Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Why don't Athiests kill themselves?

Chacham (981) writes | more than 11 years ago

User Journal 20

When I was yet a young teen, I asked myself why I shouldn't kill myself. It made perfect sense, right now Life had ups and downs and makes little sense, but if I was dead everything would make sense. At first, I decided against it because of the effect it would have on those who knew me. Later, I chalked it up to more overt religious reasons.

When I was yet a young teen, I asked myself why I shouldn't kill myself. It made perfect sense, right now Life had ups and downs and makes little sense, but if I was dead everything would make sense. At first, I decided against it because of the effect it would have on those who knew me. Later, I chalked it up to more overt religious reasons.

But, this question still bothers me. Why doesn't everyone kill themselves. Life has ups and downs, and if one is an Athiest, with death there are no problems. In fact, there would be no cares about what just happened, since the person would no longer exist! With no "downs" wouldn't that be akin to paradise?

Most people I ask this to tell me that Life has much to offer, they don't understand when I retort, "but if your dead, you won't be around to care." One self-proclaimed Athiest told me that it would just be a waste. He said that the world has no purpose, but killing intellegent life would be a waste. I never unsertstood him, I figure he just refuses to think.

If you are an Athiest why don't you just kill yourself. If that was my belief, I probably would.

cancel ×

20 comments

because death is un-good ;) (2)

mekkab (133181) | more than 11 years ago | (#4455984)

nah, I just think that an atheist would probably think that there might not necessarily be any real 'release' after death. So why bother?

So I would have to make the assumption on behalf of an atheist that the ups do more than just even out the bads, they must balance out in favor of the ups.

Either that , or maybe some atheists are just afraind of death. It's unknown and they don't know what it will feel like.

----
More personally, god or no, I think the possibilities in life, the unknowns of it are the great areas awaiting to be exploited for your own personal gain (be it emotional, psychic, physical, material, whatever)- so there's far too much to lose by not playing.

I'm gonna get the most outta my quarter on this game!

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4458147)

Either that , or maybe some atheists are just afraind of death. It's unknown and they don't know what it will feel like.

That's the idea. Shouldn't they believe that it feels like "nothing"? After all, without life after death, there is no existence, just absolute nothing.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4469794)

After all, without life after death, there is no existence, just absolute nothing.

Ok, the above statement pretty much sums up how I feel about death. You go back to the ground which you came from, and provide food and other goodies for the next living thing -- just as the other things did before you.

What I don't understand is the jump in thought. I don't see the correlation between 'I don't believe in life after death' to 'I should just kill myself.' In fact, I see it as a driving force *not* to kill myself. My life is precious to me *because* there's nothing after it. When it's over, I just become fuel for someone else's life. In turn, I think I should spend my time learning and working to make things better for both my time and for those after me. I'll influence people just as others influenced me. What good would it be for me to kill myself? I would lose whatever chance I had to contribute something...

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4470329)

I don't see the correlation between 'I don't believe in life after death' to 'I should just kill myself.'

Because you can only feel bad in retrospect. If someone decides to kill himself, they can only feel bad between the time the decision is made and the suicide. One the suicide happens, the person is not around to care.

As for providing for others, that is only something that can be appreciated while alive. Once dead, assuming no afterlife, there are no cares, because there is no existence!

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4470581)

I think there's an underlying assumption here...I feel like you're assuming that for everyone, life on this planet has no meaning other than to serve as a vehicle to get you to the next one. While it's a completely valid way to view the world -- it's certainly not the way I see it. If I did, and didn't believe there was an after-life -- then, sure, what's the point. I won't care

But I *don't* believe that the point of my life is solely a vehicle from one world to the next. I believe that this is what I've been given, enjoy it while I've got it, and see what I can do with it. To me, life isn't suffering -- it's not a chore, it's not a pain, it's not a contest to see who gets to heaven and who gets to hell, it's not a journey to the next world. It's just what I have. Killing myself means I take away the only existance I have -- saying 'but you won't feel bad about it' is absurd, because it assumes I don't see any value in having my life to begin with.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4471035)

I believe that this is what I've been given,

"Given"? That implies a giver.

enjoy it while I've got it,

But enjoyment comes with pain. With suicide, there is no pain. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Wouldn't that be better?

and see what I can do with it.

Why? Because of interest. When dead, there is no interest.

To me, life isn't suffering -- it's not a chore, it's not a pain,

Not to me either. But it inevitably has ups and downs. Suicide removes all the downs. With such a great prize, who wouldn't want it?

it's not a contest to see who gets to heaven and who gets to hell,

Contest? A preparation maybe, but "contest" sounds ridiculous.

it's not a journey to the next world. It's just what I have. Killing myself means I take away the only existance I have -- saying 'but you won't feel bad about it' is absurd, because it assumes I don't see any value in having my life to begin with.

It's not absurd. Regret is memory (or imagination) induced. If someone had no memory or imagination, it would be impossible for them to feel remorse. Thus, making a decision about what a waste something will be, when the person will not be around to care, sound rather ludicrous to me.

Imagine that if people get infected and turn into creatures that <add sci-fi plot here>. However, people don't want to change, but after they change they enjoy it. The basic premise of thought is that after I change I won't be me. That's ludicrous. After the change the person *wants* the change. Thus, making the decision before the change is rediculous. I believe the same applies here.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4471517)

"Given"? That implies a giver.

Sure -- my parents.

But enjoyment comes with pain. With suicide, there is no pain. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Wouldn't that be better?

Um, no. I *like* my life. I can't like the result of suicide -- it's nothing, I'm nothing. Why would nothing be better than something?

Why? Because of interest. When dead, there is no interest.

Just because I don't get to see the long-term effects of my existence doesn't mean they aren't there. Newton's dead, but that doesn't mean everything he did is worthless. One could think the same of Shakespeare, Beethoven and Twain...wouldn't say that their lives didn't produce anything - why can't mine?

Suicide removes all the downs. With such a great prize, who wouldn't want it?

One could simultaneously argue that suicide removes all the ups. What fun, sign me up... Is your glass half-empty or half-full? I think it's irrelevant; the only important thing is that you've got something to drink...why would you pour it out?

Thus, making a decision about what a waste something will be, when the person will not be around to care, sound rather ludicrous to me.

To me, making decisions rarely has anything to do with regret. In fact, I think it's fair to say that I regret very little in my life -- because for whatever reason I did something, I felt justified to do so at the time. So why would I make a decision solely on the fact that I would have no regret? My choice to not kill myself has nothing to do with the fact that I wouldn't feel remorse -- it's more along the lines of time. Why would I *want* to make myself nothing? It will happen in due time...meanwhile, I think I'd rather see what's here.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4490097)

I read your coment, and started to reply, and accidentally close IE. Ugh, let's go at it again.

I could repeat what I have already said using new words, but I doubt that would get anywhere, so I'll try a different approach. I asked for active termination, you say that passive living is better. Let me ask a radical question in order to get a better feel of it all.

An alien who sees the future of the Earth realizes that everyone will die tomorrow. He also knows that any knowledge that the Earth has acquired (or will acquire withing the next day) is child's play to the rest of the universe, and thus useless. Finally, the Earth obstructs his view of the nighttime sky. So he gets rid of it with pleasure. That is, he simultaneous gives everyone on Earth unimagineable pleasure and destroys the Earth and all its people in an instant. No pain was ever felt, and everyone died at the same time. Did he do anything wrong?

I figure, he caused no pain, nothing useful could be gained from anyone anyway, and the people are not around to care that they don't exist. In fact, it is good, because the alien can now see a better view at nighttime!

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4494940)

active termination, you say that passive living is better.

I'm not sure I advocate passive living...being passive about your life is a choice. I just believe that exterminating yourself is...well...silly.

But, back to the question. It's a little weird in a couple of places. For instance, why does everyone on Earth get unimaginable pleasure from its (and their) destruction? I really don't understand it at all -- I think death isn't pleasurable...it's just death. Not good or bad, it just is.

Furthermore - there's the question of wrong and scale. In the scale of the cosmic universe, he didn't really wrong the people -- their lives are only milliseconds of time anyway. He probably wronged whoever was set to take over the Earth next (dolphins, mice, sheep...whatever) -- but if nothing was coming out of the Earth on a cosmic scale, then whatever -- they were a blip on the radar. It doesn't affect the alien, and he gets a better view.

However, that neglects to consider the lives (however insignificant) of everything on the planet. Just because their lives are insignificant on the cosmic scale doesn't mean they are entirely insignificant. Said alien is robbing the people of 24 hours of their lives, and ought to let them live what they have.

One could make the same analogy about small instects...we know they're going to die in the fall -- why not just kill them all? As a rule, I tend not to kill bugs...I just think they ought to get whatever life they get. If a bee stings me, I'm probably going to take it out. If I was starving and the only thing available was a bug, I'd eat it...but I'm not going to kill bugs because they're going to die anyway...

This is really a "If a tree falls in the forest" type of question -- there's no good answer. I really don't care if my life is insignificant in the cosmic world. It's significant to me, and I'd prefer to keep it, thankyouverymuch. :)

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4495864)

I'm not sure I advocate passive living...being passive about your life is a choice.

I meant that you didn't actually give a reason to not commit suicide. You just said that while the person is alive, he should enjoy it.

I just believe that exterminating yourself is...well...silly.

I don't see why. I would actually advocate such a position if I believed that after death I didn't exist at all. It would not be silly, rather the smart thing to do. I only do things because I care to. With no cares, I'd be much better off.

For instance, why does everyone on Earth get unimaginable pleasure from its (and their) destruction? I really don't understand it at all -- I think death isn't pleasurable...it's just death.

So you shouldn't complain that the alien introduced pain in some form, I said that he added pleasure.

He probably wronged whoever was set to take over the Earth next (dolphins, mice, sheep...whatever)

I seem to have missed a point. I meant that noone would ever amount to anything since the Earth would be obliterated anyway, and all life extinguished.

Just because their lives are insignificant on the cosmic scale doesn't mean they are entirely insignificant.

Why not? If people are only significant to other people, and all people are to be no more, what contributions do they have. Once gone, everything would be useless.

Note, that I ask this because you seem to have mentioned that people are important because they could contribute.

Said alien is robbing the people of 24 hours of their lives, and ought to let them live what they have.

Why? Once dead they don't care about what they don't have.

Let me give an example. Let's say that person A is wearing a green shirt. He likes it and refuses to wear blue. Person B then rips off A's shirt and puts on a blue shirt. Now that person A is wearing a blue shirt, he realizes how beautiful it is and wants to wear it. Will he complain about wearing blue now? (Regardless of any complaints as to the method.)

So to here, even if people think they should live, once dead, they aren't there to care. So, what was so bad about it?

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 11 years ago | (#4496028)

Hmm...I'm just consistently feeling that these questions are contrived to get the answer you want. I feel like you keep likening death to something that's good, and that's its better than life because there are no cares. I simply don't believe that a lack of cares makes something better -- nor do I believe that my life is meaningless because I can't determine it's cosmic significance. There's more than one reason to stay on this planet -- for some people, it's religion -- but there are plenty others which are just as valid.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 11 years ago | (#4500185)

these questions are contrived to get the answer you want.

Exactly. They're contrive to either find flaw in the logic, or agreement with the answer.

There's more than one reason to stay on this planet -- for some people, it's religion -- but there are plenty others which are just as valid.

In a sense, that is exactly what I am trying to understand! Though none of the answers make sense to me, other than fear of the unknown, when someone doesn't know what to believe.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 10 years ago | (#4503772)

Exactly. They're contrive to either find flaw in the logic, or agreement with the answer.

But that's the problem...when dealing with issues of belief, you can't make a complete logic circuit -- because you *must* make assumptions. We don't have proof either way.

Thus you start out all your questions assuming that there is some sort of afterlife, and try to get me to frame my answer in that mindset. Problem is, I don't have that mindset...

In a sense, that is exactly what I am trying to understand! Though none of the answers make sense to me, other than fear of the unknown, when someone doesn't know what to believe.

For me, it start with the assumption of 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' in the literal sense; when you die, you're dust. So the meaning of my life needs to be packed in to whatever time I'm here. It becomes a real generational thing -- the Disney-esque Circle of Life, if you will. My life affects the next, which affects the next...etc. And if the earth were eventually to blow up, perhaps there's life on some other planet witnessing it, which means the culmination of the Earth's experiences are sort of passed on in its destruction...

Which brings me back to the suicide thing. I can't see how my suicide could *possibly* do anybody any good. It would make a lot of people upset, but I see no good in it -- and personally, I think I have a much better chance of doing something worthwhile if I'm around to actually do it.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 10 years ago | (#4504278)

But that's the problem...when dealing with issues of belief, you can't make a complete logic circuit -- because you *must* make assumptions. We don't have proof either way.

Belief doesn't rely on logic for its proofs. It has its own system of finding truths, and they do come full-circle.

Thus you start out all your questions assuming that there is some sort of afterlife, and try to get me to frame my answer in that mindset. Problem is, I don't have that mindset...

That is not so. I start all my questions assuming there *isn't* one.

Simply, there are three ways I view people in this regard:

1) Believe there is an afterlife.
2) Believe there is not an afterlife.
3) Not sure.

In cases 1) and 3) the non-religous reasons (that I know of) not to commit suicide are:

a) fear of the unknown
b) assuming they may regret the decision after death.

However, in case 2) I don't understand the reasons. My current assumptions are that they don't truly realize what non-existence means, thus they cannot use it in their belief structure. Very possibly there over-reliance on logic and science has caused them not to develop these skills. Similar to Myeres-Briggs explanation of (male) Ts having such a hard time understanding (female) F value-judgements. It just take time and effort to develop certain traits. Either that, or they don't fully believe in 2), and actually aren't sure.

My life affects the next, which affects the next...etc. And if the earth were eventually to blow up, perhaps there's life on some other planet witnessing it, which means the culmination of the Earth's experiences are sort of passed on in its destruction...

But this is where I am trying to make my point. These are wishes or wills, or whatever of yours. They can only be made or cared for while in existence. And, if death means no existence, then with death you won't care anymore! It's not like you'd die and then feel bad about all the lives you didn't effect. You just plainly won't care.

I can't see how my suicide could *possibly* do anybody any good.

I don't see why it has to. I just don't think it should be any worse than living. And it has no downsides.

It would make a lot of people upset,

Finally, a reason I can understand. That was one of my original reasons. However, you wouldn't care about it with death, but since you know others are alive, its called doing it for someone else.

BTW, I just modded you with my last point.

Re:because death is un-good ;) (2)

daoine (123140) | more than 10 years ago | (#4504627)

Finally, a reason I can understand. That was one of my original reasons. However, you wouldn't care about it with death, but since you know others are alive, its called doing it for someone else.

Kinda -- it's far more than 'I don't want people to be sad when I die', although that's definitely part of it. I look at the people we consider 'great' in this world, and how the results of their lives continue to influence us even after they are long gone. I want to be that kind of person to somebody -- not because I can care or not care when I'm gone. But I care right now...so I choose to stick around now because I want to be influential enough to stick around posthumously.

Definitely (2)

glh (14273) | more than 11 years ago | (#4456001)

I think that there would be no other logical choice.. after all, why go through all of that if there is *nothing* after you die?

I've found that most self-proclaimed athiests actually do believe in something. It is usually themselves that they believe in - "I can do anything.. blah blah blah". I think everyone has a "God shaped void" that needs to be filled. Even athiests though they aren't willing to admit it.

See my sig (2)

MiTEG (234467) | more than 11 years ago | (#4456708)

;-)
'bout sums it up for me.

Only a self centered person would look at it that (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 11 years ago | (#4458979)

way.

A: Why do you think God gives a crud about you?

Yah sure, God loves us all, yada yada yada blah blah blah but what is so special about You? Amongst the five, no wait, make that six (point five I believe, heh) billion people on this planet, why do you think you are special?

What, afraid of hell? Pansy ass. Hell isn't a reason to follow the Bible, if you think it is then you are definitely NOT doing things for the right reason. Hell is there to balance things out, to make sure that nobody gets away with stuff in the end, hell should not be a motivator for you to stay on the straight and narrow. If anything it should be nothing more then a "happy I am not going there," type of a thought.

You LIVE because you can do more for God's Plan then if you are DEAD.

Many atheists believe the same thing, just minus the God part. :) That they can do more good for this world alive then dead. This is also why a lot of good benefactors of various causes are atheists. While many Christians just get away living doing the minimum that they can to stay out of hell (once again, incorrect thought), those atheists live for doing good deeds, without those good deeds then and only then does their life become pointless.

Or, a metaphor;

think of it as a helpdesk guy who does his job because he likes it. As soon as a perfectly user friendly bugless version of the product is released, * BANG! * no more helpdesk guy. :)

Utilitarianism (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 11 years ago | (#4459183)

I think there are two things that prevent widespread suicide. First, there is a very significant social stigma associated with suicide, its not universal, but I think almost all cultures value other forms of death over suicide. Its my belief that this arises, becuase we are usually more valuable to our social groups alive than dead. So society would try to prevent deaths, and respect less those self inflicted deaths. I realize that some societies have ritual suicides, like hari kari, but I think most of them valued battle deaths or old age more. Suicide was more a way to show your humiliation over an action.
Also, people are generally risk averse, and since no one really knows for a fact what occurs after we die, there is significant risk associated with death, and unless there was truly little hope of future up periods not outweighing the risk of bad or nothingness occuring it would not pay to kill ones self under a purely rational, utilitarian belief system.

I agree.. (1)

huckda (398277) | more than 11 years ago | (#4530811)

Atheists should all kill themselves!
If not for the sake of Population Control alone.
then for the bettering of humanity?
but I like the Population Control idea better.

they eat too much and take up too much space =)

--Huck
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...