Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What I believe in...

On more than one occasion, someone has said to me something to the following effect: "So if you are agnostic, doesn't that mean that this life is just a waste, not worth living if you don't think there is an afterlife?" First of all, I am not sure I don't beleive in an afterlife, I think it is a possibility, but I am not altering my behavior in this life to earn a reward or avoid a punishment in the hereafter. I think the contrary to the comment above is more true, an agnostic does not think this life is not worth living, but rather that it is the only thing of any worth. If, and I really do mean if, there is no afterlife I want to make my life the most enjoyable to everyone I come into contact with. I want to do the most good possible. And if there is no afterlife then this life is when I have to do that good, because there might not be anything after it. I want to do good things for the sake of being good, not to prevent me from going to hell or to earn a ticket to heaven, those are selfish intentions. I want to act with the purest intentions possible. It is like a hungry man being offered a sandwich, if this sandwich is all he believes he will have to eat, he will enjoy it, savor it and consume every crumb of it. But if someone gives him a sandwich and says that a larger, better feast is waiting for him later, there is a possibility that he might not enjoy the sandwich to its fullest possibility. There may be an afterlife, I am not sure, but I do know that there is an earthly life, and I am going to do the best I can with what I know I have. That is what I believe.

10 Comments:

At 12:08 PM, Anonymous joe said...

Rob,
are you saying that a religious person is unable to overcome those selfish intentions and do good for the sake of doing good? Which definition of good does the agnostic draw from? If it makes you happy? Harm no others? The Judeo-Christian tradition?

 
At 12:31 PM, Blogger Rob said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Not at all. Sorry if it came out that way. In fact, the best lesson I had in Priesthood this year was talking exactly about that, doing things for the right reasons. I was simply referring to the "worth" of this life, that one doesn't need to have rewards or punishments linked to your behavior in order to do good. I believe most religious people do good deeds because they are good, not because of eternal repercussions, this is another great thing about religion, but I simply don't believe that my life is worthless if I don't see something coming after it, there is plenty of good to be had in this life.

As to your second question, that is a bit more difficult. "Good" is definitely a relative term. I have a friend who has been having hard times with an addiction, and a lot of their life is falling apart. My wife thinks it is good to help this person out by calling them regularly and reminding them of things they have to get done, I think that is enabling and that it is good to teach this person some personal responsibility and let them see the consequences of their inactions. We both have good intentions. I believe as long as we are both acting according to these intentions, and the recipient knows this, then good is done. But what do I know.

 
At 11:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post reminded me of an article in Wired magazine about "The New Atheism" that I read recently.

Have you read that by chance? I found the authors conclusion a bit surprising.

That is the only magazine I read cover to cover completely. Which says something about me I guess...

-Sterling

 
At 10:15 AM, Blogger Rob said...

I have not read it but I have read a little about the article. Is it the current issue? I may have to go pick it up.

 
At 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, that was the latest issue. Interesting read.

 
At 9:05 AM, Blogger Rob said...

I read the article and really liked it. I'm not sure if I can follow the sort of militant atheism that Dawkins preaches. It is true that religion is responsible for a lot of bad things in the history of the world (wars, impeding progress through science) but I recognize that a lot of good comes from religion as well. That is not however saying that these goods would cease to exist if religion does, but the pragmatic in me sees value in religion because of these goods.

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Beautiful :D

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Beautiful :D

 
At 12:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Beautiful :D

 

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