The religious suicide gambit
One of the most objectionable and obscene arguments used by religious apologists is the argument that goes “If you don’t believe in God – why not commit suicide?”
Now I have come across this argument a lot from Christians – the whole idea is that without a God life is without meaning, and thus with it being pointless you may as well end it.
Apart from the fact that not all of us are quite as miserable as these religious people evidently are, and the fact that this is about the only instance in which people argue finite supply equals zero value, this is simply hideous.
I could just as well argue that you should find a priest who will absolve you of all of your sins, and then kill you. While he is putting his soul in peril he is sending yours to eternal paradise.
That sounds rather heroic really now doesn’t it?
Now if you are a Christian, and you are getting all hot and bothered over just how obscene my line of argument is, you know exactly how I feel when somebody uses the suicide gambit on me.
It is counselling death for people for simply disagreeing with you – and that is in itself pretty horrifying. If you do not like it being done to you, then do not do it to others.
And it doesn’t really mean anything. You might think life needs a purpose – but personally I find the idea of purpose unsavoury.
To have purpose is to be a tool, to be a means to an end. We are not tools, we are not the faulty spanners of the gods; we are human beings.
We are products of millions of evolution. We are not flawed creations built to die; we are a species that has evolved to survive.
And life is sweet, even in its sorrows. Life is that sharp intake of breath flooding the senses, the wonder of looking up at stars beyond counting, the taste of water upon the lips, the scent of bread on the wind.
It doesn’t take purpose to make it worth living, the simple experience of it is beyond our greatest imaginings. All our imaginings of immortality are nothing next to the eternity of each changing moment, the infinity of each grain of sand.
Life is often called a veil of tears, but tears signify not simply mourning but also laughter and joy. To counsel an early end to it, to seek oblivion so easily, that is more tragedy than any statement of meaninglessness.
And that I think is something all of us, whatever our view on how the universe began or whether there even is a supernatural, can all agree on.
UPDATE: Responses to the comments
Yes, I actually do read the comments thread.
JonnoB: Bruce, as a Christian I want to apologise that you have ever had that abhorrent and hurtful argument put to you. It stems from a blatant disregard for human life and has no Biblical grounding.
I thank you, but the apology isn't really necessary. My beef in this case is with the argument, I simply say Christians because I have come across it from a few Christians. You are no more responsible for the actions of your fellow believers than I am for the actions of Stalin. While we may disagree on the existence of God, we can argue within a civilised space.
Word2: Actually I beg to differ- it is not a universal truth that tears inevitably are a part of life since they can be found at in joyous and sad moments. The thing is quite often than not tears are associated with the sad occassions in life (death being a part of them) so mush so that the cases in which people cry for being happy can even be regarded as negligent
What? You think people who cry tears of joy or awe are somehow being negligent? Seriously?
Word2: as a result propose that laughter is the thing with which to respond to the various situatitions we are faced (something which we 'christians' also preach often but you so convinienctlhy forget to point out?
<grammar Nazi>Christ is a proper noun. It is actually a sign of major disrespect to leave it uncapped </grammar Nazi>. As to laughter or tears, they aren't exactly mutually exclusive and it isn't exactly up to you how other people express their emotional states.
Word2: Which brings me back to the actual subject, your article seems like just another misguided attempt to jab at peace-loving christian folk so as to articulate your atheist believes or whatever they are and make you feel like you are justified.
Actually it was a request for Christians who use a specific argument which I find distasteful to stop it, complete with my reasons for finding that argument distasteful.
Word2: Moving right along to another of your summations that you "evolved" I pretty much would like to congratulate you on your doubtful achievement but please do not make the generalisation to involve some of us CREATED beings who quite rightfully also have a purpose.
Are you an android? If not, then you are the product of evolution via natural selection just like every other human being.
Word2: While your existence is a per-chance by mistake kind of incident, we were uniquely designed and a 'purpose' given to each of us as tools so we could contribute the environment in which we are living.
The evidence suggests otherwise. For an easy to follow book on the subject that goes into the evidence, check out Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution is True.
Word2: We as tools are supposed to cultivate the earth and bring it to full fruition as well as relating to each other as creation in glorification of our maker. So all the best on your mistaken-existence and supposed immortality although I should be shocked to hear reports of you beig placed in a casket one day since you are "not built to die"......or do you believe in reincarnation of sorts?
Oh, I will die. But here is the thing, I won't spend my life living to die. My time will be short, but it will be my time. And seriously, you see yourself as nothing more than a vanity project? That must be pretty depressing.
Word2: Whats the point of all this? you claim that you do not mean to raise hot blood as you refer to it to christian folk, but you go to great lengths to evoke exactly this reaction in us christians?
I claim no such thing. My argument is against a specific kind of argument I have come across a few times lately, and expressing why I think it is wrong to make such an argument. By creating an equivalent argument from another POV, I am illustrating why this particular argument is unattractive on an emotional level.
As to your claim that the argument is something I made up - if you type into Google "Why don't atheists" - "kill themselves" it is the third autofill option, as you can see with the screen shot I updated this post with. It is a very common argument.