The Church Can Spoil Death

Many Christians believe atheists are unhappy because they do not have a happy afterlife to look forward like those in the faith.  It is difficult to explain to a believer why atheists are happy. A funeral director recently wrote a book about death and it included an explanation atheists would like.

The author says that much of the Christian faith treats death as a punishment, as something that happens to bad people. Here on this blog I regularly have believers tell me how I will be punished when I die. While the author himself is obviously a believer he has a different view of death than some parts of his faith.

He told of the most bizarre experience in his career with dead bodies and funerals. A 50 year old man died suddenly. The family was of the Christian branch which believed in coming back to life from being dead. They performed their ritual of prayers and oils. The widow instructed the author to not close the casket that night so the dead man could leave. When eventually the casket and vault were closed for good she was distraught.

While this story is bizarre, it is no more peculiar than the myth that something called a “soul” lives on after we die. No one has ever seen a soul, let alone one from a dead person.

One happy aspect of leaving Christianity behind is knowing we skeptics have overcome the temptation of believing things about death that are too good to be true.


8 Responses

  1. unregenerate

    What if the meaning of salvation is simply death placing a final seal on life for all eternity, no soul migration, no divine judgement, forgiveness, or retribution possible, just case closed? A death deserving of the term. If there is no after-life or better no after-death, what then is the effect on the morality of the living? Do our tablets of values change? Does the ugliness in the world increase, will beauty find more fertile ground, or meh, more of the same? With no heaven or hell, no other world, no second life, maybe we can focus more on taking a positive path for all humanity as it is here and now.

    1. unregenerate 8:17 With no heaven or hell, no other world, no second life, maybe we can focus more on taking a positive path for all humanity as it is here and now.

      At the very least, it would be helpful, honest, if throughout the faith there was an admission so far as we know there is neither a heaven nor a hell nor an afterlife of any kind. The first step toward honesty is the most difficult.

    2. mark anthony

      seems to me that your remarks here are a faint echo of Nietzsche’s famous question: where do we go from here in a godless world? good question. but if you think that mankind, freed from what you call the “shackles” of religion (Christianity in particular) will move forward into the light you need to think again: ask yourself: how many utopian dreamers have had their dreams shattered by the realities of human nature? consider in this regard, the experiences of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st. what you are toying with is the prospect of a lot of little gods roaming about, creating their own morality. and, predictably, ending up bowing down to one or a few Big Gods, human Gods that is.

      1. mark 8:51 but if you think mankind, freed from…the “shackles” of religion…will move forward into the light…how many utopian dreamers had their dreams shattered by the realities of human nature?

        So far as I know, all utopians had their dreams shattered by the realities of human nature. But, what of religious dreamers? Today’s news is filled with what one might call utopian Christianity in the form of Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama. Talk about human nature (sex drive) shattering dreams of a Christian crusader.

        I know full well of problems in rulers who were not religious. You and I both know of problems in nations run by Christians. I don’t see how a blanket judgment can be made Christianity yields something better. It is hard to believe there is something universally better about proclaiming a series of events happened which we have no evidence did happen and there are invisible gods who have magical powers.

  2. mark anthony

    very quickly. I know very well that Christianity has produced its share of tyrants (or tyrants who have claimed to be Christians). that said I think that you will be hard pressed to find anything in the Christian world that measures up to Hitler, Stalin. Mao. or for that matter, their epigones, folks like Castro. I don’ t even think the ancient pagans (perhaps with the exception of folks like Timer the Lame) can match the aforesaid.

    1. mark 9:08 That said I think you would be hard pressed to find anything in the Christian world that measure up to Hitler, Stalin, Mao..”

      Yes, they were among the worst in recorded history. We’ve cycled through this argument several times here. How do we label a tyrant “Christian” or “Atheist”? Is it because they themselves happen to be of that belief or because they have a goal of putting in place nationally and uniformly their version of religious belief. If it is because of their own particular religious beliefs, Hitler claimed to be Catholic. He was endorsed by local Bishops. Now, there are lots of apologists who say the Bishops were forced into this and Hitler did not hold sincere Catholic beliefs, etc., etc.

      Go to Stalin, his passion was an economic system of communism and his own power to bring this about. He saw Christianity as a competitor and that was why he did not tolerate it. At least that is one interpretation, there are plenty more. I don’t think there is a powerful case that atheists have the edge on terrible dictators. Nor, can we say Christianity saves us from bad leaders.

  3. mark anthony

    there is a point here that is being overlooked. the difference between modern and not so modern devils is the invention of totalitarianism. I think that you would agree that political arrangements like Nazism are a modern political phenomena, nothing like the Bolsheviks or the National Socialists would have been possible in ancient Rome or in Christian Europe. those societies were too decentralized, too disparate to be totalitarian in any sense of that word. also, of course, they didn’t have the technology that makes modern political systems possible. modern totalitarianism grooves on centralization, the destruction or marginalization of any competing social institution: church, family, tradition, etc. BTW, we got the first reified whiff of totalitarianism during the French revolution.

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