Nothing Lasts Forever: How an Atheist Copes With the Fear of Death


Published in  Elephant Journal, 19th January 2016:

‘Nothing Lasts Forever: How an Atheist Copes With the Fear of Death’.


Death. Simply reading the word can arrest us in our place, causing an instant tingling of visceral unease.

The certainty that our mortality will eventually be realized binds us not only in solidarity, but in fear. This fear has spawned the creation of hundreds of religions, over thousands of years, for the predominant purpose of foretelling a divine after-party in heaven. For many, the afterlife has offered the quintessential form of closing the eyes and blocking the ears—but for people like myself who do not subscribe to the stories, what are we to do?

– Steve Stankevicius

2 Comments Add yours

  1. kaptonok says:

    Your denial of the self has a flaw.
    Although we constantly change its our individual consciousness that changes within ourselves.
    We are not born self – conscious that mind comes much later.
    It is what characterises grown humans is self consciousness or self- awareness. We judge our own actions and have a conscience. It is what creates a moral sense of good and evil. A tiger cannot be evil.
    Sam Harris the well known atheist believes the self and free will are illusions. He maintains we are complex computers programmed by our past. Such assertions are fraught with problems for we cease to be to blame for any of our actions.
    To fear death we must first set a very high value on our individual selves; we must inflate our importance as if the world cannot go on without us.
    ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with asleep.’
    The problem of self consciousness has not been solved. Just why and how man became seperated from the animals or when this took place.

  2. kim says:

    I’m not sure I agree with your analysis of what the ‘self’ is Steve, but I am sure that whatever it is and however it is formed, it doesn’t survive beyond death.
    So it’s never made sense to me to fear something that I (my ‘self’) won’t be around to experience.
    It seems to me that it’s only people who believe (and I cannot help but ask myself why they bother) in a ‘soul’, some kind of ‘self’, who fear death. Hence the need to construct some notion of an ‘after (death) life’.
    So I don’t fear death; it’s only the possible illness and pain that may accompany the actual dying that frightens me. And I suspect that many people feel this way if the truth be told (not only atheists like me).

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