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← Religion as "comfort" to people in distress: fact or myth?

godzillatemple's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by godzillatemple

As the father of a 7-year-old, this is something I find myself struggling with recently. My son has recently learned about death (or, at least, it has finally registered with him) and he regularly tells me that he doesn't want to die someday and he is worried about it. Sometimes he tells me about nightmares he has about dying, and I find myself at a loss for words.

As an atheist, all I can really tell him is that death is a part of life and that it's something all creatures on earth will experience someday. I can tell him that living forever would cause a lot of problems due to overpopulation and scarcity of resources (not to mention the inevitable boredom inherent in living for billions of years, let alone forever). I can also tell him that the fact that we will die someday is what makes our lives here on earth so special and that we should cherish every single moment and try to live the best life possible. And, in fact, this is exactly what I do tell him. So far, though, he hasn't found much comfort in my words and the temptation is to simply tell him that if he's good he will go to heaven and therefore there's no need to worry about it.

I have, of course, resisted the temptation and can only hope that eventually he will come to find comfort in reality instead of in fairy stories. And hopefully he will actually gain an appreciation of just how precious life is (not just his life but of every living creature) and live a fulfilling and moral life as a result. But, as I said, I can certainly appreciate the allure of being able to lean on religion and provide a quick comfort fix.

Tue, 24 Apr 2012 16:40:47 UTC | #937033