Atheists and Death


#1

Hello,

How do atheists view death? For me, if I was looking at a time when I would just cease to exist, that I would vanish into nothingness - that would be absolutely frightening!

I have heard some claim that as long as your memory lingers on, then you live forever. But, how long does a memory linger? Unless you are famous, your memory only lasts two to three generations at best. I have no memories of my great-great-grandparents, though I have see a picture of my great-grandmother’s family. I couldn’t even tell you their names, and family is important on my dad’s side of the family. But family relations unfortunately being what they are, some don’t even know immediate relatives. So those memories fade fast.

Even if you are famous, how long will the memory last. We remember George Washington, but only by name and the fact that he lead the Revolutionary War and was America’s first President. But that is not personal. We don’t remember the personality, which if claims of living via your memory is valid the personality must remain intact. And the only way for the personality to be remembered is to be saintly or a raving lunatic. And since atheists don’t strive for sainthood, that only leaves lunacy.

So atheists, how do you face your nearing and inevitable death?


#2

WHich might explain the advent of religon. But that doesn’t make it true.


#3

Faith is the hope that life is not meaningless. The problem with atheists and atheism that we see throughout history is the fact that when you view your own life as a meaningless and short trip on a dirt ball going around a star you think the same of others. When you start to think that way gulags, reeducation centers, and concentration camps aren’t far to follow. Morality is an impossible concept, situational at best and non-existant when it serves the individual.

As far as ceasing to exist, there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of in it. You have nothing to fear, you just cease to be. There’s a lot more to be afraid of in the belief that the things we do or don’t do in life matter and will have eternal consequences.


#4

I believe that when you die thats it, you just cease to exist. That idea doesn’t bother me at all, I actually find it comforting.


#5

I don’t want to live forever. The idea of being stuck in any eternity that can never grow or change terrifies me far more than that of slipping into a cold, dreamless sleep. I’ve had a couplefew near-death experiences (fortunately brief, I don’t want to go just yet) and that’s exactly what it was like. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel, just nothing – and I’m perfectly content with that.

CCM08: morality does not require God, and meaning to life does not require religious belief. Nor, considering its history, is religion a panacea for lack of either.


#6

Please excuse me - I just can’t resist…

Q: What’s wrong with an atheist at his own funeral?
A: All dressed up and no place to go.

:shamrock:


#7

How do atheists view death? For me, if I was looking at a time when I would just cease to exist, that I would vanish into nothingness - that would be absolutely frightening!

I think that the atheist answer is that if death is merely the cessation of life, what is there to fear?

Or a more scientific answer would be that you would become a decomposing corpse.

I’m not an atheist though, so don’t go by me :wink:

It is an interesting question and perhaps one for philosophy.


#8

Nothing wrong with being dressed up for your loved ones, even if you’re not around to move or talk, is there?


#9

I disagree with this completely. There is a terrible place for some. Go a little farther next time. Scratch that, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. Tim


#10

you don’t want to die forever either - the idea of being stuck in a coffin can make you itchy. :smiley:

You mentioned about few near-death experiences. What was your immediate reactions when you just knew you had not died? Did you heart pound really hard? or you say …“oh man, I wish I could die”?


#11

I’ve had a couple near death experiences…all I ever got was a pounding heart and I got really shaky because of all the adrenaline pumping through my system. Just because we don’t fear death doesn’t mean we look forward to it.


#12

I would like to know the answer to this as well. I’m still not sure I didn’t. Over time my perception of everything changed so drastically, it is like a different world. Tim


#13

I wouldn’t want a static heaven either.

[quote=water]you don’t want to die forever either - the idea of being stuck in a coffin can make you itchy. :smiley:
[/quote]

Well, if I’m not conscious for it that’s okay :wink:

You mentioned about few near-death experiences. What was your immediate reactions when you just knew you had not died? Did you heart pound really hard? or you say …“oh man, I wish I could die”?

I should probably go into a little background. I’ve mentioned my wild past in other threads – yeah, I’m talking about overdoses (and okay, I’m still fairly untamed, but I’ve at least cleaned up one bad habit). Into a vein, nudge the plunger up slightly for the flash of dark red blood to make sure, push it in, pull the needle out…

…and fall backwards, smiling, blood pounding with euphoria as everything fades to black. That’s what it’s like. Five seconds.

Then I felt air coming into my lungs; someone was breathing for me. A little later, I could hear the puffs and breathing; then, slowly, my sight returned. I was lying on the floor, with a friend shaking me and slapping my face to get me to wake up.

My heart wasn’t pounding, just the same steady thump-thump-whoosh (it’s got problems) it’s always made. I felt like I’d just had a long, long sleep.

I was glad to be alive, of course – I’m not done living yet. But when it’s time to go, that way sounds like one of the best.

Interestingly, I had been somewhat afraid of death before the first such experience. After that, I wasn’t. I knew what it was like.


#14

Thanks Mirdath for sharing that experience. I am glad that you are still here. Although you knew what it was like back then, the next time, you will probably know something else - I don’t mean you would go for that same experience again.:slight_smile: The deaths see something that you haven’t seen yet. :wink:

Can you be so sure you know what exactly will happen to you next time?


#15

Subjective morality, the only type possible within an atheist world view, is literally as useless as no morality at all because that is what it is. True morality requires the belief of a higher being with authority to make moral decisions from a position of that authority. Subjective morality is illogical and pointless. Given atheism’s wonderful historical figures like Adolf Hitler, Chariman Mao, and Joseph Stalin history isn’t going to win you any arguments.
Equally so, life in the atheist world view consists of being born, consuming resources, reproducing if possible, and dying. In short a meaningless, brief, and pointless venture.
Not to mention that your understanding of how Christians view the world to come betrays a great deal of ignorance.


#16

From an observation I made at the funeral of a childhood friend who died as a young adult. The mother was a Protestant, the father was an atheist. The father was someone I’d always admired and looked up to as he was a neighborhood adult and authority figure, though we didn’t share the same belief system. He had always seemed to be such a strong and manly man. Then came his son’s funeral. Never have I witnessed a grown man more grief-stricken, or break down as much as he did.

Simply stating what I saw,

~~ the phoenix


#17

The friend I mentioned has undergone the same experience and a few other ways of almost-dying and reports exactly the same. We do share the same philosophical views, for whatever that’s worth :wink:

[quote=CCM08]Subjective morality, the only type possible within an atheist world view, is literally as useless as no morality at all because that is what it is. True morality requires the belief of a higher being with authority to make moral decisions from a position of that authority. Subjective morality is illogical and pointless. Given atheism’s wonderful historical figures like Adolf Hitler, Chariman Mao, and Joseph Stalin history isn’t going to win you any arguments.
[/quote]

Non-theistic morality need not be subjective. It’s perfectly rational to claim that all have a right to life and to property (or not if you’re Marxist) without requiring belief in a deity. Authority is what you make it, not what someone else does, as in religion – and if you disobey that which is commonly held authoritative, you’re kicked out. It’s how societies function.

Equally so, life in the atheist world view consists of being born, consuming resources, reproducing if possible, and dying. In short a meaningless, brief, and pointless venture.

If you can’t find meaning in just your own lifespan, I pity you. Even without an afterlife, there is still much good that can be done – and once again, you don’t have to believe in any higher power to do that. You don’t have to rely on others to find meaning in life, you can make it for yourself.

Not to mention that your understanding of how Christians view the world to come betrays a great deal of ignorance.

Your understanding of how non-theists view the world betrays quite a bit in itself. I’m not arguing from a theist perspective, let alone a Christian, let alone a Catholic specifically (in which I am quite well-educated, by the way) – they’re all different, and generally mutually exclusive. It’s not in my interests to do so. I do not misrepresent, I find it wrong and argue for that. If it seems to you that my perspective is ‘too different’ to be right, might I suggest reexamining your own?


#18

Hi JMJ_coder

I am an atheist and what you described above is pretty much how I view death. I expect that when I die, I will cease to exist. One way to think of it is as being in a really deep sleep or under anesthesia. Time passes, but you have no recollection or memory of it (and, in the case of death, will never wake up).

This does not frighten me, although I must admit that I am not entirely happy with it. I dislike the thought of not being alive anymore, or not seeing friends and loved ones again. However, I do not fear death, that would be meaningless. I also make sure that I appreciate the time that I have with my friends and family. My SO is also an atheist, and I think that this gives our relationship a greater depth. We know that the time we have together is limited, so we make the most of all of it. We both place a high priority on this life, knowing that it is likely the only one that we will have together.

The above said, I also do not want to live forever. In addition, the Christian version of heaven is not any more comforting to me, nor am I willing to accept the existence of an afterlife simply to make myself feel better.


#19

Maybe the thing that changes the topic is our bodies die and return to the earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust and all. If that was it then the falling asleep would be the end.

But we are also spirit and that is destined forever. The true fountain of youth that lives. Heaven with the Lord would not be static or boring playing harps and sitting on clouds. Why would we think this? He created a place that we love now, full of possibilities, the next version of Earth will never need improvement :smiley:

Contrasted with the alternative (hell) where one would be devoid of love and life with no new possibilities is where the static will be.


#20

Let’s suppose that atheists are wrong in their beliefs of the afterlife, and Hell exists even for them. Endless fire, suffering, demons, devils, never ever being happy – the whole shebang.

Would they be afraid of going to Hell?


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