People with strong religious beliefs appear to be in no great hurry to meet their Lord and Saviour, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which shows that terminal cancer patients who pray frequently are three times more likely than atheists to beg their doctors to drag out their doomed lives for as long as is medically possible.
Despite the intense physical and psychological stress caused to the dying by aggressive interventions like ventilators, feeding tubes and non-palliative chemotherapy - not to mention the emotional trauma that such long-drawn-out deaths inevitably inflict upon relatives - doctors found that those cancer victims who believed firmly in life after death were by far the most reluctant to embark on the journey into the Beyond.
"It could be that the faithful feel that, by putting themselves through this needless, agonising torture, they are in some way sharing in the sufferings that Christ endured for our sins on the cross," said one baffled medic. "On the other hand, it could just be that they only believe in God at all because they just can't bear the thought of their own mortality. Go figure."
The noted atheistic tub-thumper, Professor Richard Dawkins, shouted angrily that the research conclusively proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that - unlike the terrified, cowering, cannibalistic totem-fetishists infected with the Christianity disease - rational and reasonable unbelievers like himself were quite comfortable with the notion that the world would somehow carry on just fine without them, and snarled a message of non-religious hope to the world: "You are all going to die."