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As an Atheist, how do you deal with it?

It's definitely, definitely the hardest thing for me. I think about how crappy it is to have a mother who is hurt by my religious decisions, but how much worse would it be to realize that when I lose someone in my family, they're gone forever?

A lot of the Atheists I speak to don't think about it, or don't seem to mind. What do you think?
(Hopefully this isn't a duplicate thread.)

Tags: death

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this thing is hard

lots of people block this subject out of their minds

others find solace in religion and other spiritual systems that promise endless life in some shape or form

i frankly don't know how i am going to survive the deaths of my parents

maybe only by reminding myself im also finite and someday the whole circus will end for me as well)

I feel for you - I lived in similar circumstances. But don´t fear losing your friends, you´ll probably never be as lonely as when you lived in your parents´ house.
I never cease to be amazed at the number of people, even some atheists, who think there is some mystery about "what happens after death". This is one of the simplest, most straightforward facts there is in life. When you die "you" as a conscious entity cease to exist. Period. Why is that hard too understand? Yes, of course our constituent atoms continue to exist, but that is completely irrelevant in any consciousness sense. To ask "where do we go when we die" makes no more sense than asking where does the flame go when you blow out the candle. As far as death is concerned, there is zero difference between humans and any other living thing that dies. As to emotional feelings about this fact, that is a different question, one that might rightly be entertained AFTER the hard fcat is determined, not before. I am an only child too, and have no children. I loved my mother dearly and of course I would like to see her again. But my (or your) wants are utterly meaningless as far as the facts are concerned. We can and we will eventually overcome death. There will be people eventually, who are truly immortal except for catastrophic accidents. The fly in the ointment is, that this will only be available to the rich and usual.

Not necessary only available to the rich and powerful. Washing machines where only available to the rich and powerful. The same happened to computers and any other technology.


We will one day all be immortal except for catastrophic accidents.


The first immortals in such a sense might already be alive today.


I agree with the rest of your post and also agree that it will probably only be available to the rich and powerful at the beginning.

Elderly people are a nuisance. It's best to hand them over to the welfare state for processing and forget about them. This may seem a callous way to treat relatives who will not be seen again but I don't care.

it is just not right to just leave the people that raised ypu behind.
Why not? If they truly are a nuisance I treat them with the same disrespect as I treat non-elderly nuisances. However, most elderly people I gathered around me are no nuisance, but wise, experienced people with allot to teach me. So I do not fully agree with Napoleon... although I suspect he is trolling somewhat. ;)


-AF- ATHEIST FUNERALS - AF  ...saving you time, money and inconvenience !


'My sister wanted a godless funeral. But still invited God'

I try not to think about or dwell on it. End of



Your assertion that things cannot cease to exist is in direct contrast to reason and logic. It is the pattern of atoms that give something its existence and therefore its identity. There is nothing special about the molecules that make you up, it is the way in which they come together that is important and when they stop creating that pattern that is you, you will no longer be. To say that some part of reality always exists is to say that nothing does. It is to attempt to negate the validity of identity and definition. We call a tree a tree and wood wood for a reason. While the wood was once part of the tree, it is not the tree. And when it is burned to ashes, it will no longer be wood. A piece of wax without a wick, is not a candle. And if you burn a candle down completely, there will be no wick and therefore no candle, only melted wax. It makes no sense to look at the wax on the table where there once was a candle and assert that it is still a candle. The myriad of particles that made the candle what it once was still exist of course, but in a different pattern (one not forming a candle). The pattern that gave the candle its identity and therefore existence is no longer. Something is not the same as its pieces; it's its pieces in a certain order. You are incorrectly equating a thing's particles and that thing. The thing is all the particles in a particular pattern. Just because the particle will continue to exist, does not mean that the pattern they held will.

If you assert that things can be after they are destroyed, then you might as well say that life after death (which is the end of life) is possible. This is what it looks like you mean, but then if so, cannot anything mean anything then? I wonder what sort of 'reason' drove you to become an atheist? Was it that you just don't like monotheism? Because it certainly doesn't appear that you adhere to the laws of causality and noncontradiction. If rather that describing existence and identity for what it is concretely, you seem to use metaphor as an sufficient tool for definition. Just because you can liken life to a computer file (both of which can be destroyed, by the way), does not mean that they are the same. 

I was lucky in that few people died during my childhood. The tragedy of that familial longevity is that people are inevitably dropping off like flies now and there is so much pain to deal with over a rather short period of time. So, it's safe to say that death is a topic I have given much thought to.


Although many opportunities were woefully neglected, certainly I am happy for the extra years I have been able to spend with these people. I am also happy that I have been able to completely abandon all belief in heaven, hell, valhala, the North Pole, etc. prior to most of their deaths. When I was a child, Heaven and Hell were considered very real places. The fear of Hell, I think, was more a reason why I continued believing than excitement over Heaven--which sounded horribly boring. A family friend died when I still believed and it tore me apart thinking that he was probably in Hell. My mom had a dream that he had repented moments before he died and that was how she dealt with it. Even then I knew that that was just a sort of cognitive dissidence which thankfully I don't need anymore.


My Dad died nearly a year ago. It was tragic, there's literally not a single day where I don't think about him, but I know for a fact that he is not in hell or anywhere else for that matter. I wish he were alive, but I don't have to worry about him being tortured for the entire rest of eternity. Such things are nonsense and I wish my believing mother could have that comfort. Rather than waste time and stress about what could be happening to him (and all rationality says is not), I can instead concern myself with memories, and trying to make the best of life in his absence.


He will be gone forever, and there are a million things I wish could be different, but my greatest sadness is that my newphew will grow up without his grandpa. The only thing I can do is to let his memory live on through me.

You have said it very beautifully Caroline. By just growing up and accepting that one day we are all going to die, and that based on what we know that there will be no afterlife, for any of us is scary at first, but then peaceful once you accept it. You don't need to fear death for the fact that you won't know if you are dead you will just cease to exist.

I tend to disagree with your assessment of 'fear'. As far as I can tell, religion itself created the fear of death. When cultural anthropologists study tribal humans who are without religion, these kinds of fears simply do not exist, concepts of imaginary beings do not exist either.


Fear is a tool used that powerful people use to subdue masses, so fears are created, even when/where there should be none.


Death, we die, so what? 

Death needs to be de-tabooed, de-sacrified, de-mysteried. (sorry for invented words :)


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