Why do we, as a species, think that there is a purpose to our lives beyond the immediate? Even more bizarrely do we think that there is another life beyond this one? Even more bizarrely still why do we think that if we do our best to stop enjoying life to the full this makes us a better person? How can we seriously believe that if we lead a ‘good’ life we’ll go to a different place for our next life than if we don’t?
Life is important, it’s amazing, miraculous even but it’ll end on this planet when the sun cools or some other astrological disaster happens. There may be life on other planets or in other universes but that doesn’t affect the argument.
What would an ‘afterlife’ be like? Somewhere where the good things we enjoy in this life are not offset against the downs we experience in this? One of the fundamental aspects of life is that it is a struggle and from that we get a good feeling when we triumph over adversity. Some individuals try to preserve themselves so they can be revived in the future when we have discovered how to extend our lives forever. Have they thought about the implications of that? Population growth is bad enough now with much of the population living in extreme poverty and thus subject to starvation and disease and with the most lethal disease ever to affect the human race, AIDS, causing millions of deaths annually. Without death there could be no new life, no babies, no children. Ideas would stagnate, everything would stagnate. Yet this is what Christian’s and Muslim’s alike strive for – everlasting life. This is what they will go to extreme lengths to try to achieve. Becoming monks and hermits or even suicide bombers.
Where has the idea come from that somehow most forms of enjoyment are bad? Why do Christians make sin and transgression so important? The 10 commandments were supposed to have been drawn up by Moses as a sort of constitution to keep law and order amongst his flock. Nowadays we have a much more sophisticated legal system which is there for a similar purpose. I’m just a man with quite high principles like many others, most, I like to believe. I don’t keep committing sin – so why should I be told I have to continually to ask forgiveness? Why should I have this burden of guilt thrust upon me? I suspect it’s more because at some time in the history of the church it was a philosophy brought in to subdue a gullible and superstitious population.
We are just animals, at the moment a very successful species with the most intelligence. But we mustn’t get carried away. So do other species have an afterlife? And if so do they have a strict code that controls whether they go to heaven or hell? Non-human animals can be just as cruel as humans. Cat with mouse. Does their lack of self awareness excuse this treatment? Is this any different to an abused child themself abusing? Or a gang member attacking a member of another gang before he is attacked himself? Of course they should know better – but they don’t which is why they did it.
Not that I don’t believe in spirituality. We have taken life to another level. A level of art, music and scientific advancement.
I was walking along the beach today and I was amazed by the movement on the sand beneath me. Vast numbers of tiny animals swarmed as they became aware of my approaching feet, which must have seemed enormous to them. I wondered what they fed on, presumably the washed up seaweed. In turn this made me wonder what the point is of their tiny lives. They seem so abhorrent yet they occupy they are animals the same as us. What is the purpose of their existence? – to produce more horrid little creepy-crawlies? to keep the decaying seaweed from cluttering the beach? to feed whatever their predators are? None of these possibilities are purposeful. It wasn’t much longer before I related their existence to ours and began again to wonder what the point of our existence is.
Then I further wondered why does there need to be a point? Why do many of us want to believe we’re here for a purpose in addition to that of being alive. Life has to be revered and enjoyed for what it is. Yet most religions seems to try to persuade us that we’re here as part of a larger plan. They then seem to try to persuade us that there is another better life after this one and that we should make sacrifices in this one to ensure we are in favour when we get to the next one. I eschew all that. I’m a practical person and I know I’m alive, lucky to be here, and I’m going to ensure I enjoy what I’ve been blessed with to the best of my ability. I don’t need rules imposed by a religion that espouses a master plan to keep my behaviour within certain boundaries. Being a civilised human being I will achieve that without behaving in an uncivilised way. I don’t see the need for a greater purpose – being alive is sufficient for me.
I see religion as a major source of evil. Of people assuming power over other people and seeking to persuade them that their way is the only true way. I see the Taliban and others less ruthless trying to impose Sharia law on a population. This law that removes most of the rights of women. I see the Pope persuading his followers that birth control is evil when the globe is in the middle of a population explosion that threatens it’s very existence. I read about immigrants in the UK murdering their own daughters because they have brought ‘shame’ on their families. The Crusaders, the Spanish Inquisition, Northern Ireland, 9/11 – the list of evil done in the name of God is endless. A believer seems to consider himself superior in some way to a non-believer, that he should then force his beliefs on the non-believer, even to the extent of doing without regard for the well being of the non-believer.
We, in the UK, should stop the indoctrination of children with various religions; we should ban faith schools and disestablish the church of England. The country will integrate more quickly then and become more peaceful.