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Offline BigV

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Facing a moment of death
« on: August 14, 2012, 02:43:07 PM »
How does an atheist face death?  I'm asking this as a new ex Christian who is still struggling with fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of hell, etc..

I know that a big part of dealing with fear is talking about it.  A Christian learns to cast their fear on their God.  But how does an atheist face death?  Have any of you known life long atheists converting to theism on their deathbed?

How do you prepare for death? 

Offline Nick

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2012, 03:23:20 PM »
For me it is knowing that death will be just like it was before I was born.  I will miss knowing stuff and seeing life around me but death is a part of life and it will happen to everybody...well maybe not Ted Williams.  Man used God and religion to make us think we will live on.  It works for people since they have bought into it forever.  I don't even think of a hell or heaven situation anymore.
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Offline Dante

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2012, 03:52:54 PM »
For me it is knowing that death will be just like it was before I was born. 

This. When you look at death in this context, oblivion doesn't seem too bad at all.
Actually it doesn't. One could conceivably be all-powerful but not exceptionally intelligent.

Offline Nam

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2012, 04:06:29 PM »
I will die. That's how I see death. I also it as me forever sleeping. I like sleep.

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Offline Quesi

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2012, 04:36:42 PM »
Death makes me sad.  I mourn the loved ones that are no longer alive to share my joy and comfort me during the hard times.  My dad would have loved this forum.  He would have loved going to Disney with my daughter.  I would love to share the pictures of my happy little girl with my mom.  I miss her voice on the phone so much.

I fear death because I don't want to miss anything.  I want to see us set up a colony on Mars.  I want robots cleaning my house.  Flying cars.  A cure for cancer.  I want to see us tackling world hunger, both in terms of feeding a growing population, and in terms of distributing food.  I want to see my daughter became the amazing person she is meant to be, and I want to enjoy all of her accomplishments.  I want to see my grandchildren when they are born, and then know them and their lives.  But I came to mommyhood late, and I will probably not be alive when my daughter is the age I am now. 

But I have seen coral reefs and virtual reality and great forests and steel canyons of great cities.  I will, before I die, see glaciers.  A tiny, infinitesimal percentage of humanity has seen both coral reefs and glaciers.  And probably, very few generations beyond mine will see them. So I have lived at an amazing time.  And I know I will live to see things I cannot imagine. 

I love life.  But I know that atoms that make up my body will exist, in some form, throughout all of eternity.  These atoms may travel throughout the galaxy and beyond.  And in another form, part of me will always exist, just as the atoms that make up my body now existed at the moment the universe was born. 

Offline Emily

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2012, 04:40:16 PM »
I haven't known anyone who has converted to theism on their deathbed, but it does happen. I guess if it makes the dying person feel better to think he/she is saved and takes away the fear of death, then I guess there's nothing wrong with it. However spiritually pointless it is.

I have no fear of dying, not even the method of how I die. My two fears, and it's not necessarily a fear, it how my loved one will take it, and the stuff I will miss as society advances. I know my husband and my sisters will be sad, and will miss me. My fear is their grieving process. But it's reality: we live, we die.

Ever have one of those nights where you cannot remember what you dreamed? It'll be like that. You don't know you're asleep. For all you know, in your unconscious state of mind, is that the world doesn't exist at all. Death will be like that.
"Great moments are born from great opportunities." Herb Brooks

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Offline Nam

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2012, 04:55:30 PM »
I remember all my dreams. Even the ones I had as a child. I've even repeated some dreams. I like it, on the very rare occassion when I don't dream. Reminds me how death will be. I find it comforting.

-Nam
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Offline Kimberly

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2012, 05:06:50 PM »
It's not an easy thought for me. Like others while living I mourn my own imminent death. It saddens me to think about ceasing to exist, but it's not something I spend much time thinking about. It's kinda one of those things I put off until "tomorrow". Constantly worrying about it gets me no where, I can't change it, I'm not philosophical enough to carpe diem. I try my best to enjoy it's life to the fullest but part of living is that I have to work, pay the bills, and experience stress. In another thread we are discussing if we would live like we are dying. You might enjoy it.


Who, on this forum, KNOWS that this is the only "life" we have?
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 05:08:53 PM by Kimberly »
Thank you for considering my point of view; however wrong it may be to you.

Offline Garja

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2012, 05:28:27 PM »
Death is a kick in the junk.  I think it is very hard for the human brain to really comprehend nothingness.  The alternative is religion, but as I heard someone else say today "Religion creates a disease, then sells you the cure".  There is a lot of truth to that I think.  I still struggle with some fear of death, and some fear that Christianity/Islam/Pastafarianism is real and that I am going to hell because I chose logical reasoning over the writings of bronze-age sheep-hearders.

Basically I get over the fear of hell by saying that an omniscient God would not give us the ability to reason, logic, and critical thinking and then expect us to forgo those abilities when it comes to religions matters.

I (try) to get over fear of death by saying "it is nothing", we wont know about it anyway because our consciousness will cease to exist, so who cares.  But I do think a certain degree of fear is normal if not healthy, live life the way you want, help people while you are here.  Its the only life we get.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

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Offline Nick

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2012, 05:37:28 PM »
I was at Wal Mart today.  When I left I put my stuff in the car and took the cart to a cart holder in the parking lot.  The cart in front of me had a lady's purse in it.  I picked it up (man, you ladies carry a lot of stuff...that purse was heavy-lol) and took it inside to customer service without even looking inside.  It was not fear of hell that made me do that.  It was rational thought.  I would hope someone would do the same for my billfold if I had lost it.

Don't fear death, hell, ect.  Just try to live a good life and be happy.  Death will visit soon enough.

(prob some Christian lady...I wonder what she would think if she knew an atheist did this for her?)
Yo, put that in your pipe and smoke it.  Quit ragging on my Lord.

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Offline Emily

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2012, 06:04:59 PM »
It was rational thought.  I would hope someone would do the same for my billfold if I had lost it.

(prob some Christian lady...I wonder what she would think if she knew an atheist did this for her?)

Don't fear death, hell, ect.  Just try to live a good life and be happy.  Death will visit soon enough.

My sister works are a grocery store working the self-checkout. The women scanned her items and went to pay, and slid her card through the credit card machine and used her debit card to get cash back, but she forgot her money (even though the machine tells you to take your money), so she left. My sister noticed the money (40 bucks) in the cash slot, printed up another receipt that has the womans shoppers card number printed on it and had the manager track the woman down using that number (the woman's phone number was linked to the card). The woman was so greatfull to my sister that a week later she gave my sister a thank-you card with a giftcard to a popular coffee shop here.

The card itself was all about Jesus and how god was watching over her, and blah blah blah. It was pretty lengthy. My sister was only doing her job, and she'd want someone to do the same for her if she lost a lot of money. (BTW: I guess every time the woman is shopping she asks other worker if my sister is working. It's kind of creeping her out.)

That's what life is all about. Helping out strangers. That's right, Christians, atheists are helpful! She could've ignored it and let someone else walk off with it, or she could have just donated the money to the charity that store donates too (which is where the left behind money goes), but she took efforts to track the woman down.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2012, 06:06:35 PM by Emily »
"Great moments are born from great opportunities." Herb Brooks

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Offline Garja

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2012, 06:08:37 PM »

(prob some Christian lady...I wonder what she would think if she knew an atheist did this for her?)

Probably think you got your atheist-cooties all over it.  ;)
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2012, 06:10:12 PM »
It's not so much death as dying that I'm afraid of. I hope that my passing is as swift and unstressed as possible.

Like Quesi, I regret not being able to bear witness to the future indefinitely: despite our failures, overall the human condition has improved spectacularly in the last thousand years and I'm mostly hopeful that trend will continue. I sure would like to see much more of it with my own eyes.

At this point in my life, seven people in particular that were close to me have died. One consolation in facing my own mortality is seeing how the legacies of those lives continue to this day, decades (in some cases) beyond their ending.

The families they raised, the gardens and orchards they planted, the businesses they ran, the words they wrote, the friends they made. All these things continue and propagate through the world in subtle, lovely and sometimes unexpected ways. So in that sense, my work and thoughts will surpass and survive me.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Online stuffin

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2012, 09:15:29 PM »
One must learn to accept the inevitable.
Don't stop smiling at the world and keep your head full of hope.

Offline Death over Life

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2012, 10:23:04 PM »
I think my username says it all for me. As "nicer" as I've become about it, I still cleave to this view with an iron fist.

Offline Traveler

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2012, 10:26:37 PM »
I'm not afraid of death. I figure its just like being asleep.

I am afraid of dying painfully. I don't want to go out in a painful way. If I simply fall asleep and never wake up ... that's ok with me.

My dad died an agnostic atheist. He never seemed to doubt it at all. When asked his beliefs, he simply said "I believe in truth." What I believe he meant by that, was he believed in the search for truth. In being open to truth. In a continuous willingness to question everything. My dad was a science and math teacher, and a great and kind man.
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Offline jetson

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2012, 10:49:46 PM »
I don't want to die.  I don't spend too much time agonizing over it, but I am getting older, and I have a young child.  I want to be there for him, and there are more things I would like to do.  The idea of dying is pretty sad to me right now.  However, I don't panic about it, and I know that whatever form it takes, the end result will be nothing.  I do hope it is painless!

Offline superfly

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2012, 10:57:13 PM »
How does an atheist face death?  I'm asking this as a new ex Christian who is still struggling with fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of hell, etc..

back in my jesusist days, i was quite fearful of death, because i was always questioning my salvation. i never heard the voice of god, never felt any different. so i was really nervous.
as an agnostic atheist i don't fear death, i'm not looking forward to it, but it is inevitable.



I know that a big part of dealing with fear is talking about it.  A Christian learns to cast their fear on their God.  But how does an atheist face death?

so, now i see death as an end to my experience here on Earth. that's it. it's just over.


Have any of you known life long atheists converting to theism on their deathbed?

nope, never. i suppose there must be someone who did...i'm sure there are plenty of anecdotes on xtian websites.


How do you prepare for death?

i'm not sure what this means. could you clarify this?
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Offline Karl

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2012, 11:08:00 PM »
It was rational thought.  I would hope someone would do the same for my billfold if I had lost it.

(prob some Christian lady...I wonder what she would think if she knew an atheist did this for her?)

Don't fear death, hell, ect.  Just try to live a good life and be happy.  Death will visit soon enough.

My sister works are a grocery store working the self-checkout. The women scanned her items and went to pay, and slid her card through the credit card machine and used her debit card to get cash back, but she forgot her money (even though the machine tells you to take your money), so she left. My sister noticed the money (40 bucks) in the cash slot, printed up another receipt that has the womans shoppers card number printed on it and had the manager track the woman down using that number (the woman's phone number was linked to the card). The woman was so greatfull to my sister that a week later she gave my sister a thank-you card with a giftcard to a popular coffee shop here.

The card itself was all about Jesus and how god was watching over her, and blah blah blah. It was pretty lengthy. My sister was only doing her job, and she'd want someone to do the same for her if she lost a lot of money. (BTW: I guess every time the woman is shopping she asks other worker if my sister is working. It's kind of creeping her out.)

That's what life is all about. Helping out strangers. That's right, Christians, atheists are helpful! She could've ignored it and let someone else walk off with it, or she could have just donated the money to the charity that store donates too (which is where the left behind money goes), but she took efforts to track the woman down.
OK, she is as a nice person. Apart from that I reviewed the subject of the thread and remained puzzled.
Plus, if you have not already noticed, people can be the opposite and unfortunately that is how the clock ticks.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #19 on: August 15, 2012, 02:56:51 AM »
How do you prepare for death?

By living.

When I am dead, all that is "me" will be gone - and I will not know anything about it.  The moment of death will be no different to the moment when sleep arrives - one moment I will be, the next I will not.  So in that sense there is nothing to "prepare" for.

What there is, is both the now, and the legacy.  So like I say, I prepare for death by living.  Living for the now, so that while I AM here, I am HERE, having a grand old time.  And living for the future, so that the people I love, who will live on after me, will have a better life because of me.

I prepare for death by living.  Same as I prepare for sleep by being awake.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
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Offline grant

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #20 on: August 15, 2012, 05:52:29 AM »
You can take some comfort that nobody can escape it. Its the natural end and money or god or wishes or hopes or determination will avoid it.

Better to have lived than not. Enjoy it now and face the absolute fact that it will end. Full bloody stop.
What if the hokey pokey is what its all about?

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #21 on: August 15, 2012, 06:06:09 AM »
.....still struggling with fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of hell, etc....

This is the other side of the question.  For some time, despite having come to the realisation that there was no god, I still had occasional nagging doubts and fears...."What if I'm wrong?  What about hell?"

The epiphany, if you like, came when one day I asked myself why I wasn't worried about memorising the Book of the Dead, and having my heart devoured by Ammit.  I'm not worried because its clearly nonsense, and its only the years of cultural conditioning that happen to mean I'm worried by one particular god and afterlife judgement out of the thousands that have been dreamed up over the millennia.

Asking that question stripped away the last worries about the Christian Hell.  That's the key, I think - to remind yourself that there is absolutely nothing to make that particular afterlife any more likely (or needing to be worried about) than any other.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Zankuu

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #22 on: August 15, 2012, 06:57:04 AM »
How does an atheist face death?  I'm asking this as a new ex Christian who is still struggling with fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of hell, etc..

I know that a big part of dealing with fear is talking about it.  A Christian learns to cast their fear on their God.  But how does an atheist face death?

Hey BigV, 4 year ex-Christian here.

I think the large majority of those that deconvert from Christianity struggle with death. It isn't surprising considering most Christians are indoctrinated since childhood, going decades with the thought that they'll live forever in heaven or hell, and basing most of their choices and actions on that thought. It isn't a small mental hurdle to get over, but with time you will! I did. I've posted this here before (and I believe it was our Hermes that brought it to my attention) but here's a comforting post by a guy on another forum that goes by the name schmeelkster which deals with existence and death:

----------------------------------------------------
Here's a way of approaching the universe: You are a tiny speck of insignificant biological material in an immense universe that probably defies your brain's ability of understanding. Yet you are remarkable, in innumerable ways. Every second of every day you are a walking ecosystem of life, housing trillions of microbes that continuously interact with you to keep both you and them alive. Your body is constantly building and rebuilding itself, encoding information on simple strains of molecules at the speed of jet engines, in each and every nucleus-possessing cell in your body. You are a walking, talking, living, breathing orchestra of life, a beautiful display of the potential inherent in our particular universe.

You are the remarkable product of an unbroken, let me say that again, UNBROKEN line of descendants stretching all the way back to the very first interactions of seemingly pointless inanimate molecules. You share a common ancestry with every living thing ever, including the estimated 106 billion humans who have ever lived. You are tied to the trees and the birds and the small phytoplankton that gently ride the crests and dips of the oceans of this world. You are part of the vibrant tapestry of what we refer to as life, a piece of art that stretches back billions upon billions of years. Everything this universe has thrown at you and your ancestors has been roundly defeated - from harsh radiation, to extraterrestrial objects, to volcanic eruptions and more. You are a symbol of utter perseverance, of the sheer will to continue onwards. You are a cry in the dark, the voice of one who will not be quiet.

So now you've realized that there is no inherent meaning to existence. So what? This doesn't mean life has suddenly lost meaning - it means there was no meaning in the first place. So you haven't actually lost anything. Instead, you have gained a wonderful opportunity. Give existence the meaning it is seeking. MAKE a purpose for yourself. Maybe it should be your kids, or maybe it should be giving from the bounty you have (because let us face reality - if you have an internet connection and personal computer, you are in the top 10%, maybe even the top 1%, of humanity). Maybe you should learn a new skill, explore a new facet of creation that you never realized was open to you.

So why do you teach a toddler how to behave? Because maybe that toddler will be the one to find other life, other existence in our so far lonely universe. Or maybe they will be the father, the mother, the close friend, the lover, the supporter of the one who does. Or maybe they will be the person to speak out at just the right moment, the one to stand up and stand out, who will provide the inspiration, or the moment of connection for the person who does. Or maybe that toddler will be the one to protect the life around us from an otherwise inevitable end, from the sucking void of empty existence that we struggle against every second of our being.

Are you just a breeder? Just biology? What an insult to biology! Just?!? I forgive you, because you know not what you say :D You are the product of a few basic particles, a few basic forces, yet you are impossibly complex, impossibly intricate. The sheer unlikeliness of your very existence is staggering, and yet here you are. The title of "breeder" is just a single facet of what you are. You can be a teacher, a leader, a thinker, a cook, a scientist, an artist, a musician, a protector, an enlightener, a champion, a peacemaker, a lover, a friend, a companion, a confidant... the list is a vast as the seemingly infinite complexities of neuron interactions in the collection of molecular structures known as cells in your brain.

And let us not end our poetic license there, for if all that is true, than this is also: There is something after death. The part of you that continues to exist in all life around you will never cease to be, not as long as things from this planet continue to live. You will continue on, interminably, from the beginning of life to its end potentially countless aeons from now, if ever. Maybe through some fluke you will be the Eve for humanity in the future, the one woman every human will trace their ancestry back to. Maybe not. But who can tell what the future holds. Rather than collapse under the imagined weight of nothingness, I posit that you should grasp hold of your life, and take it to heights heretofore unseen. Also - Hugs, love, and imaginary hot cocoa!
----------------------------------------------------

Have any of you known life long atheists converting to theism on their deathbed? How do you prepare for death?

Personally? No. The closest I can think of would be the famous atheist philosopher, Antony Flew. But even with him it wasn't a deathbed conversion, and he didn't convert to monotheism, he just found deism appealing at his ripe old age of 80.
Leave nothing to chance. Overlook nothing. Combine contradictory observations. Allow yourself enough time. -Hippocrates of Cos

Offline Garja

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2012, 10:51:33 AM »
Anfaulgir, oh yeah. I know I am the victim of what amounts to social brain washing but it is hard to completely cut ties with beliefs I've held for so long. It's definately getting easier, everyday I fear he'll a little less.
"If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution."

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Offline Hatter23

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2012, 03:39:51 PM »
How does an atheist face death?  I'm asking this as a new ex Christian who is still struggling with fear of the unknown, fear of death, fear of hell, etc..

I know that a big part of dealing with fear is talking about it.  A Christian learns to cast their fear on their God.  But how does an atheist face death?  Have any of you known life long atheists converting to theism on their deathbed?

How do you prepare for death?

Yes I fear death. I hate death. What my wishes are are irrelevant to the universe. That's how I face it; I fear it, I hate it, I know it's true. As true as meanness, disease, petty behavior, and so forth...death is just in the category crap I can't do anything about.
An Omnipowerful God needed to sacrifice himself to himself (but only for a long weekend) in order to avert his own wrath against his own creations who he made in a manner knowing that they weren't going to live up to his standards.

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Offline Shandi

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #25 on: August 19, 2012, 06:04:59 AM »
I´m not afraid of death, I just don`t think about it. It´s a natural fact and when the time comes I´ll deal with it. Having to consider a heaven/hell-construction and my place in it would mean to me having to think constantly about my end while I´m living, right from the beginning. This can`t be the meaning of life. The meaning of life is to live it, best you can.
If 50 million people say a foolish thing it´s still a foolish thing (Bertrand Russel)

Offline JeffPT

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #26 on: August 19, 2012, 07:52:18 AM »
Welcome to the forum Shandi!
Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as the events that will just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible to assert. NDT

Offline Betelnut

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #27 on: August 19, 2012, 08:10:04 AM »
As far as I can tell, Christians fear death just as much as the next guy so belief in the afterlife doesn't seem to be doing them much good either.

As for me, like others, I don't fear death but I do fear dying in some awful way (murder, plane crash, weird accident). I would prefer not experiencing that type of fear. I know I really don't have too much control over it though so I just live my life and try to make it meaningful.  I KNOW none of it has meaning except for what I attach to it so it is important that I try to enjoy what I DO have.

Oh, I'm a lifelong atheist (raised that way) so I have absolutely no fear or concerns about any afterlife such as "hell" or whatever.  Death will simply be a long sleep after the trials and tribulations of this world.  Kind of relaxing so to speak--not that I'll even be aware of that!
« Last Edit: August 19, 2012, 08:12:25 AM by Betelnut »

Offline shnozzola

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Re: Facing a moment of death
« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2012, 09:27:51 AM »
Lee Hays, singer from the Weavers, who were blacklisted for a time because of the refusal to play by the rules, said it best:

Quote
If I should die before I wake
All my bone and sinew take
Put them in the compost pile
To decompose a little while
Sun, rain and worms will have their way
Reducing me to common clay
All that I am will feed the trees
And little fishes in the seas
When corn and radishes you munch
You may be having me for lunch
Then excrete me with a grin
Chortling, There goes Lee again
'Twill be my happiest destiny
To die and live eternally

Lee Hays, 1981

the irony of life - we absolutely must take every moment seriously, all the while laughing at ourselves because of it
We have guided missiles and misguided men.  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Who cares if Kim Jung-Un gets a nuke. Nukes don’t kill people, people kill people.”