"Life moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around every once in a while you could miss it." --Ferris Bueller
People often get so bogged down with the nitty-gritty of life that we often forget to stop and look around. We are moving so fast, that we forget where we are going.
What is life really all about? Many religious believers think that this life is all about getting to the next life. They imagine the reward of an eternal paradise or the threat of eternal torture for those who follow or don't follow (respectively) what they believe to be divine truth -- and many people have different and even contradictory divine truths.
The thought that this life is the only life there is can be pretty scary to some. Some religious believers even ask what the purpose of a short life could be if we know right from the start that we are going to die. But this question is invalid. We go to the movies knowing that the film will end in roughly two hours, but do we ask what the point was in going?
Imagine if every time we went to the movies we just focused on the fact that it will end. What if we feared the end so much that we willingly believed that if we sat in the right seat we would be rewarded with an eternal movie marathon or if we sat in the wrong seat we would be tortured for all eternity with a continuous loop of the most boring art film you could imagine? We would spend the whole two hours looking for the right seat and asking people to move so that we could find the right seat. Wouldn't it be better to just enjoy the roughly two-hour film without dwelling on the fact that the movie will end?
We go to the movies to enjoy the experience. Life is an experience worth enjoying. But what does it mean to enjoy life? I mean really enjoy life. For me (and I suspect for most other people as well), life is best enjoyed with others. We build relationships with others and we get invested in their lives, their hopes and their dreams; just as others often get invested in our lives, hopes and dreams. We have children and we want them to enjoy life too.
But look at ourselves. We are so busy arguing about what will happen at the end of the movie that we aren't paying attention to the movie on the screen in front of us. We need to take a moment to stop and look around. We need to pause and consider what kind of world we want to live in. What kind of world do we want our children and our children's children to live in?
I want my children to live in a world free of religious indoctrination. I want them to live in a world where they aren't discriminated against or looked down upon because they don't believe in ridiculous stories on insufficient evidence. I want them to live in a world where women are treated equally to men and where it doesn't matter if they love someone of the same gender or a different gender as long as the other person loves them back. I want them to live in a world where morality is based on empathy and compassion and not on the alleged whims of an imaginary deity who can't seem to make those whims or even his existence known through evidence.
I wish we lived in a world that valued education over indoctrination. I wish we valued science and critical thinking over ancient superstitions and faith. I dream of a future for the human race in space, exploring the universe. I fear however that we live in a world that would rather be guided by fanciful stories from roughly 2,000 years ago than be inspired by the futuristic science fiction stories of our modern writers.
It seems that people of reason are in short supply these days, and we are vastly outnumbered by people of faith. But those numbers are changing. People are starting to focus more on the film than on their fear of what happens after the credits roll. The younger generation in particular is starting to doubt the existence of deities more and more, and thanks to the Internet, those of us who already reject ancient myths in favor of modernity are better able to communicate with each other and work toward our common values.
Feel free to check out my Atheism 101 Series for frequently asked topics.