6th November 2008

“An atheist cannot be buried in Donegal because the churches, Catholic, Church of Ireland and Presbyterian, own the graveyards. Therefore, unless one is willing to compromise one's beliefs by agreeing to a religious service, it is impossible to be buried.”

Roy Greenslade

8 Responses to “6th November 2008”

  1. chris Says:

    So, they simply leave the body at the curb for the trash collector.

  2. Terence Meaden Says:

    Here in England I would not in any way want to be buried in a religious graveyard.

    What I do want, and shall arrange one day, is burial in a woodland burial environment. These are getting to be more common in this country, and are highly suitable for atheists.

  3. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    So what’s the problem?

  4. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    Being an American, is this a problem I cannot understand? I did live in England for four years (’70-’74; near Bentwaters AFB – I’m a military brat), but I was just a kid, so was unaware of any burial or “state religion” issues. I do have fond memories of England. Beautiful place, nice people!

    Are atheists concerned about what happens to the body after death (beyond an enviormentaly friendly disposal method and a fitting memorial for those “left behind”)? What need does an atheist have to bury a body? Is this a stupid question? No offense intended.

  5. Terence Meaden Says:

    Some atheists might be concerned as to what happens to their body after death—and others not. As for me I have made it clear to my family that I do not want them to suffer the farce and indignity of attending any kind of church service given in the name of a supposed god, like the christian god, that was invented in stone-age/bronze age times and, being fictional, never existed.

    Obviously I cannot speak for other atheists, but I can speak triply for myself as an academic scientist, an archaeologist and a Wiltshireman. You may wonder what the latter has to do with this. Well, much of Wiltshire is chalkland country on which megalithic Stonehenge and Avebury stand, and all my known ancestors back through five centuries are from villages close to these monuments. Many of these ancestors, I can infer, were buried in the chalk rock. Now, there is now a convenient, wooded, non-religious, chalkland, burial ground on the Cholderton Estate not far from Stonehenge. Also, I feel I’d rather not be placed in the ground like a rigid rod in a narrow coffin as christians and muslims do.

    So I have said, “wrap me in a curled position in my academic gown and bury me in my native chalk along with a selection of carefully-secured items of identification (like an ID engraved on a metal tablet together with my DNA haplogroup number [I1b2a] and perhaps a photocopy of my last diary).” Then if an archaeologist chances across this site in a thousand or 10,000 or 100,000 years time, they may dig up the bones and find them well preserved in a calcified condition. Skeletons of Neolithic people continue to be found on Salisbury Plain, the bones 5000-6000 years old. Some of them may be my ancestors.

  6. Oxymoronic Christhinker Says:

    Good answer, TM, and a great, non-theistic way to be buried! I like the idea of being dug up and studied 10,000 years from now. Perhaps I’ll rethink my own burial plans. Of course, I’ll still be buried in a religious manner, according to what I believe about my “fictional” god! Perhaps I’ll include some info concerning my personal beliefs within the context of our (us theists, I mean) “public” faith. The beliefs of the “common man” are often highly speculative due to the simple fact that most of what is written about “faith” is by the elite believer, leaving archaeologists such as yourself to interpret the material remains as best they can. Buildings and burials do not not often leave a clear account of the “inner” life of the ancients. Perhaps we (theist and atheist alike) can intentionally leave a clearer, personal account for those who in the future will see us as “the ancients.” Anyway . . .

  7. Chris Says:

    Personally, I find grave yards wasteful and maudlin. My preference is to be cremated and scattered. I don’t want the people that love me to think they need to go to some depressing bone yard to “talk” to me. As an atheist, I hope to live on in the memories loved ones and nothing more.

  8. Terence Meaden Says:

    Yes Chris, and memories too . . .

    This is why I think it important to write an autobiography for one’s descendants (which is why I am doing so).
    I only wish that some of my ascendants had done so— so that I could know parts of the lives of my forebears of recent centuries and centuries long ago.