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Living With Death

The human body is just a machine. Sometimes it breaks down and needs repairs or spare parts, but eventually the breakdown is irreparable and life ends. Like any machine, the human body wears out over time and repairs gradually become less worthwhile or possible. When the body dies, some parts might be salvaged to repair other bodies, but for that particular body it is all over. This happens to everyone eventually. There’s no way of avoiding it–except to not be born in the first place. Life absolutely always ends in death. There is no alternative. To be born means that death will come to us one day, sooner or later. Most of us hope that it comes later.

Living a secular, nonreligious life removes many of the worries associated with death. No longer need I be concerned about whether I’m going to heaven or hell when I die. Nor need I worry that there is an immortal part of me, a soul, which might have to suffer after my living body dies. I believe that when my body dies then that is the end of me. Nothing happens nor exists after death. No part of me survives after I die.

An important question that everyone asks at sometime in their lives is “What happens after death?” The simplest, most positive answer is “Nothing.” Death is the end. There are many claims that life goes on after death in some sort of afterlife, either in heaven or hell, depending on what one wants to believe, but there can be no surety of any afterlife survival. The lack of evidence suggests that it doesn’t happen and that, in fact, nothing happens. Everything just stops. Claims of an afterlife are based on the assumption that humans have souls, another claim that cannot be supported by even the smallest amount of evidence.

All the claims of a human soul or an afterlife fail for two very important reasons. First, there is no evidence to support them; all such claims are based on wishful thinking and cannot be proved. Second, they cannot be scientifically tested because there is no way to prove them false; they are not falsifiable. Thus, as a scientific hypothesis any claim for the existence of an afterlife or survival of any part of the person, such as a soul, after death is meaningless and a waste of time and intellectual effort because it cannot be proven either true or false. By any standard of scientific evidence it must be concluded that the soul and afterlife do not exist and are, therefore, not worthwhile factors to influence one’s conceptions of death and dying, or what happens after. It is safer and more appropriate to conclude that nothing happens after death, that it is the end.

It follows from this that neither heaven nor hell exist. Since nothing of the person remains after death other than an old physical body that no longer has any meaningful purpose, there is no soul and hence no need for a place for it to go to.

Religious concepts of the soul and afterlife are meaningless. Religion also becomes meaningless except as a source of ethical values. Since religion is now meaningless in itself, then even its ethical standards become of arguable value. Without the religious sanctions applied to them the ethical values must be adopted for their own value–or not at all; so religion is proved even more irrelevant. If desired, however, the individual can adopt the ethical values for their sake rather than to satisfy some religious longing. Religion thus becomes all it ever was, a means of controlling the thoughts and actions of the mass of believers.

Anything that happens after death, such as a funeral or other rite, is of no value to the deceased, rather they benefit only those who remain behind. They might soothe the way for relatives and friends, and help them to cope with the departure of a loved one, but since the deceased no longer exists prayers and offerings for his/her soul or a pleasant afterlife are meaningless.

This is not to say that such rites are completely useless. If they can help the bereaved cope with the loss of the dear departed then that is all that is required. A funeral may also bring the bereaved to a sharp realization of their own mortality before it is too late for them to make something worthwhile of their life.

A funeral is nothing but a rite to ease the passage, not for the dead person, but for those who remain behind. Burial or cremation is little more than a way of disposing of the material remains that are no longer of any importance. It is an exercise in rubbish disposal, little else.

There are times when I would welcome the end. At times, life doesn’t seem worth living if there is no point to it. However, I soon get over the feeling of uselessness and hopelessness and go on living. There is little choice, unless one condones suicide, which I don’t. I live on, as I must, and keep hoping that when my time comes to die that it is painless and simple. I don’t want a painful, lingering death. I just want to go easily and quickly. For now, I’ll use my beliefs to give my life whatever meaning I need to keep going without having to fear punishment in a nonexistent afterlife.

Knowing that death is the end and that there is nothing after it gives me the courage and peace of mind to live my life, and to face my death as inevitable when it comes. I don’t have to worry about an afterlife where I might be punished or bored nor do I have to believe any of the other tales that are told about the afterlife. I know that death is the end and that nothing happens after it. Thus I can live my life without worrying about what happens after my life has ended because I know that nothing happens.