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Atheistic Dilemma - How do you deal with your mortality?
Posted: 23 August 2011 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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“I love this thread. It represents the essence of why theism has evolved within our species.”

This presumes that faith is all about death. It is not. In fact, this is a father Christian perspective. For most early societies, death did not bring about anything positive nevermind eternally pleasant. Greeks and Mesopotamian societies saw afterlife as empty, painful and arbitrary. They did not, therefore, pray because god answered the question of our mortality but rather that the gods answered the basic issues of mortality and life. Why do I live? By what laws shall I live? How can I understand the world in which I live? Most of the questions answer the issues of life rather than death. They are gods that create the community, the laws and nature. All physical.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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ExMachina - 14 February 2011 06:12 AM

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?

I am going to be 80, in two months. The death is not too far away and I am preoccupied with leaving an imprint. I want to convince people that endless “we are better than you” confrontations, between theists and atheists, are poisons.
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Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia), a retired nuclear physicist from New Jersey, USA. A am also the author of a FREE ONLINE book: “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality.”

http://csam.montclair.edu/~kowalski/life/intro.html

It is an autobiography based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA).

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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TheodorePliske - 23 August 2011 09:51 AM

“I love this thread. It represents the essence of why theism has evolved within our species.”

This presumes that faith is all about death. It is not. In fact, this is a father Christian perspective. For most early societies, death did not bring about anything positive nevermind eternally pleasant. Greeks and Mesopotamian societies saw afterlife as empty, painful and arbitrary. They did not, therefore, pray because god answered the question of our mortality but rather that the gods answered the basic issues of mortality and life. Why do I live? By what laws shall I live? How can I understand the world in which I live? Most of the questions answer the issues of life rather than death. They are gods that create the community, the laws and nature. All physical.

I agree with most of what you say here Theodore. I was referring to today’s dominant religions. Long-gone societies are interesting but they are long-gone. Today’s dominant religions are predominantly about earning a place in the afterlife (heaven, virgins, myth).

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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Ludwik Kowalski - 23 August 2011 09:58 AM

I am going to be 80, in two months. The death is not too far away and I am preoccupied with leaving an imprint. I want to convince people that endless “we are better than you” confrontations, between theists and atheists, are poisons.
.

I agree with you Ludwik, but I don’t see how we will end our in-group/out-group behaviors anytime soon. Evolution will apparently have to play this out.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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What’s to deal with? My own mortality is no different than that of any other living thing. Everything dies; so will I. That’s the truth. Why would I want to mess with the truth? I am acutely aware of my mortality, and am resolved not to waste a day. I have an interesting tale about how I measure my life slipping away day by day; you can find the tale at this page on my website.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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traveler - 23 August 2011 10:23 AM

Today’s dominant religions are predominantly about earning a place in the afterlife (heaven, virgins, myth).

I think you might be wrong on this one, traveler. Today’s religion is mostly about forming a structure of belonging to a community. Probably not that different from, say, soccer. I have asked almost everyone I have ever met if they are afraid of death and the answers I get don’t differ much from what I see here. No, the level of fear of death Theo and I have encountered is quite rare.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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I think the fact is that todays West has pretty much lost its faith. Robert Fisk has commented on it a lot. His book “The Great War for Civilization” (which is amazing, btw!), talks about how, during the Iran-Iraq war, many Iranians would wilfully march into the minefields to die. Many of these willing “martyrs” were teenagers or young adults, happily awaiting their deaths. They would treat the artillery barrages with laughter. Fisk reported one teenager as crying because he could not be martyred on that particular day. Even their parents had this same view. That is a society that knows, rather than believes, in God. There is no question in their mind, no form of doubt whatsoever. God is imbued into their existence. Even the radically religious in America do not seem to have much faith anymore. They look almost reactionary.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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George - 23 August 2011 10:39 AM
traveler - 23 August 2011 10:23 AM

Today’s dominant religions are predominantly about earning a place in the afterlife (heaven, virgins, myth).

I think you might be wrong on this one, traveler. Today’s religion is mostly about forming a structure of belonging to a community. Probably not that different from, say, soccer. I have asked almost everyone I have ever met if they are afraid of death and the answers I get don’t differ much from what I see here. No, the level of fear of death Theo and I have encountered is quite rare.

By George (sorry!), I think you’re on to something here. My own experience of years within the walls of American Fundamentalism have taught me that not much is different among “believers” and “non-believers” when it comes to facing death, despite what we say we believe. (Not to mention a lot of other things, but that’s a different topic. )

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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George - 23 August 2011 10:39 AM
traveler - 23 August 2011 10:23 AM

Today’s dominant religions are predominantly about earning a place in the afterlife (heaven, virgins, myth).

I think you might be wrong on this one, traveler. Today’s religion is mostly about forming a structure of belonging to a community. Probably not that different from, say, soccer. I have asked almost everyone I have ever met if they are afraid of death and the answers I get don’t differ much from what I see here. No, the level of fear of death Theo and I have encountered is quite rare.

OK, we’re getting a little tangled up here. My statement was in response to Theo’s remarks about long-gone societies. I stand by my statement in that context.

But I also agree with what you say here, George. That’s why I supported Ludwik’s thoughts about in-group/out-group behavior as toxic to global cooperation.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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TheodorePliske - 23 August 2011 10:43 AM

I think the fact is that todays West has pretty much lost its faith. Robert Fisk has commented on it a lot. His book “The Great War for Civilization” (which is amazing, btw!), talks about how, during the Iran-Iraq war, many Iranians would wilfully march into the minefields to die. Many of these willing “martyrs” were teenagers or young adults, happily awaiting their deaths. They would treat the artillery barrages with laughter. Fisk reported one teenager as crying because he could not be martyred on that particular day. Even their parents had this same view. That is a society that knows, rather than believes, in God. There is no question in their mind, no form of doubt whatsoever. God is imbued into their existence. Even the radically religious in America do not seem to have much faith anymore. They look almost reactionary.

Well, I am Czech and every Czech I have ever met is an atheist. I am not aware of some nationally-wide spread of thanatophobia. But they drink a lot and so do the heathen Swedish, for example—maybe that’s the solution…  cheese

The martyrs die for others, not for God. You can read more about it in Talking to the Enemy by Scott Atran.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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TheodorePliske - 23 August 2011 10:43 AM

I think the fact is that todays West has pretty much lost its faith. Robert Fisk has commented on it a lot. His book “The Great War for Civilization” (which is amazing, btw!), talks about how, during the Iran-Iraq war, many Iranians would wilfully march into the minefields to die. Many of these willing “martyrs” were teenagers or young adults, happily awaiting their deaths. They would treat the artillery barrages with laughter. Fisk reported one teenager as crying because he could not be martyred on that particular day. Even their parents had this same view. That is a society that knows, rather than believes, in God. There is no question in their mind, no form of doubt whatsoever. God is imbued into their existence. Even the radically religious in America do not seem to have much faith anymore. They look almost reactionary.

Well, that’s fine by me (as a Westerner). I hope the natural evolution continues (I think we are having an earthquake in Buffalo right now…)

Know god, believe in god, there ain’t no god…

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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TheodorePliske - 23 August 2011 10:43 AM

I think the fact is that todays West has pretty much lost its faith. Robert Fisk has commented on it a lot. His book “The Great War for Civilization” (which is amazing, btw!), talks about how, during the Iran-Iraq war, many Iranians would wilfully march into the minefields to die. Many of these willing “martyrs” were teenagers or young adults, happily awaiting their deaths. They would treat the artillery barrages with laughter. Fisk reported one teenager as crying because he could not be martyred on that particular day. Even their parents had this same view. That is a society that knows, rather than believes, in God. There is no question in their mind, no form of doubt whatsoever. God is imbued into their existence. Even the radically religious in America do not seem to have much faith anymore. They look almost reactionary.

It seems to me that the main thing that determines how willing (or unwilling) one is to die has less to do with beliefs than with her or her living conditions. Those with little to live for are less reluctant to die. Yes, it helps to have a fervent belief in a final reward, but I don’t see many militant Jihadists among the ranks of the wealthy and powerful (the Bin Ladens) who are quite so willing to lay down their own lives.

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Posted: 23 August 2011 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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“Well, that’s fine by me (as a Westerner). I hope the natural evolution continues (I think we are having an earthquake in Buffalo right now…)”

You must be right, I felt it in NYC… thats quite the distance.

[ Edited: 23 August 2011 10:59 AM by TheodorePliske ]
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Posted: 23 August 2011 11:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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FreeInKy - 23 August 2011 10:54 AM

It seems to me that the main thing that determines how willing (or unwilling) one is to die has less to do with beliefs than with her or her living conditions.

And I think it has to do with how strongly one experiences the state of consciousness. The bacteria and the trees couldn’t care less and Theo and I are terrified. You, guys, with the rest of the fauna fall somewhere in between. Sorry, Ludwik, I love separating people into groups—I think I got the “Francis Galton bug.”  grin

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Posted: 23 August 2011 11:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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TheodorePliske - 23 August 2011 10:56 AM

“Well, that’s fine by me (as a Westerner). I hope the natural evolution continues (I think we are having an earthquake in Buffalo right now…)”

You must be right, I felt it in NYC… thats quite the distance.

All quiet on the northern front in Toronto…

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