Illogical faith & Eternal life
Here's an interesting post from Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) over at Malaysia Today. The article is about Malaysian political parties, but there's an interesting bit that is relevant here:
Malays are both fanatically nationalistic as well as fanatically religious. Umno serves one and PAS the other, so both have a fantastic captive market. While nationalism can be explained, argued and debated using logic, religion does not need any convincing. Religion, as Mahathir said, is based on faith, and faith has nothing to do with logic. “How do you defeat faith?” asked Mahathir. Faith does not require logic so it is most difficult to beat PAS which draws its support from ‘illogical’ faith.
Humankind needs religion. It finds comfort in knowing that the end of life does not mean the end of everything but just the beginning of permanency. Humankind would be very upset if it thought that its time on earth is temporary and once life ends then that would be it. What a total waste of time, especially if you have been good all your life. So, humankind needs an assurance that life here on earth may be temporary, but the next life is permanent. But what happens to you in the next life would all depend on how you lead your life here on earth.
RPK is a fine blogger and I enjoy his writings, but I see some problems with the above reasoning. Firstly, he wrote that people need religion because it is comforting to believe that there is life after death. Well, just because it is comforting doesn't make it TRUE. Richard Dawkins has brought this point up many, many times. A person with cancer may find it comforting if the doctor lied to him about the fact that he has cancer, but that doesn't make it true. The cancer is there whether he acknowledges it or not.
Secondly, RPK says your next life is determined by whether or not you've been good here on earth. I think Christians will disagree with him because they believe they're saved by God's grace, not by their deeds. Anyway, I don't want to go into religious dogma here, but it seems RPK is suggesting that people are good and behave decently in order to gain favour from God. Doesn't that make theists seem like hypocrites? Surely there are much better, earthly reasons for being good and kind to others. Lots of atheists are nice and kind.
Finally, RPK is suggesting that life after death is permanent and that is a good thing. I've always wondered about this and I'd like to ask theists if they are absolutely sure that eternal life is a good thing? I wonder, once in heaven, if you get tired of living eternally, could you choose to end your eternal life? Can you even imagine what it's like to live forever? I truly suspect that in heaven, there will be lots and lots of cases of suicide. That's because eternal life has no meaning!
Logotherapy is a form of psychotherapy, developed by Viktor Frankl, that focuses on a "will to meaning". In a nutshell, logotherapy says that life has meaning under all circumstances (even the most miserable ones) and our main motivation for living is our will to find meaning in life. Imagine if you know that you will live on forever, how will you find meaning in your life? You will not be able to assign value or meaning to any experiences of love, kindness, despair etc. because you will be experiencing them for all eternity. Pretty soon you'll realise that this gift of eternal life is just as bad as the curse of eternal damnation. Let's hope they have damn good psychiatrists in heaven!
I know, theists will tell me that the concept of heaven is beyond the comprehension of our mortal minds. Well, they just don't want to admit that they're as unsure as I am about what heaven and eternal life would be like. I can't accept their explanation. I say that life is much more meaningful because it is temporary! Richard Feynman's last words were "I'd hate to die twice. It's so boring." We can certainly imply that Richard also meant he'd hate to live twice (or live forever).
"How do you defeat faith?" asked Mahathir. The only way is through reason.
Technorati tags Malaysia, religion , eternal life