Researchers from the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago say older people are more likely to believe in god. They assert this to be true unilaterally throughout the world. Per the article:


Across the world, people have varying levels of belief (and disbelief) in God, with some nations being more devout than others. But new research reveals one constant across parts of the globe: As people age, their belief in God seems to increase. The new study is based on data collected as part of the General Social Survey by researchers at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.... "This suggests that belief in God is especially likely to increase among the oldest groups, perhaps in response to the increasing anticipation of mortality."...."Belief in God has decreased in most countries, but the declines are quite modest, especially when calculated on a per annum basis," the researchers write in their April 18 report of the survey....."If the modest, general trend away from belief in God continues uninterrupted, it will accumulate to larger proportions and the atheism that is now prominent mainly in northwest Europe and some ex-Socialist states may spread more widely," they write, adding that it is possible the trend could go the other way, with belief in God seeing a rebound.

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John, I like your plan to donate your body to science, a good use of a body. I would however, want to have a party, but not necessary at the time of my death. Living in the north and family scattered all over the place, I would want a "Remember" party sometime during the summer, with potluck, including family, neighbors, friends, and debating partners.

I have hosted several family and friends' memorial services in my back yard and it always is a real treat. I have a huge Blue Spruce in my back yard that we turned into a great place for children of family and friends to picnic. You know, in all the years they picnicked there, I have never found a plate, napkin, cup, straw, can or anything left behind. They always leave it clean, and the bird and squirrel feeders full of seeds and fruits. Celebrating death is a celebration of life. Treasure it, enjoy it, remember it, grieve departures and rejoice in living it. 

I agree with you about "When the Saints...".  My first thought was "Wind Beneath My Wings".  I watch the movie "Beaches" every year and love that song when Bette Midler sings it about her dying friend. 

It would apply to modest people like my father, and would be good for a beginning song, but would need to be followed with more upbeat songs.  One other problem with it, is the phrase "Thank God for you" once at the end.  That part could be changed I guess. Too bad religion has a big head-start in the music department. 

My second thought was Steve Martin's "First Hymnal for Atheists", but I don't think so.  It's amusing, but not very joyful, and too respectful of religion in my opinion.

I love science, so "The Elements" song always makes me smile.  No great message, just a fun song that might be appropriate at a science nerd's funeral.  It might even be good to say a few words about him giving his elements back to the universe, or add a verse to that effect.

I'll have to give it more thought to come up with better songs.  There must be some.

Idaho Spud: "The Elements" song could be quite appropriate for me. At one time in my early research years I was working on solid state properties of many of the uncommon elements mentioned---the rare earth metals and the actinide series including thorium, uranium, neptunium and plutonium. 

Joan: I reserved two adjacent spots in the woodland setting for my wife and myself a long time ago; and a third for our Siamese cat who is now 18. These spots centre a sunny glade in a wood in the heart of Wessex. 

What a lovely spot for a burial site of loved ones, including your cat. Perhaps a simple little bench where descendants can come, sit, remember, and read from your priceless book.  

Oh! I like that idea. 

Joan: What is more, the subsoil is chalk. This means that the bones will remain intact for tens of thousands of years, perhaps millions, perhaps become fossils! Most of my known ancestors went into christian cemeteries in Wiltshire but the land being chalk, their bones are still present . . . still present, for all time. My bones will be accompanied by a time capsule, a sealed lead casket. Who knows whether it will ever be opened? But that's not the point. The point is that I know it will be there . . . and I am content.

Idaho Spud! I love it! I can just see the kiddos dancing around as the music plays. I can even imagine them trying to sing along. Yes, it would need a statement of returning elements to the universe!  I like that. 

Maybe start with remembering me, including my quirks, then  "May the long time sun shine upon you", reverently, of course. And then "The Elements" song with a whole lot of irreverence. 

Some older People may be more likely to believe in god; I believe in process, one is born, one lives, one dies, end of story. 

Religion and especially Christianity offers the bribe of everlasting life in exchange for particular behavior. As an atheist I reject such thought. In this, I can fully know that any good I do is for the principle of it. In that I freely choose good, fulfillment in this sense provides me a self-esteem that helps me to rise above fear of death. At the same time, knowing that I cannot be as good as is appropriate imposes on me a humbling of realizing that I am not truly owed life in the first place. Maintaining these perspectives as much as possible best enables me to be ready for death and to realize that religion as an answer to it is at the expense of dignity.  

I'm 64 now and likely have about 20 years left. It's been about 30 years since I came out as an atheist. In that time religion has become more absurd and irrational to me with each passing year. I can't see myself believing in god(s) any more than I can see myself believing in Santa Claus.


I've met many older atheists over the years in various groups like American Atheists. I have yet to hear of even one of them lapsing into theism or making a death bed conversion. I'd be interested to learn if any atheists were actually included in the cited study.

I am 76 and get more anti-theist each year because of the consequences of religious thoughts and actions I see all around me.

I had always heard that straying catholics made sure they had the last rites before their demise.  This is probably less true today.  It has taken some of us into our senior years to sort it all out after years of brain washing.  I will say this, I am much more at peace today than I ever was when I was "religious."  I read the obituaries (some joke to see if they are in it) to see if any of my friends are in it and, at my age, many are.  But I do find it of interest that many people are choosing to have no funeral service of any kind these days. 

I agree with those who do not want a funeral of any kind. If family and friends want to gather for a picnic in the summer in my memory, that is a great idea. None of this traveling over icy roads or going long distances for me. If we haven't talked or seen each other it is because we have busy lives, or are too tired to make the effort. So, what is the point of an after-death obligation? I hope people remember me for my strength and courage and vision and efforts to leave the Earth in better health than when I came on board. Even if they remember my idiosyncrasies, that would be just dandy.

The NORC must have discovered that there are less numbers of old atheists and more numbers of young atheists. This is quite natural. Atheism was less prevalent in the past compared to the present times. I am 72 now and still a strong atheist and will remain so till death catches up with me. I have already told my sons that there will be no funeral rites for me. No 'mantras' to be chanted, no priests to be invited. I want my body to be creametd, not because I believe in the Hindu custom, but because I think it is the right way to dispose off a dead body. This obviates any need for ever increasing burial grounds. My ashes will not be immersed in water, as is the Hindu custom, but they will be scattered in a strong wind, flowing over a high place, like a fort. There is a good and tall fort very near my city. we are emotional people and nobody will appreciate the idea of music when everybody is experiencing grief. I did think of donating my body for medical research, but here we require the signatures of all the sons on the donation contract and I know that my emotional children will want to give me a decent creamation. They will never agreee to sign the donation papers.  


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