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Anonymous

No Heaven, No Hell...
    #813390 - 08/12/02 06:41 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

For all who subscribe to a belief system that holds there is a reward and/or punishment in the 'afterlife' for certain behaviors, I have (another) hypothetical question...

If there was no reward and/or punishment in the 'afterlife,' what in your belief system would you still find compelling to follow and why? To put it another way, what benefits from your system's moral code and teachings can be realized in this life if there is no heaven and there is no hell?


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InvisibleRebelSteve33
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813397 - 08/12/02 06:46 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

To put it another way, what benefits from your system's moral code and teachings can be realized in this life if there is no heaven and there is no hell?

Being happy. Having love. Finding peace. Seeing beauty.

Those things are reward enough for me, at least.


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Namaste.


Edited by RebelSteve33 (08/12/02 07:13 PM)


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Anonymous

Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813419 - 08/12/02 07:02 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Afterlife.. you mean my next life or the time in between this one and the next?

I believe in Karma.. and knowledge.. heaven or hell is just a state of mind.


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OfflineZahid
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813436 - 08/12/02 07:09 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

For all who subscribe to a belief system that holds there is a reward and/or punishment in the 'afterlife' for certain behaviors, I have (another) hypothetical question...

If there was no reward and/or punishment in the 'afterlife,' what in your belief system would you still find compelling to follow and why? To put it another way, what benefits from your system's moral code and teachings can be realized in this life if there is no heaven and there is no hell?


Heh, for some reason I expected more.

What would I do in this world if the afterlife did not exist? I would probably be like all the non believers in the world today, just as if the non believers knew of the current existing reality, they would be acting as believers do. But the game of life is in play, and your time on earth will seem like only a day, when you meet Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala on Judgement Day. Insh Allaah.

Waslaam.


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InvisibleinfidelGOD
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813438 - 08/12/02 07:10 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

The existence of an afterlife has no bearing on my beliefs in this life. I would not change a thing if I found out there was no afterlife. Knowing God is its own reward.


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Zahid]
    #813465 - 08/12/02 07:21 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

What would I do in this world if the afterlife did not exist? I would probably be like all the non believers in the world today,

Really? That's good news then.
I hate to break it to you, but THERE IS NO AFTERLIFE. It was created to keep people out of trouble. Prisons are expensive to maintain... fear tactics aren't.

Wait a second... maybe it's bad news...
It's impossible to prove a negative (Am I right, evolving?). Since the afterlife doesn't exist, I cannot prove it. I guess this means Zahid is going to be an unruly, unforgiving, evangelistic, dogmatic, blind zealot until the day he dies.

It's too bad the soul doesn't go on after death... I can only imagine what Zahid would be thinking when the lights go out and nothing ever happens... just blackness.


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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Anonymous

Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Zahid]
    #813469 - 08/12/02 07:23 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

I would probably be like all the non believers in the world today, just as if the non believers knew of the current existing reality, they would be acting as believers do. But the game of life is in play, and your time on earth will seem like only a day, when you meet Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala on Judgement Day.
Come on Zahid, is your belief system and it's moral code really that weak that you would chuck it all if there was no reward and punishment? Can you answer the questions without referring to judgement by a mythological being? This is a mental and moral exercise, try to play along.

I'll ask again. What in your belief system would you still find compelling to follow and why? What benefits from your system's moral code and teachings can be realized in this life if there is no heaven and there is no hell?


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Anonymous

Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Sclorch]
    #813471 - 08/12/02 07:23 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Don't you think it would be funny if you died and then it didn't go black? Instead..you just kept on thinking. Ha, that would be a knee slapper, that.


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OfflineZahid
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Sclorch]
    #813479 - 08/12/02 07:26 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Since the afterlife does exist, I cannot prove it.


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813493 - 08/12/02 07:31 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Don't you think it would be funny if you died and then it didn't go black? Instead..you just kept on thinking. Ha, that would be a knee slapper, that.

Shroomism (only)-
Do I NEED to believe in the afterlife to experience it (if there is one)?
I think you would say no.

Would my belief in THAT kind of an afterlife (non-religious) affect my morals in life?
I think we would both say no.

Don't take it personally if I don't believe in an afterlife. If I had to choose which afterlife I'd believe in... it would be similar to what you believe in (no dogma, no guilt-trips... no "judgement", right?). If you've noticed, I don't knock any non-dogmatic belief in the afterlife. You should take that into consideration in the future.


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Zahid]
    #813497 - 08/12/02 07:33 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Since the afterlife does exist, I cannot prove it.

Yet you shove it down our throats every chance you get...
It's called fear of the unknown. Get over it.


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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Anonymous

Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Sclorch]
    #813502 - 08/12/02 07:36 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Don't take offense, I was merely trying to add a contrast to the statement you made: It's too bad the soul doesn't go on after death... I can only imagine what Zahid would be thinking when the lights go out and nothing ever happens... just blackness.

Do I NEED to believe in the afterlife to experience it (if there is one)?


No.

Would my belief in THAT kind of an afterlife (non-religious) affect my morals in life?


Perhaps.


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OfflineZahid
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813509 - 08/12/02 07:39 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

I'll ask again. What in your belief system would you still find compelling to follow and why? What benefits from your system's moral code and teachings can be realized in this life if there is no heaven and there is no hell?

I really wouldn't know because the non existence of heaven and hell is not a reality. What disbelievers don't understand about faith is that it isn't blind, they only think it, but they don't have a slight idea what a person of faith experiences as a result of surrendering to God.

When I embraced Islam, my experiences came as alien and strange to me since I never experienced such a reality before. I know God exists, I experienced Him.

I might as well be asking you what you would do in this life if you had knowledge of God's existence. Simple answer, you would obey, fear, and love Him. Only an idiot would reject God after recieving revelation from Him.

It's not hard to avoid the Fire.


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813514 - 08/12/02 07:41 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Would my belief in THAT kind of an afterlife (non-religious) affect my morals in life?
Perhaps.

Pray tell, how?


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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Anonymous

Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813530 - 08/12/02 07:45 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Perhaps if your morals and actions are contingent on a belief in an after life, you have not learned the lessons of existence.


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Anonymous

Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Sclorch]
    #813536 - 08/12/02 07:48 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Let's say one believed in no afterlife, and that they could do whatever they wanted to anyone they wanted whenever they wanted. So they just go off slaying people and bashing kittens against trees just because they can. Then they die and maybe learn that their actions did effect them and their environment. Of course if it all went black then they wouldn't realize any of it, but no one gets off that easy.

So if this same person believed in Karma and what comes around goes around or some type of afterlife where you are recognized for good and loving intentions, would they go around slaying people and smashing kittens against trees? Probably not.


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Zahid]
    #813537 - 08/12/02 07:48 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

I might as well be asking you what you would do in this life if you had knowledge of God's existence. Simple answer, you would obey, fear, and love Him. Only an idiot would reject God after recieving revelation from Him.

Call me an idiot then. I will not live my life in fear.
If there is a God and if that God is such a narcissistic egotist, then I have no respect for him. I am a moral man. I need no guide to show me the way. If what I do coincides with what "obeying" is, that's fine, but "God" should know that the only thing I follow is my heart.


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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OfflineDrink_Punk_Soda
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: Zahid]
    #813539 - 08/12/02 07:49 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

I'm still hung up on that concept of no afterlibe but continued existance.. what if when your body ceases to function, your mind does not? Or hell, here's another concept. What if the soul gets recycled? Like what if the "soul" is little more than the spark of life that carries the most basic essance of what we are, and the physical self that develops is a reflection of the characteristics of that soul that have been forged by each existance?

Or better still, what if it were late and I were tired and rambling?


--------------------

Kumbayah my lord, Kumbayah...


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InvisibleSclorch
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813548 - 08/12/02 07:53 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Let's say one believed in no afterlife, and that they could do whatever they wanted to anyone they wanted whenever they wanted.(The freedom to do wrong does not force one to act. -Sclorch)So they just go off slaying people and bashing kittens against trees just because they can. Then they die and maybe learn that their actions did effect them and their environment. Of course if it all went black then they wouldn't realize any of it, but no one gets off that easy.

So if this same person believed in Karma and what comes around goes around or some type of afterlife where you are recognized for good and loving intentions, would they go around slaying people and smashing kittens against trees? Probably not.


So you're saying that a belief in the afterlife is a dogmatic control tactic?
That's how it reads.


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Note: In desperate need of a cure...


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OfflinePhred
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Re: No Heaven, No Hell... [Re: ]
    #813561 - 08/12/02 07:57 PM (14 years, 3 months ago)

Here is an article I found last year that may at first seem tangential to the question raised by Evolving. I assure you it is not.

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A guided missile corrects its trajectory as it flies, homing in, say, on the heat of a jet plane's exhaust. A great improvement on a simple ballistic shell, it still cannot discriminate particular targets. It could not zero in on a designated New York skyscraper if launched from as far away as Boston. That is precisely what a modern "smart missile" can do. Computer miniaturisation has advanced to the point where one of today's smart missiles could be programmed with an image of the Manhattan skyline together with instructions to home in on the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Smart missiles of this sophistication are possessed by the United States, as we learned in the Gulf War, but they are economically beyond ordinary terrorists and scientifically beyond theocratic governments. Might there be a cheaper and easier alternative?

In the Second World War, before electronics became cheap and miniature, the psychologist B. F. Skinner did some research on pigeon-guided missiles. The pigeon was to sit in a tiny cockpit, having previously been trained to peck keys in such a way as to keep a designated target in the centre of a screen. In the missile, the target would be for real. The principle worked, although it was never put into practice by the US authorities. Even factoring in the costs of training them, pigeons are cheaper and lighter than computers of comparable effectiveness. Their feats in Skinner boxes suggest that a pigeon, after a regimen of training with color slides, really could guide a missile to a distinctive landmark at the southern end of Manhattan Island.

Pigeons may be cheap and disposable as on-board guidance systems, but there's no escaping the cost of the missile itself. And no such missile large enough to do much damage could penetrate United States airspace without being intercepted. What is needed is a missile that is not recognized for what it is until too late. Something like a large civilian airliner, carrying the innocuous markings of a well-known carrier and a great deal of fuel. That's the easy part. But how do we smuggle on board the necessary guidance system? You can hardly expect the pilots to surrender the left hand seat to a pigeon or a computer.

How about using humans as on-board guidance systems, instead of pigeons? Humans are at least as numerous as pigeons, their brains are not significantly costlier than pigeon brains, and for many tasks they are actually superior. Humans have a proven track record in taking over planes by the use of threats, which work because the legitimate pilots value their own lives and those of their passengers. The natural assumption that the hijacker ultimately values his own life too, and will act rationally to preserve it, leads air crews and ground staff to make calculated decisions that would not work with guidance modules lacking a sense of self-preservation. If your plane is being hijacked by an armed man who, though prepared to take risks, presumably wants to go on living, there is room for bargaining. A rational pilot complies with the hijacker's wishes, gets the plane down on the ground, has hot food sent in for the passengers, and leaves the negotiations to people trained to negotiate.

The problem with the human guidance system is precisely this. Unlike the pigeon version, it knows that a successful mission culminates in its own destruction. Could we develop a biological guidance system with the compliance and dispensability of a pigeon but with a man's resourcefulness and ability to infiltrate plausibly? What we need, in a nutshell, is a human who doesn't mind being blown up. He'd make the perfect on-board guidance system. But suicide-enthusiasts are hard to find. Even terminal cancer patients might lose their nerve when the crash was actually looming.

Could we get some otherwise normal humans and somehow persuade them that they are not going to die as a consequence of flying a plane smack into a skyscraper. If only! Nobody is that stupid, but how about this. It's a long shot, but it just might work. Given that they are certainly going to die, couldn't we sucker them into believing that they are going to come to life again afterwards? Don't be daft! No, listen, it might work. Offer them a fast track to a Great Oasis in the Sky, cooled by everlasting fountains. Harps and wings wouldn't appeal to the sort of young men we need, so tell them there's a special martyr's reward of 72 virgin brides, guaranteed eager and exclusive. Would they fall for it? Yes, testosterone-sodden young men might go for 72 private virgins in the next world.

It's a tall story, but worth a try. You'd have to get them young, though. Feed them a complete and self-consistent background mythology, to make the big lie sound plausible when it comes. Give them a holy book and make them learn it by heart. Do you know, I really think it might work. As luck would have it, we have just the thing to hand: a ready-made system of mind-control which has been honed over centuries, handed down through generations. Millions of people have been brought up in it. It is called religion and, for reasons which one day we may understand, most people fall for it (nowhere more so, incidentally, though the irony passes unnoticed, than America itself). Now all we need is to round up a few of these faith-heads and give them flying lessons.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Facetious? Trivialising an unspeakable evil? That is the exact opposite of my intention, which is deadly serious and prompted by deep grief and fierce anger. I am trying to call attention to the elephant in the room that everybody is too polite - or too devout - to notice: religion, and specifically the devaluing effect that religion has on human life. I don't mean devaluing the life of others (though it can do that too), but devaluing one's own life. Religion teaches the dangerous nonsense that death is not the end.

If death is final, a rational agent can be expected to value his life highly and be reluctant to risk it. This makes the world a safer place, just as a plane is safer if its hijacker wants to survive. At the other extreme, if a significant number of people convince themselves, or are convinced by their priests, that a martyr's death is equivalent to pressing the hyperspace button and zooming through a wormhole to another universe, it can make the world a very dangerous place. Especially if they also believe that that other universe is a paradisical escape from the tribulations of the real world. Top it off with sincerely believed sexual promises -ludicrous and degrading to women though they are- and is it any wonder that na?ve and frustrated young men are clamoring to be selected for suicide missions?

There is no doubt that the afterlife-obsessed suicidal brain really is a weapon of immense power and danger. It is comparable to a smart missile, and its guidance system is in many respects superior to the most sophisticated electronic brain that money can buy. Yet to a cynical government, organization, or priesthood, it is very very cheap.

Our leaders have described the recent atrocity with the customary clich?: mindless cowardice. 'Mindless' may be a suitable word for the vandalizing of a telephone booth. It is not helpful for understanding what hit New York on September 11th. Those people were not mindless and they were certainly not cowards. On the contrary, they had sufficiently effective minds braced with an insane courage, and it would pay us mightily to understand where that courage came from. It came from religion. Religion is also, of course, the underlying source of the divisiveness in the Middle East which motivated the use of this deadly weapon in the first place. But that is another story and not my concern here. My concern here is with the weapon itself. To fill a world with religion, or religions of the Abrahamic kind, is like littering the streets with loaded guns. Do not be surprised if they are used.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and the author of numerous bestselling books about science and evolution. He is a regular columnist in Free Inquiry magazine. This article comes from the upcoming Winter 2001-2 issue of Free Inquiry, published by the Council for Secular Humanism.


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