The Afterlife: For you or for them?

Eternal LifeI wonder what percentage of religious folks embrace their religion because they fear the finality of their own life. How many embrace their faith hoping for a favorable afterlife from themselves. Most of these religious folks believe that chimps, dogs, cats, cows, birds, insects and amoebas all other animal except themselves just rot and disappear after death. They believe that unlike all other animals, human can survive death in some pleasant form if they do or believe the right things.

It is not just eternal life the entices believers. People embrace religion for various reasons, not just to secure a wonderful afterlife. Other functions that religions serve include: community connections, status, moral codes, magical blessings (such as healings, safety, or success).  But today I wondered: When people embrace afterlife promises, do they do it more in hopes of their own eternal lives, or is it that the afterlife promise they treasure most is that they don’t have to imagine their loved ones being really gone when they die?

The death of a loved one is very painful: Friends, parents, children or even, for some folks, their favorite celebrities. So, any religion which can promise you that we will see your loved ones again, offer an excellent selling point. So maybe it is the promise that we will be back together with our loved ones after death that believers value most — not just their own personal survival. Maybe most people aren’t worrying as much about their own eternal life.  Maybe they clamoring after an eternal state of playing a harp, or standing around with cocktails in hand chatting with friends and family, or floating in some eternal bliss state, or living in a wonderful heavenly retirement community or sitting in pews and praising their God forever. Maybe they just want the promise that loved ones don’t really disappear forever when they die.  Mind you, either way, the motivation is probably always selfish — “I want to see them again.” and “I want to live forever.”  But what do you think, do people embrace the eternal-afterlife idea more for their loved ones, or for themselves?

This 2013 research article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) should that religious people spend more on aggressive medical intervention at the end of life than religion-free people.  Does that mean that religious people really don’t believe they will live in eternity?  Maybe this supports that their concerns about eternity are about not wanting to think their loved ones are gone.

_______________________________________________________________

Notes:

  • I acknowledge that there are Jewish folks who don’t believe in an afterlife. I met many of these folks when I attended a reform synagogue for a year. Some Jews don’t even believe in their own tribal god, “Yahweh”. And so there are many religious folks who hold variants of beliefs that don’t include the afterlife promise.
  • I have many posts chastising non-believers for criticizing believers for their silly beliefs, as if is those silly beliefs which are the focus of the believers.  They do not understanding that it is the other functions of religion that keeps believers belonging.

25 Comments

Filed under Philosophy & Religion

25 responses to “The Afterlife: For you or for them?

  1. rautakyy

    As a nonbeliever, who has never been a part of any religious affiliation, I have to say, that the notion of afterlife appears as a fairly childish concept, because it is invariably unfinished. People do not even try to grasp the consequences of “eternity”, when imagining this.

    It is as if the root of religious thinking was derived from ages past when some adults were too hurt for the loss of their loved ones, that they dared not tell their children, that the recently deceased relative, or loved one was really dead, and they preferred to tell a fairy tale of magical meeting in a happy place to their kids. In order to apease the pain of loss. As complicated and difficult subjects are often explained to kids through metaphors and parables. But the child parent relationship is all about trust, and the kids trusted their parents to tell them the truth. So, it remains, that majority of religious people believe in religious concepts – however childish, unfinished, or magical – to be true because they have learned them from the one authority they first learned to trust. That is to say, from their parents. I think, that the poorer method people have for reaching conclusions, the more likely they are to make the “truths” they think they know a part of their identity and thus they are more fragile and easier prey to all sorts of woo about those issues.

  2. @ Rautakyy:

    The notion of something surviving death has been in generation after generation and in almost every culture.

    It is not just “derived from past ages” or by “some adults for their kids”. You underestimate the power of the dualistic cognitive illusion of spirit. (are you aware of the power of that universal cognitive illusion? religious folks, of course think it is not an illusion)

    Also, you did not address the question of this post unless you think the child story answers everything.

  3. rautakyy

    @Sabio Lanz: Hmm…. I try to keep my comments as short as I possible can, as you have adviced me and I thank you for that good advice. (Even though,I admit that this is often a failed effort in my case.).

    I did tried to address the roots of the illusion, you refer to, in my first comment. I do not think religions are born in any crucible of philosophers and theologians formulating doctrine any more than the demagogues and politicians abusing the doctrines to gain power. Those are only parts of the process in the beginning of wich is the simple transition of “truth” from a parent to a child and motives behind what is told as the “truth” and how the “broken telephone syndrome” affects and corrupts the transition of information are the original reasons for much of cultural traditional superstitions, such as religions. The reason why such ideas are universal in almost every religious culture is, that it is the simple questions of parenthood, like in my example, that are universal. Much more universal in the human condition, than any particular philosophical dilemmas, or any particular superstitous supernatural solutions to them.

    In my experience, most religious folks do not contemplate much about these things. That is what I mean, when I said that the idea of the afterlife is unfinished. They simply believe in them as part of their inherited cultural identity.

    So, as a renewed attempt to address your question, I do think that the need to deal with the death of loved ones is the bigger motivator, than the personal fear of death. Empathy towards those lost loved ones combined to the need to soften the blow to others (like children) and to the personal pain of losing them forming together a bigger motivator, than mere personal fear alone. I recognize however, that this view may be due to my fairly positive view on humanity, as I have no personal experience about believing in any afterlife. On the other hand, there lingers the foul stench of tribal moralism attached to all the afterlife ideas, where the “saved” belong to an ingroup and the outgroup “deserve” what else is in reserve for them.

  4. I find the afterlife is held onto because many fear the unknown in endings. When endings are embraced as new beginnings, the concept of continuity becomes real in the now and isn’t defined by life or death. It doesn’t have to be anticipated for later because it happens every day and embracing it is accepting that there’s more to come, even when not knowing what will come.

  5. @ Rautakky:
    Indeed, you do go on.

    Do you feel your religious friends worry more about their own eternal life or worry more that their friends will live forever so don’t have to imagine them gone?

  6. @ Astrid
    I agree, fear of endings is a reason for belief in afterlife. My question is: do we worry more about OUR ending or those of others?

    You note about continuity begs the question. Maybe when a squirrel dies, it rots and goes away in any sense of being that squirrel — that squirrel ends (no matter whatever role its dead cells play after taken in other life forms or rocks). So in this sense, do humans end the same way or are you hinting a reincarnation or something similar?

  7. rautakyy

    @Sabio Lanz, I think my religious friends are more affraid for their friends not beloning to their ingroup, than they are for themselves as such. They have expressed their sincere worry about my situation for not believing in their particular religions. It seems to me, that they have taken the notion of themselves as the saved ones as given. They do not seem at all worried about wether their promised salvation from death is the actual one, even though they must know, there are thousands of mutually excluding promises about the afterlife. To me, it seems, that their certainty comes mostly from them recieving their view from their parents, not by any inner reflection or research.

  8. Soren

    Asking the wrong question (and it’s not an either/or question to begin with).
    Focusing on a selfish interpretation misses the point–beliefs (religious and otherwise) are heavily intertwined. The reason for an individual belief can’t be understood on it’s own without examining the larger context of a massively complex system.

    I think it’s safe to assume it’s more than just a simple adaptive function to convince ourselves of a selfish intent (seeing loved ones, living forever, etc). My biggest problem with these discussions is that it draws heavily from oversimplified deterministic interpretations of evolution (ie. evolutionary psych).

    Science gives you insights into the structure of the world, while religion guides your behavior within it.

  9. @ Soren

    Of course it is not a simple binary choice. The point of this post was to show that often people care as much, if not more, about the disappearance their loved ones than of themselves. I just thought it was interesting.

    Indeed, as I have written elsewhere, beliefs, feeling and such exist in a complex system of function to each other and the person’s ways of using them.

    Research shows the religion may think it is offering guides to behavior but their is no evidence that religious folks have better behavior than non-religious. But it is exactly that reason that many people with new little children run to churches which they may have stopped visiting before.

  10. Soren

    Point taken. I agree it’s interesting to discuss what people do in contrast to what they say (as the two are often quite different confirmed by the study you presented).

    I’ve found that viewing subjects like religion thru the lens of complexity science can be quite helpful–where emergence and thinking beyond reductionism can provide a more comprehensive understanding. It’s easy to assume religious folks are just simpletons–a common fallacy of the atheist arsenal.

    Interestingly I have yet to meet a person (or family) that decided to return to church/religion after having children though I can understand why they might make that choice as it’s economically wise, among other things. Of course I live in the Northeast where religion is almost non-existent so my experience is probably not the norm.

  11. Nate

    Fascinating post! Thanks! I was recently thinking about the same concept.

    The book of Ecclesiastes overall seems to insinuate that there is no after life, which leads me to believe that early Judaism did not want its followers to cling to the notion of afterlife out of concern that its adherents would be practicing the religion on conditional motive. This is also shown by the fact that the Bible, what many refer to as the “old testament”, does not really discuss the afterlife.
    However, the concept of afterlife did start to appear later in Judaism, in the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, within the oral tradition of the rabbis. It was likely this very concept that created a major rift in Jewish theology, and the record of this rift implies that the notion of the afterlife was based on personal reward for observance of the commandments (I am referring to the two primary disciples of Antigonos, Tzadok and Baytus, who started their own movements). According to this idea, it had neither to do with one’s own eternity or the thought of being reunited with loved ones, but rather concerned with whether or not there is a point to observe the commandments in this world.

    As time went on, and Jewish persecution became heightened, where tens of thousands (if not more) were being murdered by other sects, I think the concept of afterlife took on a different meaning. I believe that at this later point in time, people began to believe in it for another reason, one which is slightly different than the 2nd one you suggested (“I want to see them again”). I think it was based on the thought of “they are in a better place”, which made it easier for one to be comforted when their families were killed before their eyes. Sorry to be so bleak!

    What do I believe? Still a work in progress. But because the afterlife didn’t seem to hold a primary place in the origins of the religion, I try to focus more on what type of imprint I leave in this world.

  12. @ Nate

    A few questions:
    (1) Interestingly, in your first sentence, you seem to know the intent of the author (and its subsequent “redactants”) in writing Ecclesiastes. How did you learn of that?

    (2) Do you agree that the Tanakh is an anthology of books with authors with different views of the world (that is, not written or directed to be written by a god)? I think you do, but just making sure.

    My thoughts in reply to the fun history you share:
    (A) I feel the cognitive illusion of a soul and thus afterlife are almost unavoidable and thus exist in most human cultures. Mind you, not all minds have the illusion but most do. And so, that is why it is in Judaism today (and agreeing with you, it is not strong). The afterlife thought is strong in Christianity and Islam and dangerously used in both those religions. Same for Hinduism with reincarnation often used as an excuse for present sufferings.
    I’m not sure if you read this post, btw:
    Jewish Souls.

    (B) I will not debate the “see them again” theory vs the “in a better place” theory which itself is also good. The point remains the same. I wonder if the soul illusion coupled with our pain of loss, created the afterlives myths in so many cultures.

    Good thoughts in you comments. I already knew about the weakness of afterlife thinking in Judaism. “Chosen people” is one of the very dangerous thought in much of Judaism, if I must chose one, btw.

  13. Nate

    Thanks for the response! Sorry if mine is too long; there were just so many interesting points to bring up!

    (1) I don’t think it was the specific intent of the author of Ecclesiastes to say that there is no afterlife, rather it’s an extrapolation from the general message throughout the 12 chapters.

    (2) I definitely think the books of Tanach were written by different authors.
    However, the sages that decided which books to include in the canon followed more of a unified worldview. While the books may not have been written by God, my opinion is that they were divinely inspired.

    (A) “cognitive illusion of a soul and thus afterlife are almost unavoidable”
    – I find it interesting that Tanakh speaks of the soul but does not speak of the afterlife. I don’t know what it’s like in other religions, but it seems that in Judaism the two are mutually exclusive
    – I myself would not rush to the conclusion that the soul is an illusion, but I guess that’s your take on it. What is your definition of soul?

    “The afterlife thought is strong in Christianity and Islam and dangerously used in both those religions”.
    -I couldn’t agree more. And if you ask me, I think the reason the afterlife originally became such a hype in Judaism is because it was a response to Xtianity. Meaning, because this notion of afterlife became an alluring aspect of the breakaway sect that would later become Xtianity, the Pharisees were forced to include that concept within the orthodox framework, but would give a kosher (i.e. Pharisaic) spin on it.
    I think this is a general pattern throughout the religion. Maimonides says that animal sacrifices, which was generally more of a pagan ritual, was incorporated into Judaism as a way to ensure its adherents would not break off back into idolatry (this is a hotly contested subject, however). But it was important that animal sacrifice was transformed into something that was directed towards monotheism. This line of thought helps explain the similarities found between the Torah and the code of Hammurabi, and may even relate back to your post about Sargon vs. Moses.

    “I’m not sure if you read this post, btw: Jewish Souls”
    -I’ll check it out! Thanks for sharing!

    (B) “I wonder if the soul illusion coupled with our pain of loss, created the afterlives myths in so many cultures”
    -Definitely could be. Based on my understanding, a lot of paganism that preceded Judaism centered around rituals that would aim to communicate with the dead. I think these rituals were borne out of the same reasoning, based on either theological questioning of one’s own mortality or the anguish felt at the loss of loved ones (IMO, the former reasoning seems to fit more with that era). It seems that Judaism wanted the exact opposite, and therefore necromancy (and other similar rituals) was outlawed, and it also explains the detailed laws of corpse impurity that was instituted.

    ” ‘Chosen people’ is one of the very dangerous thought in much of Judaism, if I must chose one, btw.”
    -What is your understanding of the concept of “the chosen people”. It might not be the case for you, but I think it’s often misunderstood

  14. Thanks for your thoughts:
    (1) OK, it felt like biased speculation. 😉
    (2) Ah, well we disagree with “divinely inspired” unless we hammer out what “divine” means and “inspired” means. To start, do you feel Christian “sages” who chose the Christian anthologies were also “divinely inspired”. How about the Quran, the Mahabharata , or Shakespeare?

    (A) “rush to a conclusion” — conversation closer. I myself don’t use the word “soul”, unless forced to in conversations with a Soulist. Smile. Unnecessary term. No use. When do you use it? Someone’s habits, dispositions, thoughts, mind, life… I do use those. Don’t need a ghost term. The word is meant for what lingers at worst or survives at best, after death.

    I think After Life thought was in Judaism much much earlier than in Christianity, and Animal sacrifices were part of Judaism which evolved from a multi-god (council of gods) religion to single god religion. Jews were Pagans (a derogatory word, no?) –Jews just tried to set themselves different from their neighbors as Muslims did from their surrounding tribes and fellow tribes.

    On “Chosenness” — since I don’t believe in a sky-spirit that controls the fate of humans, this notion of Chosenness will always be nonsense to me at baseline. I wrote a fun piece on it here. I think no people are more special than another in any sense, yet every country and religion thinks so and spreads the propaganda. Thus my post about “Gutting Religion“.

    Thanx again for your comment

  15. Nate

    (1) Nope. Just a simple extrapolation from the text.
    (2) Disagreement is cool with me.
    I have no problem saying the Quran or Mahabharata were divinely inspired; but I’ve never read them so I simply don’t know. Xtianity IMO is not divinely inspired for its intention was to form a breakaway sect from an already existing religion.

    (A) “forced to in conversations with a Soulist”. Since I’m not really clear on what you mean by that term, what was it about my initial comment that pinned me as a “soulist”, to the extent that you subsequently felt you needed to use the word “soul”?
    I would classify “soul” as a mixture between life-force (closest to last term you cited) and a certain level of cognition.

    “I think After Life thought was in Judaism much much earlier than in Christianity”
    When you say “in Judaism” do you mean it was a central component? What timeframe were you referring to when you said “much much earlier”? And what sources led you to your opinion? I think it’s a pretty cool topic and I’d like to learn more about sources I may have missed.

    “evolved from a multi-god (council of gods) religion to single god religion”
    Jewish ancestry was definitely pagan at some point; we read this aloud every year at the Passover meal. What point in time were you referring to when you said Jews were pagans?

    “Jews just tried to set themselves different from their neighbors”
    Indeed. If their neighbors were pagan and Judaism was aiming for monotheism, then it would make sense our goals and practices would be different. This is an oft-repeated concept in the Pentateuch.

    “as Muslims did from their surrounding tribes and fellow tribes”. I have to admit, I am not well versed on early Islamic history. If you would please expand on this I’d appreciate it.

    I read your post about chosenness (It was a short one, thanks!)
    I agree. No one nation is more special than the next, just as a parent should not hold one child more special than the next (as an aside: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch said this was the critical mistake Isaac made with Jacob and Esau). But each child has different strengths, and each one’s strengths compliment those of their siblings. So I fully agree that the notion of “chosenness” should certainly not lead one to isolation (too many orthodox sects within Judaism have fallen prey to this) because not only are we encouraged to both learn from and to teach other nations/religions of the world, failure to do so hinders ours and everyone else’s potential toward constructing a successful society. I would therefore conclude your article not as “no one is chosen” but as “everyone is chosen” (I’d probably leave out the part about nonsense as well, lol).

  16. @ Nate
    Do you play music, btw?

    (2) Odd reasoning you used there. Xianity’s sages (as you called Jewish early writers) were a “breakaway sect from an already existing religion” so they can’t be divinely inspired.

    Well Islam and Buddhism were both breakaway sects, and Judaism itself was a breakaway sect. So your argument is a bit self-defeating if not just plain odd.

    I have read the Quran and the Mahabharata and the Tanakh and Christian scriptures and the Book of Moroni — I see no way that people can discern “divinely inspired” or not. Instead, the way folks decide and the way you seem to decide is not by weighing, comparing and such, but just saying it is my faith (usually of birth), so my faith’s writings are OBVIOUSLY divinely inspired. And those believers have typically not inspected other faiths, of course.

    (A) Oh, you asked me what I thought a “soul” is, so I figured you must use the term. Again, I don’t use it. I don’t feel that anyone who posits that a squirrel does not have a soul and humans do, then the word “soul” does not mean anything — just religious anthropocentrism.

    See my post on “Roadkill Theology“.

    I’ll stop there tonight. Those were lots of questions. Hope this little reply is useful.

  17. @ Nate:
    OK, a bit more:

    (w) I imagine you know about “The Council of gods” which was the early form of Jewish/Canaanite polytheism. Right?

    (x) Have you heard of the studies that claim to show that the Jewish origin story of Abraham (thus Jews) coming from Ur was not true because genetics and other evidence points to Jews just being one of the many Canaanite groups that created a origin myth to claim specialness to justify ruling. This unique origin myth trick is common in many cultures.

    Interestingly I just searched and found this May 28, 2020 National Geographic article that discusses things related to this issue.

    (y) As far as Islam emerging from and splitting from emerging tribal religion on the Arab peninsula, I will let you do your own research on Islam. The Kaaba is just one example of it being a “breakaway” as you call these religions.

    (z) Lastly, my feeling is that the “chosenness” you speak of is a sanitized version of the real origin of the notion, and certainly of the notion many Jews carry in their minds. Sanitized, polished and fixed up to be palatable both to modern Jews and the reality of their histories. But that is just my intuition.

    Now, I’ll stop here tonight. 😉

  18. Nate

    @Sabio

    I do play music, but not as much as I used to. Why do you ask?

    “Judaism itself was a breakaway sect”
    -I am not debating that Judaism was breaking away from the pagan norms of its time. There they were indeed a breakaway sect in this regard. But they did not say “hey all this text and forms of rituals that we have before us, all of it really means such and such”, rather they were creating something else entirely, and were disregarding pagan worship. The books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus on a few occasions insinuate that while the other nations can continue to worships their gods, the path of the Israelites was a new thing entirely. Xtianity was not attempting to be a whole new entity, it was transplanting itself onto an already existing religion (Judaism) and an already established canonized text (Tanakh), and claiming that their movement was the new Judaism and that everything in Tanakh was pointing to jesus. I can expand on this but I don’t want my comment to be too long; does this make sense?

    “the way you seem to decide is not by weighing, comparing and such, but just saying my faith’s writings are OBVIOUSLY divinely inspired. And those believers have typically not inspected other faiths, of course”
    – I have inspected Xtianity, I have read the new testament, I have engaged in many a conversation with christians. I spent considerable time on this. It is based on my analysis, and on the different nature of the breakaway form of christianity (briefly discussed above) that I make my statement that it is not divinely inspired. I have not read the Quran or the Mahabharata, they may very well be divinely inspired; and I have no qualms with that. I don’t purport Judaism to be more divinely inspired than other religions. Perhaps one day when I do a thorough read of those texts I can give you a more complete opinion.

    “Oh, you asked me what I thought a “soul” is, so I figured you must use the term”.
    -I asked you what you thought a soul was after you, not I, introduced the term (07/17/2020 at 6:40 am). I don’t want to misjudge, but I got the feeling you classified me as a “soulist” before I even gave off that vibe.

    “anyone who posits that a squirrel does not have a soul and humans do”
    – I don’t know about other religions, but the Tanakh defines both humans and animals as having souls (Genesis 1:24, 2:7).

    I hope to address your 2nd comment tomorrow. I am enjoying this and learning a lot. Thank you!

  19. (1) I asked about music because I found a younger Nate “אוֹר” online who plays and teaches bass guitar, but another older one who attends Jewish seminars. That is why I asked.

    (2) Are you a blogger too? I created a blog so that when dialoging (in the past mostly) with religionist and atheists who held normative, We-are-special views, I could just send a link rather writing things over and over. Many of my post are against that kind of atheist, in case you haven’t noticed. Now, moving on…

    (A) I would hope you agree that Judaism did not “pop” into existence — it slowly morphed over centuries. It also changed slowly using myths of other cultures, using ideas from other religions (from Zorastrianism, I’m pretty sure, from Babylon (Persian) days). It had varieties of writers who had very different purposes and goals, though the redactors tried to homogenized when the could, of course — ass happens in all religions.

    (A1) You seem to be trying too hard to make your religion different from all the rest — a common move by religious believers. Please remember, that I am not a Christian, but a former one. In fact, I have a post you may find interesting called ““My Favorite Type of Christian” which illustrates the various flavors of Christianity. Judaism comes in many flavors too. I wish I had the background to do the same sort of post for Jews — I wager to say your flavor of Judaism would be in my group of favorites — just a guess. But I’d love to see your outline for such a post (?on your blog).

    BTW, I’d guess that when you read other religion texts that you will predictably decide that they are not divinely inspired — for what measuring rod do you use but that of your very own religion. Wouldn’t you think?

    (B) Sure if a squirrels and humans AND mosquitoes, poison ivy and an amoeba have a soul, that is great — but then the word becomes meaningless. We already have a word, we call it “alive”. But are prions and viruses soulful? — the Tanakh says nothing of that because Yahweh (the sock puppet of men, in my opinion) did not learn about them until much later. Did you read the Roadkill Theology post?

    (C) Lastly, why do you visit blogs? Just curious. I started this blog when my 10-yr-old son was told by Christian he was going to hell after I told him to respect other faiths — religious specialism and exclusivism then inspired me to fight back. But then when blogging I ran into atheists with other specialism ideas and I wrote my about them. Then, I got addicted to writing. smile. But I wrote my full and started a poetry blog, and even that now, I am not using so much — too busy with Spanish language.

    Thanks for your replies. More later. It is good to delineate where we disagree and open other ideas in the meanwhile.

  20. Nate

    (1) The younger one is certainly not me. The 2nd one could be me, but I don’t recall publicizing my attendance at Jewish seminars.
    (2) I’m not a blogger

    (A) I agree that Judaism did transform over centuries; I thought I had expressed that in previous comments and my apologies if that wasn’t clear.

    “using ideas from other religions (from Zorastrianism, I’m pretty sure)”
    -Which of those religions influenced the other is a rather complicated topic that does not appear to have a definitive consensus, which may be what you were getting at with the “I’m pretty sure”. Suffice it to say, the origins of Judaism seem to predate those of Zorastra significantly, so I find it hard to believe the latter played an influential role on the former’s origins; perhaps you are referring to later influences in Jewish history?

    “It had varieties of writers”
    When you say “it” are you referring to the Pentateuch? All of Tanakh? Later writings?

    (A1) I think each religion is different (not “more special”) than the others. I find the emphasis of monotheism was something unique to Judaism in its origins.

    “when you read other religion texts that you will predictably decide that they are not divinely inspired”
    I can’t say that for sure until I read them. One of the main factors, however, that would push me one way over the other is the inclusion/exclusion of mass revelation in the origins of that religion. Have you done some research on this?

    (B) Tanakh not commenting on viruses having souls is not an indication that it didn’t know about them, but rather because it’s because it doesn’t believe that they have souls, nor does it believe souls belong to mosquitoes, which were surely known of at that time. Yes I read the Roadkill post. Great one! I agree: humans, like animals, can die from accidents. The “everything happens for a reason” is more a rationale for comfort. Alternatively, I’m sure other orthodox Jews would say that moths dying on your windshield (yick!) also carry some divine purpose.

    (C) I feel that a great deal of orthodox Judaism, and presumably other religions, carries with it tremendous bias. I enjoy Jewish blogs/sites that include ideas that stem from non-classic Jewish sources or non-Jewish sources so that I can get a greater appreciation on the origins of my religion and how its history and contemporary ideals fit in with the rest of the world (one of my favorite sites is thetorah.com). I came across your blog originally when I was researching ideas I had developed about Moses in the basket, and I’m glad I did!

  21. @ Nate:
    (a) Yes, early forms of Judaism predate Zorastra, but Zoroastrian influence are clear in much of present Judaism. Heck, animal sacrifices were the Jewish way back in Superstitions change to meet their audiences — sometimes.

    (A1) No, I had not heard the “Mass Revelations” argument. I just read on it a bit. Doesn’t it seem odd that no mass revelations or miracles can be captured now when we can prove them with all the cell phone cameras available, eh? Why would an all-powerful and all-knowing and interfering god not give clear irrefutable evidence even now. Makes no sense. Instead, ‘he’ supposedly did it to a tribe of Iron Age people — supposedly — and no one else? RIGHT! Very unbelievable. But people are always desperate to prove their own religion — I’ve seen this desperation in every country I live in. It is the natural outcome of cognitive dissonance. Anyway, new to me, but thanks to an introduction to that.

    You sound like a very tolerant guy in many ways, but some of the things you say seem very odd to me.

  22. Nate

    (a) Which unique aspects of Zoroastrianism would you say influence present Judaism?
    I failed to understand the latter half of your first point. Sorry

    (A1) I find it more questionable that objectively all other religions begin with an individual revelation.
    Irrefutable evidence would interfere with free will.
    I presume the “unbelievability” for God to select one class of people over others relates to the choseness issue you introduced earlier.
    I’m not trying to “prove” my religion. My attempts are more to make sense of it, while at the same time uncover its applicability in early and contemporary society.

    I feel the same about you! I wouldn’t use the word odd though, lol. Please let me know which statements of mine seem odd.

  23. Hey Nate,
    Too bad you don’t have your own blog where you can take a chance and say exactly what you believe, instead of coming to other blogs and trying to correct them in the comments. Your own blog would be more efficient and you seem like you got stuff to say.

    That said, what your Judaism looks like to me so far would be this:
    “The Divine Creator spoke to the Jewish people thousands of years ago and told them how to best lead their lives. I’m not sure of an afterlife, but I do feel that following Jewish teachings (as a revelation from the Divine) is the right thing for me to do in this life.”
    Now, I’m sure there is much more, but is that part accurate?
    Oh, and from what you are saying, you also believe, “Christianity is an unfortunate perversion of the true God’s revelation.” Correct? If not, restate either or both of this succinctly if you care to.

  24. @ Nat , my 4:17 post was made before I saw your 4:02 post.

    (a) I don’t care to get into all that. You can find many posts on that all over the web and discuss with them. Like I said, this stuff is all such weird fiction to me, to argue it is now very tiring to me.

    (A1) LOL. Yes, yes. Of course, the “Free Will” argument. But your god had no trouble interfering with the “Free Will” millions of supposed Jews he revealed himself to in a undeniable “mass revelation” thousands of years ago. Really? Can’t you see how that holds no water?

    Think about it. You are trying to make sense of something you already believe AND are invested in for years and years. That venture is doomed to failure (or success, depending how you look at it.)

  25. Nate

    @Sabio

    I myself am a believer that the “miracles” depicted in the Bible were really through natural means. The people falling apart so quickly with the golden calf only a few weeks later was a testament to that, in my opinion. So I don’t see the Sinai revelation or the ten plagues as an absolute nullification of free will, and I therefore don’t see the argument as a contradiction to my earlier point.

Please share your opinions!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s