Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Deathly Discussion.

Well what if you don’t believe in the afterlife?  We godless suffer the weight of knowing that there is no Heaven.  Our existence is terrestrial not celestial. So what do we do about consoling the species in our unique position of knowing that we will die and fearing death and grieving the dead?

Here is a conversation between a man named Harry (as Tom, Dick or Harry) and his made up daughter Gracie.  What do you think of their godless views on consolation in the face of death?

HARRY:  So Gracie, do you believe in the afterlife?

GRACE: Of course not.  I am after all your godless daughter.

HARRY: So what do you recommend that the godless do to find some solace from the fear of death?

GRACE:  I don’t know. I don’t think about this sort stuff like you.  I am not old nor am I a death perv like you are.

HARRY:  Can I just mention two perspectives on life after death that don’t offend logic or science.  The only trouble is that these perspectives give only scant consolation. 

GRACE: In other words, they’re crap.

HARRY: Basically yes.  The first is that we are well practised in non existence.  When we cease to exist upon death we are merely returning to the state of non existence that occurred before birth.  We didn’t exist from the beginning of time to the moment of birth.  And then when we die after the miracle of having lived we just return to our state of non existence which was not painful but nothing.

DOROTHY (an innocent but godly bystander):  Oh huzzah!  Such consolation indeed!  Non existence is fine because we are so used to it!  That has the comfort of the rack.

GRACE:  Dorothy has a point Dad – it is feeble.

HARRY:  Oh it’s lame as a one legged dog.   Of course it is not that soothing for since birth, we have had the revelation of life.  Non existence seems awful by comparison.

DOROTHY:  And what’s the second miraculous attitude to death that doesn’t offend your logic or your science?

GRACE:  Don’t get your hopes up Dorothy. I get the sense that the second will be less exciting than the first.

HARRY:  And you’d be right Gracie.  I confess the second is ...what is the word I am searching for?

GRACE: Crap.

HARRY:  That’s the one.  It is this: death is necessary for life. 

DOROTHY:  Oh huzzah again.  Oh bravo Harold! That elevates my spirit and magnifies my soul.

HARRY: For our species to evolve, we needed millions of years of death of millions of species.  So our death is making room in the same way our predecessors’ deaths made room for us.  Our afterlife is lived through the opportunities afforded to others by our deaths. 

GRACE: Dad that is so feeble. Who cares about making room for others?

HARRY: Allow me to give a trivial example.  I became entitled to be a member of prestigious sport club, the Melbourne Cricket Club which I declined many moons ago. 

DOROTHY:  What is cricket?

GRACE:  Cricket is a game more tedious than you can ever imagine. 

DOROTHY:  And it tickles Harry’s fancy?

GRACE:  He’s strangely obsessed.

HARRY:  My membership of the club literally died when I declined to be a member.  My nephews who are in a decade long queue for the MCC rejoiced when told of the death of my membership for it progresses them along the queue which today stands at 217,000 people.  And indeed, in a club overpopulated by octogenarians, my hard hearted nephews exult every time they observe the club’s flag at half mast.  Another competitor has been liquidated and they move closer to their MCC life.  Death causes life.

DOROTHY:  Don’t ever become a parson Harry.  Your parsonage would empty within days of you assuming office.

GRACE: And don’t ever be a writer Dad.  You’d starve but not in a talented Van Gogh, genius kind of way.

HARRY:  Yes these perspectives are scant comfort and a bit cheerless. 

GRACE:  Well what do you expect Dad?  Without a belief in God and Heaven, even though they are too absurd for words, humans are doomed to have unresolved fears of death and dying.

What is your view? 
If we cannot believe in the hereafter, what is left to console us?

What do you think of Harry’s views?

Is there anything else to assuage our fears other than denial?

Is denial bad?

Over to you guys…