The strange dichotomy of death and religion

I am thoroughly convinced that one of the main reasons for the existence of religion is the fact that we all die. Man has, from the very dawn of self-awareness, struggled with the reality of this fact, that we live for a short time and then die and are never seen or heard of again.

Jay Novella mentioned last week in the SGU podcast (remembering Perry De Angelis) that "death makes no sense and it is a loss". I agree, man has tried to make sense of death from the beginning and tried to find ways to cope with the loss and, there you have it, religion tries to make sense of it and tries to find ways to alleviate the loss.

Not very succesfully.

The strange dichotomy I am refering to in the title to this post, is the effect of death on the religious. I cannot understand why, if death is a transition to a "better place", if the deceased is going "to face God" and be "in his presence" (which I imagine would be wonderful if only God really existed), why then religious people react to the loss of a loved one with such intense grief? And believe me, I think agnostics and non-religious people, like myself, cope better with the loss than the religious.

I have seen the two attitudes from very close quarters. I lost my father last November, and believe me, the pain is still there and at the moment of his death, though I knew it was coming, the grief was unbearable. But, I have to accept, my dear old man is no more and I have to learn to live with that fact and console myself with my fond memories of him and the love that we shared in the family for him and he for us. And with time, acceptance sets in and peace returns.

But the religious... what a way to grieve! I have seen depression, loss of apetite, desire to also die, complete desperation. Do they not believe that their loved one is in heaven, happily playing the harp or something? Do they not rejoice at the thought of the deceased suffering no more and leaving his/her mortal attachments for an eternal life of bliss?

I don't understand.

In the Arabian Nights tales, there is one that mentions that humans should actually party, dance and rejoice when a loved one dies, for he/she was God's property and that property has gone back to his/her actual owner. From this side of the fence, that attitude makes so much more sense.

Strange things of life in this world...


El ultimo De Paz said...

Interesante comentario. Cuando las personas renuncian al uso de la razon actuan de una forma contradictoria con las creencias que dicen profesar.
Lo mas inquietante es que resulta frustrante tratar de razonar con ellas porque, como renunciaron al uso de su capacidad para pensar por si mismas, no son capaces de entender argumentos racionales.

Edmendez said...

When you say religions, you generalized, in my opinion you could refer to as the mayority of religions. Beside I agree.