That question has made me think and write this article. If an atheist faces a situation that may endanger his life, will he become a believer? Okay, let’s make the scenario more credible. Suppose that the atheist have a terminal illness like cancer, will such situations bring him back to God?
A study shows that beliefs are designed by the brain to protect the body from physical and mental harm. (See: Why Bad Beliefs Don’t Die by Gregory W, Lester – SKEPTICAL INQUIRY Nov/Dec 2000) Belief is designed to augment and enhance the danger-identification function of the senses. Belief detects danger and improves the survival as humans entered “unfamiliar territory.” They act as internal maps.
If this is right, it will make believing in times of death reasonable by biological standards. So it might not be a surprise if “any” atheists recant on their deathbed. But that makes belief only a “placebo medicine,” to elevate the feeling of lost and despair.
People are scared of death because they want to live more. The body reacts as if it wants to have what believers always hoped for, “an eternal life:” That’s why allot of religion have always been cashing in, telling adherents the means to escape the inescapable. Immortality is not really a promise, but a bribe.
It’s easy for a person to fall to such assurance; the brain is responsible for that. It is your brain that’s talking. We are talking here about death, the eradication of your existence. Unquestionably your body does not like that to happen. So here you are clinging to that very dear life of yours. Believing on anything that may prolong it, maybe even to live forever.
How will you face death if there is nothing more into it? Many believers wonder how an atheist faces death. It may be quite strange for a fact that an atheist is not afraid of it. An atheist friend of mine once said, if he dies, then thanks that he can now rest in peace. Resting in peace is a better end that to sing hallelujah for all eternity to a grumpy god in heaven.
For the atheistic Buddhist, life is just a wheel. Hmmmmmm…you are just re-live everything again. Well, how about if life is just a non-ending repetition of events, just like one episode on the Twilight Zone. It’s sometimes fun to assume the unknown.