The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
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24-10-2012, 04:31 PM
The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
Hi everyone!

I'd like to ask you guys a question concerning death and basically the prospect of ceasing to exist in the form of, well, ourselves. I have been an atheist for quite some time now and the prospect of death has never bothered me so far. However a week ago I finished my Bachelor's thesis at college and I was suddenly overwhelmed with extreme depression. Why exactly I cannot tell. As an atheist and someone who has at least basic scientific training I cannot blindly believe in something like an existence after death when there is no evidence for said existence whatsoever. However suddenly I can't help but to feel an extreme sadness when I picture that people in my family or people who used to be my friends die. I have a hard time to cope with the idea that anyone or anything has to go forever. It seems so incredibly cruel when people lose their children, their parents, siblings or friends, when all indicates that they are GONE forever. Why are so many people in the world forced to live short and painful lives or die violent deaths? How can people and everything they were just be lost from one moment to another? It has actually gone so far that my entire mind is revolving around the topic which has resulted in complete depression. Simply because it all seems just too pointless. Another thing that concerns me is the state of being dead and how terrible it seems not to exist anymore... which also keeps me awake at night. Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss indeed... Undecided
My question is: How do you deal with this? How can you deal with the idea that people are lost forever and the concept of death in general? It would greatly help me to hear answers from someone who will not just baselessly assert that something as irrational as an afterlife exists and we "don't really die". Besides: My mother had a near death experience and firmly believes in an afterlife. And I do not want to take this peace of mind from her by discussing this in the family. I don't want her to suffer fear or sadness when her time comes. Sad

Sorry for the long post.

Take care.
WeAreOne
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24-10-2012, 04:44 PM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
(24-10-2012 04:31 PM)WeAreOne Wrote:  Hi everyone!

I'd like to ask you guys a question concerning death and basically the prospect of ceasing to exist in the form of, well, ourselves. I have been an atheist for quite some time now and the prospect of death has never bothered me so far. However a week ago I finished my Bachelor's thesis at college and I was suddenly overwhelmed with extreme depression. Why exactly I cannot tell. As an atheist and someone who has at least basic scientific training I cannot blindly believe in something like an existence after death when there is no evidence for said existence whatsoever. However suddenly I can't help but to feel an extreme sadness when I picture that people in my family or people who used to be my friends die. I have a hard time to cope with the idea that anyone or anything has to go forever. It seems so incredibly cruel when people lose their children, their parents, siblings or friends, when all indicates that they are GONE forever. Why are so many people in the world forced to live short and painful lives or die violent deaths? How can people and everything they were just be lost from one moment to another? It has actually gone so far that my entire mind is revolving around the topic which has resulted in complete depression. Simply because it all seems just too pointless. Another thing that concerns me is the state of being dead and how terrible it seems not to exist anymore... which also keeps me awake at night. Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss indeed... Undecided
My question is: How do you deal with this? How can you deal with the idea that people are lost forever and the concept of death in general? It would greatly help me to hear answers from someone who will not just baselessly assert that something as irrational as an afterlife exists and we "don't really die". Besides: My mother had a near death experience and firmly believes in an afterlife. And I do not want to take this peace of mind from her by discussing this in the family. I don't want her to suffer fear or sadness when her time comes. Sad

Sorry for the long post.

Take care.
WeAreOne

Look at it from the opposite side.
It is wonderful that you (or anyone) are alive. The odds against you being here are fantastic.
Every one of your ancestors had to survive to reproduce.
The particular sperm and egg had to join to form you.
You had to make it through gestation.

Every moment of life you have is a wonderful fact.
That it has to end is true for every living thing.

You didn't exist for 13.72 billion years; you exist now; revel in it, celebrate it.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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24-10-2012, 05:00 PM (This post was last modified: 25-10-2012 08:54 AM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
(24-10-2012 04:44 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(24-10-2012 04:31 PM)WeAreOne Wrote:  Hi everyone!

I'd like to ask you guys a question concerning death and basically the prospect of ceasing to exist in the form of, well, ourselves. I have been an atheist for quite some time now and the prospect of death has never bothered me so far. However a week ago I finished my Bachelor's thesis at college and I was suddenly overwhelmed with extreme depression. Why exactly I cannot tell. As an atheist and someone who has at least basic scientific training I cannot blindly believe in something like an existence after death when there is no evidence for said existence whatsoever. However suddenly I can't help but to feel an extreme sadness when I picture that people in my family or people who used to be my friends die. I have a hard time to cope with the idea that anyone or anything has to go forever. It seems so incredibly cruel when people lose their children, their parents, siblings or friends, when all indicates that they are GONE forever. Why are so many people in the world forced to live short and painful lives or die violent deaths? How can people and everything they were just be lost from one moment to another? It has actually gone so far that my entire mind is revolving around the topic which has resulted in complete depression. Simply because it all seems just too pointless. Another thing that concerns me is the state of being dead and how terrible it seems not to exist anymore... which also keeps me awake at night. Sometimes I think ignorance is bliss indeed... Undecided
My question is: How do you deal with this? How can you deal with the idea that people are lost forever and the concept of death in general? It would greatly help me to hear answers from someone who will not just baselessly assert that something as irrational as an afterlife exists and we "don't really die". Besides: My mother had a near death experience and firmly believes in an afterlife. And I do not want to take this peace of mind from her by discussing this in the family. I don't want her to suffer fear or sadness when her time comes. Sad

Sorry for the long post.

Take care.
WeAreOne

Look at it from the opposite side.
It is wonderful that you (or anyone) are alive. The odds against you being here are fantastic.
Every one of your ancestors had to survive to reproduce.
The particular sperm and egg had to join to form you.
You had to make it through gestation.

Every moment of life you have is a wonderful fact.
That it has to end is true for every living thing.

You didn't exist for 13.72 billion years; you exist now; revel in it, celebrate it.

Depression post major life events, such as graduation, childbirth, (which is also hormonal), is a well known phenomenon. You have been focused on the goal for so long, and suddenly the goal is not there. It's just "adjustment". Find yourself more/other/different goals ?

http://journals.psychiatryonline.org/art...eid=173488

Death is a good thing. It permits Evolution, and mutation to work, the way it does. If you jettison the idea that the universe exists for "individuals", individual death becomes a non-issue.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist
The noblest of the dogs is the hot dog. It feeds the hand that bites it.
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24-10-2012, 11:12 PM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
I realize I did not exist for the past 14 billion years and it did not bother me at all. When I die I will just revert to that state I was in for the previous 14 billion years. That is how I view my own death and it does not scare me. I just lost my dad 9 months ago to cancer and the hardest part is realizing that I'll never be able to have a conversation with him again. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that fact. I feel that I'm handling his death better and more healthily than my religious family members. My catholic mom thinks she is being punished by god for some reason. This experience has only strengthened my atheism.
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25-10-2012, 08:10 AM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
I deal with death in the same way that most others might. It generally requires little more than 4 or 5 Force-Flex trash bags and a single roll of duct tape. Depending on the situation, it may also involve one or more bags of lye. (Although, continued purchase of this material may raise suspicions)

I'm glad someone had the courage to start this thread, actually, it's a good place to get some pointers. Good to know we have this kind of trust here on the forum.

Edit: Just realized the actual point of this thread. Disregard everything written above.

Through profound pain comes profound knowledge.
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25-10-2012, 11:26 AM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
(24-10-2012 04:31 PM)WeAreOne Wrote:  It seems so incredibly cruel when people lose their children, their parents, siblings or friends, when all indicates that they are GONE forever.

That's one reason religion exists: people think the world has to be fair, and it doesn't seem fair when a person dies, especially if they are young or die tragically. However, if you don't believe a guy in the sky is pulling the strings, there is no need to think it should be fair, because death happens to everybody. It sucks when someone you care about dies, for sure, but it is a known fact that it will happen.

Perhaps one reason I don't understand this kind of thinking is that I never was a theist. I never believed in an afterlife, so death always was a permanent thing for me. I never expected some supernatural figure to settle scores and try to make things right after the fact.

Something I was thinking about last night: I had some great aunts who lived to be pretty old, and were widowed several times and remarried. If they believe in afterlife and heaven where they will be reunited with loved ones, does that mean they will practice polyandry in heaven?

But yeah, the idea of an afterlife makes no sense to me, and I always viewed it as a way people try to make death seem fair. Death isn't fair, because death does not have its own agenda, it's just something that happens.
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26-10-2012, 08:53 PM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
As far as my own life - I am not 100% convinced that my spirit/soul/katra/insert term here will end with my body's life. But, I am in NO hurry to find out. Time will take me there weather I want to or not.

As far as others lives, I tend to be like Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H) -- "Dont let the bastards win!". Life is precious to me and deserves to be protected - which includes if one threatens another, do what is needed to defend the life being threatened. Fortunately, I have not had to be in that position. But again, time will probably put me in it sooner or later.
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27-10-2012, 03:18 AM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
I understand your sudden fear of death. It used to come in burst for me, too, especially when I was a child and taught contradicting things.
When I was 7 or 8 I started thinking about death very much, and on one side I was taught that there will be heaven and everything will be good and nice there and I can meet those that died before me etc. On the other hand I was taught that death is permanent, you don't come back from it and it is like sleeping for ever. Sleeping forever scared me a lot but I dealt with it.

By now I think differently.
Of course it is not like sleeping forever. Just as the others pointed out, you've been dead for aprox 14 Million years already, you are alive right now, and when the time comes you will be dead again. So did the past 14 Million years, hurt or traumatize you in any way? Do you have any good memories about the time before your birth? Anything?
No, don't be scared of it.
The point about live is just to continue, that is why we love food and sex so much. That is btw the whole point. The fact that the human race made it to the point that we are self aware on such a degree that we can fear death is cool, because our brains are capable of so many thing. But it is a curse, too, as you see.
The only thing that scares me a little is that I could have a painful death, like from a bad illness or accident. I don't want to die slowly and hooked to 20 machines that keep me alive as long as possible. That is the only thing I fear, and I am sure that I am not alone with this fear. It's very reasonable.

I am not done yet, but RL is just hitting me, gonna finish this later

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27-10-2012, 04:09 AM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
Death is an easy thing for me. Things die. It's just the way it is. And it's unpredictable at times. I could die while writing this and it could never be posted. I may have just wasted my last seconds posting on a forum instead of doing something meaningful..... Of course, no one would know then.

For me, I'm more bothered by people's reactions to people dying. They say they're in heaven now and they take comfort in knowing they'll live forever.... and in itself it does make a point of contradiction the way I view it, you die on earth, you live in heaven, painless, happy, for eternity--so why wouldn't you just kill everyone on earth to make it better, or even these same people say they don't want to die? If it's better....and it's real.... OR when I See people and how they treat others, then say something about how people will get what's coming to them when they die, or even say the bad things that happen to people don't matter because they'll be rewarded in heaven... That bothers me much more than death. Don't worry about a life of pain and anguish--you'll have better in heaven! Um, no, how about we fix the problems here instead... but I got slightly off topic.

Even when I was told I should prepare for not waking up in the past, when I was very sick, I noticed that your brain kind of kicks in some chemical thing or something that makes you not care about that. I mean you do, but, you don't. Granted I was worried whenever a medical a person walked in, but once they left, I was "fine".

Granted we can't imagine being dead--becase we can only perceive things we know, sense, or otherwise are aware of. Once we're dead, or just not born, we don't have any awareness, no connections, no nothing. Just... dead.
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27-10-2012, 01:09 PM
RE: The Finite "You" - How do you as fellow Atheists deal with death?
ok, gonna continue from my prev post now, sorry for the break.

I wanted to talk about this from you:
Quote:Why are so many people in the world forced to live short and painful lives or die violent deaths? How can people and everything they were just be lost from one moment to another?
Here I assume you think that something is unfair. But that's wrong. Apart from the fact that there is no fair or unfair in the birth and death of people in general. Everything is action and reaction. If someone is too sick to live, they die. If someone is too weak to be born, they die. If someone is very strong and healthy, they live. That's how we evolve and how we sift out those who are not useful for the human race as such. I know it sounds hard, and it is, and it is not fair that someone gets born but dies before they can multiply etc. But it is a hard truth, this is how evolution works. But why be depressed or angry about it, makes no sense, because there is no way to change a normal biological way of sifting out those who are not helping the human race, and there is no way to make it fair. Sometimes great minds die, too, after a wonderful live, after doing a lot of useful things for the human race and/or the planet. Shit happens.

also this is a point I want to say something about:
Quote:How can you deal with the idea that people are lost forever and the concept of death in general?
People are not lost forever when they die. First of all, just think about the fact that we are all "stardust" (no idea where I heard that but I loved the expression). This means that all the elements that are naturally in the universe, are also in you, and that's even in the same proportions! Once you die your elements will still be used in some way. So physicaly not one molekule will be lost, they may change form due to chemical reactions but that it is, not wasted. - As creepy as it sounds, before I decided that I want to be cremated, I took comfort in the idea that when I am under the earth and start rotting, I will actually be food and breeding place for small animals and for plants. It used to give me a pretty good feeling that my body will not be wasted but help other living forms survive.
Even the mind of a person is not wasted when they die. See all the inventors from hundrets of years ago. The person that found out the use of a wheel, just wow. Lives on forever simply due to the fact that he/she invented this superuseful tool, the wheel. Or think about the people that invented so many things we use nowadays, who discovered electricity, who invented the lightbulb, all the great mathematicians and physics. All the people that are still in our minds and in our history, we read their ideas, and books, use their inventions. They are dead but their ideas and names are not.
"But I am not a great mind, I am not that important, I will be lost" you may say. And still wrong. You have family, friends, you are posting on the internet. Your ideas will be around after you die, friends and family will remember you lovingly and in their minds you will "live on", you will have touched people, changed their opinions or made them think, you will probably (or not) have kids that you taught about live, and so on and so on. Even you will not be loved, in your actions and the resulting reactions you will live on.

I think this is a pretty good outlook.
Really no need to be scared.

The only thing that might be, and that is why everyone tells you to live and enjoy your live, you don't want to be old and sorry that you didn't do or try certain things. So try to do everything you dream about, and when someone tells you that you should grow up, just because you keep dreaming a little and try to make your dreams come true, then fuck them. You enjoy your live as much as you can because you have only this one Smile

cheers
Leela

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