Comedian Rita Rudner did a joke that said, "My friend was in labor for 36 hours. I know, I don't even want to do something that feels good for 36 hours." Someone once described eternity in this manner: take a 10 foot diameter solid titanium ball and drop a feather on it every second until the ball is eroded away--this represents one "day" of eternity.
I was discussing religion with my 18 year old son and he said that even if he could get past the bullshit of Christianity he wouldn't *want* to exist for an infinitely long time. I had to agree with him. Even if heaven gave you an earth-like existence with beer, sex, great new books, golf, pro football, all the food you could eat, and all the knowledge you could stand, I don't think I could take it for more than say, a few tens of millions of years. Maybe a billion, tops, if the beer was really cold and the sex really hot. As to sitting around worshipping god...pfffttt, kill me, now. Some of my Christian friends argue that heaven would be just that--eternal basking in the glory of God. The thing is, the christian god is supposedly omni-present so if basking in his glory would be the epitome of great then why, if they have the choice, do all my christian friends go play golf or have sex or go to the movies rather than sit in the living room pretending they're dead, wallowing in the glory of God?
As an atheist I believe that dead is dead. I get to go back to the cosmos from which I came and get recycled as is only right and proper. But, I have to admit, that dead would be for eternity. But it would a dead without awareness so it doesn't sound so bad.
But what about you Christians, you looking forward to being fully aware for the next few trillion, trillion, trillion titanium ball degradations? What do you expect to do all that time? And remember what Rita Rudner said.
Mark, I agree with you. I do not want to live forever and I think the idea of living for eternity is too much for me. But if we do not care about eternity, then arguments from Christians on morality, etc. seem pointless.
It's strange. Eternity is supposed to be the ultimate high, the end-point, the spiritual goal, yet for many theists it is the least thought about aspect of their religion in proportion to its impact on your being and spirit. Eternity is the inevitable erosion of all senses, all sense of proportion, all sense of value or appreciation. It would rapidly cause a complete failure in appraisal of right or wrong - a total lack of morality. It would provoke the exact opposite of what believers "imagine" heaven is or should be when touched on as a pleasant passing thought.
To make heaven palatable, it would require either a) the introduction of regular negative events to provide relief in an otherwise amoral landscape, or b) an effective "reset" of self, at periodic intervals, that implies a loss of self.
Without either of these enforced actions, eternity is your worst nightmare. And in a strange way, it would make Hell seem the better of the two afterlife options.
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The ACA Lecture Series continues Sunday, March 8th at 12:15pm at the Austin History Center, 9th and Guadalupe. The building opens at noon. Ryan Bell will talk on "My Year Without God: Now a Permanent Condition."