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 IAmAnAtheist » What’s the Point?

What’s the Point?

The below item is part of my "Conversations" series.

A Christian and an atheist watching the news late at night in a dormitory lobby

Pamela: Oh my God — that ‘s horrible! Why did he do that?

Quinn: To protest the Chinese government. They just said that.

Pamela: But why would he set himself on fire?

Quinn: It’s an incredibly dramatic way to make a statement, if nothing else. He’s Buddhist, and I don’t know much about their religion, but I think that they think that the good of the world is more important than their individual needs.

Pamela: Do they believe in Heaven?

Quinn: I don’t think so.

Pamela: Well then no wonder he set himself on fire!

Quinn: What?

Pamela: If you’re not going to get a reward for living right, then what’s the point? Why would you want to go on living if there was no Heaven?

Quinn: I don’t believe in Heaven and I want to go on living.

Pamela: You don’t? I mean, you do? Why?

Quinn: I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in any of that stuff.

Pamela: That’s insane! You really think that when you die you’re just going to stop?

Quinn: Yes.

Pamela: Then why bother with anything? If it’s just going to stop some day, then it’s all pointless, isn’t it?

Quinn: No. If my life is all I have, then it’s the most important thing in the world to me.

Pamela: Why don’t you just sin all the time then if you don’t think there will be any consequences?

Quinn: I do think there will be consequences. People wouldn’t trust me, I would lose the respect of people I care about — those are important things to me.

Pamela: If you do things without anyone finding out, that wouldn’t be a problem though, right? What stops you from lying and sneaking around behind people’s backs?

Quinn: I’d still lose self respect. Let me ask you, if you’re so worried about the afterlife, why did you take your shirt off at the Mayday party and start making out with that girl?

Pamela: You were there; I was drunk. You know that.

Quinn: Did you tell your boyfriend?

Pamela: Are you nuts? No!

Quinn: And you’re not worried about going to Hell for that?

Pamela: We’re all sinful by nature. As a Christian, I know how to make myself right with God, so I do that and I try not to do that kind of thing again. What reason would you have to try and change bad behavior?

Quinn: Self respect. The desire to live a moral life. Being a good person. All that stuff works for me, and I don’t have to worry about my family seeing pictures of me on Facebook.

Pamela: Ouch! Low blow, there. I’m being serious, though. Wouldn’t you like to go to Heaven?

Quinn: Obviously. I’d also like to visit the time of the dinosaurs but that’s not going to happen, either. You want to go to Heaven, right?

Pamela: Yeah! Eternal bliss sounds good to me.

Quinn: Then why don’t you go?

Pamela: I will.

Quinn: I mean right now. Jump out the window. We’re twelve stories up. You could be with God in under a minute.

Pamela: Suicide’s a sin.

Quinn: Didn’t Jesus already pay for your sins?

Pamela: Well, yes.

Quinn: Want me to help you with the window?

Pamela: I’m a Christian so even though I’m forgiven the Holy Spirit turns me away from sin.

Quinn: Except for drunken lesbianism.

Pamela: Why are you being an a-hole about that? I just screwed up. It’s not like suicide.

Quinn: If you wouldn’t commit suicide because it’s a sin, would you be happy if you got killed?

Pamela: Like in a traffic accident?

Quinn: Or murdered by a guy in a dorm lobby.

Pamela: That’s not funny.

Quinn: Sorry. I really do mean the question, though. If you saw that you were about to get into a horrible traffic accident, would part of you be going, "Oh boy, maybe I’ll die and go to Heaven!"

Pamela: Yes. I think so.

Quinn: Then would you try to stop yourself from avoiding the accident?

Pamela: That would be the same as suicide, wouldn’t it?

Quinn: You’re probably right. If the accident didn’t kill you, would you want your family not to have the doctors take extraordinary measures to keep you alive? For example, have you told them that you wouldn’t want blood transfusions or CPR? That wouldn’t be suicide, because you’d just be asking to let nature take its course.

Pamela: Of course I’d want the doctors to try and save me. I don’t want to die.

Quinn: Why not?

Pamela: I’ve got tons to live for! My friends, my family, things I want to do — lots of things.

Quinn: And those things are better than Heaven?

Pamela: No, but I’ll never have another chance to be alive so I want to make the most of it.

Quinn: If you were poor would you put off turning in a winning lottery ticket until you’d thoroughly taken advantage of the opportunity to be starving and destitute?

Pamela: Of course not. It’s not the same thing.

Quinn: Because Heaven’s not much better than life?

Pamela: It’s infinitely better!

Quinn: Then I think you really should be trying harder to get there. Maybe you should start smoking?

Pamela: Oh, go to Hell.


If you have a conversation that you’d like me to consider publishing on this blog or in an upcoming book, please see the conversation guidelines.

Posted on September 11, 2013 at 9:22 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Conversations

One Response

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  1. Written by Joakim Rosqvist
    on September 12, 2013 at 4:20 am
    Reply · Permalink

    “You really think that when you die you’re just going to stop?”

    There are many kinds of “you” to consider –

    * The physical body
    * Every one of those ~30000 that built the body
    * The combination of genes from the human gene pool that exist only in one particular body
    * One’s influence on the rest of the world – memories in other people’s minds, things done & constructed
    * One’s conciousness

    Some of these ares stopped by death, others not.

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