FreeThought Fort Wayne

        Be Reasonable

Death and Loss

Posted by dystressed on June 23, 2008

One of the many arguments people have against atheists is that of death. If there is no afterlife, how can we heal from the pain of a loved one’s death?

My personal answer is I don’t know. But then again, I don’t think anyone, religious or not knows the answer. The biggest support religion gets is by those fearing death, and it offers a slapdash, vague notion of the afterlife to give us some false sense of eternal security. This perpetuates faith and keeps the victims of tragedy beholden to belief.

I’d like to think some more about how we as freethinkers, skeptics, secular humanists, atheists, et al. should handle our right to grieve “godlessly,” for lack of a better term. The following is the most prime example I can think of, but feel free to offer input with your comments.

On godlessgrief.com’s message board forum, I read the story of a woman who lost her young daughter in a car accident. They made the decision to donate the girl’s organs and three kids lived because of the unselfish parents. From my experiences with religious people, I would guess that most religious families in a similar situation would not choose to donate the organs.

I likely will not father any children, so I know that when I die, there will be no one left in the world to inherit my DNA. My life will not be eternal in that sense. The one thing that I am is an organ donor. If I die, they may take my organs. That is the only kind of immortality in which I believe.

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2 Responses to “Death and Loss”

  1. mightymjolnir said

    Nice words dystressed, and I particularly appreciate your endorsement of organ donation.

    I wrote about loss on my blog a while back. I think it’s a topic we’ll have to visit often, as it draws perhaps the starkest distinction between freethinkers and believers for many people.

    Nice work.

    m

  2. agnohumanist said

    Good post, dystressed. A topic that needs to be discussed more. A few thoughts: First, all the comfort that people derive from their faith in times of grief obviously depends on really believing! If you don’t buy into the belief, pretending to believe doesn’t do anything for you. As someone said on a blog or post somewhere recently, the placebo effect doesn’t work if you know it’s a placebo! I’m stating the obvious, I guess, but I bring this point up because I’ve had a few conversations with important people in my life who have attacked my religious skepticism and how bad it is in times of grief and loss–as if I could just choose to believe for the sheer comfort of it! It would be like choosing to like a bad movie so my time and money aren’t wasted. If I recognize it as a bad movie, it would be impossible–and intellectually dishonest, to boot–to pretend it’s a great movie. (I’d prefer to cut my losses and walk out.)

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