Re: Why do we fear death?

I think the answer is pretty simple: Fear.  As you say, the Universe will exist as it always has after we are gone, but that doesn't really matter, because we aren't the entire Universe; we are only conscious in one part of it.  We are afraid that, when we die, that's it; lights out, no more life, oblivion.  As a species, we can't comprehend that.  About the closest most people can come, I think, is to imagine that they will be floating alone, forever, in blackness, which isn't that comforting a thought.  We can't imagine what it would be like to not have consciousness, because the only thing we have to imagine that with is consciousness; hardly an appropriate tool.  And, since we can't understand this concept, we fear it.  It's instinctual.  What we don't know could kill us, so we've carried that fear over to after we are dead.  So, instead of oblivion, we've come up with afterlives that we can imagine, and like.


This fear could very well keep us from making the right decisions, but it also helps us make good decisions, at least from the point of survival; if we have no fear of death, we aren't going to defend ourselves as well.  The thought of a desirable afterlife also adds meaning to the life we have now; we have something to look forward to, to work toward, something to keep us going when life gets hard, instead of just giving up.

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less

The culprit of increased depression among teens? Smartphones, new research suggests.

A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.

A teenager eyes her smartphone as people enjoy a warm day on the day of silence, one day prior to the presidential elections, when candidates and political parties are not allowed to voice their political meaning on April 14, 2018 in Kotor, Montenegro. Citizens from Montenegro, the youngest NATO member, will vote for a new president on Sunday 15 2018. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
  • The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
  • Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. reacts to New Zealand's gun ban

On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
  • Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
  • The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
Keep reading Show less