Motivation for Life after Death

Ahanu

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A less snarky way to put it, if I understand @Ahanu's OP about justice correctly, would be "Someone has to pay for what happened to X". Which is a pretty powerful motivation for believing in a world to come, since this rarely ever happens in this one.

@wil, I have some green tea to help calm you down. :D

@Cino, I would agree.

2 Maccabees, for example, is loaded with it.

2 Maccabees 7.14: When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of mortals with the hope that God will restore me to life; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”

Tertullian had a field day:

"At that greatest of all spectacles, that last and eternal judgment how shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates liquefying in fiercer flames than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sages philosophers blushing in red-hot fires with their deluded pupils; so many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers tripping more nimbly from anguish then ever before from applause.

What a spectacle. . .when the world. . .and its many products, shall be consumed in one great flame! How vast a spectacle then bursts upon the eye! What there excites my admiration? What my derision? Which sight gives me joy? As I see. . .illustrious monarchs. . . groaning in the lowest darkness, Philosophers. . .as fire consumes them! Poets trembling before the judgment-seat of. . .Christ! I shall hear the tragedians, louder-voiced in their own calamity; view play-actors. . .in the dissolving flame; behold wrestlers, not in their gymnasia, but tossing in the fiery billows. . .What inquisitor or priest in his munificence will bestow on you the favor of seeing and exulting in such things as these? Yet even now we in a measure have them by faith in the picturings of imagination.” [De Spectaculis, Chapter XXX]
Personally, I don't take the flames literally. I don't believe in eternal damnation, but across the spectrum there is a belief that justice must occur in some form or another for the unjust and just.
 
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wil

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@wil, I have some green tea to help calm you down. :D
I AM CLAM!

LOL...clam I am.

No need brother.... I live in the moment and allow my fingers to respond with my thoughts.

You guys just get what oozes out in the moment.

I have no need for life after death, amusement parks, or a yacht...but if I find myself there I will surely enjoy it...and be grateful.

Green tea on the other hand....
 
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Ahanu

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Does God allow injustice in order to repect free will?

Any form of evil, such as injustice, is unavoidable since creation is separation from God. Hence there is distance, so you will often hear or read that heaven is described as "nearness" in the Baha'i Faith, whereas hell is the opposite of nearness. Your question assumes that, if we inhabit God's creation, then the world should be perfect and free from injustice and other manners of evil. A derivative cannot possess the absolute perfection of that which it was derived from, because that would make it God as well. Because of creation's separation from God, the heart longs for reunification, and so there are infinite degrees of perfection in this world as we make progress in our own degrees towards Him.

Does God allowing natural catastrophes mean he is indifferent?

See the explanation above.

Who takes responsibility for the wrongs that happened to the victims of natural catastrophes?

I guess I can blame the Universal Soul. Then again, the appearance of evil prompts us to seek the good in this worldview, so, ultimately, placing blame here would be the result of my own limited perception of the flow of all things and where the direction of the river's current is heading.

I hope this answers your questions.
 
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Ahanu

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You write, "The universe remains indifferent to such suffering? It continues churning out unimaginable inequalities in health, wealth, and so many other areas in its evolutionary trajectory - only to leave those that have been wronged and forgotten unavenged?"

This bit of the universe which I call "me" certainly is not indifferent to suffering, no.

So, if materialism is true, why wouldn't you be indifferent given that natural selection, the process driving this whole thing, is indifferent? Why begin a quest for justice assuming materialism is true?
 
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Ahanu

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You guys just get what oozes out in the moment.

giphy.gif
 

Cino

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Any form of evil, such as injustice, is unavoidable since creation is separation from God. ... Your question assumes that, if we inhabit God's creation, then the world should be perfect and free from injustice and other manners of evil.

My question was, "Does God allowing natural catastrophes mean he is indifferent?", referring to your OP where you wrote how human atrocities and natural catastrophes leave so many unsettled scores, and how a belief in an afterlife offers possibilities to settle these scores. Your answer was:

See the explanation above.

Your explanation didn't address my question in a way I could understand it. I'm certainly not assuming that to a Baha'i believer this world ought to be perfect. I'm interested in how your faith deals with the difficult questions you yourself raised in your OP. "God did it this way" (to paraphrase your answer according to my understanding of it) never satisfied me, but you're not me.

So, if materialism is true, why wouldn't you be indifferent given that natural selection, the process driving this whole thing, is indifferent? Why begin a quest for justice assuming materialism is true?

Materialism is a description of the world, not a prescription for proper behavior.

I sometimes hear people claim (not you or anyone around here, just making a general observation), how this or that is justified because it is "natural".

To me, this kind of reasoning is silly. It is natural for me to freeze to death in winter in the area where I live. But we human beings have developed technology which helps us survive in an environment "unnatural" to us. We're tricking natural selection, because we can!

Similarly, we came up with ethical codes of behavior. We have the capacity to shape our circumstances.

To repeat: Materialism is a way to understand our situation, so we can change it to our advantage, according to our possibilities. It is not a set of rules of behavior we should follow.
 

Thomas

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... it also denies something more fundamental to a healthy and sane universe: justice.
A quick look at wiki says "Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve..."

I view the universe as finite and contingent, so what you seem to view as unjust, in terms of natural phenomena, I see as the way of things. So from a value perspective, 'bad' things are inevitably going to happen. From nature's viewpoint, it just is what it is. We have sunsets and blue seas, mountains and valleys, rainbows and night skies ... we have volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis ... we have the possibility that some random object might strike the planet a glancing blow and then it's an extinction event and game over ...

Such a universe is a hideous and insane one, one in which I would rather not exist at all.
Is that not an anthropomorphic determination? Are we here for the universe? Is it here for us? Or, are we just ... here?

Say a leader living in the utmost luxury knowingly chooses to send thousands of poor soldiers to their deaths in a battle over a petty issue that could have been avoided. He dies. That is it? Nothing? He vanishes?
Is that not us? There are many who would say there's nothing particularly wrong in that. World leaders declare wars and are far removed from the traumas of the front line. It's been a long time since kings led their troops into battle.

The universe remains indifferent to such suffering?
Is there any evidence to the contrary?

It continues churning out unimaginable inequalities in health, wealth, and so many other areas in its evolutionary trajectory - only to leave those that have been wronged and forgotten unavenged?
Ah, is that not us, again?

And those wronged would include children destroyed by natural disasters.
Are you saying nature can be held accountable?

Regardless of the cause of any natural disaster, I consider it an injustice for a child to be taken by a tsunami.
I rather think that a sentimental judgement.

We can design our cities to better handle natural disasters. We can educate the people to such an extent that even the thought of becoming a tyrannical leader is unimaginable.
We can at least try ...
 

Ahanu

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My question was, "Does God allowing natural catastrophes mean he is indifferent?", referring to your OP where you wrote how human atrocities and natural catastrophes leave so many unsettled scores, and how a belief in an afterlife offers possibilities to settle these scores. Your answer was:

Your explanation didn't address my question in a way I could understand it.


What if God didn't allow natural catastrophes? In other words, what if He didn't allow earthquakes and volcanoes to express themselves and renew the Earth? We wouldn't even exist. Earthquakes in and of themselves are good. After all, many geologists believe the recycling of the planetary crust is essential to life on Earth. Can we say they are a form of love for creation from this perspective? Sure. It is only in relation to us that they cause problems at our current level of being.

"Know that the order and the perfection of the whole universe require that existence should appear in numberless forms. For existing beings could not be embodied in only one degree, one station, one kind, one species and one class; undoubtedly, the difference of degrees and distinction of forms, and the variety of genus and species, are necessary (Abdu'l-Baha, SAQ 129).​

It is inevitable that while each being is perfect in itself, their interactions are not always perfect (SAQ 263). Also, in relation to this, created beings are able to acquire endless perfections, even after leaving this world (SAQ 230; 235). One reason natural catastrophes exist is to prompt us to purify ourselves, seek the good, and, in that process, we can make it such that these occurrences do not do any harm to us.

Perhaps a person can object: "Well, why doesn't God intervene and protect the child from a crumbling building in the midst of an earthquake? No intervention means indifference." For me, this question is like asking, "Can God make 1 +1 = 3?" Such interference would be to negate God's own nature and act lawlessly since He values order, lawfulness, and reason. We can imagine a better world and a better relationship with our environment, and so we seek to improve that relationship to such an extent that we aren't harmed by natural catastrophes. To me, that desire is proof God cares and intervenes.

 
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Cino

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Perhaps a person can object: "Well, why doesn't God intervene and protect the child from a crumbling building in the midst of an earthquake? No intervention means indifference." For me, this question is like asking, "Can God make 1 +1 = 3?" Such interference would be to negate God's own nature and act lawlessly since He values order, lawfulness, and reason. We can imagine a better world and a better relationship with our environment, and so we seek to improve that relationship to such an extent that we aren't harmed by natural catastrophes. To me, that desire is proof God cares and intervenes.

Thanks for clarifying your beliefs. I really misunderstood your initial post.
 

Ahanu

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A quick look at wiki says "Justice, in its broadest sense, is the principle that people receive that which they deserve..."

I view the universe as finite and contingent, so what you seem to view as unjust, in terms of natural phenomena, I see as the way of things.

Yes, Thomas, you are correct in stating it is wrong for me to attribute "injustice" to natural phenomena like a tsunami, for example. Despite how irrational it is, I still feel children have been wronged by natural disasters. It is our human tendency to anthropomorphize natural phenomena.
 

Ahanu

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Question: I happen to think that most religions have a deep nihilist streak, which they compensate for by taking refuge in an unattainable form of transcendence (this is how I understand much of Nietzsche's critique of religion, btw). Do you think nihilism and religious views are incompatible?

Of course not. There are so many different religious views. Some are more compatible than others.
 

Ahanu

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Afterlife...lol...the perverbial carrot to your justice/morality stick!

I wish you would take it more seriously, @wil. I do take the afterlife of those undergoing immense suffering seriously. Especially children. Why? My little brother has a severe form of cerebral palsy because of a doctor's mistake at birth. Every day he goes through a lot of pain because of that one mistake. Every day my family takes care of him and tries to make life as comfortable and pleasant for him as humanly possible.
 

Thomas

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Ah ... like @Cino, I think I misinterpreted your initial premise.
 

powessy

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Just my 2 cents worth on this topic.

first of all the perceivable and visible universe is something here it does not figure things out, it will never be aware or conscious of itself.

When things die they become nothing here where they will find time inside their yourself. The saying is, when you become nothing here you will become yourself inside yourself to become yourself again.

every yourself in the universe that becomes nothing here will become part of the universal consciousness which is made up of many many minds.

So why doesn’t the universe figure itself out very well? Foremost we are not the most abundant life form in the universe. The universe is everything inside itself to figure things out. Can it figure itself out? Sure but it will need to become something here first. Just because we can think and figure things out means nothing to the universe, it is looking for a mind that can figure itself out more than anything else, a mind that has been around longer then anything else to become something here all the time. An example of this would be like an alligator which has been here many more times than anything else to become itself here. It is many more minds then we are to become itself again and again.

I believe the universe is trying to figure itself out.

Powessy
 

dattaswami2

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Many people yearn for life to continue in some form after death.

For me, I cannot accept a materialistic philosophy like atheism. Not only does it deny any continuation, it also denies something more fundamental to a healthy and sane universe: justice. Something is inherently wrong with a universe where the moral arc doesn't bend towards justice. Such a universe is a hideous and insane one, one in which I would rather not exist at all.
.........e can design our cities to better handle natural disasters. We can educate the people to such an extent that even the thought of becoming a tyrannical leader is unimaginable.

Just some random thoughts as I continually read bad news in the headlines.

A number of cases of rebirth have been reported are still being reported all over the world. I have even seen two to three page long reports of such incidents published in English newspapers. The instances clearly establish the concept of rebirth.

Human beings born in far away places speak of intricate details of their previous birth, which on verification, are found to be exactly correct. It would be better for you to find that report because reading the detailed report makes things crystal clear.

A few years ago, the news of a case of rebirth was published on the front-page of the Eenadu Telugu newspaper. A small girl of four to five years, born in the city of Khammam, started talking about her previous birth. She even described details about her house in the previous birth, which was located about 150 km in the city of Tenali.

Finally, she was taken to the house described by her in Tenali, and all the details were found to be accurate. The child gave exact details of all the jewelry worn by her in the previous birth. She even described all her properties and children in the previous birth. A photograph was published on the front page in the newspaper in which the adult daughter of the past birth, was seen holding her reborn mother in her arms. The headline read “Daughter holding her mother in her arms!”

These examples are very very concrete. The verified details are clearly related to the physical world and there is no obscure point anywhere. Some people try to reject such examples as mere personal experiences of certain individuals. They try to explain away such cases as the mental imaginations or psychological disorders of those individuals.

But these cases cannot be mere imaginations since they involve facts from the practical world, which are fully verified. We can draw clear philosophical conclusions from such genuine cases of rebirth just as we can draw clear scientific conclusions from experiments conducted in a laboratory.

Near-Death Experiences Yield Uncertain Conclusions

The concept of the individual soul leaving the physical body during death is a prerequisite for the rebirth of the soul. So, when clear-cut evidence of rebirth exists in the form of practically-verified cases of rebirth, the concept of the soul leaving the physical body during death is automatically established.

Yet, in the context of near-death experiences, researchers make certain doubtful conclusions based on the near-death experiences alone. When clear practical examples of rebirth are available, why should the doubtful observations and conclusions related to near-death experiences be considered? Since the brain of the person is not in a good and stable condition during these near-death experiences, the experiences of the person can always be doubted.

If we limit ourselves only to these near-death experiences, it may not be possible to disprove the doubts using mere logic since concrete facts might not be available. The researchers discussing the near-death experiences and drawing doubtful conclusions appears quite odd to Me.

They are like the person who has physically seen an elephant clearly with his own eyes in this very physical world but who still doubts whether the animal that just walked away was an elephant or not. Later, upon seeing the footprints of the elephant on the path, he finally decides that the animal was indeed an elephant (yathā gajo neti samakṣarūpe…—Kālidāsa)! At least this person finally concluded that he had seen an elephant. But these researchers are still not able to reach a conclusion!

They are limiting themselves only to these imaginary ideas based on the near-death experiences. As long as a person limits himself to his mental doubt or debate of whether or not the animal is an elephant, without considering concrete evidence, he can never reach a definite conclusion. He must accept the concrete evidence of physically seeing the elephant.

Experience based on correct perception alone can be the authority. The experience of a person with a defect in his perception cannot be taken as the authority. Śankara has stated that a person having a defective eyesight which causes him to see two moons in the sky, cannot be taken as the authority even though experience is treated as the final authority (Netrataimirikadośasya dvicandradarśanavat).

I am not saying that the reported experiences of those patients at the time of death are wrong. Their experiences are certainly in agreement with the independently-established concept of rebirth. What I am saying is that there is no need to draw conclusions only based on the doubtful near-death experiences, when concrete examples that are verified through practical experience are available separately. It would be better for these researchers to shift to the study of the concrete incidents of rebirth and draw clear conclusions.
 
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