Statesboro, GA, USA
I think of the old adage that effectively says that a person doesn’t sit on their death bed wishing they had spent less time with their family and more time at work. I think life as a whole is much the same – I don’t want to sit on my death bed thinking that I shouldn’t have wasted my life gambling on the unfounded promise of a divine hereafter, but instead should have enjoyed the life I had while I had it.
I apologize that I didn't address this sooner. But I wanted to ask some questions about this, and make some observations.
An atheist sits on his death-bed. And (given his world-view) his very existence is ephemeral as a bit of fog on a pane of glass.
Theists have typically put forth the idea that death-bed regrets are most often based upon perceived moral failures, and questions about whether or not enough love was shown to others.
I understand this mindset, in light of a belief in God who is both judge and redeemer of earthly actions. But why would this question be so important for an atheist who is presumably facing personal extinguishment? What significance does the word "wasted" have upon a situation that will utterly end, especially when spoken at or near that end?
You might reply that it is out of a concern for others, which would be right whether or not God exists. (however, I personally question this "big" kind of rightness if God doesn't exist) But even given that, since the past cannot be changed, and there is no certainty that it will at all matter post-mortem, wouldn't anxiety be fruitless? At least in the Christian scheme of things, regret of the past can be transformed into hopes of future redemption both personally and for those left behind. For God can mitigate the effects of failure, and bring good out of bad.
Therefore the atheist's dying ponderances seem to make less sense than the Christians, given the atheists assumptions about reality. I guess what I'm getting at, is that pining for something of greater significance in one's last days is more confirming of theism than non-theism. That's why it was surprising to me that you used this example.
Where's Huan's grim realism when I need it to make my point?
I guess what I'm saying is does such a teleology of "wasted versus invested" even make sense at the threshold of atheistic death?
Don't get me wrong, I don't accept Pascal's wager as a stand-alone reason to 'blindly' believe. I think we have been given the means to a greater certainty than a game of poker. But though you chide the dying Christian for having "gambled", doesn't the truth of Pascal's wager bite at this point? Given atheism, ten seconds prior to death, thoughts of whether or not life was squandered, seem about as significant as whether one is wearing black or white socks.