believe in an after life or not which is more important for you?
Think about it for a minute. You live here on earth for about 70 years and then what?
It is not a question of necessarily where you go but is that place where you’ll end up more important than the one you’re in now?

And if it is, what would you do to make sure that your “soul” gets there? Would you stop your whole life and make sure that your soul is in check?

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    Oct 26 2011: Well I'm an atheist, so my afterlife consists mostly of my children carrying bits of my soul in their DNA and memory.
    I'm doing everything I can to help them grow into happy persons. In a way, yes, I believe that this kind of afterlife is more valuable that my present life.
    If the afterlife turns out to be better than my present life, I will have succeeded as a father.
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      Oct 27 2011: Poetic!
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      Oct 27 2011: Survival of the species. It's a basic instinct. That's why people have kids. You might not survive but they might. That's one of the biggest drawbacks of atheism. If there's no purpose to life then all that matters is the now so lets enjoy the moment and not worry about tomorrow. I would be dead anyway. The only way the human race will survive is if they find something to believe in after death. A higher purpose.
      Why should the human race survive? Why should life survive...? That is the real question!
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        Oct 27 2011: "Survival of the species. It's a basic instinct. That's why people have kids."

        This is incorrect. It's survival of the genes, not the species. (Biology has moved on since the 19th century). But yes, this is why people have kids. And you're not explaining why this is a drawback of atheism.
        Also, there are contradictions in what you say. What if I tell you that the well being of my kids is one my highest purpose in life? Is this what you call not worrying about tomorrow?
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          Oct 27 2011: Hahaha! Semantics. You're right. The gene is more correct.
          I might be overly harsh on atheism. If you didn't care about your kids it would be on the extreme point of atheism aka nullism.

          As long as you believe in immorality in some form (kids, human kind, etc). If you had no stake in the future then it's pointless doing anything except that which pleases you in the moment.
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          Oct 27 2011: I see what you're worried about and I agree that overemphasis of pleasure now can be detrimental to our survival (probably partly why we have evolved to be so aware of the future and able to plan for it). But I agree with Gerald that atheism and lack of belief in a spiritual afterlife don't have to engender an interest in the present only. I am an atheist and it gives me a great sense of place in the world and of balance to consider myself a small part of this ecosystem with countless shared ancestral species in our past and unknown possibilities waiting in the future. In my case I'm held in check from excessive 'immorality' by a respect for other people and living things, not so much my own descendants or even the descendants of my species.
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        Oct 27 2011: There is no extreme point of atheism. I'm as atheist as they come. I'm not part religious and thus less of a nihilist.
        I'm just an atheist.
        A nihilist rejects any knowledge, scientific, philosophica, moral... Very unlike an atheist. A nihilist does reject God like atheists, but that's the one single thing they have in common.
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          Oct 27 2011: Your right, many people equate nihilism w/atheism and that is not right. I can see how though. Atheism is not a religion, philosophy or a world view.. Nihilism is just the same.

          the main difference is that atheist at times can or try to create meanings in this life. they find some sort of value with human experiences. A nihilist would state that its all a waste of time and that no matter what we are never going to get any closer to the true meaning of our existence, which for a nihilist, is nothing. Nihilism do not believe that the universe has any objective meaning and although an atheist do not claim that the universe has any objective meaning, they do place significance on this life.

          In the end, I personally do not think anyone can really be a nihilist..I could not imagine what such an individual would look like. But what is sad is the fact that in the face of nihilism we decided to create stories or meanings to our lives and sometimes, sometimes this have devastating effects
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          Oct 27 2011: Its true many people do. Rejection of a divine purpose vs. rejection of all purpose.
          I'm not an Atheist and I do believe in a god or grand scheme, an underlining pattern that is hidden in the fabric of reality. Do however reject any and all forms of religion. It's just another label we give to separate ourselves from others.

          I do however bow my head to the people that believe so strongly in God. It must be great to have a placebo for life and meaning. There is something to be said for ignorance is bliss. I envy them. But the power is in the belief and once the illusion is broken there's no going back.

          The point I was trying to make is if you reject a higher purpose then you have to decide on your own. If you lose faith but don't replace it with something else you are doomed to slip into nihilism. I think everyone on the thread has made peace with the meaning of life.
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        Oct 27 2011: So wait,

        The only way for us to survive is if we find some sort of solace in our belief about he afterlife? I would have to disagree. Now don't get me wrong I understand what you are talking about completely but I do not think it is an imperative that people need to make up stories in order to survive, if anything I think that is worse being that that once or if they realize that what that what they believed in was indeed false or made no sense then what? Plus, beliefs about these things really have consequences.

        Anyhow, I'm atheist as well but I do meditate and contemplate a lot and I do not want to say that it brings me meaning to my life but what I will say is that it really allows me to connect with nature and other people as well. It also allows me to know that I'm really insignificant and that is something that I'm ok with. Its really not a bad thing
      • Oct 27 2011: So the only reason that you don't do whatever flies in to your head in the heat of the moment is that you are promised an eternal afterlife if you don't? I find that disturbing!

        Fortunately, it turns out that peoples moral values does not disappear or weakens without religious beliefs.

        About as fortunate as the golden rule appears inborn, people understand that if you are nice, others will be nice to you. This is not limited to humans, other animals appear to incorporate this strategy as well. It is not limited to religion.

        Also, a quote;
        "[...] several studies provide no evidence that religious people are more caring, loving, generous, or helpful than non-religious people (Kohn, 1989). (Kohn cites evidence that religious folks are, on average, more intolerant of minorities.) "
        Kohn, A. (December, 1989). Do religious people help more? Not so you'd notice. Psychology Today, 66-68.
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      Oct 27 2011: that is perhaps one of the most interesting things I have ever heard Gerald
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    Oct 27 2011: The past is gone by...the future is not yet a reality. The only reality is the moment. It doesn't matter to me whether or not there is another life, because whatever the future holds, does not alter how I live my life in the moment. This moment has never "been" before, and will never "be" is the only reality. When we spend time speculating about the future, we give up being fully present NOW.
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    Oct 30 2011: Great question. If this life is finite & the next is infinite, then it's a no-brainer. We can give this life all we have, but it will end. Most notions of afterlife emphasise the choices we make in this life. Being sure to carry out some honest research of the alleged gateways must surely take centre-stage. Too many just write off the whole concept without rigorous honest enquiry. Big Mistake potentially.

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    Oct 27 2011: Interesting topic! I don't believe in an afterlife so I obviously think that this life is more important, but this raises another possibility in my mind: Which is more important, the immediate present or the future? I think we're all doing a balancing act whether its between this life and a real or perceived life after death, or between being happy today at the expense of being happy tomorrow, there's always a trade off!

    Most animals have far more reduced ability to conceptualize the future and don't have this option. They may have behaviors that help them prepare for the future like hibernation or food caches, but it seems to be genetically programmed and non-optional. Human beings on the other hand can go on TED and debate about this as we're doing right now :) Maybe this is partly why we are spiritual: we extend the idea of preparing for the future beyond even our deaths.

    Based on studies of happiness and books like "Be here now" it probably brings more happiness to focus on today (or THIS life) though so that is where I would devote my time and energy.
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    Oct 26 2011: I don't see the use of considering afterlife. There is no evidence for it.
    This life is very important to me, because as far as I know this one is real!

    Your assumptions about afterlife and soul are void and this irrelevant to me.
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    Oct 27 2011: your choice to give a certain meal to a homeless person will result in him eating your meal in place of other food. some of the atoms of the food will be absorbed into him and carried with him for a long time. when he dies the atoms return to the soil/air depending on how his body is disposed and without that initial meal those atoms could be in another person and could end up anywhere else on the planet. those particles have been altered indefinitely because of your existence and your personal choice.

    and so through one act you change the universe. it may be for good or bad or may actually have been for nothing (has no real change) but the universe is different than it would have been with you leaving your footprints of existence.
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    Oct 27 2011: This is life is very much important to me and for one reason:

    This is life and its vicissitudes is the only life that I can be certain of. The experiences that we have here matter because they not only affect me but affect others as well.

    The nature of the question is actually quite perplexing being that it is implied that there is another world/life beyond the experiences s we have here, which everyone knows for a fact that no one knows, which leads me to say this:

    Is the real reason why people talk about the after life is because they are looking for comfort and can't deal with their own mortality or because since its is something that is unknown and science and philosophy have failed to prove otherwise that this leaves a window open for such a possibility?

    In the end, if you ask me, there is no point to our existence. The universe owes us nothing and there really could be no life on earth just how there is no life on Pluto...In that case we should stop worrying about the afterlife and enjoy the time we have here
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    Oct 27 2011: Isn't it more important to think what I can do with my that 50-60 years for the betterment of mankind and environment (deducted childhood & teenhood say 20 years considering it as preparatory phase)
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    Oct 27 2011: I'm atheist and i believe during life and after death our effect on existence never stops.

    Our choices and opinions, every act and every moment alter the universe and as such after death our existence lives on as a ripple effect throughout the universe. our impact on the universe doesn't disappear, it just spreads out.
    • Oct 27 2011: Could you expand on that?
      For instance if I go and buy a meal for a homeless person and he enjoys it, how is that affecting the universe forever?

      You can use whatever "for instance" you want. I just made that up for conversation.
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    Oct 27 2011: You can be damn sure about this life. Don't waste your time comparing your life to a life that probably doesn't exist. Very probably doesn't exist.

    I see what you're getting at. But seriously, consider the unlikeliness of an afterlife. Now consider the possibility that even if there is an afterlife, it is highly unlikely that you're doing the right thing to get there (wrong God you're praying to, wrong impression about you need to do). Consider the fact that if this afterlife exists, it is likely to suck ass. Given all the unknowns, is it worth it to waste your time preparing for it. By all means, if it was a 50/50 thing, it'd make sense to keep yourself in check. But the chance you're bang on right about the afterlife is one divided by infinity (for the infinity of concepts). Those odds are pretty much 0.