The Four Stories We Tell Ourselves About Death (YouTube)

This is a lucid TedTalk from philosopher Stephen Cave. He makes the case, albeit with TedTalk brevity, that humanity has developed many specific immortality stories based on four simple plotlines. Such stories are intended to mitigate our innate fears about death, by which people have always convinced themselves that death is not real or final. Since we can see thematic recurrences serving the same bias and human desires, it is reasonable to question the validity of any specific immortality story (i.e., Hindu, Christian, Modern, etc.). We believe such stories because we want them to be true, and not on the weight of the evidence that such stories actually are true. Historically, we have proven willing to believe pretty much anything that promises an escape hatch.

My thoughts: why do we regard faith as a virtue? Why do we condemn those that lack faith, or at least look on them as sad figures?

  1. There is no confirmable evidence that any immortality tale is true.
  2. Belief in immortality must be on faith.
  3. Those that murmur against faith are implicitly shouting that the death proposition is true.
  4. People do not want to be reminded, and they do not want to be awakened to their wishthinking. The point of faith is to forget. It is to forget our smallness and our mortality. And if faith is delegitimized, we will all have to remember.

Hence religion. So many immortality stories. So varied and creative and beautiful. So many beautiful lies, conceived in terror, and bourn by happy wishing. But lies, such as they are, prove damaging, of a squandering influence, and ultimately – entirely unnecessary.

Comments

  1. I’ve enjoyed a lot of Ted Talks recently after my wife bought me a Roku. I liked this one a lot, and thought the ending was a very healthy way to look at the subject. I also liked the part about the scientific study that was done with agnostics – I always like hearing studies that are done that challenge our most cherished beliefs. I wish more people weren’t so afraid of that.

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  1. […] The Four Stories We Tell Ourselves About Death (YouTube) (jerichobrisance.com) […]

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  2. Quora says:

    I don’t believe in God. Am I going to hell purely on the virtue of disbelief?

    Eternal life. That’s something that I don’t believe in. This is the one and only life you have and worrying about what happens after death scares a lot of people. So, some choose to follow a religion and calm their fear. I don’t have a fear of it, a…

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Michael Seidel, writer

Science fiction, fantasy, mystery and what-not

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My freedom from spiritual abuse happened when I walked away from the abusers. My healing and recovery from the complex trauma of spiritual abusers, spiritually abusive faith and toxic religion happened while I was still a Christian and continues to this day. My deconversion came later after many many years of studying the Bible, Christian apologetics, cults and spiritual abuse. When I realized that the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God, the only honest thing I could do was to stop calling myself a Christian. What I write here, may be very different from what I’ve written in the past. It might also be repeats of the past themes. ~ Zoe

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