A new study has revealed that people with strong religious beliefs will fight death more strongly than non-believers.
Researchers followed 345 patients with terminal cancer up until their deaths. Those who regularly prayed were more than three times more likely to receive intensive life-prolonging care than those who relied least on religion.
Speaking as an ex-Christian, I completely understand this. Despite the myth, religion is no comfort when it comes to thoughts of mortality.
Never was death more terrifying to me than when it was accompanied with belief in a poorly-defined afterlife and the spectre of Judgement Day.
Although few will admit it, every devout religious believer fears death. And not in spite of their religious belief, but because of it.
They fear they will not have done enough good works, even though how much is “enough” is never made clear.
They fear being damned for their little sexual peccadilloes.
And they all harbour the uncomfortable feeling that they might, just might, have picked the wrong religion.
Once you break it down to specific faiths, the fear gets even more specific.
Evangelical Christians fear being left behind, standing and watching as the Rapture takes the faithful up to heaven. Catholics fear eternity in the fires of hell. Sikhs fear reincarnation as a fly or tapeworm. Muslims fear their Judgement Day.
But for the atheist, death holds no such terror.
As the late, great Mark Twain once said:
"I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest of inconvenience from it."
Now that’s comforting.