Posted by Ezekiel 25:17 on August 30, 2001 at 08:14:50:
"God is dead" - Karl Marx.
Many say that religion is dying in the 21st century whilst others contend that is in fact growing stronger than ever. Whatever the case may be, there is no doubt a growing trend of spirituality and mysticism is growing more prevalent against a backdrop of cynicism and realism.
We live in a world where people are growing more educated, information spread more widely and the foundations of belief are tested every day. The advent of new technology and inventions have meant that a growing moral crisis is occuring in society.
Religion is a means of defining one's own brand of morals and beliefs and is in the majority a reasonable system. The christian faith (after numerous crusades and inquisitions) now preaches a message of goodness which is heeded by many worldwide. As the world expands, and if Christianity begins its decline, what becomes of this world?
God as well as law was a method of keeping society in line. The belief that there was severe punishment in the afterlife kept many on the straight and narrow. The growing number of disbelievers has possibly meant more moral decay and growth in crimes. Undoubtedly, honesty is playing a far lesser role than in the past. Divorces are now prevalent in 50% of marriages and lawsuits grow constantly.
As more mundane issues are sorted out, humanity has more time than ever to ponder issues and beliefs. What causes crime? Is it genetic, societal, free-will or combinations of the three? Is there a God? What is the meaning of life? Are questions which are being asked more commonly and more people are seeking different answers to find their own truth.
However, I believe the issue that underpins this search for 'meaning', for 'God' is death. This is an issue which is not discussed in polite society yet is becoming a more frightening prospect as belief in religion frays. Believing in God and Heaven and a blissful afterlife is a means of allaying these fears, and has been the balm for billions untold in the past and present.
The question remains, if there is no heaven what remains for the rest of us? Nirvana, reincarnation, karma, spiritual dissipation are all suggestions commonly brought out. These suggestions prompt hope, and are grasped at to avoid thinking about the alternative.
What is the concept of void? An eternity of darkness and endless sleep. What happens at night when we lose consciousness? Billions have lived on this world before us, billions are undoubtedly likely to follow. What is one life in the midst of so many others in the grand scheme of things, particularly on one planet in the middle of a wide cosmos?
Some may welcome death as a release from the sufferings of life, but the bleakness is one which should be considered carefully. An endless coma from where there is no possible awakening beckons perhaps instead of blissful heaven. A period of time where your consciousness will never ever exist again. In the scheme of history we are mere letters in a lengthy book.
This is the fear that lies within our heart of hearts, the modern society where wealth and power are the tangible goals sought. Hedonism becomes more prevalent as we seek to enjoy every moment of life before the end eventually befalls. Death comes to all, good, evil, poor or rich. It is a scary concept where every person seeks to cope in their own way.
Perhaps the best method is to never even consider it.
What hope is there then? Religion offers a possible solution and a life-line to grasp at. After all as they say, what is there to lose? Denial is always comforting. Maybe we should enjoy life as much as we can, maximising our own pleasure at the cost of others, for what does it all matter in the grand scheme of things? Certainly, that is also a possibility, and many choose to do so.
Both options I consider are ultimately empty. Nothing in life is easy, and nowadays blame is more often shifted around than accepted. Sacrifices are rarely made and more often than not we all become involved in trivial matters rather than substantial ones.
There are many corrupt people out there, many ignorant, many who care only for themselves and treat others as pawns, and humanity often seems like a lost cause. However, there are also many who show bravery beyond measure, compassion and sincere friendship and
the promise which is out there.
Above all, no matter our instincts and background, we all still maintain freedom of choice. In the end, the respect of peers means nothing if you can't respect yourself. Its all too easy to make excuses and take the simplest solution.
Life comes down to hope and inspiration. It is too short to waste a moment although we all waste many. I simply suggest that in the end happiness can only come about through these factors, and more often than not this will come about through interaction with your friends and loved ones.
Death comes to all eventually, how you live is ultimately your choice. There are no points given for being good, but if you can't respect yourself and choose to live without a code of honour, why bother?
Ask yourself this: What if there is no heaven?
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