I want to get some facts straight.
(1) Every living entity dies.
(2) This includes humans.
(3) So you, I, and everybody else will die.
(4) There is no solid evidence of life after death.
(5) Yet religions claim there's an afterlife.
It's difficult to see how anybody could disagree with 1-3 and 5. Plus, 4 is almost indisputable, since any evidence of life after death is extremely tenuous, unscientific, and open to dispute.
This shrugging is obvious by the actions of those who refuse to wear a mask even though this saves lives, and by politicians who refuse to promote public health measures needed to slow the spread of the pandemic.
The United States has 4% of the world's population and 19% of the COVID-19 deaths. Something is different in this country. Something is wrong with this country.
One possibility is our individualism. Americans don't like to be told that they need to do something for the common good. Another possibility is that we have deeply polarized politics, with soon-to-be ex-president Trump a notorious liar about everything, including how to combat the coronavirus.
But there's something else to think about. The United States is one of the most religious wealthy countries.
In fact, Americans pray more often, are more likely to attend weekly religious services and ascribe higher importance to faith in their lives than adults in other wealthy, Western democracies, such as Canada, Australia and most European states, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
For instance, more than half of American adults (55%) say they pray daily, compared with 25% in Canada, 18% in Australia and 6% in Great Britain. (The average European country stands at 22%.) Actually, when it comes to their prayer habits, Americans are more like people in many poorer, developing nations – including South Africa (52%), Bangladesh (57%) and Bolivia (56%) – than people in richer countries.
I suspect that religiosity is a reason lots of Americans are so uncaring of 266,000 fellow citizens dying from COVID-19. A belief in an afterlife cheapens the value of this current life.
Often religious believers say of someone who has died, "Now they're in a better place." Of course, they don't know that. They have no reason for saying that other than blind faith. Yet the fantasy of an afterlife is exceedingly common.
It's debatable, though, how many religious people truly believe they will live again after they die. If they genuinely felt death would leave them in a better place, why wouldn't religious believers kill themselves, along with their loved ones?
In a science fiction book I read a long time ago about a planet, Riverworld, one of the characters learned that after he was killed, he'd pop up again at a different place on the massive river that dominated the planet. So he sought death, since that was how he was going to be able to get closer to the headwaters of the river.
This fictional man had direct evidence of life after death. Religious believers don't, which explains why they're reluctant to die prematurely.
Yet because they want to believe in an afterlife, religious believers act in contradictory ways. They cling to their own life, yet often are uncaring when it comes to the death of others -- like the 266,000 who have died from COVID-19.
They apparently consider that because eternity in heaven (or hell) is so, well, long, it hardly matters whether someone's life is cut short by a disease.
So millions of supposedly "pro-life" Americans refuse to wear a mask, physically distance, or give up a Thanksgiving dinner with a bunch of people sitting around a table, potentially spreading the coronavirus at the same time they're saying "pass the mashed potatoes."
Meanwhile, scientifically-minded atheists like me are doing everything possible to keep ourselves safe, along with keeping other people safe by following public health orders.
Looks like atheism is pro-life, while religious belief is anti-life.