When An Atheist Dies….

“He’s looking down and smiling”
Says the close of the obit…
The deceased man was an atheist;
That means… precisely… shit.

His beliefs are unimportant
(Plus, he’s dead, and can’t complain)
As an atheist, his world-view
May be treated with disdain

We respect his final wishes
(Well, the truth is, no we don’t)
We’ll respect that he’s an atheist
(Except, again, we won’t)

He was good, so he’s in heaven,
Looking down from up above
His beliefs are unimportant
What’s important is God’s Love

CNN reports his passing
Though I really don’t know why…
God could cure him in a heartbeat
But decided he should die

I suppose it’s what God wanted
(Cos, if not, He would have said)
So it’s CNN reporting…
That an atheist is dead.

Thomas Young is dead. He was a good man, and an atheist. That is a bit of a problem, it seems. CNN reported his death… with this as the closing paragraph:

Young was a self-avowed atheist, but somehow I could feel him smiling down at his friends, glad that they were remembering him as a nice guy.

From a privileged perspective, this is nothing. A throw-away closing paragraph, as religious as “bless you!” following a sneeze. Just the author’s point of view, nothing more, nothing less. Or, as mic.com put it

When the conclusion of an obituary is a casual brushing off of the deceased’s most closely held convictions, you’re doing it wrong. Imagine if a similar approach had been taken to a Christian soldier: “He was a lifelong Southern Baptist, but somehow I could see him in the arms of 72 dark-eyed virgins.” Or a Jewish soldier: “She had been a cantor in her synagogue, but somehow I could see her reincarnated as a nearby oak tree.”

Yes, it would be wrong. But hey, it’s CNN.

Actually… just read the mic.com version. I can’t add a whole lot to that. It is truly astonishing, how privilege lets people think that the horrendous thing they are doing is perfectly justified.

Not that we need examples of that.


  1. chigau (違う) says

    When we go ‘up’ to heaven, are we in a geosynchronous orbit so we stay directly ‘above’ our loved ones?
    or do we have to spend alot of time above strangers and heathens?

  2. johnhodges says

    I received a revelation from God last Thursday.

    God has decided that the system of Heaven and Hell was just not working. Torturing prisoners had grown boring, and hymns of praise even more boring. So he has abolished Heaven and Hell and set up a new system of sequential reincarnation. When you die, your soul will go to the back of a line. When you reach the front of the line, you go into the next available human body.

    He has declared a general amnesty for the residents of Hell, and put them into the line. Those who were good enough to get into Heaven, all twenty-seven of them, volunteered to go into the line as well, so they could teach virtue and goodness by example.

    He hopes that we will have enough sense to treat each other well and care for the Earth. If not, we will just have to live in the mess. He is turning his attention to other galaxies, where he has other children to raise. He said, “You’re on your own now. It’s time to grow up.”

  3. exi5tentialist says

    Well I’m an atheist. When I die, people can construe me whatever way they want. If they want to pretend I’m sitting in the clouds at the right hand of God, they can. Whatever helps them. And if they need to argue among themselves over the meaning of me, it’s their prerogative. Because they’ll be alive, and I’ll be dead. Good for them.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Yes, when I die, I won’t care. That makes it all the more important to talk about while I am still alive and do care.

    Sure, figurative language… a flowery way of saying “Young was an atheist. But fuck that.”

  5. Ed says

    And though he was a Christian [or Muslim], I imagine that at the moment before his consciousness was extinguished forever, he knew that his lifelong hope for paradise was nothing but a primitive myth; but that he realized that it didn’t matter because his life on earth had been so beautiful and meaningful in itself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *