Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What are you hereafter?

I have commented that every belief in survival after death I've come across is either the product of confused thinking, or subverts my understanding of morality, which is about doing something for nothing, and generally gets in the way of appreciating and loving the world we live in as it is.
I want to argue that life after death makes Christianity (the religion I know best) and morality (as I understand it) impossible.

One principle I'd like to explore is that beliefs in an afterlife are unsatisfactory religiously speaking insofar as they are rooted in a desire for more of selfhood rather than more of God. They seek to satisfy an anxiety that my life might be meaningless without its continuance to a fulfilment beyond death; as if life is not worth living, and good not worth doing, unless it can be justified by post-mortem events.

There has never been convincing evidence that 'we' can survive the dissolution of 'our bodies'. There is an important sense in which we are our bodies. Still, the reputation of many psychical researchers have been dashed in the attempt to produce evidence for the existence of non-material bodies. No such 'subtle bodies' have ever forced themselves upon the attention of physical scientists, however sensitive the apparatus they have deployed.

Perhaps though my essential self has nothing to do with bodily existence at all. Perhaps it is to be found elsewhere. Perhaps a dualistic solution should be sought.


MadPriest said...

There is no essential self apart from the body. There is no spiritual soul. If there is a soul it will be organic and within our brains. The resurrection will be a bodily resurrection as promised, which, if you believe in a God that holds the universe together is less far fetched than the concept of something existing that isn't organic. Christianity is Jewish not Greek. The Platonic concept of the soul has led to institutionalised dualism which has been responsible for some great evils. The worst evil is the blasphemy that our bodies that God created are not Godly. This has made us condemn the physical as sinful, which has led to the oppression of women, gays and the sick and disabled. Worse than that it has stopped many Christians from pursuing happiness for no good reason.

goodfornowt said...

"Perhaps a dualistic solution should be sought."
This was just a carry forward to my next post on the subject. I think you'll find that I mostly agree with you about dualism.
Your assured tone leads me to think you're a much better believer than me. I find it impossible to live 'on a promise', even God's promise. In any case I find the terms of that promise incomprehensible. What bodily resurrection could mean, after the total dissolution of everything that could meaningfully be called my body, truly boggles my mind. But does it matter whether you and I become nothing, as long as God is everything?

MadPriest said...

It's not that I'm a particularly strong believer, it's more that there's no point in even thinking about there being no afterlife as we will be unaware of its non-existence. So we might as well concentrate on what an afterlife will be like. I mean, what have we got to lose?

People Power Granny said...

Really some deep stuff here. I like it!