Do you believe in an afterlife?
“OK, I’m an atheist, and I’m offended by this. It’s a masterful compendium of logical fallacies, and little more than an ad hominem attack on people who believe in an afterlife. This is why I am distancing myself from mainstream atheism, there are plenty of reasonable avenues to attack fundies of all stripes, but insulting everyone who believes in an afterlife strikes me as being a really counterproductive approach.”
I posted the image and comment above on Facebook last night, and boy, the fellow who originally posted it gave me endless grief. Apparently I am a “weak atheist” because I don’t countenance insulting everyone who believes in an afterlife. And between his various insults and straw man arguments, he never addressed my main point, which is that the logic in the illustration is badly flawed. It starts off with “The only reason people believe in an afterlife … ” Um, saying that there is only one reason that people believe in an afterlife is a pretty sweeping declaration of fact, unless it’s supported by data, saying it doesn’t make it true. And while I suppose a case can be made that there is a narcissistic component to believing in an afterlife, that doesn’t mean that people who believe such are necessarily narcissists. It’s like saying someone who likes to watch football or hockey is a sadist.
I don’t believe in an afterlife, but I don’t care what other people believe as long as they don’t scare the horses. People believe all sorts of silly things, best to judge them (if one is going to judge them at all) by how they live their lives, not by their beliefs. In fact, it’s fundamentalists who judge people by what they believe, company I do not care to join. And now I know, there are fundamentalist atheists as well, quel surprise. Company I also do not care to join. I like having friends all or the spectrum, that’s both how I know they are my friends, and it means I get feedback from all perspectives.
The reason I don’t believe in an afterlife is very simple. There’s no evidence for an afterlife and no logical or scientific reason to believe there should be one. And there not only are no good scientific cases of people in the afterlife contacting the living, even the anecdotal cases are singularly unconvincing. If there is an afterlife, it apparently is one where people simply have no way to contact the living. In other words, the evidence for an afterlife is the same as the evidence for God, there isn’t any. Although to be fair, the two are unrelated, even if they are commonly conflated by some people.
I am open minded enough that if anyone knows of any good stories about contact with someone in the afterlife, I’d love to hear them. Heck, if I come across anything interesting, I’ll blog about it.
(The above image is posted all over Facebook, so it’s either public domain or no one cares. And since I don’t have anything to say about it I haven’t already said, a joke: Three buddies die in a car and go to heaven for an orientation. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning over you, what would you like to hear them say about you?” The first guy says, “I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man.” The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher which made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.” The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say, ‘Look, he’s moving!!!!!'”)