The Greek philosopher Epicurus thought that we are afraid of death mainly because we fail to really grasp nonexistence. Creatures of consciousness, we can only picture it as "me-floating-in-darkness-forever." Is it really suprising that that horrific idea sends people racing to the kneelers to pray to someone who is said to have conquered it for us? Heck, if the darkness was really the thing, I'd be wearing out my own knees. But it isn't. The key, Epicurus says, is to really get that death is the "end" of experience. One can only experience life, up until its final moment, not beyond. "As long as i exist, " he said, "death does not. Once death exists, I will not. Why should i fear something i will never experience?"

He also offered the "symmetry argument." If you fear death, he said, consider the expanse of time before you were conceived. The "past infinity" of nonexistence before your conception is just the same as the "future infinity" of nonexistence after death. "You" have already been there, in other words.

(An excerpt from Parenting Beyond Belief-On Raising Ethical and Caring Kids Without Religion)

Views: 19

Tags: Epicurus, death, greek, philosophy

Comment by jen o on May 29, 2009 at 11:51pm
That kid is awesome! How old is he???
Comment by jen o on May 29, 2009 at 11:59pm
Oh wow that is amazing! How did you get that movie past his parents? Are they liberal Christians or something?
Comment by jen o on May 30, 2009 at 12:07am
Awesomeness!
Comment by Terri~ on May 30, 2009 at 12:39am
I think it's awesome to look at death from an atheists perceptive. We don't waste our time and money in churches. We instead spend that extra time with family and friends and enjoying the one life we know we have. I think that is cause for celebration.
Death is tougher for those we leave behind because they miss us. For us it's over.
I embrace life and try to enjoy every moment.
I love being an atheist!
Comment by Aric on May 30, 2009 at 12:39am
Death isn't something to fear, but I would recommend avoiding it for as long as possible.
Comment by Aric on May 30, 2009 at 12:55am
Thanks! That's really the only way that I could view death since I think that Heaven( quick fact: I got 10 points taken off an essay because I didn't capitalize the word Heaven) is imaginary.
Comment by Aric on May 30, 2009 at 1:27am
That would have been funny but my teacher would literally have had a heart attack if I had written that. She was like a super-religious little old lady.
Comment by Reggie on May 30, 2009 at 5:20am
I didn't realize the "symmetry argument" as you have defined it was from Epicurus. Samuel Clemens seems to get a lot of credit for his succinctly phrased version of this.
Comment by Terri~ on May 31, 2009 at 1:18am
Title coulda been "Don't Fear the Reaper" :)
Comment by Atheist Ninja on May 31, 2009 at 2:02am
If Bruce Dickinson wants more cowbell, we should probably give him more cowbell!

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