Ask An Atheist: Did you ever believe in God? What about the afterlife?

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Q. Did you ever believe in a god, and if so, why did you change your mind?  What hope do you have when you and your loved ones die and why are you OK with that?

A. Excellent questions. I never had a belief in any supernatural deity, so never went through a loss of faith episode. As I don't believe in an afterlife I have no fretting over lost loved ones and friends, though certainly I would be delighted if there were preservation of the minds that we are.  It does prompt one to pay all the more attention to the time we do spend alive, to do good and not be a nuisance.  Time is the one thing that can never be regained, so every moment spent not relating to others is an opportunity lost. Tick tick tick goes the eternal grinding wheel of time.

Actually I had occasion to discuss this very subject with my dear niece (a Baptist herself) during the ride back home to Washington from visiting my sister (her mom) in Louisiana. I wish there were indeed an afterlife if only for people like Schubert (who died young, tragically under-appreciated at the time, with none of his major works ever performed during his lifetime) who I would love to have him learn of the great place he has come to play in early Romantic music.  He deserves that.

That is because I respect the sanctity of human creativity, and would like people who might have seemed to have got a raw deal while alive got a proper understanding with time. Just as monsters like Hitler or Pol Pot deserve a comparable accounting.

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About Jim Downard

Jim Downard is a Spokane native (with a sojourn in Southern California back in the early 1960s) who was raised in a secular family, so says had no personal faith to lose.

He's always been a history and science buff (getting a bachelor's in the former area at what was then Eastern Washington University in the early 1970s).

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  1. I actually used to be a believer ( and was raised in the spokane area as well). I don’t think my loss of faith was that terrible of a shaker in my life, and I’m glad that through that section of my life I discovered skepticism.

  2. Time = entropy according to current theories in physics.

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