A discussion came up in an atheist group on Facebook — a woman (atheist) said her elderly father is in the hospital, and he said he couldn’t die until he converted his atheist child to Christianity.
My own suggestion was that she tell him, “I think your god would rather I be honest in my disbelief rather than concert in blind faith without conviction.” And she could tell him she appreciates his heart-felt concern for her eternal well-being, but he should trust her to live in good conscience and decently in this life as best she can.
Other people were suggesting she lie to him and say she converted, simply to comfort or pacify the old man in his dying days. The premise (near as I could make out) is that this would comfort him, and if there is no afterlife she would have no consequences for her lie.
Atheists don’t fear consequences in some afterlife. We accept the consequences of our actions here in this life. Lying to pacify someone on their deathbed, however well-intended, is still a lie. And we’d have to live in the knowledge that our last thought to someone was a lie. This would damage one’s integrity.
It is not useful to pretend to convert, whether for a dying loved one, or to impress someone still able to examine and find out the truth (like ‘converting’ to win the affections of someone who won’t have you unless you join their religion). A lie will always find you out.
Ernest Holmes said, “We are not punish for our sins; we are punished by them.”