Monday, 23 February 2015

Will your Soul exist for eternity?

Here's the deal: you avoid doing these bad things (listed in points one through ten), and when you die, you go to heaven. For ever more. For an eternity. For an infinitely long time.

Want to know what infinity looks like? It's not a million billion zillion. Imagine, if you will, an infinite number of parallel universes. There's one just like this one, according to a gag on the BBC's 1980s comedy show Not The Nine O'Clock News, where everything is exactly the same as in this universe, except the Mini Metro had a slightly shorter gear stick. Now, come up with every possible tiny variant you can think of - a universe identical to this one, but one in which you drank one millilitre more coffee than you did today. Or you had a grapefruit juice in place of that orange juice. Or that the third ant from the left picks up this grain of sand rather than that one. Or that clover has five leaves.Let your imagination run wild on this one, and soon you will begin to understand just what the real gist of infinity and eternity.

The universe, by contrast is said to be a mere 13.8 billion years old - an infinitessimally small fraction of eternity, a finite number of years that have elapsed since everything kicked off with the Big Bang. And before? We don't know, we can only guess.

But back to the notion of heaven. You get to live for eternity in heaven, because you spent your life span in the here-and-now being good? This rather jars with me. I very much doubt it. Isn't the professed reward disproportionately vast in comparison to the ask? Where's the learning process? Where are the challenges? Where's the acquisition of spiritual wisdom? Isn't it just too huge a leap -from avoid doing bad in this life to living for ever more in the next? Isn't there far more to life, the Universe and everything, than just those sto lat we all aspire to?

Whilst I do believe in the notion that we are moving towards the ideal, the perfection, the wisdom, the will, of God - it is not something to be achieved in one lifetime. The leap from ordinary human to angelic being. No, it will take billions of generations to acquire that omniscience - total awareness of everything. Think of the billions of generations of evolution that it too you to become you.

From amoeba to plankton to jellyfish to simple vertebrate to fish to lobefin to reptile to primate, life has been about the gathering of ever-higher states of consciousness along the way, spiritual evolution, if you like, a snowball of growing awareness. Accretion, accumulation of consciousness.

Continue this way towards God - everything merged into one consciousness, into which we will all be united. Literally all, if you hold with the theory of a Universe continually expanding away from a Big Bang, expanding until the forces that power it run out of puff, and then contracting in upon itself (a process that astronomers can view today within a black hole), with black hole swallowing black hole, everything contracting back upon itself until all matter - the atoms that make you up, me, them, everybody - and the furthest visible galaxy too -  collapsing back into one singularity.

But will you feel yourself within that singularity? Will you know that that is you, knowing?

My second objection to the traditional view of heaven - aside from the time-span issue - is that it promises you that you will remain you for ever more. Not joined with your loved ones, not merged into being a part of an eternal, celestial whole, but staying an individual - you, for ever more.

This I find scientifically, spiritually, and even socially, awkward. It does show off the fact that organised religions form a kind of social control - "believe that this is as it should be, and your reward will be in the Hereafter."

Will [your] consciousness, rather than your soul exist for eternity - this, I believe, is the right question to be asking, and if so, in what form? Something for next time.

This time four years ago:
On the road to Węgrów

This time five years ago
A week into Lent

This time six years ago:
In the stillness of a winter forest

This time seven years ago:
Over the fence

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