Thanks to reader Christopher S for this fascinating video from the Jewish TV Network where top atheism advocates - including Christopher Hitchens - debate the existence of an afterlife with several top rabbis.
At 1:28 (that's one hour, twenty-eight minutes - it's a long video), they break out the Hamlet. Which side, exactly, brings up Hamlet? *Both*. That's cool. They both try to argue that Hamlet supports their case. And apparently, though I don't have time to find every reference, Chris tells me that "Several times throughout the evening they bring up Shakespeare's canon as a foil to the religious canons, arguing about whether we should read both in the same way or whether they need to be approached in different ways." This is a topic that we've covered as well.
What do you think about the atheism question? Does Hamlet fear the undiscovered country because he doesn't know what comes next ... or because he's wondering if *anything* comes next? I wouldn't go so far as to extend the discussion to "Is Hamlet atheist? Therefore, was Shakespeare atheist?" I know that's been argued elsewhere on the net. I think the odds are against it. I'm referring to this particular case. Even if Hamlet is a devoutly religious chap with a firm belief in the afterlife, is this speech a moment of weakness where he wonders "What if I'm wrong?"