Is it just me, or does anyone else feel this? Does anyone else perceive that there has been an upsurge in the discussion on the probability of Heaven/Hell No, not just an uptick. Rather, its several steps up in magnitude. And not just here, at Probability-Central. It seems to be happening everywhere. All across the Ouija-board. Or am I just so closeted that I can’t objectively judge?
This thought came to me the other night as I was reading an extended exchange of fire between partisans. All combatants were obviously intelligent people. All were admirably adamant. All were very consistent in their positions. And if you accepted each writer’s first premise, each was correct. Which, of course, is impossible.
And that, I think, is where we find ourselves. Each side has accepted diametrically opposed first premises, and all the rest, on each side, logically (illogically?) follows. Neither side of the debate is willing to admit the slightest probability, let alone the acceptability, of the other’s premises. And so, the trenches are dug deeper and wider. The howitzers grow in size, the volleys extend in reach. Yet there are no casualties of any note. Not visibly, that is. There’s that bugaboo word. Visible. Everybody has to contend with it. Everyone counts it, or its antithesis, as an ally. And no one falls before it. Visibly, that is. But is visibility the same as tangibility?
Now this is to be expected, given the nature of things. Which is to say, no one can ‘prove’ the nature of things, or beings.
Either way you believe, it seems to me that this world has been marvelously constructed (however you perceive that word) in such a manner as to scientifically defy the detection and absolute definition of its actual origin.
Forget time. Forget matter. What precedes them is what really counts. Who or what invented this place is the sole question. Regardless of your first premise, no one can marshal any definitive and irrefutable physical evidence of the First Cause that has set this puzzle before us. No one can point to the glowing neon sign in the sky that spells it out in capital letters, with footnotes available. Which means each side is operating on faith, of some kind. Which makes for a Holy War, for all concerned.
Yet this has stopped no one in their quest of using their considerable powers of debate in pursuit of the correct assessment of the probability of their premise. Nor will it ever work. Why? Because it is the wrong question to ask. Why? Because probability doesn’t really exist. It’s not the probability of your first premise that matters to anyone rational. Rather, it is the desirability of it.
In other words, is it something that would make anyone desire it to be true? In which case, we’re no longer talking about probability at all. We’re talking about what attracts you. So that removes everyone else from the equation. It’s only about you now. At least for the moment.
What is it I truly desire? The answer to that leads directly to my first premise in how I interpret this incredible world in which we find ourselves. That answer also determines what I will affirm and thus, what I will deny.
Now I think it is fairly obvious to anyone who has read my musings where I stand on this issue of the ‘probability’ of our origins, and thus, our place in it. So, I’ll not beat the dead pony. I’ll simply point out the end result of each side’s desires.
If I try to prove the ‘zero probability’ of the universe being the result of the work of a pre-existent living being, I would seem to be desiring death. Why? Because that pre-existent being seems to be the only route to more life. Rejecting that possibility equals desiring that there be nothing more in store once I pass away. Nothing good, nothing bad, nothing at all. Life was good, and now it’s gone. Finis. And no, living in a Matrix or in some AI sci-fi scenario is not life at all.
But if I’m set on proving the ‘full probability’ of this same universe’s living origins, then I would seem to be desiring life, and more of it. That is, I want to be personally alive, beyond the personal physical death we all recognize is coming. As I’ve said already, no one is able to produce the irrefutable physical proof that something/someone lies before the origins of this earthly place. It follows, I think, that there is equally no physical proof that any intelligent animation lies beyond the end of this earthly life. No proofs, only desires. Only our hopes. What is it we hope for?
Before we continue, can I just take a moment to laugh at the first person who is bound to pop up and claim to be a believer in a theistic version of this supposed evolutionary event that transpired in some convoluted way over billions of years? Thank you! I knew you’d pipe up. Could you tell me then, what would be the efficient point of that little exercise of poor clock-management? Was it all for the purpose of reaching the point we are now occupy, physically speaking? Is that all your Random-god can muster? How underwhelming.
I’ve noticed too that those who believe this same bit of evo-voodoo never seem to link their supposed physical evolution with what should be a matching spiritual evolution. After all, it’s hard for them to maintain that materialistic mien if they have to talk about spirituality, in any fashion. The closest they can stand of that is to talk about the supposed sanctity of the universe itself. And that somehow, all those succeeding generations who are still alive after we individually die, somehow makes everything worthwhile. But don’t talk to them about their other belief. You know, the one that says the universe will supposedly collapse on some distant day, taking all remaining life with it into the Black Hole (which has been relocated from Calcutta). Why? Because that makes their previous alibi look a bit ridiculous. The ‘life’ of the Cosmos is supposed to be the highest good. But in the end, it has no cosmic significance. What brilliant logic. I bow in wonder.
Another telling thing about those who cannot see is that they are perfectly willing to admit they are alive, yet they cannot see life itself. They can’t wrap their electron microscope (or their minds) around that invisible spark. They can only see the actions and results, good or bad, of any life that exists. They confuse the concept of life with the place where life actually occurs. But they are not the same. Yet we are exhorted daily, by The Big Nannies, to preserve a galactic life that does not truly exist. Yet Alfie Evans means nothing to them. Anglish bastards. They eventually go to the point of saying that some (if not most) human life must be curtailed in order to preserve this ‘sanctuary’.
It’s the only planet we have, these Lemmings cry. But have you noticed, only the upper-class Lemmings make this argument? And that their impassioned pleas are never followed by their own sanctimonious suicides? Check out this link to the best rock album ever made to see the inconsistency of this faux logic. (The best parts are the announcements by John Belushi between each act, but the song lyrics are hysterically true as well. God, I miss that guy!)
It’s one or the other. Either you want more life or you don’t. And if you want more, you should want it for everyone, correct? You got yours free. Why shouldn’t everybody else get theirs free? And even second helpings too. Yes, even for those who’ve denied it to others. They need more time too. Time to repent, or time to continue the resistance. And there’s a place for each of these types. Ask Dante if you’re not sure. He’s seen the future, and it works!
It also seems to me that there are only two types of people. Those who love and those who don’t. And every single person I have ever met fits into the first category. Amongst those who love, there seems to be an additional division of type. Those who love themselves, and those who love others. And again, every single person I’ve ever known fits, again, into the first category. As well as the second. The only real difference between people seems to be this; those who love others as they love themselves, and those who don’t. But at the very least, I think everyone loves themselves, in some small way. So that, if given a choice, most people would want to continue their existence.
I’m fully aware that there are objections raised to this thought. They seem to come mostly from those who see nothing beyond what they can physically see. Tangibility is everything to them. They often assert (because, again, this is something that can’t be proven) that there is a point where life is not worth living. But I’ve noticed that only the plump make this argument. And that they generally make it about someone else. Someone like Alfie.
But consider this, please: why were there were no mass suicides amongst the prisoners of the Gulag? Or Buchenwald? Or Andersonville? Even in those (supposedly) God-forsaken places, which seem to be at the very edge of actual living existence, men held out hope. Hope for what? Hope for more life. Even if it meant more of the very same cruel life they already had. Which, admittedly, is not a life I would want. But would I be ready to cash it all in if the Gulag was my only option? And what, pray tell, would I get if I cashed it in? And where could I spend those chips?
What does any of this matter? It matters because it’s more than a matter of life and death. It’s actually a matter of life and more life. And whether or not we want it. There’s the rub. Those who say there is only what we can see and touch don’t seem to desire more life. Yes, I know I can’t prove more life is available. But forget about that. I’m not asking if it’s available. That’s not the question. The question I’m asking is this: do you want it to be available? Do you want more? If you do, you might want to know that there are offers available. Check online. There’s a whole slew of them. All different flavors too. Even if you can’t prove any of them are true, are you willing to bet none of them are true? Are you willing to bet your possible future life?
Most of these extended-warranty offers carry qualifying conditions. That is to say, you might have to modify your current ‘lifestyle’ to become eligible for this proposed extended-lifetime coverage. It would seem to me that, given the example of the Gulag mentioned above, most rational beings (even if beaten, half-starved and frozen) will opt to extend the present, if that’s all there is available. So, let’s assume that someone might find the change in lifestyle demanded by offer or another to be oppressive to their self-dignity. Is that an automatic deal-killer for you? Is your present life so unassailably right (however you define that term) that you could not possibly imagine living without every bit of it remaining intact? Every single thing? Are you that adamant? Are you that righteous, Komrade?
Obviously, I am not addressing the Mother Theresa’s of this world when I ask about the righteousness of your life. Or maybe I am. Because even she saw the need to modify her life in order to qualify for that extended-warranty offer. But then again, she seems to have been one of those few who found it desirable to love others as they love themselves. She found it in the real Black Hole of Calcutta. Do you know any lepers? So you like them? Do you see them as real people? Do their lives have any real value? Maybe now we’re getting closer to the actual reason for the resistance to the idea of the ‘probability’ of some form of life after death.
Maybe there’s actually a shadow of a doubt in the minds of those who deny the invisible yet truly tangible nature of life. They may secretly doubt that life doesn’t need to be tethered to the physical order in order to continue. That thought scares them to death. Permanent death. They seem to actually want it. They don’t seem to want a life connected to anything beyond the physical bodies we possess here and now. Why? Because if there is something after this life (and we’re all going to find out at some point), then we may end up bumping into the Landlord of this place. And we may just have to pay for any damages we’ve caused here. And in that case, what if there’s no deposit on file to pay for it? Got any letters of credit?
There’s the real question: Is there anything other than me? Because if there’s not, why not put myself first (and last)? Isn’t that the root question of all these probability scenarios? Is there anything besides me? After all, if I can’t detect anything beyond the here and now, then why would I desire anything about the concept of forever? Can I even imagine such a thing as forever? This seeming ‘inability’ to discern a spiritual answer of how we got here allows each of these cosmic ‘climate deniers’ to dodge the question of how we are supposed to live while we are here. Which, conveniently, allows them to pursue their only true love. Which is, of course, themselves. The ice caps of their hearts will never melt. In spite of the predicted Galactic Warming ahead.
What is it one can desire for themselves in this lifetime of here and now? I see only two biggies. Power or pardon. It’s one or the other. They are antithetical. The possessors of the first don’t need the second. Those believers in ‘science’ have chosen power. Intellectual power, supposedly. But because they know, in the back of their minds, that their power will run out (as all actuaries agree), they have a desperate need to avoid asking for pardon. And so, they demand an absolute end to everything. A total finality to being. An end to all life. Which is to say, no afterlife. Which is when the need for pardon would be of the greatest possible moment. And when you will have no power to resist the need.
You can’t take it with you. Why? Because in their version of ‘reality’, there’s no place to take it to. But what if there is somewhere besides here? What if there is somewhere where we can’t take our power, but we can’t avoid finding ourselves there?
That’s an ugly question. What if there is another life, and we are powerless there? What the Hell do we do if that’s true? The obvious alibi is this: “It couldn’t be physically proven, Your Honor, so I couldn’t possibly believe in its probability. So, I wasn’t prepared for it. So, your Honor, I should be exempt from the eventual consequences. Right?”
Wrong. That’s the whole point. Sure, it can’t be proven either way, from a physical standpoint. But remember, probability never existed. Quit talking about that. There’s only reality. That reality includes what you desired. Which dictated what you did (unto others) in the pursuit of that desire. That’s all that counts.
It’s so simple, even an idiot like me can comprehend it. That’s your whole problem, buddy. You’re too damned clever, by half. Sure, if there isn’t something, someone, who is greater than me, greater than all, and who cares about me (and everyone else) personally, then what does it matter what I do now? But if there is such a One, then I’d better listen up. The final question for me then is this: do I want there to be this Someone who knows more than me? Someone more powerful than me? Someone who knows what is best for me, and for all? Someone who will pity my idiotic life here on earth? Someone who can and will mercifully grant me this extension of life? If only I will beg His pardon? Is that really so tough? Is your pride that incredibly sensitive? Wow.
I know what I desire. But is that what you desire? No? Well then, if you still insist all that I have written here is wrong, just what is it about this possibility of having more life that you find so repugnant, Komrade?
Categories: Culture, Philosophy
What do you want?
Some gifts come at too high a price.
Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
By and large, my experience with people who deny the afterlife, those few who are both willing and able to engage any conversation on the topic at all that isn’t purely superficial, anyway, will seldom fully engage so as to reach a conclusion in which they either convince, or allow themselves to become convinced.
They don’t want to appear vacuous – they have to say something, so they deflect any logical argument to the contrary with sarcasm, ridicule, or outright scorn.
It all boils down to iminentism. The vast majority of people don’t want THE truth, they want THEIR truth. They assume that their opinion, which is, in most cases, a foggy synthesis of their own Hedonism – past reflections, personal experiences, life situations – or parroted drivel (“oh please, Jordan Peterson or Neil deGrasse Tyson, say something on the subject so I can glom onto it myself”). They assume these notions hold equal force, weight and validity as the great minds who spent a lifetime studying and contemplating the question, because as brilliant as they were, they were equally virtuous – and in ample supply of the king of all virtues: humility. So, when you deconstruct and obliterate your opponent’s surety with Pascal’s Wager, or Thomas Aquinas’ Principle of the Exclusion of the Middle (“Someone get that quy’s Phone number, call him and get him in here now!”), you get one of two possible responses, 1. A squint, with a 30 degree tilt of the head to the right, 2. Unmitigated hostility – an unhinging, which as a self-defense mechanism, deflects the question all together in an attempt to switch the argument to your lack of tolerance for their viewpoint. That’s convenient for them, because they replaced a difficult question, one that may require them to actually change the manner in which they are living their life; with a mean, insufferable, poor-excuse-for-a-carbon-footprint enemy, to target. So, in trying to offer a solution, you become the problem, er, THEIR problem.
The few souls who aren’t either drones just hanging on in life to get to the next episode of “The Voice”, and then for the weekend (like the proverbial frog jumping from a lily pad to shore) or whose life experiences have brought them to a crossroads, them – those people, potentially, are what the Soul-saving industry calls, “Big Fish”.
That’s brings us to the next logical question “Where do we find the best fishing hole”? I leave that to you, Ianto Watt, oh great captain of the intellectual pontoon in the societal bog of this mortal coil. Well, for East Kansas, any way…
Well said, Mr. Watt. What do I want? Life and as much Life as He That Is provides, for me and for thee. What is the Good? Life. What is Sin? Denial of, or deprivation of, That Which Is Good; which is, He That Is.
not much of a point in debating this particular subject if the sole effect is to deepen the trenches.
Regarding the desire for further life, monotheistic Indian philosophy says that the real self is an eternally existent cognisant principle, which is constitutionally happy due to its eternal relationship with the Supreme Eternal Conscious entity, i.e. God, the source of everything and the personification of happiness. Due to ignorance/forgetfulness (neglect of God), the majority of the people of this world live their lives convincing themselves that the self is the body made of impermanent arrangements of material constituents. However, when the conscious self has left the body no one has any use for that body, and no one will protest or make an arrest if that body should be burned, buried or fed to animals (Zoroastrianism), etc. So, in a deeper sense, no one thinks the body to be the self. If it should be true that the material body is the actual self then how can something non-eternal (matter) desire eternal existence? How can something non-cognisant desire knowledge? How can something devoid of happiness desire happiness? ‘Willing’ is the symptom of eternal existence, e.g. ‘the will to live’, ‘thinking’ is the symptom of cognisance, and ‘feeling’ is the symptom of happiness. No material arrangement of food, clothing and shelter can grant permanent happiness, as this is not the living entity’s ultimate requirement.
Despite observations to the contrary, all are attracted to God. If it were not so, then God would not be God, as He would be flawed in His attractiveness. A magnet naturally has the power to attract iron filings but if those filings should be covered by rust then that attraction will not manifest. Similarly, the hearts of the innumerable infinitesimal living beings in this world are covered by so many material desires that their natural attraction to God lies hidden or dormant. God could impose Himself upon them if He wished to do so, but that upon which His will is imposed is what we know of as ‘matter’—inert and lacking self-volition. A wise person should strive to see the self/soul within the body and to see all the living beings as equal, despite their material conditioning and ignorance. The concepts of ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’ are, from a spiritual perspective, relative and illusory.