Fear of Death – The Motivator Behind Everything?

Fear of Death







While watching a movie recently, I had this thought: “What would the world look like if people did not fear death?” If you must know, I was watching the most recent Star Trek movie, Beyond, and Spock said, “Fear of death is illogical” and Bones replied, “Fear of death is what keeps us alive.” This caused me to wonder, people have become very good at not dying, but I wonder what we would not have accomplished if not for fear of death.


The first thing that comes to mind is population size. I wonder how much smaller the world’s population would be if people had no fear of death. Some argue that a huge reason why we procreate is so that part of us will live on after we’re gone. We cannot achieve immortality so we go for the next best thing. Offspring.

Quick Point

It is nearly impossible to say fear of anything is illogical. Even if someone says they’re afraid of something ridiculous like, a butterfly for example. Of course it seems illogical because we know they have nothing to fear from a butterfly. But, why do they fear the butterfly? More than likely it’s because they don’t know what it is. Is fear of the unknown illogical? Of course not? In fact I recall many acquaintances speaking time and time again about how curiosity killed a certain animal of the feline persuasion. Now let’s relate that to death. That argument that fear of death is illogical is built on the premise that death comes to us all. It happens to everyone so you shouldn’t be afraid of it. Okay, but do you know what happens after you die? No. I don’t care if you’re the strongest Christian the good Lord has ever seen. You have no facts, you have faith. If you had facts you wouldn’t say no to skydiving or rollercoasters or whatever else scares you. Also, before you get angry I have no problem telling you that I am a Christian. I simply believe I operate on faith. My faith is driven by what could be thought of as significant evidence, but it’s just not hard enough for me to call it fact. Anyway, I’ll get back on topic, sorry about that tangent.


Without fear of death, would we try to make the world a better place? Why do most people make the world a better place? Well, we’d love to say they do it out of the goodness of their heart but we know that isn’t totally true. Don’t get me wrong, I have significant faith in humanity. The goodness people in this world show is truly beautiful. But really, if there was no fear of death would people try to advance the world in order to increase their quality of life? My argument here is not that innovation would go away, but that it would happen less often and with less severity.


What about war? War happens all throughout history in a world where people very much fear death. What would happen if people did not fear death? Would war happen less or more? I’ve thought about this a lot and I always land on more. Millions will die is usually a pretty significant reason the powers at be try diplomacy before acts of war. But if nobody cares about death I can only conclude war would be that much easier of a trigger to pull.

What Makes This Interesting

What makes this interesting, obviously, is how much of our lives are built around the fact that life is temporary. In marriage you pledge “until death do us part.” When you kill you can get the death penalty. You save money so that when you are old you can enjoy your life as much as possible before you die. People teach because they want to give the next generation a better chance to get their life together as quickly as possible so they can enjoy their life for as long as possible. So, what’s the point to this conversation? Well, if there is no afterlife then it would turn into a conversation about efficiency and utility. How does one get the most out of life as quickly as possible in the best way? If there is an afterlife then it becomes a question of purpose. Believers don’t ask themselves how they can get the most out of their life but how can they contribute the most with the life they were given. Or, perhaps rather, how they can figure out and do what they were meant to do. At least that’s how I think about it.

This is the first draft of this article so it likely can be improved but I wanted to publish it because this is a topic I am interested in. Please feel free to leave any comments you have in the comments section below.

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