There’s a kind of selfish appeal to perpetuating oneself forever, but from the perspective of a population, such individuals have an analog: they are cancers. That’s exactly what a cancer is: a unit of the organism, a liver cell or skin cell, that has successfully shed the governors on its mortality and achieved immortality…and grows selfishly, at the expense of the organism.
From Pharyngula, via the Dish
On Sunday, Andrew Sullivan quoted this from an essay by Jennifer Fulwiler about becoming Catholic:
If everything that we call heroism and glory, and all the significance of all great human achievements, can be reduced to some neurons firing in the human brain, then it’s all destined to be extinguished at death. And considering that the entire span of homo sapiens’ existence on earth wouldn’t even amount to a blip on the radar screen of a 5-billion-year-old universe, it seemed silly to pretend like the 60-odd-year life of some random organism on one of trillions of planets was something special.
This is a woman who was an atheist until she married a Christian and had a baby. She was always racked with worry about the meaninglessness of life, so she read some Christian books and decided their standard arguments for Christianity were good enough for her.
Then yesterday, I read this post from Matt Haughey. He has a benign brain tumor and recently lost his mom to cancer.
I feel like the tumor scare has taught me to appreciate all the people, experiences, and things in my life and I’ve done my best to live a fuller life while I can. In 2012 I’m going to be doing a lot of things I’ve always wanted to do, and they will mostly involve travel to places all over the world (planning on Hawaii, New Zealand, Belgium, Yosemite, Italy, all in the first six months). A tumor taught me that life can be brutal and short and to relish our time here.
Of all the ways to demolish Fulwiler’s arguments against atheism — and most of them are pretty lame, if you read the whole article — I think this nails it best. If you can’t handle that a lifetime is all you get and that, yes, eventually your accomplishments will be washed away by the vastness of space and time, then I think you ask for too much.
I haven’t gone to a better place, or a worse one. I haven’t gone anyplace, because Derek doesn’t exist anymore. As soon as my body stopped functioning, and the neurons in my brain ceased firing, I made a remarkable transformation: from a living organism to a corpse, like a flower or a mouse that didn’t make it through a particularly frosty night. The evidence is clear that once I died, it was over.
From a heart-breaking, poignant, and clear-eyed final post on Derek K. Miller’s blog.
Donald Douglas at American Power read Elizabeth Edwards’ statement on ending her cancer treatment and found it very interesting that she didn’t talk about God. When people who are dying neglect to give a shout-out to the man upstairs, it is nihilism.
Clearly Elizabeth Edwards wants to put her faith in something, be it hope or strength or anything. But not God. I wonder if it’s just bitterness, that’s she’s been forsaken by more than just her estranged husband — that’s she’s been forsaken by Him. And imagine if she’d have become First Lady. Americans generally expect outward expressions of faith in our presidents, Christian faith especially, and thus in our First Ladies as well. The Democratic base obviously doesn’t care, as we can see in the “wow factor” expressed by the author at the American Prospect. Being anti-religion is cool, so Edwards’ non-theological theology gets props from the neo-communists. Still, at her death bed and giving what most folks are calling a final goodbye, Elizabeth Edwards couldn’t find it somewhere down deep to ask for His blessings as she prepares for the hereafter? I guess that nihilism I’ve been discussing reaches up higher into the hard-left precincts than I thought.
Because when Poochie isn’t on screen, all the other characters should be asking, “Hey, where’s Poochie?”