Joy is simple

I’ve sometimes been asked how, as an atheist, I can enjoy life when all I have to look forward to is nothing (i.e. no afterlife). Actually, this sort of question is based on  a fallacy, the truly sad idea that true joy can’t be experienced in this life, but only in some perfect (albeit robotic and choice free) life to come.

I doubt there is anyone who really lives life only in anticipation of an afterlife. Even the most committed religionist sometimes will think about other events as being joyful – perhaps the next visit to the mosque or church, or the marriage of a child etc – so clearly they understand that joy is available, in a very tangible way, in this life. Would you really like to pass up on the birth of your child, or his marriage to be immediately in the afterlife? Maybe some would, but many would not think twice about asking for a stay – this indicates that experience in this life does have some grip over even the most devoted believer.

That being true, the atheist simply extends his (or her, but I happen to be male) understanding of such temporal joy to being the only type of joy worth longing for. I love my life: I enjoy getting up and going to work, I enjoy meeting people, climbing rocks, diving in the beautiful oceans, flying in our incredible aeroplanes to amazing places; I enjoy creating and listening to music, appreciating art, playing with my children and watching them grow up. I enjoy a glass of wine  on the couch while watching home improvement programs with my partner, going to the store and getting groceries, buying shoes and winding up a watch – there is little I consider mundane.

I never for a moment worry about what will happen after I die. Indeed, I know that there is no need for such a worry, I will simply not exist, just as I did not exist before I was born. I sometimes wonder about the process of death itself, and at times that worries me – but that worry is more centered around the possibility of pain, and the ending of this great life that I have lived and the effect that might have on others, but when I die, I will know that I have lived. Lived joyfully, and fully and without regret.

There’s a good article that relates to this subject over at Freethought blogs, which inspired this post.

And, if you’re stuck for sources of joy today, go and have a look at these beautiful books on Typography by Stephen Heller and Lita Talarico. Typography is so much a part of life that we rarely think of it as art, but that’s a mistake, it really is, and has a huge power to provoke a reaction (good or bad) in us, so great as to influence our behavior. That’s why companies spend so much on branding exercises that include testing different typefaces – for instance can you imagine Apple using  a Gothic font?

Up and OUT

Well, it’s been quite a while since I did anything with this site or this blog.

Having just completed my Masters degree at UoL, I’ve got a bit more time to do things that aren’t either work or study related. (And, before you ask…though some of you already did…I’m not planning the PhD any time soon – had enough of study for a while).

So, anyway, I’ve now updated, added some links and set up with a nice new header. Observant readers will notice the lovely scarlet A in the header. Yes, this does mean I am ‘out‘ as an Atheist – no surprise for my regular reader. 🙂

The theme is based on the default Kubrick theme, with some custom CSS to remove (well, ok, hide) the header text and make it clickable.

I’m also blogging regularly over at and for people more interested in my security work than my random (and terribly infrequent) musings and mutterings.

Change we can believe in.

Today we awoke to a world significantly different than the world of yesterday. Today we awoke to a world where the USA finaly came of age. Discarding the uncomfortable past of its childhood, and with it the destructive policies and ideals of its tantrum ridden teenage years, the USA showed that it is ready for change by electing a man of mixed race, with an odd name, a muslim father from an african county and an obvious intelligence sadly lacking in certain past incumbents. I realise that there is much to be done, and no miracles will be forthcoming, but one thing has been given back to the people of the USA, and perhaps to the wider world – hope for the future, and that in itself is a miraculous gift.

As I watched Barack Obama make his declaration speech, I could see that hope rise in the eyes of those watching, and felt it within myself. He no messiah, and indeed, a messiah is not what is needed, but what is needed is a man who is prepared to be the change he wishes to see in the world. There are challeges ahead; his will not be an easy road, but with hope in our hearts, we awoke to a different world. For at least today, there is change I can believe in. Yes…we can.