Essay: Let Me Count the Ways

Fifty Thirty ways to leave your lover life

While many religious people credit divinity instead of nature, luck, science, biology, or sex for our being; we can all pretty much agree that life is like a story. It has a beginning, middle, and an end.

We may disagree about when the beginning is, perhaps the middle too. But we all pretty much agree that death is the end of a physical life, at least temporarily. However, there is little consensus about what goes on after we are dead.

Whether or not dying is a new beginning, a continuation of some kind, a simple end, or a mish mash of various afterlife claims; ghostly proposals are a hodge podge of anything goes hypotheses.

There are also a good number of secular concepts of what happens after death. Each is as valid as any of the religious ideas. Add the entertainment category to the list, and anything goes. While anything goes is not a listed concept, it might as well be.

I don’t know what death entails. I have no evidence for any of the life after death hypotheses. Therefore, while I accept that there may be something after death, I don’t know. I am a when you’re dead, you are flat-ass, completely dead and gone kind of guy. Some folks call that disappointing. I call it reasonable reality. I’m not disappointed.

Dan Dennett has said regarding Brights (nonbelievers), “…We disagree about many things, and hold a variety of views about morality, politics, and the meaning of life, but we share a disbelief in black magic — and life after death.”

If a form of consciousness or conscious life exists after physical and mental (as in brain) death, I’ll find out when everyone else does and in the same way. However, I want to kibitz on the 30 afterlife ideas I read about: 30 theories about what happens when you die (msn.com)

I’m loath to say theories because most don’t rise to that level of assurance.

There are not really 30 different after death concepts proposed. Some are essentially the same or overlap. Others are fictional afterlife stories from television shows. I made three categories: Religious, Secular/Universal, and Entertaining.

Secular or Universal Categories:

The cosmic hypothesis claims consciousness belongs to the universe, not to individual bodies. When we die, our consciousness returns to the cosmos. I’m not sure what that means or where it goes. I like the dream thing. It claims that when we die, we will just wake up from a very confusing, vivid, and long dream. It reminds me of Poe’s poem, A Dream Within a Dream.

I fall in among what is called the nothingness concepts. One suggests at death everything turns black, and we’re gone forever. There is also the uncertain idea, which is also me, suggests that all that we know about death is what happens to the physical body. That uncertainty suggestion addresses death as a cold reality leaving other ideas for consideration

Nihilism deems that all values are meaningless and baseless. It’s a dark philosophy. A true nihilist way of approaching death and the afterlife is that there is nothing at all afterwards because life also had nothing. It’s a bit cold, but afterlife it is one thing nihilism may have right.

The solipsism suggestion is new to me. It is valid in both life and death. Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s mind is sure to exist. As an epistemological position, solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one’s own mind is unsure. It is a philosophical idea that only one’s mind is sure to exist. Perhaps, when one dies, everything else dies as well. I don’t understand this one.

Those who believe in the paranormal claim that after death our souls remain among the living on Earth. Many also believe communication with these souls is possible through mediums. I don’t buy any of this. This suggestion also fits under entertainment. If I talked about charlatans, this would be their heyday category.

Religious Categories:

Buddhists hypothesize reincarnation after death. There are different realms into which you may be reborn after your good and dead. You could be a god, demi-god, human, animal, or a ghost.

LDS folks believe good and righteous Mormons become gods when they die. Alternatively, non-believers are condemned in the afterlife. Heaven is apparently not good enough for them. Seems narcissistic to me.

Hinduism also holds the belief of reincarnation. A person’s status or form in the next life is determined by their actions during this current life. No news there.

Christians believe in both Heaven and Hell. Good and righteous Christians will enter Heaven. If they lead a life of sin and wrongdoings, it’s Hell after life. However, it is essential to believe in God and Jesus. Do-gooder agnostics, atheists, Jews, and Muslims are doomed (especially the first two, as the last two also want to believe they’re special and thus semi-saved).

Entertainment Categories:

Sci-fi explanations abound. One is the parallel universe idea that when we die, we will be living in the same universe as we were before, just in a different portion of space and time.

Stranger Things followers know what the Upside Down is. The show claims that there is an alternate dimension to our universe that a person can become trapped in, being neither alive nor dead. Not sure you even must die for this one.

The illusion idea claims that the world is created more in our minds than in a literal sense, meaning that it is all an illusion. Following this understanding, death is a human-constructed concept, and when we die, we remain.

The excretion dump is kind of shitty. It claims that the universe is a giant brain in a human body, and individuals are merely cells. When a cell dies in a human body it gets excreted, so perhaps that is what happens to people in the end.

The many worlds claim is that when we die, we are only dying in this world and current universe. There are other universes out there where we can move. See how this idea overlaps others?

There should be no problem with these. Folks should be free to believe as they wish. But not so fast. There appears to be a heavenly problem.

Some believers, mostly Christians, seem eager to participate in bringing on what they believe to be the inevitable end times when all life ends. It’s kind of like in the book of Revelation. Armageddon. They are willing to destroy all life and just get things over with. They see themselves as God’s little helpers. Not good.

Another thing I’ve read about is the killing of children being justified because they are without sin and go directly to Paradise/Heaven. Islamic terrorists have used this logic to justify some of their murderous deeds.

It should not matter what anyone thinks about what happens after we are dead. But it does.

Bill

PS: This list could be molded into parodistic lyrics to the Paul Simon song. Maybe someday.

9 thoughts on “Essay: Let Me Count the Ways

  1. I like Teslas idea that the brain is a receiver. When you die basically nothing happens. The corpse doesn’t give up the ghost, the ghost (consciousness) gives up the corpse—it then has no viable biology in which to operate.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You sure ended this one with a bang on religions justifying the killing of children.
    When my baby died, a friend paid for mass to be read or sung or whatever the hell they do for him for a certain period of time (I honestly cannot remember). My mother’s reaction was: What the hell are they doing that for? As if he needs anything? I just shrugged my shoulders. People do what they do for their own comfort, don’t they?
    Wonderful read, as per. I love how you put this all together!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Dale. Sometimes people do not think. Your Mom was right to ask, why.

      Today is launch day for 30 days of poems. The first is to write a prose poem: a story about the body, an encounter between two people, some spoken language, and a “crisp” visual image. (Are you laughing?) I’m toast! LOL (kidding). 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Another thing I’ve read about is the killing of children being justified because they are without sin and go directly to Paradise/Heaven. Islamic terrorists have used this logic to justify some of their murderous deeds.”

    and christians do the same to justify aka excuse what their god supposedly did per their bible. amazing the crap that religions spew.

    Liked by 2 people

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