Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Death Through The Eyes Of A Skeptic

With these blogs I will not shy away from any relevant topics and today I have decided to tackle death and cover my views on death and the afterlife (or the lack of one.)

My views on death have been shaped through my atheism, skepticism and through science. My atheism does not command me that there is no afterlife, because what atheists share is the lack of belief in gods so it is therefore possible to have an atheist who believes in some form of the afterlife. But what primarily convinces me is due to the fact that there is no empirical evidence to suggest is it true.

A common misconception that believers in the afterlife think is that because non-believers hold the belief that there is not an afterlife, their life is somehow meaningless or irrelevant. On the contrary, in my view because there is not an afterlife surely life becomes more meaningful. Your existence has a time frame, it is not this never ending eternity we are taught about. This gives me the mindset that surely I should try and do productive things in my life and enjoy it as it is all I have.

I accept that I am going to die, nature will take its course and the cycle of decay and new life will begin and of course I fear death and hope that it will not come soon but the fact that this is all I have makes it much more special. The fact that death is scary turns people to the idea of an afterlife, check out this blog post for more thoughts on this idea.

Many religious teachings talk about heaven and hell which can be both detrimental and beneficial to society. I cannot deny that because some people believe in heaven they live a morally just life adding significant good to the world on a small or large scale, though I can live a morally just life without this belief (or at least I try.) However on the other side of the belief is hell which causes significant damage to society in the form of fear. Fear is a natural human emotion designed to lead us away from dangerous situations, though this fear instilled in us is invalid. I think most would agree that we should not have to live a fearful life where fear dominates us, this is exactly what is happening here and people should not lead a good life simply because they are afraid of anything other but because they know what they are doing is truly right and beneficial. The fact that I believe there is not a God does not mean I hold no moral values it just means that I hold the moral values through a different motive to others.

I believe life is precious, it is instilled with meaning: relationships, joys, the wonders of nature, human development, these are all meanings of life. Looking solely from a Darwinian perspective the meaning of life is to reproduce and pass your genes to your children. But this view does not incorporate the human mind. To finish off this piece the only way we live after death is through memories and our legacy.
"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one" George Bernard Shaw


  1. As a person who is skeptical in most areas of life but still clings on to religious belief despite their being few rational reasons to do so I understand your point of view. The most important thing to remember however is that is us as an individual who defines our own destiny and hopefully that is what we will all be judged on whether in this life or the next. A interesting and thought provoking blog though.

    1. Thanks, yes I agree that we control our lives to an extent. It is interesting that you say you are a skeptic but have a religious belief, is this due to you finding more meaning in life with it or another reason?

  2. I've always felt that a good way to find meaning in life is to accept that death is inevitable and with that in mind act in a way that will outlast your own life.
    I always find it interesting in the different proportions of people that believe in heaven and hell, a lot of my Christian friends don't believe in hell and yet believe in heaven. I'm not sure believing in either harms society though, it give people an easy way to cope with death and the (somewhat) comforting thought that death is temporary as they will be reunited eventually.

    Having said all that, as an atheist I'm kinda bias.