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exist on borrowed time

To live or exist in a temporary and/or tenuous position, which may come to an end suddenly and abruptly. The small aboriginal population has been existing on borrowed time since the invaders began colonizing their land. Accidents and disease can strike so unexpectedly that it feels like we're all existing on borrowed time.
See also: borrow, exist, time

If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him.

Prov. People need a deity to worship. (This is an English translation of a quote from Voltaire. It is often parodied, using a person's name instead of God and implying that the person is somehow necessary.) The atheist tried to convince Jerry that God does not exist, and that people should not waste their time worshiping Him. "But you can't stop people from worshiping God," Jerry replied. "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him." The unscrupulous mayor was such a convenient scapegoat for the city's problems that if she had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent her.
See also: did, god, if, invent, necessary, not
References in classic literature ?
But the perceptible surely exists before perception; for fire and water and such elements, out of which the animal is itself composed, exist before the animal is an animal at all, and before perception.
Sometimes, however, reciprocity of correlation does not appear to exist.
Nothing that has life, either animal or vegetable as we know them, can exist without air, and it follows that nothing having life, according to our views of it, can exist in the moon:--or, if any thing having life do exist there, it must be under such modifications of all our known facts, as to amount to something like other principles of being.
He exists for the state, but the state does not exist for him.
The theory of politics which has possessed the mind of men, and which they have expressed the best they could in their laws and in their revolutions, considers persons and property as the two objects for whose protection government exists.
With regard to the number of large quadrupeds, there certainly exists no quarter of the globe which will bear comparison with Southern Africa.
Notwithstanding this, let us assure our sweet friend and the sister arts of imitation that if she will only prove her title to exist in a well-ordered State we shall be delighted to receive her--we are very conscious of her charms; but we may not on that account betray the truth.
There are various problems as to how we can be conscious now of what no longer exists.
Vernon, which had reached me, in common with the world in general, and gained my entire belief before I saw you, but which you, by the exertion of your perverted abilities, had made me resolved to disallow, have been unanswerably proved to me; nay more, I am assured that a connection, of which I had never before entertained a thought, has for some time existed, and still continues to exist, between you and the man whose family you robbed of its peace in return for the hospitality with which you were received into it; that you have corresponded with him ever since your leaving Langford; not with his wife, but with him, and that he now visits you every day.
A snake who could make himself comfortable in a quagmire, a hundred feet deep, would be protected on the outskirts by such stupendous morasses as now no longer exist, or which, if they exist anywhere at all, can be on very few places on the earth's surface.
I feel that I cannot vanish, since nothing vanishes in this world, but that I shall always exist and always have existed.
But let us suppose that cavities exist in this otherwise universal medium, as caverns exist in the earth, or cells in a Swiss cheese.
Hence the supposed aboriginal stocks must either still exist in the countries where they were originally domesticated, and yet be unknown to ornithologists; and this, considering their size, habits, and remarkable characters, seems very improbable; or they must have become extinct in the wild state.
But," says he, "if by honour you mean the true natural beauty of virtue, I will maintain it may exist independent of any religion whatever.
Torn in her own lifetime from the list of the living, the daughter of Philip Fairlie and the wife of Percival Glyde might still exist for her sister, might still exist for me, but to all the world besides she was dead.