I know that I’m a bright, I only hope that many of you are brights as well. It seems to me that the brights in this world are the thinkers, the ones who are not satisfied with the answers that are spoon fed to us. We brights must stick together.
I suppose there’s still a lot of religious people in this world, in one form or another. I’ve never really been satisfied with the answers that popular religions gives me, although I mentioned in my last post that I didn’t know much about Buddhism. My friend gave me “The Teaching of Buddha” by Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai last night and I’m finding it an interesting read. I’ve already read Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse and I found it incredibly insightful. I’m hoping that this book will if not answer some questions then at least lead me on the right path to find those answers for myself. I guess that’s what it comes down to: finding the answers that work for you. Everybody has grown up under different circumstances, and everybody has a fundamentally unique point of view. What works for person A won’t necessarily work for person B. Understanding that there’s different points of view though allows you to understand better what exactly your philosophical opponent is talking about. Empathy. It’s a strong but sadly underdeveloped emotion on this pale blue planet.
For me, the prospect of a life of eternal bliss at the foot of God sounds like a pretty ludicrous reward, really. If I am the same person dead as I am alive, but in heaven I get to do anything, understand everything, see everyone at the drop of a hat, then where’s the challenge? Where’s the sweet pleasure of victory after overcoming a particularily difficult hurdle? Sounds like it would be cool and interesting for about 10 minutes or so, then it might turn sour and turn into it’s own form of hell. I think back to Star Trek (I think it was Voyager) where one Q wanted to leave the continuum so he could kill himself after having done everything. Thank you Google – the episode was called “Death Wish”. Anyway that’s kind of how I see heaven. All powerful and all knowing but once you know everything where’s the zest for existing?
Likewise, hell seems equally unfathomable. Eternal damnation, eternal torture and pain. If again I was subjected to this hell I’m pretty sure that you would eventually block it out, become numb to the pain. It still sounds very unpleasant but again for almost the same reason as heaven seems unpleasant. It’s a no-win situation either way if you ask me.
The afterlife is a touchy subject for many because it brings up mortality and death, thoughts which most people shy away from because of the unanswerable qualities of these questions. When I ask religious people about heaven and hell they generally start parroting passages from the Bible or the Qur’an but there’s no introspection. There seems to be no analysis of the actual event – the end of life in this world and the passage to the next. I guess if you don’t know (and really can never figure out) the true answer to what happens when you die one tends to grasp at the first idea that insulates one from the terrible thought of non-existence. Anything sounds better than that, even eternal damnation.
So I guess my beef with religion is that it seems made up. thousands of years ago I could have made up these rules and beliefs – and if I could make them up then anybody could. It seems that these were periods of chaos within society, or degradation and corruption (not unlike today), and ‘philosophers’ came along with some interesting ideas about eternal reward for being good and eternal damnation for being bad. It seems like these ideas would have been a good way to keep people law abiding and peaceful except for the fanaticism and power (for a few) that went along with them. It seems that there’s always somebody out there who wants control over other people, and will do anything to achieve that lust. So then you get the crusades and the jihads, christianity and islam fight it out over picky details of basically the same religion. It just seems to incomprehensibly wasteful – wasteful of human potential, of scientific progress, of beauty and art. Why are we as a species so hateful of things and people we don’t understand?
Anyways, I think that’s enough for now. The Kitty is getting restless and agitated over my lack of work ethic. I’m sure I’ll talk about religion again.. 😉