Tuesday, December 20, 2005

In Heaven, Everything Is Fine... 

Cue Radiator Woman with big cheeks...

So, Baba Wawa ran some special tonight on ABC about Heaven. Missed it (gosh, darn), but ran across this poll, which basically says that most Americans believe in Heaven and think they're going there, regardless of religion or non-religion.

And, sorry to bust your bubble, kids, but "heaven" or the "afterlife" is one of the most destructive concepts ever invented by humankind. (See my "Moral Compass Going South" post for related comments.) Belief in heaven is what leads the religious to do stupid things in the here and now; Christians will be intolerant and hateful, because they think it earns them admission. Muslims will suicide bomb themselves to Kingdom Come because they're expecting their 72 Virgins. Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses really won't give a flying fuck about anyone else, because they got theirs and/or will be a deity in the afterlife. And so on...

But here's something I never hear mentioned in any discussion of the afterlife: What do you remember of the four billion or so years the universe has been around before you were born? Uh, not much, right? Chances are, your earliest memory involves stumbling around on your bedroom floor chasing after a colorful toy. (Sidebar: In my case, my earliest memory is actually a false one. I distinctly remember, before the age of two, helping my mother move my crib out of my room so we could give it to my much older sister, who'd just had a baby of her own. Trouble is, at that age, I was neither tall enough nor ambulatory enough to do the moving. And my brain wasn't developed enough to distinguish between being either in the crib or carried on my father's shoulder. The former possibility is the most likely; where better to put the tot while doing heavy lifting than in the crib, so he won't stumble underfoot at the wrong time?)

But, I do digress...

My short question to people who believe in heaven is this: if the soul is eternal, then why don't you remember anything from before you were born? You should, if the soul is eternal and it doesn't rely upon a physical body to know the universe. If you don't, well then, what does that say about the possibility of some magical after life?

Better to live in the here and now, as if there's nothing to come after we die. Make everything of every moment here, because you won't be getting any second chances or do-overs. And, as per my comments on Towing Jehovah, Heaven is really just an alibi for your behavior here. Your morality will be much stronger if you figure it out without relying on an afterlife.

Here's a hint: If death really is the final exit, then murder should be the ultimate, unthinkable crime -- no heavenly prohibition necessary to make it icky.

Discuss among yourselves.

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