3 of 12
3
Atheistic Dilemma - How do you deal with your mortality?
Posted: 15 February 2011 06:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
asanta - 14 February 2011 10:21 PM
DarronS - 14 February 2011 08:57 PM

I Tom T. Hall said it best. The true meaning of life is “faster horses, younger women, older whiskey, and more money.”

I’d substitute “faster planes, younger men, more Hawaii, and more money”

I thought according to evolutionary psychology it’s supposed to be richer men, not younger.  grin

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 February 2011 02:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5551
Joined  2010-06-16

Since Asanta included “more money”, the advantage of richer men disappears and I would guess the heightened sexual vigor of young men would take its place.  Remember, George, the studies that showed that while women preferred to marry a wealthier (usually older) man, they are much more attracted (especially during ovulation) to young athletic studs. 

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 February 2011 02:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
Occam. - 15 February 2011 02:32 PM

Since Asanta included “more money”, the advantage of richer men disappears and I would guess the heightened sexual vigor of young men would take its place.

Well, even rich women probably still prefer rich (and successful) men. The advantage of the rich and successful men is that they will produce rich and successful children.

Occam. - 15 February 2011 02:32 PM

Remember, George, the studies that showed that while women preferred to marry a wealthier (usually older) man, they are much more attracted (especially during ovulation) to young athletic studs.

Sure, if your wife cheats on you, you can be almost sure the guy will have more testosterone; and yes, it will probably happen during her ovulation. However, were she to leave you for another man, he will most likely be richer than you. Women are complicated. Not us: we like women young and beautiful. Easy.  grin

[ Edited: 15 February 2011 02:48 PM by George ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 February 2011 02:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5551
Joined  2010-06-16

Quoting George:

The advantage of the rich and successful men is that they will produce rich and successful children.

  I shouldn’t speak for Asanta, but I don’t think from her list she wanted to include children, “rich and successful” or not.  LOL

Occam

 Signature 

Succinctness, clarity’s core.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2011-02-17
ExMachina - 14 February 2011 06:12 AM

Being a newly converted Atheist at approx 2 years since my realization. I had run into the biggest problem that I think that most Atheists go though. It’s the question of how do you deal with the idea that you are going to die and that the best thing you’ll be leaving behind is an imprint in the dirt? With Christianity, they can look forward to a super happy fun time for eternity with the guy they think is just super. But Atheists don’t have that luxury that so many other beliefs have. We have to accept that this is it. That there is nothing else. So how do you deal with this idea? Or do you not deal with it at all?

I’m new here so if I make a faux pas, please be gentle…

I think the actual “problem” is that death is not really a problem at all.  Death is a reality.  I find asking about the problem of the absence of an afterlife akin to dealing with the “problem” of not being able to fly like superman - sure it would be nice but it’s a fact that I can’t fly, not a problem.  I’m going to die.  We all are.  I imagine once I die it will pretty much feel like it did before I was born.

As for a meaning or purpose to life - I’m very much in the evolutionary biology camp.  I think we have evolved very specific physical responses to stimuli.  I know my “desire” to have a family and kids is a chemical/biological urge bred into me over thousands and thousands of years.  I understand that kissing my wife or hugging my kids makes me feel good because the human body evolved to respond to those stimuli by releasing chemicals/drugs in my brain.  I don’t fight it, I just do the things that my brain wants me to do.  I think everyone has a firm grasp on, and similar understanding of, what an “adrenaline junkie” is: a chemical response to an activity we like.  Why do we think it is so different for “love”? Or generosity?  I know these are very un-romantic ideas but that certainly doesn’t make them untrue (other things might make them untrue - but I haven’t found them yet).

Just my two cents….

 Signature 

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong” - H.L Mencken

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
Nick - 17 February 2011 11:09 AM

I think the actual “problem” is that death is not really a problem at all.  Death is a reality.  I find asking about the problem of the absence of an afterlife akin to dealing with the “problem” of not being able to fly like superman - sure it would be nice but it’s a fact that I can’t fly, not a problem.  I’m going to die.  We all are.  I imagine once I die it will pretty much feel like it did before I was born.

Yes, death will “feel” the same as it “felt” before you were born. The problem is that you didn’t have to be aware of not existing prior to being born. I never understood why people make this comparison. I have had fractured my bones in the past, but it certainly doesn’t feel the same (now!) as when I am about to fall while skiing, thinking, I am about to break my leg. And saying that death is a reality doesn’t really help much either. Actually, as far as I can tell, it is precisely the reason why it’s scary.

I know it’s your opinion and it is silly of me to challenge you on this, but I often find that people are being dishonest when asked about death. Again, no problem, but I find it rather interesting.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2011-02-17
George - 17 February 2011 11:41 AM
Nick - 17 February 2011 11:09 AM

I think the actual “problem” is that death is not really a problem at all.  Death is a reality.  I find asking about the problem of the absence of an afterlife akin to dealing with the “problem” of not being able to fly like superman - sure it would be nice but it’s a fact that I can’t fly, not a problem.  I’m going to die.  We all are.  I imagine once I die it will pretty much feel like it did before I was born.

Yes, death will “feel” the same as it “felt” before you were born. The problem is that you didn’t have to be aware of not existing prior to being born. I never understood why people make this comparison. I have had fractured my bones in the past, but it certainly doesn’t feel the same (now!) as when I am about to fall while skiing, thinking, I am about to break my leg. And saying that death is a reality doesn’t really help much either. Actually, as far as I can tell, it is precisely the reason why it’s scary.

I know it’s your opinion and it is silly of me to challenge you on this, but I often find that people are being dishonest when asked about death. Again, no problem, but I find it rather interesting.

@ George - it’s never silly to challenge.  I love the discussion.

You would be right that anyone who says they are not scared of dying are being dishonest (or they are just weird).  To be clear (I wasn’t very clear in my last post), I am scared of dying.  Being eaten by a shark, or run over by a bus, or slowly wasting away from a disease are all very unpleasant thoughts.  I don’t want to experience any of them.  I want to avoid the act of dying.  But I am certainly not scared of being dead.  It’s seems extremely ironic to worry about non-existence.  I worry about my family carrying on if I die while they still depend on me (that’s why I have insurance).  But it’s not like my consciousness will be stuck in a 6’ deep hole somewhere and I’ll be fretting over how everyone is doing.  I just won’t be anymore.  No memory, no consciousness, no “essence”.  To worry now because you won’t be able to worry later seems like a waste of time on a number of levels.  I don’t need the idea of an “afterlife” to console me.  I’m just fine with making myself happy now.

I know it’s a bit extreme, and in a lot of respects it’s a very childish question, but I can’t help but wonder why people who believe that the next life will be so great are so afraid to go and join it.

 Signature 

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong” - H.L Mencken

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

Yes, Nick, I often hear people to say they are afraid of dying but not death itself. I’ve never felt that. I mean, I don’t want to get eaten by a shark either, but hey, a few minutes of pain compared to an eternity of non-existence… No, dying doesn’t worry me that much. Maybe I am the weird one.

Nick - 17 February 2011 01:44 PM

I know it’s a bit extreme, and in a lot of respects it’s a very childish question, but I can’t help but wonder why people who believe that the next life will be so great are so afraid to go and join it.

They will tell you that they don’t want to go before “their time.” (Whatever that means. Maybe they feel special enough to believe that God had planned for them a long life.) But sure, in the end the religious are as eager to die as the rest of us: indeed, deep down they must know this is it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2011-02-17
George - 17 February 2011 03:10 PM

in the end the religious are as eager to die as the rest of us: indeed, deep down they must know this is it.

Well said.

Again though, I can’t understand someone fearing non-existence. I can kind of see people’s point of view about being depressed that maybe no one will remember you, or maybe you didn’t make enough of a difference (whatever that means to people).  Fear is an unpleasant anticipation of what an experience will be like or how it will feel.  Not existing won’t be “like” anything.  It won’t feel like anything.  There will be nothing of you to experience anything.  I can really understand and buy into it when people say “I hate the idea of not being there for my family” or “It depresses me to think about them missing me”.  But to say “I’m scared of not existing”?  How can you be scared of something that won’t affect “you” (because “you” won’t exist!)?  Kinda makes my brain hurt…. smile

 Signature 

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong” - H.L Mencken

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 04:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

Well, Nick, I guess you’re a lucky person for “not getting it.”  wink You’re right, once we are dead it won’t hurt, but it hurts now, knowing that it’s coming. I even hate going to sleep: I don’t like not existing.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 February 2011 08:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  491
Joined  2008-02-25

The emotional purpose in the will of the brain of the fear of death is to keep a person alive as long as possible.  The belief of how horrible it would be if I did not exist (“How will the world get by without me?”) helps to motivate the person to keep existing as long as possible.  It makes sense in this context why people are so afraid of not existing even if the dying process would be painless.  If the fear of death is too strong and it makes a person depressed or causes great distress then the fear is no longer satisfying its own purpose.  The fear is actually shortening the person’s life or putting the person’s life more at risk.  This is how to help to keep the fear of death restrained.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 February 2011 06:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

I agree, brightfut, although I am not sure about the “How will the world get by without me?” example. I do imagine that it would be difficult for my kids and my my wife were I to die today, but that is a different kind of fear.

What you’re doing here is trying to explain the fear of death as an adaptation. And that is fine. The problem with us, the humans, or some of us at least, is that the fear of death is much bigger than what it needs to be. I still think it is a by-product of having consciousness, and adds no real value to one’s survival. The level of fear that a duck might experience would be sufficient.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 February 2011 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2011-02-17

I think I would have to agree with brightfut (I am a sucker for evolutionary explanations).  This seems a logical motivator to keep us alive.  I do think that George is also partially right in that the fear supplied by this evolved characteristic is probably only a small part of what is going on.  I would like to suggest that organized religions probably played a role in why people fear dying (and death) so much (and I do mean all religions because they are man-made and so would reflect our fears).  Religion certainly has had a huge effect, culturally, on our understanding of the universe.  So, culturally, this “fear meme” could have been fostered and propagated through religions.  I’m not sure I would go so far as to say with any certainty that the forming of religious groups favored certain individuals, and that led to our gene pool favoring people predisposed to believe certain things - but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

 Signature 

“For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong” - H.L Mencken

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 February 2011 09:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  491
Joined  2008-02-25
George - 18 February 2011 06:49 AM

That you’re doing here is trying to explain the fear of death as an adaptation. And that is fine. The problem with us, the humans, or some of us at least, is that the fear of death is much bigger than what it needs to be. I still think it is a by-product of having consciousness, and adds no real value to one’s survival. The level of fear that a duck might experience would be sufficient.

It could be a by-product of having consciousness, but your consciousness might also be a tool in alleviating the problem.  You are aware consciously that the fear is much bigger than it needs to be for any practical benefit.  This awareness can be used to decrease the level of fear to a more practical level.  Evolution gave you this fear, some of it was helpful in adapting, some of it was not.  Now you can moderate it.  That’s the adaptive purpose of the conscious mind is to moderate lower level drives and impulses.  Also a person can realize that there are other ways to meet survival needs than by relying on fear.  If a person feels that they are competently managing their survival by taking responsibility for their lives and meeting needs when they arise, then the excessive fear is unnecessary.  However, I don’t believe that a person can become totally comfortable with the idea of not existing because then what it would really mean is that they don’t care about living.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 February 2011 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29

Nick,

I am more inclined to suspect that religion originated (to some extend at least) in order to help us cope with the fear of death. I don’t think it’s the other way around.


brightfut,

The problem with consciousness (or my problem at least) is that it doesn’t seem to be doing a lot of deciding (i.e., moderating my fear). From what I understand, our actions are decided on the unconscious level and once we become aware of them, our consciousness is merely a witness to our surrounding.

I know some believe that once we become conscious of something, the feeling goes back to our unconsciousness and makes another loop through the whole process before resulting in an action. I guess in that sense, the amount of fear one experiences in his conscious stage could affect (through that double loop) our actions. Or something like that.  confused

Profile
 
 
   
3 of 12
3