Dennis Prager: Choose life: The case for Judeo-Christian values: IX: "Egyptian civilization was steeped in death. Its bible was the Book of the Dead, and its greatest monuments, its very symbols, the pyramids, were gigantic tombs. One of the Torah's first tasks was to destroy the connection between civilization (and, of course, religion) and death. That is the reason, I am convinced, for the absence of overt mention of the afterlife in the Old Testament -- it was greatly concerned with getting humanity preoccupied with life. With a few noble exceptions, preoccupation with the afterlife has led to denigration of life. The Islamic terrorists and the cultures that support them are only the most recent examples.
One of the greatest insights of Sigmund Freud, who, his atheism notwithstanding, was perhaps the greatest mind of the 20th century, was that human beings have a Death Instinct, a death wish that is as strong as the Life Instinct. He wrote this decades before Nazism and the Communist genocides of the 20th century proved his point.
Yet, he was only saying in psychoanalytical terminology what Moses had said in Deuteronomy thousands of years earlier."
Much of what we assume about love of life today has been underwritten by the Judeo-Christian tradition (cf. The Romans, Vikings, Mayans, etc.).