The many flavors of religious belief have caused great suffering through the ages. How many lives have been extinguished in the battle of competing beliefs? How many of our human brothers and sisters have been marginalized, shunned, or despised for simply not measuring up to the standards of some "sacred" script? Horrendous as all this is, in religious belief there lurks a danger far more insidious- the tragedy of lives never fully lived.
A comment from poster Jim Ashby on Ruth Dickson's discussion "How did you arrive at atheism?" inspired this thought. He said that the final destination of atheism is life. What can be said of the majority of religions out there? Isn't it all about things getting better in the next life- be it in Paradise, Heaven, etc.? The premise is that this life isn't the real one- the Bible even says so(1 Timothy 6:19). For many this has been a comfort to cope with the harshness of their lives. But what if they'd realized that this is it? Would they still have given in to the suffering, resigning themselves to it? Some have associated deprivation and victimization with holiness, perhaps even seeking it out subconsciously.
How many have postponed their deepest desires, dreams, passions in the expectation of some future reward? How many have forgone the simplest pleasures of life while slaving for an unseen master that has mercilessly beaten the joy of being out of them?
We positively choose life. Here. Now. It's all we have.