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What is stopping an atheist from suicide?

Evolution programmed humans to have a lot of anxiety about being dead, for the progression of the species. But now when we have evolved an intellect enough to understand these issues, how can we say that death is even something bad, from the individual’s perspective? Your consciousness gets extinguished, and is unavailable for feeling anything related to the world, including the grief of the people who loved you. That is inconsequential to you, because there is no more “you”. If you atheists truly believe in nothingness at death, and you also realize that the only thing that keeps you from suicide is a survival instinct that your intellect could suppress, then what is the big deal about killing yourself? There is no consequence to you, and it is neither better or worse than living your current life, no matter if it is a happy or a miserable one. I feel that the common answer “something is better than nothing” is not really an answer, just appeal to emotion. So is it the fear of God after all?

Posted: March 6th 2010

Mike the Infidel www

I like being alive. That’s enough.

Posted: March 25th 2010

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Eric_PK

I think you have it backwards.

Why would you want to stick around in this flawed world when you have eternal happiness waiting for you? Or when you have 72 virgins waiting for you?

Most successful religions have prohibitions against suicide for this very reason. There are some pretty obvious cases where this has broken down – Jonestown (918 people), “Heaven’s Gate “:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven%27s_Gate_(religious_group) (39 people), etc. – not to mention the suicide bomber reference I made above.

Do you have some evidence of mass atheist suicides?

Posted: March 9th 2010

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flagellant www

Your intimations about atheism and suicide are very wide of the mark, and the loose suggestion you make about 'fear of god’ is inappropriate. I hope I can help you perceive things better.

When I was much younger, as part of the many silly things I was taught by the religiosi who surrounded me, I was told that the lives we live on Earth are just in preparation for the life to come. They told me that the heavenly life was the one that really mattered.

This struck me then as a bizarre doctrine. First of all, the logic of that position would make suicide a means of getting quickly to the 'proper’ life, and therefore a good idea. Yet suicide was greatly frowned upon. (But note that suicide bombers think that they are doing god’s work by killing themselves and taking others with them. Nasty nonsense, as I’m sure you’ll agree. How many suicide bombers do it in the name of atheism, eh?) It was also clear to me that earthly living is the only real life we genuinely know about: all the rest involved a great deal of hope and wishful thinking.

As I became more knowledgeable, my position – that the Earthly life has got to be the one and only existence – became more certain. I love life with all its variety: the beauty of our spaceship planet, art, science, love, and, of course, mortality. I know that life is finite and that there is nothing beyond. I don’t want to die, but I long ago accepted that no-one is immortal; so I don’t need a comfort blanket.

You seem to have it the wrong way round: most atheists, for whom this life is the only one, are more attached to life than believers. In fact, atheists value life more highly than the religiosi who have something to which to look forward. If you believe in an 'afterlife’ you can afford to be more cavalier about your earthly existence: heavenly forgiveness and all that…

There is one time where I might consider suicide as a possibility for me. That would be if I were incurably, terminally ill, suffering unalleviable, excruciating pain. And if I were unable to take the necessary steps, I would like someone close to help me on my way.

But, for the moment, I am fit and healthy, patched up by brilliant medical science. I am still able to enjoy life to the full, and I want it to stay that way, for as long as possible. Part of my enjoyment comes from putting people right about atheism. I don’t 'fear god’; I simply insist that supernatural beings are figments of deluded, hopeful imaginings. And the idea of life after death, however comforting, is ridiculous.

Posted: March 9th 2010

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Reed Braden www

Unfortunately, I am at a position to answer this question from personal experience.

It’s not that hard of a concept to grasp: What stopped me from killing myself was the last-second realisation that I wanted to live. Those that want to live (Atheist or otherwise) will continue to do whatever it takes to live. Those that want to die will do whatever it takes to die. It’s pretty simple, really.

And Atheism doesn’t necessarily make someone suicidal. For many religious people, religion is first in their life and they claim it is their reason to live. (I remember learning as a child in church that the meaning of life is service to the Lord. At the time, I felt that doctrine was the only thing worth living for.) Religion, for many, is priority number one, and that is what they dedicate their life to and rely on in times of suicidal depression.

Atheists have different priorities. For us, the most important things in our lives are whatever we want them to be. And however important religion is to many, our number one priorities are just as reliable in times of need as theirs. I believe my fiancé is worth living for. I believe that my family is worth living for.I believe that my writing is worth living for. There are more things than what religion has to offer to keep a man wanting to live.

Posted: March 9th 2010

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Paula Kirby www

What a strange question! The prospect of death holds no fear for me at all: I shan’t know anything about it. Does that mean it will be BETTER than the life I’m currently leading? No, of course not. Why should it? Why should not having any reason to actively fear being dead, logically lead me to WANT to be dead sooner than will happen anyway? Why would it mean I don’t want to spend as long as possible in this lovely life, enjoying the companionship of the people I love, continuing to derive great joy and wonder from learning more and more about the world around me, trying to achieve the goals I have set myself in my career and personal life, and experiencing the satisfaction of doing so?

It’s a very strange thing. Theists are always telling us that life is a precious gift from God, sacred even, yet they don’t seem to rate it that highly, really. They’re forever telling us it’s meaningless and purposeless, and now the suggestion that, as atheists, we might as well commit suicide right now and have done with it! One of the MANY wonderful things about realising that religious teachings are untrue and that this is the only life we have is that it makes every moment of this life MORE precious, not less, MORE meaningful and MORE worth living to the full.

Posted: March 8th 2010

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logicel

If fear of god is the only reason why people do not commit suicide, then why are there religious believers who do commit suicide?

Suicide often happens because of clinical depression. Clinical depression strikes people regardless of their religious beliefs or the lack of. Such depression is a result of disturbed brain chemistry. If you are not suffering from such an chemical imbalance, you have no motivation or desire to commit suicide.

In addition, committing suicide successfully is not an easy matter. Many suicides fail.

Now of course a person could think here and there life is not worth living, but that state of mind is not exactly suicidal. It often comes within what is considered a normal range—having ups and down in life is something most people experience.

The brain evolution gave us not only allows us to focus upon putting off death as long as possible, but it also gave us the means to take death in stride also. Death, that is, our mortality, is a reality that comes to us all. We are able to compartmentalize, to live life as fully as possible without thinking every moment about our mortality.

Religious people do not seem to be exactly calm when facing death, so does that mean they really are not believers? And that sentence is as inane as: So is it the fear of God after all?

If one’s quality of life is high, and if one is not suffering from clinical depression, why fix something that is not broken?

Posted: March 8th 2010

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