There’s a question a lot of religious people have for atheists: “Are you afraid of death?” Since we don’t believe in an afterlife, are we ok with the notion that this life is it?
Physicist Stephen Hawking was asked about death in an interview with The Guardian and answered the question beautifully:
You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death?
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
Over at The Stir, Maressa Brown doesn’t think Hawking gets the point:
All I’m saying is it’s okay to be afraid of death, and believing in something that comes after life — be that Heaven or something else — is a comfort to many of us. So what? If it helps us cope more with the inevitable, why shouldn’t we have that? There’s nothing shameful about spirituality, and furthermore, it’s more than possible to believe in science without shrugging off religion. Another brilliant scientist knew this — Albert Einstein.
What’s wrong with the idea of Heaven if it comforts some people? The same reason we scoff at people who believe in a god.
It’s untrue. It offers false hope. We should desire to know the truth and accept life the way it is instead of the way we wish it could be.
Having just one life isn’t so bad if you live it to its fullest. We’re lucky enough to be born on this planet, at this time. If you’re happy with your life, have wonderful friends and a good family, and don’t live in constant fear of death/natural disasters, do you really need a heaven to look forward to? You have everything you need right here. Enjoy it while you can.