First of all I'd like to apologize for my English, it is not my native language and I'm still learning it. 

Now, death. It's been the subject of my great fascination ever since as a child I discovered that everyone dies (interestingly, it is something you actually have to discover, for some reason we automatically assume that everything is eternal). 

The concept of death seems to be entirely different for a person who believes in an afterlife than for an atheist. It is quite simple if you are a believer: death does not change anything whatsoever, you still exist in some form or another after you die, you maintain your identity, thoughts, feelings etc. Of course eternal life makes no sense for number of reasons.

So, if you happen to be an atheist, death, to put it simply, changes everything. It takes the whole world away and never lets you return. Everything you ever felt, everything you knew, everything you stood for, every place you visited, every person you loved is lost forever at the second you die. 

The whole world disappears, because the world only exists as a model in our brain created from the information that comes from our senses. But if the brain and the senses are gone, it makes no difference for their owner if the world they used to let her perceive still exist or not. So, when we die, how can we tell if it's us disappearing or the world disappearing? We can't. We assume the world keeps on existing after our death because we can observe that when other people die, the world does not disappear. But there's such a big difference between other people and me! The "me" that's writing this words and the "me" belonging to some other body and brain who is maybe reading this sentence right now. And when this "me" is gone, will there be anything left at all?

It's actually great that we humans can sleep. Sleeping (without dreaming) is probably quite similar to being dead. Except that we can wake up later and reflect upon how it felt to be asleep. And we find that it somehow didn't feel at all. 
So, shouldn't all atheists be suicidal? After all we're destined to die anyway, and our own existence has no real significance in the long run. Well, I believe we aren't all suicidal for only one simple reason. Our brains are evolved not to be. 

There's a very rational part of my mind, who clearly believes that there's no real difference if she's dead or alive. So if for some reason she feels even slightly unsatisfied or disturbed (for example: in physical pain) she'd immediately kill herself (assuming there's a non-painful and 100% effective way to do it).

But then, there's another part of my brain, totally unreasonable but having a huge impact on the decisions I make. For example, she wouldn't kill herself because it would cause pain to the people who care about me. And the "me" that's still alive does not want that. "But", says the more rational part of my brain, "even though you now care about what other people might feel if you kill yourself, you surely won't care when you'll be dead. You will not know about the existence of those people, about the concept of pain, or even about the existence of human race. You won't be a human anymore, you will not be yourself anymore. You won't be anything anymore." It surely seems logical to choose to die from that point of view.
So, what do you think of death? Are you afraid to die? Would you kill yourself if you were in severe pain? Would you be able to overcome the feelings of regret you might feel when making the decision, knowing all those feelings would be gone the second you die?

Views: 380

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

i am.... selfish, that's the reason i want to live.

i figured that we have no significant amount of time when our bodies function and the electrical impulses in our brain are functioning, so i want to make the most of it.

sure it's all gonna end once, but i still wanna feel all that i can, get all the experiences i can and fill my head with memories.

Ooh, philosophy. My least favorite exercise that I always find myself wanting to partake in.

Let me take as given that death is like sleeping.

Just as when I fall asleep, when I die I go knowing that my biology and the laws of nature dictate that I must. It is beyond my control and so I accept it when it comes.

Now I would love not having to sleep, just as I would love not having to die. Think of all the things I could do with all that extra time? The places I could go, the things I could see.

Where sleep is the momentary inability to do anything any longer, death is the ultimate level of ineffectiveness.

Rationally I know that in the grand scheme the bundle of atoms that I call me is inherently insignificant; calling them mine isn't even fair. What becomes of me when I am gone rests with the people who are left behind. When I die I become a series of photographs, anecdotes, and memories. Those personal souvenirs that people keep is totally determined by all that has been done between the moment I was born and the moment I die -- and I intend to be remembered fondly.
As others have said, your English is very good :)

I think you're right that atheists in general probably view suicide differently than religious folks. I'd bet good money that if you took a poll you would find that atheists are more in favor of euthanasia than religious people. The question, then, is why. If religious people believe that after they die they will go to heaven, shouldn't they be killing themselves in droves? Way more often, in fact, than atheists? I suppose this is why Christianity and other religions have prohibitions against suicide that warn people that if they do kill themselves they will go to hell or purgatory. Gotta stop all the followers from offing themselves somehow, I suppose.

As an atheist, I am not suicidal because, although death may be comparatively peaceful, living is far more interesting.

I think that the right to die is a fascinating debate. I believe people in severe physical pain should have that right. I think it gets more blurry when we are talking about a younger person in emotional pain. The reason it is more blurry is that there is evidence that if the person does not commit suicide they are able to move out of that severe mood state. I am in a position in my career where, if someone comes to me and suggests that they have a plan and an intent to kill themselves, I must hospitalize them. I feel ambivalent about it still, because I do believe in freedom of choice. The question is whether the person is in his or her right mind and able to make that choice. I suppose my ambivalence resolves somewhat by the fact that if a free person has completely made up his or her mind to die, nothing I nor anyone else does is going to stop that from happening permanently.

As a side note, I read a really great fiction book about four suicidal people over the summer. It is called "A Long Way Down" by Nick Hornby. It explores the theme of suicide from a very realistic point of view. You may enjoy it.
I'm sure that you will get a lot of deep, thoughtful, almost heroic answers to this question. This won't be one of those.

I'm afraid to die. Not a crippling, "I'm never leaving the house" kind of fear, but fear nonetheless. I don't want to stop existing, and I don't want to leave my daughter without her daddy. But I don't really have a say in that matter, so I do my best to live my life as well as I can.

That's about all I have.
I'm 65 and not very fit. On more than one occasion I've felt faint, or had a pain in my chest, or noticed my heart beating erratically, and each time I've thought, "I wonder if this is the one that kills me."

So how do I feel about death? Casual dis-interest so far.




Update Your Membership :



Nexus on Social Media:

© 2019   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: The Nexus Group.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service