Re: Dying neighbor was Re: THEOLOGY: Extropianism & Theology
Tue, 2 Mar 1999 01:11:14 -0600

On Mon, 1 Mar 1999 21:23:37 EST writes:

>EEHAA!!! Tim, now that we agree on something, what else is possible?

>Help me with a problem. My next door neighbor, a wonderful good
>hearted women in her 80s is dying a difficult death. Her husband of
>over 50 years (a good friend and great neighbor) is suffering horribly.

>Their grown children are wondering about aimlessly. I feel deeply for

>I feel a need to visit, offer to help, and talk and listen with them,
>I mean frankly discuss what's going on, offer concern and
>even reassurance.

>What would a brave young atheist say and do?


You ask a difficult question.
I know of only 1 group of people who have no fear of death. Those who believe it is not final.
I've listened to Theists who are comforted by the thought of life after death. I've read Non-Theists who believe in a reincarnation, and a non-ending of self. I even imagine that there are some pro-cryonics people who are not particularly afraid of death, because they expect to be frozen, and later revived.

On the other hand (and I expect disagreement here) I do not think that human contemplating his/her own permanent end is likely to be comfortable with that eventuality. I can see preferring an immediate end to the option of continuing to linger in pain for a while longer and then dying, but I cannot see anyone being comfortable with their own permanent end, and psychologically healthy at the same time.

As a compassionate ( but nonetheless brave ) atheist I would not bring up the taoist preparation for dying, as it does not (likely) go along with your friend's beliefs. Just as a preacher friend of mine will not preach to someone who is dying, without an invitation at least. No need to cause more pain.

As a principled ( and young ) atheist, I could not tell her that I think there is a God. However, I am not so cold as to tell her that there is none. It does neither her, nor her family, nor me any good to do so.

As a kind (but cautious) extropian, I might try to find out how she feels about cryonics, but I could not push that on her. Of anything to benefit her and/or her kin in reality, rather than in what seems to be a comfort based on falsehood, cryonics seems to have the best chances, for I can conceive of it working. I appear to have too limited of an imagination to buy into any flavor of omni-.

What is left for the compassionate, yet principled atheist? Being a friend. Not trying to have answers, not trying to give solutions. It sounds to me as if your friend and her family are going through a hard time. The thing I would give them would be genuine human love and compassion, without promises I don't believe about some uncertain future. They need love,understanding, and someone to talk to now.



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