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What is there to fear about death?

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Mathematician, May 24, 2007.

  1. Mathematician

    Mathematician Reason, and reason again

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    During my first period class [Journalism] a conversation emerged about Global Warming, which in some way or another evolved into a debate of Christian morality. Being removed from the discussion, I turned around and listened in on the freshmen voice their opinions. Eventually the topic came to me, in which I responded in the negative by saying I don't believe in God so any questions involving assumed beliefs would be pointless.

    The class suddenly fell quiet.

    In my experience most teenagers down here have not met an open atheist before. We're a pretty diverse Texas community: Mormons, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and some Muslims. But it's assumed that a person believes in something to the degree of God.

    I don't.

    Although everyone in the class who didn't know me before this year was taken back [most students enrolled in Journalism I are freshmen. The teacher, whom I've known for the past two years, is the only person who really had insight into what I believed before this instance], most returned to their own arguements. However, a few made a joke out of it, inciting the all too common "you're going to hell," "that's dumb," or my personal favorite, "Say hello to Ghandi." :shrug:

    I'll assume for now that most of the comments were done jokingly; of course there probably is some credibility in what they say, but for the most part it seemed like a bunch of knee-jerk responses. I handled the situation in the best way I could, by responding with some calm and collective answers.

    The one subjection which drew the most focus from these students was the concept of death. They just couldn't understand the idea of an atheist not living in fear of death. I informed the puzzled freshmen that atheism does not necessarily mean disbelief in an afterlife, and although I belief in the established dead-is-dead philosophy, I am in some sense very spiritual. As I expected, most still couldn't grasp the idea of nothing after death.

    Which brings me to the point of this thread.

    For those brothers and sisters who do belief in an afterlife, could you stomach the idea of nothing after death?

    I'm convinced social conditions have convinced many people to fear non-existance, when in some ways we can all embrace the notion [note, I am not saying you SHOULD].
     
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  2. BFD_Zayl

    BFD_Zayl Well-Known Member

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    actually, nothing after death might be refreshing. in a sense anyways. non-existance cannot be imagined, for to imagine is to exist. so no one knows what non-existance really is.
     
  3. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

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    It's already what I expect. Anything else and I'll be surprised.

    EDIT: Whoops, I missed the 'do believe in the afterlife' bit. :eek:
     
  4. YmirGF

    YmirGF Bodhisattva

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    Well I am not your brother or your sister Gene but I can handle the idea of the extermination of consciousness beyond physical death. It doesn't really affect my view of reality in the slightest as it is a distinctly physical, ego bound view of reality (IE. that there is nothing beyond the 5 senses). Curiously during out-of-body adventures one dismisses ones earlier primitive concepts in a heartbeat as they grow to understand that they are as dead as they are ever going to be.

    For sure Gene. People have been indoctrinated into this limited focus of reality and so they fear their own annihliation. Based on those parameters one can easily understand why death is something to be feared. The ego wants to play as long as possible, after all... I'd write more but I am falling asleep. :sleep:
     
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  5. Mister Emu

    Mister Emu Emu Extraordinaire
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    I can't say I am afraid of non-existance, I wouldn't prefer it over a blissful existance, but it wouldn't be a bad thing(I wouldn't say it would be a good thing either).
     
  6. Hema

    Hema Sweet n Spicy

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    I know that I'm not this body. I'm Spirit having a temporary experience within a human body. How do I know for sure? Well, a couple out of body experiences convinced me. :D I know that the Spirit keeps me alive and when it leaves the body, the body dies but not the Spirit. The Spirit keeps the body alive now so for me to imagine that there would be nothing after would imply that I'm just a physical being, which I know I'm not.
     
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  7. Dream Angel

    Dream Angel Well-Known Member

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    If it is all false and there isnt an afterlife (which I think there is!) yes I could stomach the idea of nothing after death - as I would be dead and wouldnt know about it!
     
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  8. Terrywoodenpic

    Terrywoodenpic Oldest Heretic

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    Fear of Dying is one thing, a painful death could be frightening.

    Fear of death is quite another.

    Although I believe we Do have a spirit that continues. I am far less sure we carry our memories of self forward into a new existence...
    Our spirit may have a totally separate concept of self to the one we do. Since it is immortal, and like God not subject to time, It may not see life as consecutive events.

    There may be no practical difference in our terms between existence after death or there being nothing at all. I am sure a butterfly has no memory of being a caterpillar, but I am sure it enjoys its new existence. Just as we do on being born.
     
  9. roli

    roli Born Again,Spirit Filled

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    Speculate all we like ,death is an expected end, but there are the 2 unknowns that we struggle with, how will I die, painful,slow, humiliating and the second is ,what will happen once we close our eys in this life.
    For me, it's hard to imagine with the level of complexities within the human body from mind ,body and spirit that it just ends.
    There is in everyone of us something that wants to live forever and live without pain fear , sickness etc.
    As a christian I feared the unknown untill I was 32yrs old, then I had an encounter with Jesus Christ and those fears where replaced with the most amazing sense of hope,assurance and confident expectancy of knowing I was going to live forever, with Him in his presence.
     
  10. Ody

    Ody Well-Known Member

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    Nothingness is nothing to look forward too :)
     
  11. Guitar's Cry

    Guitar's Cry Verisimilitudinous

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    This is something I've thought long and hard about. I have something of a fear of death (though much of it stems from other people's reaction to my death). The idea that the consciousness I am will suddenly slip into nothingness frightens me; even if I will not experience it!

    But in a way, the thought is comforting. Eternal consciousness can be a frightening thought as well. My finite mind finds it tedious. (Though I suppose that if there is life after death, an eternal spirit will handle it better than my finite mind.)

    But that pesky preservation instinct keeps pressuring me into a fear of death!

    I also sometimes wonder if I will really die. Where's the proof of it? Empirical data that every other human before me has died and continue to? Medical science that I've never studied myself that states my body is finite and will wear down or succumb to some malady?

    Pshaw! I personally have never died, so my death is not 100% guaranteed. Though, I'm not taking any bets on eternal life!
     
  12. logician

    logician Well-Known Member

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    Non-existence can at sometimes be frightening, especially if you've had near-death experiences, but I don't see any alternatives. Was it Mark Twain that said something to the effect "I was dead for an eternity before I was born, and suffered no ill effects". One can find a little solace in the fact that the matter that composes your body will live on forever either as matter or energy.
     
  13. MysticSang'ha

    MysticSang'ha Big Squishy Hugger
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    Gene, huge applauds to you for handling an awkward situation so maturely. :)

    As usual I feel urged to merely echo what Paul said earlier, that our egos are so entrenched in their own survival instincts that knowledge of annihilation is terrifying. I won't be "me" anymore.............but this "I" that I call "me" wants to exist forever and ever. Somehow we KNOW that upon death our aggregates that make up this "me" will be dissolved, and this is why we continue to cling to the hope that it will somehow be proven false.

    I've often said here that death is our greatest teacher. It shows us clearly that our life, our bodies, our senses, our experiences are impermanent. The only constant in our lives is change, and that we can learn from that to apply to today's situations while we still exist in this world. One can even say that we are dying everyday...........every moment...........as our cellular structure continues to die and rebuild in our bodies. Therefore, this "I" that I call "me" is never the same from one moment to the next. And this is merely a concept from a materialistic point of view (but it is one that most can at least grasp). Our mental and emotional aggregates follow the same patterns of impermanence.

    Fear of death stems from our fears of letting go. Personally, I think it's that simple.




    Peace,
    Mystic
     
  14. joeboonda

    joeboonda Well-Known Member

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    I Cor. 15


    12Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
    13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
    14And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
    15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
    16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
    17And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
    18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
    19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
    20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
    21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
    22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
    30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
    31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
    32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.
    33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
    34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
    35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
    36Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
    55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
    56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
    57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
     
  15. BruceDLimber

    BruceDLimber Well-Known Member

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    Hi!

    Sufice it to say the Baha'i scriptures, among many other things, say this!:

    "O SON OF THE SUPREME!

    "I have made death a messenger of joy to thee; wherefore dost thou grieve?

    "I have made the light to shine upon thee its spendor; why dost thou veil thyself therefrom?"

    Best, :)

    Bruce
     
  16. Dream Angel

    Dream Angel Well-Known Member

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    The other thing to mention is (for me anyway) - The only thing that worries me about there being "nothing" after death is not death itself, but life. If we are heading towards "nothing" as all death is inevitable, then what is the point of life? Why go through all the troubles of life for nothing.... ????
     
  17. Jaymes

    Jaymes The cake is a lie

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    Personally I don't need a carrot at the end of a stick to make me think life is worth living.
     
  18. Pariah

    Pariah Let go

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    Aren't we biologically prone to fear death or non-existence?
     
  19. Willamena

    Willamena Just me
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    More like epistemologically prone.
     
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  20. Mister_T

    Mister_T Forum Relic
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    I think my fear of not seeing my family and friends again, outweighs my fear of death.
     
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