B: Ya know…despite the fact that a large number of atheists may think of believers as being naïve in thinking that there is a God, I would say that rather atheism, actually, is an extremely naïve way of approaching life. My rationale behind this has a lot to do with the concept of the infinite. Just to remind you, a simple definition of what one means by “infinite,” or “eternal,” is something that never ends.
To put this in perspective, consider the fact that we live for no more than about a hundred years in this life. One might live a few more years beyond that. But probably not, say, a thousand. And certainly not a million 1. The respective proportions that result when comparing our own lifespan to these other time frames become more negligible the larger the time frame is. In other words, our very lives become virtually nothing, or no more than “infinitesimal,” when compared to the eternity the Universe appears to be experiencing.
Suppose that during our lives we do whatever it is we want to do, without regard to whether there is a God, or whether there is another life after this one. How much good is that kind of life going to give us a thousand years down the road? Or a million? Or a billion? Yeah: not much. So what good does not believing in God do anyone, if it’s all just going to melt away into nothingness as the millennia keep piling on?
In mathematical notation,
where is an upper bound on a person’s lifespan (which must exist due to the finiteness of our lives), and the expression → represents time progressing throughout eternity. One might consider this a mathematical “proof” of the insignificance of things in this life which have no effect on the next.
A: …if one wanted to be absurdly silly about it, yes. Aren’t you once again stating something that everybody knows?
B: Per’aps, but most atheists apparently don’t want to think about it. While there would be, in essence, no profit to living as though our actions have no consequences, there seem to be far too many who live in this very way. It’s as if they think they’re going to live forever, or that the way things are presently is the way they will always be. If that’s not naïveté, I don’t know what is.
You’ll notice here that I’m not saying that anybody has to belong to a certain church, religion, or denomination. What I’m saying is: for your own good, think about doing something to be prepared for life after death, before you find yourself regretting all the decisions you made while naïvely believing that your life would never end.
A: “For (my) own good?” I’ll decide what’s good for me, buddy, thank you very much. Get off me. Besides, how could I possibly be held responsible for my actions in the next life by a just God, if I never knew what I was supposed to be doing while I was living here?
What can we do but live according to what we know and believe?
B: A valid point. Of course God couldn’t be a very fair One if He would expect us to keep laws we know nothing about. But I would venture to claim that everybody knows, to some degree, the basics of what’s good or not. Everybody knows it’s bad, for instance, to murder, to steal, to hate, and so on. Even when they try to rationalize doing something, they still know within their heart of hearts that it’s wrong. Some atheists may want to claim that they don’t truly know, to the point of irrefutable proof, what’s wrong and what isn’t, but they know it well enough, like everybody else, to live according to it. They may not know all the laws that God wants them to obey, but a just God would still be able to hold people accountable, according to whatever knowledge they did possess.
Besides, it may depend a bit on what God’s purpose for our lives actually is. It may be that He doesn’t want us to know, at least at the outset of our lives. He may want us to live by faith, as suggested in the Bible, and to make an effort to come to know truth as we progress through life. It’s not an easy thing, but I think it would be clear to just about anybody “of age” that life is not supposed to be easy.
- Indeed, remember the adage “no one can live for a million years” (attr. to a six-year-old, ca. 1984). ↩