A Spiritual Theory-Part 1: From Ashes to Ashes, From Dust to Dust - Thoughts on the Before and After-Life [181a]
What Happens When You Die?
THIS IS A GOING TO BE one of a series of hubs, I think (I do that a lot, don't I?), because I had a sort of epiphany just after the New Year. It came to me, as many of my thoughts do, in the early morning hours somewhere between sleep and getting out of bed. As many of us are, I am familiar with all of the standard theories that abound today, the main four are: 1) your spirit goes to heaven, 2) your spirit goes to hell, 3 your spirit reincarnates in some fashion, or 4) nothing happens, you just turn to dust and what every your soul was simply disappears.
What I hit upon isn't really like any of those, but, if I have to point you in a direction right now, it is more like number 3. Numbers 1 and 2, of course, are related and are different sides of the same coin and something I rejected 44 years ago, even though it hadn't that long since I had given up believing in Santa Clause.
Elsewhere, I have gone into why I gave up on Christianity as the answer to, "where did we come from" and "where will we go to". Even at 10 years old, after reading the Bible, I knew the Christians didn't know what they were talking about; it boiled down to two simple ideas, 1) a truly loving God would not be a part of all of the horrific things the Bible spoke of and 2) that no two Christian religions could agree on the right answer, therefore none of them are correct; the first revelation was in fifth grade, the second may have come in sixth grade but, in any case, before my friend, to whom I related these heretical ideas and who lived across the street, moved.
That was an important point in my life. I remember lying in bed reading the Bible, not because my Sunday school (Methodist) teacher told me to, but because I was curious; I read the whole thing, Old and New. I remember being aghast at what I read because it contradicted what I heard from the pulpit. Finally, I remember my conversations with my friend Bruce on those two points I mentioned, obviously they have stuck with me ever since. From that point on, I have been in search of The Answer!.
What is The Answer I Found?
WITHOUT GOING INTO TOO MUCH DETAIL in this Hub, let me briefly lay it out for you. First, I always knew there was a God in some form or another. As a kid, I knew it to be true from just looking around me at the wonders of the Universe; later as an adult, I developed an understanding that there are powers in the Universe, which act on how living things make their way through life, that are greater than the sum of those that we can observe . For example, people in isolation feel and act differently than when another living thing joins the picture; an "energy" is created that wasn't there before.
It was early adulthood when I was convinced, intuitively anyway, that God and Nature were one in the same; it wasn't until much later that I learned how much Christians are opposed to that idea. But, many years passed before I could put a reason behind my intuition. This epiphany that came by way of a philosophy tape on Baruch Spinoza who, in 1677, offered a rational that God exists in his Magnum Opus "The Ethics". His proof made all the sense in the world to me and it goes something like this (very simplistically, of course):
- I was caused by my parents,
- they were caused by their parents,
- those parents were caused by their parents, and so on and so on.
- Keep going backwards and sooner or later, things must converge on the One Cause - God.
- This is true of any object or thought you choose to start with which is why, in the end, Spinoza makes the claim that God and Nature are the same thing.
As such, I came to this conclusion regarding God.
- God is Nature and not separate from Nature
- Consequently, God is in all things, including us
- Looking backwards, the Mind of God is the sum of all minds currently living
- But, as in many things in life, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and no part will ever be able to entirely understand the whole
- -- i.e., our body's parts are quarks, electrons, gluons, photons, and other assorted fermions and bosons., yet the sum of all those parts lead to an end product which is somehow more than just all of those parts carried in a box, the end product has acquired Life, with all of its attributes. So is it with God.
- The Body of God is the Universe.
The Eastern religions come to the same conclusions as well; so does science, which is where my theory of before and after-life begins. But, before we go there, let me dilate a little bit more, if you don't mind. I started listening to lectures on astronomy, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and string theory; of course, now you are asking yourself, what has this got to do with religion, well, it does, so please hang in there, I think you will find it interesting.
God and the Big Bang
IF I WERE SITTING DOWN TO WRITE GENESIS, I might start by out by saying "And God snapped His fingers and There was the Big Bang." Spinoza did not have benefit of today's science, instead, he had to rely on the framework provided by geometric proofs; nevertheless, they came to the same conclusion, his was just less expensive.
All kidding aside, one theory does support the other, although the Big Bang theory is barely a theory anymore, there is so much emperical evidence supporting it that it is almost, but not quite fact. Nevertheless, Spinoza and the Big Bang theory is where I start my religious journey. Without getting into the boring details, the Big Bang is where Nature comes from; in that instant of conversion and expansion from "whatever", call it God, into the energy, dark energy, matter, and dark matter that we know as the Universe, Nature was born.
Inside that "whatever", was the template of all Life and non-Life, and within all Life is all thought, human and non-human. From that auspicious beginning, some 13.75 ± 0.13 billion years ago, the concepts of good and evil, ethics and morality, and perhaps the concept of religion, might have developed only 200,000 years ago with the advent of modern humans; I suspect it is was more like 350,000 years ago with the Neanderthals, close cousins to modern humans; nevertheless, it hasn't been that long since the idea of God has been a real issue in the Universe, don't you see. In fact, in terms of when written records might have recorded religious thought, that could not have happened any sooner than 7272 years ago; the first known written record carbon-dates back to 5260 B.C.E. The idea of a monotheistic God, as we popularly conceive of it today, didn't come about until about 4000 years ago, at least in a written form. Christianity and Islam, as a variation on Judaism, is a mere 1900 years old, yet, between them. they dominate over 50% of the world's population.
I present the foregoing because I prefer to consider the long-term, not the short-term; to take into account the whole history of time and how things actually developed; using facts that we know to be true. So, what might seem to a bit of a flippant start to this section talking about God snapping Its fingers, isn't really so flippant after all; it is how I view religion; how I understand God/Nature and how humanity fits into the picture. It was thinking about the long-term that led to my epiphany regarding before and after-life.
Is There a Before and After-Life?
I THINK SO. For many years, this question has befuddled me. I was sure they existed, but I couldn't conceive of how it might work. I knew the popular concepts of heaven and hell were non-starters; sitting around on clouds with my wings folded watching God having a meeting with Satan discussing how devout Job is and how to prove it (Job 1:6 - 1:12 NIV) didn't make any sense to me. I also couldn't quite buy into reincarnation, at least as I understood it from the Eastern religions, although, having said that, it does come closer to something that might be believable.
For many years, I satisfied myself with the following, which has two parts. First, human beings are made up of chemicals whose interactions produce electrical currents and generate electromagnetic waves; those are observable, measurable facts. Once emitted. electromagnetic waves (EMW) travel forever unless absorbed by another medium. It has also been shown that often, when you die, there is a spasm of electrical activity, so, in effect , you go out with a bang; a burst of energy. Given all of that, my working theory was that these EMWs would travel out carrying a little bit of what was you encoded in its waves which would be imparted into the developing embryo's of some new fetus; yeah, crazy, I know, but, there you have it until you see what I am replacing it with.
The other part has to do with my after-life theory and is much simpler and not particularly unique. It has to do with the legacy you leave; the memory, or spirit, if you will, of yourself which you leave in others to pass on to other generations and in the historical records. I think that is just as much a true after-life as any other because your spirit carries on; that part of my theory remains in place.
In the next hub, I will begin expanding on the ideas behind my particular brand of spirituality/religion.
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