Jejudo, South Korea
I once thought philosophy was about finding answers, but I can see now where it's more a discipline of the mind--so if this should be deemed more suitable in another forum, then yes, it's fine with me.
To me, philosophy is about dialogue. Religion is a lecture.
And I'm certainly not intending to single any one out--and nope--that's not exactly true. Although it's presumptuous of me to assume to know anyone's beliefs,& although I'm actually hoping to hear from all of you, I confess I hope to hear most specificaly from Brad, because if I'm not mistaken Brad? you are an atheist? (If I'm mistaken, I still feel confident you will clear that up.) And no, not picking on you--if you can stand a bit of shmooze, I like you Brad.
I like shmooze. But, yes, I'm an atheist. Metaphysically, I'm more of an agnostic I suppose, but I live my life as if there were no God.
But what I'm wondering here, is how an atheist copes.
Copes with what? Life is hard with or without God. One's self? I make plenty of mistakes, I am petty, can be jealous and foolish, and many more things that I don't particular like. I try to get better, step by step.
I have read the arguments that salvation is a comfortable delusion, convenient to the mind, (even a virus) and I have argued for the favor of delusions, wondering what is the harm of that?
For most people, I suspect there is no harm. For some, the world doesn't fit their belief so they ignore the world, they see the world as less than it is for something more than it is. As far as I can tell, what they want is a photograph.
My general philosophy regarding personal beliefs/religions has been this:
"If it gives a person comfort, and helps them to be a better person? Then why not?"
Because it also leads to bad things happening.
The end justifies the means.
That's the problem. The end, in this case, is the end of the world, the conversion or death of people who think differently than you do (Sometimes, it's just a slightly different belief), or the withholding of material things (things like medicine) for the proof of belief.
But I have a bit of a split mind, and I assume most do; I have a bit of the scientist in me that wants things proven. So I find myself sympathetic toward the agnostic/atheist.
Actually, that's still the theist in you. Empirical sciences don't 'prove' anything, they look for descriptions that describe what they see. They then test those descriptions again and again. It's the uncertainty that makes them successful. Perhaps the hardest thing to understand is that you can't be right if you can't be wrong. In other words, you can't win the game if you don't play it or play it by the rules.
Consider it a crisis of faith if need be, but what I really want to know is this--
Does denying the existance of God mean the denial of the existance of the soul?
For me, yes. Or rather, I don't understand any description of the soul.
If it does?
Does the acknowledgment of that premise preclude the possibility of life after death?
I have trouble with that.
Yes, but I think it's true that we can't imagine our own death. Not in any real sense. Have you ever fallen asleep for a moment, woke up, and then realized that it was six hours later? Death is when you don't wake up. This is really a complex thing, however, for, in a certain sense, if this description is correct, then there is no experience of death.
I'm wondering too, on a personal level, that if the atheist believes (what? tell me) that "this" is all there is, what is there to give a person hope--or even define moral distinctions?
"That 'this' is all there is" is, to my way of thinking, the result of belief in something more. If that's how you're thinking, then you just haven't really looked at 'this' yet. Moral distinctions are made in the same way they always have been. We still have to choose between "God told me to kill my parents" and "God told me to honor my parents." I don't see what that "God told me to" really adds.
How do you personally come to terms with the loss of loved ones if this is all that is?
Honor their memory. Write poems about them. Counter-factuals are still useful tools here. What do you think they would want you to do, if they were still alive? What would you want others to do, if you died?
Have you seen "AI"? I found it a deeply disturbing movie. A thousand years under the water looking at a blue faerie. That's not love and that's certainly not human. In the back of my head, I kept thinking, "Is this what some people actually want?"
How do you deal with the fact that there is no just reward for just living "right"? "Why bother?" comes to mind...
The reason to live 'right' is caring about other people, or perhaps living 'right' is to care about other people. You bother for the same reason.