Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, October 22, 2020

How Should an Atheist Think About Death

AthiestFor many, if not most, religious or spiritual views and beliefs will dictate your thoughts and perceptions of death and the afterlife. The philosopher Todd May is an atheist who does not believe in the supernatural. 

Todd May wrote a book called "Death" in which he states that he does not believe in an afterlife. In an interview with George Yancy in which they discussed May's book and confronting death, May stated that there are different types of atheism but they all share the denial of a supernatural deity. 

May explained that although he personally does not believe in a supernatural deity, he does not think less of anyone if they believe that a supernatural deity exists. He explains that atheism is a set of views about the supernatural and not a view about people who believe in the supernatural. 

May explains that we live under the shadow of death as the threat of death is constant; however, without mortality we would be "shapeless." Life would almost be meaningless if we lived on forever. 

May explains that we should engage in forward-looking projects and engagements and try to live as best as we can within the moments of those engagements. 

See George Yancy, How Should an Atheist Think About Death, N.Y. Times, October 20, 2020.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.  


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