Saturday, January 15, 2011

I Don't Fear Death (Dying Perhaps, but Not Death)

I do not believe in an afterlife.

I have no way of knowing what happens after one dies, so I could be wrong, but I don't think anything happens after you die. I think you cease. Like going under for surgery, but without the waking up afterwards, disoriented and in pain.

I do not find this frightening. I find it impossible to imagine nothing, to be sure, but I can tell you this: there's nothing to be afraid of if I'm right. If we simply cease upon dying, you won't know the difference. You won't be capable of knowing of the difference, any more than a rock is.

The dying part, that might be bad. Depending upon what sort of dying we're talking about, I may very well be afraid of it. But being dead? Nope. Not at all.

What's really weird is that most atheists I know are like this. "Death? Meh, whatever." Whereas most Christians seem to view death the way I view a two-foot wide spider (There are no words). In fact, Christians demand more extreme end of life intervention than any other group in the US. Think about that for a second. Atheists think that death is an absolute cessation, but don't request resuscitation or extreme measures to hold off death. Christians think that death is just the beginning of a fantabulous, sparkle pony and rainbow dragon adventure, yet demand that no effort be spared in extending life for 5 extra minutes.

Anyway, I bring this up because Ray Comfort is yet again confusing "you" and "me". We really ought to buy this man a dictionary. (Boganette, is there some odd NZ usage of these words to explain his confusion?)

Never forget how you feared death before you became a Christian. The Bible says that until we come to Christ, we are "subject to the fear of death all of our lifetime." When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, God places a shield of faith in our hands so that we can combat the sharp and fiery arrows of fear. We can look death in the faith and say, "You no longer have any power over me!"

We can look death in the faith? Anyway, maybe people who became and/or are Christians are people that are deeply afraid of death. Atheists in general aren't. We're not sitting around thinking ZOMG!!1!DEATH!!1!!eleventy!!! We're more eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. Hey, is that hummus?

Actually, according to Ray's beliefs, death has no power over anyone. If he's right, I don't cease to be when I die, I live forever, in hell. Nobody dies either way, it's more a matter of location.

He who lives without faith in God is open to fiery darts of terror that will pierce him to the core. I once saw a man like that as he lay on his deathbed. He was consumed with terror. It was a horrible thing to see, and my heart went out to him. He lived his life with his back turned to God, and consequently, when he needed faith most, he had none.

Again, I am not in a state of terror. Not about death, anyway. Spiders, absolutely*. (Seriously, look at this thing.) Death, no. And quite frankly, if I were dying and Ray Comfort were watching, "peaceful" wouldn't be any part of it. Never mind that the actual act of dying can be excruciating and filled with terrifying sensations, like pain and not being able to breathe, but then to have some religious huckster watching you as you go? Yikes.

So when you are sharing your faith, don't hesitate to tap into a powerful evangelistic tool that is often neglected--the sinner’s will to live. He doesn’t want to die. Don't be afraid to ask him if he is afraid of dying. It can often be a relief to talk about it, because the world avoids the question.

That's just wrong, if you ask me. It wouldn't sway me in the slightest, it's not theologically sound, and it has the same element of manipulation that see in half hour infomercials at 4am. You know the ones. The ones that prey upon the fear of illness, of unattractiveness of loneliness . . . oh. Got it.

*While looking for a picture of an enormous spider to link to, I came across the question Is it true you are never more than 6' from a spider at all times? I may never sleep again.


  1. i REFUSE to look at that pic. REFUSE, you hear me?

    ah - phobia aside, have you read the Heinlein "Job" i sent you yet?

    that book, specifically, is why i never converted to Christianity - it's "Hell" seems... kinda awesome, actually, while Heaven seems like all the worst days of High School crossed with all the worst bits of Fraternaties...

    and Satan seems like a pretty groovy guy, in that book :)

  2. Well, to be fair, Comfort did title his post specifying that it was for Christians, so undoubtedly his target audience will feel the way he describes, at least to a point.

  3. I'm with you, denelian. No way. Never. I once saw a "bird-eating spider" at the Smithsonian. It's been 20 years, and it still gives me the willies.

  4. Think of two men in a plane. One has no faith in the pilot, and one does. The man without faith opens himself to fear. The less faith he has, the more susceptible he will be to fear if there is severe turbulence. However, the man with faith in the pilot will have no fear, as long as he keeps that faith.
    No, actually Ray, the person with "faith" is filled with fear of demons, devils, ghosts, witches, spirits, possession and uncontrollable evil (I know. I used to listen to Bob Larson). People without "faith" know that the universe is orderly and predictable, with occasional hiccups and surprises. They know that people do their best, with a combination of intellect and intuition that we're not ashamed to admit using. If the plane crashes, it's not because the pilot didn't care; it's because of things we can't control, no matter how much we might pray, such as metal fatigue, ice on the wings, flocks of birds and wind shear, to name a few. This is why pilots go to flight school and undergo rigorous testing. If it were "all in God's hands," anybody could get behind the controls of a jumbo jet and fly with their eyes closed. Fool.

  5. "*While looking for a picture of an enormous spider to link to, I came across the question Is it true you are never more than 6' from a spider at all times? I may never sleep again."

    Therefore we can conclude that, statistically speaking, you'd be better off staying as close as possible to the nearest harmless spider because that means the nearest potentially dangerous one is, on average, twice as far away from you.

    I also have no idea what happens when all my mantal and physical processes shut down (aside from all my mental and physical processes shutting down). I'm not concerned.

    And as for looking Death in the face, what's Ray talking about? Death doesn't have a face, he has a skull and talks LIKE THIS. And I intend to shake him by the hand, give Binky a pat, and move on with dignity.


    I demand an explanation for that. Where was that picture taken? It is imperative that I verify this, as I need to make absolutely sure I live nowhere near it.

  7. All I know is, I visited some friends in Australia and they had two - two spiders which were each the size of my hand, and which lived in their house. (I may actually have that backwards; it's just possible that the house belonged to the spiders, and they merely permitted the humans to live there.)

    Once we got over the OMGWTF factor, it wasn't a big deal... at least until my wife was sitting at their computer, and saw one of them looking out at her from the paper tray on the printer.

  8. All I know is, I visited some friends in Australia and they had two - two spiders which were each the size of my hand, and which lived in their house.
    Only two?

    (I may actually have that backwards; it's just possible that the house belonged to the spiders, and they merely permitted the humans to live there.)
    That's rediculous. Spiders can't own houses.

    The house was owned by the snakes, who were renting to the spiders.

  9. Having been both a believer and an unbeliever, I have to say my experience has been the direct opposite of what Li'l Ray-Ray insists is true. About six months or so after admitting to myself that I no longer believed, I had a quiet epiphany: lying on the bank of the Deschutes River on a summer day, looking up at the sky, I realized that there was nobody up there looking down on me. And for the first time I could remember, I felt safe. Not in the sense that nothing bad could happen to me...but the realization that nobody had it out for me, and that my life was my own.

    I think I may have started laughing, at that point. I'd never felt so free. I hope you'll pardon the metaphor, but I felt born again. :)

    Anyway, fast forward. My husband lost his job at the beginning of this year. And yeah, it's stressful, and frightening, and job hunting sucks, and the economy sucks, and all that...but I'm handling this crisis a helluva lot better than I handled even smaller problems when I was a Christian, mainly because I'm not spending so much of my mental and emotional energy trying to figure out why this might have happened: Is it because we weren't tithing and God's removed his protection? Is it the devil attacking us, and trying to sway us from following God's will? Or has God already got it planned for us to lose everything in order to teach us some obscure lesson, meaning that all our attempts to stay afloat will be ultimately futile?

    It's none of that. It's just bad shit that happens sometimes. It's not personal.

    And what's more, I get to choose where to go from here. Hell, I get to choose, period. That's fantastic.

    Of course, those spiders are a different thing altogether. Yeesh.


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