Thursday, June 24, 2010

The fear of death

Is Christianity just a way to stave off the fear of death? It is a known fact that mankind in general has always harbored a fear of the unknown, he has always wondered beyond his means of discovery. Death is one of those subjects that you just can't research until you get there, but once you get there your findings stay with you since there is no way for you to bring them back to the world of the living. The invention of the soul as the essence of your very life and its ability to live on even after the death of the body, is apparently one of the main features of Christianity. In fact fear is even emphasized in the biblical text to be a factor even beyond the grave. Take for example this verse of scripture: Matthew 10:28 says 'And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' In this case it is clearly a reference to God.

Christianity promises several things that are appealing to those that wish to conquer death, although from a logical standpoint it is in and of itself an illogical and non rational concept. Matthew 25:46 'And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.' and John 3:15 'That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal  life.' As you can see from these biblical quotations the bible promises its faithful eternal life. This resolves the issue of death in one fell swoop, and all you have to do is believe in him (Jesus Christ) and live according to his word and will. This is nothing more than the god of the gaps theory in action, whatever we can't explain through science or experience we simply insert God into the equation and the problem is solved.

Here is my take on life and death from a more grounded perspective. We are all biological creatures, living organisms of different kinds and structures, but we all have one thing in common and that is that we die. Death is imminent for every living organism that has ever existed and will exist in the future long after I am gone. Death is simply aging and decay and it is certainly not due to something as silly as the false concept of sin. You die because as you get older your metabolism slows, your body begins to wear down, your bones begin to ache and even weaken, sometimes even your mind begins to deteriorate to the point where you can't even retain your own ability to remember the simplest things. All of these are clearly the signs of wear and tear on the human body and frame. We all have our own particular shelf life and this depends on many factors that are all consequences of how well we took care of our bodies and how we lived our lives. Most people that live hard and fast end up crashing and burning at an early age, those that take care of their bodies and watch what they eat and live healthy clean lives tend to last longer. This of course excludes death by unforeseen causes such as genetic disorders or even murder etc.

If you think about this from the perspective of material things around us it just makes complete sense that this is just a fact of life that we all have to face and come to terms with some day. Because of my martial arts training and my interest in Budo (the way of the samurai) I have come to embrace death as a completely natural occurrence that needs not be feared.I would like to share this quote that pretty much sums up my outlook on life and death in general: "To practice Zen or the Martial Arts, you must live intensely, wholeheartedly, without reserve - as if you might die in the next instant" - Taisen Deshimaru. I don't believe in ghost so I tend to think that there is nothing on the other side of life, you cease to exist literally; in my view, there is no conscious awareness nor some silly devil or god to fear.

Why do people in general have such an interest in death when you have a whole life ahead of you to live in the here and now? Why cling so tenaciously to life when you know that it will eventually come to an end? Just enjoy life for what it is, your individual reality and journey. Don't sit around wasting your time pondering fairy tales and myths trying to find something to take away the sting of the prospect of dying. Just know that you are not alone, we all will die one day or another and nothing will change that. Not religion nor imaginary deities that live in the sky. There is nothing more real than life and that is what you should be concentrating on, there is where you should focus all  of your energy on. Make the most of this life and try to enjoy the ride before it's over.


  1. I think that when we are dead, it will be EXACTLY like it was before we were born: NOTHINGNESS

  2. THE ILLUSION OF IMMORTALITY by Corliss Lamont is a great read.

  3. I think the fear of death is genetically encoded into us. Animals that fear death probably are more likely to live long enough to reproduce.

    Having said that, I think we can use our intellect to logically examine death and minimize the impact that fear has over our decision making.

  4. As Christopher Hitchens says, As long as man is afraid of death, the dark and each other he will need religion.

    I like a buddhist description of death I read. Life is like a large river and it comes upon a waterfall and individual drops separate out. At the bottom as in death it all comes back together. The separation is an illusion in that we feel separate from life. We are life.

  5. Well I hope we get to experience something better after death or nothing at all. It seems that our existence is the result of what a huge window of time will produce.

    Maybe perhaps after our death, after another huge window of time passes, we will reappear in another dimension or universe to experience another lifetime...just saying! I believe it could be possible, as with creation it appears that anything is possible!

    The possibility that we are even here to experience life itself, is unfathomable to me.