Competing Afterlifes

 

The dual purpose of the afterlife

The afterlife is either a place where you are rewarded or punished according to how you lived on earth or it is a place of rest and contemplation before returning to life to continue learning until you’ve learned enough to reach oblivion aka nirvana.

Either way, it makes life a dress rehearsal or endless summer classes until you achieve eternal bliss or oblivion.

So, why can’t death just be the start of oblivion and avoid the messy inconsistency of an afterlife at all?

Partly, because without making death seem scary in some way – the authority structures have not way to ensure that you are compliant with the behaviours said authority wants you and us as a group to behave in – largely, they want us to ensure that the authority structure is maintained.

Because people will generally not behave in specific manners unless they are tricked, forced or bribed when the behaviours are clearly outside of their self interest.

Now, it is in my interest to obey the civil laws to maintain the degree of freedom that my society wants, to avoid pain and punishment – however, this is not why I obey the civil laws.

I obey the civil laws largely because they are in line with my values – partly because the values of the society I was raised in form my beliefs – which is why there’s a diversity of societies and belief systems – they are after all geographically dependant – and my values are also based on my experiences, education and my individual nature.

So, if the law against murder was removed from the criminal code, it does not mean that I would run out and being to murder people willy nilly. The idea is actually revolting – which is why it takes a lot of training in military and police settings to break the social norm in people against murder and say that murder of complete strangers when you are both in uniforms is okay, but not when you’re in a public or private setting in street clothes.

The purpose of claims for an afterlife is the only leverage that religions have in cultures that are not governed by said religion. Fear of punishment is the tool of religion and political beliefs.

You would have no need to fear punishment in a secular society with clearly articulated civil laws – however, there has yet to be such a society so far in human history – if you did not break the rules of said society. Democratic countries are made up of people with religious and political agendas, and the civil laws are influenced by these beliefs and as such, areas of law while appearing secular are too often driven by religious or political ideologies and worse, are enforced by people who are driven by said ideologies.

This is why the demographics of prison systems do not reflect the demographics of the general non-imprisoned population. Prison is a mixture of people with criminal anti-social behaviour and people with behaviours that have been criminalized by ideology. Worse, often people who are in prison are members of stigmatized groups, usually ethnic or economic minorities, who are unable to access equal legal representation to majority groups and these minority individuals are generally sentenced with longer punishments for the same offence as a majority individual. They tend to be punished fro both the crime and their group affiliations.

The reason that prison relates to the afterlife, especially in the USA, where there is a strong religious sentiment of “kill or punish them all and let god sort them out”. The problem with this is that the person who is asserting god’s supreme justice never seems to understand that they are in fact, sending people to the final reward well ahead of schedule and that they are somehow exempt from that same justice, despite their own actions falling far short and deserving of punishment in kind.

Because of this belief, based on no factual evidence, that true justice occurs after death, there is little incentive to identify and prosecute the correct individual and instead send to prison a look like because the entire group of individuals is guilty of something and they will all be punished again in the afterlife – that it matters little what torments we subject these guilty by association individuals to in the actual life. Since we have the concept of double jeopardy in civil law, if we really accepted that people will be properly punished after death – then prison and the criminal justice system is a complete waste of time and serves only to provide employment to the special few and provide some measure of punishment to the deemed guilty – a kick before they are down for the count. So to speak.

 

Afterlife as reward or punishment.

Given the prison evaluation above, how can the afterlife make sense if this is the purpose?

If I am a good person and am awarded with heaven – and part of that is being reunited with all my lost loved ones – what if one of those loved ones is deemed hell-bound?

How can my heaven be complete without my beloved scoundrel family member if they are in hell? Do I get an ideal copy of this loved one for my heaven while the real loved one is on hell?

Certainly, my heaven would not include eternal torment for anyone I loved.

Even in this life, parents of criminals still love them and want their criminal loved one to live well and happy and not be in jail, despite their crimes. Even full well knowing what the crimes are – many parents are not in denial of their offspring’s criminal activity – especially in mafia or other crime families.

If heave is being reunited with lost love ones – even if they are all good and well meaning people – is heaven really a perpetual holiday gathering of family and friends?

Many of us do not look forward to that happening now on a long weekend, even for part of an evening, just to say hi to everyone, have a drink and then head out to celebrate the holiday with non-family. Can it be heaven if you can’t leave the party?

Or, is the perpetual party where everyone is after death and it’s heaven or hell depending on your personal preference? Because I know people to whom being stuck in the same room with their family for an hour is an eternity of hell. Man, you’d want to die all over again to be stuck in that situation for all actual eternity.

Perpetual Learning afterlife

So, what if the afterlife is perpetual learning with or without a rest recess as most religions posit.

Perpetual learning sounds heavenly to those of us who enjoy learning – but learning to achieve what – eventual nirvana or oblivion?

This would be hell for people who dislike and actively avoid learning – ironically, these are the religious believers. We can tell because religion provides all the answers you know, so why do you need to keep learning when all the lessons are handed to you just because you believed?

For those of us who enjoy learning and want to learn – learning until you can achieve oblivion makes the learning pointless. Learning only has meaning when you can apply and build on lessons. Never ending life means there’s no urgency to learning, no final buzzer to say that the time is up. When time is endless, time looses meaning.

A moment is eternity and eternity lasts a moment. One is as good as the other. It is because there is a time limit that learning and life has meaning.

Imagine a TV channel where an endless number of people were playing a sports game – no uniforms to know who is playing against who, every kind of ball, net and goal indicator on the playing area, which is drawn in several geometric lines and people running, walking, throwing, kicking and carrying the balls everywhere, and the scoreboard flashes random numbers, letters and pictures – and there’s no timer to let you know the units of game time or the end of the game. Watching for a few minutes gives you the same understanding as watching continuously for a year.

 

Life matters

Life matters because it’s what we can know that we have and life has a limit to make what we do in this life matter in this life.

People who posit that there is any all power, all knowing god who gives life meaning not only have to ignore a lot of cognitive dissonance like how can here be free will with an omnipotent god who sees and knows everything, or why a loving god would allow so much suffering – are living life small and in fear of their petty and vindictive god. It is because the idea of a god is so inconsistent with life, that religion must not be questioned, for asking questions is the undoing of religion and of god – if you are intellectually honest and unafraid of the answers.

Our lives have the meaning that we each give our own life.

It is because life is limited that is it value and things that are valuable have meaning and worth. Having a limited supply of something makes each item in that supply more valuable than a person who has an endless supply of the same items.

It’s diminishing returns – this is why it’s alarming that the majority of the global wealth is controlled by 2% of the global population. That 2% needs religion and politician ideology to keep the wealth to themselves, rather than share it so that everyone has an equitable share of the wealth – especially given that the wealth is created by everyone’s labour. So, the way for the supply of items that you have has value, is if you have very little and so it’s valuable to you; or, if you have the entire available supply, so you have the only stockpile and no one else has any. This way, having 1 billion of a thing regains value if no one else has any.

Life matters because it’s finite and you have a limited amount of actions and acquisition of items and learning – so, what you chose to accumulate – material or intellection or emotional wealth – in relationship with the people you encounter over your life – is up to you.

Life is value all on it’s own

Give your life – and yourself as a consequence – the value you see it as having.

It is a difficult thing to understand that value comes from within and not without.

People who determine their value based on external factors – be it a god, a parent or other people and worse – other people’s values – are doomed to be unhappy and make their own life a living hell. Which nicely explains why religious believers are so keen to recruit – as if having population numbers make those beliefs more valid.

The only difference between a religion and a cult is the duration of time and number of members. The other differences are trivial – but life doesn’t have to be so.

I am told by believers that I encounter on line that hell is the absence of god. I would say that hell is the absence of value and when you determine your value by external criteria, like a god, then you are absent of value and in a funny way, your god.

But determining your own value, you are in effect, being your own god and can then experience heaven. Experience nirvana, a balance of everything, on demand in the here and now.

And, you only have to have an existential existentialist crisis to achieve it – nothing to buy, nothing really to read – heck, with the internet, the reading is pretty much free.

There no cost to you except putting in the work and time. For you, for your own benefit.

Then, life becomes very purposeful and meaningful with clarity. The unexamined life truly is not living, it’s merely marking time and usually unpleasantly.

Counting Who Votes

I used to work the federal and provincial elections , in Canada, we not only use an honour system – you don’t need to show government issued identification if you have your voter card – we allow a voting proxy for people who are blind, can’t read, and various other reasons why a person can’t mark their own ballot.

At the polling station where I worked the first time as a polling station supervisor, a man and woman in their 60’s brought in their adult aged son on a gurney – he was so mentally disabled as to not have any awareness of his surroundings – but, he is still a citizen and gets to vote.

In theory and by policy, his father casts the son’s ballot on the son’s behalf as per the son’s instructions.

Hhowever, it is clear to any observer that the son is not capable to give directions to the father to cast an independant ballot; so the father in practise, has two votes.

By not defining what qualitifes people to vote – we are giving people who have control of a person who is unable to comprehend and communicate two votes.

As unpalatable as this situation – which is a rare exceptional circumstance,  the question is:  is it better to allow the rare exception and give a person in effect two or maybe more votes, circumstances depending – what if he had two such offspring?

Or do we set rules and disenfranchise whole swaths of people from voting and in effect, create a second teir of lower citizenship based on ability?

Given our history of the concept of eugenics – improving the human species through a non-random or guided selection based on favourable attributes the way that we breed domesticated animals and plants – and instead, having the process corrupted by religious, political and discriminatory agendas, it’s better to err on the side of allowing minor abuses to include everyone as a single tier of citizenship; than to create levels of qualifications and end up with human rights abusives of people who have no voice or who’s voice have been taken away.

We  happened to have several federal and provincial elections back to back so, after the first year, I was able to advise the ballot officer and clerk to expect the family and ensured that they had a smooth and basically the same voting experience as everyone else without coming to vote and expecting a fight.

That I kinda feel like I abandoned them to train a new polling station supervisor.

Makes me wonder what it was like to vote when the first women were allowed to enter the polling station….

 

Perception of Open mindedness

Love may be a many splendored thing, but perception is a multi-layered thing.

Whether we allow ourselves to be open to multiple perspectives or cling to just one; is decided on a case by case basis and fluctuates throughout our lives, years, days, even down to the specific circumstances of any given situation.

The circumstances are fairly important, since that acts a a filtre for determine which perspectives and information is relevant to arrive a ta decision in the circumstance.

Conflict between yourself and another parties or parties arise when the number and kinds of perception – and with it, what is the relevant information – do not have sufficient overlap or any at all.

Whether a conflict can be resolved, depends on how much overlap of perceptions there are between the parties. No overlap, then no resolution – you truly cannot see eye to eye.

This leads me to the idea of open mindeness.

Being open minded is what people claim they are when they have accepted an explanation or course of action that lacks any sound basis.

This is everything from religion,  naturopathic  healing, to ghosts and alien abductions.

The claim is generally that those of us not embracing the concept are closed minded.

Ironic – since, to embrace a concept is to close yourself off to other concepts – it is to close the mind.

The claims generally run along various levels of self deception and oversimplification:

  • I beleive in god because when I die, if there is a god, I’ll got to heaven and if there’s no god, then no harm, no foul.
  • It doesn’t hurt anyone for me to beleive in x, y, z.
  • As long as I follow the doctor’s treatment, then these other treatments are complimentary.
  • Why not try everything, you can’t know it doesn’t work.
  • Why not beleive it, you can’t prove it’s not real, that it doesn’t exist, that it doesn’t work

So, here’s why not:

There can be no evidence for non-existence – non-existent things do not leave footprints, spoor or hair/fur on branches; things that do not exist do not do anything to the natural environment that leave traces of there having been there. A thing that doesn’t exist cannot be inferred to exist from the lack of traces either.

Ghosts, unicorns, vampires, faeries to comic book superheros are imagination and they exist in fiction where they belong – to remove them from their proper context and assert that they do exist in reality, or may have existed once and that our imagination is a form of collective half memory, or that they exist in an another dimension that periodically crosses into our world – is to invite madness. It’s okay that they are imaginary and that they exist in the world of fiction.

Complimentary – the dangers of complimentary “medicine” is that the nautropathic medicine so called treatments are placebos at best and contra-indicated with medicine at worst.

Unproven treatments at best, are a waste of your time and money – and worse, since so many people now cling to them, are a waste of tax money and health insurance money to the tune of billions of dollars – it’s like a hospital who is turning away very sick people in favour of filing the beds with people with minor or no complaint at all and providing beds, staff attention and treatements when they aren’t needed – the people who need care are waiting longer and longer to get care because we are wasting so much time, money and effort in treatments that will have no impact on anything other than the person’s perception of symptoms.

So called alternative medicine can only provide relief of symptoms that are subjective, that is, how much pain or discomfort you think you are in, as opposed to how big your tumour is or how broken your leg is.

And this is the heart of the matter – everyone can understand what a broken leg is – and they know the treatment is getting the leg reset adn immobilized in a cast until the body heals itself.

You would not go and get acupuncture or a homeopathic drink to fix this – the more you factually know about the human body, the better able you are to determine a course of treatment – and so called alternative health practitioners do not know any more about biology than their clients.

If you don’t know enough about your body to heal yourself, why go to someone else who knows more more and often less, than you do?

This is not to say that doctors know everything – they don’t, but they know substantially more than the  so-called alternative health practitioners. Alternative health indeed – the alternative to health is to not have any, and to be dead.

This is the harm that is caused by accepting claims without evidence. It is never a case of well, I have my own beleifs nd they don’t hurt anyone – is that over enough time, beliefs are not held by one person – they are held by many – and they get organized into cults, which over neough time and enouh members, become religions – or over enough time and members, become a political party – often propped up by a religion with the shared vlaues and ideas.

Cleanliness is an idea that is dangerous when religion and politics align.

Cleanliness is next to godliness plus political ideology becomes less about washing your hands and more about ethnic cleansing the gene pool.

Whereas, cleanliness remains merely hygiene when you do not escalate it to a divine rule to be imposed on everyone else.

  • Hygiene = physically clean
  • Hygiene + Divine authority + political power = genocide

So, accepting claims that have no basis, logic or evidence lead to terrible outcomes for everyone else. That is the eventual result of ideological groups voting for like minded politicians.

The USA has had their secular society co-opted by this very process under George W Bush – who has prevented a lot of actually humanitarian work being funded around the globe by restricting funding to christian ideological groups and by the longer term endorsement of these same groups within the US society – for example – court ordered attendance at Alcholic Anonymous – which is basically an attempt to shift the addict from alchohol to god/AA meetings.

Seriously, let’s not pretend that AA isn’t religious.

But, back to perception – when you are open minded, you are still considering information and haven’t formed a position. The open mind is a mind that has yet to be decided.

Decided mind is when you’ve deemed that you’ve had enough data and made a decision. However, you are still open to new data that could change it – that’s open minded.

Closed minded is when you’ve decided something (god is real, unicorns exist, I was alien abducted last night) and no other information or lack of information is going to change that decision.

Of course, we’re not open, un/decided, or closed minded on all matters all at the same time. Which is why we grow and change our views over our lifetime and experiences.

If we’re lucky, we can learn and make decisions based on what other people have done or experienced – and this is often conveyed through fiction, art, or non-fiction or pure research.

But basing your decisions on a more limited data set – I beleive what I was raised to beleive – is merely to repeat the experience of the parents and not to change or, in fact, grow up and be a fully formed adult in any meaningful sense.

This is why godbots, to the atheist, appear a child aping their partents – because they are.

And godbots, childishly aping their parents whom they percieve as adults, take offense – since they must be adults since they act like their parents who aped their parents – don’t see themselves for the children that they truly are.

This is why deferring to ancient vague authority – whether it’s for the religion of earlier generations or because ancient shamans and healers used the bark to cure headaches that we now make aspirin out of is harmful.

We cannot cling to how things used to be done – we do not live in that world anymore.

The way that people did things decades, centuries and milenia ago are not solutions for the era when the problems of those practises are where we are now.

We cannot keep doing things as a society and expect the same result – it’s collective insanity.

This is why we have to have the advancement of human rights – to correct the prejudice of the past.

This is why we have to have medical advances – we cannot keep treating illnessess with the same treatments that are shown to not work (AA for example)  or do not work better than placebos (alternative treatments ) or do not work on the core problem and only manage symptoms.

To be open minded, is to embrace change and the unknown as change and unknown.

To have pre-conceptions is why the observer taints whatever is observed.

And that taint is conformation bias – which, everyone is guilty of when we only seeks or give merit to information that confirms what we already know.

Tricky, when we can’t really know what it is that we think that we know.

You know?

Canada in a UK/US sandwich

Posted on-line:

Living in the UK and watching US tv, we’ve been brainwashed to believe that Canadian’s basically suck. But everytime I read about Canada or meet someone from there, I’m led to believe is the US that actually sucks and that they are jealous of Canada’s progressive politics. I suppose its a bit like how being part of religion can make you live in a bubble thinking that you are better than everyone else.

Random Ntrygg:

Growing up in Canada and watching UK TV, US TV and the little bit of Canadian TV that sneaks onto the airways;  my Canadian perspective is that the Brits are more sophisticated because they are mature about Benny Hill, cross dressing and full frontal nudity on tv, at all very rigid class levels all steeped in a far older civilization with sophisticated history of literature and science

The Americans are largely the silicon Blonde pageant queen and beer gut slobby construction worker battling with Rosie the Riveter and the can do pioneer spirit and Canadians are dithering because of our inferiority complex to both – allowing us to be the children of Britain and the younger, failure to launch sibling to the US.

We have had great advances in technology that the world assumes was done in the US, and we actual ruin our industries to avoid annoying the Americans.

We actually had a treaty agreement to not develop a film industry as long as the Americans occasiionally filmed prioductions here.

We gave any our economic soveriegnty to be a service provider to the US industries.

Americans now take that as what’s owed to them by other countries.

Historically, the US Democrats are more right wing than Canadian Conservatives. We are in an interesting era when the US Democratic President is more left wing than our conservative Prime Minister.

Well, maybe not for long – the Canadian system of confidence votes is certainly unique.

But, as Canadians, I think that we actually care more about individuals than in the US – where it’s more a individuals in terms of a look out for number one, because no one is looking out for you attitude.

Whereas, in Canada, we care about individuals and so have a social saftey network to give people a basic platform to support them – universal health care, welfare and other social programs.

I think that it’s very telling that the US frontier heros were the outlaw gunslingers and in Canada, it was the Northwest Mounted Police, later the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It’s telling that the US had a violent separation from the UK and then a violent settling of scores internally.

Canada is still not a separate country from the UK, and made that relationship symbolic in the 1980’s with our Charter – no revolution.

Canada’s internal battle is still being fought between our Anglo and Franco heritages, but instead of a civil war, that battle is fought within diplomatic channels as a federal political party.

Canada’s path is one of diplomacy and civility, which takes longer, requires more compromise and while has an ultimate all round better conclusion, is slower and less satisfying than a civil war with a clear winner and loser.

Which is why the US continues to be divided north and south – and the mischaracterization of the civil ware being about freeing the slaves is appalling.

The north freed the slaves to attack the south economically – the slaves were freed to take away the pool of labour the South had and in hopes of having the slave rise up to create a second front for the South who was already fighting the north.

This is not to say that all in Canada is okay – we have a terrible history of treatment of the aboriginal people that continues today, and we are at the starting point of the problems of multiculturalism and migrant waves who are resisting becoming part of the mosaic that is Canada.

It’ the US with the idea of a melting pot – but that means that the culture is the lowest common denominator and Canada’s mosaic analogy is more like having a quilt made of many types of patterned squares.

We drunkenly lurch between the UK and US paths, trying to find our own identity.