I have two people dying in my life.

One is my brother-in-law who is finally paying the piper for a life spent in disregard for the future.  Liver failure and the shutting down of all the processes of the body as alcoholism takes it toll.

The other is my Mother who is lying in the hospital tonight.  She's confused and frightened and all she can say, over and over again, is "heaven and hell"  or is it "heaven or hell", it's hard to tell.

My brother-in-law is a Jehovah's Witness...or at least, that's the religion he was entrapped in.  JW's believe in predestination...that is to say, certain people are assigned to Heaven upon birth no matter what they do in live and others are destined to hell no matter how they live their lives.  It's a hard one, but all lies that say you are going to survive physical extinction are.  Not surprising.  When you are trying to invent an afterlife in spite of the preponderance of data proving when we die it's all over...everything that has lived has died.  If you don't see this as proof that all the fantasies of an afterlife then you need to turn in your rational faculties at the door.  

Right now, he's enjoying the comfort of the animals in his life...a feral cat and a stray dog...without anything supporting or understanding from his religion...rule number one is "Christians Lie"...get that through your thick skull if you want to deal with them.  Personally, I've give up.

My brother-in-law I'm glad he's got his animals for comfort.  My wife and I try to help, symptomatically as they say, is to try and keep him stoned...damn the alcohol industry in this country for keeping him from the only comfort available,  Otherwise, he's dying alone and terrified.  Christianity makes promises that it doesn't keep.  Only atheism...and by that I mean acknowledging your own mortality...can help him now but he's so screwed up by religion he doesn't see that.

My mother was taken into the hospital over the weekend.  It hurts me deeply being with her every day, knowing the only peace she'll know is dying and acknowledging her own mortality will take the sting out of dying.  Instead, I'm down there every night listening to her say over and over again in her confusion and delirium "Heaven and Hell."

Why should someone who has dedicated her life to the Church go to her death worrying about her eternal salvation?  

Yet there she is...and millions of others infected with the disease of religion...going to her death in an agony of indecision and doubt.

Only atheism tells us that when we die we're dead all over.

Only atheism says accept your own mortality if you want to have peace in you life.

Only atheism can truly comfort the dying.

That's what kills me about Christians who claim they offer a solution to the problem of Mortality.  They offer nothing.  They pile up grief and guilt on people who, in the final stages of their existence, are most vulnerable to their lies.

I am being ripped apart...I am an emotional wreck...I doubt I will be able to get through this...

I am not some person talking philosophy or theology.

I am a real person who has two people he loves very much who are dying.

And I am fucking furious about what religion is doing to these people I love.

Views: 417

Comment by Diane on April 8, 2014 at 6:53am

Philip, I understand not knowing if you will get through it, yet you will.  You are doing the right thing by being there for them and trying to provide some comfort however you can - you will never regret it.  I don't have any huge bit of advice, but I can say from personal experience that a) we can make it through things we think we will never survive, and b) having people tell us we will make it through helps us to make it through.  I know there are no prayers, no magic wands, no elixirs to take away your emotional pain, but their pain is almost done.  

When my father finally passed away from brain cancer a couple of years ago, I found comfort in knowing that his pain and toiling were over.  I still find comfort in that.  

Time will pass, and this situation will be no more.

Comment by Unseen on April 8, 2014 at 12:16pm

Actually, I think religion does offer effective comfort. My father was a believer and he believed hie'd be reunited with my mom, who had died several decades earlier. The problem with religion, to my mind, is that it isn't true. My brother, who I'm sure is at least an agnostic, read Bible passages to my dad, honoring my father's belief system. The focus, in the case a person's personal "end of days" is to comfort them with whatever works. You're beliefs don't matter much.

Comment by Philip Jarrett on April 9, 2014 at 11:12pm

I was born in the church and over the first fifty years of my life I participated in almost every form of religion from the Holler Church up to the Mega Church.  And, after fifty years, I find very little comfort being offered by religion.

Have you seen the "Invention of Lying" by the way?

What I'm saying is not the comfort of relaxing in to your old familiar beliefs in times of crisis.  I have a friend...big tall black and dreaded Jamaican...whose family was in the preaching business.  He keeps telling me he's "Praying for me" and I tell him that's great and to keep it up.  Why?  Because when he says he's 'praying for me' he means he is deeply and personally involved in my continuing crisis.  He's a Christian by birth and habit, on the other hand he knows the Deliverance Ministry where I cut my teeth in the late Seventies and has been just as scarred as I have been with two exorcisms under my belt.  We had a bond that is forged on shared personal experiences.

What I'm saying here is not what a person who has lived his entire life should suddenly change at the moment of dying.  My brother, a former minister, stopped preaching and went into hospice work full time over the last ten years.  As a preacher he was my enemy, but as a hospice worker he was terrific.  He took the people as they were and didn't try to force his religion on the dying like the other Christians do in a heartbeat.

What I'm saying is that long before they are faced with any traumatic end of life decisions for themselves and others they should have grown up.

It's a simple matter.  Death is a fact.  Everything that has ever lived has died.  There is absolutely no doubt about what happens after death:  decomposition.  Nobody comes back.  That is the truth proven absolutely no matter how loose your standards for evidence are.  We die, we decompose, we do not come back to life.

But people don't want to grow up.  It's that simple.  Being a grown adult means making peace with your own mortality and the sooner you do that the happier your life and your ultimate death will be.  But when you're an immature and impressionable adolescent you are eager to find an excuse that says you will not die...that's because during adolescence we have not yet developed the mental faculty to imagine our own death hence we are ten feet tall and bulletproof...and that's why they recruit or draft children to fight their wars.  An eighteen year old boy is incapable of understanding the reality of his own death.  By the time they reach twenty-one their brain has matured enough to comprehend their own death.

The idea that religion is comforting to people who are dying is true only in a very slender number of cases....usually as your father, Unseen, felt comfort in the idea of being with his wife.  This is a very comforting thought but wouldn't it have been better if he had, when he made the transition from childhood to being an adult human being, he had accepted the fact of his own mortality and lived a life without illusion?  I believe people know they are going to die and know that death means a cessation of existence.  This knowledge is ground into their very bones.  It isn't that we are afraid of death and choose to believe we will exist after death out of the motivation of fear.  It's deeper than fear of dying...which, once you have acknowledged your own mortality and have come to live a good life in spite of your impending death...simply goes away.

The reason people believe in an Afterlife is not fear of death, but it is deep seated revulsion at the idea the world could go on once we cease to exist.  This leads to a commitment to a religion...doesn't matter which one, most people don't know theology from scientology.  I've had Christians who claimed not to have any theology they just "read the Bible and believe" and Atheists who claim to have no philosophy they just "look at the facts and believe".

My point is the philosophy of Atheism is a better way to live your life than the theology of Religion.  

And the defining difference is not whether you believe in God or not, the difference between Atheism and Religion is an atheist is a grown adult who has accepted his own mortality and has constructed a life around that certainty and a religious person is someone who has chosen to remain a child rather than face the fact of his coming non-existence.

Religion is cowardice.

Religion is for the lazy.

Religion is for the weak.

Does religion offer comfort at death?

Hell no.

Religion is the source of our fear of death.  If we weren't taught life and death and heaven and hell by religion then we would not fear death but accept as the normal ending for life.

Religion creates the fear of death then wants to say they comfort the dying.

How does that work exactly?

Paul, the only author of any of the books of Christianity who actually existed...and I know I piss off Mythologists but they have the same historical credibility that Creationists have scientific credibility...that is to say, none to speak of...read Bart Ehrman's...the best openly agnostic theologian out there...take on the Mythological Theory that Jesus did not exists at all.  All I'm saying is when a person trained in one field tries to formulate an opinion in another field they simply don't know what they're talking about.  Paul is quoted as saying "The Sting of Death is Sin."

In other words, if you have been convinced by Religion that you are a sinner in need of salvation, then naturally you will fear death.  Why?  Because any honest person who examines his or her life will know they are sinners condemned to Hell.  

Far more Religious people, rather than being comforted by their Religion as death approaches, are terrified of death.

The only way to get over the fear of death is to face the fact and go on living.

And the early in a person's life they do this, the better life they will have.

I know this for a fact because I know the man I am now...an atheist...and I know how I used to be when I was a Christian.  

So, as far as religion offering 'comfort' in dying it bullshit.

Religion creates the fear of death and forces people to join their churches, give up their own rationality, their own politics, there own gender preference...hell, their own sexuality altogether...and commit their lives to a lie then, once they have created the Beast of Eternity inside of people, they offer their own cure...a cure that can only be accessed if you belong to the Church they're selling.

I hear there are Christians lurking on this site and I belief it.  They have many groups who join atheists groups so they can garner the ideas going around then create responses...not answers...to the objections atheists present.

And for that the best advice I can give anyone with pretentions of atheism is:

Christians lie.

Don't talk to them.


Comment by Unseen on April 10, 2014 at 12:33am

The idea that religion is comforting to people who are dying is true only in a very slender number of cases....usually as your father, Unseen, felt comfort in the idea of being with his wife.  This is a very comforting thought but wouldn't it have been better if he had, when he made the transition from childhood to being an adult human being, he had accepted the fact of his own mortality and lived a life without illusion?  I believe people know they are going to die and know that death means a cessation of existence.

Sorry. Don't know what would have been better from his worldview. I'm really not sure I live MY OWN life without illusions. Are you sure you have none?

Comment by Philip Jarrett on April 11, 2014 at 10:38pm

Of course I have illusions.  I don't deny the existence of illusion...or imagination, which is just another way of saying the same thing.  The proper response to the problem of illusion...or the place of imagination in both creative and scientific...is to acknowledge that this is a preference created by my own experiences.  But since my experiences are, by definition, subjective events they must be verified or contradicted by evidence.  An opinion is to the humanities what a theory is to science.  Both are a starting place.  But this doesn't mean that one opinion is just as good as another.  There are two types of opinion:  informed and uninformed.

If your opinion is uninformed it is just that...your asshole as has been commented upon long before me.  Once an opinion is either formed through personal experience or is a holdover from childhood indoctrination then it is necessary for the individual to research the subject in order to verify or contradict your private opinion.

Taking yourself apart...self-vivisection, one might term it...is something that does not come naturally to people.  It is a hard discipline that most people are too lazy to employ.  They'd rather think that their opinion is as good as anyone elses.  The problem, of course, is that you can...to quote Christian theology..."Believe a lie and be damned."

Opinion is only good and trustworthy to the extent that said opinion lines up with the truth. 

Do we really have to talk about truth?  In this Post Modern, anti-Enlightenment age the very idea that there is truth...that everything isn't just a matter of opinion...requires defense.  And that, to me, is the silliest idea.  If you don't believe that truth exists and that you are capable of discovering that truth and that once discovered, that truth obligates you to a course of action at the same time it closes down all other courses of action...then what's the point in talking to you?  

There is a common ground that must be accepted by both parties before dialog can occur.  The argument is always phrased in terms of Faith Vs Reason, but the correct terminology for the interplay is rather Reason Vs Irrationality.

If I go into a discussion with another then I acknowledge my opinion might be changed through the presentation of ideas that you may have that have not yet occurred to me.

If the other person does not come to the discussion with an equal willingness to change their opinion, then they have placed themselves beyond the pale of rational discussion.  

The Secular Motivation is to interact with others in order to frame new and better thought out opinions...or theories for those with a Bunsen Burner Mentality.

The Christian Motivation is to interact with others in order to convert the other person to your faith...and faith is the opposite of reason....but there is absolutely nothing personal put on the line by Christians.  They will not alter their opinions no matter how convincing the arguments they encounter.

Why?  Because Christians are not interested in the truth...remember the number one rule for dealing with Christians is they lie....because Christians have stopped searching for the truth and, even if faced by an ultimate and undeniable truth, they will not alter their opinion.

Atheists seek the truth and therefore are open to any new information that will get them closer to the ultimate alignment of belief with reality.  It is only when our beliefs are in sync with reality that we can live a full and happy life.

Christians seek to avoid burning in Hell.  That's about it.  They can't lose the argument because to do so would mean burning in Hell, therefore they will say the most outrageous things and believe the most impossible lies and turn their backs on the whole idea of searching for the truth.

Christians have stopped searching for the truth.

Christians aren't just people who have a different opinion, to continue to treat them as such and to attempt to have rational discussions with them is foolishness and a waste of time.

Comment by Bernardo on April 15, 2014 at 12:34pm

You cant assert there is no kind of afterlife. It may be something but just that. Say Heaven or Hell is just to much.

I do not believe on afterlife nor believe we are complete dead when we die. Just the fact that we lived on this earth on this moment gives us a eternal sense of ever being.

Comment by Unseen on April 15, 2014 at 12:45pm

Bernardo, after you die your brain decays until it disappears. What isn't "completely dead" about that. Where would "you" be? Where are the neurons that would supply "you" with experiences and perceptions? Gone!

Comment by Bernardo on April 15, 2014 at 1:01pm

You do not know how the brain works, it is as simple as that. I am only accepting the possibility that some part of our existence sticks to some part of our reality in some way. If we can perceive the totality of reality or if we see is all that exist i cannot tell.

Comment by James Cox on April 15, 2014 at 1:43pm

In my experience, life can be 'grand' without the crazy parts that intrude. Religion seems to be part of that 'crazy part'.

While I figure that 'religion' helped us learn how to create abstractions, but it also gave us the opportunity to 'live them as if they were true'. It did not offer us always a good exit from the absurd. If we get stuck in 'unanswerable questions', 'unobservable truths', and 'abstract persons of perfect freedom', surely we have begun to abuse our otherwise good minds.

Religion seems to allow the formation of a 'closed loop' cognition, where excape is very hard if the premises are held as perfectly true. I expect that religion, like drug addictions, can demand a constant refluxing or return. Better to never start.  

Comment by Unseen on April 15, 2014 at 9:21pm

Bernardo, I know enough about the brain to know that it is basically a biochemical bioelectric machine. The machine stops working when it's no longer living and certainly when it's no longer there. I'm as certain about that as I am that I've never been to the Moon.


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