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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Atheists Only Please

Due to Subject Matter This isn't Allowed in the Religious Section

To start, I want to disclose that I am an atheist, but I am NOT anti-christian/anti-Jewish, I dont favor the removal of all things religious in public buildings, etc. Being an atheist is a bit depressing but I dont have a choice, I cannot bring myself to find any faith. Knowing how bleak it is, I encourage my wife and kids to find "faith" of some sort and I do not discuss my thoughts on religion with my children.

That being said, I'm wondering how other atheists deal with Death, theirs and more importantly, their loved ones? How do others deal with oblivion?

I've had 3 Deaths in my life that hit me hard, first a grandfather, then my first son, and last month I was alone with my dad in the hospice when he passed. Being an atheist, it really troubles me that loved ones know they are dying (except maybe those with severe dementia) and the doubt and fear they have as they pass.


My own Death never really bothered me with one exception. I have worked with the elderly who are "warehoused" so to speak, in assisted living homes, full care and hospices, and it seems that day after day, hour after hour they are staring oblivion in the face, even if they have faith, its human nature to have doubt gnaw on you constantly. I do fear being incapacitated and aware and just watching the hours pass as I wait to die.

Over a year ago I had some very close calls with a serious, complex aneurysm and 3 surgeries, including complications. I had no anxiety or worry about me personally going into, it believe it or not, as if i had died, it would have been during surgery or in ICU and out of it. I wouldnt know I was dying. In fact, even when i was bleeding out in ICU and was rushed to emergency surgery, all i really cared about was that they made damn sure to put me out before they intubated me! LOL.

It does bother me now, although you dont think about it when youre young, that being an atheist, youre having children that, in my belief, there's nothing waiting on the other side, and some day they are going to have to look Death in the eyes and go through those doubts and fears. Those thoughts bother me alot now in my maturing years. Thats alot of pre-event guilt to carry around.

I would like to hear how others of my kind look at and deal with Death for themselves and loved ones. I did find this very interesting passage about Death by an atheist that has a scientific beauty to it:

The Angel of Death is the first law of thermodynamics

You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy gets created in the universe, and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, every vibration, every Btu of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.

And at one point you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell him that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.

And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue the heat of our own lives.

And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy's still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone; you're just less orderly. Amen.
Also, Im curious if you have any scientific theories about our existence and what happens to us when we die. I myself have toyed with the notion (NOT a fact by any means!) that everything in the universe is composed of two states of energy, active energy as in radiation of all kinds, and matter, which is basically cooled energy. We know it exists, we can use it, but we dont even come close to knowing what it really is, especially at the subatomic/quantum level. Is the Universe "alive", although not sentient, not self-aware? This fits the definition of "Life" :

An organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.
The Universe metabolizes energy, it grows and expands, it reacts to stimuli, ie: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and it reproduces, ie: with the laws of physics, it produces 1st gen stars that change energy into many more forms of matter/elements, that star dies and with its remains, physical laws take that material and make new stars and planets. And with those new elements, life arises and evolves, if lucky, to attain self awareness and the drive and ability to seek out how a living universe works.

Since our thoughts are basically energy, does that energy slip away into the earths magnetic field when we pass? Is this why so many people have "ghost" sightings or why people claim to get visits from dying/recently passed loved ones? is it residual energy that follows some undiscovered law of physics? is that why twins feel a connection over great distances?

Is "god" really just the sum total of the known and unknown laws of energy and physics, bereft of an "all-powerful" supreme being handing us morals, ethics and judgements? I would like to think so.....

Please share your thoughts if you like, hopefully this wont end up with trolls or angry posts that get the thread deleted...

Thank you!:thumb:
 

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Vintage Prepper
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Remember, Atheism is a personal lack of belief in a Creator God, not a belief that there is no God....

You might be interested in what Buddhism has to say about Death. Buddhism is a system that does not acknowledge an Omnipotent Creator God, and in fact there is a sutra about why people have this belief in a creator God....

On Death:

Buddhism puts forth that each person is made up of 5 Components:

Form- (Material Body)
Feeling- (The 6 Senses, including the mind as a sense organ that senses mental objects)
Perception- (Our reactions to sense objects)
Consciousness (Volitional thoughts)
Karma- (Our Actions/Cause and Effect)

These 5 things are interdependent on each other and together produce our sense of an individual self. However the self is not an independent structure, but an illusion made up of these 5 base processes.

Buddhists believe in Rebirth after death, but the only thing that survives physical death is Karma, which is part of a cycle of Dependent Origination. It is not Reincarnation because there is no transference of a "soul". You can however be reborn on Alien worlds as an advanced being...




There is an old Buddhist Parable:

A man asked Buddha "Where do you go after you die?"

Buddha responded "If there was a fire burning in front of you, you would know it?"

The man replied "Yes"

The Buddha said "If that fire goes out you would know it?"

The man replied "Yes"

Then the Buddha asked "When that fire goes out, in which direction does it go?"

The man replied "That question does not make any sense. It burns out, and is extinguished, it does not go in any direction"

Buddha said, "Right. Just as the question of 'where does one go after they die' does not make sense."
 

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I am not a atheist but I have no religious beliefs in gods. Death of loved ones is hard to deal with because it is a loss. You are losing the future interaction with someone that means things to you. Accepting that you are going to feel this loss and not getting comfort that they are continuing on in some other state (spiritual) is simply a fact you deal with. Guilt can only come about if you feel that you did not act to prevent the death. But that guilt accomplishes nothing other than giving you permission to wallow in grief.

On your own death there is nothing more to be concerned after you are dead. Your love ones may mourn your passing or they might go have a massive party in celebration. Either way you will not hear about it or have anything to say about it. There is no heaven, hell or reincarnation. If you are one of the ones that have had children at least you can comfort yourself before you die that your lineage has been passed on.

Heck count yourself lucky that there may be someone that mourns your passing. Being never married, not famous and having no children, I will die with no kin to throw a Wake. My body is willed to medical science so at least some good might come of when I am gone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Nattleby

Very interesting read! I havent looked into any of the Eastern Religions as trying to work through the philosophical concepts with my permanent state of "brain fog" due to medical condition makes it quite a chore, LOL.

I have read your post several times and things have started to click, may take more pondering to really get a grasp of it. eastern philosophies have always been a mystery to me as I was raised in the west and not exposed to them.

Question time, not a criticism of Buddhism, but a genuine question meant for discussion.

My first thought is, what good would reincarnation be if only the Karma and not the essence of a soul with retained thoughts, memories, and lessons it learned in past lives be is carried into the next life? Without these to follow, would you not be continually doomed to repeating bad Karma ad-infinitum?

Thanks again, keep it coming!
 

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Since our thoughts are basically energy, does that energy slip away into the earths magnetic field when we pass?
You stop fueling (food) the machine (body) and it stops producing energy. Then you become the food. Death is about the only thing every human has in common. You can rationalize to the point you become a machine and nothing bothers you, but by then you have no reason to live and might as well end it. Or you can grieve like most animals do, philosophize until you reason what works for you and carry on. The human imagination is a double edged sword.
 

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We all deal with loss or our own demise differently regardless of our religious beliefs or lack of those. No one way is perfect. For those who believe in God or any other god or belief we all handle it differently. I know one self-avowed Atheist that marched on without apparent issues when her father died. Then when she was diagnosed with cancer, she stayed strong to the end and went without a whimper. No care as to her future in the afterlife since she didn't believe in it.

Good for her since she didn't struggle with her death. She was upbeat to the end. I have a different concept of death. Too complicated to explain here but it's my way of dealing with it.
 

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Grevcon 8
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Such a non-issue. It sucks when people die that make your life more enjoyable. It also sucks when other things in your life that make it more enjoyable break, get lost, or get used up. People you care about just tend to be on the top of that list. Life's less enjoyable, but that's pretty much it. You either decide that there is negative with no positive left and you commit suicide, or you decide that there's still some potential enjoyment left in life and you continue. It's a cost:benefit ratio, and Atheists are the best at that when it comes to death. Less appeal to die when there's a reduction in life enjoyment if you're not expecting infinite enjoyment as the alternative to a reduction.

As for your own death.. as was mentioned.. doesn't matter. You'll be too dead to care or even know you're dead. If there's still some potential for enjoyment you keep trying to survive. If you fail, then oh well. People fail at stuff and you can only keep a 100% success rate going for so long. Give yourself credit for lasting as long as you did.
 

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Physicists Claim that Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death

Does quantum mechanics predict the existence of a spiritual "soul"? Testimonials from prominent physics researchers from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich claim that quantum mechanics predicts some version of "life after death." They assert that a person may possess a body-soul duality that is an extension of the wave-particle duality of subatomic particles.
 

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Remember, Atheism is a personal lack of belief in a Creator God, not a belief that there is no God....
atheist n ; Someone who does not believe*in god; someone who believes that no deities exist

That's the working definition that I use.

Does anyone remember anything before they were born? Me neither.

I lost my only son in a traffic accident on Feb. 4th 2010 and nothing has ever hurt me so badly. Still. There's no need in making things up or subscribing to superstition. He is gone.

Same for me. My hopes are to be cremated whole intact undissected within 24 hours so that the particles that make up my body can be released back into nature. The thought of being pickled and buried kind of horrifies me. At some point all of that poison is going to affect the local water tables around cemeteries. This is possibly a southern invention brought about by intense heat and an industry always out to prey on people at their weakest moments in exchange for huge profits.

That is just me.
 

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Grevcon 8
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Ever thought about BioUrns...buried with a tree seed that your remains (the ashes), mixed with soil, essentially nourish to grow into a tree. In essence you become the tree.
Sorta. With cremation VERY VERY little of the ashes are from the person. It's almost exclusively ashes from the 'casket'. Humans are mostly fluid and substances that don't leave much residue when burned at incinerator temperatures. Wastes a lot of energy too. I think biodegradable coffins and no embalming are a better idea. On principle anyway. I won't actually care if it's done to me or not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
atheist n ; Someone who does not believe*in god; someone who believes that no deities exist

That's the working definition that I use.

Does anyone remember anything before they were born? Me neither.

I lost my only son in a traffic accident on Feb. 4th 2010 and nothing has ever hurt me so badly. Still. There's no need in making things up or subscribing to superstition. He is gone.
VERY sorry for your loss, its a real bitch and leaves a hell of a hole inside you, i know from experience.:(

Same for me. My hopes are to be cremated whole intact undissected within 24 hours so that the particles that make up my body can be released back into nature. The thought of being pickled and buried kind of horrifies me. At some point all of that poison is going to affect the local water tables around cemeteries. This is possibly a southern invention brought about by intense heat and an industry always out to prey on people at their weakest moments in exchange for huge profits.

That is just me.
Absolutely agree wholeheartedly!!:thumb:
 

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Grevcon 8
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Physicists Claim that Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death

Does quantum mechanics predict the existence of a spiritual "soul"? Testimonials from prominent physics researchers from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich claim that quantum mechanics predicts some version of "life after death." They assert that a person may possess a body-soul duality that is an extension of the wave-particle duality of subatomic particles.
Fake science site. Look at their other articles. Just as nonsensical. It's a marketing company called CrunchBase's click-bait site.
 

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For me just thinking that my remains will be scattered over the family farm I have lived on most of my life is plenty enough for me. We are but stardust and recycled atoms and molecules already. I will be ready to supply building blocks for whatever can use them wherever they might fall.

The majority of a persons atoms are going to be released into the air during the cremation process. Ideally I would have enough heads up to prepare my own pyre, fall on it and die and have my wife ignite it excluding the government, which seems to claim the dead as state property completely out of the loop. No autopsy.

The dry material left after cremation is toast pretty much for the sentimental. Whatever. It won't bother me, but I'd like to be spread for the grasses that I've planted to absorb.

To a true atheist it really doesn't matter that much. This is just a 'if I know that can make my most intimate wishes happen after I do pass I'll be happy before I leave' situation really.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Physicists Claim that Consciousness Lives in Quantum State After Death

Does quantum mechanics predict the existence of a spiritual "soul"? Testimonials from prominent physics researchers from institutions such as Cambridge University, Princeton University, and the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich claim that quantum mechanics predicts some version of "life after death." They assert that a person may possess a body-soul duality that is an extension of the wave-particle duality of subatomic particles.
Creek Walker, thank you! very interesting article!
 

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I am not really an atheist ( sort of a marginal Christian) , but wished I was!
I don't know why you are bothered by death being just oblivion. That's a good thing. You are dead, and nothing will ever bother you again. Me, on the other hand will continue to worry about going to places like hell, if I am not a good enough Christian ( see my VERY LONG thread in the religion section if you care to read something depressing)

Be happy you have enough faith to be an atheist!
I have neither enough faith to be an atheist, nor enough faith to be a "good" Christian...
 

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I am not really an atheist ( sort of a marginal Christian) , but wished I was!
I don't know why you are bothered by death being just oblivion. That's a good thing. You are dead, and nothing will ever bother you again. Me, on the other hand will continue to worry about going to places like hell, if I am not a good enough Christian ( see my VERY LONG thread in the religion section if you care to read something depressing)

Be happy you have enough faith to be an atheist!
I have neither enough faith to be an atheist, nor enough faith to be a "good" Christian...
I think it takes a lot of strength and conviction to be an atheist personally...probably more so than some Christians.

I'm kind of the irony...a Christian with Pagan leanings!!! And I have plenty of doubts and questions about where I will be going when I die...it's not just an atheist's dilemma! But I can see why it bothers the OP.
 
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