Thoughts of a Dying Atheist

On a similar theme to the OPM song, another song from more or less the same time, that always makes me think, is Muse’s Thoughts of a Dying Atheist.  It makes me think about portrayals of religion in popular culture, and how media of popular culture become vehicles for exploring religion and spirituality.  ‘Atheism’ is supposedly a widely held view, though it comes in many forms.  It is, however, an increasingly popular term in discussing views on religion.

Eerie whispers
Trapped beneath my pillow
Won’t let me sleep
Your memories

And I know you’re in this room
I’m sure I heard you sigh
Floating in between
Where our worlds collide

Scares the hell out of me
And the end is all I can see
And it scares the hell out of me
And the end is all I can see

And I know the moment’s near
And there’s nothing you can do
Look through a faithless eye
Are you afraid to die?

I particularly like the challenge posed by the song – an ‘atheist’ comes to question his beliefs.  The line ‘look through a faithless eye’ is striking; it seems as though the speaker believes himself to be scared because of his faithlessness.  The listener already knows that the speaker of the song is scared, but now the question is turned on the listener ‘are you afraid to die?’

There is an urgency lent to the song by the pressing nature of the music.  The swift tempo adds to this effect.  This is a sharp contrast to the OPM song, which is relaxed, laid back almost, supporting its pleasant all-inclusive conception of heaven.  One can only assume that the ‘dying atheist’ of the Muse song is dying somewhat rapidly, hence the urgency of the music.  Despite the rapid movement of the accompaniment of Thoughts of a Dying Atheist, however, the thoughts are conveyed much more slowly by the singer.

Muse have many songs which explore ideas about religion, spirituality, and, for want of a better term, meaning.  Popular culture is open to such explorations, and is fascinating to explore.  There is no shortage of popular songs that could be discussed that are of a similar nature.  It seems that whereas the population at large might not want to be preached at in church, hence the small number of regular church-goers, that does not mean a lack of interest in searching for meaning in life, however that may be found.

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