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Neither of these words have any power other than what we assign them. Don’t get caught up in the words. Instead try to understand the simplicity of the truth.

I’ll let others extol the virtues of believing or not. I simply don’t choose to hook my wagon to someone else’s belief system. If you wish to get into all of the philosophical mumbo-jumbo then go to here. If you wish to argue the existence or non-existence of a supreme being then go here. If you instead want to hear a simple and straightforward explanation… read on.

The following applies to each of us individually and to us all as a whole. For all of our advances there still is no escaping the ultimate end of our own existence. There is no after-life or any other extension of our selves past the last moment of neural firing in our brains. This consciousness can be thought of as our self-awareness. No other creature that we know of has ever been as completely self-aware as man. This self-awareness gives us our ability to appreciate our own existence. Unfortunately, along with this self-awareness comes a great burden. To know your own mortality and the ultimate end of your own existence is a very unsettling bit of knowledge. It is a very cruel joke to realize that man has gained a level of self-awareness that makes him capable of understanding his insignificance to the existence of the universe. We are but an accidental coincidence of many random factors, any or all of which can easily slip apart, rendering our existence mute and trivial. Our presence at this moment is no more important than our absence was or will be.

The purpose of our existence seems to be to chronicle our existence. Only to man is this important and only for man can its importance be understood. Even in the most far-flung sciences that seek to answer the questions of everything, we are merely trying to identify our position and reason for being. Simply put, “We are here, because we can tell that we are here.” Do not delude yourself in thinking that we have any real control over our own persistence in the universe. To get a glimpse of the fragility of our existence read “A Short History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson.

Whatever actions we perform or the changes we cause are no more important or less important than the explosion of a super nova or the death of an ant. These are just different moments in a totally random series of events that has created the universe and will continue to mold it into the future. For all of the change we create and we observe, the basic reality of the universe remains unchanged. Just because we are not there to observe it, doesn’t mean that it ceases to exist.

We have created entire belief systems to help us cope with our triviality in the universe. Our gods that control what we cannot understand and the social constraints that we place on ourselves are both there to provide stability in what ultimately is not within our ability to control. To realize that you truly have no control over your own existence is unsettling, but it is only unsettling because you are aware of it. Remove your self-awareness and you cease to care. Science has a hard time even defining what “Consciousness” even is! Check this site to find more on human consciousness. Once we stop being self-aware we no longer exist. For this reason we have created the belief that once we leave this existence we continue on into another. We have a very hard time believing that this one life is all there really is, but why should there necessarily be any other existence for us? What makes us different from any other creature or thing? Our self-awareness doesn’t give us any more of a special position in the universe than any other.

The creation of a planet takes far longer than the creation of man, but this doesn’t make it hold a higher position in the universe than man or vise-versa. Complexity is not a good yardstick with which to measure worth or status. Though this would appear to be a lot of gloom and doom, it really is not. Since there is nothing else for us and no one else we are responsible to, but ourselves, we should devote as much of our time and energy as possible to making our existence as good and productive as possible.

What is “Good”?

  • Longevity – Since there is nothing after this life, then we should make this life last as long as possible.
  • Health – The best way to enjoy a long life is to make sure it is a healthy one.
  • Wealth – No one should be denied the ability to do or have whatever he or she wants, to enjoy his or her own life to the fullest. (This wealth should not be at the expense of any other.)
    No longer should we fight over differences in our beliefs as they are all based on archaic concepts that only the most primitive of societies need, to give them succor and hope. We need not look beyond ourselves to find the answers we seek. What is the meaning of life? Living it, plain and simple. Just live your lives to the fullest you can, without preventing others from doing the same. It’s the only life you get and it is over in an incredibly short time. Make the most of it.
  • Faith – This is the belief that others will treat you in a manner that will bring no harm to you. Once again, place your faith in something you can control. If everyone has the same faith, there is no reason for conflict or strife.

Why is it important to understand that there is no after-life?

How many suicide bombers do you think would volunteer for such an assignment if they knew that there was no "Glorious" after-life? More people would be inclined to make the most of their life here and at present, rather than in some supposed after-life. It seems to me the folly of the weak-of-mind to fall prey to a belief system that says you can expect better after you die. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the rules and guidelines that prevent us from harming each other, but too often (as people seem only too inclined to do) the original goals are ignored and lost in the religious dogma that these rules are surrounded by. I just don't think you should make all the rules you impose on people only pay off after they have died. Living by the rules and making life more enjoyable for us all NOW should be the goal and the pay-off that we should be seeking.

What benefit can be gained by ridding yourself of a supreme being?

You are now responsible for your own actions. Good and evil are placed at the feet of those truely responsible. We as a people need to understand that every action we take and every decision we make is purely our own and not dictated by a "higher" (or "lower") power.

 

Religion and Supersition

A large part of religion is the willingness of a person to suspend his or her own personal belief in reality. How else can you explain the ability of people to hold onto the conviction of GOD above all the other mythic beings? What others you might ask? Let’s start with some of the earliest ones… The Tooth Fairy and the Boogie Man are two of the earliest I can think of.

As children we are all introduced to characters that control things that are outside of our juvenile comprehension. These figures are able to do things we consider magic. Change teeth to money. Appear in closets and under beds without ever being detected. Next, the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus provide bountiful gifts, magically on queue every year of our childhood. These latter characters even have the power to modify our behavior! Who would dare to be bad with the threat of missing out on all those gifts? All of these characters play to our ignorance and vanish quickly once we attain a better understanding of the world around us. With the loss of each of these wondrous beings, we feel pangs of sorrow, betrayal and remorse.

  • Sorrow at the loss of a special or magical part of our life that we enjoyed on numerous levels. No one likes to give up something that has provided so much enjoyment and raison dê’tre (reason to live). Even the loss of the Boogie Man provides us with a sense of loss. Here was a creature that instilled horror and fear and now we no longer regard it as worthy of our notice. Other much more serious and immediate threats accost us. (Heart attacks, rape, murder, etc.)
  • Betrayal, because we lose some of the faith we have in the most important people in our lives, our parents. How can we trust anyone else? Who do we turn to for the truth? This I will leave for you to ponder.
  • Remorse comes later in life; after we realize that we have passed on to our children the same lies that our parents foisted upon us. These were of course always presented with the best intentions and never meant to hurt. The fact remains; we have been lied to and then lied to our children, just to perpetuate a belief that we all know to be false.

None of us ever wish for our children to learn the truth of these fantastical creatures, but we understand that once the truth is learned, more harm will be done if we insist on continuing the lie. The loss is significant and proportional to the amount of energy and effort that was invested in the ruse. This loss is mostly emotional in nature, but nonetheless very painful. Both the child and the parent suffer this loss. The child has to adapt to a whole new reality and the parent can no longer rely on the lie to control the child. Additionally, the parent might loose some of the respect that the child gave them due to the realization that they have been lied to.

But, are we not all much better off having learned the truth as children? Our eyes are opened to the truth and our world didn’t end. In reality we are rewarded with the fact that the truth doesn’t even mean the end of the benefits that we enjoyed. The only penalty suffered, we must assume more responsibility for our own actions and not rely on the bounty of a fantastical creature to reward us when we comport ourselves well.

The most enduring of these fantastical beings is GOD. This one figure has been able to out last all of the others. Constantly built up well past childhood and into our adulthood by those who wish to continue the ruse and reinforce our belief in this one creature. This makes giving up this one being extremely difficult if not unthinkable.

The loss of a comforting, benign and generous omnipotent being is expected to be a traumatic experience. But, if we continue to build on the experiences we have had through our childhood and we don’t stretch the lie out too far, the impact of the loss can be greatly diminished. Remember that each of us has been through this many times before and survived. Letting go of this last magical being need not be any more traumatic. Plus, the benefits to be garnered are many.

No longer would we have this polarizing force that causes so much strife throughout the world. Each of these beings, that we learned to anticipate and rely on, are mere steps in our learning. They serve the purpose to guide each of us along the path of life, ensuring that the decisions we make are the correct ones and rewarding us for these good choices. But, at some point we must come to the realization that the choices we make are our own and with or without the magical creatures we will be rewarded for making the correct choice and punished for making poor choices. There is no more reason to believe in GOD than in any of the rest of our childhood “friends”.

The only problem I have with convincing people to give up their religion is the lack of another belief system to replace it. It seems beyond the ability of most folks to accept total responsibility for what they do. Even the most nihilistic of belief systems still have as their central theme the belief that if you are “good” you will be rewarded by some mystical power. The reward may not come during your normal life of course, but in the “afterlife”. (Whether the afterlife is reincarnation or heaven.) The reward that we should be seeking is the action itself. You should not expect to be rewarded for doing a good dead. The act of doing good should be reward enough. Conversely, the evil that is perpetrated should be punished vigorously by anyone finding it. No longer should we fight over differences in our beliefs as they are all based on archaic concepts that only the most primitive of societies need to give them succor and hope. We need not look beyond ourselves to find the answers we seek. What is the meaning of life? Living it, plain and simple. Just live your lives to the fullest you can, without preventing others from doing the same. It’s the only life you get and it is over in an incredibly short time. Make the most of it.

As with the other beings from our childhood the rules, morals, and lessons that we learned must be taken to heart and we must still rule ourselves by them. Society can only exist if we all agree to abide by a common set of rules. Now, imagine the ramifications if the parent suffered a significant monetary loss along with the loss of control. How much harder would the parent work to ensure that the truth never be learned? What if it were a network of parents all working together to perpetuate a belief that ensured financial security for them? How much harder would they all work together to continue the ignorance? Sound familiar? Why? Is it perhaps that this is a convenient way to control us? Does it remove some of the responsibility for the failures of some? Does it relieve us of responsibility for our own actions? I leave these to you to decide.