The Secular Case Against Cremation

Okay, this is the post I can’t put up at American Spectator. This is the kind of post for which personal blogs were made.

I have long been troubled by the choice of many to be cremated. I far prefer the practice of Christian burial, which leaves the body intact as a sign of the dead person’s hope in resurrection by the Lord.

There are people in my family who are Christians and who prefer to be cremated. This disturbs me. I want to visit those who predecease me at their graves. I want to visit them where they lay, not look at some urn or think about how we scattered an incinerated body over a lake or something like that.

So, I have been trying to think about how to convince people not to be cremated. Some of my Christian relatives and friends are annoyed by my strong preference against the practice of incinerating the dead. They accuse me of having too little faith that God will raise whom he will raise regardless of the state of the body. He will raise even a body that has been burned into ashes.

I suspect they are right. I doubt God would refuse to resurrect or admit to the afterlife someone who requested and received cremation. Still, I think we call it Christian burial for a reason. It is a symbol, just like the wedding ring on a finger. We are signaling the world that we believe God has plans for us. He will resurrect the old body and transform it into an uncorruptible, glorified new body with a future we can only guess about.

But I titled this post “The Secular Case Against Cremation.”  Here it is.  You aren’t going to have to believe in anything more than the technological progress of man.  If you are cremated and your physical body has been destroyed, then how are the incredibly advanced humans of the year 3500 going to reconstitute you by using your DNA?  The graveyards are going to be an incredible bonanza of super advanced bio-archaeology.  They’ll need a body or at least some old bones to work with!  Then, you can hang around telling them about your world until the sun starts going supernova.

Chew on that for a while and see if you’re still so hot about making your final rest as a bunch of ashes in a coffee can.  I hope Heather Mac Donald and the rest of the “secular right” folks enjoy this exciting use of my secular reason.

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9 thoughts on “The Secular Case Against Cremation

  1. Me, too. Cremation has always struck me as the triumph of utilitarianism and the rebirth of paganism. And it goes hand in hand with a “disenchantment” that hopes to strip all symbols out of the world.

  2. Hunter, I am with you completely on this, and regret I don’t have a good secular argument against cremation to contribute. The acceptance of the practice by many Christians does not surprise me. Until I converted to Catholicism as an adult, the phrase “resurrection of the body” in the Creed was totally opaque to me.

    Recently, I had to have my faithful canine companion of 12 years euthanised. And in so doing, was made aware that unless you own a backhoe and have an in with the county health department, there is really notihng you can do with a 110 lb dead dog but have him cremated. Last week the vet brought his ashes to me, sealed in a tasteful wooden box. I cannot begin to imagine how it would feel to have that box contain my mother, or my husband. The “ick factor” has to count for something in moral reasoning, surely.

  3. Hunter,

    But isn’t creamation where we came up with the phrase, “He’s toast” and “He flamed out”?

    I am just throwing out ideas for limits we might be putting on English vernacular.

    Ever read the words to John Prine’s, “Please Don’t Bury Me”? It does not address cremation but does espouse some of the benefits that the lack of creamation provide.

  4. Recently my Mother died and she left instructions to have her ashes join my brother’s out to Sea. This was Mom’s desire, but then came another plot twist , no pun intended,my sisters brokered Mum’s ashes into derivatives of the whole. Family shareholders would each entitle themselves take an apportioned amount of the skull and bones now laying in wait at the Mortuary. The 5th school teacher and her husband reasoned that if it was good enough for Mr. Hober’s mother than it would be O.K. to repeat it on yet another deceased family member. Awkward to those uninitiated in this practice is the belief that this is acceptable modern practice. An oddly no one thought to ask if there any voices of decent to this fractional tithing among the tribe. Yet, I found the idea morally repugnant and disrespecting of Mum’s wishes to have disbursement of her ashes at sea. The family pursued in earnest the milieu of rights. Roberts atheism and secular rants, my spiritual emotional trauma over these events haunts me still. Quickly Robert and Abraham went into proxy fights and Win/Lose conflicts. No side conceding or giving quarter to other.

    In my minds eye, a disturbing image emerged, an open casket ,had that been my Mom’s last wish, would quickly find my siblings dismembering body parts , arms legs, toes, and beheading her. Would this be O.K.? How are crematory skeletal remains different? Ah, because the survivors now are unable to recognize the deceased’s humanity and when that occurs the moral guideposts are lost. A new spin to the Skulls and Bones club. What say you the audience?

  5. The Bible says, we will have a NEW BODY and a NEW LIFE. Our souls live on forever. Our bodies return to dust from whence we came.

  6. I’m betting you keep most pop-in guest comments without an email addy off your site. That’s ok. I just wanted to point out one thing.

    Secular people are more likely to donate their bodies to science.

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