"How would an atheist comfort a dying child?"
#13
Why would a theist fill up a dying childs mind with lies? Why do you need to comfort a dying child who cannot understand anything?

An atheist should simply say that there is nothing special about living and that dying is the best option for living brings with it problems that it would no longer have to cope with. Death and birth are all the same. The same atoms will still be whurring around in some other form.
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#14
(10-Jun-2010, 10:26 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: 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.

Let's say, if we have found that drug.. Even a person who is not going to die might use in order to have alternate reality. There's huge chance of misuse of these things..

All though we want least suffering as much as possible, Is some sense it makes me feel that we are avoiding reality.. Like bhagat singh wrote before sentence, If i was religious, i would expect something after this..

I don't find a lot of difference between chemically altering state of mind, with theologically altering psychology.

If he is physically suffering i will defiantly give pain killers. but, i don't know how to deal with emotional....

If you ask the question other way around.. let's say ur dying and you have to answer kid... I don't want to make up a story that i am going to heaven and i'll be fine.. cuz, he might just follow me or, write me letter everyday and keeping on grave or sending them through Balloon..

I really don't know the answer..



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#15
(18-Sep-2010, 03:34 AM)ayyawar Wrote: Let's say, if we have found that drug.. Even a person who is not going to die might use in order to have alternate reality. There's huge chance of misuse of these things..

Let me begin by saying that I think you are coming up with a lot of conservative arguments, in all these different threads. There's nothing wrong in you having these intuitions, of course Wink. The thing is, as with most conservative arguments, human society has already advanced much further than the idealized caricature that the argument addresses.
You can say the exact same thing that you said -"There's huge chance of misuse of these things" about every single thing that humans have ever invented.
[Image: caveman.png]

And keep in mind, I added at the end of my post this bit: Of course, there are risks and negative consequences that must be considered, but that's no reason to not consider the idea.

Quote:All though we want least suffering as much as possible, Is some sense it makes me feel that we are avoiding reality.. Like bhagat singh wrote before sentence, If i was religious, i would expect something after this..

We are talking about a child, not about our mature and adult selves. Are you actually saying that reducing the suffering of a child should take a back-seat to our personal standards about evidence and belief?

Quote:I don't find a lot of difference between chemically altering state of mind, with theologically altering psychology.

That is an absurd statement. Do you really want me to spell out the differences? Do you not believe in modern science and medicine? What do you think doctors do when someone is schizophrenic or clinically depressed due to physiological problems in the brain?

Quote:If he is physically suffering i will defiantly give pain killers. but, i don't know how to deal with emotional.

If you don't, I highly suggest you not dismiss an entire discipline of science-based medicine without first doing some research.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#16
(14-Sep-2010, 09:26 PM)Shantanu Wrote: Why would a theist fill up a dying childs mind with lies? Why do you need to comfort a dying child who cannot understand anything?

An atheist should simply say that there is nothing special about living and that dying is the best option for living brings with it problems that it would no longer have to cope with. Death and birth are all the same. The same atoms will still be whurring around in some other form.

Shantanu, Lije already said this in the second post on this thread:

Firstly, that situation wouldn't occur if the child hadn't had her head filled with imaginary fluff.

Secondly, you can't be serious when you say: "Why do you need to comfort a dying child who cannot understand anything?" Do you think kids don't intuitively understand death and are therefore immune to the suffering it's imminent arrival brings? Death is a lot more tragic when it happens to a young person, precisely because the human capacity for foresight helps every child create dreams and plans for the future, which are suddenly and horrifyingly dashed. Your callousness needs explaining.

Thirdly, I'm not sure what exactly to say about your statement, "there is nothing special about living and that dying is the best option for living brings with it problems". Either you are lying to the kid, or you are lying to yourself (since death is not an option that you choose for yourself). In any case, it is pretty much the worst thing to say as an attempt to comfort a dying child.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#17
(18-Sep-2010, 02:54 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:
(14-Sep-2010, 09:26 PM)Shantanu Wrote: Why would a theist fill up a dying childs mind with lies? Why do you need to comfort a dying child who cannot understand anything?

An atheist should simply say that there is nothing special about living and that dying is the best option for living brings with it problems that it would no longer have to cope with. Death and birth are all the same. The same atoms will still be whurring around in some other form.

Shantanu, Lije already said this in the second post on this thread:

Firstly, that situation wouldn't occur if the child hadn't had her head filled with imaginary fluff.

Secondly, you can't be serious when you say: "Why do you need to comfort a dying child who cannot understand anything?" Do you think kids don't intuitively understand death and are therefore immune to the suffering it's imminent arrival brings? Death is a lot more tragic when it happens to a young person, precisely because the human capacity for foresight helps every child create dreams and plans for the future, which are suddenly and horrifyingly dashed. Your callousness needs explaining.

Thirdly, I'm not sure what exactly to say about your statement, "there is nothing special about living and that dying is the best option for living brings with it problems". Either you are lying to the kid, or you are lying to yourself (since death is not an option that you choose for yourself). In any case, it is pretty much the worst thing to say as an attempt to comfort a dying child.

If you live as a child in a rich or well to do family living is good and you can enjoy life. For the vast majority of people who are without jobs and struggle to eke out an existence living is a nightmare. Most of the world children are growing up to an uncertain future unless they live in a Welfare State such as the United Kingdom where the State provides the means for the basic standard of living.

The child must be dying because it is ill from some disease or disorder in the body such as cancer or diabetes or other metabolic or brain diseases. This child is incapable of understanding that sooner of later everyone has to die. Dying is not something to fear. Showing love to a dying child is OK but to comfort him when he is in pain and has not got a full healthy and productive life ahead of him is not a good thing as it achieves nothing but gives lies to the child in its dying moments.

Truth has to be given to the dying child. Emotions mean nothing durable. One way of making this clear is to say that we are all made of atoms and when we die we are merely changing form. Some plant will absorb the nutrients and an animal will eat the plant and so we will be reborn in some other form. That is the manner in which recycling of atoms takes place in nature and we owe it to ourselves to make this clear to the child dying. There is no need to show comfort in the face of this reality. That is atheistic advaita. There is no difference between life and death. We are all physical energy.

I hope this goes someway to expain my apparent callousness.
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#18
(18-Sep-2010, 07:35 PM)Shantanu Wrote: If you live as a child in a rich or well to do family living is good and you can enjoy life. For the vast majority of people who are without jobs and struggle to eke out an existence living is a nightmare. Most of the world children are growing up to an uncertain future unless they live in a Welfare State such as the United Kingdom where the State provides the means for the basic standard of living.

Unrelated to the discussion at hand. People of all ages die for different reasons.

Quote:The child must be dying because it is ill from some disease or disorder in the body such as cancer or diabetes or other metabolic or brain diseases.

As far as this discussion goes, it doesn't matter what condition the child has.

Quote:This child is incapable of understanding that sooner of later everyone has to die. Dying is not something to fear. Showing love to a dying child is OK but to comfort him when he is in pain and has not got a full healthy and productive life ahead of him is not a good thing as it achieves nothing but gives lies to the child in its dying moments.

Why is lying bad at that moment of the child's life? But again, this is a matter of your own moral values. I don't see anything wrong in lying to a dying person if it eases the pain.

Quote:Truth has to be given to the dying child. Emotions mean nothing durable. One way of making this clear is to say that we are all made of atoms and when we die we are merely changing form. Some plant will absorb the nutrients and an animal will eat the plant and so we will be reborn in some other form. That is the manner in which recycling of atoms takes place in nature and we owe it to ourselves to make this clear to the child dying. There is no need to show comfort in the face of this reality. That is atheistic advaita. There is no difference between life and death. We are all physical energy.

You don't the expect the child to understand that everyone has to die at some point and yet expect her to understand ideas of how matter gets recycled?

On a side note, as I said in another thread, advaita is irrational. It is a cop out. When life gets too much to bear, it provides an easy way out by saying that everything is maya or that cycle of life and death can be broken and you can go to another place. That is not what we freethinkers here advocate. We want to understand the Universe and savor it. We love taking on the challenge of understanding Life. We don't give up and seek comfort in escapist literature like advaita vedantam.
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#19
(18-Sep-2010, 10:24 PM)Lije Wrote: Why is lying bad at that moment of the child's life? But again, this is a matter of your own moral values. I don't see anything wrong in lying to a dying person if it eases the pain.

I personally think that lying is wrong and leads to more and more lies so that people lose trust in each other. Satyamev Jayate is an old Indian saying. People should be trusted to cope with the truth.
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#20
On second thought, to deal it simple. If a small lying solves big problem.. I would just lie..
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#21
(14-May-2010, 11:13 PM)siddharth Wrote: 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.
I'd try to make the child understand the importance of scientific thinking and convince him/her that by dying, one is really not going to a better place, but one's brain just stops working and that's it. If I were that child, I'd be happy that someone taught me how to think rationally.
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#22
Quote:I personally think that lying is wrong and leads to more and more lies so that people lose trust in each other. Satyamev Jayate is an old Indian saying. People should be trusted to cope with the truth.

This is simplistic black/white thinking. There are many situations where lying would be easily justified as the moral answer by the majority of compassionate people. Old sayings were meant to give structure to the lives of a less morally-aware people. There are many situations when the majority will agree that the morally right answer is to be truthful, but there are always exceptions. Moral philosophers using thought-experiments can present to you an infinite range of situations where the exceptions would become the rule. I definitely think this is one of them.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#23
(20-Sep-2010, 12:14 PM)madhav Wrote:
(14-May-2010, 11:13 PM)siddharth Wrote: 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.
I'd try to make the child understand the importance of scientific thinking and convince him/her that by dying, one is really not going to a better place, but one's brain just stops working and that's it. If I were that child, I'd be happy that someone taught me how to think rationally.

The key here is that you are not a child, you are an adult. In order to do the morally right thing you would have to understand child psychology, and it is my contention that no amount of reason can help a child feel fine about dying. The brains of pre-adolescent children are wired differently from ours, and there are studies showing that they understand death more in terms of separation (from loved ones and everything they know). Children find it hard to separate emotional meaning from objective meaning. Even most adults do. The terminal-illness of a child is a situation that requires dealing with the child's emotional state, not just providing reason-based explanations for what death implies.

There are scholarly studies on the subject, because dealing with terminal illness is a serious topic. The reason-based explanations for life and death that many of us have come up with on this thread are mostly to assuage our own suffering at the thought of the child's death.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#24
Last month, i happened to meet my nephew who is a 3rd grader and i had a cute discussion with this chap. Out of curiosity i asked him, What is god ?, he had a weird answer and i never expected that from the lil chap. He said "God is energy that runs everything", his simple mind did tell something inspiring; so let us not underestimate the understanding of the lil'ones.

I still hold my first opinion, We should it should tell them how and what without sugarcoating. It will be nothing discomforting even for a dying child. We may even share the idea that how wonderful it was for him to have born and lived in this beautiful planet where many never got a chance to be born?
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