New Video: Are Atheists Afraid of Death?

I got asked this question the other day, so here’s my best answer. What is your take? Do you think there is a specifically “atheist” way of looking at death? Are you afraid of death or dying? Let me know in the comments.

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Category: About Godless Mom, Debate | Tags: ,
  • @Lovethatscience

    I think there are two ways of looking at the issue, maybe three. The questions may well be, Are you Afraid of dying?, Are you afraid of a bad death? or do you consider your life complete, and have no fear of dying.

    Most of the deaths I have witnessed fall into the second category, fear of a bad death. In all of those cases, it was justified as they were “bad” deaths. Alzheimer’s, chronic disease, over zealous doctors and heroic measures. I am afraid of that kind of death, and have taken measures to ensure I will have a quiet peaceful death. I love life, but consider my life complete. I have three great kids whom I am just so proud of I could burst. My career is winding down, and my health is pretty good all things considered. But I’m not afraid of death. Its been a good run. I will not have any grandchildren, so my life is complete, and if I die today, always a possibility, I’m good to go. But it can take its time. .

  • Johnny Bonami

    I will comment on this one as well. I may have a slightly different perspective as I was raised in an extremely religious family (basically the bible raised me). We literally had to learn a bible verse a week in my house, were not allowed to go out on Halloween but attended harvest festivals at the church, etc etc. It was quite the strict religious upbringing. God (at that time) scared the hell out of me (into me?). Heaven, Hell, God’s wrath (fire and Brimstone, blah blah blah), really had me convinced that I either would follow God or I would burn in hell for eternity. As I reached my teen years, I started to realize how I just could not agree with the teachings of a mythical sky creature and a 2000 year old book that was put together by a Roman emperor in the 5th century. Eventually, my questioning of religion and God got me thrown out of my house at the age of 15 (and honestly that was the only reason. I was a 4.0+ student, all honors classes, played sports, etc). As I survived on my own, I was driven to really expose Christianity for what it was (I was so so angry at that time), so I really studied the bible and comparative religion and such. The deeper I got into it, The more I realized that there is no way that these teachings could be anything but fiction (to a degree, as I do believe there was a person named Jesus, and I believe he probably did some cool things. I just think the bible embellished a lot of the stories). Anyways, even though I realized that this bible was a piece of fiction (and I truly believed that), the more I became afraid of death. I had been brain washed for so long and from such a young age, that even though my mind grasped that there was no heaven or hell or God, I couldn’t let go of the fact that I could be wrong and I would burn in hell forever. It is hard to imagine that the very thing I worshipped for salvation, was only worshipped out of fear and not love or respect. Fast forward this struggle about 15 – 20 years later and I really began to understand that I really didn’t have anything to fear, and based on the religious people of the day, I knew I wanted nothing to do with them or their teachings. I accepted that I would rather burn in hell than worship a God that is so abusive and controlling. As soon as I grasped that reality, my fear of death pretty much disappeared. I have lived an amazing life thus far. I have not mistreated anyone and probably lived to a higher morale code than most Christians do (at least I am not faking anything. I am living to my standards, not someone elses). I am comfortable with my existence, and accept the fact that my existence will someday end. This is not a problem for me anymore. It’s funny that worshipping God had caused me so much more fear of dying than actually letting all that go and living my life on my terms. To sum it up, I have no fear of dying now (in my mid 40s), but like the other post said, I obviously dont want to die in a horrific manner or anything. I guess, I have no fear of what happens after death (as that is the real question here I believe), even if by some far reaching chance I am wrong and there is a God, I don’t believe it will be what the religious nuts have twisted him into being. Yet, hahaha, I am so not wrong on this God issue. So, proud Atheist here and not afraid of what happens when I die.

  • Virtual Atheist

    Death is inevitable, and I disagree with you that the fact I don’t fear death means I’m full of shit 😉

    That’s not to say I look forward to it, but rather than fear it, I am saddened at the thought of the grief of those I leave behind.

    Sadness ≠ Fear

    • I don’t buy it. I think faced with death, you’d be afraid. Even a painless, quick death like a shot to the head. I don’t even think suicidal people are immune. I think it’s instinctual and in all of us.

      • John Picco

        I also have to disagree. Of course I’d rather be alive than be dead, but nothing is inherently scary about dying; unless you’re scared of the pain that may come along with it, which I’m not.

        Now if someone where to point a gun at my head, would I be perfectly calm and careless? Of course not. I want to stay alive and what I would say would reflect that. I also don’t want someone to steal my TV, but I don’t fear it.

  • Brad Larsen

    Fearing death is normal, but as you get older, it’s not as large and looming as it once was. I’ve always thought that it was rather egotistical of someone to assume that they were important enough to warrant an eternal life in paradise as one of some god’s minions or ‘favourite’. Often, I imagined that the ‘Afterlife’ version of many Judaic-based faiths were written by some adult who, as a child, was abandoned by their father (given the many ‘father-figure’ versions of God there are).

    Eternal life is a terrible thought. The idea of ‘going on forever’ is a nightmarish ideology in and of itself. One would eventually go mad, I would think . . . or be forced to turn to doing ‘evil things’ in order to keep from being bored.

    All in all, I remember, as a tot, how I couldn’t remember existing before my birth. It was a very strange and unfathomable thought, but it was real. After 50 years, I’ve had a chance to deal with that thought, and to be honest, I don’t fear death. I fear leaving behind a mess, or leaving behind debts, or leaving behind unfinished things . . . but death? It won’t hurt. It won’t be anything, and that in itself is somewhat comforting.

    For me, after, at least.

    But having raised my kids, knowing they are far better than I ever was at their age, and with a great start in life, and having a wonderful relationship with my wife of 25 years this summer, I know that is not a concern. I know they’ll miss me, but I also know from personal experience that eventually, that pain will go away, and the memory of me will warm them, not hurt or harm them. If I leave them without a mess of debt or illness issues, I can go happy.

    Having a good life is Heaven. The rest is just normal.

    • Agreed, eternal life is not at all appealing.

  • MrKenny

    A friend once told me that I’ve been dead longer than I’ve been alive and I do find comfort in that. But my main fear is just not “being”. I just can’t wrap my mind around not existing anymore. I know it is drop dead (pardon the pun) straight forward and simple but I’m just not able to accept such without concern. No more thinking? No sir. I don’t like it.

  • Just made to

    If you’re suffering from a painful, currently non-curable, disease. You might welcome death.

  • George Saint

    Not afraid of death at all. It is THE WAY you might die that is the scray bit. You’d hope you could die peacefully in your sleep, not be burned to death slowly, crushed, or have your head cut off by a religious zealot.
    Death itself is meaningless to me. There is nothing after death.