Sharing Kevin"s sense of never having actually felt the require to believe in God, maybe my answer will be that interest.

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I have always felt that once I die, ns am dead and gone, my aware life will end, mine interactions through others will certainly end, and I will certainly be merely GONE. I don"t understand what reasons consciousness (call it spirit, speak to it soul, i don"t mean to pick sides v my words), however I expect that it will certainly end. My immortality will be in the memories of those ns knew, those that loved me, those who carry me on in their hearts. I, myself, stop to exist.

This offers me a beautiful, shockingly beautiful sense of the Now. Gift in the present, the here and also now, is the ultimate reward of life. I am continuous gobsmacked through the minutiae that life; i stand in awe of the things about me best fucking now. There"s no reward, no judgment, no heaven, no hell. Ns live ideal fucking now.


Another writes:


I think that when I dice I"ll cease to exist, and also in some methods I"m happy around that. Life is tough work. Life is good, worthy job-related that I"m proud of and that provides me feel good, for the many part, but even though I"ll most likely be sad to die (and I"d hate to think ns was about to die any type of time soon), I"m tho glad, in principle, that part day life will certainly cease, and my burdens will dissolve v my joys. I don"t want to live forever.


Another:


Speaking together someone that shares Kevin"s check out on this topic, what us think happens as soon as we dice is that us die, just our contribute to the world we are departing will live on, and that"s all there is come it. We"re no going come be approximately to experience it afterwards. Would it it is in nice no to die? Maybe, absolutely sounds exciting (although I might see myself wishing fervently for death to placed me out of my boredom when I turned a million, and also considering it an inhuman and also sadistic torment come deny that to me...). However if we wish to live in a fact based human being we must acknowledge that there is no rational factor to think this to it is in true and it is a monumental case of group wishful thinking to put it politely. Civilization are fear of dying, castle don"t desire to attend to it, and believing they"ll never need to *really* attend to it since they"re no going to *really* die is just easier.

How perform I feel around it? Meh. I accepted my mortality (and the of anyone else i know) a long time ago, I encountered it, and also now ns rarely provide it lot thought uneven circumstances call it to my attention. I have much better things to execute with my life than obsessing end a time when it"s walking to be over. And no, that is no me advertising how very brave and also stoic in the confront of death that makes atheists, ns don"t imagine I"d be any kind of less scared dealing with the imminent ending of my life when the time comes than your typical person... That is just not a problem of mine now. Wringing mine hands over it would be around as pointless as wailing end the gravitational constant of the world not having a various value more to my liking. Truth is what the is. And also reality is that civilization aren"t immortal.


Yet another:


"I wonder what Kevin think happens come him as soon as he dies?"

I think the fact that you have to ask this question at all claims a lot around how the fear of death is inextricably tied come a belief in higher powers in the mental of theists. To one such as I, that shares Kevin"s views, the answer is rather obvious and intuitive. Nothing is walking to take place to him once he dies, since there won"t be a "him" for anything to occur to.

As for her follow increase question- "And exactly how does the feel around that - not just emotionally but existentially?"- I deserve to only speak because that myself, but again, the fact that you feel the should ask this concern says a lot about the resource of your faith. Pardon me if this sound overly judgmental, yet to me terms like "faith" and "spirituality" are just shorthand for an individual"s i can not qualify to cope with the ide of oblivion. Why have to one feel anything details about it in the first place? ns am. One day, I will not be. This doesn"t stroked nerves me and I don"t recognize the must waste the priceless gift the sentience agonizing about such things.

I recognize that some civilization can"t shrug turn off the idea of no existing in part form. Take it my husband because that instance. He has an overdeveloped are afraid of oblivion but can"t lug himself to believe in fairy tales. The takes comfort in philosophy. In the words of (probably) Marcus Aurelius:

‘Live a good life. If there space gods and they space just, then they will not treatment how devout you have been, but will welcome you based upon the virtues you have actually lived by. If there space gods, but unjust, climate you must not desire to prayer them. If there room no gods, then you will be gone, yet will have actually lived a noble life that will certainly live on in the storage of her loved ones.’


Another:


As one atheist who has actually just recently had actually two friend die, I deserve to say that not all atheists room as lucky together Kevin. For me, the are afraid of fatality is far and away the most immediate and challenging aspect of mine atheism. Fatality affects me in a extensive way, since I understand it"s no a issue of belief at this point, because that me that this life is all we get. As much as ns would like to believe platitudes prefer "He"s in a much better place now" and also "I recognize he"s smiling down on us," I view them because that what they are, and what they represent: attempts to avoid encountering the truth of death.

So if friend truly think that "Facing is our life"s task," may I imply you shot atheism? religious beliefs is how world AVOID dealing with it. It"s the common thread in every religions, indigenous the most ancient to the many modern: "When we die, it"s not really the end. For this reason don"t concern so much." yet for most religions the doesn"t avoid there. Most of them teach that life after fatality will not only exist, yet it"ll be means more awesome 보다 stupid ol" life with all that trials and tribulations. A choir that angels! fourty virgins! Nirvana! All your old friends, her family, also Mittens and Fido will be over there to provide you a large hug and also welcome you come eternity!

Eternity. Life forever. Everything philosophical contortions you want to twist you yourself through, if you think in eternity, you room not facing death. Atheists challenge death. We have to come to grips v the finality the our end without the assist of any type of comforting fairy tales. It"s no easy, however neither is life. Atheists and theists can agree on that, at least. We just don"t think death is going to be any kind of different.


A reader asks:


When atheists insurance claim that faith is just a fanciful way to deal with the unpleasant inevitability the death, the faithful often decry together a reduction as unfair. And yet your main response to Kevin Drum"s unapologetic summary of his lack of religious impulse is to ask "Then what perform you think happens once we die?" As one more of those "untragic" atheists, I deserve to only scratch my head regarding why my answer come that inquiry would it seems to be ~ to it is in revelatory come you... Unless, the is, the avoidance that death available by faith is its vital selling point. Therefore which is it? and also how does soothing my fear (be they rational or irrational) make something prefer religion an ext likely to it is in True?


A last thought:


I think we have actually a "soul," however not in the sense of a spiritual being apart from our bodies, yet in the feeling of a consciousness that transcends our physics limitations. The is, first, the essence of ours beings, the thing that connect the human being we room today to the human we have gone to all the stages of ours lives. The boy I as soon as was is in some sense the guy I am today and also the old man I will certainly be, and also I think this persistence of gift - this connective line, this inner self - is component of what I median by "soul." In addition, by "soul" I also mean our ability to contemplate time and room and possibly a sense of harmony far external our very own physicality. And finally I mean a higher morality - the component of our beings that makes us not just human, and also thus animal, but likewise humane, and also in that feeling spiritual beings v a higher morality than self-interest and also even survival. This feeling no doubt has a physical cause as well, however at part level our higher-processing brains and also our experiences and learning provide us feelings the seem unconnected to physics sensation. And it is right here where the best of humanity resides and expresses itself.

When i worry around my own death, the is not fatality that ns really problem about, however the manner of death, and also the lead up to it of decline, decrepitude, helplessness, pain. (If ns knew I would be reasonably healthy till the end, and then die peacefully in mine sleep, much of my stress would it is in gone.) fatality itself does no scare me. I remember undergoing general surgery for some minor problem, and was offered some anesthetic drip before being wheeled into the operation room. At one minute I was talk to the surgeon, and the an extremely next moment - a nanosecond later on - I remained in the recovery room. I had actually no awareness that a dimming the consciousness. One instant I was there, an prompt later ns was gone. This, it seems to me, is what fatality is like, just there"s no reawakening. Consciousness ends, and along with it any kind of awareness and sensation. There is not also a emotion of absence.

Another method I look at it is the life after ns am dead will certainly be just like life before I was born. I don"t regret not being below sooner 보다 I was, and I had no sensation of existence prior to my birth. For this reason it will certainly be after mine death.

The only death that yes, really scares me is the fatality of those ns love, far an ext than mine own. This is no to to speak that i don"t want to live as lengthy as possible, so lengthy as i can function in some way and no be an excessive burden. And this desire, it appears to me, is itself strong proof that there is no afterlife. Freud"s thanatos notwithstanding, even our souls hunger for a concrete existence. Us may lengthy for transcendence, however it is a transcendence in our lives, no in some desire to be totally spiritual beings, gotten rid of forever from link to the real. At the very least not for lengthy - that method lies madness. Sooner or later, we desire to reconnect come the world. And also we constantly hunger for the visible world, the streams that sensations that feed ours consciousness and also being. The is the really opposite the an afterlife idealized by significant religions. And also that leads me to mine final suggest (probably a startling one, from your suggest of view): ns think life after fatality would be stupid.

By this i absolutely do not median that it is stupid to believe in an afterlife or come desire that (though such a desire may be a an outcome of naivete, irrationality, or good pain). I typical that such an existence would chin be stupid. It would certainly be devoid of noþeles that gives our intelligence any kind of significance, and our present lives any type of meaning. It would not in any type of sense be human. Ns remember informing my brother the if i died and also there to be a God and also he said me the he indeed created the civilization in six days, I would be exceptionally disappointed, for I uncover the people as the is far an ext miraculous and also awe-inspiring 보다 its biblical description. Similarly, a life after fatality devoid that physicality would typical very tiny to me, and also I don"t desire it. Perhaps it would matter to whatever essence or soul survived me, however to the living human being being ns am, this people - you and me and everyone rather - is all that really matters.

Again, Andrew, what do you think happens once you die? your body and individuality recreated in some recognizable way, with friends long gone again easily accessible to you? Andrew Sullivan as a disembodied spirit, glowing because you - or it - space in the presence of Jesus? friend must have some view. Re-superstructure it. And also tell us if girlfriend really like that afterlife, to all the pain and also glory of this real one.


One that the starkest things I psychic from my one afternoon spent conversing with the subject of my doctoral dissertation, Michael Oakeshott, to be his response to a concern I make him around the notion of salvation and the after-life (he passed away the complying with year). It was "who would desire to be saved"? Oakeshott"s
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critical unwritten essay (I suspect he had been writing it in his head lot of his life) to be going come be around a conception that salvation which had nothing whatsoever v the future.

I have two intuitions about what happens when I die. The very first is that ns cannot recognize in any means for sure; and also I surely know that every little thing heaven is, it is so past our human being understanding the it is perhaps better not to try an answer. The second is that ns will proceed to exist in my significance but much more firmly and totally enveloped in the love and expanse of God, as revealed primarily in the life of Jesus.

I guess girlfriend can think there is nothing over there (atheism/agnosticism); or that there is other there into which everything dissolves - human and also divine - i m sorry is a type of non-material unified of love and also compassion (Buddhism). Belief gives me the expect of the Christian different to both, that us will remain who us are, the distinct objects of God"s love, and also yet part of such a miraculous sea of divine love, we will certainly be both ourselves and also yet far less limited by ourselves, freed indigenous the sin that keeps united state from understanding one another, forgiving one another and loving one another and also loving God together parent, child and also spirit.

My many indelible link with death was gift by among my closest friends of mine own age as he faced his own mortality. I was over there at the hour the his death; and also I was there when he was completely and healthily alive; and I was there when he faced his death, work by day, for two years, until he died at the period of 31 in his mother"s arms.

One memory, connected in Love Undetectable, came once Patrick, towards the finish of his life, was enduring terrible sweats. In among the lulls in i beg your pardon his body appeared to rest, ns lay down beside him on the bed and asked the hardest question:


I asked him what that thought death actually was. He to be shivering and also we spooned, the candlewick bedspread stop our body inches apart. Ns remember emotion his bones beneath it for the an initial time, the skeleton beginning to shape the when firm, rosy flesh the his body. 

"I don"t know," he said. "I don"t yes, really know. Periodically it seems like some blackness coming towards me. And sometimes that doesn"t feel prefer anything." he paused and also I feeling unqualified to include anything. So us lay there because that a if in silence, staring in ~ the ceiling, me wondering if I"d asked him because I was actually curious regarding what a dying man might actually think, together if he might know a little much better and aid me navigate what I assumed was ahead of me; or whether ns asked him because somebody essential to, and no one else would dare; or due to the fact that I was his only close friend encountering the same prospect, no one else could ask him. That shivered again, and the phone call rang. Yet death ended up being one more of those banalities we had in common.


Where is Patrick now? the is with me whenever mine thoughts turn to him; the is alive and also vivid, if transfigured sometimes, in mine dreams. The is through me at the end of the Cape every summer, together a seagull flies close to me in the evening sky. He is in mine prayers. The is. I deserve to prove none of this. I have the right to only witness the watching my dearest friend die, after gift in the AIDS bunker v him for 2 years, helped me know that my girlfriend lives. You will mock me because that this wish-fulfillment. However they mocked the disciples as well who knew that the lord was alive, and that death was no the understand of Him.

I live in this awareness. Yet I likewise live in the awareness that eternity is right here already, the the majesty and also miracle of God"s production resonates with every second of ours lives and also every particle of issue within and also without us. The is just how I translate Oakeshott"s deep Christian (and rather Buddhist) understanding of salvation as having nothing whatsoever to perform with the future. The unity and individuality and wonder we are told we will only know then is actually right here now, shielded indigenous our very own eyes through our own mortal fear, by our very own avoidance that death, by our own inability to grasp that this battle we are afraid is actually currently over, that God loves united state now unconditionally, overwhelmingly, this understanding prevented specifically from penetrating us by our own sense the inadequacy, or our looking away, or are shedding ourselves in the human and worldly points that I recognize by sin.

So I carry out not believe our consciousness is utterly various after death than now. Ns believe, through Saint Paul, the this is the same divine experience, but through a glass darkly. I think it is Love, due to the fact that Jesus confirmed me so. And also I await with good fear since I to be human and also I await with good hope since of the incarnation and also resurrection the God in human being history.

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To philosophize is come learn how to die.

To think is to hope for light in the challenge of "some blackness coming toward us."