Dying as an atheist - how can we offer alternative to what religion offers?

There is one place where atheists can not yet beat the solace offered by the religion… the death bed. i know the solace is based on the ignorance, and hope is unreal. But loss of life is such catastrophic even, everyone clutches to the straw of hope. Hope could be absurd mix, like rebirth, heaven, afterlife, soul, incarnation. how can we educate people about true hope, peace and oblivion?

"alternative to what religion offers " … offers to whom ?

the soon to be departing or those who are to be left ?

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Alternative to cancer?

Nope. Not nothing beats the lala land of the afterlife.


I’m an agnostic atheist. I don’t believe, but make no claims… I don’t know what happens after I die.

Hope? of what? Peace? Bollocks; as a far as I can tell, death is not an experience.

I feel neither the need or obligation teach others anything. I think I lack the arrogance to presume to teach anyone what happens after they die.

Religion does not comfort all who are dying. I learned from a carer in the facility where mum was that clergy often die ‘badly’

I live my life based on the evidence at hand. Since there is zero evidence of an afterlife, spirits, and souls, I do not base my life on an expected afterlife.

The drawbacks? Yes, I do not have this “belief” to support me. It is my life to live, I am responsible for every second I live, every decision, every mistake. I have devloped the tools to deal with hardship, instead of going to pieces when the going gets rough. Many theist have not developed the tools to deal with hard times.

But I live a much better life because of it. Since I am very aware that once I die, it is completely over, I live my life with a profound appreciation and joy. I make sure to note any acts of kindness of love or kindness towards me, and attempt to return it.

Some theists who believe in the afterlife to not take the time to appreciate this life, in the expectation the next one is the jackpot. They are miserable in this life, they take any kindness or love directed towards them casually and without return. They give little in return, and for some, yearn for the day they die so they can do to what they expect as a heaven.

Many theists develop a profound fear of death. I do not want to die, it will happen. Period.

Personally, I have been tested. Approximately ten years ago i was rushed into emergency surgery, I was aware the odds were against me. I was probably the calmest person in the operating room. In my mind I told myself "well, if I don;t wake up, I won’t know that, and if I do, I have another glorious life to live.

Approximately a little over a year ago I was rushed into the hospital emergency, feeling incredibly bad. I knew I was in trouble. But my thoughts were not for myself, they were for my wife, my dog, and my loved ones. I was concerned about my wife’s financial situation, how she would handle my passing, and her emotional state. I knew my passing would leave a huge gap in my dog’s life, and that was also a great concern.

Facing death itself, I was not selfish, I was only thinking of others. What was behind my position? I truly believe it was because I have accepted death for what it is, lights out.

Now the second part. Religion works because of fear. Theists have this god watching them from the moment they are born until well after they die. They live in fear and suspicion. When I realized I was an atheist a few years ago, a GREAT weight came off my shoulders, I was truly free, free to enjoy life and everything in it.


What is it you think religion offers? When you know the truth, all you can do is pity the ignorant. (How is that not enough?)

WOW! What a negative view of a completely natural process. It is not catastrophic unless we are talking about pain and suffering. (Death is a release from that.)

You can begin by challenging each and every one of the stereotypes you have mentioned. I am planning on leading by example. I will have a DNR bracelet and plans for my own demise should the quality of life diminish to the point of no longer being worth living. (My personal judgment is all I need.) Death can be a pleasant and peaceful choice.


Then why would atheism need to beat such claims, if they are based on ignorance?

I don’t, as an atheist that would make no sense. I’d also point out that at every funeral I’ve ever attended there were theists who clearly were just as desolate at their loss as anyone else, which always makes me doubt they can maintain their fantasy of an after life in the face of reality as overwhelming as the loss of a loved one.

With truth, if you try to make the truth a palatable comfort blanket then you’re not looking for the truth.

A rather casual attitude in my opinion. Makes you atypical in my experience.

As far as I know, virtually all animals have a fear of dying. I think it’s an evolutionary thing. Self preservation is the most powerful instinct as far as I’m aware.

I’m terrified of dying. I think the act of dying tends to be an experience for most I’d like to avoid it if possible. A stroke in my sleep is an attractive proposition. So too the way my mum died; slipped quietly away in a morphia coma.

So, I’m afraid of dying, but not of being dead because I’ve never seen any proof that being dead is an experience. I am not/was not afraid of the eons before I existed. Why should I fear the eons to come after I die?

I’ve mentioned this quote before, because it’s pithy:

“I was not.
I was.
I am not
I don’t care”

From a Roman tomb on the Via Apia, just outside of Rome.

This hasn’t come up here as far as I’m aware. IE The minority Christian concept of the unconscious dead. It’s the notion that after we die we remain unconscious and oblivious until the end of days. At that time, the dead all rise, for the final judgement.

As a kid of about 12, I had an earnest discuss with a mate about Jesus’ death and resurrection. I opined it would have been truly fantastic if he had been cremated and THEN returned from the dead. My mate agreed. We asked a teacher. He seemed aghast.Didn’t mention it again.


I did not explain myself well enough.

I do not want to die, and I definitely do not want to suffer any pain in that process.

I want to live every day to it’s fullest. If anything, I do not fear death, but I fear not living, especially to it’s fullest.

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Yeah, that sounds an appealing way to go. For myself I fear dying, but only the manner of it, not death itself, as I won’t be able to experience that without a functioning brain.

thank you for comprehensive engagement.
nonfui fui nonfui noncuro is epicurian philosophy applicable to atheist debate with relevance. thanks for mentioning.

thank you fro engaging in the debate. physical ailments like cancer cant be addressed by belielf or nobelief. for other aspects like emotion, thinking and social relations, i believe society offers support and is (like it or not) based on religion( not god). i am merely inviting a debate, ot expressing an opinion, your opinions are most welcome.

thanks for your engagement in the debate. in the “business” of intensive care, it is often called syringe driver induced oblivion… but it is sad that this is a way of driving death away from peolple, friends and relatives… is that better… i dont know

true hope to give a dying person is not about their life. or afterlife.

It most certainly can. Let me introduce you to the ABCs of Rational Thought.

(A) Activating events, like having cancer, is not the ©cause of our behavior. Rather, it is our (B) Beliefs about the (A) Activating event that is responsible for the Cause (Consequence, our response.)

If this were not the case every cancer patient would respond the exact same way and THEY DON’T. Cancers, death or any terminal disease can be adequately addressed and dealt with by the individuals BELIEF about that disease or situation.

A person who believes God is punishing them for the horrible things they did in their life will have a different reaction that a person who believes they have done nothing to deserve this trauma forced on them by God.

A person who understands/believes that cancers happen and we don’t really know why. will have a completely different reaction.

I have watched hundreds of people die of cancers, gangrene, diabetes and traumatic injuries. The medical system we have in America now is horrific. It is the shit of a science fiction movie and I kid you not. Everything is about money. Everything is about keeping a paying body in a bed until the insurance runs out. Everything is about trying to revive a dying patient unless there is a waiting list for the bed. You think I’m kidding? From the Administrative perspective, it really is that fucking cold hearted. Don’t even get me started on the asshole doctors who poke their heads into the room, write a not on a chart and then charge you for a visit even if you aren’t awake. And the worst offenders of all are the fucking priests.

The fucking priests and preachers who swarm to the bedside of the dying to promise you a place in heaven as long as they are included in the will. (This is where the big money comes from for Churches.) Your weekend congregations simply pay the bills, but when you get some poor slobs entire life savings and their house, you are on easy street for a couple of years.

I have first hand experience of the death and dying process in American institutions, Hospitals and Nursing homes. These places are businesses just like the Churches and if there is not a penny in the process of keeping you alive… they would rather you die and make room for a paying patient.

My own death will completely avoid the health care system. I am going out comfortably and on my own time. I wish all of you could see and experience the things I have seen and experienced in the name of caring for the elderly or “:Health Care/” It’s a fucking joke and no one wants to know about it.

I’m reminded of the Albanian dwarf that the RCC canonized. She would gather with other nuns around the dying, like vultures at a carcass, and without their or their families knowledge or consent perform a deathbed conversion to Catholicism.

You may say it’s a victimless crime, but not if she believed at the time, and certainly not to the families if they found out later.

By all accounts she was an horrendous individual that fell in love with her own legend and however it started, there is little doubt that before the end she siphoned hundreds of millions of dollars of charitable donations into the coffers of the RCC, while deliberately consigning patients to die suffering in squalid conditions.

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In my mind: “atheism” cannot possibly offer an alternative. An alternative to a lie? The reality is: our consciousness obviously relies on the machinery of our brain/nervous system, and when that system fails, so ends our consciousness. There is zero reason to think otherwise. “Atheism” does not rely on fanciful thinking. It is not a religion trying to recruit people into their way of thinking. There is no profit motive or control motive. No one in charge collecting the big bucks.

Reality is reality whether we like it or not. Whether it provides hope or not.

Via education. Although “atheism” it self has very little to do with this. Just education unvarnished by religion indoctrination.

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Whilst I don’t quite accept the premise as atheism is simply an answer to one particular question, if one was to view the question from the perspective of a world view, i would still disagree…

The thought that I don’t have to perpetually pay homage to some deity who sits by idly, whilst children starve to death, or die from lack of clean water… etc… is quite reassuring.

The thought that the energy I have radiated will maintain within the cosmos, almost poetic.

The thought that I shall never see my family again after my death, makes every moment more important to me!


In the absence of “placebo” myths … you’ll meet in heaven
In the absence of untrue reasons … God must have a reason
In the absence of trite “excuses” … all part of Gods plan

we can only respond with empathy , remember each of us is going to die at some point.
and we are all going to loose loved ones
Note I say empathy ,not sympathy … celebrate the life of the dead ,reinforce the joy of memories …while we remember the dead they are not truly gone.
. do not feed the despair .

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From November 2018 and July 15 2019, I watched a beloved friend die from gastric cancer,a vile disease. He dealt with his illness with courage, dignity and wit. In the last few weeks, he seemed spend a lot of time comforting his family and friends.

We discussed his approaching death several months before he died. He had accepted the fact of his approaching death and concentrated on living day-to day and making sure his affairs were in order. He had always been one of my life heroes, then more than ever.

The funeral was large, with over 300 people, including the State Premiere (like a US state governor).

Because he was an atheist, there was no religious service.Instead, there was a series of eulogies celebrating the life of this remarkable man.

We were friends for 47 years, so I knew the man and his character. I knew very little about his professional life as a senior barrister.(like a US ADA) Over the last decade, his work focused on the victims of crime and child protection.

Modern industrial society does not deal well with the death of loved ones. Not even those who claim to hold strong religious faith, with beliefs of a happy afterlife. This strikes me as ironic at the very least, if not downright hypocritical.

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