This is just something that I’ve been pondering lately. In my mind, I currently have the most rational view of God and the afterlife that a believer in such things can possibly have. Now, I realize that the Dope is ostensibly 99% atheist, a class in which I don’t identify myself, and this topic isn’t meant to be a debate about whether these things actually exist but instead about how they can best be perceived by those who take stock in them. Many Dopers would just as soon say that the only rational way of looking at God and the afterlife is to simply not believe in them, but again, that isn’t my point here.
The fundamental difference between my own beliefs and other hardcore religious perceptions lies in the dichotomy between what I believe and what I know. I’ve talked to a number of religious people over the years who insist beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know that God exists and that an afterlife is awaiting them, leading their lives (presumably in a way that is beneficial for them) with a level of security in the knowledge that there are existential forces out there.
That’s the key. While I believe in God and an afterlife, those people know that such forces exist. Insofar as I know, though, based upon my own life and on the scientific world in which we live, such ideas can’t be proven; I don’t know that God and an afterlife exist, so I live my life knowing that the material universe is all that’s out there. I derive my security from the knowledge that the physical world exists, not an existential one, yet I still strongly believe in those existential forces.
I don’t know (lol). Is there a better way of looking at this?