MY ESOTERIC likes to think of himself as a bit of a polymath with degrees in Statistics, Accounting, Computer Science, & Operations Research
What Happens When You Die?
THIS IS A GOING TO BE one of a series of hubs, because I had a sort of epiphany just after the New Year in 2012. It came to me, as many of my thoughts do, in the early morning hours somewhere between sleep and getting out of bed. As a lot of us are, I am familiar with most of the standard religious theories about the spirit that abound today, e,g., 1) your spirit goes to heaven, 2) your spirit goes to hell, 3) your spirit reincarnates in some fashion, or 4) nothing happens, you just turn to dust and what every your soul was simply disappears.
In my search for "the answer" what I discovered isn't really like any of those. But, if I have to point you in a direction right now, it is more like number 3. Numbers 1 and 2, of course, are related and are different sides of the same coin and something I rejected over 60 years ago (I am 73 now).
In other articles, I have written about why I gave up on Christianity as the answer to, "where did we come from" and "where will we go to". Even at 10 years old, after reading the Bible, I knew the Christians didn't know what they were talking about. it boiled down to these two simple ideas, 1) a truly loving God would not be a part of all of the horrific things the Bible spoke of and 2) that no two Christian religions could agree on the right answer. The latter realization led me to think that none of them are correct. The first revelation was in fifth grade, the second may have come in sixth grade but, in any case, before my friend, to whom I related these heretical ideas and who lived across the street, moved away.
That was an important point in my life. I remember lying in bed reading the Bible, not because my Sunday school (Methodist) teacher told me to, but because I was curious; I read the whole thing, Old and New. I remember being aghast at what I read because it contradicted what I heard from the pulpit. Finally, I remember my conversations with my friend Bruce on those two points, obviously they have stuck with me ever since. From that moment on, I have been in search of The Answer!.
What is The Answer I Found?
WITHOUT GOING INTO TOO MUCH DETAIL, let me briefly lay it out for you. First, I always knew there was a God in some form or another. As a kid, I knew it to be true from just looking around me at the wonders of the Universe; later as an adult, I developed an understanding that there are powers in the Universe, which act on how living things make their way through life, that are greater than the sum of those that we can observe . For example, people in isolation feel and act differently than when another living thing joins the picture; an "energy" is created that wasn't there before.
It was early adulthood when I was convinced, intuitively anyway, that God and Nature were one in the same; it wasn't until much later that I learned how much Christians are opposed to that idea. But, many years passed before I could put a reason behind my intuition. This epiphany that came by way of a philosophy tape on Baruch Spinoza who, in 1677, offered a rational that God exists in his Magnum Opus "The Ethics". His proof made all the sense in the world to me and it goes something like this (very simplistically, of course):
- I was caused by my parents,
- they were caused by their parents,
- those parents were caused by their parents, and so on and so on.
- Keep going backwards and sooner or later, things must converge on the One Cause - God.
- This is true of any object or thought you choose to start with which is why, in the end, Spinoza makes the claim that God and Nature are the same thing.
As such, I came to this conclusion regarding God.
- God is Nature and not separate from Nature
- Consequently, God is in all things, including us
- Looking backwards, the Mind of God is the sum of all minds currently living
- But, as in many things in life, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and no part will ever be able to entirely understand the whole
- -- i.e., our body's parts are quarks, electrons, gluons, photons, and other assorted fermions and bosons., yet the sum of all those parts lead to an end product which is somehow more than just all of those parts carried in a box, the end product has acquired Life, with all of its attributes. So is it with God.
- The Body of God is the Universe (and if they exist, all Universes).
The Eastern religions come to the same conclusions as well; so does science, which is where my theory of before and after-life begins. But, before we go there, let me dilate a little bit more, if you don't mind. I started listening to lectures on astronomy, astrophysics, quantum mechanics, and string theory; of course, now you are asking yourself, what has this got to do with religion? Well, it does, so please hang in there, I think you will find it interesting.
God and the Big Bang
IF I WERE SITTING DOWN TO WRITE GENESIS, I might start by out by saying "And God snapped His fingers and There was the Big Bang." Spinoza did not have benefit of today's science, instead, he had to rely on the framework provided by geometric proofs. Nevertheless, they came to the same conclusion, his was just much less expensive.
All kidding aside, one theory does support the other, although the Big Bang theory is barely a theory anymore, there is so much empirical evidence supporting it that it is almost, but not quite, fact. Nevertheless, Spinoza and the Big Bang theory is where I start my religious journey. Without getting into the boring details, the Big Bang is where Nature comes from;. In that instant the "singularity" converted and expanded from "whatever", I call it God, into the energy, dark energy, matter, and dark matter that we now know as the Universe, In other words, today's Nature was born.
Inside that "whatever", was the template of all Life and non-Life, and within all Life is all thought, human and non-human. From that auspicious beginning, some 13.75 ± 0.13 billion years ago, modern humans came to be. More specifically, we evolved in our current form only 200,000 years ago. If you through in the Neanderthals (which all modern humans have in our DNA) you can push the start date back to 350,000 years ago.
The point is, however, that it is only with the advent of the modern human that the concepts of good and evil, ethics and morality, and even the concept of religion were born, at least hear on Earth. Consequently, it hasn't been that long since the idea of God has been a real issue in the Universe, don't you see. In fact, in terms of when written records might have recorded religious thought, that could not have happened any sooner than 7272 years ago1; the first known written record carbon-dates back to 5260 B.C.E. The idea of a monotheistic God, as we popularly conceive of it today, didn't come about until about 4000 years ago, at least in a written form. Christianity and Islam, both a variation on Judaism, is a mere 1900 years old, yet, between them. they dominate over 50% of the world's population.
I present the foregoing because I prefer to consider the long-term, not the short-term; to take into account the whole history of time and how things actually developed; and using facts that we know to be true. So, what might seem to a bit of a flippant start to this section talking about God snapping Its fingers, isn't really so flippant after all; it is how I view religion; how I understand God/Nature and how humanity fits into the picture. It was thinking about the long-term that led to my epiphany regarding before and after-life.
1 This article was written in 2012, so all references to time us that as a baseline.
Is There a Before and After-Life?
I THINK SO. For many years, this question has befuddled me. I was sure they existed, but I couldn't conceive of how it might work. I knew the popular concepts of heaven and hell were non-starters. But, sitting around on clouds with my wings folded watching God having a meeting with Satan discussing how devout Job is and how to prove it (Job 1:6 - 1:12 NIV) just didn't make any sense to me. I also couldn't quite buy into reincarnation, at least as I understood it from the Eastern religions, although having said that, it does come closer to something that might be believable.
For many years, I satisfied myself with the following two part scenario. First, human beings are made up of chemicals whose interactions produce electrical currents and generate electromagnetic waves; those are observable, measurable facts. Once emitted. electromagnetic waves (EMW) travel forever unless absorbed by another medium. It has also been shown that often, when you die, there is a spasm of electrical activity,\; in effect, you go out with a (big?) bang; a burst of energy. Given all of that, my working theory was that these EMWs would travel out carrying a little bit of what was you encoded in its waves which would be imparted into the developing embryo's of some new fetus. Yeah, crazy, I know, but, there you have it, at least until you see what I am replacing it with.
The other part of my is my after-life theory which is much simpler and not particularly unique. It has to do with the legacy you leave; the memory, or spirit, if you will, of yourself that you leave in others to pass on to other generations as well as in the historical records. I think that is just as much a true after-life as any other because your spirit carries on; that part of my theory remains in place.
In the next article, I will begin expanding on the ideas behind my particular brand of spirituality/religion.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Scott Belford