Life after faith – how do atheists think about death?

I recently spoke with a former spiritual mentor and inevitably the conversation wound its way past the trivial pleasantries to the deeper questions about our existence. After an hour of stimulating debate, he looked me squarely in the eyes and said “if you’re right why would I want accept that?! If we die, and that’s it, what’s the point of me believing such a bleak truth?” His face had a hopeless, faraway look, as though merely contemplating the finitude of death had engulfed his mind with a dark and dreary cloud. Finally, he stepped backwards and vigorously shook his head, unable to consider this any longer and we kindly parted ways.

I had heard his question before on a few occasions. A couple of times it came from men who were in public ministry, preaching, leading worship, or even pastoring at a local church. Each time this question quietly emerged after a long, intimate, heartfelt conversation once the armor of holy confidence was finally put aside and we spoke “heart to heart.”

“Yuriy, if you are right, and it’s true that death is final, why would I want to accept that?”

One of these preachers, a dear friend of mine, has even said (my paraphrase) “Some of these arguments are really strong, and maybe you are right, but I simply can’t live my life and be happy if I accept them. So maybe it’s all false, but I choose to believe because it gives me joy and purpose.”

I will always remember that conversation, I was overwhelmed by this “brother” being so valiantly honest with me (it’s something he has never shared with anyone else) and yet I was tremendously grieved by the irony of the simultaneous dishonesty. How could someone willfully choose ignorance of the truth out of a desire to avoid discomfort?

Frankly, I too don’t like to talk about death, its not a pleasant topic, and yet, every once in a while, it’s prudent boldly think of that which is arguably the ultimate fear of every human being. So while my Christian hope in an afterlife has come and gone, the grim reality of death remains and it is this reality I want to confront in this blog post.

This essay will be broken down into four parts:

a. Death is sad

b. Death doesn’t prove anything

c. Six reasons eternal life would become hell

d. How to deal with thoughts of death

A – Death is sad.

Psychologists use a term called “mortality salience” to describe the awareness of the inevitability of one’s death. There are some studies that indicate people with a higher mortality salience have a higher level of religiosity. This makes quite a bit of sense to me. People who fear death are more likely to seek out an escape from that fear, whether that escape is real or not.

My wife seems to have a mortality salience of 0, she’s so filled with thoughts about life, beauty, creativity, she simply doesn’t have time to consider death. On the other hand, my own mortality salience is quite high (which is probably why I spent all my days reading theology books while my friends were out at the beach). That said I can certainly testify that it’s quite possible for individuals with a high mortality salience to live a happy life without existential terror or abnormal/irrational behavior. Dealing with death for the first time was utterly horrifying for me initially, but today it hardly bothers me at all.

If we are honest, I believe most people who think about death may at times experience both emotions: fear and peace. I have myself experienced both emotions during both periods of my life (Christian, secular). And even though the though the longer I live, the more peaceful I feel, I want to highlight that death is not a comfortable topic. For everyone involved, whether they are a believer or not. I know many Christians and atheists that claim to be completely unafraid of death and likewise people from both groups that admit they are terrified.

But in the end, everyone cries at funerals, whether they are religious or secular. Regardless of all of our beliefs or ideologies, we can be united in this.

B – Death doesn’t prove anything

Very often you will hear stories about atheists being absent in foxholes (the idea being that when faced with imminent death, everyone begins to pray.) This is, of course, untrue, there have been plenty of literal atheists in literal foxholes, but sadly many people prefer easy-to-memorize slogans rather than accurate information. I have known people to project their own fears about death onto others (i.e. “since I would be scared to die without an afterlife, you must be scared of it too.”) I have seen this kind of emotional appeal to the fear of death used as the ultimate argument on a number of occasions. When someone is unable to reasonably explain why their view on religion is true, they often cross their arms and end the conversation with something like “well, we will see how you will think when you’re close to death!”

Obviously their point is something like “it’s easy to deny God when you are distant from the horrifying reality of death, but when it’s tangible or near, then you will seek God because you will be scared of death.” Ironically enough, I think this is one of the most powerful naturalistic explanations for the existence of religion. All humans (and all mammals in general) are afraid to die. We will do, say, or believe just about anything to avoid or escape death. As a result of this primal fear, nearly all human have produced religious narratives that teach adherents how to avoid the inevitability of death. Is this mere coincidence? I don’t think so. I believe our fear of death is precisely the reason we have invented religious stories that tell us of ways to conquer death. Religious people believe that God is the cause of our fear of death, but I think it’s the other way around, our fear of death is the cause of our wishes about god and the afterlife.

C. Six reasons eternal life would inevitably become hell

While I certainly think death can be frightening, and would want to extend human life by millions of years, I think that an eternal life would eventually become a curse, not a blessing. There are usually very specific reasons why people want to live forever. Each of these reasons appears, at least initially, to be very desirable, but upon closer inspection is filled with serious problems. (I’d like to acknowledge Philosopher Garrett Merriam, as this borrows heavily from his work).

1. We want to live forever to continue the experience of living.

I love life. Desperately. I want to live and keep living. I don’t want it to end. I don’t want to lose the sublime beauty of being alive. Emotionally I wish for an eternal life. Yet if we consider the logical implications of eternal life, it seems that if my wish were truly granted, eventually this eternal life would become morbidly dull. This is because rarity is a source of value. Consider how rarity is correlated to the value of a diamond: if tomorrow we discover an infinitely tall pile of diamonds free for the taking, will not the value of diamonds go down… infinitely? Can you truly treasure something of which you have an infinite amount?

Think back to your favorite memory. Mine is during our honeymoon, after a long day of exploring, Inna and I lost our camera. We ran back, zipping and winding our way through numerous streets of Disneyworld until we found it sitting on a lonely bench. Our moment of joy was interrupted by a wild roar of thunder and a torrential downpour of rain. Dazed and confused, we began running for shelter, getting so thoroughly soaked, that we began laughing uncontrollably. Drenched, laughing, and filled with unexplainable joy, we found shelter in what I recall as the most quaint little coffee shop in all of reality. That memory is my “happy place.” Yet what were to happen if I was stuck in a time loop, replaying that memory forever and ever? For the first few thousand days I would be overjoyed, but after a thousand years I would be bored. After a million years, I would be annoyed. After a trillion years, I would not be able to squeeze even an ounce of joy out of this memory. After a trillion, trillion, gazillion years I would be utterly horrified, and reliving this memory would become a horrifying prison of existential claustrophobia.

How would you feel a trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion-trillion years down the road, repeating the same exact thing over and over again until you know it so well there could not possibly be anything new or exciting about it? That is the curse of eternal life. The experiences we can have are finite in number, you can only “try the best ice cream for the first time” once, each time you try that ice cream afterwards, you will get diminishing returns of joy. You can only “see the most beautiful sunset of your life” one time, and each time you see it after, it is slightly more mundane. You can only visit a new vacation destination for the first time once, and each time you return, the sense of adventure, wonder, and fascination is replaced by a sense of nostalgia, déjà vu, and familiarity, which is not as thrilling as the first time, and can never be as tantalizing. This is why people in life are always looking for the “next best thing” whether it’s a bigger house, better vacation, or larger dose of heroin. It’s because we want to recapture that feeling, that fragile beauty of “the first time.” Alas, it’s something can never be found again.

2. – We want to live forever to be with our loved ones forever.

Another, very understandable reason that ideas about eternal life appear so pleasant is because we desire to have a reunion and an eternal friendship with our loved ones. And while this truly would be blissful in many cases, it would also bring about intense eternal suffering in many other cases. Consider how many people have unrequited love for others. In an eternal life, they would spend all eternity feeling the pain and misery of that unrequited love. Even worse, in almost every single narrative about the afterlife, there are large swaths of people that are condemned into an eternity of the most excruciating torment. Think how horrible an existence would be for a mother who knows her child is burning in hell below? How could anyone live with joy knowing their loved ones are being tortured and suffer the worst agony imaginable?

3. We want to live forever to see divine justice be done

The world is filled with such inexpressible evils that I too long for justice to be done. It breaks my heart to think of all the injustice and unfairness that has been incurred on so many people. And yet, and eternal life filled with eternal punishment does not solve the problem of injustice, but it multiplies is.

Humans are messy, we are a mixture of good and bad, honesty and shame, bravery and cowardice. Even the worst villains have done good, and the best saints have done evil. And often the things that drive us one way or the other are psychological, psychosocial, subconscious and not fully under our willful control. To simply punish people with an eternal punishment for a finite crime, is one of the worst acts of injustice that can be imagined. Literally. Consider a teenager that punched his friend, certainly it may seem fair to punch him back, so he experiences the same kind of pain he caused another person to feel. But what if a judge demanded that this teenager be punched in the face, a thousand times, every day, for the remainder of his life? Is this just? The ideas of eternal punishment found in most major religions are like this, but (literally) infinitely worse. No one is wicked enough to deserve eternal punishment, and no one is righteous enough to deserve eternal bliss.

4. We want to live forever to obtain meaning of it all

Some people think the only way there could be meaning to life is if it were eternal and unending. In another essay I have already mentioned that there are numerous irreparable problems with such a belief. Furthermore, I would argue that the exact opposite seems closer to truth: if there is an eternal life, then nothing in this life can have meaning. If a heavenly afterlife is the best thing that can happen to anyone, then the only thing in this life that matters is getting to this afterlife. No amount of finite suffering or joy in this life can ever compare to eternal suffering or eternal joy! In fact, if you could reliably get to the afterlife right now, there is absolutely no meaningful reason to remain in this life and wait.

In mathematical terms both 1 and 1,000,000 are INFINITELY smaller than infinity; neither matters in comparison to infinity. It doesn’t matter whether you suffer 1 minute or 1,000,000 minutes, because in comparison an eternity of bliss is INFINITELY larger and more significant. It does not matter if you create the greatest art or music, write the life-changing stories, change the whole world for the better, save thousands of lives, or anything else, because if you don’t make it to heaven, you will be INFINITELY worse off for an eternity. It doesn’t matter how much good you do, because the infinite reward you get so vastly outweighs the good that it drowns out your nobility and sacrifice. No sacrifice or struggle can have any meaning, for it is infinitely swamped by an infinite reward. No great act of heroism, courage, or nobility can have any meaning for it is engulfed by the infinite chasm of eternity. Consider this: how meaningful is the sacrifice of a man giving away a penny to obtain a hundred trillion dollars? Not at all.

In this way an eternal life robs this ephemeral life of meaning, and makes only one thing matter: getting to the right place in the afterlife. It even robs us of the justification to weep for our loved ones upon their death, for we ought instead rejoice at them having achieved ultimate joy for eternity. But even more than that, when all of your experiences are eternally maximally good, without sorrow, grief, or pain, it seems to me we yet again return to the problem #1, the dull monotony of reliving the same thing forever ruins our ability to enjoy anything.

5. We want to live forever to obtain all the answers the answers

Most of us want to finally obtain all of the ultimate answers about reality, meaning, and existence. This is something I am very sympathetic to, yet, upon closer consideration we discover being granted this wish would yield more misery than joy.

“Eternity is the end of curiosity.” In an eternal life there is nothing left to ponder, wonder, investigate, or explore for there are no more distant lands or mysterious horizons.

In every single narrative of heaven it is said that we finally receive “all of the answers.” Consider the intellectual who has devoted his life studying and seeking answers, and now compare her to a lazy man who has comfortably coasted through life without ever struggling to achieve anything. In the eternal Paradise, both instantly get “all of the answers.” So what was the point of one person struggling, seeking, and learning to their utmost, when everyone will simply get the exact same “reward”? If all of the answers are at the back of the book, why study? Why strive? Why try?

6. We want to live forever to achieve all of our desires

And so we come to the final and most terrifying reason why people desire to have an afterlife: to achieve the culmination of all of their goals, ambitions, and desires. And yet an eternal life would accomplish the exact opposite, it would remove the purpose of our goals, struggles, accomplishments and cast us into a monotonous and changeless prison.

First, why ought we strive to achieve anything in this life at all? Why work diligently to build an better life here, when simply closing your eyes transitions you to the most perfect heavenly life you can ever image? It seems that the promise of a perfect afterlife, is the ultimate anti-motivator.

Worse than this, in an afterlife everything has culminated into “the perfect” and while this seems wonderful at first, it comes with a paralyzing consequence. There is nothing left to strive for! There are no more enemies to conquer, no more dragons to vanquish, no more mountains to climb, no cities to build, no puzzles to solve, and nothing you can do to improve your situation. Heaven is like that that moment when you have finally win a video game, and the screen blinks with the words “you have won!” You smile. You are first filled with joy, considering that everything has now been achieved. Then as you continue staring at the screen, it begins to dawn on you, there is literally nothing else left to do in this game! You can only stare at that winning notification and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you won. How long until you grow mad?

Even if we imagine that there will be some things to do in an eternal after, how long until those things become mindless, repetitive, routines? If you have an eternity of time, eventually everything that can be done, will be done. Eventually the last enemy will be vanquished, and what then? Eventually every last goal will have been achieved, and what then? Eventually every possible song will have been written, sung, remixed, and resung, so what then? Eventually every possible invention will have been invented, so what then?

Eventually every possible thought will have been thought, and every possible conversation will have been had. What then?

This is the horrifying reality of an afterlife, at some point in this afterlife, there will be no more goals, ambitions, desires, or dreams. There will be no more reason to exist. Eternal life would rob us of our humanity, making us, for all intents and purposes, dead.

D. How to deal with thoughts of death

If the beautiful-yet-tragically-flawed idea of an eternal life cannot offer us any solace or comfort, what are we left with? Is the mere idea of death a soul-crushing cataclysm that relentlessly throws us into an irreparable existential paralysis? I don’t think so. I have stared dead in the face and was broken upon its jagged shores. But I have also laughed at the absurdity of it all and learned to get back up and move on. In my own existential quest I have found a few lessons that were immensely helpful.

1. Realize you already know what it’s like to be dead.

Pause here for a second and let it sink in. You already *were* dead before. You already have experienced the feeling of being dead. For billions of years before you were alive… you were “not alive.” You missed some of the greatest moments in the history of our cosmos. You were absent during some of the most epic moments of human history. And how did you feel about that? Did it feel painful, tragic, or depressing? No. That is exactly what feeling “dead” will feel like. It’s still tragic to think about being absent from this life, which is a beautiful symphony of experiences, and yet, you won’t be around to feel that loss. As Roman philosopher Seneca said would you not say that one was the greatest of fools who believed that a lamp was worse off when it was extinguished than before it was lighted?”

2. One day you shall tire of this restless and repetitive toil.

Recall again that an eternal life would involve reiterating the same functions over and over again. It would involve thinking the same thoughts, using the same language, feeling the same feelings, doing the same work, experiencing the same struggles or pleasures, and apprehending over and over again that “there is nothing new under the sun.” Though this may seem bleak, there is a strangely peaceful realization about the final restfulness of death. Death provides a way for each of us to finally rest from our struggles, burdensome responsibilities, difficulties, pains, and toils. For young people as myself, this is not an attractive prospect, however, I have heard numerous people who are far older than myself, speak of this rest with much peace and satisfaction. Perhaps our lives are far too short, and we would desire to live a few thousand years, but eventually all men tire. “Death is a release from all pains, and a boundary beyond which our sufferings cannot go; it returns us to that state of peacefulness in which we lay before we were born. If someone pities those who have died, let him pity also those who have not been born.” (Seneca)

3. Don’t waste time being anxious about things that are outside of your power to change.

Another profound lesson I have learned from the Stoic philosophers is that our worry about things outside our control is useless. It’s true that death can be a frightening thought. But will worry or negativity change any of that? Can worry make you live forever? Will spending large swaths of time in debilitating terror do anything at all to eradicate the inevitability of death? Fear and anxiety does not add anything to your life, nor does it do anything to eradicate death. It’s certainly wise to remember the fragility of our life at times, and ask deep introspective questions about its meaning, but living in fear does not add anything of value. Epictetus even wrote that the worry of death is worse than death itself: “It is not the things themselves that disturb men, but their judgments about these things. For example, death is nothing catastrophic, or else Socrates too would have thought so, but the judgment that death is catastrophic, this is the catastrophic thing.”

4. Be aware that it is possible to die peacefully

David Hume was one of the most prolific atheist philosophers of the 18th century, and possibly of all time. So when he became mortally ill in old age, many visited his deathbed, out of a sense of morbid curiosity, wanting to see a defeated, terrified creature gasping for breath. Instead what they saw was a joyful man, filled with great peace.

Adam Smith wrote: “though [Hume] found himself much weaker, yet his cheerfulness never abated, and he continued to divert himself, as usual, with correcting his own works for a new edition, with reading books of amusement, with the conversation of his friends; and, sometimes in the evening, with a party at his favorite game of whist. His cheerfulness was so great, and his conversation and amusements run so much in their usual strain, that, notwithstanding all bad symptoms, many people could not believe he was dying.” 

The myth that atheists die terribly, full of fear is an old wives tale. It is the projection of those who themselves fear death, and use their belief in an afterlife to as an inoculation against their own fear. The truth is, anyone can die in fearful agony, just as anyone can die peacefully. Years ago, when I worked in a clinical setting, I met an aging world war 2 vet, who gently told me he was had a wonderful life, and was ready to “sleep forever.” At the time, this horrified me, I could not imagine how he could be so peaceful without an afterlife; today I can. As Marcus Aurelius noted, our emotional response is ours alone: “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

5. Dance while the clock is ticking

Now that we have dispensed with the comforting idea of an eternal life are we to remain with nothing more than the dilapidated ruins of our existential yearnings? No. As Alan Watts is fond of saying, most of us in the West have been raised in a culture that uses the metaphor of a journey to describe life. We have been inundated with the idea of doing things for some ultimate purpose, of walking to get to some destination that makes all of this “walk” worthwhile.

But that is the wrong way of looking at life. A better metaphor for life is a dance, not a journey.

A dance has no ultimate destination. You do traverse the dance floor in order to reach some distant location. That would be absurd! A dance is not about reaching something in the future, rather it is about being someone in the present. Likewise, a dancer ought simply to dance, not worry about the music ending, for if you spend all your time worrying about the music ending, you will neglect to enjoy the dance.

Ironically enough, I first wrote about this years ago, as a fundamentalist Christian. Even though I have left behind most of my naïve views of the world, this one has stayed with me, and the sentence below is probably the only piece of my writing from the past that I can earnestly support:

“Do you hope to achieve something amazing tomorrow? Do you want to become healthy? Fit? Smart? Rich? Do you want your life to be better? Do you want your dreams to be satisfied? Do you yearn to create an Eden someday? To make a place where everything bad is replaced and only good reigns? Are you neglecting your life today in order to build this “little heaven” tomorrow? Stop living for the future, for it shall never come. Take all of those hopes for tomorrow and discard them. Live in the present. Live slowly, intentionally, and purposefully today. Live now while you have life.”

So don’t obsess over some future state of being, dont waste your life seeking to reach some destination; simply dance. Trust me, this ephemeral dance is far grander than any destination could be.

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30 responses

  1. Hi Yuri,
    Very detailed and insightful post, but with most things in life, there are many ways of looking at the issue. You are covering the case where existence in eternal life is very much temporal/spacial as in normal life. This a human limitation of thought, indeed Kant shows us that our concepts of space and time and our categories of understanding are “built into” our brains and form a grid over which all experience must exist. This makes the metaphysical questions about God, true being, and the afterlife outside of the empirical tests of science, and outside of our mathematically logical reasoning as these are all confined to “the grid” as well. Now the atheist will usually leave the grid and metaphysically speculate that the universe came from nothing and will decay into nothing, has no point, no creator, etc. However we can just as validly metaphysically speculate that the universe does have a point and a creator. With this speculation we can tack on that this extreme complexity of human minds and deep purpose found in life will not be wiped off the slate when we die. This speculation popped up in many ancient cultures and religions outside Christianity: Egyptians, Roman mystery cults, etc. Anyway, to propose an alternative to your grim afterlife speculations, let me try the following.

    Current human life is limited in every way. Limited in time, space, knowledge, sensory input, etc. However one thing is near infinite, if not infinite. This is the freedom of your will that you exercise in the intelligible/mental realm. There is almost no limit to the number of things/places/choices you can make. This freedom to choose is heavily impacted by our limited knowledge. We don’t know which cat food is really more nutritious for out exact kitty breed, but we make a choice. Now consider that this scenario is exactly inverted in heaven. You may no longer have your limits in time, space, knowledge. However, you will have limits in your choice. Since most or all knowledge is available to you, you no longer debate or deliberate choices. It’s a different kind of existence that is off the current grid of knowledge. Would it suck? Would it be awesome? I’m still speculating but I’d go with the later. Perhaps it’s more like an angel’s existence, as Jesus implied when confronted about the afterlife by Sadducee’s.

    One further point to make is that many choices in human life are driven by our limited existence. Even if we don’t acknowledge it directly, the feeling to get educated by certain age, married by a certain age, to have kids by a certain age, these are very linked to our limited lifespan. Some very pragmatic functions in life are heavily tied to limited time horizons. Leaving some of these worries behind, along with temporal finitude, sounds to me very appealing and something to be welcomed.

    Finally the literal infinite torment of hell is widely rejected by even moderate theologians in favor of annihilationism or even universal salvation by more liberal folks.

    Josh C

  2. OH MY GOD! This man is a lunatic. Do not listen to him. Do not buy into anything he tells you. I couldn’t even bare to read everything he propagates, because they are all lies. Every point is one-sided. In every instance they can be refuted. Every word he says is designed to not only tear down all that God has for you, but he wants you to become so depressed that you go ahead and kill yourself now. Don’t do it! Don’t buy into the lies he is saying. He is mixing truths with lies and, if you follow what he tells you, you will lose more than you can imagine. Open up the Bible read what and how God wants you to live. Don’t consider what he says at all. In fact everything he says, search for this in the Bible and you will see it is the opposite of truth. I beg you stay far away from anything that this man claims.

    • Just wanted to ask Yuri, have you ever been in a foxhole while the enemy was advancing on you? How can you say with such certainty that there are atheists in foxholes? Are you that naive, to presume that every one of those atheists were not in prayer. Are you that cocky to feel you can ridicule the very nature of the statement? It is a metaphor, not a law. It is a teaching tool for those who haven’t been in a situation of facing their death, to ponder “what if”. Sure there are atheists in any situation you can imagine where they are facing their death, but the point, the point, the point is that everyone considers the possibility more earnestly when they are facing that situation of death. This is why you should not be followed or listened to; you do not reason correctly. Stop fighting God and come back to Him.

        • This is a very interesting story. It is also very sad. However, my question was to you. Please answer it. And while you are answering that one. Please explain to me who this very courageous man was cursing? Who was he defying? Who did he turn to, and who did he turn from. God has made his presence known in more ways than one, but the bible is how we can know him better. He turned from God, you turned from God, many have turned from God and still God is evident in all things, even death. I urge you Yuriy (sorry for misspelling your name earlier), seek God earnestly. Stop defying Him, stop trying to draw others away from Him. You have lost your way, but Jesus is still trying to reach you. I believe in your heart of hearts, you know the truth. I wonder what pushed you away. Would you share that with us? Perhaps you originally tried to serve God with your actions, when He wanted your whole heart, He wanted your complete devotion and you could not give it out of fear. Please share what it was that made you an enemy of God.

        • Hi,
          I stumbled across this website and I love your honesty and speculation! If you have the time, could you tell me about why you left calvinistic beliefs? Just curious because I have been researching calvinism. Or maybe you have an article on that somewhere here?

          Thanks so much!

          • Hi Emily, I left it all at once. Short story is, I saw that the Bible was a mannmade book with many problems and inconsistencies, and I “cried out to the Lord” hoping it wasn’t true, but not matter how hard I looked, all I heard was silence, there was no God to help me, so I abandoned belief in a God who could answer prayer or help. Some kind of “god” or mathematical force greater than us could exist, but we have no evidence for any of it, so there is no point to speculate.

      • Please explain how it is that you feel I used God’s name in vain. Are you just being smart? He is my God, so I can use His name in this way. Besides, you are being trivial about a serious problem.

      • I imagine thats how most people come to their conclusions about people they disagree with, by not actually reading anything :)

  3. I have read a lot of your posts and I can relate to everything you were saying in them and the questions you were asking while falling away ,truly, make sense. At some point in my life I had found myself in the exact same situation, I’d lost my faith. Everything I grew up believing in had seemed to be a huge scam. I’d thought I had been ,simply, deceived and deluded by all that. But I would keep on searching because I wanted to know the truth and I believe I have found it. I won’t try to convince you that God does exist and the Bible is a divine book all I want to say is just keep searching, do not stop here. I don’t know you but , from what I learned about you in your posts, I am sure you won’t stop your search of truth here , you will keep searching and that is all that it takes. What you described in your blogs happens to a lot of believers but not everyone goes public about it. Oh, and if you are truly opened minded like you said, check out some articles about folks that were just like you: grew up in christian families , went atheist and then came back to christianity.

    there is more…

    • Valentin,

      This kind of adage is rather interesting to me. I’ve heard of hundreds of people say “I was just like you” and yet when questioned, none were at all like me, or came to any kind of similar conclusions for similar reasons.

      Ultimately I see this as one of two things, one a genuine expression of comradery towards another human being, or two, an elaborate ruse meant to illicit the appearance of superiority on your part, to squanch my views as something rudimentary and childish that you once went through as a child. I could just as well say “I was in your shoes” and “keep searching for truth, your Christianity is not there yet.”

      In the end such things probably dont help anyone that much. In any case, if this was meant in a sincere and friendly way, cheers my friend.

      • It was meant in a sincere and friendly way. I was not trying to help you, although, after having read your response, for a moment, it seemed to me like you have not fully given up on your christian faith and appeal for help. Maybe not. Nonetheless, I wanted to say one more thing or observation. There is one thing that vast majority of atheists have in common. They are usually very emotional and sentimental people. The ones who had been former christians say that their motives to renounce christian faith were, purely, rational based on common sense, factual proofs etc. but , in reality,it all started out as an emotional doubt and, in the long run, caused their disbelief. They just couldn’t cope with those emotions, did not know how to handle them. They say that they are being open minded and as unbiased as possible when it comes to studying the bible or any scientific or not scientific material, yet , when they do it, they do not know how to take the emotions out of it and think clearly. Not all of them, but at least the ones that I was introduced to by my atheistic friends. A lot of atheists short tempered and pretty explosive when it comes to any sort of debates. I don’t think you are one of those “angry” atheists but it seems like you are also an emotional and sentimental type. No offense though. I don’t say it as a bad thing, I, myself, am kind of like that. I might be wrong about you though.

        Remember that horrifying feeling when you first truly doubted God? All that emotional trauma, depression? I have seen christian who were emotionally as hard as rock but never seen an atheist like that.

  4. Josh C – Good points, I looked at the comments after I wrote my response, and it was nice to see somebody else saying similar things to what I was thinking.

    Zane Dowling – I love the passion friend, but I think your efforts could be better guided. It’s not in the spirit of 2 Tim 2:24-26 to come out of the gate calling someone a lunatic and a liar. Recognize that Yuriy does not owe you a response. That doesn’t make him a fraud, that makes him a person with other things to do in life besides respond to every critic on the internet. If you gave him a more substantial response, perhaps providing the refutation for every single point that you claim exists, then he might be more inclined to interact with you.

    Yuriy – Thanks for the thoughtful blog, I look forward to reading more. Of course, I completely disagree that eternal life will inevitably become hell, and I thought a response would be worthwhile. It’s on my blog here:

    • Rick, appreciate the polite and restrained response. I looked over your post, and honestly I don’t see anything worth responding to. I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but simply that there is nothing I can add to the conversation. Your points are all affirmations of your belief, and statements that essentially say “X is not a problem, because God will fix it.” Okay, I cam take them for what they are, articulations of your belief. I don’t that you have made a significant logical argument that undermines anything I’ve written, unless we first accept your Christian faith as fact, and build from that.

      Anyway, all the best

      • “X is not a problem, because God will fix it”

        You could put it that way. I might rather say that the point is that your logic fails because you forgot to include God (0 mentions in all of section C). Sure, I guess a heaven without God would be exactly as you described, but who believes in that? And can anyone doubt that if you’ve left an infinity out of your equation you’re going to get the wrong answer? Yes, I do think that God will fix all these objections, or rather that God is the reason these objections are invalid. Let’s remember when I say “God”, I mean the one who came up with hummingbirds, black holes and quantum physics just for the sheer joy of it. I am taking about the author of the minds of Homer, Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Rousseau and Einstein. If you want to say that the Christian view of heaven (or any other view) is incoherent, you have to deal with the belief as it actually exists.



      • Sorry to see satan has won a battle against you Yuriy. For anyone to turn away in this day and age they must have really been targeted in full force. This is 2016 and we are clearly in the apocalypse and people all over are waking up, whether Christian or not, to things like the earth being flat. The signs are all around you yet you’ve been struck blind. From massive animal die-offs worldwide to massive floods, earthquakes, severe storms. I can’t even remember how many blood moons we’ve had lately, plus all the other signs in the sky. We have obvious satanist world leaders running us right into the New World Order. The 10 Commandments are coming down and statues of satan are going up. We have the Mandela Effect and so many other signs straight out of Revelation. This is really, really a bad time to pluck your eyes out and go to sleep. The period of grace is ending and judgement is coming.

    • Of course you are right, Rick. It was perhaps an ill thought and emotional attempt at warning people against Yuriy’s attempts to drag everyone down to believing his way. I don’t know why he feels compelled to spread his beliefs, or lack thereof, around like irrefutable truths. Of course, we are compelled by that in which we believe to do just that, but I don’t understand his motivation. The best I can come up with is self justification through proclivity. Is it an “I think this way so I will get you to think this way to make the way I think justifiable.”, kind of thing? Of course his first thought will likely be “I could say the same of you.”, but where does the logic in that come from. He is not compelled by the practice of his belief, as we are. If anything he should stop blogging and just live as he feels right, but that is likely not going to happen. This is one reason I have decided to follow and help pull as many from the fire as possible. After I read his reasons for leaving Christianity, I thought to call him a fool, but I think he is a pitiable trophy of Satan, who is using him to destroy people of faith to get back at God in the name of defiance. He still has not addressed my question as to whether, he has been in a foxhole. The answer must be “no”, I assume. Some day, he will face death and then he will know the lie that he has bought into. I noticed that he has not chosen a kinder, more amiable God to follow. I attribute that to his true and hidden nature. He is not a reluctant skeptic, rather he is wholeheartedly a servant of evil and I think that deep down he truly knows this.

  5. Your posts are so interesting. I’d never heard of “mortality salience” before but I’d say that I have high mortality salience. I think about the fact that I will die pretty much every day. To be honest, I think my life is better for not expecting to live forever.

    The thing that makes me saddest about knowing I will die is that I won’t get to see where humanity is going. I just wish I could have a god’s eye view of the past and the present and the future, and know everything I want to know about humans and animals and aliens and other planets. Also the fact that I haven’t made the most of my time, that I only get to live one life and I am trapped with my own limitations; I can’t try life again with a different mind or a different body. But I could have done worse. I have some money and an able body and some other advantages that others don’t have. And having been a believer and an atheist, I don’t feel sad to lose Heaven. It doesn’t sound like a place I’d enjoy anymore.

    • Sophie, I don’t pretend to know why you have decided this place is the beginning and the end, or why you have chosen to believe that God does not exist, but I encourage you to take another look. All those things you say you are sad that you will miss, I believe you will not miss them at all, if you choose to believe in the God of creation. You say you don’t think you would like heaven, but don’t realize heaven is eternal so you can experience those things. Don’t you realize that God is able to give you everything you could imagine? That is why the Bible says, with God all things are possible. By choosing to believe God does not exist, you are in fact choosing to throw away all the possibilities that you say you are sad you will miss. The emptiness and continuing thoughts of death are just a trick to steal what you could have, what is waiting for you, both in this life and in God’s presence. Satan, the Bible says, has come to steal, kill and destroy. Don’t let it happen. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Don’t let Satan win in your life. God does exist and wants you to have the fullness of the life he has given you as well as the blessings of heaven. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things (that you are sad you will miss) will be added unto you. There are so many reasons to believe, if you just look for them. Go ahead take a look around you. I think you will see the answer soon enough.

      • Zane, you say you “don’t pretend to know why” I have one to the conclusions I have come to (actually, you phrase it as why I have “chosen not to believe in God”), and yet you then go on to do exactly that, by assuming that if I took another look/did further research etc I’d believe in God again. Why assume that I would change my mind based on further evidence when from your previous comments it is very clear that your mind is utterly closed to the possibility of God not existing?

        I don’t have to look for more evidence, or do further research, or pray etc to find your god, anymore than I have to do those things to find Odin, Zeus, Aphrodite, Thor, Allah, Krishna, Vishnu, Ganesh, Ahura Mazda, Huitzilopochtli, or any of the other gods and goddesses who have ever lived. If there is good solid evidence, then you present it. I am not the one proposing something; Christians are. Therefore supply the evidence or leave me alone.

        The fact is, though, that Christians have been given ample time to present this god to me – I was sent to Sunday School, I attended church for three decades, I listen to debates between Christians and atheists, I have read a lot of books about Christianity, I have read the Bible, prayed sincerely, etc etc – and so far they have presented no compelling evidence. I remain unconvinced by any god proposition. My mind is not absolutely closed to the existence of any god or the truth of any religion.

        You are wrong with regard to you rather point. The Christian God would not give me a view of all of the things I want to see and know. Firstly, because he doesn’t appear to understand them himself; his book is full of errors regarding how the world works, starting with the very first chapter of the very first book. Secondly, he doesn’t appear to want informed followers. That’s also clear from the very first chapter of the very first book. All he wants is people who fall down at his feet constantly and worship him forever. That’s clear from the last book. Thirdly, there is no evidence for an afterlife or a god anyway, much less that your specific god is real.

        Sorry, but I’ve already given you much more time than you deserve; your comment history on this thread shows that you are rude and arrogant. So I won’t be continuing this conversation any further. It would be nice if Yuri’s comment thread wasn’t full of zealot trolls like yourself who label people “servants of evil”, “lunatics” and “frauds”, but I guess that’s the price he pays for making thoughtful, cogent posts that are skeptical of religion.

        Also, Inna was correct. You took God’s name in vain.

        • I apologize for trying to help you. I have just one followup question. You don’t have to answer it publicly. Why would you die if you breathed water instead of air and why can a fish breath water but not air? Consider your answer out to its full logical conclusion.

        • I am sorry to keep this conversation going, but I have not given you the time that you deserve.

          Yes, I am rude by nature, and yes, I am arrogant by nature, but it is not for those reasons that I will continue this conversation further. I will continue because you are worth the time. It would be nice if Yuri would stop trying to convince people that God does not exist, but I happen to think he is wrong in doing so.

          I will not try to strictly refute your points, but I find it befuddling that you think you have made sound points to begin with. I find that God’s word does explain quite nicely how the world works and can see how the errors you have likely seen are the same errors that I can explain and prove with equally logical reasoning as truths. If you care to bring any of them to light I will show you what I mean.

          I do believe you suffer from the same problem that caused Satan to fall from grace. Consider this, if a being was truly God, would it be arrogance to expect worship? And if a being created by that God was appreciative of everything that God provided, wouldn’t they naturally want to worship the creator? And if the created being was not appreciative, and harbored hatred instead of Love for the creator, wouldn’t that be in opposition to the creator?

          I don’t think you have studied the bible enough to know that it does not say that God demands eternal and undivided worship (i.e. that we fall down at His feet constantly and worship Him forever). If it does, please enlighten me by showing me where it says this along with the places you believe it opposes any natural occurrence which God does not seem to understand.

          You say that you have an open mind, but I am not convinced of this. Your rhetoric indicates that you have closed your mind to the possibility of God’s existence. In your whole life, were you truly never convinced that God exists, or were you really convinced that he does not exist? Opposition is not God’s design, it is Satan’s. Still, it was no surprise to God, and neither was your disbelief in Him. Respond, or not, it makes no difference to me, but if He does exist, we will all bow our knee to Him. I choose to do it now. Please consider the consequence, if you are wrong, and don’t forget about my questions from my previous reply to you.

  6. I love how you write Yuriy! Its like everything I wanted to say but couldn’t put into words. Good job on speaking out even though there is so much negativity aimed towards you. I think after a year of being an atheist I’m pretty used to all the hate, but I can imagine its even harder with all this extra hatred that you open yourself up to.
    Leaving religion (Slavic baptist community to be exact, because I feel it’s so much more extreme) was the best and least expected thing that has happened to me. I wouldn’t trade the truth for anything now, including all the friends and family that I lost. I just wish I could open up their eyes to how beautiful life really is and encourage them to explore the world.
    I personally find that I think about death so much more now, and at times I still get a crippling sadness come over me over the fact that I won’t be here one day. That all these connections I made and everything i achieved will one day be gone. But at the same time I appreciate everything I have so much more, so I think feeling the overwhelming gratitude and excitement towards life outweighs the fear of death.
    Overall it has been such an exciting journey and I feel so lucky to have broken free from the very heavy indoctrination. I wish for everybody to experience such freedom! Good luck to you :)

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