Heaven and Hell

Will
there be
a place to go to
if magic is just an idea?
or
Would there be a
place to go to if
there were
no magic?

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wrong about God

This was a response to an email a friend sent to me which had only a poster presenting this slogan:

“If I am wrong about God,
I’ve wasted my life,
but
if you are wrong about God
you have wasted your eternity.”

This was my reply to my friend:

“ If you are wrong about God,” you haven’t wasted your life. Being a Christian is a legitimate and positive (for the most part) way to live. That Christians desire to do good and participate in making this a better world is proof of their good intentions, and so should be respected.”
(End of response.)

Choosing to not fear what may come after death is not a 50/50 choice as the poster would have us believe.

The magical god of the old testament has left a terrible trail through history. So it’s hard for me to believe in it. But who knows, there may be something or a situation which created our universe by accident, and it’s very doubtful we will ever know what was happening before its creation.

Maybe some type if entity created our universe on purpose and enjoys checking up on what has occurred since the last time it took a look-see. So I’m an agnostic technically because there’s no convincing evidence for or against a creator. But there is evidence that an all powerful god is not necessary to explain our situation in the universe. So I feel like an atheist.

Maybe the universe created itself or just happened as a natural occurrence or by accident. Not knowing for sure is not comforting but learning to live not knowing for sure is an interesting situation.

Reason leads me to think the god of the Bible was probably invented in the same way the other thousand or so gods were created, and it needs to be mentioned that the followers of all those other gods believe as just as sincerely as the followers of the god of the Bible believe that they are believing in the only true god, having the only true scriptures, and the only true faith.

So who’s right? Could it be none of them? Can sincerity of belief create a real all-powerful and all-knowing god? If a person believes with the highest possible sincerity he or she is headed south but is actually headed north, do the thoughts in everyone’s mind automatically change to accommodate this mistake? Do all maps also magically change to accommodate this sincere belief?

If one religion could actually prove its god is the one true god by having their god show up and — instantly and at the same time — create a county-sized governing palace in every country on the earth and be a visible presence in all of the palaces at the same time and making speeches based on “love your neighbor as yourself” and taking away the freedom of all criminals until they have sincerely promised to change their ways, etc. etc.

So, how long would it take for there to be only one religion in the world instead of thousands when each new member gets perfect health and plenty of energy and a sound mind as side effects? What good news! No promises only a wonderful present.

Leaving fantasy land behind, what are the odds of my going anywhere when I die? Is godly magic going to keep me alive so I can be rewarded or punished forever? I no longer believe in real magic, but I know how it feels to believe in real magic, and it’s not a bad feeling knowing you are right and knowing for sure you will exist in bliss forever. This is a very compelling dream from which I have awakened.

I’ve given my trust to science because it deals with evidence, and tries to disprove its own latest findings. Science uses facts and gives really good odds for my future non-existence after death because the “I” in me was created by and is supported by my human animal which has all the goodies: senses, intuition, memory, creativity, etc.

The idea of an eternal human soul is a very clever invention and is used as leverage to control folks and to get some of their money, but the soul does not exist: it’s an idea, a magical idea.

If you can produce convincing evidence there’s a soul dwelling in every human and it will exist forever, write a book and set science straight. You would make a fortune and be famous. People have tried to convince science the soul is real but have come up short when trying to produce convincing evidence. So the preachers say “You will be rewarded for your faith.”

Every group of religious fundamentalists believes their own set of facts because they believe they have the truth and no one else has it.

I have only opinions based on educated guesses. Here’s one. The odds of us identities not making it past the death of our human animals are as close as one can get to a sure thing.

is death the thing

Is death the thing? Has no one ever reported back from death: real death, utter death, complete death? Are the stories we hear of an actual afterlife from folks who haven’t died throughly?

They came back from a near death experience perhaps remembering a dream while on an operating table or the visions of a drowning victim who is later revived, etc. and not from a complete-death. There are scientific explanations of how and why these visions and dreams could occur during a near-death experience.

In a complete-death occurrence, the identity is no longer supported by the animal, the human body. So the identity disappears or evaporates because the neurotransmitters and electronic signals of the brain are no longer working. Language has gone kaput. Would there be no visions after one dies completely? 

Does nothing exist or happen which is not in the theater of the natural…even though sometimes a thing may appear to be a miracle, it is natural and has a rational explanation which may be evident or hidden and not come to light until much later.

Here are two examples: dinosaur bones seemed to be miracles in the nineteenth century, until we found out the earth was over a billion years old, and today we know it’s over four billion; and we thought the sea shells near the mountain tops proved Noah’s flood really happened, until we found out the mountains were pushed up from the sea and are huge chunks of the earth’s crust, and so forth and so on.

If there is such a thing as real magic, it may reside in the quantum part of our universe which is everywhere, but the magic there may be unknowable yet still be natural.

Our human body is the only thing standing between us and complete death. Physically and rationally, would the identity’s evaporation or its winking out of existence be the natural result of a complete death, regardless of our dreams and desires to live forever?

Unless real magic comes to the rescue and the faithful rewarded.

Great story…but what are the odds?

Dreams of an afterlife and our desire for an eternal existence require faith because they are dependent on actual magic which has almost no possibility of existing. But the dreams give hope to the gullible (us humans) and we all suffer and gain to some extent from this human foible. Would the world be a better and a totally different place had the idea of an afterlife never occurred? It’s hard to imagine the idea not happening because we humans are such wishful folks.

Did our desire to live on after death create religious organizations? Who wouldn’t go after this grand opportunity for control and money: You can have guaranteed joy forever for a bit of your faithfulness and money, on the other hand after you die, you’ll receive eternal punishment for not going along with us.

Are “eternal souls” creations of the human brain like the all-knowing and all-powerful gods are?

a wonderful house

Do we all live in a wonderful house made of words?

Is it that as we become hooked on the power of language, actual reality starts to become harder and harder to sense? Do we not remember much about the change possibly because we were so very young?

It’s apparent we become trapped in and addicted to language as a normal part of being modern humans.

But we don’t feel trapped in language because we can’t remember it being any other way. Language is our most powerful tool. Why would one want to cast it aside even for a little while?

Language is a deed and so what are the consequences? By constantly using language we naturally feel like separate entities, and this is reinforced by our individual names which are also a part of language. And…

We become captains of an amazing creature. And we don’t want our position as captain threatened in any way. And the thought of stopping the flow of language scares us identities because we are not comfortable with silence. What to do? The experts say, feel the fear and give it all of your attention, then meditate anyway. Learn to be patient with your own self while you’re learning how best to connect with your ride.

——Why use the term “ride”? How did we come into existence? The only non magical way is that we (the identities) were created after our birth by our own bodies interacting with family and society. Could this mean our bodies are our souls if there is such a thing as a soul?——

Moving on, the sages say the word “moon” is not the moon; it’s no more than “a finger pointing.” In other words “The word is not the thing.” So, we inhabit the very interesting and powerful world of fingers pointing.

Without words there can be no believing. Stopping the flow of language takes courage and patience. The drawback with not having a religious belief in a god or gods is there’s no one to complain to or pray to or to blame.

And for us seekers, our opportunity is a privilege which brings a constant type of pleasure by facing the world straight on with no after-death promises and living with awareness all the while not knowing for sure about a lot of things. For me, it’s the taste of freedom.

Is all we can do is to go with what seems the most reliable? So, will it be magic or science? What are the odds of magical places like heaven and hell existing? It’s hardly a fair fight.

Are there other choices? Believing in both? Science keeps changing it’s mind to match what is real, and religion’s mind is frozen in place and rarely thaws. When it does thaw, it brings about a new religion which freezes in place. We can see the results: all twenty thousand plus of them.

Is the greatest secret there’s nothing to know?
Is the greatest fact there’s nothing but being?

betting

Since our universe exists and is so large and so complicated, why would anyone claim, “There is no God”?

Could the reason be because there’s an explanation and evidence for the history of the universe, but we don’t know what happened before the Big Bang and probably will never know. So is God hiding behind the BB?

Could there could be thousands of gods looking on and betting against each other as to who will get the most adherents? Yet…

There are a lot of things we can be very confident about, but not be 100% sure of…like There’s no such thing as real magic or fairies in the forrest, and the odds of such statements being true are a very long way from 50/50.

The odds for the statement “real magic does not exist” being true over the statement “real magic does exist” would in my estimation be close to infinite.

And so would it also be close to infinite for the existence of an entity with a human personality who’s keeping detailed records and is all-powerful and all-knowing. What are the chances that the God of all of the stars and galaxies would reveal itself to a wandering tribe in the desert in need of help? It doesn’t sound natural to have your son die eight billion times on the cross to offer salvation to all of the worlds where civilizations have arisen.

Are folks buying insurance they don’t need with their money, time, and obedience by betting they will not really wink out of existence when they finally stop breathing and will be rewarded for their faith by getting to live forever while being loved and giving love in grandeur and glory?

What do these folks have? A traditional lifestyle that can be very satisfying which can come with a smugness and/or thanksgiving for thinking they are a special group of humans chosen by the only true god, before time existed and will exist forever with this god in heaven. For them, their eternal life as already begun.

Are minds kept corralled by a desire to live forever, happily believing magical ideas are real? It has worked for many many generations. Is this the norm for religious promises?

Why is faith so important? Is it because what they are wanting and believing is magical because there is no proof for their supreme being’s existence, and a strong faith helps to keep doubt from constantly barking, and if they don’t keep the faith, they with all other non-believers will be tortured forever.

The basic question religious folks face is…Is there such a thing as real magic? Was there a real burning bush? If so, did lightening strike it or did a god magically make the bush burn and cause Moses to hear actual words which could be heard by another person if they had been present?

Is the desire to be safe the reason we’re so gullible? Is organized religion just one of the big rackets trying to do good, unlike dictatorships, organized crime, etc? Betting wise, is it better to bet with reason rather than promise?

a house built on sand 2

Think of the parable of the person who built his house on sand and another who built his house on rock. Floods came and the house built on sand was washed away and the house built on rock was not.

In this telling the sand represents magical thinking and the rock represents reason and science. The question is which to attach to, or can one use both?

So, what are the odds of an afterlife? It would be scary if the odds were 50/50. Some aggressive sand dwellers say “I’m either right or wrong, so the odds are at least 50% you are going to suffer in hell eternally if you don’t repent and trust God and keep the faith.” Are the odds so high for science and reason having substance and God not having substance it’s not even a contest? A million to one?

Are we naive when we believe any religious claims which include stories of magical acts or places? How does one choose between the tens of thousands of magical religious stories? Religions are claiming “we are the only true religion and the only way into a pleasant life everlasting.

And they are all so sincere! I know, I was a sand dweller. There’re lots and lots of happy folks in organized religion, and there’s also the very attractive built-in social network. It’s a good racket but can be easily abused.

How does one end up believing in magic? As children we usually think to ourselves at one time or another “That doesn’t seem possible, but all these adults think it really happened, and they are right about everything else, so they’re probably right about the miracles too.”

And later, when doubts come, we say to ourselves I’d be crazy to take the chance of being tortured forever.

We need to feel safe because we believe in an afterlife. Thinking…“I have this clear shot at eternal happiness, how could I ever give it up?”

The belief there’s an afterlife produces a powerful vision. How has it been used? Does the bad out weigh the good?

How does one give up the dream of an afterlife? Imagine a person born into a Hindu family in India. And he or she grew up Hindu. Wouldn’t that person sincerely feel only his or her religious ideas are correct and all other scriptures cannot measure up to Hindu scriptures.

As a Hindu, wouldn’t you feel your beliefs are true just as sincerely as a non-Hindu might feel about his or her different religious beliefs?

When one is wrong, isn’t that person sincerely wrong unless he or she is acting? Does this mean billions are sincerely believing in the wrong magical stories. Or, are all stories based on magic being real, false?

religious magic

Do we become believers in religious magic because our parents, family members, neighbors, friends and even presidents of our country believe in religious magic?

And I can see why. It was very comforting to me when I believed the promise that I was going to be happy forever and ever in heaven, no matter how bad things might get here on earth.

I was just graduating from babyhood when this form of magical stories became my constant companion, and I accepted them without questioning, and magical thinking became my normal type of thinking when it came to my religious status.

What might shake me out of this default mode?

When I was twenty-nine years old I began to have doubts. I imagined being born and raised in India in a family which practiced and believed in the Hindu teachings, and in my imagination as I grew older and worshipped along with them, I became a believer in the Hindu Gods and in the Hindu teachings as my imagined parents did as children.

I realized that my Hindu self would believe just as sincerely in the correctness of the Hindu beliefs as I was believing and trusting in the correctness of my Christian beliefs.

Then I began considering the thousands of religions on earth, all with their different beliefs and each claiming their beliefs to be correct and true while also claiming all other religious folks unfortunately are worshiping the wrong God or Gods and are proclaiming false teachings, and therefore, these folks will suffer forever and ever for their religious mistakes.

These thoughts were enough to get me thinking about the extreme odds against all of these magic-spewing religions being true. Then I thought about the extreme odds against my beliefs being the only religious beliefs on earth which were true. How could I be so lucky?

Then I came to see the almost surety of these many thousands of organized religions were the products of human beings, and I changed my mind about doubt being an enemy and found it to be a very useful tool.

Is there a moral to this story?

Is it that sincerity means everything when it comes to religion and doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to truth. Does truth just sit here, there and everywhere and doesn’t care whether it’s noticed or not?