When I first accepted atheism as my own personal philosophy, I could feel the excitement of rebellion as well as a comforting relief "knowing" that God wasn't real, and neither was Hell. I've found some wonderful people with very diverse views and comprehensive, intelligent understanding of the universe and our place in it. It's been a grand, exciting time for me.
And yet I can't shake that one unending, horrifying sensation that's been at the back of my mind the whole time: abject terror of death.
I suppose it's one thing to say that spiritually that our bodies pass on and some part of us lingers to do something else. Maybe have grand adventures within the greatness of our galaxy or develop into something grander than just entities in hollow human shells. But as an atheist, I cannot accept this. I'm forced, by virtue of scientific progress and personal comprehension, that once I kick the bucket, I'm gone. All I'll be is wormfood and happy memories to a mournful group of friends and family.
I have a very dear friend who is losing someone very close and dear to him to cancer. He's told me (and I'm sharing his feelings) that the biggest reason he can't accept atheism is because he doesn't want to imagine his sister as wormfood. He wants to imagine that he can see his sister again happily on the "other side". And in grief, he's demanded that I keep myself open for that possibility, and I've agreed. How could I not, when I feel the same fear he's going through?
In all the beauty, grandeur, and glory of the natural universe and the fantastic amazement one can have for its processes, there's one undying fact that won't be ignored: we are all tiny and meaningless to this universe in which we live. We exist for not even the tiniest fraction of existence and pass on without a single thought. Now, instead of saying, "What's the point of doing anything now when there's something in the afterlife?" I'm saying, "What's the point of doing anything now when there's no point except to get up, live, then die?"
I've heard the argument that it's a cold, frustrated, bitter imagination that refuses to accept this world for what it is and demand that something must be behind it or must have created it. But it feels even more inhumane to say that we are tiny, insignificant dots in the grandeur of the universe.
And some atheists wonder why the religious hold onto their "bullshit dogma". Sometimes it seems like there's greater peace in ignorance than coming to terms with your own meaninglessness.
In response to Sin:
I was thinking of what I would write as a response, as I was reading the responses by others and not finding one that matched my own personal views, but after reading yours I rapidly came to the conclusion that I could not agree more, and any attempt to state my perspective would pale in comparison. Well done sir, well done.
Fear of death is wholly natural since survival or should I say, the instinct for survival is inbuilt, if you like. For me I would say that any fear of death really depends on how death comes and in what form (forgive me if this all sounds wrong. I'm tired and it's been a long day but I just felt compelled to post).
If I die in my sleep with no pain then It won't matter. I'll be gone and I won't know anything about it. But, if I were to die a grusome or painful, well that is something else entirely.
Death is something I think about at least once or twice a week. The one thing that scares me the most would be if I were to die very suddenly without saying any last words to my loved ones. Second to that would be if someone took it upon themselves to give me a Christian or religious based funeral. To me, that is unthinkable.
Your macroscopic view makes you blind for certain things. Do you know how many neurons there are in a human brain? Would you be likely to say that you do not care if a certain neuron exists or not? Regardless of the number of neurons in your brain, every neuron is of equal importance to you and though a loss of one may not influence you that much you would still rather not lose it because it certainly does fit into the bigger picture and does have a purpose.
When you talk about meaninglessness, I don`t get what you mean. What would be a life which would be inherently meaningful? Do you realize that the whole universe would be different if only a single neuron in your brain went missing when it shouldn`t? Is that meaningful? Or is that meaningless?
I hate to be pedantic, but you didn't actually die, did you?
How do you know that she didn't actually die? She could have been clinically dead, resuscitated back to life.
You mean like Jesus?
Are you an idiot? Do you even know what clinical death is or that people can & have been resuscitated back to life from it?
Hey Judith, I'm fine, thank you. How are you? Don't see you in the chat room these days.
Coming back might have been a bugger, but I'm glad you made it though :)