Mystery surrounds deaths of atheist billionaire and his wife
Almost 10,000 people – including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – today attended the funeral of Barry and Honey Sherman who were found dead of ligature neck compression at their luxury home in Toronto on December 15.
The deaths left Canadians deeply shocked, not least because police have so far not indicated that billionaire Barry Sherman, 75, founder the giant Apotex pharmaceutical company, and his wife, aged 70 – both well known public figures – were the result of a crime committed by an outsider or outsiders. The couple were reportedly found hanging above their indoor swimming pool area.
Many media outlets have cited police sources saying that an early theory is that Sherman may have killed his wife and then taken his own life.
Since the gruesome discovery of the pair by an estate agent, the lives of the Shermans have been closely picked over by the media, and the Toronto Star yesterday revealed that, in an unfinished 1996 memoir, the pharmacy mogul wrote frankly about his atheist convictions and his “disdain for organised religion”.
What seems clear is that most if not all theists cannot define that in which they purport to believe, and any attempt at explanation leads to absurdities.
Despite Sherman’s condemnation of religious beliefs, he and Honey were generous supporters of Jewish causes, donating at least $50 million (£37-m) to United Jewish Appeal throughout their lives.
Sherman emphatically wrote that he believes all humans are bound by the rules of physics, comparing human bodies to computer hardware and concluded:
Free will is an illusion. Power and wealth bring no obligation, but they do bring opportunity.
Barring the existence of God, and free will, Sherman wrote:
Life has no meaning or purpose. ‘Meaning’ and ‘purpose’ are, by definition, dependent on an intelligent being having an intent in mind. A corollary of the non-existence of a ‘God’ is that we are here with no ‘meaning’ or ‘purpose’ to our lives.
Instincts, rather than God, explain humans’ pursuits of happiness and success — including his own, Sherman wrote.
I cannot see that human behaviour differs in any fundamental way from that of numerous species on the savannahs of Serengeti. We are all driven by our instincts to eat, drink, copulate, protect ourselves and our young, and cooperate with others, particularly those most closely related to us, if and when it is to our mutual advantage.
Happiness is, I believe, best defined as satisfaction of these drives, and it is that which we all pursue.
Jonathon Sherman, one of the couple’s four children, minced no words as he began the eulogy at today’s funeral:
These last few days have been really fucked up for my family.
In a statement released on December 17, the family said:
Our parents shared an enthusiasm for life and commitment to their family and community totally inconsistent with the rumours regrettably circulated in the media as to the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
We are shocked and think it’s irresponsible that police sources have reportedly advised the media of a theory which neither their family, their friends nor their colleagues believe to be true.
Hat tip: Andy