The Fear of Death argues that the fear of death is instinctual, evolutionarily brought with us as part of our animal equipment, and central to our psychology. It is fundamentally related to our sense of guilt, our vulnerability, our need to appease the gods. It is an important element in romantic love. It drives the nurturing protective struggle of parents to have their seed carry on. It is at the core of the creative process.
Survival is our first priority.
The book addresses many cultural issues as well. For example, counter establishment sentiments brought a destabilizing of mans conventional efforts to deal with mortality through a link to God. In the end, however, the motivation became quite similar. A health religion was created in which cholesterol, carcinogens, lack of exercise, and so forth became deadly vices. The virtuous now stay in shape and watch their diets. As men once worried about the state of their souls, the focus of angst has become the body. However, William Bennett has also noted that with the aging of the youth culture, social trends may have come full circle. Many are beginning to hedge their bets as they reach fifty, returning to conventional prayer and religion. They are getting off their exercise bicycles and down on their knees.