Atheists and Death

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lpetrich
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Atheists and Death

Post by lpetrich » Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:46 am

New on the Guardian: How Atheists Die by Adam Lee, noting Are we ready to face death without religion? | Adam Lee | Opinion | The Guardian
Traditional funerals and burials are declining in popularity (to the point where churches are bemoaning the trend), in favor of alternatives like green burial and cremation. Personalized humanist funerals and secular celebrants are becoming more common, echoing a trend that’s also occurring with weddings.
And birth ceremonies? Not very common in the US, though I don't know about elsewhere. Seems that clergypeople are losing the "hatching, matching, and dispatching" business that they've long had, even from the nonreligious.
Rather than the same handful of biblical passages, we can have readings from any book, poem or song in the whole broad tapestry of human culture. Rather than mourning, gloom and sermons on sin, we can have ceremonies that are joyful celebrations of the deceased person’s life.
What is curious here is that the gloom-and-doom sorts of funerals are arranged by people who claim that they believe that the dear departed will experience everlasting happiness. It's more like what one would expect if they believed that the dear departed will suffer everlasting torment.
But the rise of humanism isn’t just influencing what funerals look like; it’s changing how we die. For ages, when the church’s word was law, suicide was deemed a mortal sin. Even today, studies find that more fervent religious devotion correlates to more desire for aggressive and medically futile end-of-life intervention, not less.
Contrary to what one would expect them to do. You'd expect them to want a quick and painless death, so they can leave behind a troublesome body rather than suffer in it.

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Val
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Post by Val » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:33 am

I disagree that prolonging end of life suffering is contra to religious ethos. In the catholic case, pain and suffering purifies the soul, the whole idea of purgatory rides on this. Also, there is resistance to any notion of playing God.

The latter bit is where the hypocrisy and contradiction is clear - many of these idiots are happy to let their kids die by withholding medical care at the behest of their sky daddy.

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Post by DMB » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:44 am

I suspect that for quite a few people who believe in the possibility of heaven there is also an accompanying belief in the possibility of hell. And a lot of people if they're honest with themselves may wonder if they deserve the second more than the first.

If you don't believe in either, then the process of dying may look frightening, but you really don't fear an afterlife.

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Post by lostone » Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:36 am

Death is just a long nap

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Eldarion Lathria
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Post by Eldarion Lathria » Sun Mar 20, 2016 12:41 am

I have always said. The believer must fear death. The skeptic need only fear dying.

I don't want to die in a painful long drawn out process. But after death I will be nothing. How is NO THING to be feared?

Eldarion Lathria
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Jackrabbit
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Post by Jackrabbit » Mon Sep 19, 2016 4:45 am

It always pisses me off when biblebangers claim that atheists "fear death".

Uh, excuse me, but we aren't the ones who fabricated a fantasy never-never-land "afterlife" to delude ourselves into thinking we "defeated" death.

Nonexistence didn't bother me before I was born, so it won't bother me after I'm gone.
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Post by Siempre » Mon Sep 19, 2016 5:16 am

I think the fear of not being alive is a reasonable one. And of course how you die should scare any sane person. However, death itself? I see it no different than before we were born. I mean, there were billions of years were we weren't alive yet... and we seem no worse for wear. Most don't even give it a second thought beyond sometimes wishing they had lived during a certain time period for various reasons.

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Post by sohy » Mon Sep 19, 2016 12:30 pm

I've known a few atheists that have a fear of death or have a very hard time accepting that they will no longer exist. I've known Christians that look forward to death because they believe they are going to some fantasy world when they die.

I don't think it's right to generalize in either case. Most of the atheists I know don't fear death and most of the older Christians I know don't fear death. We all have different personalities, different fears and anxieties. Those things rarely have anything to do with what we believe concerning an afterlife.

I don't fear death, but I do fear disability and a long dying process, which unfortunately is extremely common. I just hope that a good hospice nurse is available to appropriately care for me when I am nearing the end. I want all that morphine they give out when someone nears the end. It helps lull you out without much distress.

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Post by Peanut » Mon Sep 19, 2016 3:21 pm

I've always known that most believers aren't really - not really.
They profess those dogmas of their religion which are currently in favour with their culture; they follow those of the rules that match their own ambition and measure success in their culture; they cite those passages of scripture that suit the current requirement of their political or social agenda; they emphasize those aspects of their practice that shed a good light by current mores.
They sweep all the mean, inconvenient, contradictory, embarrassing stuff under a big lumpy carpet.
Death is the loss of everything one has ever known. Afterlife sounds good, when you're telling the little children how God loves them, or consoling someone who has lost a parent - but who really, truly, absolutely believes they will go there?
I mean --- "In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection..."
.... hope... ?
Even the preacher isn't all that sure and certain.

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Post by Tubby » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:16 pm

[quote=""Peanut""]I mean --- "In the sure and certain hope of the resurrection..."
.... hope... ?
Even the preacher isn't all that sure and certain.[/quote]

I wonder if any preacher has been true enough to his Bible to quote from Matthew at a funeral: "How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it."

"So, my friends, chances are dear Ethel is boiling in tar even as I speak..."

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Post by Jackrabbit » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:10 pm

The preacher man bothering himself with what the Talking Donkey Book actually says? The idea! Why next they'll be concentrating on the genocide of the Amalekites in Sunday School for third graders.

"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Because, you know, babies and farm animals are evil.

When you think about it, the asshole Israelites of the OT are basically no different from ISIS. They slaughtered people for believing in the wrong god and because they wanted the land.

(I used to inflame the denizens of CF with the TDB label, BTW. It was hilarious. But the stupid book does actually have a talking donkey in it. It mocks itself.)
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JamesBannon
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Post by JamesBannon » Mon Sep 19, 2016 8:18 pm

I don't fear being dead, since I'll be beyond caring about anything, but dying does suck.
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:44 pm

Puddleglum’s Answer » John C. Wright's Journal which I found at Vox Day's blog Vox Popoli.

Puddleglum is a character in CS Lewis's Narnia series.

I'll repeat JCW's arguments.
There are those who call Christian faith a fairy tale. I assume such scoffers are not old and wise enough to believe in fairies.

To them, I give the answer of that most excellent marshwiggle and insightful theologian, Puddleglum: Suppose my account is a fairy tale. Your account is not even that.
JCW then considers some possibilities.
Life is a bitch, and then you die, and in the end nobody lives happily ever after. Entropy triumphs over all, a nightfall of endless darkness and infinite cold.
JCW states that "if you actually believed your account, the wise thing to do is to swallow cold poison and jump into the sea."
We are all just naked apes or meat machines: our souls are made of atoms blown together by the twelve winds with no more purpose and meaning than the shape of the sand dune: we are helpless and without free will, victims of blind evolutionary forces and blind historical forces. Atop the Holy Mountain no gods dance, and no burning bushes speak. Death is dreamless sleep and soft oblivion. Therefore let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Entropy triumphs over all, a nightfall of endless darkness and infinite cold.
JCW: "This is a poor story: a tale of despair, a myth to justify hedonism."
Man is a rational animal, capable of moral reasoning, creativity, productiveness, love. Man is heroic. Therefore let us live rationally working with mind and heart and soul to produce such works of art and science as befits so dignified a creature: let each man to live for himself alone, a paragon of self-reliance each man in the solitary but invulnerable tower of his self-made soul, never demanding nor making any selfess sacrifice. Nor hopes nor fears of after-lives or nether-worlds need detain us: Therefore let us think, and work, and triumph, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Entropy triumphs over all, a nightfall of endless darkness and infinite cold.
JCW: "This is a poor story: vanity, vainglory, and blindness to the pain and misery of life."
All this has happened before, and all shall happen again. When the world dies in fire, it shall be reborn from ashes, and all the pain and toil and travail, all the blood shed and tears wept, will all be shed anew, accomplishing nothing. The universe is a wheel of pain, and even the gods are nailed to its spokes like Ixion. To be born is to die, to die is to be born. Fate is all.
JCW: "This is too a poor story: all I will say of this account, whether one calls it Greek Ecpyrosis or Hindu Kali Yuga, or Cyclical Universe Theory, is that it is different in name, not in substance, from the Tale of Despair given above."
All this has happened before, and all shall happen again. The universe is a wheel of pain. The pain is caused by attachment to desire, and desire is caused by thought, and thought is caused by self. By means of strict discipline and stern patience, patience longer than many lifetimes, I will learn to detach myself from all thought and therefore from all pain, and enter into a state of perfect nonthinking nonbeing, where I will neither sin nor suffer Karmic punishment for sin. By self-extinction I escape the wheel of pain.
JCW: "This is a poor story: I will say of this account that is has all the drawbacks of the despair of the belief in the Eternal Return given above, but it also has the vanity and vainglory of pretending men can improve themselves into perfection and prelapsarian sinlessness by discipline and meditation."

Then Puddleglum's answer:
Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.

Commenter Leonard offers this version:
Man is a rational animal, capable of moral reasoning, creativity, productivity, love. Man is heroic. Therefore let us build a city on a hill; let us live rationally working with mind and heart and soul to produce such works of art and science as befits so dignified a creature: let each man to live for the good of all of humanity, a paragon of interdependence, each man a citizen of the world, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the ultimate value, humanity itself. Hopes nor fears of after-lives or nether-worlds need detain us: Therefore let us think, and work, and crush our ignorant enemies, and be merry, and build that city one brick at a time. Tomorrow we may die if humanity demands it, and we will certainly kill if humanity demands that. Enthalpy triumphs but only if we build that city, a dawn of eternal light and justice for all, and infinite love except for those who refuse to join us.

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Post by lpetrich » Mon Sep 19, 2016 11:58 pm

So if you don't believe that you will live happily ever after in some paradise, you will live a miserable life.

But is the Xian Heaven really looking forward to? Forever and ever and ever wearing white robes and singing hymns of praise to some egomaniac narcissistic deity who makes Donald Trump seem self-abnegating?

I think I'd prefer the Muslim Paradise or the Norse Valhalla. Those are more fun. The X-RATED PARADISE OF ISLAM

Then there is the problem of how one can be sure that one might not end up in Hell instead, a place where one will be horribly tormented forever and ever and ever. In fact, saying that the dear departed are now in a "better place" is contrary to what the more conservative and fundamentalist Xians tend to believe, that one has a good chance of winding up in a "worse place".

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Post by JamesBannon » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:45 am

My notes on the afterlife for my book (not started yet) is as follows (the hero talking to a priest):

Scenario: The hero and heroine, richly dressed in their dress uniforms, are sitting in a cathedral listening to a concert of late medieval choral music. During a break in the concert, a priest notices them, and approaches them to start a conversation. He stops suddenly, makes the sign of the cross and mutters "merciful god". The hero smiles.

After a short conversation, the priest asks about the afterlife.

You want to know what the afterlife is like for our kind, priest? We are alone in the dark, and in pain. Our loved ones are in the same position. What is more, we feel our loved ones' pain, magnifying our own. If we try to approach them to offer comfort, they are always out of reach. But let me tell you something, priest. I will overcome and reach my angel to comfort her. That is my promise, and no god, whether yours or anyone else's, is going to stop me.
There you go with them negative waves ... Why can't you say something righteous and beautiful for a change? :grouphug:

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Post by DMB » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:28 am

[quote=""Jackrabbit""]The preacher man bothering himself with what the Talking Donkey Book actually says? The idea! Why next they'll be concentrating on the genocide of the Amalekites in Sunday School for third graders.

"Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."

Because, you know, babies and farm animals are evil.

When you think about it, the asshole Israelites of the OT are basically no different from ISIS. They slaughtered people for believing in the wrong god and because they wanted the land.

(I used to inflame the denizens of CF with the TDB label, BTW. It was hilarious. But the stupid book does actually have a talking donkey in it. It mocks itself.)[/quote]

Well, it is a miracle! I like Balaam's donkey. He's smarter than his master. In any case I do like donkeys, having had several. They are very lovable animals IMO.Image

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Post by Jackrabbit » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:54 am

As far as talking animals go, I prefer Magilla Gorilla. He's just as real, he's also smarter than Balaam, and he has a jauntier hat.

Image
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Post by Ozymandias » Tue Sep 20, 2016 3:33 pm

[quote=""lpetrich""]
But is the Xian Heaven really looking forward to? Forever and ever and ever wearing white robes and singing hymns of praise to some egomaniac narcissistic deity who makes Donald Trump seem self-abnegating?
[/quote]

Is it really necessary to ascribe made-up beliefs to others in order to affirm your own word-view? This is not the typical Christian view of heaven.

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Post by Tubby » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:24 pm

[quote=""Ozymandias""]Is it really necessary to ascribe made-up beliefs to others in order to affirm your own word-view? This is not the typical Christian view of heaven.[/quote]

I got a robe, you got a robe
All of God's children got a robe
When I get to heaven gonna put on my robe
Gonna shout all over God's heaven
...
I got a harp, you got a harp
All of God's children got a harp
When I get to heaven gonna play on my harp
Gonna play all over God's heaven
...


That is how one American gospel hymn puts it.

What is a more typical view of the goings-on in heaven?

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Post by Jackrabbit » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:40 pm

Since it's not actually described anywhere, all views of it are made up. Which is fitting, given that heaven itself is made up. Seems like there was some vague shit about it in Revelations, the part that led mormons to think that a small fixed number of people were allowed there.

But then Revelations reads like a drug trip anyway, the result of whatever weed was available back then.
Last edited by Jackrabbit on Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Jackrabbit » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:52 pm

[quote=""Tubby""]
I got a robe, you got a robe
All of God's children got a robe
...


That is how one American gospel hymn puts it.
[/quote]
I think it was attributed to old time black churches, and was actually pronounced "All God's chillun" or similar, but yeah, I've heard that.
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Post by Jackrabbit » Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:20 pm

People have been saying they fear dying, which implies to me the very end. I fear that and everything that leads up to it: loss of function, nursing homes, being bedridden, etc. I especially fear alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. Though I guess once I have it I will no longer have fear or any other form of thought. My dad's mind died seven years before his body followed.
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Here Rests A Cemetery
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Post by Here Rests A Cemetery » Fri Sep 23, 2016 7:58 pm

[quote=""Jackrabbit""]It always pisses me off when biblebangers claim that atheists "fear death".

Uh, excuse me, but we aren't the ones who fabricated a fantasy never-never-land "afterlife" to delude ourselves into thinking we "defeated" death.

.[/quote]

Couldn't have worded it better myself.

But: me personally, I'm terrified of not existing. Not necessarily death, but I, as a person, will be gone forever. Maybe I sound naive, maybe I sound stupid, but it's something I've struggled to wrap my head around since I was young. (My username may indicate this...)

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Post by Wizofoz » Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:45 pm

[quote=""Here Rests A Cemetery""]
Jackrabbit;655230 wrote:It always pisses me off when biblebangers claim that atheists "fear death".

Uh, excuse me, but we aren't the ones who fabricated a fantasy never-never-land "afterlife" to delude ourselves into thinking we "defeated" death.

.
Couldn't have worded it better myself.

But: me personally, I'm terrified of not existing. Not necessarily death, but I, as a person, will be gone forever. Maybe I sound naive, maybe I sound stupid, but it's something I've struggled to wrap my head around since I was young. (My username may indicate this...)[/QUOTE]

Was it a terrifying experience not existing before you were conceived?
When it comes to truth, there is no "Opposing opinion"

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Post by Here Rests A Cemetery » Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:26 am

[quote=""Wizofoz""]
Here Rests A Cemetery;655566 wrote:
Jackrabbit;655230 wrote:It always pisses me off when biblebangers claim that atheists "fear death".

Uh, excuse me, but we aren't the ones who fabricated a fantasy never-never-land "afterlife" to delude ourselves into thinking we "defeated" death.

.
Couldn't have worded it better myself.

But: me personally, I'm terrified of not existing. Not necessarily death, but I, as a person, will be gone forever. Maybe I sound naive, maybe I sound stupid, but it's something I've struggled to wrap my head around since I was young. (My username may indicate this...)
Was it a terrifying experience not existing before you were conceived?[/QUOTE]

One day I would exist though. It's a more comforting thought than being gone permanently- in the blink of an eye really, when you look at the grand scope of things.

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