Before I explain my dilemma I think it is necessary to very briefly explain my current world views.
  • I do not believe in anything. I estimate statistically where required time/effort and available evidence allows and use experiential intuition where it does not.
  • I am an atheist and a physicalist in the strictest sense. (Physicalism, as explained succinctly by Wikipedia, means “a philosophical theory holding that everything which exists is no more extensive than its physical properties”.)

I have been brought up as a protestant Christian and decided to be an atheist at the age of 20. Since then I've struggled with many of the typical issues that young atheists struggle with, but I worked through them. However, I feel that because I was subjected to a predominantly Christian society for so long and during such a critical phase in my life I am now ill-equipped to deal with some of the big questions in life.

One such question is the subject of this discussion: How do we as atheists reconcile our own complexity as human beings with our limited life span? How do we stave off the depression caused by the simultaneous knowledge of our ability to experience and enjoy life so deeply and that of our impending doom? How can we hear about how rovers are driving around on Mars, imagine what it would be like to go there someday, realise that we will never experience it in our lifetime and then deal with the inevitable feelings of missing out on something great?

These feelings may very well be a great contributor to the fact that modern people cling to religion. That is just a theory and I'll leave it up to someone smarter than myself to investigate.

It annoys me greatly when people say “I can die now; I've had a full life”. I personally feel that I'm living with the infinite regret of having to die in the infancy of my mind's lifespan. I'm not in any way saying that there is no enjoyment in life because it is going to end, but that looming sadness that gnaws at me constantly does make it less enjoyable. I also fear that these feelings will only get stronger as I grow older.

I understand that there is currently no cure for death and that this is all just part of the current human condition, but perhaps someone has a different way of looking at it. If you do, please do share. I you don't, but you feel the same way then please do share your feelings or thoughts.