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Old 28 May 2009, 12:48 PM   #39065 / #1
lpetrich
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Default See you in Heaven?

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When the cardinal told the present abbot of Ampleforth that he was dying, the response was: "Congratulations ! That's brilliant news. I wish I was coming with you."
From the BBC News article The Catholic way of death.

He might almost have said to the Cardinal "See you in Heaven."

But his attitude stands out because it is so remarkably atypical.

This subject may seem like some snarky atheist inversion of "There are no atheists in foxholes", but I do think that it's a good question to ask. Why don't believers in eternal happiness after death typically make their last words something like "See you in Heaven"? Why do they keep on dreading death and trying to avoid it as if they believed that they won't exist anymore? Why haven't they supported lots of Kevorkian-like efforts to quickly and painlessly rid themselves of bodies that are no longer good homes for their souls? And why don't they turn funerals into celebrations of successful entry into Heaven instead of acting as if the dear departed don't really exist anymore?
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Old 28 May 2009, 01:53 PM   #39076 / #2
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There's a lot about religious beliefs that leads me to think that most believers aren't all that convinced. To take the example of Christians, why aren't they selling all their possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor?
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Old 28 May 2009, 02:08 PM   #39084 / #3
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I'm happy that most believers value their lives enough not to jump at the chance of "getting into heaven". I can think of few things more evil than to devalue life itself.


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Old 28 May 2009, 02:18 PM   #39087 / #4
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I'm happy that most believers value their lives enough not to jump at the chance of "getting into heaven". I can think of few things more evil than to devalue life itself.


eudaimonia,

Mark
Devaluing is pretty common to religions, though - especially among the zealots who feel drawn to a monastic life, whether Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, and feel that the best way to live their life is in pursuit of a better rebirth, or a short cut into heaven, or whatever.

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Old 28 May 2009, 02:44 PM   #39098 / #5
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I have no problem with religious fanatics offing themselves, particularly if they do it young and before they breed. My only complaint is their tendency to take as many innocent bystanders with them as they can.
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Old 28 May 2009, 04:12 PM   #39125 / #6
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I've known plenty of faithful Christians who welcome death as a new beginning and a trip to paradise. My relatives (so far) are not fearful of dying, and some have even said they've felt the presence of Jesus by their death bed. Funerals have been sad but joyful occasions, where people are rejoicing that the dead ones are now reunited with other family members and loved ones.

The people I have personally known who fear death the most are the ones who have a very shaky faith.

I haven't personally known any atheists who died so I can't comment on how they feel facing the end. But I HAVE heard my relatives say farewell to each other by saying, "See you on the other side!"
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Old 28 May 2009, 05:05 PM   #39139 / #7
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There are a few who seem genuinely unafraid of death.

However, I've known a great many theists who were terrified of death, despite their supposed beliefs about the afterlife.

A friend's father was a good example of this: a deacon in his church, attending every service since childhood -- and when he was diagnosed with a fatal disease, being absolutely terrified of dying to the point of hysteria.

I contrast this with someone like our atheist friend 9W, who when faced with a terminal disease makes the most out of his life and faces his grim prospects bravely and with dignity.
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Old 28 May 2009, 07:19 PM   #39173 / #8
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There's a lot about religious beliefs that leads me to think that most believers aren't all that convinced. To take the example of Christians, why aren't they selling all their possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor?
Didn't you get the memo? The AntiChrist issued the statement. All that New Testament stuff about giving and charity is all over now. It's time to party.
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Old 28 May 2009, 07:25 PM   #39174 / #9
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Originally Posted by tjakey View Post
I have no problem with religious fanatics offing themselves, particularly if they do it young and before they breed. My only complaint is their tendency to take as many innocent bystanders with them as they can.
Weren't you one yourself, in your youth?

Or am I thinking of some others among our more distinguished atheists

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Old 30 May 2009, 01:11 AM   #39459 / #10
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"Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear... fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand." - Bertrand Russell

"No man of any depth of soul has made his prolonged existence [in heaven] the touchstone of his enthusiasms... What a despicable character must a man be, and how sunk below the level of the most barbaric virtue, if he cannot bear to live for his children, for his art, for his country!" - George Santayana

"Heaven, as conventionally described, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty of people have described a day at the seaside." - George Bernard Shaw

"A good man in an exclusive heaven would be in hell." - Elbert Hubbard

"I know few Christians so convinced of the splendor of the rooms in their Father's house, as to be happier when their friends are called to those mansions... Nor has the Church's ardent 'desire to depart, and be with Christ,' ever cured it of the singular habit of putting on mourning for every person summoned to such departure." - John Ruskin

"No man who ever lived knows any more about the hereafter... than you and I; and all religion... is simply evolved out of chicanery, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry." - Edgar Allan Poe

"The human being... naturally places sexual intercourse far and away above all other joys- yet he has left it out of his heaven." - Mark Twain

"Heaven might be defined as the place which men avoid." - Henry David Thoreau

"Fear was the first thing on earth to make gods." - Lucretius

"It was fear that first brought gods into the world." - Petronius Arbiter

"The superstitious man wishes he did not believe in gods, as the atheist does not; but fears to disbelieve in them." - Plutarch
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Old 30 May 2009, 01:23 AM   #39463 / #11
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Dying man couldn't make up his mind which place to go to -- both have their advantages, "heaven for climate, hell for company!"
- Mark Twain's Notebooks and Journals, vol. 3
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Old 30 May 2009, 05:43 PM   #39521 / #12
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I think being afraid of death, or having courage in the face of it, have more to do with the mental and moral qualities that we call "character" than with religious beliefs.

To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub...........
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Old 31 May 2009, 01:59 AM   #39590 / #13
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"The human being... naturally places sexual intercourse far and away above all other joys- yet he has left it out of his heaven." - Mark Twain
Twain obviously wasn't familiar with Islam. Jannah is supposedly a total shagfest, although the partners on offer are described as being rather odd IMO.

Great collection of quotes, though. I've often wondered about the same thing that is puzzling Loren. It seems to me that a great many religious people are trying to convince themselves when they preach at others.
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Old 31 May 2009, 02:36 AM   #39595 / #14
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Yeah, I agree he should have put it "yet the Christians have left it out of their Heaven." The Muslims got nothin' on various sects of the Hindus when it comes to uninhibited sex in the afterlife, and I understand that the religion of the Egyptians was even wilder!
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Old 31 May 2009, 02:51 AM   #39597 / #15
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And of course, none of those false faiths can hold a candle to the ultimate hotness which will be available to the followers of Our Lady, the Invisible Pink Unicorn (PBUHHH), at the Great Beach Bash In The Sky!

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According to the infallible word of Our Lady, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, PBUHHH, the souls of Her beloved ones at the Great Beach Bash in the Sky will, definitely, have sex.

I'm talking hot, steamy, sweaty sex. Wild, orgyistic sex. Sex that makes the Dionysians look like pikers, sex to make a rabbit drop his jaw in disbelief. SEXXX. In so many positions geometrists come just to take notes. Earthshattering sex, wild abandonment, complete and utter surrender to your basest instincts.

Dirty photos, obscene movies, latex novelties, straps and chains and lashes (oh my!). Sex in the park, sex in the car, sex in sleazy hotels and five-star restaurants. Sex everywhere, with everyone.

Sex that leaves you unable to move for an hour afterwards. Sex so good that when it's over you can't remember your name. GOOOOOD sex.

You'd love it. If it was permitted. But try not to think of that when you cuddle up with your Bible tonight. The next time you recite the Lord's Prayer, by no means should you think, "and lead us not into temptation... no matter how much fun it is". And by no means think, "Thy kingdom come, in bucketloads, all over the place, yes-oh-yes-oh-god-oh-god-oh-god----ahhhhhhhh!"
Given the known proclivities of the triune Christian God- really, really extreme S&M, piercing, whips&chains, humiliation, all that stuff- I can understand why the Christians like to think there's no sex in their version of Heaven.

Dream on, suckers. If you try to say you've got a headache, that'll just tittilate Him.

Give me my gentle and humorous and only sometimes extremely kinky IPU, who'll only do crucifixion scenes if you're totally into it, and begging for it. Her worshippers are encouraged to Think Pink, not red!

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Old 31 May 2009, 02:57 AM   #39599 / #16
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I think being afraid of death, or having courage in the face of it, have more to do with the mental and moral qualities that we call "character" than with religious beliefs.
[/I]
This is the way I see it. Speaking rationally, religious people should live their lives in a way that gets them into Heaven, and atheists shouldn't bother just go to grave being annoyed at losing their life. But it isn't that way. I am not all that impressed with the "rationality" of humans.

It seems to me that what makes the difference is not beliefs about the afterlife, but a sense that one has really lived while alive.
If you spend your whole life waiting for the good part you'll be disappointed when it's over. If you spend your life being all that you can be at the time, the end is OK whenever and whyever it comes.
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Old 31 May 2009, 02:58 AM   #39600 / #17
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Signing up for the Church of the IPU now.........................
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Old 31 May 2009, 03:18 AM   #39605 / #18
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Signing up for the Church of the IPU now.........................
Catholics have better parties
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Old 31 May 2009, 04:42 AM   #39609 / #19
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As a faithful believer in the Invisible Pink Unicorn, I shall, on dying, suddenly find myself inhabiting an incredibly buff body which still looks enough like me for my friends to recognize, residing in a multicolored cabana on a never-ending beach. If I feel like partying, I need only walk a mile or two, and I will find a real luau, with unlimited free food and drink better than anything I've ever eaten or drunk, and whatever music I like being played, and beautiful nubile companions clad according to my taste at the moment. (Which means that usually they're naked.) If I feel amorous, as many of them as suits me will feel likewise, and happily make love to me in so many positions geometrists will write treatises about it.

If I feel like solitude, I need but walk a few miles and the beach will be deserted, and empty as far as the eye can see. If I want to fish, any tackle I can imagine will be just across the first dunes. And whenever I cast my line, I always catch whatever I'm in the mood to eat, and will always get as great or as easy a struggle bringing it in, as I feel like.

If I feel like climbing, there will be cliffs a short walk away. If I feel like boating, anything from a rubber raft to a racing boat will await me at the pier just in sight.

If I'm feeling like some excitement, the weather and surf will provide. And if I feel like surfboarding, the waves will be perfect every time.

Best of all, I'll be able to see and speak to Her Holiness, the Invisible Pink Unicorn, who will share with me the wisdom of eternity, and provide me with all I wish, and explain to me any of the jokes She played on me in life, even the ones that didn't seem at all funny at the time; and I will laugh in delight and understanding.

And thus it shall ever be, at the Great Beach Bash in the Sky. NEIGH!
In fact, the only thing I personally might miss at the Great Beach Bash, is my beloved old dungeon from my days as the First Inquisitor of the Invisible Pink Inquisition. But again, since there will be no heretics at the Great Beach Bash, there will be no need for it, anyway.

I'm sure Our Lady will let me keep a souvenir copy of the "Torments 'R' Us" catalog, if I want one.
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Old 31 May 2009, 09:37 AM   #39651 / #20
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There are a few who seem genuinely unafraid of death.

However, I've known a great many theists who were terrified of death, despite their supposed beliefs about the afterlife.

A friend's father was a good example of this: a deacon in his church, attending every service since childhood -- and when he was diagnosed with a fatal disease, being absolutely terrified of dying to the point of hysteria.

I contrast this with someone like our atheist friend 9W, who when faced with a terminal disease makes the most out of his life and faces his grim prospects bravely and with dignity.
A recent story in the NYTimes struck me. I'll quote some of it 'cause I don't recall whether registration is required:
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Terminally ill cancer patients who drew comfort from religion were far more likely to seek aggressive, life-prolonging care in the week before they died than were less religious patients and far more likely to want doctors to do everything possible to keep them alive, a study has found.

The patients who were devout were three times as likely as less religious ones to be put on a mechanical ventilator to maintain breathing during the last week of life, and they were less likely to do any advance care planning, like signing a do-not-resuscitate order, preparing a living will or creating a health care proxy, the analysis found.

The study is to be published Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

“People think that spiritual patients are more likely to say their lives are in God’s hands — ’Let what happens happen’ — but in fact we know they want more aggressive care,” said Holly G. Prigerson, the study’s senior author and director of the Center for Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

“To religious people, life is sacred and sanctified,” Dr. Prigerson said, “and there’s a sense they feel it’s their duty and obligation to stay alive as long as possible.”
I'd sure like to see some substantiation of that last sentence, though. That "they were less likely to do any advance care planning, like signing a do-not-resuscitate order, preparing a living will or creating a health care proxy ..." doesn't suggest to me anything about 'duty and obligation to stay alive.' It looks more like wishful thinking to me.
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Old 31 May 2009, 12:45 PM   #39660 / #21
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I wonder which direction the causality runs - are people religious because they fear death, or do they fear death because they are religious?

I expect it's a bit of both.
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Old 03 Jun 2009, 02:59 AM   #40226 / #22
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If you are driving down the highway, and suddenly see a truck hurdling towards you down the wrong lane, the fact is that every cell in your body is going to scream the same thing: I DON'T WANT TO DIE! It doesn't matter if you are a theist or a nontheist, at a very deep level, people know that death is the end of all.

Parents would not even mourn for their dead children if they REALLY believed heaven was forever and a really great place to be. That is if they could grasp the concept of eternity/infinite time, though I think it is patently obvious that most believers cannot. To cry about death or worry about your own would be ludicrous if there were an infinite paradise such as heaven awaiting us after death. In the scale of things, death would be less than a mosqitoe bite would be for those with a finite life span.
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Old 03 Jun 2009, 03:02 AM   #40229 / #23
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There's a lot about religious beliefs that leads me to think that most believers aren't all that convinced. To take the example of Christians, why aren't they selling all their possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor?

maybe many Christians don't have many possessions to sell to begin with....
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Old 03 Jun 2009, 04:00 PM   #40403 / #24
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Quote:
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There's a lot about religious beliefs that leads me to think that most believers aren't all that convinced. To take the example of Christians, why aren't they selling all their possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor?

maybe many Christians don't have many possessions to sell to begin with....
Many do. And there are a number of obscenely rich preachers who batten on the faithful.
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Old 03 Jun 2009, 10:56 PM   #40527 / #25
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Originally Posted by DMB View Post
There's a lot about religious beliefs that leads me to think that most believers aren't all that convinced. To take the example of Christians, why aren't they selling all their possessions and giving the proceeds to the poor?

maybe many Christians don't have many possessions to sell to begin with....
Many do. And there are a number of obscenely rich preachers who batten on the faithful.

yeah, that's true, my stomach wants to turn whenever I watch Creflo Dollar.
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