Religion Not Needed to Cope With Death
In a life filled with unknowns, one of the few constants is the certainty of death. Some people believe that it’s just the beginning of another life, whether in heaven, hell or reincarnated. But for humanists, atheists and others who reject claims of human existence persisting beyond the brain’s functioning, death is the final stage. Nothing, neither good nor bad, comes after that final moment.
While the prospect of permanent nonexistence is terrifying for some, it can also be comforting. As humanists, we don’t bank on an afterlife unsupported by the evidence. Instead as John Lennon said, “with no hell below us, and above us only sky” we live for today. This means that regardless of our spiritual state or acts on earth, there will be no punishment in the beyond. And without an afterlife, there’s no reason to adopt outdated rules, such as those found in Christian bibles that prohibit enjoying Texas barbecue, going clean shaven, wearing stretch cotton or working on Sundays. As the Great Agnostic of the 19th Century, Robert Ingersoll once said, “I would rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not.”
Whether someone is religious or not, dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. People are understandably vulnerable in such situations. So, of course, nobody would be so insensitive as to proselytize at funerals, right? Wrong! How many of us have experienced a priest, minister or rabbi using a funeral as an excuse to try introducing or reintroducing the grieving into the fold? I’ve experienced this myself a few times. I objected to the proselytizing in these moments because it excluded and divided people at a time that calls for inclusion and solidarity….