Facing death-6: The fear of being forgotten

Amanda Marcotte has some interesting speculations on the fear of death and lays the blame on human ego. She points out that many people cannot quite come to terms with the fact that after they die, they will cease to exist. More than that, they fear that their lives will not have even mattered and will not be remembered, and this can be a shattering blow to their egos.
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Facing death-5: Fear of death

There is a curious thing about death. We all know it is inevitable, that we will all experience it some day, but yet our own death is a subject that we recoil from contemplating. While death, often violent, is a common feature of our entertainment culture, as can be seen by its ubiquity in the storylines in books, films, TV programs and even video games, few people like to think about their own mortality. They are more comfortable talking about the death of others because then death can be talked about in the abstract, not as something real.
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Facing death-4: Death as a liberating idea

I find that directly facing the fact of one’s eventual death to be extraordinarily liberating. It makes one realize that life is precious and should not be wasted. It does not matter at all how much money or possessions you have when you die. Now that my own children are grown and educated and no longer dependent on me, there seems to be no point at all in accumulating more wealth or possessions. In fact, the opposite is the case, I have consciously started reducing the amount of things I own. I try not to buy anything that I don’t really need or that does not serve some fairly direct purpose. My main indulgence is books which I still continue to buy.
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Facing death-3: Generational deaths

Life is a precious gift that we are lucky to have experienced. It can end at any time. We are not entitled to life at all, let alone any specific lifespan. As Richard Dawkins begins in his book Unweaving the Rainbow: “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.” The only rule about life and death that deserves the name of ‘natural’ is that children should not die before their parents. That statement could be interpreted wrongly as expressing the idea that one wants welcomes the death of one’s parents. But any parent will understand the intent of the sentiment because losing a child is a terrible blow.
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Facing death-2: My own attitude to aging and death

Like everyone, my view of death is shaped by my own life experiences. I became seriously ill with polio at the age of six and it was only as a result of the heroic efforts of my family and the skill of the physicians who treated me that I have had a full life. But as a result of that illness I always felt, even before my teenage years, that the permanent damage that the disease had inflicted on my body would take its toll over time, leaving me with a shorter lifespan than that of other people.
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Facing death-1: Why think about it?

I have been thinking about death quite a lot recently. Circumstances have forced this topic to the forefront of my mind. Don’t get me wrong. There are no signs that any time soon I will be shuffling off this mortal coil, checking out, kicking the bucket, snuffing out the candle, or any of the other euphemisms we use to avoid the word death. As far as I can tell, my body is ticking along nicely.
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Thought experiments on the historicity of Jesus-1: The contamination principle

Readers may recall an earlier post on the question of whether the Jesus of the Bible is based, however loosely, on an actual historical figure living in that region of the world at that time (as claimed by the historicists) or whether he is an entirely fictional character based on myths and legends (as asserted by those labeled as mythicists). It should be noted that this particular debate does not involve religious people and has nothing to do with whether Jesus did miracles, rose from the dead, and all the other things that signaled that he was divine, which both sides are willing to dismiss as fictional. [Read more...]

Is philosophy science?

In general, questions such as “Is (subject X) a science?” are not very useful. After all, what does it matter what label you assign to something? In certain situations though, the label matters quite a lot. In the US, because of the Establishment Clause, the answer to the question of whether a theory is scientific or religious can determine if it can be taught in public schools. This is why religious people constantly seek to either label their religious beliefs (creationism and intelligent design) as science or seek to have those theories that threaten religion (like evolution) be classified as something other than science. [Read more...]