Why don't you commit suicide right now?

If God doesn’t exist and we are all random chance accidents, then life has no meaning or purpose. Let me be more specific. If God doesn’t exist, then YOUR life has no meaning or purpose and when you die it’s like you never existed. Why then do you continue living?

Please, don’t give me the “help humanity” stuff, because eventually, if there is no God, there will be no planet earth (therefore there will be no humans on planet earth).

Posted: October 10th 2010


My answer will probably be in the minority… but I empathize with your point. Many people, some noted philosophers included, have empathized with that point. When I lost my beliefs, I too came to empathize with it.

Killing yourself is a remarkably hard decision. In the end, living is often the easier pick. The idea of killing myself scared me more than the idea of continuing to live, so here I am.

There is always a chance that life has a point. We don’t know everything about existence, by any stretch. I enjoy continuing to look for answers to the big questions, and I am not going to place a bet on them by ending my life just yet.

However, for people who are 100% confident that life is meaningless, that death will erase everything, and yet aren’t much affected by it… I figure they’re busy enjoying things. Eat this food, build that shed, look forward to that movie, post this comment—not everyone needs a philosophical justification for living. I’d venture that most people are just looking forward to the next thing.

These days I mostly push this question aside. If it turns out that there was no reason to live, at the end of it, I will not be any worse off for having suppressed it. There’s nothing any of us can do about the issue.

The fear of death was not enough to prop up my belief in Christianity. I tried as hard as I could to keep on believing, but it bottomed out on me anyway. Besides, when I was a Christian I used to lie awake thinking about what the point of living forever in heaven was—and I used to lie awake worried about the people who would suffer forever in hell. I found that thinking intensely about metaphysical issues only ever led to anxiety, no matter what I believed.

Posted: January 4th 2013

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Dave Hitt www

One of the coolest things about being an atheist is getting to answer the question “what is the meaning of life” ourselves instead of relying on religious charlatans for the answer.

What makes it so great is that we get to choose our meaning, our purpose. We can choose as many purposes as we want, and change them as our situations change and our experience and wisdom grows.

Theists, on the other hand, have the purpose chosen for them. They’re here to please a narcissistic sky daddy, who will reward them if they please him and punish them if they don’t. They’re little more than trained monkeys dancing to the whims of a cruel organ grinder. Hey, if that makes someone happy, good for them, but I prefer the rich possibilities that come making my own decisions.

Posted: October 18th 2010

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Reed Braden www

Why don’t you kill yourself? I believe that when my life ends, it ends. You believe that you’re going to go to an amazing, eternal paradise after you die. I’m going to do all that I can to survive as long as I can since nothing exists after death. However, it seems that you should be the one spiking the kool-aid since you believe that after you die, life gets so much better.

Posted: October 16th 2010

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Blaise www

Not to put too fine a point on it, but as a believer, if gods don’t exist, then YOUR life has been a waste, because you’ve spent so much of it in meaningless pursuits and moralistic self-deprivation. The non-believer, on the other hand, has had the opportunity to put all of their time to good use (whether or not they have actually done so).

Posted: October 12th 2010

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SmartLX www

Beethoven’s dead. Is it as if Beethoven never existed? Or Einstein? Or Columbus? No. What we achieve in life, even if it’s not permanent, can last for a good long while after we die. We have legacies.

I have one life in total, and the fact that it’s impermanent is no reason to end it. It’s a reason to prolong it as much as I possibly can. Everything I can achieve must be squeezed into that one life.

On the other hand, you believe you have a much better life coming afterwards. The only reason you don’t commit suicide right now and go straight there is that God apparently has a purpose for you and won’t let you into the better place unless you stay here and serve that purpose. In other words, this life is worth far less to you than it is to an atheist. It’s merely something to be endured. (If that’s wrong, and you’re not simply aching to kill yourself right now but for your obligation to God, consider whether the other reasons why you value your mortal life wouldn’t also apply to an atheist.)

It actually makes sense that you don’t currently see what life has to offer atheists. You make the mistake of imagining that atheists in fact have a theistic worldview, but with a god-shaped hole cut out of it. By your reasoning, atheists think the good life won’t happen and all we have is the bad life. Things look different from the ground up to an atheist: this isn’t the bad life, it’s the life.

Posted: October 12th 2010

See all questions answered by SmartLX


Well, to be clear, by your argument, if god doesn’t exist, then YOUR life also has no meaning or purpose, and whatever our respective beliefs are, either God exists or God doesn’t exist. Perhaps it might be useful for you to consider that.

Your assertion that (assuming I’m right about God not existing) my life has no purpose is a pretty rude and arrogant assertion. I don’t spend my time trying to tell you where you should find meaning in life, and I don’t really appreciate you telling me what I should find important.

The meaning of life is what you make of it. Yes, it’s all temporary, but in my mind that makes it precious.

I’m not sure the typical theist beliefs help much here. What is your purpose in life? Is it to serve god, to follow god’s plan? Seems like a pretty empty life, without a lot of self determination. And when you get to heaven (assuming your religion has a heaven), what is the purpose of heaven? What do you do there? Just exist, forever?

Posted: October 11th 2010

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flagellant www

Your suggestion that an atheist’s life has no meaning or purpose because we neither believe in god(s) nor, implicitly, in an afterlife is a classic piece of biased apperception. Or, in blunter language: you don’t know what you’re talking about. You seem to have everything the wrong way round: most atheists, for whom this life is the only one, are more attached to life than believers. In fact, atheists value life more highly than the religiosi who have something to which to look forward. If you believe in an 'afterlife’ you can afford to be more cavalier about your earthly existence: heavenly forgiveness and all that garbage. If you’re an atheist, you can’t buy indulgences.

In the light of your belief, consider this serious question: Why don’t you commit suicide? It is far more logical that you should do it because (you believe) you have an afterlife to go to, something/somewhere much better than the here-and-now. It is a feature of religious belief – e.g for suicide bombers – that to kill oneself in a good cause is a sure way to get to paradise. (And, just as a matter of fact, how many suicide bombers kill themselves in the name of atheism, eh?) But isn’t it also tenable to argue that, for a believer, it’s worth committing suicide to get to heaven a bit earlier? Surely, you don’t think it’s sinful to kill yourself to get to heaven more quickly? Don’t you really think, rather like us, that the concept of an afterlife is totally ridiculous? Are you willing to risk it yourself, and find out? I wouldn’t mind betting that you’d wake up 100% d-e-d.

Long ago, as part of concluding that death is final and that there’s nothing afterwards, I realised how precious life is. I love life with all its variety: the beauty of our spaceship planet, art, science, love, and, of course, mortality. I know that life is finite and that there is nothing beyond. I don’t want to die, but I have accepted that no-one is immortal; so I don’t need a comfort blanket.

There is one time where I might consider suicide as a possibility for me. That would be if I were incurably, terminally ill, suffering unalleviable, excruciating pain. And if I were unable to take the necessary steps, I would like someone close to help me on my way.

But, for the moment, I am fit and healthy, patched up by brilliant medical science. I am still able to enjoy life to the full, and I want it to stay that way, for as long as possible. Part of my enjoyment comes from putting people right about atheism. I simply insist that supernatural beings are figments of deluded, hopeful imaginings. And the idea of life after death, however comforting, is ridiculous.

So, unlike you, I don’t need superstitious nonsense to give my life value and I pity people who have yet to outgrow their pacifiers and comfort blankets. How about starting to question the very basis of your faith? It is rather more rewarding than sniping at individual atheists who have given up following the herd.

Posted: October 11th 2010

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Leeta www

You should read “The Selfish Gene” by Richard Dawkins.

All living things have a compulsion to live in order to pass down their genetic material. This is how natural selection ensures the fittest survive.

In other words, it is because of evolution we are the way we are, and on the genetic level, that is precisely our purpose: to live. So there is actually a scientific reason human beings are not naturally suicidal, as all living things. Because we are the only animals to also be self-aware (i.e., be aware of our own mortality), we also have a compulsion to try to create a “reason” to be alive that is not scientific. Enter, religion. But as I said, there is a genetic and evolutionary reason we all WANT to live and survive. It is very natural.

What I would like to know is why religious people don’t commit suicide? The only purpose to their lives seems to be what happens AFTER death? I suppose some religions have included a clever clause making suicide “evil”, causing punishment rather than reward after death, but some religions don’t. At the very least, religious people should at least not try to avoid their own death (with medicine and seat belts and all that), and just allow it to happen when it does, right?

“Helping humanity” is also a product of evolution, as even animals “help” each other survive. So really, I think evolution answers all of your questions and I encourage you to learn more about it.

Also, there is nothing random or accidental about why you are here as a human being. Evolution is in fact, quite deliberate.

I hope this has been helpful.

Posted: October 11th 2010

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I want to live. It is that simple. You can see this focus on wanting to live in babies who are de facto atheists showing our drive to live is present without god belief.

I was privileged to watch a show dealing with severely handicapped people, with malformed limbs, deafness, blindness from birth, and the vigor in which those babies tried to move and respond to stimulus was pronounced. Several innovative solutions (which became standard practice for related ailments) were developed to enable those babies to grow and flourish, eventually some married and had healthy kids.

If you think your life is tough, think again, and yet these adults, still handicapped, have not only contributed to making others’ lives better and have productive working lives as artists, writers, etc., they are not religious. Why don’t you ask those folks why they want to live also?

How sad that some can only entertain a desire to live because of god belief. It is as sad as people who think they can’t be moral without god belief.

Posted: October 11th 2010

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Stefan www

You say eventually there will be no planet Earth – that’s correct. But that is a long way into the future. Look at how much our understanding and technology has changed in the last 100 years. Can you imagine where we will be in a million years? In a billion years? I can’t.

What we can do however is work in the right direction. You know, the “help humanity stuff”. Essentially, life is more than just humans. Again, it’s impossible to predict what will happen, but as long as life exists it will keep changing. It could be that we just get better and better technology, it could be that we develop machines smarter than ourselves or maybe we just keep slowly evolving and changing as a species.

Whichever exact path life takes nobody can predict, but to me there is a trend towards complexity, perhaps even a certain kind of beauty. The world progressed from pure energy to elements to planets to complex chemistry to life to intelligence. Why should we assume intelligence is the end? Isn’t it more likely that intelligent life is just another stepping stone to something even more special? Maybe when we understand physical reality, we will eventually be able to not only leave this particular planet, but even look beyond we now consider the visible universe, just like our ancestors thought the world was flat, yet there we are, circling the globe with ships and planes and satellites.

When I look far into the future I don’t see a dead planet Earth, instead I see a whole universe bustling with life, beings and events that we can’t even conceive of, just like a cow cannot understand the Internet you and I are using right now.

The reason I don’t commit suicide is because I have only one chance to be part of the history of whatever comes after us. It’s not a big contribution, I probably won’t be the next great scientist or the next great leader, but there is something to be said for making a contribution nonetheless. And that’s where I disagree with you, I think our world today is barely the tip of the iceberg of what humanity and life itself is able to achieve. My friend, we’re just gettin’ started.

Posted: October 11th 2010

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brian thomson www

Looking at your statement from a different angle: when you put your faith in a single thing (“God”), you are “putting your eggs in one basket”, so to speak. That looks to me like a “brittle” worldview, one that is fragile and might not survive the vicissitudes of real life.

Bad things happen to good people: this is a fact of life. You may fall ill, or a child may die at a young age, for no obvious reason. How do you expect to survive when the one thing in which you placed all your faith lets you down when you need it most, as it inevitably will? This may explain why we see religious people resorting to some twisted and broken logic to explain the trials of life in the only terms they understand: religious terms. “God moves in mysterious ways” ... “she’s gone to a better place” ... “these things are sent to try us” ... and so on.

But, if you look at what’s actually happening in the real world, you can see what has changed from the Dark Ages, when religious explanations were almost all people had. Infant mortality rates have dropped dramatically, and many serious illnesses are responding to treatment. The “ways” are not so “mysterious” any more, and neither are they “God’s ways”. I personally have a major medical condition, but I am receiving beneficial treatment of a form that was not possible even ten years ago.

Using the Internet, I can post here, keep on top of what’s happening in the world, and stay in touch with friends on the other side of the world at almost no cost. I live in amazing times, and I am glad to be here – and your “God” deserves no credit for any of it. Yet, just because I don’t need your “God” to give my life meaning and purpose, I have no other reason to live? Hardly: I don’t miss the absence of something that, in all likelihood, was never really there.

As for your statement that “if there is no God, there will be no planet earth”: I have nothing to say to that but “O RLY?”

Posted: October 11th 2010

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bitbutter www

I don’t commit suicide because I enjoy life.

Theists often express the odd belief that because something isn’t eternal, it’s worthless. I’d like to use an analogy that I’ve heard often, that I think is very appropriate to the question:

Think of the most delicious meal you ever enjoyed. It didn’t last forever. Does that mean there was no point in eating it?

Posted: October 11th 2010

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