If there is an afterlife, why are we scared of death? (J. Knight)
Well this is an interesting bit of synchronicity. I have only recently answered a very similar question elsewhere. I’m going to give the same answer here. [ If an afterlife why scared of death ]
This is a great question by the way J Knight.
Here’s my take, and some of it is going to be a bit of a rant:
1. We don’t like “change” unless we are in control of it, and even then we may not like it.
So imagine the following. Note I’ve lifted some of this from one of my books, Life and Death: Making Sense of It – see Life and Death the book.[ If an afterlife why scared of death ]
“You’re by yourself, in the comfort of your home, getting on with your life. You have a lot on your mind, things to do. A lot of stressful concerns and changes have been going on for you recently that have made you frankly unhappy and exhausted. Your partner or family are out for a while.
“There is a knock on your door. You answer it. There is a taxi waiting outside. Someone has come to collect you. It’s a surprise, and you are given little choice in the matter, the fare is paid for. The next thing you know you are being whisked away, to a place, who knows, perhaps many thousands of miles away, on the other side of the world. [ If an afterlife why scared of death ]
“In no time it seems you arrive at your destination. Now okay, this place you have been taken to turns out to be a beautiful and inspiring place, with very friendly faces to greet you. You are made to feel very special and welcome. Seems a lot of people knew you were coming over and are throwing a party in your honour. [ If an afterlife why scared of death ]
“Initially you went along with this, but are you really noticing what a nice place it is right now? Most probably you are getting really confused and upset. Someone tries to explain why you have been brought to this place, but are you listening? Most probably you are too preoccupied, too much in shock to listen. All you want to do now is get back to your home, back to your life and activities, back to sorting out those issues demanding your attention, back to your family and friends – indeed you are now demanding to be taken back…”
The problem with death then is that it brings great change to our lives – and we’re mostly not too keen on it. It is upsetting, or can be. We fear death as a result.
But, as we know, there are other big reasons for not being too keen on it too.
2. The disconnect from loved ones.
It goes without saying this is a big concern and with this comes a fear of death. As we know only too well, the physical loss of a loved one is no joke, and can be unbearable. Certainly those we leave behind are likely to be no longer able to see us or feel us after we pass over – even though we will be able to see them. In death of a loved one it is hard to comfort someone in the knowledge that the loss is only temporary – which I believe is so. The disconnect is only apparent to our limited senses.
3. Religious misinformation – come back Origen, all is forgiven.
For centuries we have signed up for, have been fed on, what I’d describe as, religious misinformation, control and corruption – and that’s putting it mildly. Particularly this is so (in my experience and opinion) of the Abrahamic religions. It is nothing short of criminal and can’t go on. It offers little understanding of the spiritual journey, has lost sight of the reason we are here, and (no doubt with all best intention at the beginning), it plays into increasing our fear of death, with its god, hellfire and brimstone, and Judgement Day scenarios.
Call me stupid but when we meet our brothers and sisters from other parts of our galaxy I believe we’ll begin to realise how duped we have been buying into most of this now primitive stuff. It’ll be a wakeup call for certain.
4. Nothing beyond death
I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
Stephen Hawking, physicist, cosmologist
Our sciences have as good as put paid to a lot of outdated religious belief, and good on ’em for that we might say. But also, in some quarters at least, this reductionist/mechanistic worldview has brought its own secular religion and dogma: There being no such thing as the afterlife is one of its tenets.
When you’re dead you’re dead. End of… Like this outcome is known as a scientific fact – like hell it is. This brain-centric view of life will eventually go the same way as the belief that the Earth was at the centre of the cosmos – it just looks that way.
Between a rock and a hard place
So a lot of us, I’d suggest, try to live as though this death thing is taboo, it is morbid and final, and best not discussed. It can certainly be painful. Better not to look at it. It happens to old people. We’re okay, we’ve got years left yet!
We carry on with our lives as though it doesn’t exist – except for the occasional reminders of death that come our way. We mostly make little effort to understand it, and thereby make little preparation for it – other than the obvious practical considerations, like taking financial care of our loved ones in the event, which, of course, is a good and noble thing to do.
Imagine though if you were told that as part of a team you had to climb Everest by the end of this year. Would you seek to prepare for it or just let it happen? Death is a real coming event for all of us, and is it bigger than Everest? Come on! Give me a break I hear you say.
And how few of us know when it will arrive, knocking on the door.
If it be now, ’tis not to come. If it be not to come, it will be now. If it be not now, yet it will come – the readiness is all.
It would be better if we all incorporated the study of death into our lives. Better still, follow a spiritual path. Not wishing to over-plug it but just to mention the Appendix of the book mentioned above has some thoughts on what to do with Six Months to Live. Life and death is a natural part of living. [ If an afterlife why scared of death ]
I believe, from the evidence that I have looked at, we do indeed survive death. It is a letting go of our physical spacesuit we need for living and learning on this planet. We continue on our travels homeward – why would it be any different? [ If an afterlife why scared of death ]
As CS Lewis puts it so elegantly: You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.
You might also take a read of my (logical) argument as to why it is better for our health to believe in the afterlife than not – Shades of Pascal’s Wager.