Faithful postures are not only the sources of religious wars and sectarian conflicts, they are incompatible with foundational claims.
To illustrate this, we need only recall the allegory of the dog crossing a stream, prized bone securely in its possession.
Upon seeing the image of another dog in the water, a larger, apparently preferable morsel in its mouth, our protagonist drops its bone and lunges for its shimmering image.
You know the rest. Everything the dog valued is lost.
This captures the folly of lusting for immortality. In every culture, fantasies distilled from hard-life experiences have been amplified into images of heavenly abodes wherein human beings live with families, friends and whatever omnipotent God we imagine has our interests at heart.
We indulge such fantasies because we are frightened.
We have plenty of reason. Change erodes everything, often while we watch.
What are we to do?
- We could acknowledge that we are little more than fireflies. We could get existential problem on the table and spend time trying to make the best of them.
- Alternatively, we can continue pontificating about our immortal status and the heaven awaiting us. We could continue to camouflage errant nonsense with stories about spiritual transfiguration and existential difficulties.
We could continue talking about sin, virtue, spiritual trysts, eternal punishment, continue trying to make exceptionalism plausible.
Such fantasies have had human beings by the throat for thousands of years. An amazing number of us are willing to march into battle. An apparently inexhaustible supply of human beings are at least willing to put on bomb belts, or shoes, or underwear... with a view to destroying as many infidels as possible.
In secular cultures, human beings are seduced by “better bones' held out by corporations and governments: supernatural bliss without any unpleasant dying stuff!
Such conceits devalue the life we have in favour of weekends, vacations, retirements and 'beyond the grave' fantasies.
To make matters worse, religions instruct us that we cannot really murder one another. We are, after all, immortal beings.
Notions of eternal life sanction internecine brutality.
The irony is that, on foundational religious axioms, none of this can be true.
It cannot be the case that God wishes men and women to be distracted from their lives by notions of life after death. According to Holy Writ, God created the world and caused human beings to be born so that we might evolve as moral and spiritual beings, with no inkling of his wonderful hopes for us.
God went to great pains to arrange proceedings so that every event has a natural explanation.
This must mean that God wishes human beings to run life's gauntlets honestly, without supernatural threats or blandishments corrupting our understanding.
Satan, however, could be whispering news of "Divine Agendas" as a ploy against sublime possibilities.