1. Joined
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    28 Mar '08 10:47
    A friend recently asked how an atheist should deal with the prospect of death. I admit I was at a bit of a loss - it is ultimately a very upsetting thought indeed.

    Any comments?
  2. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    28 Mar '08 10:50
    Originally posted by dottewell

    Any comments?
    Don't hold your breath.
  3. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    28 Mar '08 10:56
    Less flippantly -- death is a hypostasis of the impossible. Laughter is the only possible response.
  4. Standard memberBosse de Nage
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    28 Mar '08 11:09
    Alternatively, try getting into Stanislaf Grof's work on transpersonal psychology. It'll wile away the time before dying. And always ask yourself whether your being an atheist means anything at all.
  5. Cape Town
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    28 Mar '08 11:16
    Originally posted by dottewell
    A friend recently asked how an atheist should deal with the prospect of death. I admit I was at a bit of a loss - it is ultimately a very upsetting thought indeed.

    Any comments?
    While I see no problem with the tactic of not thinking about it, one should be careful not to go to far and totally ignore it. One should also not got to the extreme of either denying the possibility or deluding oneself into thinking it wont happen (as is typical of most religious people).
    I think the unpredictability of it helps us to block it out of our minds, people with terminal illness or other reasons to expect imminent death are often forced to confront it head on, though again this can instead simply lead to increased attempts at self delusion.
    Living in Africa, where the effects of HIV has been extreme, I have seen the secondary effects of the fear of death. People when confronted with the possibility that they might have HIV react in different ways, but a very large proportion of them react with self delusion. Including denial that they could have it, denial that it exists, and / or increased religiosity. Interestingly, such denial often accompanies a refusal to take a test as even in the face to outright denial there is a realization that a test could force them to face something they do not want to believe. (I think creationists attacks on science are very similar in that respect.)

    Now that various treatments have been shown to significantly prolong the life of those infected with HIV it is no longer seen as such an imminently terminal disease, and peoples reaction to it is changing dramatically.

    I, personally, intend to postpone death as long as possible, enjoy my life to the fullest, and leave as good a legacy as I can for my children, relatives and others that I care about.
  6. Standard memberDavid C
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    28 Mar '08 11:24
    Originally posted by dottewell
    Any comments?
    I suppose it must be considered an inevitability. In my opinion, a more important question is how one deals with life.

    Of course, Aubrey de Gray feels it can be postponed.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey_de_Grey
  7. England
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    28 Mar '08 12:081 edit
    what side do you mean dealing with the loss of someone, or just how to die? If its the latter then my answer would be no one i knew died got it wrong at first atempt. But if its the first, tell them god be with you
  8. Joined
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    28 Mar '08 12:32
    Originally posted by dottewell
    A friend recently asked how an atheist should deal with the prospect of death. I admit I was at a bit of a loss - it is ultimately a very upsetting thought indeed.

    Any comments?
    It's like saying, "dread of birth". There's nothing to fear if you know where you're going when you die.
  9. Cape Town
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    28 Mar '08 13:02
    Originally posted by josephw
    It's like saying, "dread of birth". There's nothing to fear if you know where you're going when you die.
    Did nobody see the word "atheist" in the original post?

    And from your comment, do you believe in the existence of Hell? If you do then why would someone who knows he is going there not be afraid.
    I wont even get into the whole what is a soul thing as that would ruin the thread which was addressed to atheists.
  10. Joined
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    28 Mar '08 19:38
    As an atheist, I can personally attest to a somewhat benign affinity with death, inasmuch as it seems to me to be the only real guarantee that I have in life. I remember being impressed as a boy in school by something Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet: "Who would fardels bear?, to grunt and sweat under the weary load, but that the fear of something after death, the undiscovered country from who's bourne no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others the we know not of. Thus, conscience doth 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 pith and moment. With this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action.
    Before anyone points out possible mistakes in quoting this, I was 13 then and 70 now, and my memory is no longer particularly astute.
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    28 Mar '08 20:29
    So then what do you think happens after death? Nothing? You simply rot in the ground and that's it? This is a serious question. I am curious.
  12. Hmmm . . .
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    28 Mar '08 21:03
    Originally posted by dottewell
    A friend recently asked how an atheist should deal with the prospect of death. I admit I was at a bit of a loss - it is ultimately a very upsetting thought indeed.

    Any comments?
    Pain frightens me; death does not. I try to focus on the flow of the symphony while it lasts, but I don’t avoid thinking about dying. I suspect that (depending on circumstances of course) I’ll be sad to die. The fact that I am going to die leads me to try to live as richly and well as I can now, in what I call the simple bliss of being.

    In short, my whole philosophy there is a bit of a combination Zorba-Buddha: live passionately; consider the end with serenity. That’s my choice.

    Of course, one cannot honestly change what one believes just because one sees death as an undesirable end: we believe what we believe because we think it is true, that we have reasonable grounds to think it true. So in that sense, while the question of how we all view death is interesting--and maybe even mutually helpful--it is irrelevant to whether or not one is an atheist (the reverse, I think, does not hold, however).
  13. Melbourne, Australia
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    28 Mar '08 21:32
    Originally posted by chappy1
    So then what do you think happens after death? Nothing? You simply rot in the ground and that's it? This is a serious question. I am curious.
    Of course. What else would happen?
  14. Standard memberDavid C
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    28 Mar '08 21:32
    Originally posted by chappy1
    So then what do you think happens after death? Nothing? You simply rot in the ground and that's it? This is a serious question. I am curious.
    What, other than the claims of "religions" such as Islam and Christianity, would lead you to believe any different?
  15. Melbourne, Australia
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    28 Mar '08 21:35
    Originally posted by dottewell
    A friend recently asked how an atheist should deal with the prospect of death. I admit I was at a bit of a loss - it is ultimately a very upsetting thought indeed.

    Any comments?
    I like Walt Whitman's poem, O Me, O Life for this.
    It's basically an exhortation to live life as well as you can and to offer something to the world - I read it as the way to make meaning of your life, since as an atheist I get no meaning from any external or supernatural sources.
    Death scares the crap out of me, but I temper that fear with the knowledge that while I'm alive I do what I can to make my life and other's lives as good as possible.
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