Atheism and death quotes

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Below are some quotes about atheism and death:

The website Skeptics Guide indicates that a significant number of atheists and agnostics believe in life after death and the website reported:

A survey compiled in 2014 by The Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture (AISFC) reveals that 32 percent of Americans who identified themselves as agnostics and atheists believe in an afterlife of some kind. In addition, 6 percent of the same non-theistic group expressed a belief in a “bodily resurrection”. These numbers were taken from a sample of 15,738 Americans, all of which were between the ages of 18 and 60. According to the data, 13.2 percent of Americans identify themselves as atheist, agnostic, or some other variation of non-believing.

I found these results to be quite surprising. Having been immersed in circles of atheists and agnostics for the past 20 years, the numbers revealed by this study are higher than I would have guessed, by quite a lot. What stands out the most is that 6% expressed a belief in resurrection. It could be a statistical anomaly of some sort (perhaps the respondents did not understand the question about bodily resurrection?) Why an atheist or agnostic would believe that a dead person could come back to life seems entirely contrary to their worldview.[1]

Science Daily reported that "Death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God".[2] In a Psychology Today article, Dr. Nathan A. Heflick reported similar results in other studies.[3]

On April 2, 2012, Science Daily further reported:

New University of Otago research suggests that when non-religious people think about their own death they become more consciously skeptical about religion, but unconsciously grow more receptive to religious belief...

In the first study, researchers found that death-primed religious participants consciously reported greater belief in religious entities than similar participants who had not been death-primed. Non-religious participants who had been primed showed the opposite effect: they reported greater disbelief than their fellow non-religious participants in the control condition.

Study co-author Associate Professor Jamin Halberstadt says these results fit with the theory that fear of death prompts people to defend their own worldview, regardless of whether it is a religious or non-religious one.

"However, when we studied people's unconscious beliefs in the two later experiments, a different picture emerged. While death-priming made religious participants more certain about the reality of religious entities, non-religious participants showed less confidence in their disbelief," Associate Professor Halberstadt says.[2]

Quote on secular funerals

See also: Atheist funerals

Giles Frasier

British Reverend Giles Fraser, on secular funerals, article in The Guardian:

In contrast to the religious funeral, the secular memorial service faces one massive problem. What if the deceased didn’t merit the effusive praise of the recently appointed biographer? What if they had done little of note? Or indeed, even more problematically, what if they had been a total sh*t throughout their lives and no one has a good word to say about them? The secular memorial service is generally based on the optimistic idea that the deceased was worthy of some sort of public commendation – which is why the whole idea of a secular memorial service for a paedophile or a mass murderer feels totally impossible. Would people really stand up to laud their achievements? Would people tell funny little stories about them? Of course not. I use this extreme example to make a point. The secular memorial service began as something for important statesmen and was then adopted by the increasingly Godless bourgeoisie as a way of celebrating their personal achievements. But it’s often poorly designed for those of us who are not a part of the great and the good.

And one unexpected consequence of the rise of the secular memorial service is that funerals are more full of half truths and evasions.[4]

There are no atheists in foxholes

See also: There Are No Atheists In Foxholes

Reverend William T. Cummings is famous for declaring There are no atheists in foxholes.[5]

Reverend William T. Cummings, who served at Bataan, is famous for declaring "There are no atheists in foxholes."[5] In addition, Lieutenant Colonel Warren J. Clear, who also served at Bataan, used the expression in an interview printed in U.S. newspapers in the middle of April.[5]

Chaplain F.W. Lawson of the 302d Machine Gun Battalion, who was wounded twice in wartime, declared "I doubt if there is such a thing as an atheist. At least there isn't in a front line trench."[5] Hannah More wrote: "In agony or danger, no nature is atheist. The mind that knows not what to fly to, flies to God."[6]

In recent years the organization Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers has taken up use of the slogan "Atheists in Foxholes" as a list of those men and women who serve the country while lacking a belief in a god.[7]

President Dwight D. Eisenhower declared in remarks broadcast from the White House as part of a February 7, 1954 American Legion Program:

As a former soldier, I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth-that there are no atheists in the foxholes. They know that in time of test and trial, we instinctively turn to God for new courage…Whatever our individual church, whatever our personal creed, our common faith in God is a common bond among us.[8]

Due to research showing that death anxiety increases atheists' unconscious belief in God, Dr. Nathan Heflick declared in a Psychology Today article, "But, at a less conscious (or pre-conscious) level, this research suggests that there might be less atheism in foxholes than atheists in foxholes report."[3]

See also

Notes