“The best book on the atheist philosophy of death you are likely ever to read”: Richard Carrier on “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God”

In less than eighty pages, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God covers every essential base, and is really the book for an atheist to get for building a usable philosophy of death. I couldn’t think of anything she didn’t address, and she even addressed some aspects of the question that would never have occurred to me!

This little book cuts right to the essential ten or so questions that we should have answers to, and models how to figure those answers out. And all in thoroughly practical terms. This is a book about the philosophy of death that actually confronts the practical reality of it, and helps you come to practical terms with it.

In short, this is the best book on the atheist philosophy of death you are likely ever to read.

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Richard Carrier has written a really nice, concise-but-thorough review of my new book, Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God (now available in ebook). You can read the full review on his blog. Thanks, Richard!

The Kindle edition is available on Amazon (that’s the link for Amazon US, btw — it’s available in other regions as well); the Nook edition is available at Barnes & Noble; and the Smashwords edition is available on Smashwords. All ebook editions and formats cost just $2.99. (The audiobook version is scheduled for publication on December 30; plans for a print edition are in the works.)

Here’s the description of the book:


If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife — how do you cope with death?

Accepting death is never easy. But we don’t need religion to find peace, comfort, and solace in the face of death. In this mini-book collection of essays, prominent atheist author Greta Christina offers secular ways to handle your own mortality and the death of those you love.

Blending intensely personal experience with compassionate, down-to-earth wisdom, Christina (“Coming Out Atheist” and “Why Are You Atheists So Angry?”) explores a variety of natural philosophies of death. She shows how reality can be more comforting than illusion, shatters the myth that there are no atheists in foxholes — and tells how humanism got her through one of the grimmest times of her life.

“In this book Greta Christina tackles the subject of death with the insight of a philosopher and the relaxed candor of a friend — that really cool, intelligent friend who understands and cares.”
-David Niose, author of Fighting Back the Right: Reclaiming America from the Attack on Reason

“Required reading for anyone alive. Greta Christina’s clear, bold, gentle and endlessly thought-provoking writing style constantly reminds me why I love her. She provides elegant proof that the even the hardest truths can be as beautiful, wonderful and uplifting as any other facet of our existence.”
-David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed and The Complete Heretic’s Guide to Western Religion

“When I was very young, I lost someone close to me in a car accident. Almost more painful than the loss was the way by which those around me attempted to find meaning in the senseless death of a young person. This is the book that seven-year-old me needed instead of the endless religious tracts that assured me that everything happens for a reason.”
-Heina Dadabhoy, Heinous Dealings blog

“Reading this book felt like one of those moments, standing in a dark and silent room, when glass powder strikes red phosphorous and turns a little of it into white phosphorous, which causes a match to light up in a warming flame. I want to show it (the book, not the match) to all my friends who are dealing with death, which is of course all of my friends. Thank you for writing it!”
-Greg M. Epstein, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University

“Bravo, Greta Christina. Your book is a feat of logic, wisdom, compassion, insight, humor, and lived experience presented in the most accessible way. Your ideas are compelling and I wish your words could be made available in hotel rooms everywhere, tucked into the drawer of the nightstand, in addition to hospital waiting rooms, train and bus stations, airports and classrooms. Death is certainly a Big Deal but humanism and non-belief have plenty of comfort to offer, as you so eloquently have put forth. In short, ‘What she said.'”
-Nina Hartley, author of Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex

“Greta Christina continues to provide unique advice and information to the growing community of seculars. We all need to consider our mortality and learn positive and productive ways to deal with our inevitable deadline. Thanks for this little book of wisdom. Christina has written a handbook we can all use. But it should be in the hands of every hospital and military chaplain, every hospice care giver,even ministers, etc. No secular person should be subjected to supernatural ideas and wishful thinking when they are dealing with death, dying and grief.”
-Darrel Ray, founder, Recovering from Religion

“Greta Christina’s new book transcends merely ‘enjoyable.’ Joy, tranquility, truth – I feel these while reading it.”
-Brianne Bilyeu, Biodork

“Atheism frees us to craft our own meaning for life, but we must still confront the specter of death. In this brief-yet-essential volume, Greta Christina presents an array of humanist perspectives that provide very real comfort and meaning in the face of death.”
-Neil Wehneman, Development Director, Secular Student Alliance

“The best book on the atheist philosophy of death you are likely ever to read”: Richard Carrier on “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God”

One thought on ““The best book on the atheist philosophy of death you are likely ever to read”: Richard Carrier on “Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God”

  1. 1

    I’m about 2/3 of the way through and am enjoying the book. Personally, when I speak with people who have lost loved ones, and when I leave comments on their facebook walls, I try to encourage them by saying simply that I hope the memories they relive and share in the coming days will bring as many smiles as tears. Interestingly, when those comments are on facebook there are lots of “likes” by people I don’t know, even though there’s nothing religious in what I’ve said.

    My father died in September at 86, and the thing I enjoyed most was seeing photos that I had somehow never seen before taken when he was in his 20s before he met my mother, and also a few from when he was a child. I’ve never been one to think about seeing my loved ones again — even when I was a believer. I suppose my imagination just isn’t vivid enough. (Even my memories of the past, though filled with the minutest details, seem like just information to me. Even yesterday doesn’t seem like just yesterday!)

    But I want to share with you something a young woman said at her father’s memorial last January. He was a good friend and he died of the flu just after his 59th birthday. His family are mostly believers, except for the youngest daughter. The daughters all spoke at the memorial service and the youngest one, after sharing a lot of memories, closed with this absolutely perfect and beautiful remark:

    “People keep telling me I’ll see him in Heaven, but I don’t have to wait.

    I see him in the faces of my beautiful sisters;
    I feel him in my mother’s arms;
    I smell him on his land, and in his guitar case, and in his books;
    And I hold him in my heart.

    I don’t. have. to wait.”

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