Living Life to The Fullest

I’ve kinda went into a pause mode lately mainly because our office finally restricted the Blogger comment screen from being displayed which means I can’t blog anymore! Hehey! This means I can actually finish more work and I did 🙂 Mind you , I can move to WordPress and continue blogging with passion. Hmmm.. thinking now.

Forgive me for tackling a post that might not be appealing to some of you but after I watched the Paula Zahn Now atheism episode on CNN, something lit up in my brain which I have to air out.

Here’s a portion of the transcript of Paula Zhan’s interview of Oxford professor and atheist Richard Dawkins aired on CNN on Feb 12, 2007 :

ZAHN: But why do you think they are so remarkably intolerant of atheists?

DAWKINS: Well, I think there’s a sort of historic misunderstanding of what atheism is. For some reason, people have been brought up to believe that atheists have two horns and a tail. I mean, there are figures that show that atheists are the most mistrusted group in America, which is pretty astonishing, considering, as I say, the innocuousness of what they actually are. They are just people who hold a different belief system.

ZAHN: Certainly, you have encountered people, though, who are intimidated by your message, that, in some way, it puts perhaps their own faith in doubt?

DAWKINS: Well, why would anybody be intimidated by mere words? I mean, neither I, nor any other atheist that I know, ever threatens violence. We never threaten to fly planes into skyscrapers. We never threaten suicide bombs. We’re very gentle people. All we do is use words to talk about things like the cosmos, the origin of the universe, evolution, the origin of life. What’s there to be frightened of in just an opinion?

ZAHN: Final question: How would you characterize the overarching public reaction to atheism?

DAWKINS: Misunderstanding, and really missing an awful lot of what’s valuable, because, if you’re an atheist, you know, you believe this is the only life you’re going to get. It’s a precious life. It’s a beautiful life. It’s something that we should live to the full, to the end of our days, whereas, if you’re religious, and you believe that there’s another life, somehow, that means you don’t live this life to the full, because you think you’re going to get another one.

That’s an awfully negative way to live a life. Being an atheist frees you up to live this life properly, happily, and fully.

ZAHN: Richard Dawkins, we really appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much for joining us.

DAWKINS: Thank you.

This post is not in defense of atheism but rather an insight into its fundamental belief that this life must be lived to the fullest because there is no life after death.

Do you think that an organized religion, with a central theme of asceticism meaning self-denial or self-mortification as requisite for attaining a higher level of spirituality to appease the Creator to ultimately attain that reward of everlasting life in the hereafter contradicts the very reason why we are here on earth? In other words, are we meant to be in this world or are we here simply to suffer and mortify ourselves so we can be rewarded a much better life in a permanent, everlasting world?

The reason I am saying this is I have seen people who have practically given up on life, even to the point of sustaining themselves because of the belief that misery and poverty will take them to heaven. Must Christians live a life of sacrifice and Muslims kill infidels to inherit a life in the hereafter?

I mean really and truly, what is wrong with a religion that encourages you to live life to the fullest, attain your aspirations of enjoying the material rewards of your endeavors and at the same time being given that hope of a life in the hereafter?

Beats atheism doesn’t it? Or is it hypocritical hence impossible?

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41 Responses

  1. For certain, the subject of religion and beliefs are so much harder to debate than any other topic around–it often leads to that unending chicken-and-egg situation and nobody really could pit a stamp on the most right answer to the questions.

    Despite the uncertainties of religious pronouncements, for me it becomes irrelevant as an issue for if we would entirely skid away from the tenets of religion, from the beginning of civilization upto now, there’d be more disarray in the world than as what they are right now. Religion had somewhat given humanity sets of rules and guidelines on the human conduct, like the undesirability of several acts like murder and unfaithfulness. Over the years, despite its many failings, these tenets had put a set of pysche into the human mindset, to do the agreeable and to avoid the disorderly.

    If in atheism, there is merely the pirsuit of happiness or contentment, that could be a very dangerous idea for it subscribe to the conduct where everything is allowable as long as the individual becomes contented or happy as they say.

    And then disorderliness would escalate, and that’s a very bad idea for me.

  2. Major Tom – well said. Not trying to defend atheism here but there is also a saying that over the centuries, wars caused by religion has caused the most number of deaths in the history of civilization.

    I guess my point really is, would the atheist value his life more knowing that the doesn’t have another life in the hereafter?

  3. … because, if you’re an atheist, you know, you believe this is the only life you’re going to get. It’s a precious life. It’s a beautiful life. It’s something that we should live to the full, to the end of our days, whereas, if you’re religious, and you believe that there’s another life, somehow, that means you don’t live this life to the full, because you think you’re going to get another one.

    That’s an awfully negative way to live a life. Being an atheist frees you up to live this life properly, happily, and fully.

    Even in our religion we are asked to live life to the fullest. This is not an exclusive tenet of atheism. So if we have this as our mantra, are we atheist too? <-@ Dawkins hoping he'll read this post. 🙂

  4. I am not one who subscribe to the heaven and hell concept of an afterlife, but I do believe that there are many more afterlives that we will go through for the evolution of our soul. One lifetime, here and now on this planet, just seems — mathematically and spiritually — too short. We all have a purpose for being here, and lucky are those able to recognize and manifest their purpose however mundane or divine.

    Finally, I personally fail to find virtue and piety in pain and sufferring. But then again, I will not condemn those who thrive in it, or who profit from proliferating such mindset; it is their belief and choice.

  5. I sometimes think that there’s no God. There is a higher being, yes, but it’s not Jesus Christ. It can be scary…you know thinking about it. I think it’s because of my orientation…because of what Religion taught me. But if I come to think of it…saying there’s no God doesn’t mean naman I’m going to go kill someone or rob a bank.

    Anyway I feel like I want to say so much because it nags me sometimes. I think everybody goes through a phase where we asked if there is indeed hell or heaven after our life on earth. I personally don’t know the answer. When I was in high school…there is really God and there is really hell and heaven. But now…it seems untrue and questionable already.

    The important thing for me is to live life to the fullest…true 🙂

    Miss you in the blogosphere Big Bro…good you’re back now. 🙂

  6. Well, there is only one way to find out if there really is a hell. Try striking a deal with the devil… 😀

  7. The reason I am saying this is I have seen people who have practically given up on life, even to the point of sustaining themselves because of the belief that misery and poverty will take them to heaven. Must Christians live a life of sacrifice and Muslims kill infidels to inherit a life in the hereafter?

    I’m not the expert here, but the way I understand it, the Bible teaches that “good works will not get you to heaven” and all the “work” was done when Jesus died on the cross as a sacrifice for all men. Hence, Christians can live their lives to the fullest because of this. Heaven then is not a reward, but a gift. Therein lies the difference. 🙂

    Boy, you got back with a pretty heavy topic! Promise that you won’t disappear for long again…hehe.

  8. @ipanema’s comment, my sentiments exactly.
    Mr. Dawkin’s statement seems to generalize that by being religious, we neglect living life to the fullest since we believe that there is life after death. I have a religion and I practice my faith and I defintitely think that I try to live my life to the fullest and follow a good path that I pray will eventually lead me to a good after life. Like anyone, I doubt sometimes and question the reality of it all. But what matters most is I believe there is one Divine Being that I pray to and listens to me.

    I dont condemn the Atheists, they have their reasons, mostly scientific. As long as they do no harm to the society.

  9. bw, I posted this comment on sassy lawyer’s and also in our own site Alimodian.net under an “undercover” handle about my theory (of reasons) of why religion came into being.

    Any one or all of the fol:

    > To raise funds. There were no form of taxations during those days…

    > To organize society into some kind of order..

    > To organize an army for defensive and offensive purposes. Nobody beats the allure of religion to attract recruits even to this day.

    >To continue one’s bloodline throughout. From the father to the son to the great, great grandson..

    And in my recent entry The Holy Profit, we can see sometimes the folly of religion.

    But back to the subject of Atheism, have you notice that there are, by ratio, more atheists in our country than in the U.S.? I’m not sure about this, but that is my gut feelings, and if it’s true then Atheism if tolerated and accepted is not a problem at all.

    Religion as most practice today is somewhat becomes part of our social life, spiritual for some, and the problem only arise when the minority (we call zealots) use them to further their own agenda and interest which has nothing to do with religion, unless we’re talking the “satanic” ones. Me, I just drive my siblings to church and pick them up…

  10. Remember this from Karl Marx:

    “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

  11. Oxford, not Harvard.

  12. Ipanema – you have a valid point.Dawkins might be referring to the state of mind of someone who is deeply religious, who might take this life for granted in view of the promise of a much better one in the next life. Again the folly of this action is IF indeed
    there is NO second life but if THERE IS, then Dawkins is
    wrong !

  13. Eric – I fully respect your opinion. There’s also the
    question of whether God exists within the scope of this
    universe or an entity that is totally external to the
    material universe which then becomes incomprehensible to the human mind.

    As with piety and suffering, I also find no virtue in it
    except the for the extreme show of humility which begs for
    some form of reward.

  14. Verns – I believe everyone in his lifetime had in some way doubted the existence of God. It is not unusual because life isn’t a bed of roses and hopes, expectations and promises don’t always come true. I do believe that there
    is strength in faith – regardless of the religion one subscribes to and it becomes necessary for survival.

  15. Kathy – very well said. What you have illustrated is the brand of Christianity that dispels the atheist position and elucidates the folly of the version of Christianity that espouses pain and suffering to gain favor from the creator.

    In my micro hibernation, I might have been thinking too hard that’s
    why I came up with this post 🙂 Not to worry though, I will refrain from engaging in theological discussions 🙂

  16. Leah – I believe a person needs to have guiding beliefs so he can
    sail through life in a manner that harmonizes with his being. What you said is absolutely true because faith and knowledge are quite different in that faith does not require proof. The most important thing is you have to be comfortable with what you believe in.

  17. Vic – “Me, I just drive my siblings to church and pick them
    up…” LOL 🙂 Canada is quite a liberal country and I’m not surprised if there are more atheists here. I also agree that people aren’t that tolerant to atheists. Remember Svend Robinson, the openly gay member of parliament who was touted to be the future leader of the NDP party? His career went down the gutter when he proposed to remove the word GOD from the preamble of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ( Bill of Rights). His own party disowned him and relegated him to the backbench and his career is basically over. I’m not even sure if he ran again or lost in his riding. The last I heard was he was caught shoplifting in a jewelry store trying to snatch a ring for his boyfriend and I’m not kidding:(

  18. Whatever we might believe, I am pretty sure that some unpleasant bugs will feast on our bodies after our death… 😦

  19. Sidney – that you can take to the bank 🙂 However, there are those who would prefer space burial, where their ashes would be sealed in a cannister floating in space :)Hard core environmentalists eh ?

  20. The reason I am saying this is I have seen people who have practically given up on life, even to the point of sustaining themselves because of the belief that misery and poverty will take them to heaven.

    –> what?!?! no way! it will not bring you to heaven! it could in a way but not if you’ll really put misery into your life.

    even if there’s afterlife or heaven, you still have to live your life to the fullest but within a limit. you should know if it’s still for good or bad. i remember what grissom (csi) saidin the episode that i’ve seen yesterday when the team was debating if it’s the fault of the parents that the children are behaving that way. it’s because of the culture or the surroundings. when people say that you can do anything and if you don’t feel guilt or would not have any conscience so you’ll not feel guilty afterwards. basta! something like that. watch it na lang. hahaha. basta we still have to think of other people.

    and i believe that heaven starts with our life here on earth. the simple pleasures that we receive in life is a glimpse of heaven that we’re going to enjoy. kaya enjoy mo na rin ngayon diba? 🙂

  21. Tin – the images of people who flagellate and crucify themselves on Good Friday, jihadists who blow themselves up in a holy war and people who believe that wealth will corrupt their chances in going to heaven and these include the monks who literally imprison themselves – these are I believe the cases Dawkins referred to as not living life to the fullest.

    In my own opinion, giving up or not doing anything to improve your life believing that the Creator loves those who are oppressed and dispossesed also belongs in the category of not living life to the fullest.

  22. Religion… touchy.

    I’ve always believed that religion is a personal thing… go for what works for you.

    I guess ignorance is why people clash all the time when discussing religion. Case and point… see this what I think is an editted entry of “Agnosticism” on Wikipedia…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

    Live and let live.

  23. Alternati – boy I feel like I’m agnostic with this post with what you said ! But as Paula Zahn said :

    ZAHN: Certainly, you have encountered people, though, who are intimidated by your message, that, in some way, it puts perhaps their own faith in doubt?

    True that because atheism promotes a very simple and direct proposition that there is no God it causes us to re-evaluate our own faith. It is easy enough to understand the no God proposition vs. SOME kind of God that does this and that.

    Live and let live should be the case but considering that religious wars and conflicts had caused the greatest number of deaths in the recorded history of planet earth makes you think that maybe religion is big deal indeed.

  24. You raised quite a touchy topic here for some people but very interesting nevertheless.

    I’ve always thought of respecting people’s beleif and not to enforce your own on them. Like religion Aethism is somewhat also a belief. If people wanna live their life that way and they are happy as long as they don’t step on other people or hurt that. That’s fine by me

  25. bw,

    Svend Robinson was forced to resign pending resolution oo his shoplifting case (yes, a 50 grand ring at an auction for his boyfriend) and he did attempt a comeback last election after completing his sentence, but was soundly defeated..If not for shoplifting, I think he could have never lost his ridings. He was among the longest serving MPs and of course the first openly admitted Gay and the Number One Heckler. He heckled Pres. Reagan during his addressed to the Parliament. Maybe that was the curse of the Lost Ark..

  26. “the condition that distinguishes organisms from inorganic objects and dead organisms, being manifested by growth through metabolism, reproduction, and the power of adaptation to environment through changes originating internally.”

    I am enjoying my stay here on planet earth, co-existing with all the living organisms. I like what we earthlings call reproduction. Live and let live.

    Ya’ll ever wonder what living life to the fullest means to an elephant or a gorilla freely roaming the jungles or a human outside of “society” means?

  27. I don’t know how to react to this, because this topic touches a sensitive part of me.

    My son, whom I raised to be a faithful believer in God, seems to have become a non-believer now. He says he is just a skeptic, though – but even then, what is the difference?

    Am I close minded? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a disappointed mom.

  28. Ferdz- totally agree with the respect for people’s beliefs as long as they don’t harm others. The co-existence of many religions in a given society doesn’t always result in harmonious relationship among the people. One of the natures of religion is exclusivity, i.e. the “chosen people” phenomenon and anyone who does not belong is considered an unbeliever, an outcast or an infidel.

    In a very cosmopolitan city like Toronto or New York where you can people and all sorts of religions from all over the world, the founders of who are mostly of the Judeao-Christian faith, now find that their religious traditions and expressions are threatened by secularism. Political correctness is the rule nowadays. Prayer in schools, swearing to the bible in courts – even saying Merry Xmas are being protested by people of different faiths. Take away the high level of economic prosperity in these cities and everybody will start slitting each other’s throats 

  29. Vic – holy cow, was it a 50 grand ring? That guy must have gone totally nuts with his boyfriend  But you know what – I admired Svend Robinson and I didn’t cxare if her was gay or not. His gayness was never an issue for me. We was a very outspoken, smart and intelligent young politician. If he didn’t play with his no GOD theme in the House of Commons, he could be the NDP party leader today.

  30. Noypetes – very true. Humans being the animals of higher consciousness have freedom to choose their own destiny. Dawkins may not realize that there is such a thing as contentment and what appears to be wasting one’s life to him might be the person’s expression of living in contentment. I am one who also believes that a religion that fosters fear, wrath and retribution instead of love, forgiveness and empowerment prevents one from living life to the fullest .

    Hey, thanks for dropping by 

  31. Rhodora – all I can say is times have truly changed. Religion is often termed as a categorical imperative – something that has to be, handed down from our forefathers and must never be questioned and in the old days people were burned at the stake for question or suggesting anything that might conflict its teachings. Your son at his young age might just be searching for answers right now which is part of his process of aligning and synchronizing himself with the world .

  32. If I’m not mistaken, Mother Theresa and Gandhi espoused self-denial. Yet I assume they were happy and fulfilled when they were still alive. On the contrary, many people lived abundant lives. They ate, drank, traveled and engaged in hedonistic activities but died miserable. I think what’s important is that a person lives a meaningful life. And “meaning” is different from one person to another. So no particular way of living is “ideal”.

  33. Abaniko – absolutely correct. Missionaries and peace corp workers are those that also come to mind. In essence Dawkins is probably generalizing that the rules of religion can be restrictive if people worry more about conformance rather than expressing themselves and finding their full potentials 🙂

  34. Very interesting topic you got here BW. Not exactly new, but certainly enough to fuel an outpouring of rhetorics. LOL! I’ve got nothing against religious people if it rocks their boat as long as they don’t rock mine. The religion as an organization bothers me (it’s history, power, control etc). What Dawkins said are also true – the religious brigade are the most intolerant, and prejudiced kind. I’m not in agreement to his conception though, that Athiests are the most gentle and the happiest of all people. Being miserable is universal: Bible-kisser or basher whatever. I don’t agree though that only the religious books hold a monopoly of moral values – Because it doesn’t mean that agnostics or pagans or athiests for that matter are beasts and savages. There is what we call as civilization. Infidels have done quite a lot of moral codes during the course of history to govern societies no matter how primitive they are. This is when I find the pillars of Churches quite hypocritical. Fundamentalism is the worst kind. I consider myself a pseudo-cynic as I still cross myself before I eat – more of a force of habit or a ritual as I was brought up Catholic, but I have to say, I’m quite critical of just about anything. LOL! And also being cynical is not really that bad. I found out that cynicism also has a proud tradition: Cynic – a member of a group of ancient Greek philosophers who advocated the doctrine that virtue is the only good and that the essence of virtue is self-control.

    Cheerio!

  35. Howling – well said. The question would be – What dictates morals to a person? Is it religion or societal norms? And really, who would like to know if it came from one or the other? So from the naked eye the source is transparent. The atheist and the religious if they both behave are considered well mannered, upright citizens. And as blogger Tin-tin said, our parents and family have a lot to do as to with the kind of person we turn out to be and rightfully so.

    I had an experience of mediating with a couple who are close fiends whose marriage was in the brink of collapse due to the girl’s infidelity. Our other friends were helping in the mediation for about a year and things were stablizing. Let’s just say that the girl had an affair with an unbeliever. THen the unthinkable happened when fundamentalists friends joined the fray and started their holier-than-thou triumphalistic antics. Result – the couple are now divorced and friendships were severed even among the mediators. It was a bad experience personally for me to see how people can be so tunnel minded and impervious of people’s feelings and all taht matters in this world is conformance 😦

    Thanks for dropping by bro 🙂

  36. Atheism bothers me because it means a total disregard to the works of the Creator — in this case, God. How can atheists expain creation?

    As a Bible-believing Christian, I feel I ought to clear some things here. First, Christianity is not a religion; it is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Second, Christianity doesn’t mean one has to live a life of poverty and misery in order to attain eternal life. (I wonder where that theology came from.)

    The Bible is clear on the subject of the so-called “afterlife.” Good works will not ‘save you.’ It is by faith through God’s grace that we receive this special gift of eternal life. And yes, Christians ought to show their faith through good works, but this is another topic.

    And to be a Christian doesn’t mean one has to be ascetic. This poverty mentality common in Christian circles is kinda twisted. If one reads John 10:10, Jesus even said He had come so that people may have life and have it abudantly. Of course, He was speaking about something that goes beyond material wealth; the message has a deeper connotation (spiritual wealth). But this doesn’t mean that poor people are not Christians, and rich people are. That’s not the point. The point is, a true Christian is someone who has Jesus Christ in his/her heart — I know, I know, it sounds corny to many, but this is my conviction — regardless of his/her socio-economic status.

    Real Christians take the higher road to be of service to the One who is “the author and finisher of our faith.” Usually this means using the WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) approach in everything and anything. And if atheists have a problem with how Christians live their life — and they usually do — then I guess that’s their problem.

    We can’t please everybody, especially when discussing matters of spiritual nature.

    At the end of the day, what matters most is the opinion of the One who created the universe and all that’s in it.

  37. Jayred – very well said. My position in this post is from the position of neutrality, to encourage people to speak up. Sometimes our unpleasant experiences from the people who are supposed to guide and influence can shatter our hopes if we are not careful. Moving away from our comfort zone is sometimes necessary to be able to criticize constructively, if possible. I truly appreciate your sharing 🙂

  38. The topic’s too philosophical. Di ko matarok. I guess, like my favorite song goes, in the end, it doesn’t even matter. =)

  39. para sa akin, respect ang kailangan sa kapwa, kahit ano religion niya or atheist pa siya, dapat siguro respetuhin nalang ang paniniwala ng bawat isa.

  40. Jeff – no worries mate. We are all in the same boat and I agree. This post is quite confusing 🙂

  41. Iskoo – tama ka bro. Respeto sa isa’t isa ay ang dapat mangyari. Siguro pwede ko rin idagdag yung
    ” the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak syndrome” dito dahil kahit na sa isipan ng tao ang respeto sa katunayan ang kanilang gawa ay hindi sumasangayon sa kanilang pagiisip 🙂

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