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Apeirophobia

The fear of eternity

Posted by Jeena

I was just listening to a podcast, The Richard Dawkins Interview - The Thinking Atheist Radio Podcast #131 and around the time-stamp of 1:02:10 the interviewer asks him:

Interviewer: Do you fear death?
Dawkins: I fear eternity, I think eternity is an alarming concept.
I: Richard, you can live forever. That's not attractive to you?
D: No, eternity is a very frightening idea. I think it is even more frightening if you're there then if you're not. So the way I want to put it is: I want to spend eternity under general anestatic.
I: Is it the endlessness that makes it meaningless?
D: Not meaningless, it is just the endlessness itself, I mean just getting on and on and on and on, it is like the infinity of space being frightening, meanwhile our brains aren't build cope with it.

So this is particularly interesting for me because when I was a catholic 9 years old boy lying in my bed and thinking about what the priest has been talking about in church the other day I didn't feel anxious about the idea of being in hell and burning there but instead a different part of the threat frightened me much more, staying there for eternity.

I was so afraid of the thought of an eternity that not even the prospect of spending eternity in heaven was anything I could look forward too, it didn't seem really much better then a eternity in hell, and actually still doesn't.

I haven't given that much thought for many years but last year I told my brother about it and he found out that there is even a name for it: Apeirophobia. I don't have a phobia about it, I just find the thought of eternity rather unpleasant.

I wonder if the hope of not ever having to experience eternity helped me on my way away from religion and any gods. But reading about apeirophobia on the internet it seems like it is not in any way related to atheists. Actually most, if not all, of the articles I read have been written by religious people.

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