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Coping With Death as an Atheist?
van_houtte
Member #11,605
January 2010
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Arthur Kalliokoski
Second in Command
February 2005
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We play the blaming game, yes I mind, it's not your turn?

I'm going to Valhalla!

“Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as "bad luck.”

― Robert A. Heinlein

Dennis
Member #1,090
July 2003
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Because I just love beating a dead horse (and I didn't even read the thread too)..

..isn't it by definition impossible to "cope" with death?

Now where's my medal?

Neil Black
Member #7,867
October 2006
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No.

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

..isn't it by definition impossible to "cope" with death?

You should learn Lojban.

Obviously, what is meant by this is "cope with the fact that you are going to die some day", or simply, "cope with being mortal".

The whole mess comes from a combination of three facts:

  • We are born with a really strong survival instinct

  • We are mortal

  • We have the brain capacity to understand both these facts, and a desire to make sense of them

While the first two are, rationally speaking, not a contradiction, they do feel like one - we are "made" to survive, yet we are destined to die eventually. Typical solutions to this perceived dilemma:

  • "Our survival instinct can be overcome" (ignore fact 1 - the suicidal cult solution)

  • "We aren't really mortal after all, when our bodies die, our 'soul' lives on" (ignore fact 2 - the Spiritual solution, inventing an afterlife or reincarnation)

  • "Just make the best of it and enjoy while you can, don't give it too much thought" (ignore fact 3 - the Hedonist solution)

  • "Let go of the separation between 'yourself' and 'the world'; it's all one. Your life and death aren't really meaningful when there is no 'you'." (the Zen solution)

  • "There is no sense to it. We are born, we die, there is no plan. If we want it to make sense, we'll have to make it meaningful ourselves." (the Existentialist solution)

  • "All three facts are evolutionary requirements - we need to be mortal to prevent our gene pool from going stale, we need the survival instinct to survive long enough to produce offspring, and we need the brain capacity and the desire to make sense of things to play our evolutionary strength, this horribly expensive brain of ours." (the Biologist's solution)

Note that each of these can be combined with Atheism just as well as with Theism.

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