Question For Athiests

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Question For Athiests

Postby Mythoughts21 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:16 am

Not going to mean this in a rude manner at all so please dont take it that way.

So whether true or not religious people find comfort in death from after life. How do athiests find comfort? This is nothing new but death is one scaryyyyyyyyyyyy thing, to me its the scariest thing we will ever face. I believe in a god not one that may be depicted in religions right now, but a god. Im still scared by the thought of death, but I can ease my fear with the thought of after life. When the thought of dying into nothingness to mind it gives nothing really to live for in my book.

Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Mr Reasonable » Fri Jan 22, 2010 9:30 am

Maybe the atheist is never uncomfortable at all, and sees life and death as natural processes rather than as things with uniqueness and value beyond the instrumental.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Meatcube » Fri Jan 22, 2010 11:50 am

1. Smears pretty much hit the nail on the head with this one. Death happens to every one and everything. I'm no different.
2. What does anybody live for? Family? Friends? I don't think most people actually sit down and think about it, much less have an answer for it. Hell, what do you live for?
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby The Paineful Truth » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:48 pm

I think most people have a fear of death to one degree or another, even (maybe even especially) Christians. In the end, I think the deep down doubt they've always harbored comes to the surface when death is near, particularly if it's unexpected or sudden. I think it's better to acknowledge the doubt and come to terms with the it, rather than to deny it. Even an atheist, if he's honest, doesn't know there is no God, just as I, a deist, don't know that there is.

We all face death, therefore, we all face doubt.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Oughtist » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:40 pm

I think mostly our (theists and atheists alike) fear of death is reduceable rather to combinations of a) fear of a "premature" death (cf. dreams unfulfilled, projects left undone, etc.), b)fear of our absence's consequences (pain for loved ones), and c) fear of "dying". Theists may have additional grounds, of course. June Collingwood, an atheist, on the brink of her own death at mid-80s age, suggested that in fact the vast majority of elderly are truly, "ready to go"... a sort of so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-fish attitude. In an important sense, the atheist has less grounds for fear: no operative need to have the "exam-anxiety" of final judgement.

I think of my father in law, a stoic, "faithless" salt-of-the-earth farmer (probably more an apatheist than outright atheist), who's in a bad way right now and needed to answer the question as to whether he wanted to be revived in the event of heart failure during certain tests (he's had 2 major ones in the last year). He gave an unequivocal "no", not because he doesn't love life, but because he has lost fear of death (he describes the phenomenology of a heart attack as "lights on, lights off"). Life without quality is what is truly fearful, not its mere cessation.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Wonderer » Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:44 pm

Hope to satisfy yourself before you die.

A major comfort is not wasting time saying hail mary's or living in fear.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Mythoughts21 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:10 pm

Thanks for the responses,

I like the idea to think one loses their fear of death as they got older and are ready to go.

Personally I don't think that will be me hah...

Believing now that life is just the way it goes and enjoy it while you can, that's just hard for a person like me to grasp I mean hell yeah on enjoying life now and its a once in a lifetime chance, but thinking we will be heading into just darkness where no thoughts or anything will be just non existent ughhhh I just shiver at the thought.

Maybe that could be a more problem with people who believe god, because that's what their taught to fear so its more scary... but about the test anxiety of judgment, I really don't believe in the whole judgment thing, so I mean there is no anxiety there. Just the thought that I wouldn't be able to be who I am I could exaggerate it in my head, but its hard to bare.

It really is comforting to see that people can really come to terms to death even if they don't believe in god, now that's some cool stuff in my book.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Wonderer » Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:28 pm

This adage has been floating around this site for awhile:

"if death will leave me lacking awareness, i wont be around to care"
(or something similar)

Coming to terms with death isn't all that easy, for some it requires rearranging their entire set of values and beliefs. Personally i would be religious if i thought it would make me happier than i am now, after all my goal would still be to satisfy myself.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby xzc » Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:19 pm

Mythoughts21 wrote:Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2.

These questions aren't that important to me because I'm not so afraid of death as to make necessary any fictions about it. I can accept that it'll happen without having to lean on a crutch. I can't tell you why that is. There probably isn't a reason, i.e., a story, idea, or grand explanation that's causing me to be okay with death. It's probably just my brain's chemistry that doesn't trigger fear when I think of dying.

What do you live for?

I live to live. I enjoy living. Believing I won't live forever and that at some point I'll simply cease to be makes those moments when I exist sweeter. Even the bad moments are sometimes enjoyable.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Xunzian » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:55 am

I think it depends on how you are raised more than anything, "Raised expectations caused the French Revolution" and all that.

As a cradle-atheist, I can't say I've ever felt the sort of dread you are describing. It really isn't anything I'd ever given much though to. Sure, the plurality of views present on ILP have caused me to confront that particular issue but it is still very academic to me. I never valued death and the afterlife, so asking me about it is like asking me about why I occasionally leave change in the "give a penny, take a penny" box. It isn't like I haven't been broke but I've never been so destitute (even when I was homeless) that a few cents here-or-there meant anything more to me than my next drink. But having avoided full-blown, ruining-your-life alcoholism, eh, I can miss a drink and still be OK. It isn't that I don't value getting my drink on (I do) but, eh, it isn't that big a deal.

Death is the same way. There are days where I have to go sober. There will come a time when I die. So what?
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby No-body » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:43 am

Mythoughts21 wrote:
Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?


I cope with death by knowing that it's a part of life. I don't want to die, at least not now anyway, but when I do I don't have anything to fear. If anything there is more sadness in death than fear, sadness for things unsaid and unaccomplished. But if I live to some ripe old age then I imagine I will welcome death. At a certain point you're just paying medical bills to stay alive.

I live for life, if that makes any sense. I love a good beer, a close game, looking into the eyes of my wife, yelling at call of duty (videogame). I enjoy painting and writing (despite being pretty bad at both). Life is what you make it. I don't feel that it should be some sort of pre entrance exam for the 'real' life beyond this one.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Jayson » Sat Jan 23, 2010 1:54 am

Mythoughts21 wrote:1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?

1. I don't. It is not here for me to cope with; as such, it is not something I have to cope with.
If I am faced with death, I will take that as life with death known. This won't require me to cope either; I will instead have a perspective shift on the value of various aspects of life.

2. Life; it is what I live to experience. That is my place. All things have their time, this is my time for life.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Dan~ » Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:59 am

Mythoughts21 wrote:Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?

1: Ignoring death.
2: I live for my loves.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby north » Sun Jan 24, 2010 5:49 am

Dan~ wrote:
Mythoughts21 wrote:Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?

1: Ignoring death.
2: I live for my loves.


couldn't have said it better :D
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby shirtninjas » Thu Feb 04, 2010 7:49 am

Mythoughts21 wrote:Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?


1. I cope with death, as said earlier, by viewing it as a natural process. Aside from that, I cope with it by being prepared for it, and by not caring. I am only 21, but I have made arrangements (in the form of an extensive post-mortem letter to friends and family; last goodbyes, final wishes, etc.) to make sure that my death is understood by those I love and my funeral is performed in some manner that I would have found pleasing. When it comes down to it, though, we're all worm food. In order to help cope with the fear of death, I think that a few things must be understood (which I will address later*. But first,)

2. I live to make my short time alive worthwhile to the lives of those around me, to make some attempt, however vain, to improve the social world, and to have the largest possible amount of fun while here.

------

*Here I will list the various conclusions I have come to that help me cope with death.

    --Death is a natural process that happens to anyone and everyone.
    --The fear of death is better stated as the fear of no longer living/existing.
    --The fear of not existing is caused by:
      --Fear of worthlessness (once one is dead, the body which they know themselves as becomes no more significant than any rock or piece of dust.)
      --Fear of being forgotten (as social creatures, we take pride in our relationships with those close to us and fear being mentally brushed aside by them.)
      --Fear of the unknown after death (this is the most commonly stated; fear of the unknown is the same reason we're afraid of the dark.)
    --Our bodies are nothing more than mechanical organic transport vessels for our brains. Our brain is somehow an organic housing for our mind. We do not know what causes the mind to exist.
    --It is therefore pointless to take life for granted, because it could be snatched away at any minute.
    --To combat the feelings of worthlessness, what works for me is being well informed on the social world and attempting to change problems where I see them.
    --The fear of the unknown after death doesn't really bother me, and never has.

There's about a million more things I want to say on this subject but it's 1:42 am here and I am dead tired. I will explain any confusing points later in more detail.
"When I became convinced that the universe is natural, that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light and all the bolts and bars and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space. I was free..."
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Mastriani » Thu Feb 04, 2010 8:27 am

How can one fear what is not known or even knowable? That's an oddity of human thought that I have no answer for, in any respect.

What I live for?

There is nothing to live "for", I live because of my children, they are both my mortality and my immortality. I fear their death, but my own is meaningless; my only purpose for continuance is that they do well, I'm just a sometimes useful tool to their ends.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Blurry » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:11 pm

Mythoughts21 wrote:
Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?


Wasn't it Buddha who believed that to spend one's time concerned about what would happen to them after they died was pointless because there is no way for us to know what's going to happen to us? I believe it was something like finding out then rather than worrying about it now.

I'm not an atheist, but I still don't claim to know what's going to happen to me when I die. I cope with this by concentrating on living, and I live for myself.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Coatless » Thu Feb 04, 2010 4:38 pm

Mythoughts21 wrote:1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?

1. I zoom out (as I call it), i.e., I appreciate the relative insignificance of my life. When you realise how little your life matters in the grand scheme, you realise how insignificant your death is. It's a surprising comfort, atcherly.

2. Experience.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Meatcube » Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:16 pm

Mythoughts21 wrote:Believing now that life is just the way it goes and enjoy it while you can, that's just hard for a person like me to grasp I mean hell yeah on enjoying life now and its a once in a lifetime chance, but thinking we will be heading into just darkness where no thoughts or anything will be just non existent ughhhh I just shiver at the thought.


If you're anything like me, in that you remember so few dreams you'd swear you don't have them, you pretty much head into a dark place where you cease to exist whenever you go to sleep. What is existence but your ability to perceive your environment? I'm not consciously doing anything as I sleep and since I can't remember subconsciously doing anything, it becomes irrelevant. For all intents and purposes, I may as well not exist during those hours. I see death as much the same way. I suppose you could say I "die" every night?
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Jayson » Sun Feb 07, 2010 9:26 pm

Meatcube wrote:I suppose you could say I "die" every night?

lol, ditto!
I've never heard it put quite that way.

Further...if that's what death is like, then those moments before death...man, those are going to be just euphorically golden if my state before dropping off into sleep is any comparison!
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby finishedman » Mon Feb 08, 2010 12:40 am

Mythoughts21 wrote:1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?


1. A person that is always concerned about questions and answers about death is already dead. All you can do is think about it. Thoughts are something dead, they have no life. A living creature never asks questions about death because it is too busy living.

2. For a while in this form.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Xunzian » Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:42 pm

BlurredSavant wrote:
Mythoughts21 wrote:
Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?


Wasn't it Buddha who believed that to spend one's time concerned about what would happen to them after they died was pointless because there is no way for us to know what's going to happen to us? I believe it was something like finding out then rather than worrying about it now.

I'm not an atheist, but I still don't claim to know what's going to happen to me when I die. I cope with this by concentrating on living, and I live for myself.


Maybe you are thinking of Confucius?

Ji Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, “While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Ji Lu added, “I venture to ask about death?” He was answered, “While you do not know life, how can you know about death?” (Legge translation)


Though I could see Buddha saying similar things in some of his more skeptical passages.
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Blurry » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:17 pm

Xunzian wrote:
BlurredSavant wrote:
Mythoughts21 wrote:
Basically just want to know 1. How you cope with death 2. What do you live for?


Wasn't it Buddha who believed that to spend one's time concerned about what would happen to them after they died was pointless because there is no way for us to know what's going to happen to us? I believe it was something like finding out then rather than worrying about it now.

I'm not an atheist, but I still don't claim to know what's going to happen to me when I die. I cope with this by concentrating on living, and I live for myself.


Maybe you are thinking of Confucius?

Ji Lu asked about serving the spirits of the dead. The Master said, “While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Ji Lu added, “I venture to ask about death?” He was answered, “While you do not know life, how can you know about death?” (Legge translation)


Though I could see Buddha saying similar things in some of his more skeptical passages.



Yes, I believe you're right, and I feel like a total moron for some reason :D
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby anon » Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:20 pm

BlurredSavant wrote:Yes, I believe you're right, and I feel like a total moron for some reason :D

<Don't feel like a moron.>
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Re: Question For Athiests

Postby Xunzian » Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:47 pm

Well, there we have it!

Great minds think alike :)
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