Death Is Not the End For a Life Well Lived

by Neil Wehneman

A lot of my friends are posting on Facebook about the passing of Edwin Kagin. Even mere weeks ago, I was listening to him go toe-to-toe on one of the largest radio stations in the country, with clear analysis and witty ripostes as he advocated for the secular cause of science over creationism.

I do my best to not lose sight of the giants on whose shoulders I stand. It was a privilege and an honor to have known Edwin, as briefly as it was. There are no pearly gates (or eternal fires) awaiting him, simply the march onwards to our eventual return to the starstuff from which we came.

We atheists do not believe death is the end for a life well lived. Yes, our physical bodies cease to function, but our ideas, our good works, those live on. We give those important improvements in the human condition a good hard shove in the right direction in life, then do our darnedest to prepare the next generations for grabbing a firm hold of those improvements when it is time for us to exit stage left.

Edwin was a cantankerous rabble rouser to the end. Just a few months ago, he was arguing in federal court that all organizations deserve equal treatment under the tax code, regardless whether they are religious or not. And the freethought summer camps he and his late wife founded are still going strong — indeed, stronger than ever.

Let’s raise a glass to Edwin with one hand, while we grab his batons with the other. Camp Quest has a $5,000 challenge grant for once they hit 100 monthly donors, and American Atheists has a $100,000 Fair Taxation match for the very case Edwin was arguing to the last.

Edwin may have departed us, but his life’s work has not. Let us prove with our deeds and support that death is not the end.