Friday, July 16, 2010
Misery loves company
Of all the beasts that inhabit this glorious orb, only Homo sapiens have gods. To the best of my knowledge, my dogs have no dogma. Coincidently, humans are also the only creatures to be aware of their mortality. Many have speculated that there is a connection, claiming that the fear of death has given rise to religion, as well as the notion of an afterlife. The thought of rotting amid worm laden loam for all eternity must’ve been as frightening to the hominids of Paleolithic yore, as it is to the slightly bigger brain editions of today. But could it have served as inspiration for the concept of heaven?
Life is our most precious gift; it’d be difficult to argue otherwise, the fear of losing that gift a valid anxiety. An afterlife would allow us, at least in some spiritual rendering, to continue on, which would go a long way to help ease that anxiety. But even if there isn’t life after death, one can at least take solace in the knowledge that we all die at the same time. This is because from the perspective of the dead, time stops. Without afterlife, the instant would be eternally frozen, similar, I imagine, to the blank slate of pre-life. A man falling at the hands of a Clovis point spear (circa 11,500 BC); dies at the same time as a person today, because from the perspective of the ancient, time stopped, rendering the ensuing millennia nonexistent. Likewise, time will stop from the POV of today’s dead. This rationale may not be as comforting as heaven, but by way of the age old misery loves company principle, knowing that we all die at the same time might help assuage the fear of death at least some.
For the record, this is observational fodder with no agenda beyond an attempt to provoke thought. I have read many works (as well as in between the lines) that clearly have a theological slant in one direction or another, and invariable, due to what I consider a deeply personal choice, I find them off putting. Where we go when we hurtle hereafter into that legendary light; Heaven? Hell? Nothing? I don’t know. Sorting out religious matters is not a crusade of this writer, but that doesn’t mean these issues won’t occasionally be probed. Where I stand on this particular matter will remain unrevealed. But I will say this, it seems that I was appropriately named.