well since nobody started any discussion about this, i think i might go right ahead...
i've been wondering how other Atheist perceived death,
As for me..i've began thinking about death as soon as i've began questioning about religion / god in my earlier stage.
I must say that it scares me alot.....to become nothingness, not knowing anything, not feeling anything, not able to think, ect...well you get my point.
But lately, i've seen it in a different perspective....i'm not actually scared of all that, what i'm actually scared is..to leave the world where my words, my existence, my connection fades away in time.
Sometimes i even envy the religious people, because they believe when they died...their soul went to either heaven or hell...or in other religion, purgatory then heaven; Not that i want to believe, it just that i cant believe.
so the question is how do you see death as it is ?
I find this a fascinating topic. I have walked with the dying on their final journey for many years. I volunteer in a hospice so this theme is ever present in my life. I have seen many die. Those who have "faith" and those without it. What do I think about it?
What does it mean to live forever? Do we live, as ancient philosophers believed, as long as we are kept in living memory? Do we simply disperse into a constellation of particles which will coalesce into new forms of matter without essential memory? I do not know. There is a mystery at the end of life. I do not mean anything supernatural but something beyond our empirical understanding as of yet. The brain does amazing things in the last hours of life. After it ceases its functioning, how can we know what is beyond the point of understanding?
I do not fear nothingness or "leaving" this physical existence; this world of thoughts, ideas, connections. I have experienced, however, the deep grief of the profound absence of someone I love... the connection severed and the memory fading. After the death of my brother, I did desperately want to believe that I would see him again in some form... that we would know peace. But, like you, I just do not.
It would be wonderful if others would comment on this topic. In hospice there are many who find solace in their faith and others who return to it in the face of uncertainty. I would like to know others who work in hospice and how they offer comfort to the dying who are not theists.
Thank you for posting this.
The latest death i can remember are...a friend of mine from junior high, because of leukemia and my distant grandmother...i felt loss but not sad because i'm not actually that close to them, which bring me to the question about my own death..
Its not like i want everybody to weep and cry over my funeral, i actually want a party for it tho dont think thats negotiable since i'm in no position to argue how my funeral goes when i'm 6 feet under...
I think....i just dont want my view of the world to be unnoticed, tho i'm kinda relieved that many others share the same opinion and few even speak louder..perhaps this is a way to cope with my death someday..to leave a small portion of my thought on the net and to gain some from others.
thanks to you too :)
I prefer to look at death in the "Gandalf the Grey" manner of an inevitable path that we'll all have to take. Immortality, be it of mind and body or that somehow my actions would have everlasting value scares me more then the idea that my life will end in nothingness and that if enough time has past even the small ripples that my existence caused in the fabric of reality will have been drowned out by other ripples, made by other people.
I find it strangely comforting to know that my life will end, that I will never have the opportunity to live again and that all that I've set into motion will one day fade out into nothingness. I find it beautiful as well that we are so insignificant in relation to the whole of the universe, but that we still don't care to find importance in the little things that make life worth living.
i see your point its a beautiful thing to live just this once tho to have an everlasting values of my actions is kinda what i would like to have...i hope its a good one tho, if its a bad one...well..i'm dead, spit on my grave then :(
to re-live again...well i wouldn't notice it even its really gonna happen, since its a "new" me with a new memory
Cogito Ergo Sum - René Descartes
I think therefore i am always comes back at me when i'm talking about death..tried not to over think about it and just live as fullest as i can, but i cant since there are boundaries among the people...how can i be satisfied with my life knowing other people in this world still judge others by their faith..and some are willingly to end others just because of it.
Most probably i wont know the end of this, and this is why i want my views & actions to be noticed and to have a deep impact in others thought for a better future even though my view of better future might be different with others.
i might babble much..being sick and responding replies in midnight could/may affect my post @_@
Oblivion is the state of nothingness.
Although no one truly knows what happens to living things when they die, I have found my own comforting interpretation of the very real possibility that there is nothing after this life.
I am not afraid of death, I am afraid of the pain that comes in the process of dying.
Oblivion is just an eternal sleep, unafflicted by pain or nightmares or annoying roommates that wake you up by wandering into the room drunk at three in the morning. (lol)
When I walk into a cemetary I no longer fear whether the people who once owned the bodies buried there are in heaven or hell or whether they survived death.
If they are in Oblivion (i.e. non-existence) then they do not suffer any longer. They aren't made painfully aware of the ravages of time on our world and our bodies, the way we who are still living are reminded regularly.
Furthermore... you can think of it this way.
There is no need for a religious interpretation of life and death when science can provide you with a viewpoint just as beautiful.
Here is my outlook, which I think is even more awe-inspiring than any idea of artificial heaven.
The universe, once empty and chaotic, began with the mighty stars.
The supergiant early stars were too big and too bright and thus quickly died, as everything in this universe must eventually.
But in their death they left behind stardust made of the elements that would form the miracle of life.
The stars have created and sustained all life and
all creatures that exist are made of stardust, every element is stardust for it originated in a star.
All things in this universe must return to the universe at some point.
When living and non-living things "die" they rejoin the universe and continue the cycle of creation and destruction.
When a human being dies, their body returns to the universe as it was destined to do.
Eventually, all of us will return to the stars from whence we came.
5 Billion years from now the Sun will swallow the Earth and we will become one with the stars again.
My brother died at the age of 40 this past July. I was still a "believer" when he died, and as I lay awake in the days during which we were all planning his final arrangements, I wondered if I really believed in this "heaven" which I always said I believed in. Not to mention, since my brother was not very religious, I began to seriously doubt the idea that he could somehow end up in...well, not heaven, when supposedly, I was going to be up in heaven with God someday. In my heart of hearts, I kind of ended up tabling the discussion. Honestly, though, that might have been one of the little cracks that began to appear in my faith, a crack which has led to a full blown collapse of the dam.
Looking back at seeing my brother lying there, cold and dead, I am quite certain that after we die...nothing. And I'm OK with that, I think. My brother's last week in the hospital was full of suffering and misery, from what I've heard (I live several hundred miles away). Now, for him, there's nothing: no suffering, no pain, merely oblivion. I don't see the need to believe in any sort of "afterlife." He did the best he could in this life, until diabetes made it impossible for him to do anything. Out of his 40 years of life, he had one horrible week (and an earlier horrible week, when his wife left him several years ago). But overall, I think he enjoyed life the way he lived it, and now we (the family) are able to share some pretty wonderful memories of our time together.
My mom said to me, as we were viewing my brother's body, "I'm not very religious, but I have to believe that he's in heaven." A little, secret part of me thought, "Why? WHY do you feel like you have to believe in that? You've admitted that you're not very religious." But I know the answer: she was raised Lutheran, and was told for a good portion of her life that good Christians go to heaven when they die. Since then, she's decided the church is mostly a waste of time, but she clings doggedly to that heaven idea. I'm pretty sure I can't do that any more, in my heart and mind.
I don't know exactly how I'll feel when I end up facing my own death. I hope I won't fall back on those old myths with which I was raised. I hope I won't have time to fall back on those myths. I hope I can have the strength to admit to myself and others that there isn't anything after death, except the memories we leave behind.
Most Christians (ask them!) envision going to heaven as being just a continuation of this life, we meet everyone we know and take up where we left off. What about a man or woman whose spouse has died, and remarries - who, in that scenario, does he or she spend eternity with?
If one carefully reads the Bible, our purpose in heaven is not for us, it's to spend all eternity praising god - does that sound like something you'd really look forward to?
I can think of nothing more numbing than praising god for eternity.
But even more importantly (since I don't believe any of us have to worry about the event's actuality, can you imagine the psychological mindset of a being that requires being praised for all eternity? And yet Judeo/Christian/Islamic theists continue to hope to go there - take that back, many sects of Jews do not believe in an afterlife.
I think it's important to understand the distinction between fear of death which I believe is irrational and fear of dying which isn't. When you die you won't know a thing about it.
Mark Twain said he had been dead for billions of years before he was born and hadn't suffered the slightest inconvenience from it. We are so lucky to be born at all that death is just so trivial in comparison.
"We are so lucky to be born at all that death is just so trivial in comparison."
It's impossible to calculate the odds we bucked at having all of the atoms that are "us," coming together at exactly the same time and place. And if somebody says, "Goddidit!" I'll slap you --
"And if somebody says, "Goddidit!" I'll slap you"
How can I resist? Goddidit! :)