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"How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"
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siddharth Offline
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Post: #1
"How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

One of the most rhetorical questions put forward by believers to atheists is, "how would you comfort a dying child? Talking about going to heaven and being in the company of god can comfort someone dying. What can you atheists do to comfort someone in this state? Science has no answer for this".

While I can respond to this, I would like to read what fellow members have to say first.
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Lije Offline
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Post: #2
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Firstly, that situation wouldn't occur if the child hadn't had her head filled with imaginary fluff. Secondly, if saying that she will go to heaven would comfort her, yes I would do that. And finally, that is a stupid question. It is not about what can an atheist or a theist do in that situation. The same question can be asked to a theist - would you say to a dying child, if it comforts her, that her atoms would become part of other life forms when she dies and that God and Heaven are absurd concepts? It is about doing whatever it takes to make the dying person happy (as long as it is not detrimental to other people).
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Azad Offline
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Post: #3
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Its like asking this question - What would be a better or more satisfying explanation, if a kid aged 10 asks you
"Why were so many people killed in a volcano"? -
a) God was angry on those people, as the people who died had sinned. They had it coming
b) We are living on a planet that is cooling off, so such disasters do occur.

Will i tell the option 'a' since that tends to scare the shit out of the kid, of course i wont and who ever does say that is dumb wicked and probably lost it inside the head.
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Swati Offline
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Post: #4
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

(14-05-2010 11:44 PM)Lije Wrote:  Firstly, that situation wouldn't occur if the child hadn't had her head filled with imaginary fluff. Secondly, if saying that she will go to heaven would comfort her, yes I would do that. And finally, that is a stupid question. It is not about what can an atheist or a theist do in that situation. The same question can be asked to a theist - would you say to a dying child, if it comforts her, that her atoms would become part of other life forms when she dies and that God and Heaven are absurd concepts? It is about doing whatever it takes to make the dying person happy (as long as it is not detrimental to other people).

Well said, Lije. My thoughts exactly.
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drnbala Offline
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Post: #5
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Is n't it interesting that they ask ONLY about "comforting" a dying "child".
Clearly, they imply that our words are convincing enough for an adult but may not be good enough for a "child".
We must tell them back.... Yes, religion could be convincing enough for a "child" but not for an "adult"....!!!!!

We do tell fairy tales to kids.... and they may take it for real..... at that age....
But if they continue ..... then we call them - Immature... that is what happens for the religious - they never grow out of their childhood gullibility.....
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drnbala Offline
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Post: #6
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Well... On a non-condescending note.....

Assuming the child has some level of comprehension of what you are saying.....

We can tell them that birth and death are natural events for all living beings.
And every living thing dies at one time or other - some sooner and some later.
There is nothing to worry about it.

If the child has no such level of comprehension, then it is not the child who needs the comforting, most likely it is the parent/guardian of the child who is in such a need to cope with the impending loss.
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murthymail Offline
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Post: #7
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Well, Firstly, I would really sneer at the person who is asking me this question. Second of all, I would definitely (As a parent) comfort the child by giving him/her false hope of after life reunion (IF the child is young and naive enough to believe). Anything that would ease the pain that the kid is going through.

This is a good argument against religion. It can be useful only as a mental anesthesia for a gullible, naive, trusting and dying child.

Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
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Varun Offline
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Post: #8
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

How old is the child?


And bad mouth the child's favorite sports team smile.
I have seen kids get hyper on saying ManU (obviously Manchester United fans) sucks, Liverpool is greater (Which it is smile ). That'll make him forget he's about to die or whatever.



p.s don't take the post too seriously

|God is Dead|
(This post was last modified: 04-06-2010 04:50 PM by Varun.)
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Ajita Kamal Offline
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Post: #9
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

How about we make this situation more realistic?

Let's just suppose its a kid who is actually in good health for the most part. Such kids are usually quite active and the natural world is a wonderful enough playground to satisfy them. But the fact is, often when kids die at that young age (in situations where religion and god questions have a chance to come up) it is because of some terminal illness. Usually this involves some reduction in the quality of life, and often the child suffers the most during her/his last hours. So what if the kid has such a low quality of life, such as having to visit the hospital frequently and is bed-ridden a lot. What do we do then? Say this kid will never know what it means to be an adult, have a family of her own, and go through all the things that make life beautiful and worth living.

One solution to the problem is psychoactive drugs.

We already pump our dying full of drugs. Why not use science to carefully alter their brain chemistry as well? Today we have the knowledge to produce the greatest psychedelic and other psychoactive drugs that mankind has seen; drugs that can make us feel emotions even stronger than what believers often describe when they see god. These are drugs that deceive our brains, creating alternate realities. Under the circumstances, would you want your child to experience those powerful fantastical visions? Perhaps in the future such ideas might become more accepted after we have the technology to understand and design specifically engineered drugs for such conditions. Also certain psychoactive drugs can help terminally ill and dying people of any age during their last hours, and they could be a great way to increase the quality of life. Scientific innovation can create experiences and memories that could potentially leave a dying child more satisfied at having lived than a lifetime of normal biological life could ever make you and I feel. Of course, there are risks and negative consequences that must be considered, but that's no reason to not consider the idea. Any thoughts?

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
(This post was last modified: 10-06-2010 12:07 PM by Ajita Kamal.)
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siddharth Offline
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Post: #10
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Ajita,

Now that's thinking like a true science minded atheist! smile

Your solution seems very interesting, and I would consider it. I would also love to know what others feel about this. I am not very good at philosophy, so I I'm not sure to which side of the ethics argument would this lie.. Maybe a member of the forum can enlighten me.
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Lije Offline
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Post: #11
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

Ajita, that is a good idea.

Quote:...so I I'm not sure to which side of the ethics argument would this lie..

I feel that it can't be wrong ethically. If the argument is that a terminally ill person cannot think rationally, then a legal option, like a will, can be provided where an adult can declare that if he/she is terminally ill, any drug which can alleviate pain can be used. For children, parents can make the decision.
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peterson Offline
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Post: #12
RE: "How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"

I would tell them that being dead is exactly like it was before they were born.
That is really the only experience any of use have with not being alive.I would simply tell the child that they will be at rest and in peace.I don’t need to fill their heads with any speculations beyond that because I don’t candy coat reality for anyone.

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