After considerable thinking and reading the definitions again, I'm at the point where I would rather not define myself with the term Atheist, because although I'm sure there are no Gods, I'm also sure there is no life after death or anything supernatural, things that the definition of Atheist seems to allow.
I now think the term that best describes me is "Scientific Realist".
Probably my favorite quotes is: "I have a personal relationship with reality."
I may be playing with semantics here because of having faith, hope, and belief being shoved down my throat for so many years, but I now don't BELIEVE anything. I ACCEPT as true only those things science has proven to be true beyond any reasonable doubt, by the accumulation of enough evidence. Scientific evidence is the only thing I trust.
I cannot trust my desires and feelings, as they can be very easily manipulated by others, as well as by myself. Even my reason and logic can lead me astray if I don't check them with good scientific evidence. Perhaps those could be called beliefs, however, there seems to be enough evidence to be fairly certain of those conclusions.
I do have theories, based on logic and reason, but I don't allow myself to become attached to them in a dogmatic fashion anymore. Generally, I also do not HOPE for them to be true. I just accept what can be proven to be true.
I see no scientific evidence for an afterlife in the religious sense. That being said, I do find it interesting to ponder immortality. So, for what it's worth, here are my theories on the subject so far:
To me, it seems quite reasonable to think that immortality will be accomplished by humans themselves. My guess is we will accomplish it in about 100 years. We will probably create artificial bodies that are much better than these fantastic but imperfect bodies that came about through evolution.
An artificial brain will probably be the last thing we invent. It may take considerably more than 100 years, however when we do accomplish it, we will be close to being immortal. We could then store all our personal knowledge and memories in several safe places, periodically backing them up, and if something happens that destroys us, we could be resurrected by friends, or machines we’ve programmed to do the job.
The second possibility I see, is that before we do it ourselves, an advanced race from another planet will contact us and show us how to do it. With the vast distances between suns, this scenario is the least likely.
I think it possible that we could start making some people immortal in as little as 20 years, if medical advancements continue at an accelerated pace. In 20 years, we could advance enough to prolong most peoples lives another 20 years, then another 40, and etc, until we live forever.
I will probably be dead in 20 years, so I won’t get to see my theory realized (“Missed it by that much!”), but since I left religion behind, I don’t fear death anymore. I’m sure death will bring an end to worry and suffering because I will cease to exist. I like what Mark Twain said: "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."
I do feel a little sad that I won’t live forever. That’s probably because a desire to live has developed in me by natural selection.
I would also love to see my version of the next life because it would be greatly satisfying to see religion die quickly when humans have mastered immortality and have learned how to resurrect themselves without any help from a “God”.
I agree with you. I don't believe in any kind of loving, caring, or anthropomorphized god. I guess as far as that goes, that makes me an atheist. However, I'm not willing to put a blanket statement out there saying that there isn't some form of existence after the death of this body. I've found that when I have made references to this possibility, other atheists have gotten pretty upset about it. they've told me that I am not an atheist, that I am more along the lines of agnostic. Well, just because I haven't ruled out the possibility of some form of existence after this life does not mean that I believe in a god. They are not mutually exclusive. As far as I see it, I am still an atheist. I'm a little bugged because it kind of feels like I'm not accepted among "my own." It's left me jaded and a little bitter.
You're definitely not alone in your views...and you CERTAINLY don't need any sense beat into you. ;)