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Coping With Death as an Atheist?
Crazy Photon
Member #2,588
July 2002
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how do their lives diverge?

There is a TNG episode treading on that topic.

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Resistance is NEVER futile...

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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As others have said, I imagine that after death we just cease to exist. I believe our consciousness is a process of our brain and once our brain ceases to function I believe that our conscious and subconscious minds will cease to exist. It stands to reason, at least. Most people are an empty shell while they sleep. Unless God is flicking an off switch when you close your eyes I think that it's fair to assume that our brains produce this conscious state that we're experiencing right now. It then goes to reason that when our brain stops functioning that state will no longer exist.

It isn't the dead part that scares me, but the dying part. It can clearly be very uncomfortable or painful, and this discomfort/sensation can last a long time, with you powerless to do anything about it. That scares me. I think I'd like an instant death; a bullet to the head or something of that nature. Aside from quitting early, I don't really get to control that, and that scares me.

I couldn't care less what happens to my body after I'm gone. Donate it to science or feed it to the worms.

** APPEND **

As for the teleportation topic, I've often wondered the same thing while watching Star Trek. Assuming the teleporter is actually assembling a new body at the destination, it seems the only limiting factor would be the matter that our bodies are composed of. Then again, if one is to assume that the matter is actually being instantaneously moved from point A to B then you'd have to assume that it's the same person that moved. At least, in the same sense that we are the same person from one instance to the next.

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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Timorg said:

Would they destroy you as you went in? (Unless it was part of the reading process) or would they make sure there was not a stuff up at the other end, before destroying your old copy?

Unless the reading process is destructive, in which case you'd have to hope there's no stuff-up, I guess the sanest solution would be to keep the original one around, properly drugged and locked away, and only administer the lethal injection and subsequent disintegration (or whatever, that's the method my sick mind imagines) after the teleporting process has been confirmed.
But then, if the teleportation is just a matter of storing the state of some matter, sending that information somewhere, and then using it as a blueprint to reconstruct that matter, you could just as easily store the information instead of an actual human being. You could even spawn several copies over time, so that the first copy can later meet a younger instance of itself.
It's also possible that one could alter the data before reconstruction, and then reassemble locally - you could mod yourself! ;D

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Me make music: Triofobie
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"We need Tobias and his awesome trombone, too." - Johan Halmén

GameCreator
Member #2,541
July 2002
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Why worry about something you can't control? As for your specific question:

Billybob said:

How do you think an atheist should cope with death, if one regrets how one lived his or her life?

Regret is about how past mistakes will affect your future. If you have no future, what is there to regret?

Evert
Member #794
November 2000
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Billybob said:

I had the thought this night, what if I were on my death bed, with nothing but regrets to comfort me? If I were an atheist, how would I cope with that?

How you'd cope with things is not a question I could answer for you.
But let me turn that question around, because I don't actually understand it. What if you were on your death bed, plagued by regrets. Things you did that you shouldn't have. Things you didn't do that you should have. How does not being an atheist help? It's not like you get to do any of the things you didn't do after death just because you believe in a god, and similarly you don't get to undo things that you're not proud of. So why exactly does being a theist or an atheist make a difference here?

So here's my answer: make sure you don't have only regrets to look back to. Make sure your life has been worthwhile so you can look back on it in the end and decide that it was worth living. How hard or easy that is depends on what standards you set yourself, of course, but that's up to you.

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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Eh, boring question. Boring answers.

What do you think of the phrase "Live every day like it's your last one"? I've always though it was kind of funny, because if I did that, I'd never go to work, pay bills, etc.

In fact, I might do something entirely crazy because there would be no consequences. What crazy thing would you do, if you knew you were to die within 24 hours?

Derezo
Member #1,666
April 2001
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I'm still categorized as an atheist according to the Wikipedia definition, but I don't like that label anymore. I do believe my physical body is a vessel which carries an energy which is not entirely physical. When the vessel dies, it will lose all of it's function. It will lose all knowledge it had, it's identity, and any type of awareness which was provided by it's various systems of interpretation. It wont even know that it died. But, all of that stuff still existed, even though it's not physical matter. I believe the whole point of having a body is for the mind to experience the universe using physical matter as a medium for that activity.

I believe that

  • The Universe is one.

  • I am part of the Universe.

Therefore, I never really die... but the universe no longer directly experiences being Eric.

... now who wants some Kool-Aid?

"He who controls the stuffing controls the Universe"

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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I remember the days you were a normal person, and BAF was a little baby. :'(

Derezo
Member #1,666
April 2001
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Being normal is highly overrated :D

(..not that I think I was ever "normal")

"He who controls the stuffing controls the Universe"

GameCreator
Member #2,541
July 2002
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What crazy thing would you do, if you knew you were to die within 24 hours?

Assuming the existence of a god or not?

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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It makes more sense to question the validity of life before questioning death. Take the teleporter example. Nothing is "destroyed." Matter is converted to energy, transferred to the new location and converted back.

But let's just say it destroys one and makes a new copy. Even then it doesn't "kill" the original because the "new copy" is still you. It's literally everything as much as the you that was there before. When you travel through time, a new you is continually being formed. The you that was before is no longer there. Is it dead? Was it ever really alive?

It's hard to make a case that when you die, you "live on." If so, you would change dramatically in your capacity to exist because you (most certainly) no longer have the sensory functions, and anatomy that you had before. If you were to "live on" then the changes are so drastic that you would essentially have to be a completely new creature. And the creature/life that you were before ceases to be relevant and/or ceases to exist.

Matthew Leverton
Supreme Loser
January 1999
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Assuming the existence of a god or not?

That doesn't matter... There's no need to explicitly state your religious opinions when answering the question.

And I don't really see how it would affect the answer much. It's not like an atheist would answer "kill a bunch of kittens" just because he's going to be dead the next day.

You just know you'll be dead; the rest of the world will continue on as normal.

Tobias Dammers
Member #2,604
August 2002
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I still don't really get what being an atheist has to do with it. According to wikipedia:

Quote:

Atheism, in a broad sense, is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.[2] Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist.[3] Atheism is contrasted with theism,[4] which in its most general form is the belief that at least one deity exists.

Which, I think, sums it up nicely.

But we're talking about two different concepts here: Belief in a deity (or deities), and belief in an afterlife (or reincarnation). Just because Christianity, Islam, and Judaism share both these concepts doesn't mean it has to be both or neither.

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Me make music: Triofobie
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"We need Tobias and his awesome trombone, too." - Johan Halmén

Goalie Ca
Member #2,579
July 2002
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Why is everyone always looking for answers?

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Bah weep granah weep nini bong!

Neil Black
Member #7,867
October 2006
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Goalie Ca said:

Why is everyone always looking for answers?

I like looking for questions!

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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Goalie Ca said:

Why is everyone always looking for answers?

There seems to be a disconnect between what life is and what humans want it to be. The search to find "the answers" is a quest to validate the world we want.

OR, in the scientific/atheist's mind, it's a quest to purify oneself from misconceptions.

GameCreator
Member #2,541
July 2002
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nm

decepto
Member #7,102
April 2006
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Upon my death, there are several paths which my physical body can take:

1. Disposed of (buried or cremated)
2. Donated to science
3. Organ donation (with the left over bits taking paths 1 or 2)
4. Cryopreservation (which costs about $20 dollars a month while you're living)

I plan on having my body Cryopreserved by Alcor. However, I hope to live another 60 years before I expire. At that point, I hope there is some more progress/competition in the cryonics space.

To be clear, I'm not expecting my investment in cryonics to pay off. However, given a choice of being worm food versus an infinitesimally small possibility of resurrection, I'll choose the latter.

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Boom!

Don Freeman
Member #5,110
October 2004
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Death must be pretty scary, or maybe what you experience in the afterlife...because everyone shits their pants when they die... :-X

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"It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it."

Mark Oates
Member #1,146
March 2001
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Death must be pretty scary, or maybe what you experience in the afterlife...because everyone shits their pants when they die... :-X

Some people get a boner. :P

Jonatan Hedborg
Member #4,886
July 2004
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decepto said:

To be clear, I'm not expecting my investment in cryonics to pay off. However, given a choice of being worm food versus an infinitesimally small possibility of resurrection, I'll choose the latter.

I rather be worm food than give, what, like $15000?, to someone who is praying on peoples wish not to die, without any science to back it up. Their "business plan" is pretty much "freeze the suckers and let the future scientists handle the massive tissue damage".

I rather booze up that money than give it to a cryo scam. Go out with a bang FTW!

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Sweden: Free from the shackles of Democracy since 2008-06-18!

kazzmir
Member #1,786
December 2001
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If cryopreservation turns out to work and you freeze your brain before you die, then what state would you say you are in while frozen? Surely you are not performing any life activities, so technically you are dead. But if you can be unfrozen at some point in the future and become "alive" then would you say you were dead the whole time?

What would $RELIGIOUS_DIETY do in such a case? If you are not dead while frozen and in fact could come back to life then you can't be whisked away to heaven, I would guess. But what if someone chisels very small amounts of brain matter from your frozen body over time. At some point they will chisel enough information away that you can't be brought back to a fully functioning human, but what point is that? Is $RELIGIOUS_DIETY monitoring all potentially life-becoming things in the universe?

I suppose this is all moot right now but I'm pretty sure cryopreservation will become a reality in the future.

Derezo
Member #1,666
April 2001
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I'm not sure I like the idea of cryogenic freezing. :-/

Armed Nazi Zombie: "Ok, now that you're all thawed out, you'll be performing slave labour cleaning up nuclear fallout from the War of 2032. Put on these electrified handcuffs, and with this injection you should be able to do it forever."

"He who controls the stuffing controls the Universe"

bamccaig
Member #7,536
July 2006
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decepto said:

4. Cryopreservation (which costs about $20 dollars a month while you're living)

That sounds like it's just the membership fee. It sounds like it's $150,000 extra for whole body cryptopreservation[1]. :-/ If that monthly fee goes towards that $150,000 then they don't make it very clear. The math wouldn't add up though. It would take 625 years at $20/month to cover costs. I'm afraid that you won't bank up enough funds by the time of your death. :(

decepto
Member #7,102
April 2006
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kazzmir said:

If cryopreservation turns out to work and you freeze your brain before you die, then what state would you say you are in while frozen?

Death isn't a binary value. However, I think "irreversible loss of data" will probably be a problem.

bamccaig said:

That sounds like it's just the membership fee.

The $20 dollars a month covers a life insurance policy which is signed over to Alcor. For a healthy 25 year old, a $150,000 USD term life insurance policy should run under $20 a month.

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Boom!

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