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Ask An Atheist: What will happen when I die?


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By Jim Downard

I am an atheist as well but I am very curious what will happen when I die. Even though I don’t believe in hell or heaven, will I end up just being a soul?”

My short answer: I haven’t a clue.  Longer one: I don’t think what makes us “us” involves an incorporeal spirit that survives death.  In that case, apart from maybe a ‘white tunnel’ experience that some apparently have in near death experiences, my suspicion is that we become unconscious as in sleep, and that’s that.

Now if there are spirit components, then all those bets are off. All of us will find out one of these days: heaven, or reincarnation, or finding out we’re in that hyper dimensional Matrix after all.

In any case, and if this life is what we get, then it highlights why we have to make the most of what we do while not dead. Try to be kind, learn more of what is actually true, fight for the right and the good, and hopefully affect what we can of the world so that it’s a bit better after we’re gone than before; so that those who come afterward won’t regard our personal stint on earth as a nuisance.


Jim Downard
Jim Downard
Jim Downard is a Spokane native (with a sojourn in Southern California back in the early 1960s) who was raised in a secular family, so says had no personal faith to lose. He's always been a history and science buff (getting a bachelor's in the former area at what was then Eastern Washington University in the early 1970s).

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