Introduction

When I was a fundamentalist Christian I feared death. Although I was promised eternal life by Christianity, I still feared the unknown. And I feared the potential pain & suffering involved with dying.

I am no longer a Christian but I still fear death. When I think about death I can feel powerless and hopeless, and that my short life has no meaning. Because of this, I don’t often choose to think about death.

I think this is what the author Ernest Becker was getting at when he wrote about the fact that the fear of death is really a fear of death-terror. Actual dying, for the most part, is relatively quick. It’s the lurking terror of our impending end which we actually seek to be free from. I have become convinced that the fear of death-terror is one of the essential drivers of all human activity alongside biological imperatives like survival and the sex drive.

I am of the opinion humanity is driven to find relief from death-terror by distraction, or symbolic defeat of death, or attempting literal life extension. I think the root of some of our greatest achievements and greatest failures as a species comes in part from this drive. I think something with the power to motivate us so strongly is worth examining.

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