vendredi 16 septembre 2011

The Promise of an Afterlife

Over the past few weeks (months?), I've been reading bits and pieces of the book Secular Wholeness, which I've mentioned here before. (The whole text is freely available online here:

In the first chapter, the author talks about the advantages that religions offer to people, one of the biggest ones being the promise of an afterlife. Knowing that you will one day be reunited with a lost loved one can make it easier to face. Or, knowing that bad people will be punished in the afterlife can give you a satisfying feeling.

(Then again, "the downside to believing in an afterlife is that the dead are never truly buried. They hang around in your imagination, watching and criticizing your progress through life." Another downside is that the promise of an afterlife is conditional: you only get it if you're "good". And when you die, you have to face judgment; "a judgment with dire consequences and no appeal.")

"We who don't practice religion have to live without these comforts, as the late Carl Sagan knew:

'I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.'"

Chapter 9 of the book, which I haven't read entirely yet, deals with death and bereavement. The author claims that it's still possible to come to terms with death even if you don't believe in the afterlife. In fact, you can "use it as a motivator, and even learn to celebrate it":

One of the most beautiful things I read somewhere (and I may even have blogged it) is that a person's legacy (what they leave behind) makes them live forever. These are the thoughts and ideas they shared. Good memories (like great conversations, homemade meals, and staying up late playing games at every holiday). Kind words (like heartfeltingly welcoming someone into the family). Sweet actions (big ones like travelling four hours to attend a special event, and little ones like giving out extra jars of homemade ketchup when someone tells you how much they love it). I'll miss you, GB. But thank you for everything you left behind.

Aucun commentaire:

Publier un commentaire