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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My boyfriend is unlabeled, but told me he thought of death this way:

Time slows for those who die, and your brain records everything. As your brain ceases receiving electrical signals from the rest of your body, you fall away into nothingness...only for you, that nothingness is the last forever you will ever know. The bright light is your brain dying, sending desperate signals to other parts of your visual cortex in need of oxygen. You fall, you float, you go toward the light, and that is the last thing you will ever know.

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Sky-News-Archive/Article/200806412...
The meaning of life is the continuation of life. All life... think about it. So embrace the life you have. Embrace the actual connections and relationships that matter to you, and when the time comes and loss happens... grieve, just try not to let the emotions lead you to delusional thinking, which will happen...

For me, being an atheist makes dying palatable. It's natural to die and it's necessary. Without death there would be no such thing as evolution and we wouldn't exist. My religious friends are much more frightened of death than the atheists I know. They think a major drama is going to begin when they die. In short, they're afraid of getting a bad grade on their lives and being cast into an eternal hell (by their loving god; gotta love that). This means fear and death are entwined in their lives, unnecessarily of course. And many of them are afraid because deep inside, they fear their beliefs are nonsense. All the above cause them to have a terrible foreboding about death. It's sad, really.

I don't share these feelings. Death seems both inevitable and fine to me. I even have this notion that dying probably feels great, like going to sleep when you're totally exhausted. We have to focus on living because it's the only thing that matters. Death is kind of irrelevant. Why think about how it will "be" when you're not here? The obvious truth is that you didn't mind not existing before you were born, and you won't mind it again when you've gone from this Earth. Simple and easy: nothing to fear. Enjoy your long life rather than worry about the last three seconds of it. Makes sense to me.

I find myself trying to make up something to replace my previous christian belief/hope of life eternal.....

but this is to no avail because i am pretty sure this is it.... I just desperately don't like the idea/fact of never seeing my kids/parents again.........

I know religion is BS but i dont know what death holds.

I try to compare it to sleep since it in some ways appears to be similar, but also know this doesn't fit because my brain is more active at times in sleep than during wake times, I'm just not conscious.

I start to think that maybe Walt Disney and some of the other folks that have had their brains frozen at the time of death may have been on to something.

Then i think well i cant afford that but maybe i could have my dna saved and have me reborn at a later date from the same blue prints. Wouldn't be me in that i would have none of my current memories/experiences but would be me in a sense wouldn't it? Kind of a modern day realistic type of reincarnation.

Anyway this is the kind of S*&t my brain comes up with when i think/fear the thought of death and the end of consciousness.

ring a bell with anyone?

I think that having been religious we are trained to fear burning in hell far more than to love life and have compassion for our fellow man. This is probably why so many religious people find it easy to 'cut' others out of their life for being gay or Jewish or Muslim or a non-believer.  This life and the people in it aren't really important- the next one is.  For most it's all about hell, the rapture, and the extraordinary power of the devil.  This sticks with many people as they stop believing in 'god.' We have a harder time getting over the devil than over the 'good' god who d. In a way the devil is still there but god is gone. Sucks. Death is where the devil takes over- so we fear it.

 

Even if we could preserve our bodies the Universe will not last forever.  The Big Bang will stop expanding until it snuffs itself out. We have to continue in a totally different form.

I don't know what happens when we die.  Our body rots.  There doesn't have to be a god for us to have some kind of existence after death.  Perhaps we have evolved to the point where we emerge from this existence into some other- like a worm to a chrysalis to a butterfly.  In any case the best lesson is to live live live every day.

yeah i know.... still a few billion years before the big one might beat 80 or so.....

also some think the universe will possibly stop expanding and then shrink back to big bang only to start all over again in an oscillatory fashion..... talk about a long ass time....

I am really not that hung up on death and "The End" as Jim so aptly put it. It's just now that I admit i don't believe the shit i was raised with i have to come to terms with the new reality.....

There is a National Geographic: Moment of Death documentary that explores it from a scientific viewpoint, if you're interested.  From what I've read, when the brain begins to asfixiate and gets no more oxygen, it starts preparing for death by releasing an ecstasy inducing hormone of some kind so that you're really tripping.  This is the same principle used by people who try to asfixiate when they masturbate to increase the intensity of the orgasm, which is dangerous (don't try at home).

It's sort of the same thing that spiders do to their victims: they inject a sedative that paralizes the victim and then they consume the victim.

The important thing to understand is that the brain already knows how to deal with stress and supress the levels of panic that would otherwise set in, so it goes into ecstasy mode, this is why people experience delirium when they're dying and have visions of Buddhas or dead relatives, etc.  It's comparable to taking ayahuasca, magical shrooms or another shamanic type of drug that produces sacred experiences.

Yeah, I saw this too.... pretty cool stuff;

I am not sure about the theory that the brain goes into shut down mode. From an evolution standpoint doesn't really add anything to humanity, just makes death less painful.

Never known evolution to be in anyway kind.

Evolution is a pretty amoral character....

I don't worry about it. Not existing can't be bad.

"I'm not afraid of death; but dying scares the hell out of me." - Jack Cleary


I've always loved this quote, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn't afraid of death at all. The thought of just ceasing to exist is pretty big. But I think that the big problem people have with this is because they imagine death minus an afterlife to just be this big, dark void where they're stuck, alone, forever. I've always just assumed that there would be absolutely nothing, including no me. I wouldn't be whiling away eternity and be aware of being lonely, I just wouldn't have thoughts. There would be absolutely nothing. It's hard to wrap your head around absolute nothing though.


One of the things that made me feel better about dying, though, was finding out about "green burials". Instead of standard embalming fluid, which is highly carcinogenic, they use a vegetable based-one. Then they place you in a coffin made of biodegradable materials, and bury your 4ft under as opposed to 6ft, because it's easier for the body to breakdown at the shallower depth. There are eco-friendly cemeteries popping up all over North America, and I read one article where they just plant a tree on top of you, or a large rock, and you're buried in this forested area.


This just made me feel so much better about the whole thing, because instead of your body just turning into toxic sludge in a coffin that won't breakdown, you'll eventually just turn into soil and become part of the Earth. It seems very peaceful.


I wrote an essay once about how true death no longer exists, and that is was the invention of photographs that changed everything. Before photography, once a person was dead, that was it. You were never, ever going to see their face again. But once pictures became popular and easily accessible, you could see people even after they were dead, so death like we used to know it was conquered. Not really on topic, but that's another thing that makes me feel better.


I have to add this comic, because I love the author and it illustrates how I feel about the whole religion/death relationship.

 

Death is the reason why atheism is not popular among the general population. Apparently people want to live forever. They want to kid themselves that death is not the end. Of course we atheists believe that it is the end. Believing that death is the end doesnt bother me in the least.
Yeah but atheist obsession with delaying/preventing death seems awfully similar to me.

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