Thursday, March 19, 2009

Religion and recycling bin aversion

We all know we're heading for the recycling bin. (Yes, you too Mr. Kurzweil.)

Beyond that, many Americans say they expect better things. Yet they don't act on those stated beliefs ...

Religion, medicine and evading death | But not yet, Lord | The Economist

HOW do a person’s religious beliefs influence his attitude to terminal illness? The answer is surprising. You might expect the religious to accept death as God’s will and, while not hurrying towards it, not to seek to prolong their lives using heroic and often traumatic medical procedures. Atheists, by contrast, have nothing to look forward to after death, so they might be expected to cling to life.

In fact, it is the other way round...

So does religion promote fear of death, or does fear of death promote religion?

My money is on the latter.

4 comments:

alanbooker said...

Very interesting, surely death is only feared by our modern materialistic western culture. In some cultures old age is reason for much prestige and respect and the advent of death is experienced as a new beginning of our journey’s continuance.

The fear of death springs by osmosis from the cultural norms we are subjected to, not from any inherent or inherited substance or naturally occurring process.

Our relationship with organized religion or the prevalent materialistic relationship to the world is that which impresses the desire for material gain and the fear of death upon us. Were we to live in a culture that held death as another path to new enlightenment, we would not fear it.

The articles assumptions do not surprise me. Why would I not look forward to death after having heard from my church, since being tender in age, that hell is the place for those who do not repent? After all, our world is filled with temptation and who can acclaim complete abstinence from it? And a culture that holds material substance as the be all and end all of a life’s striving must by some means leave within us some residue that would shrink back from giving it up!

Tell me please; from whence would the fear of death come from otherwise?

I suspect that your money, how much by the way I might want to claim it, must find its way to “my” platter.

Regards, Alan

alanbooker said...

The meaning of life: to want and to have!

http://www.boingboing.net/2009/03/19/mall-rat-philosophy.html

Alan

nettie said...

re: does fear of death promote religion?

My theory is, in addition to fear of one's own death, that grief over death of loved ones is also responsible for establishment of religions. Where do your loved ones go? How can it be that you will never see them again? Not imaginable - there must be a place. Grief is an amazingly powerful emotion, quite outside one's control in many circumstances.

John Gordon said...

Hi Alan,

I liked the comment about Hell. I forgot that many religious people believe in a cruel and violent deity; that would make death quite terrifying.

I don't think it's only technocentric cultures that fear death though.