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How those who don't believe in an afterlife view and cope with death Print E-mail

Saturday, 04 February 2012 00:00

Written by Roy Jacobs

The major world religions all have certain beliefs in common. Central among these are the polar concepts of good and evil and their subsequent consequences in the form of some kind of heaven and hell.  

Unlike the followers of these religions, atheists deny the presence of any God, while agnostics deny the possibility of certain knowledge of God. These persons therefore generally function without a belief in an afterlife. So how do they view and cope with death?

For those who believe that this life will be followed by another, the process of death is not only the end of earthly life, but the beginning of another. However, for those who deny any such afterlife, instead of the night that will inevitably be transformed into day, for them death has no recourse. It is, pardon the pun, a dead end. In fact, some consider the belief in an afterlife as nothing more than a childish and nave attempt to hold on to a wish that does not exist or cannot be proven. They view this as bargaining, hopeful of a chance for further existence.

For the atheist, death is the end of the cycle and they have come to the end of their journey. It is now time to make way for others to chart their own course. Those who deny the existence of an afterlife therefore tend not to focus on death as much as they focus on life. The important issue for them appears to be how you lived your life and what you did with it. You should be able to lie on your deathbed and take comfort in your life's accomplishments, the positive influence that you had on others and just how well you lived your life. Enjoy now, without relying on what may not or will never happen.

Some will also prefer to think of the after-life as actually living on, not in spirit, but rather in your impact on the world and the people you leave behind. Others hold on to the concept that your remains actually become a part of the universe physically and will be recycled eventually. This process is therefore simply a natural cycle of matter being incorporated into new matter in a perpetual manner.

Perhaps these are useful ways of conceptualizing what ultimately happens to you after death. In fact they are factual in terms of the ultimate destiny of the body, but really do not address what happens to the spiritual dimension of man. However, for those who deny the existence of an afterlife, many will no doubt find comfort in these thoughts.

Yours in Thought

 

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