Is no life-after-death, something to fear?

I’d like to gather some perspective on the concept of simply falling into non-existence (as many modern atheists profess - such as Richard Dawkins) vs life-after-death.

I am not looking for proof or rebuttal of the proposal, there are zillions of threads/articles/books on that. I am more looking for the believers contemplation of the idea from either a fear, or a theological, or both perspective.

What is your perspective on, for example, fear of the proposal in terms of, what if it is true. Now I know there are posters who may reply that there is a zero likely-hood of it being true. I respectively am not looking to debate that.

Dawkins, and others, believe we (humanity) has manufactured God because of our fear of death. When I hear this argument my response (if asked) would be that I don’t necessarily find fear in the proposal. To what ever degree they may be correct (and that is not the topic of this thread) I don’t see a reason to fear it. I do find the concept depressing and I can understand the theological perspective that it may render life meaningless. But I don’t see the argument that it scares us into manufacturing a false deity and a life here-after.

I have no interest in entertaining nihilistic atheism in my life. I left that behind. We Catholics believe in eternal life. Our Lord Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He is all that matters, and his words and his life and his body and his blood and his love and his promise to us are our treasures, now and forever.


I cannot speak for everyone obviously so my opinion does not rule out anything, but I think at times every person of faith has doubts and fear. I have no reason to believe non believers will, at least eventually, focus enough to harbor these same feelings.
Christ himself harbored fear( required an angel and sweat blood according to Luke) and worse, a belief that he was forsakened.

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As I attempted to state (perhaps I wasn’t clear) I have interest (in this thread) of pondering the idea of this atheist viewpoint or of debating the idea. I’m curious as to whether people feel it is a reasonable argument,for the masses, not any one individual.

You are proposing whether denying our faith in eternal life in God is a “reasonable argument for the masses” here on a forum for Catholics. Let that sink in. You’re asking us to trivially entertain rejecting our faith, whether you realize it or not (I assume you don’t realize it; I forgive you.)

I’ll ask you to realize that being Catholic actually means something serious to us, that there are things we do not give quarter to. Have you heard the Nicene Creed? So, no, your proposition that there is no afterlife is not a “reasonable argument for the masses”; we want the masses to be saved for eternal life in the heart of Jesus. Period.

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I couldn’t disagree more with this. I understand this is a Catholic forum. I’ve been a member since 2004 or so with thousands of posts. I am a dedicated Catholic, never miss Mass, go, when I can to daily Mass etc. However, having said that, I do not think there is anything wrong, or anything disrespectful to our faith in intellectually and respectfully considering the thoughts and beliefs of others. In fact, in my opinion (you clearly differ) I think it is productive.


I heard one atheist say he had no fear of the year 1900, why should he fear 2100. There is a certain logic there.


Yes, that is partially my point. It seems the atheists argument is contradictory. The Dawkins style atheist proposes the fear among humanity was so great, we invented religion to relieve our fear. Would non-existence really be that scary?


If you can’t occasionally hold your faith to the fire to test it’s metal why do you have it?

There was a video done by a great animation house who explored optimistic nihilism.

“You didn’t notice the 15 billion years before you were born. The next 15 trillion won’t be any different.”

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Your error is in assuming that I haven’t many times already or never still “hold my faith to the fire”. It’s so sad and very telling that you feel big and strong by making this statement. You actually don’t know my life story or what I have formerly believed.

I am here to speak for the faith. If I am unwilling to engage you on every single iota you demand, and this bothers you, then it is you who are called to do an examination of what you believe you are owed, and to what end.

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No. The OP wishes to understand another person’s thinking. Did it occur to you that this is one of the best ways to begin dialogue and to evangelize?

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But, with all due respect, this thread is not about you. It is about a philosophical proposition.

If you do not wish to discuss the topic, you don’t have to!

Yes, Beryllos, it did occur to me that discussion is a great way to evangelize. Did it occur to you that there are also spiritual boundaries in evangelization as to what we are permitted to entertain in the hope of gaining perked ears? Your error is in confusing evangelization - the act of witness - with unchallenging niceness to spiritual poison.

By the way, Beryllos, what do you believe?

We are in the now. If you feel vindicated you need not post and let other people test themselves. You are free to go.

Never claimed anything but humorous you did for mine.

And doing poorly.
No one asked you too. We are exploring a facet of the human mind. A thought experiment. no one is claiming your faith is wrong, incorrect, flawed or anything in between. We are merely exploring the idea of why people feel as they do about death and religion.

If anything it’s more about the mind then the Church.

I do not feel owed however I think it is healthy to be able to examine oneself in the mirror and inquire why they believe such things. if you are unable to do it then perhaps you require more self-examination. Of course as well when I say you I mean you as plural society as opposed to use singular the person I’m replying to.

Frankly I find your bitter reply to be unnecessary. I’ll thank you to be more constructive in the future.


Hi FossilResin,

I respect your position. I was careful to choose the philosophy forum for this thread. Perhaps your point would seem stronger if I had chosen the Spirituality forum.

Just googled:
Philiosphy: the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.

This is simply that, a study. It was a Bishop Barron Youtube production on Joe Rogan and Dawkins that triggered this train of thought for me. In it Bishop Barron attempts to answer some of Rogan and Dawkins points made in a previous broadcast. I hope that helps better understand the genesis of my post.


I’m glad you asked. I believe in a loving, all-wise, and all-powerful God and all that is implied by that (such as eternal life through Jesus Christ).

I have no problem facing doubtful questions. I face them – I have to face them – in order to strengthen my faith.

If that’s not your style, or if you don’t need that, that’s okay. We all have different gifts. Peace be with you.

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I believe it is a reasonable argument. Fear of non-existence after death is a big fear for many, perhaps even the ultimate fear. However, for some or even many Catholics, there is another big fear, namely, fear of hell, which means being alive but suffering from separation from G-d for eternity. For Jews, that fear is not a big one, if it even exists at all. And while fear of non-existence is a fear for some Jewish people, for the truly faithful it is not, as I would imagine the fear of hell or non-existence is not for the truly faithful Catholic. The real fear for the truly faithful Jew (or Catholic, I think) is not pleasing G-d enough in the present life by not practicing His commandments of love for Him and our fellow man.


With all due respect, I have answered such to someone who was very excited to imply that I am unwilling to let my faith be challenged if I am not willing to do so on their terms, in response to my making a statement about the truth of the Catholic faith, which they did not like very much, because they do not believe it.

I realize that the whole general topic here is not “about [me]”, of course, but I hope you realize, Berylos, that your response to my response is evidently less about the general point at hand - nihilism on a forum titled “Catholic Answers” - and more about the fact of your being rather uncomfortable with the convicted Catholicity of such faith. I am also aware of your viewpoints from other posts on the matter. If you are so very eager to dance with the secular golden calf, I assure you that there are many other more accommodating places for such a desire.

So it would assume that both the soul and body cease at death, as with animals, but not life itself: that the rational soul is not eternal. Overall there would still be a meaning in continuation of life in general as it is for non-humans. Believing in an eternal soul brings fear of eternal suffering. From Hamlet by Shakespeare:

To sleep, perchance to dream—ay, there’s the rub:
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause—there’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovere’d country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.

That argument by athiests does not work simply because it does not match the history of the Jewish religion.

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