Monday, February 25, 2019


Suppose you're awaked from sleep by a sound. Say you were dreaming. Only you're not sure if the sound occurred outside the dream or inside the dream. Probably outside.

So you're lying in bed, in that twilight condition where you could either will yourself to get out of bed, become fully awake, or just lie in bed until you drift back to sleep. Maybe you were having a nice dream, and if you fall asleep, the dream will resume. 

Should you prefer reality or fantasy? Atheists frequently act as though we have a duty to face up to reality, no matter what. And all things being equal, I agree, although I don't agree on atheist grounds. 

On the cusp of adolescence, I saw One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1971). It's about a political prisoner in the gulag. Suppose I wake up in a gulag, or POW camp, or concentration camp. I was having a nice dream. Maybe an erotic dream. Or maybe I was dreaming about my family. I have real family, but  I'm cut off. The only chance I have to be with my family is when I dream about them. Sure, that's not real. Wistfully blending memory and imagination. But it's a whole lot better than my grim reality. 

Do I have a duty to embrace my unbearable reality behind the razor wire? Or is it okay for me to continue dreaming about a better life?

Even from a secular standpoint, why shouldn't I prefer my fantasy life in dreams to my grinding, despairing existence in the reality of the gulag, or POW camp, or concentration camp? For that matter, how many disapproving atheists idle away their leisure time on escapist video games? 

Suppose I'm a Christian. If I die in my sleep, I pass from hell on earth to paradise. The dream was the portal to heaven. 

No comments:

Post a Comment