gbryant Let me give you my take. I grew up in a "christian" household. As a child, I voluntarily went to church with my grandmother. As an adolescent, I went to church with my girlfriend. As a young man (17 to ~ 21) I went to church on my own with friends. I constantly saw hypocrisy, so in college...on my own/not for assignment...I started studying the history of religion. Years of doing that lead me to become an Agnostic. Somewhere in my early 30's, I decided to stop sitting on the fence and not worry what people would think and just be "proud" to be an Atheist.
Now, just become I'm an Atheist, does not mean I don't find benefit in religion and/or spirituality. My inherent problem with religion is zealotry. People will often use religion...or anything, for that matter...as an excuse to justify actions, behaviours, and so forth. That being said, having something to look forward to is never a bad thing and I will never EVER bad mouth anyone for wanting/wishing to have an after life. I get that can be scary for some people and if that comforts you, more power to you. My wife and I are our niece and nephew's "God Father"/guardians and, per my sister/brother in-laws request, we will educate them in the Catholic faith and keep them involved in it. Whatever brings you comfort and guidance...as long as you look at it objectively and don't kill, hurt, maim, disparage against people, etc...I am of the opinion that SHOULD be celebrated.
@gbryant I know we're both huge Trekkies. Love it or hate it, remember Voyager's "Sacred Ground" episode? That episode spoke to me when it originally aired, and I still...to this day...continue to think on it. The underlying question being "is science any less of a faith than any belief or religion". While in practice I can say "no...science is not a faith, it's evidence based", philosophically it's not much different. Sometimes anecdotal evidence inspires science. There isn't always data available, and sometimes it involves leaps of logic.
Regardless of our different beliefs, faiths, or whatever you might celebrate...I'm hopeful that we can all just come together and, not just peacefully coexist, but share thoughts and ideas, learn from one another, and celebrate life in as many ways, traditions, etc as humanly possibly. Gardiner, I love ya buddy and I'm super glad you shared this post.