An Atheist’s Idea of Death
At a month and a half shy of my 71st birthday, I find I am questioning my beliefs and my passions. I think about my novel writing and my blogs, and I think about my belief in God and the cruel nature of nature. I wonder if there is a God or if he is just a fantasy hero we try to rely on because we can’t save ourselves.
Is death truly the end of things? Do we just cease to exist? If so, there is nothing to fear. Once we die there will be no knowledge of death. No knowledge of pain. No knowledge of anything. We just stop, and all this life we have experienced will only live in our journals (if we keep them), which no one will read. No one will know of our suffering or of our few joys in our experiences. Unless we write about it and people read about it, all this knowledge and experience will be lost. No one will even know what was lost to them. And few, if any, will even care.
That may even be preferable to suffering purgatory or being thrown into the lake of fire or experiencing the “second death.” We, in our religions, are forced to live in hope for a life in heaven in perpetual worship of an egomaniacal God or eternal life of punishment for our sins, including ones we re not aware of committing.
So, which is worse: Eternal punishment or an end of suffering? Or simply to stop? In my mind, knowing that this will simply come to an end is preferable to the creative punishments of an afterlife. My only regret is that I will not experience any knowledge of my release from suffering because I will be turned off with no chance of a restart. I will not experience a total lack of existence. I will not experience the absence of thought. I will not experience eternity or a resurrection when the universe dies. I have no way to imagine such a lack of being. It would be the same as it was before I was born and became aware of my existence.
But I have no memory of that.
I cannot be frightened of death. But I certainly don’t want to just stop.