Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Fear of Death II

Yesterday I published a brief post about the relationship between war and religion.  In it I made the point that religion not only aids the persecution of wars by psychologically preparing the populace but also can be said to be war itself because of the way it divides people and causes them to harm each other.

Buried in that post was the observation that religion makes both dying and killing easier.  This is an important point that often gets overlooked when discussing the merits of religion.  It is also a very good rejoinder to many of the attacks the religious level at us nonbelievers.

One of the most common attacks we hear is that we are trying to deprive people of the comfort religion gives them.  In particular, the comfort people get when faced with death--either their own or that of a loved one.  As I pointed out in my first post on the Fear of Death, this attack is really just an admission that religion is a delusion. 

Pointing out that it is an admission that religion is a delusion when faced with this criticism of atheism is a good start.  When faced with the more specific criticism that we are making it harder for people to face death, however, I think a very good reply is to say that it should be hard for people to face death.  Death is a bad thing.  It is not something to take lightly.

Virtually no one takes his or her own death lightly, but the death of others is often taken far too lightly.  By convincing people that death is merely a transition and not an end, religion makes it much easier for people to take the death of others lightly.

Thus, a couple of responses to the criticism that we are depriving people of comfort in the face of death could be:

"Don't you realize that by making your own death easier to face, you are making the deaths of others much easier to contemplate?"


"Good, death should be hard to face, because it is the end of someone's existence and not just a transition."

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