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By Sam Zanahar (2006)
I understand that some people are somehow religious, not because they would genuinely believe in the existence of a god, but rather because they feel that life is meaningless without something to believe in that transcends one's own life. Fear of dying and death plays a major role, too.
They have a vague idea of a god (just as the one propagated by Einstein) as an obscure entity beyond the scientific universe, or as a common soul, or as an indifferent common good.
All of that is of course nonsense, and the fact that Albert Einstein was a genius in the field of physics doesn't make him an authority on religion and philosophy, just as Sigmund Freud was no authority on engineering, and Pablo Picasso would never have been the right person to get advice from on dental surgery.
But I am aware that many people need something to hold on when their mind wanders to questions such as why do we exist, and what are we living for. Or when fear of dying and death creeps in.
Some of my articles are a sort-of catechism on the topic, but I also can summarize it as a mantra:
We live to have relationships of optimal love and sex, and, if possible, to have a gentle death.
Good health and sufficient intelligence are prerequisites for optimal love and sex, so I have not included them as separate items.
A gentle death is a widely underestimated philosophical or scientific concern, even though it is an essential aspect in piety and the propagation of religious beliefs. Most non-religious people are so preoccupied with living optimally that their dying often is a terrible crash.
Or, if they realize their fear of dying and death, they suddenly turn to religions.
In order to de-substantiate religious nonsense, the philosophy and science of modern societies ought to deal with the topics of dying and death.
Dying can be a horrifying experience, full of panic and pain. But nobody lives through it to tell other people just how horrifying it can be.
Belief in a god, and praying, probably makes dying more bearable, but at the price of abandoning reason. And not everybody can lull himself in lies.
I advocate that modern, atheistic societies offer an attractive alternative to religious delusions when it comes to dying. There should be public education on how to best manage one's end of life. Sexual education and education on dying should go hand in hand, not least because proper awareness of the termination of all individual life is the strongest argument for optimal relationships of love and sex before one's life ends.
Yes, dying can be a horrifying experience, full of panic and pain. Therefore, I believe that morphine should be available for those who are dying consciously. Morphine, potentially the most valuable medication of a lifetime, can be the practical answer of science to all the religious blabla of priests at a person's deathbed.
As an alternative to religious beliefs, a modern society should also work to minimize the occurrence of potential death-in-panic situations. People should have the option to choose unconsciousness for air travel or other activities that are associated with an accident and death-in-panic risk. Providing such practical solutions to the fear of dying can go a long way in pulling the carpet from below the feet of the propagators of religions.
My mantra has two parts, optimal love and sex, and a gentle death, but in most of my articles, I deal with optimal love and sex.
Christian fundamentalists stand in the way of a society in which optimal relationships of love and sex are rightfully recognized as every human's primary concern during life.
But Christian fundamentalists also are a political obstruction for the second concern, a gentle death. They argue against humans taking their deaths into their own hands (not by committing suicide but by engineering its gentleness at the time death occurs), because it cuts into the domain they consider theirs (relief from the fear of dying). (le*n)
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Copyright Sam Zanahar