Atheist Feelings Toward Death

September 4, 2007 at 2:41 pm 81 comments

Christian Commentary

A dead soldier in Petersburg, Virginia 1865 during the American Civil WarThis post is somewhat atypical in that it is not meant to present arguments “for” or “against” religion. Instead, it is more of an inquiry from a curious Christian. As many De-Conversion readers know, Christian theology is full of text regarding the afterlife, Kingdom of God, and so on. Many Christians find it comforting in knowing that death has been conquered, relieving humanity from guilt and fear. But what does the Atheist think?

No, I am not wondering about what the Atheist thinks about the Christian view of death. I am curious to know the thoughts and feelings Atheists have regarding it. This can be hard to do (for Christians and Atheists alike) in that we often talk about death philisophically. In other words, we often forget that we will die. Reflecting on that very notion and making it a reality can be troublesome.

I am asking the Atheists who come to this website (which I presume to be the majority) to make death a reality, reflect on how it makes you feel, and to discuss it in the comments section of this website. There is no “hidden agenda” (i.e. I’m not going to start harping on why you should be a Christian). I merely wish to discover the views, and in the process, let other people (new Atheists, Agnostics, Theists) gain insight into different perspectives of the ultimate finality.

Are you scared? Does it bother you? Are you hoping for a God but don’t believe? Are you okay with death?

There is no right answer. For as much as we talk about death and dying, we often separate ourselves from our feelings during such conversations. Let’s reunite them. Let’s start the discussion.

Justin

Entry filed under: Justin. Tags: , , , , , .

Noah’s Ark – FOUND!! Christian Feelings Toward Death

81 Comments Add your own

  • 1. ESVA  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:01 pm

    Good question. As a newly de-converted atheist, I am still working through this one. At this point, I am fairly at ease with the idea that death will be final and that my ashes (I have given instructions to be cremated) will one day become part of the natural matter of the earth. This seems appropriate to me. Ironically, I no longer have to wonder and hope that I really, truly am saved and will get to heaven and avoid hell. The solace that Christian faith was supposed to bring me led to uncertainty and some anxiety. That anxiety disappeared when my faith vanished. In the meantime, I want to live each day to its fullest because life is incredibly precious

  • 2. inmate1972  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    As an atheist, I don’t beleive either heaven or hell. I don’t believe in a different form of life after death, although I know of other atheists who beleive that there is a higher plane of being.

    It doesn’t scare me. I don’t fear death. Death is a natural and necessary process, so I remind myself (not always daily, but I should) that life is now, enjoy life now.

  • 3. marie  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I actually am not scared of death at all. I just don’t want to die young.

    I am totally against death by murder, war, injustice, etc. but for the most part, Natural death to me is just that–natural.

    I actually find comfort in the fact that everything will die. Just as I didn’t miss life before I was born, I guess I wont miss it after either.

    Again, any provoked or unnatural death to me is very sad, but for the most part, it is and has always been how things are.

  • 4. salahudin  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    Why only ex-Christian Atheists?
    :(

    How about ex-Islamic? Or any Atheist from whatever background?

  • 5. Luke  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    It is not as easy to separate out what an atheist might think about Christian ideas regarding death from what the atheist thinks about death himself. To say that you’re an atheist is to define your epistemic position regarding the truth of theism. To pose a question such as “what does the atheist think about death” is to include, by using the word “atheist” the reference to his denial of theism, including Christianity (which includes Christian ideas about death). I hope that’s clear.
    Remember that atheism in its pure form is the denial of theism, not any kind of other philosophy. An atheist might be a libertarian, humanist, nihilist, even a Buddhist… anything, really. And this might impact on their views regarding death. As so much talk about death harks back to questions of metaphysics, and the denial of God does not in itself entail any kind of metaphysical stance alone, the answers you’ll get from atheists are likely to be diverse.
    The Christian doctrine of the defeat of death raises vexing questions, like “if death was not vanquished before Jesus’ was resurrected, does that mean his sinful predecessors perished?” The Harrowing of Hell is one supposed answer to this, but as you go, notice that the bizarreness of the explanation becomes more and more convoluted. Atheists are likely to reject this, not just on the grounds that God doesn’t exist (and therefore Jesus was not divine) but also that all this theological obscurantism is unnecessary. That is, they apply the rational principle promoted so much by William of Occam. We should not multiply our assumptions where it is not required. There is no knowledge of what happens after death, but there is every reason to think it is the end of us in every sense, and no reason at all to suppose the theistic alternative. The case for this is made more persuasive as one learns of all the ways in which people have tried to convince themselves of immortality. A simple analysis will lead to the simplest and most coherent hypothesis: this is wishful thinking. Humans are, insofar as we’re aware, the only species who perceive that their time on earth is limited. The psychological tendency to attempt an escape from this realisation is, as history shows amply, prevalent.
    But atheism in and of itself guarantees no outlook as to death, since it means nothing else than the denial of theism.

  • 6. LaShawn  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    Death is that unavoidable nagging thing that I try not to think about, but inevitably pops up in my mind from time to time. It’s scary, yet comforting, motivating, and relieving somehow although I’m not quite able to explain. No one wants to stop existing forever, but as atheists that’s the truth we’re ultimately faced with.

    It’s scary because of the sinking realization that one day there will be no more “me”, but comforting at the same time because everything that makes life seem precious (family, friends, etc) will one day no longer be here either, and life would not be worth living.

    Like ESVA, when I was a Christian I dealt with even more anxiety when I thought about death, because there was always the worry that I might not get into heaven. Even worse would be getting into heaven, and none of my loved ones making it. I remember crying when I was younger because of this.

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like to die, and discover that there is indeed a God. Such discovery would definitely lead to my eternal damnation in hell, but I suppose thats a chance I’m willing to take.

  • 7. writerdd  |  September 4, 2007 at 3:39 pm

    I’m not afraid to be dead, although I am afraid of dying a painful death, such as from cancer or drowning. I don’t think being dead will be any different than being unborn. That is, I didn’t exist before I was born, and I won’t exist after I die. OK, so I don’t want to die young or anything, because there are a lot of things on this planet that I’d still like to experience before I go. And I think that not believing in an afterlife leads to a better morality, based on relieving suffering and increasing happiness in this life, rather than saying it’s OK if this life sucks because you’ll have a better afterlife (which cannot be proven, whatever you believe).

    I do, however, have atheists friends who believe in reincarnation. They just don’t believe in God.

  • 8. overcaffein8d  |  September 4, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    As Benjamin Franklin put it, the only two things you can count on are death and taxes. Nathaniel Hawthorne, on the first page of The Scarlet Letter, said that every town finds it necessary to have a prison and a cemetery.

    Of course, all this is just saying that everybody dies. It’s a natural thing. When you see an animal die, do you think it goes to heaven? (Except hogs, which, of course, go to hog heaven.) Why should this be any different from the death of a human?

    People die. Accept it. Embrace it. You’re not ever going to avoid death. Why fear change?

    I suppose death won’t come as slowly as life did. I can’t remember my birth. I don’t know anyone who can. And I definitely don’t remember my conception. I won’t know what hit me. I’ll be too dead.

    @Luke: Arthur hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realised there was a contradiction there and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.
    -Douglas Adams

  • 9. Justin  |  September 4, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Hi Salahudin,
    I didn’t mean for it to come off as strictly “Christian”. We’d love to hear the ex-Muslim and ex-Jew perspective as well.

  • 10. Jon F  |  September 4, 2007 at 5:46 pm

    My view of death has changed quite significantly since my de-conversion. As a christian, I believed when people died they were judged and either went to heaven or hell. Obviously is was very re-assuring to know I was on the winning team. Now, having let that mythology go, I have embraced New Age teachings which have a very different spin. When we “die”, all that happens is our soul unlinks itself from the physical body it was constrained to and returns to its “natural state”, where it remembers its freedom and total one-ness with God. After that, it may choose to reincarnate and experience other aspects of itself. With this framework, my view of death has changed. There is no longer the christian “once you die it’s too late” fear, and no longer the “you might be punished or go to hell” fear. Instead, the promise of returning to being one with God. Much better – I’m almost looking forward to it!

  • 11. salahudin  |  September 4, 2007 at 6:07 pm

    Thank you Justin.

    My perspective of “death” is a bit… well… existentialist.

    “Death is the work of life” – Simone DeBeauvoire.

    Death is the inevitable nothingness. Or perhaps there is something beyond, but I doubt it.

    In the end (no pun intended), what can you do? My fascination of life is ever increased, knowing I won’t have it for long.

    My desire for ideal justice are strengthened, knowing there is no “justice” beyond the kind we can partake in the “HereAndNow”.

    All in all, as an Atheist I think more about life than about death. I am happy with life and want to be happier still… my own death is just… something I shrug about.

    It’s like asking someone how they feel about breathing; it just… is. You know? :P

  • 12. Dove  |  September 4, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    You’ve got it going on, Jon F ;) It’s such a burden lifted from our shoulders when we cease to believe what was never truly believable in the first place… And consequently, that’s why MOST Christians have (just as many have stated here) that gnawing doubt as to whether they really are worthy of getting to that fantasy place, “Heaven.” That fear is there, ALWAYS. If you deny this, you are either a liar or in DEEP denial…

    I also don’t believe that atheists don’t fear it either. How in the world could anyone be happy knowing that they die and that’s it?? All of this beauty, all that you’ve learned, all that you’ve become, all that you’ve loved, all that have loved you — all over, done, meaningless. No, that’s BS. It’s all very meaningful…and it doesn’t end, ever. But your beliefs are still more peaceful, because you have pulled yourself out of the most intensive fear per the church.

    Those of religion are clearly the most fearful. Without question. But once you pull yourself out of the brainwashing of the religious thing, you see the absurdity of it — it makes no frickin’ sense (contradiction upon contradiction…), you can deduce nothing else but that it’s a matter of being brainwashed. And not difficult given that many of us are taken to this church place and force-fed this BS at a very early, IMPRESSIONABLE age.

    And from then on, we are controlled by that wicked fear of “hell.” And all ya’ gotta to do is SAY you believe certain things and “dedicate” youself to “him.” lol What idiotic “god” to make that kind of criteria the basis for not frying your ass. Geez, people…it’s all SYMBOLIC! Oh, YOU don’t just say you believe it, you really do, eh? And the answer to most difficult questions (per the prolific contradictions), is that “mysterious” thing. Helloooo? lol And yet, you still know that you believe. Um, alrighty then.

    And speaking of symbolism, look around you — the “hints” are there. Everything moves in circles — electricity, the Earth, the seasons…the clock…so many circles…”everything goes around, comes around” … And so do we :) We’re energy (remember, Einstein). Energy doesn’t die. WE DON’T DIE. We always have been, and we always will be. And, babe, I can tell ya’ right now, until you KNOW that this is the truth, atheist or whatever, you won’t live in real peace and joy. Knowing this is freedom :)

    I can honestly say that I have no fear whatsoever of death itself. In the Tarot, the Death card is often referenced as the Transformation or Death/Rebirth card. And that’s what I’ve learned to be the truth… The Tarot is simply a book of life, just like the Bible…both symbolic :) The Devil card in the Tarot, at its worst, represents the personification of fear (not a real being). Go figure :) At it’s best, it represents passionate sexuality. Kinda interesting that the church points to an actual being called the Devil…and they also preach against this wonderful human aspect of us, our sexuality. Hmmm.

    Like Jon, I almost look forward to it as well. There’s absolutely nothing to fear about being on the “other side.” Well, unless you have beliefs that will create a hellish experience over there. But even at that, I think that would just be a brief experience (again, per one’s beliefs), and then ya’ move on to the next phase of your ever-eternal existence. Again, we’re energy, we don’t die.

    But this is a phenomenal life, and you begin to see the real truth in that once you pull youself out of the fear and shame of being a HUMAN BEING. We are amazing beings and are in no way “wretches.” It is a blessing to be here, to be having this experience, soooo many cool things about this life. If there was any way that I could, I would hope that I could convince you that it simply doesn’t matter what you do here, you will still live on. But the very worst thing you could do is to FEAR, and that’s the key to religion…and oddly enough, it is fear that creates “hell.” Right here, right now. Note, what you believe will happen to others after death, will become your own experience (albeit, temporarily).

    It would behoove you to lose your fear of a for-real fiery hell (we create that which we fear…) or that you are above or in any way more special than anyone else. You are not, no matter what you believe or do. Try to do the loving part of your religion, and lose the rest. Loving is the opposite of fearing. The most significant directives of your book are, “Fear not.” “Believe and it shall be so.” and “All things are possible.” In that order of importance :)

    Ya’ might check out a recent post I made of an NDE (near-death experience). Amazingly, “God” told him that “religion doesn’t matter.” And this man’s experience very much aligns with what I have now long believed.

    Peace,
    Dove
    dovelove.wordpress

  • 13. Thinking Ape  |  September 4, 2007 at 8:35 pm

    I think it happens to all. Their is no “defeating death” – something that many religions agree on, including some of the earliest forms of Christianity. Beyond death, I am, as with all things that at the moment cannot be experienced in anyway, agnostic. Any query into what happens after death can only be answered by a) someone who has gone beyond the final stages of death and returned, b) some suprahuman being that has domain over death. Any inquiry from us here on earth without such super powers are or special knowledge are wasting our time or daydreaming.

  • 14. Nick  |  September 4, 2007 at 9:41 pm

    I’m sorry, but all of these people responding like they’ve come to peaceful terms with death are F*ing delusional. I consider myself an optimistic person, but the only thing that keeps me from a constant fear of death is pure intentional evasion.

    The closest thing I’ve got to peace about the issue is simply knowing that dreading death isn’t going to make anything better, so I might as well do what I can to ignore it (and maybe have a sense of humor about it) and make the most of life.

  • 15. Thinking Ape  |  September 4, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Nick, because you do not currently have peace about it doesn’t mean others cannot nor does it automatically make them delusional. If you want to say something like that, you should maybe explain yourself a bit more.

  • 16. Jamie G.  |  September 4, 2007 at 10:14 pm

    Well, I use to be Christian with all the beliefs in Heaven, etc. Now that I am an atheist the thought of death, although I don’t fear it in the least, brings up an interesting paradox for me. I know that when I am dead, ”me” will no longer exist. In fact, to ”me”, I won’t even remember that I have ever existed. In fact, ”I” will only have existed to the living. So, just like before my birth, where I have no memory or consciousness, so it will be in death. Fucked up, huh?

    It’s kind of like those pictures in the back of Mad Magazine, you know, the ones that you have to fold really funny to see the secret picture and message. Before my existence= total blackness, void, non-consciousness. It will be the same after my death. And from my non-existent perspective at death, it’s like I never even lived at all. Am I the only one whose head hurts?

    Weird thing is about this thing called “time”, is that I get to experience ”life”, ”consciousness”, and ”existence” now, without the inevitable death that awaits me and wipes it all away.

    Anyways, life is certainly the more precious. Everything just seems more wonderful to me now that I know in the end nothing matters, it only matters now.

  • 17. Paulc  |  September 4, 2007 at 10:22 pm

    I am an atheist in the sense that I have no theistic views/ I don’t deny theisms of any sort. I see them as unsupported assertions. There is no data to support them. Time is better spent on areas where one can find information.

    As far as any afterlife goes, the question posed here is more in the line of is there a soul? Given the lack of data, one can only speculate about what a soul or souls might be.

    Why is there any connection between the idea of a god and the existence of a soul? Why can’t there be one without the other. Couldn’t a supreme being exist and there be no souls? (or is god’s power limited by our religious ideas? LOL) Can’t there be a soul and no god? The questions can go on and on about the soul.

    I don’t like the idea of dying but don’t see any alternatives. I predicted in the 50s that one day aging could be slowed or stopped and therefore life could be extended. I also predicted that those evenst would happen after I became old.

    I am now 72 and there was recent news about a researcher who was able to extend the life of some simple worms 3-6x. That’s the first real results out of attempts to slow aging (other than keeping semi-starved rats going) so it seems to be happening. I only hope it comes on board for my grandchildren.

    My great-grandfather used to say, “Don’t worry about dying, everyone does. Don’t worry about hell, that’s here on earth.” Oddly, he was happy and beloved as far as I can tell.

    I agree that death probably means the end of our existence. If so, then meaning only exists in life, i.e. life is the meaning.

    Live, enjoy, and pass it on. Live means to participate. It doesn’t matter what so long as it’s something. Whatever you do, enjoy it! Life is too short not to. Finally, pass it on. Give your knowledge and help to those who follow you.

    Happiness is wrapped in all of this. It seems to me that happiness is an epiphenomenom. It can’t be commanded. You can’t wake up and say, I’m going to be (make myself) happy today. It is a side effect of how you live your life.

    Tell the truth and do the right thing and one day you may find that you are happy.

  • 18. Bill Reid  |  September 4, 2007 at 10:42 pm

    I suppose it’s all just postulation, given that no one really can predict how they will feel when their time is up.

    Looking forward, I think I would be at peace knowing that I spent my life the way I wanted to, trying to make a difference in the world and grateful that I didn’t waste it pursuing senseless tradition and goals handed to me by manipulative religious leaders.

  • 19. epicurus  |  September 4, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Death is nothing to us, since when we are, death has not come, and when death has come, we are not.

  • 20. Rob  |  September 5, 2007 at 12:51 am

    I’m with epicurus on this one. Death is simply the cessation of life. You sleep and do not wake. It doesn’t really scare me, because the single greatest purpose in my life at this point is to experience and participate in the future. I don’t know what my lifespan will be, but I seriously doubt I will die before 80. And if I’m in an accident or get sick, life wouldn’t really be worth living in that kind of pain.

    Death is incomprehensible in the same way absence is, or the human mind, or existence itself. By definition it is unknowable- to know it is to cease to be. So why worry about it? It won’t hurt.

    I still have the survival instinct, of course. But philosophically, I don’t fear death.

  • 21. Mike  |  September 5, 2007 at 1:44 am

    I think this is an interesting question Justin.

    Athiests are defined by a lack of belief (where the name comes from) but very rarely get the chance to state what they do believe in. This question allows people from a De-converted or purely Athiest background to share what they do believe.

    It takes an exceeding amount of faith to believe that “x” occurs after death, even if that “x” is nothing. This is because no one can perform any scientific experiment regarding it, so ultimately faith is put in the idea that there is no afterlife.

  • 22. Thinking Ape  |  September 5, 2007 at 3:38 am

    Mike,
    Something is not nothing. How do you define faith? How much commitment can a person have in nothing? Attributing faith to a lack of belief in something is both semantically and philosophically nonsensical. It takes no faith to believe in nothing.

    If I told you I am holding a book right now, would you believe me? You have no evidence for it other than my word. It takes faith to believe that I have a book in my hand.

    I didn’t have a book in my hand. What if you said I didn’t have a book in my hand? The only reason you think it might take faith to say “no” is because I suggested I might be holding a book. If I hadn’t suggested it, it would take no faith to believe I didn’t have a book. The suggestion was, in fact, a manufactured fantasy. Withholding judgment on whether that suggestion was a fantasy is usually a smart thing to do in order not to be found a fool.

    The problem here is that Christians tend to want to think of “faith” as an all encompassing term that can be used whenever and wherever they like, whether it makes sense or not. Unless they are a seminarian, most have very little understanding of what “faith” and “faithfulness” is in the Bible. It is not the same way we say one’s “Faith” as in their religious persuasion, nor is it a synonym for “belief.” It is not a Kierkegaardian sense of infinite mystery. It was, rather, closer to how we think of our faithfulness to our spouses. I suppose it is hard to empathize with that, seeing as though conservative Christians have the highest divorce rate in America.

    So we must clarify ourselves when we flippantly use the word “faith” – don’t we? An atheist has faith in the non-existence of the human soul like the customer has faith that she’ll receive her change from a McDonald’s employee. This is not a religious or committed faith.

  • 23. gerito  |  September 5, 2007 at 3:59 am

    A few minutes ago I just stumbled upon your most interesting discussion. Acutely conscious just lately that I have reached my mid-seventies yet failed to do so much, and now may have no time left in which to do any of it.
    Not relevant to your discussion maybe, but what has been said reminded me of my own concept of the transient individual in relation to the rest of the universe (=God?). Each of us resembles a wave on the surface of the ocean. It has individuality for as long as it lasts but eventually it will sink back into the mass from which it, and all the millions of other individual waves, sprang.

    Only its individuality is lost but it remains, as it has always been, part of the main from which it came and thus inextricably joined to all other individuals past, present and in the future, for as long as the sea remains.

    The pressures of this life dictate that I must now leave this discussion, but it is bookmarked in the hope I shall return to read it more thoroughly.

  • 24. HeIsSailing  |  September 5, 2007 at 7:24 am

    Mike sez:

    It takes an exceeding amount of faith to believe that “x” occurs after death, even if that “x” is nothing.

    My dad, who is a Mormon, once told me that it does not matter what religion or belief a person holds. None of us know what happens when we die, and our beliefs are just a bet, a gamble that we are doing the right thing here on Earth.

    I suppose that it does take faith to believe that we are soulless creatures, and that our bodies will eventually rot, and we will cease to exist except as memories, and inspiration to our posterity.

    That is why I am not afraid to say, ‘I don’t know’. I have no idea what will happen to me after we die. I strongly suspect that it is nothing, but I am not dogmatic about it. Something else may happen, and if that is true, I will find out when the time comes.

    But right now, I am in total deconstructionist mode. I am not an atheist. Maybe there is a god/gods/force/whatever. But I will probably never know one way or the other for sure. All I know for sure is, that I am not a Christian anymore. That worldview makes zero sense to me anymore, and cannot be true unless God is playing one giant, cruel joke on humanity.

    As a Christian, I believed in the traditional Baptist concepts of eternal Heaven and Hell. The Biblical view of Heaven can be found in Rev 21. Heaven is a giant city with very thick walls and 12 gates. The city is made of pure gold, the foundations are laden with all sorts of precious jewels and stones, and the gates are giant pearls.

    yippie.

    Realizing that gold and jewels owe their value to human judgement, I was never impressed reading this passage. I don’t happen to personally hold much value in precious stones and gold – just not my thing. So I allegorized these passages like crazy. I just took it to mean that Heaven is a really, really, really wonderful place. I did what all Christians eventually do with this description. I just let my imagination run wild.

    But truthfully, Hell was more vivid in my imagination. Like the Bible, the Apocalypse of Peter, Medeval literature, and that dreadful Robin WIlliams movie from a few years back, our human imaginations are much better at fleshing out the details of eternal torment then eternal paradise. And as a Christian, I was more afraid of Hell then I was anticipating Heaven.

    Nick:

    I’m sorry, but all of these people responding like they’ve come to peaceful terms with death are F*ing delusional.

    I have had several recent deaths in my family. Not a one of them were ‘born again’ Christians. I no longer have to believe that my dear loved ones are at this moment burning in a giant charcoal pit. I no longer have to look at my Mormon dad and imagine him frying for doing nothing more then trying to better his own life. I no longer have to believe that the vast majority of humanity is on the broad road to eternal torment, but not me! Oh no, not me, I am on the narrow path, I am on my way to those streets of gold, because I have the *true* faith.

    Gads, I hate even typing that now. The audacity that I once had, and the arrogance it takes to believe such garbage!!

    Nick, I don’t anticipate death, not do I find peace in it. But I DO take peace and comfort in knowing that there is no eternal punishment after we die. That is all I know. And I am at peace with that.

  • 25. Christian Feelings Toward Death « de-conversion  |  September 5, 2007 at 7:44 am

    [...] 5, 2007 I am thankful for Justin’s article yesterday. It allows us to confront, and even express what our beliefs ultimately boil down to. But I want to [...]

  • 26. astudent  |  September 5, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Well, when I was an atheist I did not fear death. I use to say to myself and anyone else that would listen that I went to sleep every night. I didn’t know what went on in the world and because of that it didn’t matter. Later on I began to wonder the basic questions, such as what is life (No clue and no one else does) and where did it come from. Anyway I didn’t fear death and viewed it the same as most atheist – the end. O, I did and still do fear the event its self.

  • 27. DagoodS  |  September 5, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Dylan Thomas got it right:

    “Do not go Gentle into that Good Night.
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, Rage against the dying of the light.

    “Wild Men, who caught and sang the sun in Flight
    And learned, too late, they grieved it on its way
    Do not go Gentle into that Good Night.

  • 28. Scavella  |  September 5, 2007 at 8:48 am

    So we must clarify ourselves when we flippantly use the word “faith” – don’t we? An atheist has faith in the non-existence of the human soul like the customer has faith that she’ll receive her change from a McDonald’s employee. This is not a religious or committed faith.

    I think this analogy’s faulty, simply because a customer can judge the receipt of change from a McDonald’s employee by previous personal experience — if not in McDonald’s, then within the entire culture of the cash economy. The non-existence of the human soul, and, by extension, what happens after bodies die, is and must be based on pure assumption and reductionism, as by definition the “soul” is not a material entity. If it exists, it is unmeasurable by the science we currently possess.

    There are two issues at work here, I think. One is the question of death, which no one alive has experienced in any way that can lead from that particular experience to a general observation that is true for all, thus rendering all discussions a matter of assumption (which, for theists, presumably translates into faith, though I wouldn’t actually presume to say).

    The other is the question of faith or belief. It would appear to me that most of the atheists on this board define their philosophies in opposition to a specific and narrowly-defined belief in a Christian god, and that the rejection of that belief tends to be applied rather broadly to a rejection of all non-materialist beliefs. This to me is erroneous thought. The discarding of one single worldview does not make another correct, or disprove all others that seem nominally related. As such, I’m at a loss to comprehend why de-conversion raises any questions about death. Why should feelings change? Beliefs do, but one’s honest feelings about death? No one knows what happens when we die, whatever we believe. So why should the feelings change?

    But perhaps my perplexity is because I regard the Christian discussions about death as metaphor and nothing more. Even the Bible, as I’ve observed before, has various understandings of death and the afterlife; the Old Testament doesn’t deal with it at all, assuming that death comes as the end, and after that is Sheol, or nothing. In Christ’s parable about the rich man and Lazarus, Hell is a geographical place of torment, and Heaven is above it, and the people in Heaven can see the suffering of the people in Hell and can be tormented by that suffering (which rather defeats the purpose of heaven, I’d imagine). In his other teachings about the judgement, with the separation of the sheep from the goats, damnation is akin to being cast into a lake of fire. In the Revelation, heaven is a most improbable city.

    The point of all this? They’re all stories. We don’t know. Even the idea that “we” stop existing when our bodies die is an assumption. What we do know and what we can assert empirically is that the living stop interacting with people whose bodies have died. Forget the messages from the beyond, the near-death experiences; those are anecdotal events, and those of us who have experienced them cannot render them into any language that will make them comprehensible — or testable — to make people who judge the truth of life from material observation.

    That is all we can know, and all that any of us — Christian or atheist, Buddhist or nothing — can honestly assert. Surely our feelings about death must be pretty similar, all told, once we’ve run the gamut of what those feelings are? Anything beyond the particularly human apprehension that we are going to die is speculation, assumption, or — yes — faith.

  • 29. Thinking Ape  |  September 5, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    Scavella, I think by pointing out that one section of what I wrote, you purposely ignored the entire point of my comment.

  • 30. Tim Kurek  |  September 5, 2007 at 4:02 pm

    Definitely a good question… Death to them is just the end of a pointless existence. Check the Rational Responders website for a bunch of articles on Atheism.

    tim

    http://uriahministries.wordpress.com

  • 31. Dove  |  September 5, 2007 at 5:33 pm

    @ post #24, HelsSailing… Wonderful :) It overwhelms me with joy to see that so many are coming out of this horrible fog of fear, spurred and maintained by the control freaks (and their “sheep”) of organized religion. Trust me, you’re no longer in the crowd of the “lost” :) And you can go further (but not essential) into that freedom and peace by simply knowing that the truth is all inside of you. “Be still and know.” :) A most valuable directive.

    Arrogance, indeed. (Death to “them” … such love exudes from that phrase, eh?)

    “Faith” is about learning to trust oneself, in one’s own power, the flow of one’s life, the Universe (in general, the flow of life…and death), not in some being outside of us. And once you move toward doing that, feeling it, seeing the power in it, it’s not about “belief” anymore…you will truly know. Ya’ see, that’s the thing, you actually CAN know…but it does first begin with “faith,” as indicated above. When you open up to this kiinda faith (in oneself and one’s own power), and you begin to see it, the “magic” of it…at that point, you do begin to SEE it, you truly see it.

    It doesn’t matter that others can’t grasp that you have a, um, “book” in your hands, but you see it, and you see it so clearly, there’s no question about it. None. No need to try and salve your fears with that “god works in mysterious ways” crap.

    And unlike when I was a “fundie,” it doesn’t stir fear within me when others don’t believe me, because NOW my OWN experience is at the foundation of what I “believe.” Before, I was simply believing the lies of the church. No one preached to me what I have come to know now…again, it is through my own personal experience that I have come to see the truth.

    Nah, I haven’t died, but I have had a plethora of “paranormal” experiences, and interacted with other intelligent :) people who have had the same or similar experiences…and meeting more and more people who have had these experiences and had this truth “come” to them — mirroring my own experience. And it resonates DEEPLY within me, that’s what I trust :) And that brings to me true peace. No delusion, just lots of experiences (for years) that you have yet to experience. But you will, whether in this life or another :)

    Things are beginning to change for the better — we are actually becoming truly “enlightened.” See post #24 :) It will just take some longer than others, and some will simply stubbornly resist more and more blatant evidence of this truth, and they will look more and more foolish doing so… The truth that we don’t die, and so much more. So much more and better than “roads of gold.”

    Yeah, exactly, precious gems? You can have ‘em, and the roads of gold (nauseating). I’ll take green grass, beautiful flowers, clear blue skies…the Earth as it was meant to be… The way you know you’re getting “there,” is you lose interest in all the material crap (even if you hoarded it before — especially in that case). It’s not about being righteous or religious, you are simply growing to a higher point, where material items no longer have a hold on you…there’s sooo much more to this life that brings joy, so much more. In my own experience, it seems like daily I want fewer and fewer things around me — it’s like these items are taking up my precious space, taking up too much of my precious life…they simply aren’t worth it. And they become suffocating…

    Now, if ya’ wanna believe I’m delusional, that’s cool. But I will say, it’s a deliciously peaceful — and exciting — “delusion.” ;)

    And if the Bible was literally true, we were gonners from the beginning, and all would fry. Because that “God” is no god of love… Imagine living in “heaven” with this wonderful “God,” knowing that he fried (and is currently frying) his OWN CHILDREN (“children of God”). Now love just doesn’t get more potent than that, does it? lol I assure you, if there were an all-knowing, profoundly wise and loving god, that would never happen.

    Thankfully, I know that no one will truly “burn in hell,” and no one will truly die. If you wish to know as well, simply be still (yeah, the Bible has some good points and directives — when it’s properly interpreted) and ask for the answers to come to you. You don’t need anyone else to tell you, the answers are within each of us. We’ve always had them — just like Dorothy ;) They’re all around us and when you simply open (“faith”) to seeing them, you WILL literally see them. I see them, that’s why I know, that’s why I truly have no fear of the state of death.

    We aren’t a body, it simply contains that which we are. We leave it all the time :) Death is just about leaving the body — it’s much like being asleep. We do that every night, do you have memory of all those hours while you were asleep? No? But you were still there :)

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 32. Dove  |  September 5, 2007 at 5:53 pm

    Hey, notice the time on my post from yesterday, 8:33 and today’s is 5:33. I saw it yesterday and smiled…and now the 33 again today. Synchonicity is key. The number 33 is a number with which I strongly resonate. Those who see meaning in numbers, see that number as a very spiritual number. Here’s a couple of interpretations of it:

    The 33 is the most influential of all numbers. It is the Master Teacher. The 33 combines the 11 and the 22 and brings their potential to another level. When expressed to the fullest, the 33 lacks all personal ambition, and instead focuses its considerable abilities toward the spiritual uplifting of mankind. What makes the 33 especially impressive, is the high level of sincere devotion. This is shown in its determination to seek understanding and wisdom before preaching to others. The 33 in full force is extremely rare.
    Source: http://www.decoz.com/numerology-Course-01a.htm

    The number 33 is called the Master Teacher Number. A combination of 11 and 22, these individuals have transcended their own desires and usually devote their lives to the spiritual enlightenment of mankind. These unique individuals are often characterized by their sincere devotion to humanity. 33 individuals are extremely rare.
    Source: http://www.numerologist.com/guide/master-numbers.html

    33 – MASTER TEACHER

    Traits:Christ-like, healer, compassionate, blessing, teacher of teachers, martyr, inspiration, honest, monk.

    The number 33 symbolizes the principle of guidance. When expressed to the fullest, the 33 lacks all personal ambition, and instead focuses its considerable abilities toward the spiritual uplifting of mankind. What makes the 33 especially impressive, is the high level of sincere devotion. This is shown in its determination to seek understanding and wisdom before preaching to others. The 33 in full force is extremely rare.

    Source: http://www.numerology-guide.com/numerology_number_meanings3.htm

    Ya’ see, things like that — that’s why I know. An ocean of experiences and synchronicities like that :)

    Er, I must say, I am a sweetheart, and very honest, but I don’t claim to be like the supposedly perfect Jesus of the Bible. And I’m just a regular person, but I’ve had some extraordinary experiences, that I do feel compelled to share at times. I do have a strong desire to help others overcome their fear, and to plug into their own “Christ-like” power. We all have it :)

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 33. HeIsSailing  |  September 5, 2007 at 8:41 pm

    Dove, I am glad that you could resonate with my response to this question. I am also glad that you understand why I allegorized the biblical description of hell like crazy! If heaven is streets of gold and gates of giant pearl, I for one am not impressed. Placing the value of Paradise in giant gemstones and precious minerals just tells me that this stuff was clearly invented by a man who happened to find value in that stuff, and nothing more.

    It is no surprise to me that the ancients thought they left the body while they slept. They go off, have amazing adventures, encounter frightening creatures, and gain marvelous powers before they ultimately return to their bodies and wake in the morning. They had no understanding of cognative thought patterns during sleep, heck, we barely understand the dreamworld today! While I don’t think we have a spiritual being that literally travels away from our bodies during sleep, studying these beliefs of the ancients, and appreciating them for what they are can teach us in the modern world an awful lot!

  • 34. HeIsSailing  |  September 5, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    ooops… I meant I allegorized the description of Heaven, not Hell…!! I really need to stop typing while I am eating a bowl of ice cream!! I get a little screwed up when I try.

  • 35. StaCeY  |  September 6, 2007 at 1:13 am

    Dove…

    I really enjoyed your respone!

    “Before, I was simply believing the lies of the church. No one preached to me what I have come to know now…again, it is through my own personal experience that I have come to see the truth”.

    I totally relate to that.
    I would love to hear your supernatural (paranormal) experiences. Really I would.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thinkin’ Ape…

    “So we must clarify ourselves when we flippantly use the word “faith” – don’t we? An atheist has faith in the non-existence of the human soul like the customer has faith that she’ll receive her change from a McDonald’s employee. This is not a religious or committed faith.”

    My “faith” in the EXISTENCE of the human soul/continuation of the human Spirit (in God) is not a religious or a committed faith either. It is a natural and easy faith rather like the faith with which I improvise music. From nothing… from the silence… the music is there to be “unfolded”…. at the touch of faithful fingers… an open mind… and a loving heart.

    I cannot prove that the music is there… waiting in the silence to be revealed…. but I know so in simple faith. I cannot prove that the music of my life continues out beyond my physical body… but it is something I know… in simple faith.
    (having nothing at all to do with dotrine or dogma or religion)

    I committ myself to the idea … only in as much as I committ myself to each note I play in each moment… when I take a solo. The committment is solid… but light.

  • 36. StaCeY  |  September 6, 2007 at 1:17 am

    Oh yes…
    and Dove…

    the number 101… and 1001….
    God speaks to me there with regularity…
    and slight variations on those two numbers.
    (it used to be 11… and 111 and 1111…
    but the 00′s were the significant change.)

    We’ve got a personal thing goin on there.

  • 37. StaCeY  |  September 6, 2007 at 1:24 am

    Yes! syncronicity!
    I call them “improbable syncronicities”
    Mind blowing stuff.
    God has such an awesome sense of timing and humor.
    At least that is my experience.

    Wasn’t Jesus said to have been 33 years old when he died?
    (or is that just some more catholic tradition?! lol)
    The esoteric meaning perhaps? I don’t know.

  • 38. dovelove  |  September 6, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Hi Stacey!

    Awesome :) Numbers, yeah… *nods with a knowing smile* ;) Sooo many stories, babe. The 11 thing started for me bunches of years ago… Around my college years, long before all this metaphysical stuff kicked in, I was working at a little mom-and-pop grocery store. Each register/cashier had an assigned number that was established per the register. There was only about 6 or 7 registers, as I recall. I thought it was odd that all the other registers were numbered in sequence, like 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and then my register number jumped to 11 :) I wrote it on my little sign-in pad each work day. One day, this number just sort of grabbed me, and my thoughts took off with it. I decided it was my “lucky” number, I felt it was the perfect number, symbolic of the perfect couple. That is, two equal parts (visual) — separate, yet creating one strong entity.

    Then later still, I started seeing the 11:11, and you’re probably aware of the significance of that one…many can relate to, and seem to be stoked by this 11:11 thing (can do an online search and get lots of info on it).

    Again, many years later, once steeped in metaphysics, I discovered the 11 actually is my number :) A numerological calculation that can be done on the birthday, it’s considered to be ones “life path” number…mine calculates to 11, then reduced to 2 or added another way, 20/2. The 11 is also considered to be a very spiritual (“master”) number.

    Initially, I was so very skeptical of all of this. I thought the Tarot was ludicrous — and numerology? puleez. lol ;) But once ya’ start seeing/experiencing it, there’s no denying it. Hey, it you wanna do the calculation on your birthday, I have it at the blog I’ve recently started at wordpress. dovelove.wordpress.com

    Wouldja’ believe my apartment number is 33? :) And when this all opened up for me, I moved to the city where it all began and my apartment there was prolific with the number 7, and it all totalled to…33 :)

    Anyway, cool, a like-minded one :) You can visit my blog if you want to read some of my stuff. I’m kinda sheepish about sharing my stories, but I will share them there as I feel moved to do so. You can also visit my Tarot site, there’s a link to it at my blog. I have some published articles at my Tarot site (one was published in the Sedona Journal a few years ago), including how I overcame my aversion to the Tarot, and how I was synchronously guided to use it :)

    Peace,
    Dove

  • 39. Stu  |  September 6, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Hmm I don’t get the numbers guys. I challenge you to pick a number totally at random and then see how many times you notice it in your daily life. My hypothesis is you will have a very similar experience with that number as you have had with the other numbers.

    Anyhoo, back on to the topic – death. Brr. I have to admit, it scares me shitless. I never really wanted to die when I was a Christian, my reasoning kind of being I’ve got an eternity of whatever comes after death awaiting me, but I only have a finite amount of time here, so I want to experience as much of this life as I can while I have the chance. But knowing that it wasn’t the end was comforting, because even if it didn’t work out how I wanted, it was still going to be ok.

    Now I know this life is all there is. And man I love life. I love life so much I can’t bear the thought of it ending, of me ending. I’m me, I’m here, and I want to stay. I don’t want to end. My aunt died last week of cancer, 8 months after she was diagnosed. Why? No reason. The universe is purposeless, mindless. It could just as easily have been me, heck it could well be me in a few years. There’s no loving God to look after me and keep me safe from indiscriminate diseases and accidents, no guardian angel. Every day I’m still alive I’m grateful for what I’ve got and what I’ve experienced so far, because it could all change so very easily.

    Apart from scaring me shitless, death annoys and frustrates me. Why do we die? The only reason is that the process that created us existed only to propogate genes. Once the genes have been passed on by reproduction, there’s no need to keep the carriers alive, that’s just a waste of resources. The only problem is, I happen to be one such carrier and I disagree with the idea that I’m dispensable! There’s a conflict of interest here, I and my genes don’t see eye to eye.

    There’s no earthly reason why organisms should die. The aging process seems to be some kind of deliberate self-destruct mechanism. In principle, this should be reversible and I see know reason why we shouldn’t be doing everything in our power to discover how it works and stop it. The idea that it’s somehow good for people not to live forever is to me simply a legacy of the belief that we have some sort of divinely alotted life-span. We don’t. We have a life-span alotted to us by nature, but nature isn’t to be trusted on these matters. Nature decided to give us cancer and AIDS but we’re doing everything we can to get rid of those. Why not death itself?

    Anyway, I hope somebody cures death before I die, or at least discovers how to prolong life significantly. I for one would like as much as I can get.

  • 40. Tony  |  September 8, 2007 at 2:56 am

    Dove says,

    “And if the Bible was literally true, we were gonners from the beginning, and all would fry. Because that “God” is no god of love… Imagine living in “heaven” with this wonderful “God,” knowing that he fried (and is currently frying) his OWN CHILDREN (”children of God”). Now love just doesn’t get more potent than that, does it? lol I assure you, if there were an all-knowing, profoundly wise and loving god, that would never happen.”

    I am always sad to see when people misinterpret the Bible. Truth be told, there is no talk of the pagan hell that is described in the Bible (a simple analysis of ancient greek and hebrew indicates this).

    Is the Bible divinely inspired? I certainly think so (big whoop right?) Is Jesus the savior of ALL men (as described in numerous scripture)…it seems quite apparent, yes.

    Therefore, am I afraid of death? Yes. I would be lying if I said I was not…many ppl fear the unexpected. However, I do also believe that Christ died for all men (that is, all men will come to the glory of God). This being the case, I do take some comfort in knowing “fear/guilt has already been conquored” (as Justin put it).

    As for the discussion of “heaven” in the Bible. It is important to understand that we have FOUR gospels (obviously)…each gospel describes Jesus (God’s) visit to us…but the FIFTH gospel is the Gospel of Jesus, also referred to as “Revelation”. In this, John is taken from our reality to a heavenly one…(reverse of when God/Jesus came to us). It seems only natural that such a description be confusing and limited to human terms.

    Former or curent fundies will have difficulty with such an interpretation. That’s okay though. I encourage everyone to shed themselves of their pre-conceived notions (for example, the “Church’s” dominant view)…as Dove put it, people are beginning to realize the truth in God (Jesus). They aren’t limiting his power anymore (like with pagan ideas of hell where people burn up forever).

    Have a good one everybody!

    With Love,

    Tony

  • 41. serotonin_wraith  |  September 9, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    I believe that once we’re dead, we don’t experience anything. Why be scared of that? We were fine with it for the billions of years before we were born!

    As for actions becoming meaningless in that case- why should they be? Why not try to make the world a better place for our children, and their children, and so on long after we’re gone?

    Why not just be happy for the time we were lucky enough to have? That can be the meaning of life if you want. I can’t imagine the number of sperm that don’t make it to the egg! It’s astronomical! You could have been one of them!

  • 42. ComplexZeta  |  September 9, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    One of the most relieving things I felt when I realized that I was an atheist was that I need not be afraid of death. I have a certain amount of fear of physical pain that may be involved in the process of dying, but I do not have any concerns about what is going to happen to me after death, because I do not believe that anything will happen to me after I die. I’ll be buried or cremated or (preferably) have my body disassembled and have my organs used for scientific research or transplanted in someone else’s body to help someone else live, and that’s the end of me.

    One of my biggest problems with religions in general (probably second to the belief in a supernatural entity that leaves no evidence of existence) is the emphasis placed on death. I prefer to focus on living a good and happy life while we are around, since that’s all we can do. It’s hard to deal with the deaths of friends and family, but I think I find it easier if I don’t consider death to be a tragic disaster. And it shouldn’t be, given that we all die eventually.

  • 43. karen  |  September 10, 2007 at 12:03 pm

    As for actions becoming meaningless in that case- why should they be? Why not try to make the world a better place for our children, and their children, and so on long after we’re gone?

    My perspective is that good works, kindness and love are valuable in and of themselves even if they last just an instant. What’s wrong with relieving someone’s suffering for a few moments, or hours or a lifetime? It doesn’t bother me at all even if that act does not have eternal repercussions. It’s doing good in the moment, as much as I can, that makes my life on earth meaningful.

  • 44. Bernidette  |  September 21, 2007 at 11:16 pm

    I know I’m coming in on this topic a little late, but I do hope people are still reading. I’ve noticed that most of the comments deal with what happens AFTER death, and while I believe that was supposed to be the point of the topic, I would like to know some opinions concerning the event itself. Mainly all I’ve heard is whether or not some one is afraid of it.

    I think I shocked my mother a few months ago by telling her that the one way that I dont want to die is in my sleep. Granted that doesn’t mean that I want to die a slow horrible death, but I do want to be conscious enough to know “hey, i’m dying.” The way I see it, if there really isn’t anything after death (and chances are there isnt) why would I want to miss out on my FINAL experience in life? Maybe that makes me sound morbid, but while death is frightening, it scares me in a facinating sort of way.

    I work around glass and razor blades every day and some times when I accidentally get a cut I feel this chill run through my body before I actually register any pain and I cant help but wonder if death with have some kind of all encompasing feeling like that. It frightens me, and I dont want to make it come any faster, but at the same time, the curiosity has left me waiting for it. I’m actually a little worried about expressing this strange interest to my friends. Do you think that this is an unhealthy thing to be dwelling on?

  • 45. LeoPardus  |  September 21, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I’m coming in a bit late too. Since leaving the faith, I’ve figured that I would face death about the same as I would have before. I don’t know that then or now I would be particularly courageous. But I do know that I’d accept it simply because there is no choice. It will happen. Deal with it.

    That said, I do want to live a good, long while. When it’s done I hope I leave a good legacy. Happy kids and grandkids, happy friends. Not happy because I’m gone, but because when they remember me, the memories are good ones.

    After all, once I’m gone, memories are all that will remain

  • 46. LeoPardus  |  September 21, 2007 at 11:48 pm

    Stu:

    We biologists are working on that aging problem. But dang it’s complicated. I’m not pinning any bets on anybody working it out in the next century. But we’ve pulled off some good stuff meanwhile. So at least we’ll all live a little longer.

  • 47. Lisa  |  September 22, 2007 at 11:03 am

    I’m sorry this is a little late, I just found this blog.

    I don’t really know much about Atheism, I always thought that it was a general rejection of the idea of a God, not just Christianity. But don’t you feel the spirit that’s in this earth, no matter what you call it? The energy force that’s in our physical bodies? The connectiveness that joins us all together as humans?

    Death is like a hand leaving a glove. The glove represents the physical body, the hand is the spirit. When the hand is in the glove, it has movement, it has life. Once the hand leaves the glove, it is motionless, lifeless.

    I believe we all have an amazing life force in us. After our physical bodies tire and the mind is willing, but the body is no longer able…well, that life force –that energy–has to go SOMEWHERE, don’t you think?

  • 48. dovelove  |  September 22, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    @ Lisa

    Absolutely :) It’s all energy, including us. And it rocks to not just “believe,” but to totally know that we don’t die :) And when you get to this point, this life becomes so much clearer, so much more amazing, so incredible, so delicious ;) … it’s like finally being plugged into that energy that we’ve always been. Perhaps this is what is truly meant per the “born again” reference … not accepting a power outside of us, but an “awakening” that kind of electrifys ya’ with the knowledge of your own power (the “Jesus” within us) and the true reality of this existence and what what we truly are…which is highly awesome, I assure you ;)

    Peace,
    Dove

    .

  • 49. HeIsSailing  |  September 23, 2007 at 5:01 am

    Thus saith Lisa:

    But don’t you feel the spirit that’s in this earth, no matter what you call it? The energy force that’s in our physical bodies? The connectiveness that joins us all together as humans?

    I would call that spirit consciousness and self-awareness, not energy. But being a physicist, the term ‘energy’ has a very precise definition for me, and equating it with some kind of spiritual being does not seem to fit.

  • 50. Lisa  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:36 pm

    HelsSailing,

    It’s funny, but the people I know who have very cerebral professions such as yourself seem to feel the need to give a scientific or grounded explanation for the unseen. I’m not degrading it; it’s just something I’ve observed over the years. And in some ways, I’m sure it brings you comfort. It is definitely more uncomfortable to believe in the power of something you can’t see or explain.

    Personally, although I consider myself a fairly intelligent being, I don’t ever want to become so smart that I can’t believe in the power of spirit, something that, like the wind, can be felt, but not seen (although, like the wind, its effects can be observed everywhere). Perhaps we all end up just where each of us believes we will all end up. I personally choose to believe that there is a power much, much greater than ourselves, and that there is indeed a purpose to our lives here on earth. Call me unintelligent; call me a dreamer. But I would rather believe, while here on this earth, that there is indeed someplace better than this; it won’t matter in the end if I’m wrong, but it definitely makes a big difference to me while I’m alive.

    Sometimes you really have to look for things that aren’t apparent to the naked eye, whether it’s through a microscope or through your soul, although by your answer, I’m not sure if you believe that we have them (that wasn’t meant to sound mean; I really wasn’t sure by what you said in your reply).

  • 51. HeIsSailing  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Lisa sez:

    Sometimes you really have to look for things that aren’t apparent to the naked eye, whether it’s through a microscope or through your soul, although by your answer, I’m not sure if you believe that we have them

    Well, I didn’t mean to degrade your beliefs and feelings toward the spiritual life, and I apologize if it came out that way. I am open to that type of experience, but I have other ideas where those spiritual feelings come from. Stay tooned, because I will probably place an article on that later this week.

    In the meantime, one thing I have learned since leaving Christianity is that I am wrong about many things, and I have gained the humility to admit this. You very well may be correct and I may be wrong. I just hope that if you *are* correct, that I at least have the wisdom to someday see it and benefit from it. But for now, life makes a lot more sense then it did with my Christian world-view, and so I must be doing something right.

    The great thing about the non-Christian view though, is that we can disagree and have freindly discussions about such weighty spiritual things, without the fear of eternal consequences if we are wrong!!

  • 52. dovelove  |  September 23, 2007 at 12:59 pm

    Science was my least favorite topic in school (an understatement), and I understand why now… But I did develop this strong resonation about or for Einstein :) Totally an “intuitive” thing — that too, I now understand. I agree with Einstein, that everything is energy :)

    But it’s not just an intuitive thing, I’ve had experiences that demonstrate to me that indeed we are connected to everything. The fact that I have and can “receive” information that there’s no “rational” basis for me to know. Elaborate, detailed information, even proper names on occasion. The fact that I can see messages in Nature — see them, know what they mean, and have them later to prove to be the truth. Yep, I regularly know things that are LIKELY to happen in the future. Likely. Not absolutes. But because we tend to not so easily or readily change our energy (thoughts/feelings), these “predictions” do tend to come true. And that’s relevant to what I’m saying, because what happens to us is spurred, created, by OUR ENERGY (thoughts/feelings). That’s not something I “believe,” it is something I’ve experienced again and again and again…and I live this truth every day. And this becomes stronger with each experience, the knowing or “belief” is strengthened — and so consequently is the power in it… “Believe and it shall be so.” :) I have seen/experienced how my thoughts/feelings can quickly change my life experience (in a big way)…how my thoughts/feelings can affect those around me, and how theirs can affect me… More profoundly than most can imagine. There’s really no way to properly convey this experience to you, but it is available to all.

    Call it whatever you like, but we are not contained in these bodies, we are all interconnected…we are continually taking on the energy of others and they are taking on ours — as are the inanimate objects around us. We are continually creating with our energy (like “our father”) with our energy (thoughts/feelings). We are collectively one phenomenal thing, and this “reality” is an amazing illusion … that we ourselves create continually with our energy :) Not something I read in a book, it’s something I have experienced with undeniable clarity. And I know others who have and are experiencing the same :) … and that number is growing. All it takes is an opening in the mind/heart to start seeing/experiencing this. It is something I believe we will all “awaken” to — sooner or later :) All in the right time.

    And, in my view, the following — spurred by Einstein’s thinking — gives strong credence to what I’ve stated above, and what I’ve experienced now for many years.

    If I’ve convenienced you of nothing in this, I hope you will at least consider that you are energy — and consequently, as per Einstein, we don’t die :) At least have a peaceful heart about that, that would please the “Jesus” within me ;)

    Peace,
    Dove

    —————————-
    What is Energy
    September 14th, 2006

    When Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity in 1905 he shook the very foundations of science. It was in this publication that he explained what is energy. Without going into complex detail, and his theory of relativity is in fact so complex that most of the worlds top physicists still cannot fully grasp the implications of his theory today, whatAlbert Einstein essentially proved was everything is energy . Previously physicists believed that everything was made up of two separate elements, matter and energy. This, had it been true would mean that the human mind was separate from the human body. With his theory Einstein turned this idea of separateness on its head. E = mc2 in fact proved thateverything is energy and therefore there is no dualistic world, in fact everything in the universe was connected.

    Today scientists still cannot explain what is energy. Energy takes different forms of course but it is considered in terms of its vibration. Dense forms of energy like metal or stone vibrate at a very slow rate, where as gas or sunlight energy vibrate at a much faster rate. From our human perception, things appear to be solid and separate from one another. However at the subatomic level seeminglysolid matter is actually electrons spinning in a circular fashion around the nucleus of the atom and beyond the subatomic level we find elementary particles which scientists have proven to have a dual nature. They sometimes act as tiny particles of matter and sometimes they behave as awave of pure energy. Fully trying to comprehend the concept of energy is indeed complicated to say the least.

    Albert Einstein in his studies to comprehend what is energy also insisted energy cannot be created or destroyed it can only be changed or mutated from one form to another. A simple example on an energy cycle is when the sun sends rays of sunshine energy to the earth, the sun and the rain cause the plants to grow, the animals eat the plants which in turn provide energy for the animals, the food passes through the animals and comes out as waste which acts as a fertilizer for the plants which continue to grow, the animals breed and eventually they die and their bodies decay and go back into the earth which continues to sprout new life and the cycle is endless. Everything is constantly changing, moving and transforming from one form of energy to another but the amount of energy always remains the same.What is energy? Everything is energy.

    As scientific studies progress we get closer to an understanding what is energy. What science has ultimately discovered is that the universe consists of something beyond the realm of matter and that something is therealm of pure energy. Quantum physicists with the use of highly advanced equipment known as particle accelerators have performed documented experiments which have revealed subatomic particles sometimes appear out of thin air. These new particles appear to divide and then collide with one another and then disappear. This, scientists believe proves that there is auniverse of pure energy beyond our material universe. Some say this universe of pure energy produces the universe of matter that we perceive as human beings.

    Due to our physical senses most of us still perceive the world as dualistic, that being matter and energy as two separate entities. This is, and science has now proven it, an incorrect perception of what is energy and therefore what is reality. By clinging to this inaccurate view of the world we limit ourselves in experiencing the full scope of our consciousness. With the knowledge we have learned from thesebreakthroughs in science we need to let go of these outdated perceptions of reality and understand that there is no such thing as matter, there is only forms of energy vibrating at different rates. Some vibrating so slowly they appear to be matter but understand the matter you appear to see is only an illusion created byswirling masses of energy. Know that matter is a concept created by the human mind but it is not an actual substance.

    If you can get your mind around this concept you may get an insight into what is energy. Understanding that nothing is matter, not even your body, it is easy to understand that your feelings and emotions are not matter but very fast vibrating forms of energy. These feelings and emotions are elements which are a part of your consciousness. An easy way to bring in this new concept of everything is energy into your life is to imagine that everything around you is made up of vibrating energy, even though you can’t see that it is vibrating. Try to imagine it as tiny microscopic particles vibrating together to make up objects of different shapes and sizes all around you.

    At this point you may be asking yourself how this article on energy has anything to do with personal development. Well now let me get to the good part. By accepting that everything is energy including your body and your thoughts you are taking a step closer to being able to take control of every aspect of your life.

    You may have once believed that your brain was responsible for creating your thoughts but now if you accept that everything is energy you will understand that your brain is not some material that produces thoughts because your brain is not made of matter, it is made of the same thing as everything else, energy, and energy as we have learned from Einstein cannot be created. Although your brain’s electrical and chemical processes do affect your thoughts, scientific experiments have proven this, your thoughts come from your consciousness which is another form of energy and that consciousness has existed in some form or another since the beginning of the universe.

    Albert Einstein said “reality is merely an illusion.” What reality is, is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about. Your entire life and everything in it is a result of your belief system coupled with your thoughts. The feelings and emotions you have cement this in your mind and the illusion of all of this combined is what you see as your reality on a moment to moment and day to day basis. Sowhat is energy on the human level? The bottom line and the most important thing in life we must understand is belief is everything. The law of belief is the law of life. Change your belief and change your life.

    Source: http://www.universeofsuccess.com/energy.html

  • 53. Lisa  |  September 23, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    HelsSailing wrote: Well, I didn’t mean to degrade your beliefs and feelings toward the spiritual life, and I apologize if it came out that way. I am open to that type of experience, but I have other ideas where those spiritual feelings come from

    …You did not offend me in the least, and I didn’t take it that way, honestly! I have so many people of different persuasions in my life, and I also have a constant need to understand things that may not be clear to me. I hope I wasn’t offensive to you; I was merely stating an observation, and I came up with my own theory. I have great discussions with people and I’m always open to others’ points of view. I find the world fascinating; we are all so different, yet we are all connected.

    I have merely found that Christianity helped me when all reasoning would not. In fact, if I had only considered reason back then, I might not be here right now, because the situation was so irrational that no amount of reasoning or presentation of facts mattered (this is what happens when one’s life is affected by a narcissistic, pathological liar). But because of the beliefs I acquired, I’m here to tell my tale. My situation really hasn’t changed; the narcissist still exists and still creates havoc. But because my beliefs have changed, my attitude has as well, and life is good again. I wouldn’t be able to go through all of my years feeling hopeless. There is something to be said when you give up your cares to God and sit back and watch what happens. I’ve been pleasantly surprised over the last two years.

    You say you were a former Christian; I am a former catholic. And quite honestly, in my humble opinion (or not), depending on catholicism in one’s time of need could just about cause anyone to become an Athiest! ;) They are just not comforting on any level. As a matter of fact, according to my former priest, I am headed straight to hell because I didn’t annull my first marriage (that produced two kids) before remarrying. I don’t think I need to get into how I feel about the clergy that gets forgiven for heinous on a daily basis. I have a problem with hypocrisy no matter what religion or group it is.

    Christians can present their beliefs to people, but they can’t shove them down others’ throats. There’s a nice way to present ideas and a really annoying, judgemental way. I responded WAY better to the former!

  • 54. paul  |  September 25, 2007 at 2:22 am

    I once spoke to a sister in a hospice and asked her who was more afraid of death ,the religious or the Atheist.
    In her opinion it was the religious.
    Over the years I have thoght about this and have come to realize that the religious have doubts.Have I got the right God or am I going to be forgiven for those sins I committed.
    The Atheist is usually at peace with death as he/she accepts there is nothing more and that life goes on and if the person has children then the genes continue and so never dies.
    Religions carrot is afterlife.

  • 55. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2007 at 11:03 am

    Dovelove:
    Don’t know who wrote that article on energy, but it is wrong in so many places, and on so many levels, that it would literally take a book to set it all straight. [I'm a biologist and married to a physicist, so this stuff percolates through my brain a lot.]
    If you want to understand the topics the article touches on, you should find a few college texts on basic physics and work though them.
    Or you could take my word that the article’s author has no idea what he/she is talking about.
    Or you could believe the article is truer than gospel.
    As you like.

  • 56. lostgirlfound  |  September 25, 2007 at 11:09 am

    “As many De-Conversion readers know, Christian theology is full of text regarding the afterlife, Kingdom of God, and so on. Many Christians find it comforting in knowing that death has been conquered, relieving humanity from guilt and fear. ”

    Justin, truth be told, the text Christians use (the Bible) is much more full of ways we should live right here, right now. The problem is, living life is difficult, and many Christians cannot reconcile the “hell” that is now with their shallow faith. So, by focusing on “the great reward,” they can somehow diminish their responsibility here as simply something they must “endure”.
    If one would focus on the life to live here and now — the one God gave us — we wouldn’t have so much time to “worry” about our great, eternal reward.
    Another truth … I agree with Paul. I think more Christians face death with fear, because they really don’t know what they believe. I think many wallow in a faith so shallow — simply regurgitated to them by clery and tradition — that once they sit on that doorstep, they are unsure of it all. They have “wasted” their lives planning for their eternity. When they get there, they’re just not sure.
    I have seen very peaceful passings … and “the church” is quick to share those things. But I’ve also seen fearful faces because they don’t know. I think facing eternity with grace or fear has much more to do with how we live our lives — not our belief system.

  • 57. LeoPardus  |  September 25, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Lisa said:
    I am a former catholic. …. I don’t think I need to get into how I feel about the clergy that gets forgiven for heinous on a daily basis. I have a problem with hypocrisy no matter what religion or group it is.

    So what do you do with the same hypocrisy in your current, Christian sect? If it bothered you so much in the ROC, shouldn’t it bother you the same now?

  • 58. dovelove  |  September 25, 2007 at 11:35 am

    “As you like.”

    Indeed :)

  • 59. mewho  |  September 25, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    I want my family taken care of and I want them to think well of me. In the meantime, I really enjoy life.

    We all live in a wonderful age of good medicine, advances in technology, and somewhat pleasant occupations. The more well-off, the easier it is to discard religious beliefs. The more poor and sickly, the greater the need to embrace them. There is probably a mathematical formula here, but I’m not sure how to express it.

  • [...] Justin : Atheist Feelings towards Death [...]

  • 61. ex-muslim  |  December 6, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Atheist here and a former Muslim. I’m trying to come to terms with this. When I die, I will be like when I hadnt been born but it still makes me really sad to think that, I will not be able to enjoy the music and the foods and things I enjoy in life right now. The emptiness and non-existence of the whole thing is just terrifying and simply, unimaginable.

    But then this worry of mine is also finite. It wont be there when I’m dead so atleast thats good. Still, death is really very sad. We are advanced beings now who can (atleast attempt to) understand the concept of death.

  • 62. LeoPardus  |  December 6, 2007 at 11:58 pm

    ex-muslim:

    Good to hear from you. An ex-muslim perspective would be interesting.

    I think a lot of folks are like you in feeling sad, or disturbed about the thought of one day ceasing to exist. I suppose as long as it’s the simple reality we all face, we must just…… well…. face it.

  • 63. Anonymous  |  December 13, 2007 at 2:19 pm

    Has anyone thought of how incomprehensible it would be to actually have an afterlife that lasted forever? Im not sure I would want to exist forever after I die except that it seems slightly better then ceasing to exist and thereby rendering all the experiences of my life worthless. I can not comprehend existing forever it seems an almost a terrible fate.

  • 64. Thinking Ape  |  December 13, 2007 at 3:46 pm

    Anonymous says,

    Im not sure I would want to exist forever after I die…

    Especially if I have to hang out with some of the people that are supposedly up there?

  • 65. The Barefoot Bum  |  December 13, 2007 at 3:48 pm

    I’m no more worried about being dead, that my life has a beginning and an end in time, than I am about the fact that my physical body has limits in space.

    Dying, on the other hand, I’m not too keen on.

  • 66. sean  |  December 4, 2008 at 5:18 am

    The idea of death is horrifying to me.
    Hello, I am a soft Atheist. I say ‘soft’ for the simple fact that I am inclined to believe in some sort of guiding energy in the universe, albeit ‘god’ if that’s what you care to call IT. I definitely don’t believe in some egocentric, blood thirsty seriel killing diety such as the Christian god, and I doubt that this ‘force’ in the universe has any personal qualities beyond the creatures of the earth it appears to inhibit… that said, I don’t see the idea of the afterlife as either a heaven or hell. I think it will be nothingness, perhaps much like the absence of conciousness prior to birth.
    This really doesn’t comfort me, though. At times I felt more at ease when I used to believe in the christian idea of heaven, but that god is viciously selective (jeffrey dahmer, who became a believer of christ before his death, could be there, and if I die tomorrow, ill be in hell for simply disbelieving… that’s fucked up), and the idea of living forever and ever is also frightening- not to mention spending it in eternal hell fire, which often haunted me in my doubts.
    Now im just a realist. I don’t know what happens after death, and that makes me terrible anxious. Sometimes thinking too deeply about death thrusts me into a type of panic attack, and im seriously beginning to worry that im obsessing over my fears of death. Studying it draws me in, perhaps because im trying to find comfort in the fact that everyone before me has had to face death.
    Beyond dying and being dead, im terrified at the thought of how im going to die. Will I be the victim of a senseless, brutal murder? Will it be a quick and sudden accident? Will it be long and agonizing? Will I know when its happening? I get the chills thinking about it. Sometimes I wish to find religion again, but I really can’t believe in silly fairy tales like adam and eve or jack and the bean stalk.
    Im very troubled, I really am. I don’t think these are normal thoughts for a 20 year-old.

  • 67. ubi dubium  |  December 4, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Sean – it sounds like you really need someone to talk to. Dwelling on death all the time can’t be good for you. I hope that you have a counsellor or mentor or somebody you trust that you can have some good conversation with to work though this. Our website might not be enough.

    My own thoughts, for what they’re worth: It is unlikely that there is an afterlife. There was nothing frightening about not being born yet, I don’t see how being dead would be any different. The actual event of dying, by whatever way it happens, is temporary. What will last is the effect that you have had on the people you leave behind. You have one shot at this life, once chance to make your mark. Focus on living – living well, experiencing everything to the fullest, making the world a better place for those who will follow us.

    If by chance there is an afterlife, I don’t think any of the world’s religions have a grip on what it is. It would probably be something totally unlike what they have dreamed up. So none of their threats of hell should be topics for worry at all. (Although I do think that reincarnation would be a really cool thing to exist.) The Pastafarian afterlife of beer and strippers has just as much chance of being true as the holy roller’s hellfire and damnation.

  • 68. Josh  |  December 6, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Well, for me, death is a little like sex. I’ve never done both before, so there is a small fear of the unknown. For the former, I blame life itself. For the latter, I blame a lack of friends outside of my conservative upbringing and the firm adherence I gave to my former beliefs.

    As for a ‘fear’, I have less than when I was a Christian. The small chance of ending up in hell is far more fearful to me than the prospect of non-existence. I think that everyone has a fear of the process of dying, but the results do not scare me in the least. Most bodies in graves don’t seem to mind their present status, although ghost stories would seem to indicate otherwise.

    Casper aside, if I do continue to exist after death I will be quite pleasantly surprised and will probably ask for a beer to loosen the shock of the moment. Hopefully they serve beer in atheist heaven.

  • 69. Rachel  |  July 14, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    As a teenager when I first came to the conclusion that death was theAs a teenager when I first came to the conclusion that death was the end, , I found it agonizing, my fear of death consumed my entire life and I even thought of killing myself to end the pain and fear, than I came to accept death as a natural part of life.

    Last year I went through a scare where they thought I might have cancer (it turned out to be a benign cyst) and during that time I realized I no longer have any fear of death, it seems peaceful
    end, , I found it agonizing, my fear of death consumed my entire life and I even thought of killing myself to end the pain and fear, than I came to accept death as a natural part of life.

    Last year I went through a scare where they thought I might have cancer (it turned out to be a benign cyst) and during that time I realized I no longer have any fear of death, it seems peaceful

  • 70. Dick Roe II  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    What “church” did all you ex-Christians attend that you were seldom sure of being saved, and fearful of judgement after death? I feel sorry for the average “Joe” out there with no certainty about life and any hereafter; cuz, unless you’re like Abe Lincoln or Mother Teresa or other famous folk, you’ll be COMPLETELYforgotten within two generations.

  • 71. Dick Roe II  |  May 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    What “church” did all you ex-Christians attend that you were seldom sure of being saved, and fearful of judgement after death? I feel sorry for the average “Joe” out there with no certainty about life and any hereafter; cuz, unless you’re like Abe Lincoln or Mother Teresa or other famous folk, you’ll be COMPLETELY forgotten within two generations.

  • 72. Tim  |  May 19, 2011 at 3:31 am

    I’m a Atheist. Once I lost my faith I started looking at not only life but the whole universe in a totally different way. I feel enlightened, as if my mind isn’t being held back anymore. And the subject of death has always frighted me, and there will always be that little fear there no matter what. I’ve always hoped their to be an after life even thought I cant believe in God. But now I’m at ease with the idea that we will all one day die and actually joined the military. Death is inevitable, that is why I’d give my life for my country…

  • 73. Ubi Dubium  |  May 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Welcome Tim! The military can be a difficult place for an atheist, since the chaplain corps is so overwhelmingly evangelical. There are groups for “Atheists in Foxholes” out there, I hope you can find one if you are ever feeling isolated. Also, have you checked out http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/ ? If you ever find yourself being unfairly treated over your lack of religion, they’re the ones to contact.

  • 74. Stavros  |  June 2, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I’m an agnostic, I guess: sometimes I believe in something transcendent (God, if you wish), other times I do not. Regardless, death scares the crap out of me. I mean, not only does it quite possibly (probably) mean the end of me, of this self, the process itself almost always sucks. For instance, my mom just died last week of pancreatic cancer. She couldn’t eat for about the last 2 months, vomiting up even liquids she couldn’t hold down, and slowly starved to death. She also required as much as 100 mg of morphine daily through intravenous because her pain was so severe. She was on morphine and in pain for almost 6 months. Yeah, not often do people peacefully slip away. Death is the scariest of all things, in my opinion. It’s messy. Sorry to be a downer!

  • 75. Haziq  |  May 19, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Friends, if you do think it like that, you would think there is no god. But in another point, think… on how science even started. Why are our human anatomies so complex? Where do brains come from? Even if you deduce to the very beginning and tell me the first particle of matter that started everything, then tell me… Where did that particle come from? You ask me, “Where does God come from?” If he’s God who can create humans and planets, even galaxies, why does he need a source? You see, our thinkong is very limited

  • 76. Haziq  |  May 19, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    BTW im muslim. It doesnt matter what religion u believe in… Always remember theres a god. Its even mentioned in the Quran that more atheists will apoear and deny. Look here. Dozens of atheists looking at my comment. Our mindaet cant be compared to that of a divine creator. Its like comparing a university graduate to a nursery child in human terms. We are the children…

  • 77. ubi dubium  |  May 20, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    Haziq, you are using the “god of the gaps” argument. It boils down to “we don’t know (X), therefore it was god. This is an unconvincing argument to use on non-believers. Saying “We don’t know something yet” does not lead to the conclusion “A magic man in the sky did it”. And every time we discover something new, those gaps in our knowledge get smaller, so your god gets smaller. The universe is really too enormous to attribute to a small and shrinking human-created god.

    People are children as long as they cling to fairy-tales about gods. Time to grow up and take charge of our own destinies.

  • 78. cag  |  May 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Haziq, have you ever seen a scam prospectus? Plenty of promise, promises which are too good to be true, with threats that if you don’t act now you’ll miss out on all the wonderful benefits. Your Quran, like the bible, makes promises and threats but it is all a scam prospectus. You have been indoctrinated into your religion without being given access to any counterbalancing information. This is a form of brainwashing, and you are working to continue the indoctrination without determining if what you are typing has any relation to reality. You are just a parrot, regurgitating what you have been fed.

    Think for yourself instead of having others do it for you. Do you really think that the thousands of gods that have been worshipped or feared by humans are false but your god actually exists? The Aztecs practiced human sacrifice. I would classify that as being quite committed to a god we now know is a human invention. Belief is not truth, believing in allah does not make allah any more real than any of the other discredited gods.

    Come back when you have evidence instead of hyperbole.

  • 79. Steven  |  July 15, 2012 at 4:59 am

    I have always questioned Religion, despite being raised with Christian parents. We never went to church, since my parents both recently moved here before my sister or I were born, hence not being a part of one and not knowing any they liked. When I first realized death would be a permenant end, at least in my view, it scared me greatly. I didn’t sleep for at least a day fearing that was what death was, and I could slip away into it by sleeping. Since then I have come to terms with it, although I am sometimes still bothered by it, I overall except the idea of it and try to live my life as best I can. I’m glad I don’t have to face a judgement and fear an eternity in Hell though (not that that has affected my morals)

  • 80. Living in the face of death | Brad Merrill  |  July 6, 2013 at 4:19 am

    […] I love the way one person put it in a comment on the De-Conversion blog: […]

  • 81. An Atheist's Approach to Death | Gerard McGarry  |  September 19, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    […] find this rather eloquently argued on the De-Conversion blog. I especially liked this contribution from a […]

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Attention Christian Readers

Just in case you were wondering who we are and why we de-converted.

de-conversion wager

Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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