Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On Death and Dying (only one is worth worrying about)

Ask a Christian what the best thing about being a believer is. After a few stumbling attempts and some meaningless babble about their “personal relationship” with Jesus, the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing they don’t actually have to think, and the benefits of their man-god granting their wishes, they will eventually get to the meat and potatoes of Christian belief ... the promise of eternal life.

Death is the great unknown and not something anyone in their right mind (and with a tolerable quality of life) would strive for. Given the choice, we’d all like it to occur later rather than sooner. But to the ancients, especially those to whom life was a miserable hideous burden, fraught with discomfort, disease, unending toil, unimaginable poverty, the constant threat of sudden brutal death, injustice and little or no prospects of it getting any better, the assurance that their misery will pay off is quite an attractive plum. Besides, the down side of failing to believe guaranteed an eternal afterlife that was even worse than their current existence.

I wonder, given the unimaginably horrible existence of those uneducated peasants, if I had been one of them would I be drawn to belief, and embrace Christianity for its eternal happy after-life ever after prospect? For what would I have to lose? It’s not like I’d have to worry about losing my a peasant (or slave) I would have had no dignity to begin with. I doubt you’d have had to ask me twice.

The Church fathers used this doctrine as a carrot and stick recruitment technique. It was a brilliant stroke of genius. Perhaps the best scam ever invented.

But even our most destitute down trodden citizens have more education than your typical 2nd century peasant. One would also expect their level of sophistication and skepticism would be light years more advanced. But it makes no difference. The stick of the finality of death and the carrot of a much better eternal happy life in exchange for accepting a story is hard for the credulous to resist.

Christians will tell you that they don’t fear death, because they know they are “saved” from the finality of death, the punishment of hell’s tortures and the inequities inherent in life on Earth. But they lie. The very reason they believe in the first place is precisely because of their fear of death. The latest Pew Forum study reported that the most devout Christians are the people who spend the most on medical options to extend their lives when faced with a terminal disease. Hedging their bets one would expect .

As a thinking person I don’t fear death. Death is simply reverting to oblivion, the same oblivion that existed before I was born. Fearing death is irrational. I was unbothered by my pre-birth non-existence; therefore I have no reason to believe my post-death non-existence would be any different. Besides, it’s not personal... everything dies. Life is good while it lasts. No harm, no foul. I do, however, fear the prospect of dying. Dying can get quite messy, painful and expensive. That’s a rational response for a neat freak that abhors pain and hates wasting money.

Christians are so befuddled by ancient lies that have been drummed into their heads that they can’t accept life and death for what it is. And in so doing, they waste vast amounts
of the only life time they will ever have immersed in the delusion and make believe of their death cult’s inane rituals, prayers, groveling, and proselytizing.

News Flash, Christians! Death is simply nature’s way of telling us to go away.


NewEnglandBob said...

The peasants had little choice. The church language was Latin so they understood nothing. They were just sheep and did as told. They were sheep. Today's average person should know better but many do not.

Momma Moonbat said...

Fear and greed are the two motivating factors of the entire Abrahamic pantheon. Fear of what skydaddy will do to those with whom is is displeased, and greed for the goodies he gives those who properly stroke his bloated ego. The husband and I were having a similar conversation earlier this week. He played devil's advocate and took the position that for some people, the belief that skydaddy loves them and will provide for them is all they have. Perhaps, but I took the stance that if they'd release themselves of the shackles and chains of xtianity, a whole new world would open up for them.

Dromedary Hump said...

Agree with both of you.

to add to your comment Momma.. less time spent on worshipping an imaginary god, more time spent on self determination, building up ones ediucation/marketability, etc., etc.

Unless one is mentally challenged, badly handicapped, and grossly unemployable and unsalvagable, there is no excuse to waste ones life by falling back on myth as 'all one has.'

NewEnglandBob said...

Didn't we see this yesterday?

gristleoflife said...

Gods and the concept of an afterlife were absolutely created by man as a way to cope with the extreme fear of death and the unwillingness to accept death as final, as you said.
Muslims have got the best afterlife promise of all. I mean, who wouldn't want a harem of a hundred virgins?
Hey, by the way, what is promised to the Muslim women for their eternal reward?

Dromedary Hump said...

Bob..yeah..i have no idea why it was sent out by blogspot again.

gristle.. the muslim women evidently get to do the cooking :)

Anonymous said...

Eternal life to the Sunday School crowd means living forever, but when scholars translate from the manuscripts, the Greek word "eternal" comes out with the connotations of depth and breadth -- not length. To have eternal life roughly means to "life life to its fullest". I can cite sources such as Ehrman, Cook, and Spong. So their belief system is based on a mistranslation.

Second point... you are right that they don't think... We humans have a hard time thinking of infinities... in an infinity of time everything will eventually happen, no matter how small the probability. Ergo, everybody in heaven will eventually sin. According to their legend, Satan succumbed and was tossed out of heaven for that reason. So... eventually heaven will be empty.

This is but one of many problems associated with postulating an infinitely long existence, but it is amusing to torture believing friends with this one.


Dromedary Hump said...

Doc..good info and observation, thanks.

I have concerns about the mistranslation hypothesis. It may not be as much a mistranslation by the early scribes, as an intentional distortion by subsequent church fathers... or possibly a shift in meaning, as is common in language. But it promps me to look into this further. Thanks again.

Dromedary Hump said...


Anonymous said...

Hump... Dare I be presumptuous enough to share the source of my eternal life info with you? If this is too long to fit in the comments sections, e-mail me at

ref notes for Dromedary Hump

from Harry T Cook's essay of 4/19/10 to be found at:
This quote:
"What the sheep knew as opposed to not-the-sheep didn't, according to John, is that Jesus was the Christos, the anointed one, the messiah. Therefore those who know because they have "seen" follow him, and their reward is eternal life (zōā aiōnion), viz. participation in a high-stakes life in the present, with every choice, every action intentionally related to the belief that this life ultimately matters in and for itself. "Eternal life" in these New Testament terms does not mean an individual life running into infinity, but, rather, an individual life lived for its three score and 10 on the belief that "now" matters and matters deeply because it's all there is.

And then from his 4/6/09 essay to be found at:
this quote:
"Yet it can be done. It can be done by simply explaining what the New Testament phrase "eternal life" meant to those who first wrote it and heard or read it. For the record, the Greek is:Ζωή αιών: "life of the age" or even "life of the time." This latter could even be turned around to suggest "the time of (one's) life." In any event, "eternal life" means life that partakes in the finest and deepest human aspirations. It means a life that is full of the possibilities and profundities of its time and place, a life that is both self-fulfilled and is by intention the attempt to fulfill others' hopes and dreams.

And in the oh-by-the-way dept Harry Cook although not an atheist, neither is he Christian. See

And from Spong this quote

"Eternal life" in these New Testament terms does not mean an individual life running into infinity, but, rather, an individual life lived for its three score and 10 on the belief that "now" matters and matters deeply because it's all there is.


Dromedary Hump said...

That is really excellent info!! Thanks so much for that. Goes to show you can teach old camel's new tricks.

I wonder, at what point did the interpretation become eternal after life. Is this pre-Council of Nicea, or post?

Anonymous said...


I think I screwed up the Spong quote. Also I have reading notes to the effect that Paul was teaching the same sort of thing, that it is what you do in this life that counts... i.e. you don't get an eternity of bliss, but a satisfying present life. But I must search my reading notes. Will get back to you... must run


Anonymous said...

Okay, Hump - I researched my reading notes:

The book I'd read was by Borg and Crossan. The First Paul. In it, especially in Chapter 5, the offer their own take on what Paul was saying in the first century CE. Naturally they are not the last word, especially in matter of religion where faith reigns supreme. 'Tis not rocket science...

Anyhoooo they maintain that Paul was not talking about any sort of bodily resurrection. No re-animation of a corpse. Some sort of a spiritual rebirth that every convert to the new religion was offered. Some kind of transformative process that one could, like Paul, experience in the here and now. A new life, as it were, on this planet, not in some magical afterlife of eternal bliss. For Paul, to be Christian was to be "in Christ" in the present. You might even be able to be a Christian without believing in an after life at all!

And once dead there you stayed, Jesus included. He used the metaphor of a seed that had to die (and stay dead) before new life can appear. This new life would be Christianity. Borg and Crossan think that Paul probably believed in some kind of after life but that was not the main thrust of his teaching. For Paul the changing experience of Christianity was in this life, ... most pagans did not believe in an afterlife... so maybe that is why they accepted Paul's new religion so readily?

Quite naturally Borg and Crossan, both of whom profess to be Christian, spend page after page quoting verses that they say supports their view.

Well, of course that would not be the main thrust of Christian theologians today. Isn't the Bible marvelous, it has so many contradictory and is so diverse that you can find support for most any belief at all in it. Beliefs evolve. People desperately want the sugary life forever to happen. So they comfort themselves with believing just that. The notions of bodily resurrection was cooked up to satisfy our desperate hope. Ditto for Trinity. You can't find any evidence for a Trinity concept in the NT... if it were so gol-durned important you'd think that Jesus would have had at least a word or two to say about it, eh! In fact Borg and Crossan give the history of the entire substitutionary sacrifice theology that wasn't put into its present form until the 11th century CE!

Needless to say, in matters religion belief reigns supreme. If you believe it, then for you it is true. Hence none of what Borg and Crossan wrote about what they think Paul believed or taught is any more correct nor incorrect than what Christians today believe. The only interesting aspect, perhaps, is the abysmal ignorance of the average Christian who hasn't the vaguest notion of where what he believes came from.

Here's another thought that never enters the minds of those zillions of people who mindlessly recite their Apostle's Creed each week... "the resurrection of the body"... when that concept was cooked up they had no idea of molecules. Most all of the molecules in your body have at one time or another been in a former human's body. I daresay you have Socratic molecules, Jesus molecules even, perhaps residing in a key part of your brain, which if not restored would result in the bodily resurrection of a Hump that really isn't you. So how would a Deity go about parsing out the limited number of molecules to properly resurrect all those bodies? When I ask I get blank stares.

Well I digress, and it is your blog, not mine. I enjoy reading it, and have laboriously entered many of your thoughts into my reading notes.


Dromedary Hump said...

Interesting. I may have to buy that book.

Of course,having opinions on interpretation of scripture is like having an anus... everyone has atleast one. :)

Nothing there I'd carve in stone and necessarily subcscribe to right off the bat, but worth looking into... I'm skeptical to begin with.

Ehrman often proffers alternate possibilites and interpretations also, but sometimes I think he does it just to get the theists crazy...which I whole heartedly endorse.

thanks again.