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Atheism and the gift of death

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 March 2012

Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK e-mail:


Richard Beardsmore once argued that, although it is possible for atheists and religious believers alike to regard life as a gift, the regarding of one's own death as a gift is open only to the (Christian) believer. I discuss this interesting contention, and argue that, notwithstanding some important differences between the attitudinal possibilities available to atheists and believers in God, there are at least three senses in which an atheist could regard death as a gift. Two of these involve death's being conceived as serving some particular purpose, whereas the third derives from a more pervasive affirmatory attitude to life as a whole.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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