Atheist Funeral
    By Sascha Vongehr | April 28th 2011 11:12 PM | 6 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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    What kind of funeral should one as a semi rational person insist on? My immediate reflexive answer is “don’t give a something, stuff me in the thrash chute if you must”. However, a burial or cremation is not about the deceased but about those left behind. I thought something up, but before writing a post, one better searches the internet - surely somebody has covered this already much better.

    What I found searching for “Atheist Funeral” and similar however was a bunch of crap, like replacing religious themes with 'spiritual' ones. Toss the bible out to roll the crystal ball in – great.

    Cameroon, West Africa. A chimp died of heart failure in her late 40s. The Chimpanzees console one another. Your funeral isn’t about you.

    The funeral parlors are threatened with a rising number of godless cheapskates. Undertakers hold that an atheist funeral must net at least as much money as the usual rip-offs, otherwise the religious Joneses would win: How could baby eaters possibly lose out against the Christians being on place two or three in terms of expenses? No way dude! Let's rot in diamond crusted gold boxes. Go atheism!

    Internet search is my confidence booster. Whenever I am lacking confidence, uncertain whether what I wrote is good enough to escape deletion, I hit ‘the internets’ and look at what is written on the issue. Usually, all my worries disappear, replaced with quite different ones about the state of the human mind.

    The following is what I suggest as somebody who has basically only one person who would notice my absence – so, take away the message and adapt to your own situation. My dear loved one; here is how the removal of my bodily remains is going to go down:

    Look at the most expensive Christian funeral that you would possibly be successfully pressured into if I were a grumpy old Torah thumping Moslem. Did I just mix something up? Well who gives, can’t be anything important.

    Say that funeral or cremation or dissolving in holy acid plus ceremony and golden shrine add up to ten kilo bucks (read:expensive). This is how much my funeral will cost you! No chance of guilty feelings about having dishonored me via a cheap funeral. Now you get rid of my stinking remains the cheapest way possible: Donate me to research, pay a few bucks to have me dumped in a pit, pretend not to know me and let the cops deal with it, whatever. So, say this sets you back 400 bucks.

    Now you put the 10 grand minus 400 bucks into a savings account or some such, maybe buy a piece of gold, too. Why? Because graves or urns are there not to contain my matter but for you to have some place, some object that relates to my spirit. Spirit? Yes, just as much as the true spirit of the wasteful religious is actually present, presented by that wasteful tomb, so my rational spirit will be in fact present with you, presented by an object you can touch to be touched by.

    Without some object left, nothing left at all but some of my possessions maybe, transporting an eerie emptiness rather than my spirit, you may regret having thrown my body into the dumpster; you may get the feeling of having or having been abandoned. That’s how we humans are. But you can hold that account book, and the remains of my rational spirit are right there, what made me me comes back to you.

    When you get sick and need that money to get the medicine, when disaster strikes and that piece of gold maybe saves your behind, my spirit will be there with you as a matter of fact rather than some obscure ‘spirituality’. I will be right by your side.


    More by Sascha Vongehr about Atheism:
    Suicide: Live Ends Six Meters Above The Ground
    Global Suicide
    Simulation Hypothesis and other Religious Stuff
    No Higher Consciousness


    I never experienced closure from seeing a corpse or from wakes or funerals. Rather than get depressed over stone-age rituals, I'll quote Woody Allen:
    There are worse things in life than death. Have you ever spent an evening with an insurance salesman?
    It's not that I'm afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens.
    Larry Arnold
    The most disapointing aspect of ones own funeral is that although one is a participant, one does not get to be a spectator and see what sort of a send off you got or witness the squabbles over your estate, then again perhaps that is not such a bad thing after all.
    My atheist's funeral will be quite simple: I will have the celebrant read out to the assembled mourners all the things I would have liked to have said to them but dared not betray their illusions because as Mark Twain once wrote:

    Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist but you have ceased to live.

    The closing line would be:

    You're all going to die.

    The closing song would be a loop from a Joy Division song:

    Dead Souls, they keep calling me.

    Personally, other than donating my body to science, I quite like the thought of this:

    Vultures are becoming an endangered species, and I have an affinity for Corvids, here is a way to help them.

    I'm not donating anything to anyone.    I built a family crypt and I will be sitting in there on a throne with a sword in my lap.  If my kids or grandkids want their inheritance, they are fighting my awesome, undead lich for it.

    Sky-burial - didn't know that one.