The reason why people cling to religion is often a fear of death, the more obsessed with death, the more religious a person is. Goth and Emo kids are mere morbid amateurs compared to fundamentalist religious believers who live their lives as if it’s a mere dress rehearsal for the afterlife that they hope death brings them or brings to them.
Death is part of life, necessary even, so what happens will be part of the natural universe, this being the case, no need to fear or attempt to anticipate or manipulated the process as religious believers attempt. There’s no reason to believe that death is any different for humans than it is for any other animal.
To the best of our knowledge, biochemical energy present in life converts to heat energy in death and our inert bodies become food for other animals on down to single cell organisms, depending on the circumstances of death. Energy isn’t lost, it’s recycled and composted.
Believers hope for some kind of continuous conscious existence after death and live their lives according to their chosen religion to achieve their preferred afterlife. Well, attempt to – more often than not, religion is a trial and error, providing an unattainable ideal, requiring either several lifetimes to get it right or requiring repentance for forgiveness.
Such forgiveness being in awfully short supply from those that expect it from their god for themselves, but are usually unwilling to extend such courtesy to other people, proffering gloating over “you’ll get yours when you die, atheist”; which puts a chill on the idea of heaven, since it clearly cannot exist without hell; and how can any truly morally person be pleased to be in heaven, knowing that hell is full of people just as deserving of forgiveness as those who are in heaven?
Non-believers don’t concern themselves with inevitable and uncontrollable things like death – so when believers ask non-believers to engage in Pascal’s Wager, it’s futile for more than the obvious reasons of picking one of tens of thousands of equally viable gods and that any deity worth worshiping would hardly be fooled by hedging one’s bets in halfhearted belief and worship.
The cost of living your life according to an arbitrary, contradictory and impoverished morality such as lowest common denominator frameworks that religions demand, is to waste your life being a morbid control freak overly concerns with trifles such as magical garments, time consuming group meetings, meaningless ritual, what or who to do with your genitals and worse, far too much concern with what other people may or may not be doing to or with their genitals.
People who claim to be pro-life attach themselves to preventing living women from terminating unwanted pregnancies or terminating life support of comatose people who have no likelihood of returning from a state of mere existence to a state of life. Preventing these beings that are merely existing and are not independent living beings in any meaningful understanding of life and living, from returning to the god that the pro-life purport to believe in, seems contrary to their faith and are in effect, an attempt to control the existence of other people.
These other people being those living pregnant women and family members who are seeking to end a mere existence and reduce suffering, their own and likely that of the comatose person, and to terminate an unwanted for whatever reason pregnancy, which is a special kind of suffering that no child should ever have to understand, being unwanted.
Strange then that these people should call themselves pro-life, when they support military troops – people of youth and prime breeding age more often than not – to be sent into war to be maimed, killed or psychologically harmed, resulting in impaired post-war living.
It would seem to me that to actually be pro-life, one’s mission should be focused on improving the lives of people currently living, not preventing the death of people merely existing post traumatic brain injury with little hope of or any meaningful recovery or the unborn potential person. Since the actual impact of pro-lifers is not the improvement of anyone’s life, but the merely meddling and intimidating in other people’s lives and life decisions, we should call them by what they are, rather than how they would like to be seen – and that is, pro-death.
An important aspect to understanding any group motivation is to review the characteristics of the group, and what’s most telling is that the majority of so called pro-lifers are publically Christian, heterosexual and largely Caucasian and upper to middle class. Poorer social classes tend to not have the leisure time to protest, so there’s a certain affluence required to be able to menace medical staff and clients at abortion clinics or families at hospitals discussing terminating life support during working hours.
What’s significant about the protestors being largely Caucasian, is that a large motivator is racism, often, people are only against abortions by women of their same group, as they are in fear of being outnumbered by other groups of people – thus there is often scathing remarks about cultures that live in multi-generational family units with pooled resources – something all people engaged in pre-industrial revolution and pre-middle class who started packing granny off to nursing homes post WWII.
The benefit of living in a secular democracy where personal freedoms are guaranteed are the ability to make life’s decisions for yourself, free from interference from the state, but more importantly, from the interference of other people.
This is the concept that is missed by religious pro-deathers. They are not able to understand that is it not their place to impose their choices and beliefs on other people. They do not accept that they are living in a secular society that has determined individuals the right to choose and they seek to insert their god and beliefs into government policy and assert control over your life and body. This is not acceptable and should be vigorously rebuffed, as they would rebuff any attempt to assert control over their lives.
What’s particularly interesting, is that the pro-deathers are unable to separate their beliefs from their person – and when the matter of gay rights comes up for a referendum in the US states and to a lesser extent, when gay marriage was debated in Canadian Parliament – the rally cry was that gay marriage not be forced upon their lives.
A truly bizarre argument, since no government has ever considered passing a law requiring people to marry anyone of the same gender as themselves – in fact, secular governments do not make laws requiring anyone to marry, they only confer certain rights and benefits to married people.
That gays form pair bonds and make lives together does not take away anything from straight couples who do the same. This idea that marriage becomes a lesser state, less desirable for straight people if gay people are also permitted to marry ties right back to that believers seems to only be able to enjoy the idea of heaven, so long as there is a hell for most other people.
It is a particularly childish and vile behaviour that their enjoyment of a thing is only pleasurable so long as others are denied the same. Which may make sense why they focus on making the lives of as many people as possible miserable by forcing them to full term an unwanted pregnancy and expect the baby to be offered for adoption for presumably more deserving and worthy people – as long as they are a straight couple of course, forcing people to bankrupt on medical bills on a hopeless and meaningless extension of existence and for the family of the comatose to experience prolonged suffering and grief, and to send perfectly healthy young men and women to fight for the continued profits of the rich in a religious crusade.
It is not the case that new atheists are particularly different from whoever the old atheists were, it is merely the case that atheists are no longer willing to coddle the sensibilities of religious believers who have consistently demonstrated no compassion or concern for anyone else, and who are now reaping the treatment and consideration that they have sown.
An immortal life would hold no urgency, no need to put effort into accomplishing anything and little need for engagement and participation – but rather only patience and gentle prodding or manipulations to accomplish anything. Immortality would lack purpose as any goal can be accomplished given endless time to complete or achieve.
Aside: It occurs to me that immortality could be a function of our perception of time rather than existing minute by minute of infinite time – that by mastering our awareness of time, we alter our relationship with it, if we can manipulate time, time loses meaning and power over us. In a way, being able to like how time is presented in movies through montages, flashbacks and even flash forwards, be able to move along the timeline but not be subjected to a single timeline but rather, one that you experience in conjunction with everyone else and another that you experience alone and are able to in that solitary time line, control or manipulate the shared timeline. The idea of being immortal and having to endure awareness of days, never mind hours and minutes, seems to me to be torturous.
Immortality removes from concern or consideration the workaday world, relationships and morals and values. To an immortal subjected to the same time concepts as mortals – seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries – what mortals value becomes of little consequence because mortals would be of little consequence given their short overlap of life span. Morals and values are all a matter of perspective and relationship/context determines the perspective.
For a mortal to be subjected to a wrong where the impact lasts a period of time, even if it’s their lifetime, this is a serious wrong – but for an immortal, that same wrong becomes an inconvenience that they will spend a small portion of their existence to resolve or outlive the effect/outcome. From an immortal perspective, any mortal wrong – no matter how grave to a mortal – becomes a matter of no special consequence or significance, given the enormity of time to recoup losses or recover.
The significance of this should not be lost on any supernaturalists who believe that there is a hell or similar punitive eternal afterlife, because any immoral or even evil action, when put in the context of the grand scheme of the universe, is limited in scope and significance – making eternal punishment utterly pointless – and on the flip side, making eternal reward equally pointless – for what can any mortal in their finite time really do to merit either end of the scale?
There are three post-death possibilities: oblivion, eternal reward/punishment or reincarnation.
You’re born, you live, you die and then cease to exist.
Elegant, simple and logical. Because our lives are finite, what we do with them is of utmost importance, because it’s the only life we can know that we have, so we have to make the best of what we have, no matter what it is that we have. Whether we chose to make our lives about ourselves at the expense of others or live in a co-operative/harmonious way with other – and what we determine “others” means – is down to the individual.
We are all our own moral centre, whether we can make moral distinctions ourselves or select an external system to make them for us.
You’re born, you live and depending on how, where, when you lived, you die and go to an eternal place of reward or punishment.
The problem inherent in this system is that this requires some gatekeeper to determine your eternal destination, and some means to operate/administer the gatekeeping and the separate places where the rewarded and punished continue to exist. But it raises several questions and a certain level of bureaucratic finesse – what if you earned eternal reward, but the person you love had earned eternal punishment – it would not be rewarding for you to be without your loved one, but they are being punished – so does the reward afterlife include copies of the people in the punishment afterlife in order for the rewarded ones to be sufficiently happy?
More than that, does anyone actually deserve to be eternally rewarded when they are happy being rewarded full well knowing that others are being eternally punished? What if someone cannot be happy in the reward afterlife unless they know for certain that other individuals are being punished? And, if you cannot be happy with being rewarded knowing that others – even people known to you – are being eternally punished, how can you exist in a blissfully rewarded state? Especially when the mechanism for determining who goes where are rather murky, arbitrary, culturally/socially determined and decided based an exceptionally small data set, given our finite lifespan.
You are born, live, die and are born again in a repetitious cycle of learning and experience all that there is to experience, with successive cycles being dependant on what you experienced in the previous cycles.
Some religions have the cycles eventually end in oblivion or nirvana, and others have layovers of indeterminate time and bliss/punishment states between life cycles.
Reincarnation has the appeal of not only energy recycling but consciousness recycling – in addition to death not being an end, but only a transformation, but also a sense of cosmic justice, that life is not merely short and arbitrary, but that it is a series of experiences, and good and bad not being meaningful terms, but rather mere description of a state in the current or other cycles, to be corrected or reaffirmed according to what you are experiencing next.
The stumbling block is that reincarnation is an awful lot of energy, effort and time if it only ends in oblivion/nirvana, because each is a state of being perhaps in but not of the universe.
Ultimately, reincarnation results in being in a solitary state of either oblivion or transcendent happiness without wanting – and life is ultimately about that wanting and the struggle to strive.
Which in the end, leaves the only sensible and natural option to be oblivion to immediately follow death, since this is essentially where reincarnation cycles complete.
Occam’s Razor, not to mention the path of least resistance, leads towards one short life to experience, learn and cram in what you can and then oblivion, same as before birth so is after death.
Tip o the nib to Bhaga for inspiring me to stretch
“All this fires in my soul, and—provided I am not disturbed—my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and in the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue, at a glance…”
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I have been undergoing a process that touches on a myriad of traits, mental process and physicality. I’m seeing a trauma counselor, who I frightened and had to go see a psychiatrist; who diagnosed me with clinical depression, anxiety/panic disorder, mild agoraphobia and who said that he had no idea how to classify my description of what I am experiencing on an intellectual, cognitive and physical basis.
The Mozart quote just summarized my experience and confirmed my own initial suspicion that the conflict and personally destructive events that I have been experiencing have actually undone my sanity and personality, and this process that I am experiencing, is my mind’s method of reaching out to familiar things (in my case, story telling) to create a framework to put myself back together.
What doesn’t kills us doesn’t necessarily make us stronger, but it remakes us differently.
Creativity and insight are not merely mechanistic, which the electric spark would be, there are other aspects to it, all aspects in fact, it is a coming together in a balance between biology, chemistry, mechanics, but also cognitive, imagination with a wild card – and being able to see the interconnectedness of all things and not filtre the framework or the data set, but find the path across all of them that makes them a unified whole, greater than the sum of mere fractal parts and systems.
This is what we can be when we are internally balanced a without artificial limits on our levels of perception, greater than….
Tis insight is what drives continuous enlightenment; hope makes us get up each morning and insight makes us think each day, about getting better, bigger – both keep us reaching for what we imagine is outside of our grasp.
We get that insight and achieve that goal, when we discover that it was within our grasp all the time – child’s play that we can only recognize in hindsight.
Only our own self-imposed limitations that hold us back, and we have no need to so hold ourselves – not nature, not nurture – but what limits have those imposed and that we accept as imposed on us that impeded us from achieving
It is the refusal to be defined by others or external factors that allow us to achieve great things, not magical, wishful, the secret or religious/prayer thinking.
doing gets results
hesitating gets mixed results
doing nothing gets no result – at least, no result worth having.