Drum responds:

[T]his attitude toward death surely sums up a vast chasm between the religious and the nonreligious. "Facing it is our life's task"? I can't even conceive of that. I think about death sometimes, just like everyone, and sometimes these thoughts bother me more than other times. But thinking about it all the time? Casting it as uniquely central to the human condition? That's almost incomprehensible to me. Wondering about our own finitude is one thing I imagine we all do that from time to time but why should this be elevated above the human ability to create art, science, mathematics, love, war, poetry, trade, government, or ethics or the ability to wonder in the first place? Why is learning how to deal with our eventual death the defining characteristic of being human? Not just because Montaigne said so, certainly.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.