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Alan Rothwell

What is the meaning of life?

Religious Affiliation: No response

Date Submitted: August 6, 2018

Date of Birth: February 9, 1937

My mother use to say, “You never know what to believe, do you?”  It was an expression of her bewilderment in the face of the many creeds, religious and political that she encountered as well as the local tittle-tattle.  Then, one day, long after her death, I came to see her observation not just as a result of confusion but also as a profound truth.  You never do know what to believe, do you?  I decided to see if it were possible to give up the practice of believing altogether and to form my opinions and direct my actions purely on what I know and what I don’t know.  I can now report that it can be done and that the results are wholly beneficial.  Apply it, for example, to the question, “Does God exist?”  The truth is that, no matter what anyone may believe, no one knows.  I don’t know and, forgive me, neither do you.  Richard Dawkins doesn’t know and neither does the Pope.  Leading from that, we can ask the question, “Do we survive death?”  Well, either we do or we don’t and nobody knows which.  The believer’s belief and the atheist’s non-belief lead them to opposing definite answers whereas, in truth, there are no definite answers.  At death, we each are facing either oblivion or a new adventure and we won’t know which until it happens.  The answer lies in the future, which, as Yogi Berra pointed out, is notoriously unpredictable.  This way of looking at the important questions of life as brought me a great feeling of relief and a huge reduction in fear.  Brought on, at least partly, by the realization that I experience oblivion every night.

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