Thursday, May 25, 2006

What Happens... Part 2

There are a lot of philosophies dealing with death.

Some believe in Heaven and Hell and that in order to choose which place you go to, you must make the right choices in life, be a "good person". In this case, Heaven and Hell can take on a variety of definitions but sufficed to say, one is meant to reward, while the other is designed to punish.

Others believe we live multiple lives, taking on different forms depending, once again, on our performance and treatment of our fellow man.

One I always found interesting is the belief that we are just annihilated at death, nothing lives on beyond that.

As most philosophies and religions teach that death is indeed not really the end, let us leave the "annihilated at death" argument and assume that while our bodies are mortal, some part of us lives on after our flesh has expired.

For the sake of the discussion, I will refer to this part of humankind as "essence" (any Emeril fans out there?).

Presumably, the essence is eternal. And specifically I mean that it lives on forever, but not necessarily that it had no beginning. The question is did it have a beginning? At conception, did we "inherit" this essence from our mother? Or did our father pass it on to us? Assuming this essence had no real beginning but has always been there, where did it come from? Did it emanate from another being, or did all of our individual "essences" co-exist together before they lived in us?

All of these questions, if we took them seriously, would profoundly affect our lives.

If we just disappear and no part of us lives on, then we really aren't obligated to be "good" to ourselves or one another except for the purely selfish motive that we want to live well while we are here. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

On the other hand, if there is a Heaven and Hell where we are either punished or rewarded based on our performance, suddenly we have incentive to act right, or as right as we know how.

What is it within man that motivates him to be kind, generous, careful, thoughtful, and all the others qualities that make us human? Is there really a "basic goodness" that we all posses?

Either we are accountable to the giver of this life, we by nature "respect" the essence of others, or we are just being good for the sake of our own enjoyment.

Do you believe in a literal heaven and hell, or reincarnation? Or maybe annihilation?

If you believe in the eternal part of humankind, where did it come from?

Are we accountable to the source of this life?


Cynthia said...

Interesting questions. According to science, all life is connected, if this is true, why are we more important that other life forms. Why are we so self-absorbed with death & dying and an afterlife?

Bullfrog said...

That is an interesting question. I believe animals do not have the same preoccupation we do with mortality or morality; they act purely on instinct. So what makes humans different?

Mr. Grey Ghost said...

I believe that we are accountable for all our actions, esp. considering that God lays down a path for us that either we can choose to follow or not follow. And I believe in heaven and hell mostly because Jesus spoke of them, and spoke of them in a manner that does not seem allegorical. However, while I believe in them, I don't know what they're like. What little description we have of each probably "is" allegorical. I don't believe in purgatory specifically; the action of cleansing usually relagated to Purgatory, if needed at all, I would guess occurs in Heaven, but I have no Biblical reason for assuming this, it's pure speculation on my part.

Dave Miller said...

Provocative stuff Bullfrog. These are the questions that have have baffled mankind for centuries.

As for the animals, the classical response has always been that the differnce between man and animal has been man's ability to reason. First outlined by Michel Montainge in the 16th century.

glory said...

i don't like to think of heaven and hell as places, but rather states of being. to the extent i agree there is a hell, it's because Jesus spoke of it. i don't think much about hell because i don't intend to go. i don't think much about heaven because if i want to experience it i need to be conscientious about what's going on here. i want to be righteous because i desire the Creator's approval, not so much for a heaven i couldn't understand or value without experiencing it first hand.

i believe that people care because we were created differently than animals, and we have a spiritual nature represented by our tangible bodies.

and, animals reason to the extent they must.