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Dogmatic About Death

Last week, when I was at the Silverman/D’souza debate, Dinesh D’souza accused David Silverman of being dogmatic about his “belief” concerning death. Silverman asserted that there is no afterlife. He later walked back his assertion to say that we know that to the degree that we can know anything. But the thing that gets me is that religious believers like D’souza really are making a dogmatic claim about death.

D’souza kept beating the point that we can’t know what happens after death. This however doesn’t square with his belief in a very specific view about death. He admits that he has a belief in Heaven and Hell. These aren’t just some vague concepts. They are very specific ideas based on no real evidence or reason.

We observe that all creatures die. We are creatures. Therefore we die. There is no reason to believe that we are different at a fundamental level from any other creature. Do mosquitos go to Heaven or Hell too? If not, why not? The Christian would say that mosquitos don’t have souls and humans do. But do we really? How do you know?

There is no evidence for this soul thing. It is just a dogmatic belief created to explain why humans have an afterlife while mosquitos don’t. As an atheist, I am willing to entertain the possibility that an afterlife could exist, but there seems to be no reason to believe that one, let alone two specific destinations exist. In fact, there seems to be good reason to support the idea that there isn’t an afterlife.

We know that our brain is essentially who we are. If our brain is damaged, our personality is damaged. We can adjust the chemicals in our brain in order to adjust our personality. When our brain dies, we die. Our brains are physical. So how can we live on without our brains?

Now, are religious believers willing to entertain the possibility that not only is their specific view of an afterlife is wrong, but that there is no afterlife at all? No, I don’t think they are. In fact, I doubt very much that even D’souza would honestly entertain that possibility. So who is the dogmatic one?

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