Notable and Quotable

Posted by Kendall Harmon

"I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't believe in a single or multiple godhead. I respect people who do, but I don't believe it myself. But there's a big 'but' which enters in here. I am much more conscious than I ever was — for obvious reasons — on what it will mean to people left behind once I'm dead. It won't mean anything for me. But it will mean a lot to them. It's important to them — by which I mean my children or my wife or my very close friends — that some spirit of me is in a positive way present in their lives, in their heads, in their imaginations and so on. So [in] one curious way I've come to believe in the afterlife — as a place where I still have moral responsibilities, just as I do in this life — except that I can only exercise them before I get there. Once I get there, it will be too late. So, no God. No organized religion. But a developing sense that there's something bigger than the world we live in, including after we die, and we have responsibilities in that world."

--European historian Tony Judt in an interview with Terry Gross of NPR

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsSecularism* TheologyEschatology

5 Comments
Posted March 31, 2010 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Truly Robert wrote:

Progressives, it seems, believe that there is a (non-religious) course to human history, culminating in some sort of secular utopia. If so, why do so many of them wish to be remembered, or to have a memorable impact on the lives of future generations? Surely if the course of progress is scientific (in the broad sense) and inevitable, one’s own contribution is unimportant, as it would occur in due course under all circumstances?

How to not get a job in education (or preaching):

Q1. Why do you want to teach (or preach)?
A1. I don’t “want” to teach. It’s just a job, and the sole reason for hiring me is if I do it better than others.

Q2. Uh, all right then. Five years from now, what do you hope your former students (or congregation) will remember about you?
A2. I hope that five years from now, my former students will have forgotten me. It’s about knowledge and behavior, not about me.

March 31, 12:31 pm | [comment link]
2. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

Hey, Tony, dude! I might be wrong. You might be wrong. But if I’m wrong, I’ll never even know it. If you’re wrong, I can guarantee you that your immediate reaction will be “Oh $#|+.” ... or worse. Which way you gonna go, dude? Looks like a no-brainer to me.

March 31, 4:17 pm | [comment link]
3. Mike Bertaut wrote:

“It doesn’t matter what you believe, Charlie Brown, as long as you’re sincere.”
Bishop Linus of Schultz
All Hallow’s Eve
1966

March 31, 4:37 pm | [comment link]
4. justinmartyr wrote:

It sounds like the man is being brutally honest, and even showing some naked humility. May Truth bless him.

March 31, 8:42 pm | [comment link]
5. Sick & Tired of Nuance wrote:

“So, no God. No organized religion. But a developing sense that there’s something bigger than the world we live in, including after we die, and we have responsibilities in that world.”

No, that is not consistent.  Everything is meaningless if there is no God.  The spirit you hope “is in a positive way present in their lives, in their heads, in their imaginations and so on” ends when they end.  Even if they somehow pass it on to the next generation, eventually it all ends.

The sun will burn through its fuel and become a red giant, swallowing the earth and all that was, is, or ever will be, in a great lake of fire…including that “spirit” you think you are passing one into an “afterlife”.  Should mankind somehow manage to escape our solar system and cross the vast distances to settle somewhere else, we have only delayed the inevitable. 

The 2nd law of thermodynamics is unrelenting.  The universe will continue to expand and the energy in it (including that which holds the atoms themselves together) will be converted into useless heat that will continue to radiate outward until it is impossible to be detected…into the infinite void…the maw of time.  Everything that mankind will have ever done will be as if it never happened.  Everything becomes nothing once again and all of our lives were completely pointless.  There won’t be anyone to remember.  There won’t be anything, not even an echo of our passing.

That makes everything that we do now completely absurd and pointless.  To pretend that there is any meaning to anything we do is irrational…it is insane, if there is no God.

So, no, he can’t get away with that warm and fuzzy touchy feely - “gee, there is some part of my spirit that lives on in the memory” stuff.  Without God, there is no meaning to any of this.  There can be no intramural meaning if there is no ultimate meaning…and there is no meaning in a mechanistic universe.  Furthermore, there is no free will, no love, no independent thought.  Everything is just a chemical reaction.  Any notion that it isn’t is insanity…if there is no God.

Face the nothingness of your professed beliefs sir.  If you truly believe there is no God, then embrace the nihilism and have the courage of your convictions to live as you say you believe.  Quit fooling yourself with sentiment.  Nothing of you will ultimately survive and it will be as if you never were.  Blackness is all that is left.

March 31, 11:05 pm | [comment link]
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