Atheists’ Funerals

The fall-back argument of Christians to atheists is, “You should be worried about what happens when you die.”

This argument is amusing to a nonbeliever because he knows the Christian has no more information about what happens after death than the nonbeliever.  The Christian just thinks he knows more.

The topic of death is actually widely discussed by atheists.  I have presided at an atheist’s funeral and would be honored to do so again if asked.

It’s been suggested that within nonbelievers there is a need for greater uplifting message.  We do not have something quite as nice as the myth the dead is, “In a better place.”

I suppose we could create our own myth, the person is happier being dead than he was alive.  Or, that he had such a good life he has no regrets about being dead.

But, what is done works OK.  It is that dying is a part of living.  Being born brings on death.

I attended a secular funeral of a friend, recently,  who died at 42.  One thing we didn’t have to do at his funeral was try to explain why God lets young people suffer and die.  I read an article recently by an ex pastor who said one of the worst parts of preaching was have to take God off the hook every time there were deaths of young people.

Funerals without the myths of an afterlife are no sadder, and no happier, than religious funerals.

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10 Responses

  1. T

    This past summer I attended the funeral of my cousin’s two-year-old boy who died of cancer. The Priests attending the funeral were falling all over themselves telling everyone at the funeral that god wanted the boy all for himself in heaven, all the while my cousin, the little boy’s mother, wept uncontrollably in the front pew. To be perfectly honest, I was quite disgusted by what I saw. The Priests made no attempt to console a grieving mother; all they could talk about was how much better off heaven was now that a boy was dead.

    1. T 2:40 Does it seem to you like it would have been better if the clergy just would have said they don’t understand why this happened but we’re all here to help you though it? I can’t say I know what to say, but you report does not sound like the best idea.

      1. T

        Jon 3:27, I think the simple gesture of walking up to my cousin, giving her a hug, and providing her with a shoulder to cry on would have been preferable.

  2. Morgan Christian

    If not for the needs of the people who go on living, funerals are of no use to the dead. Services for the non believing deceased, could be an opportunity to reflect on the personal triumphs and weaknesses that go with a life lived as best as a human can sort things out. To hold up for review the possibilities and lessons of a life lived with humor and love.

    1. Morgan 3:26 Thank you for the first time post.

      “..with humor and love.” Good thoughts about honoring the dead and helping the living get through it.

      I wrote a long time back about an experience I had. A guy walked up to me at a McDonalds and asked me what could be done about his funeral. He and his daughter were planning it. He said he knew there would be a lot of religion, but he did not want it entirely religious because he, himself, no longer believed. Could Freethinkers help by being on the funeral program, he wanted to know. I said, sure, just put the Freethinker website in your planning papers and someone would be available. I thought to myself it would not be a pleasant experience to say something about nonbelief at such a funeral–hopefully he outlives me.

  3. One thing funerals do for all is to put us in touch with our own mortality.

    In the end, atheists are simply wrong in saying that their worldview and Christianity are on the same playing field where offering comfort in times of tragedy is concerned. It just isn’t true. Christianity supplies a real and living hope to people who grieve in Jesus.

    This is because, in Christianity, hope is a person: “Christ Jesus, who is our hope” (1 Tim. 1:1).

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