Tomyamaguchi’s Weblog

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How an atheist views the afterlife

I was really moved by Terry Gross’ interview with historian Tony Judt on her Fresh Air program on March 29. Judt, who is now living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, discussed how his disability has affected his work and thinking. I was especially impressed with his comments about death and want to share them here. As I turn 60 years old, I have been giving a lot of thought to the end of life. This is very useful advice for believers and nonbelievers alike.

“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.”

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March 31, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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