A Species In Denial—The Demysticification of Religion
Another concern the demystification of God as negative entropy raises in people’s minds is whether this demystification destroys the possibility of there being an afterlife.
To answer such a question the problem of the human condition, humans’ immense insecurity and resulting denial and alienation, again needs to be taken into consideration.
Now that it is possible to understand the human condition, understand that humans were actually good and not bad, were indeed part of ‘God’s’ great plan—a profound part of the development of order of matter on Earth—it can be understood that all human effort since time immemorial has been meaningful. Humans can now understand that each and every human life is extraordinarily significant and that their efforts on Earth, the real essence of their being, do carry on and endure. The spirit of humans, the enormous courage that they have exhibited on the journey to enlightenment through the incredible darkness, loneliness and hardship of having to live in denial, lives on in each of us and is carried on in all subsequent generations.
In fact all of life is part of this great mission to develop order on Earth, and so all of life has passed on its spirit, its courage, its will, its determination to all subsequent life. In the Plato essay, a passage from Sir Laurens van der Post about the ‘great procession’ and ‘victory parade’ of life beautifully illustrated this point.
The truth is no one or no thing in essence dies! We and all things are eternal and everlasting in the sense that their meaningfulness is eternal and everlasting, irrespective of what happens to our universe. Sir Laurens van der Post described how humans carry on in an even greater way after their physical death when he wrote: ‘We make a great mistake when we think that people whose lives have been intimately woven into our own, cease to influence us when they die…The dead become part of the dynamics of our spirit, of the basic symbolism of our minds. They Page 424 of
Print Edition join the infinite ranks of the past, as vast as the hosts of the future, and so much greater than our own little huddle of people in the present’ (The Face Beside the Fire, 1953, p.63 of 311).
The problem for humans has been that they have been insecure as a result of the human condition. They have doubted that they were part of ‘God’s plan’. They sometimes feared that they might be evil beings, a blight on the planet, something even worse than meaningless. Living in this horrible state of insecurity for some 2 million years meant continually struggling to believe in themselves, in their worth and ultimately in their relevance to the future. They worried that there may not be an afterlife for them, in the sense of their positive contribution to the future. There were, however, times when humans were not overcome with depressing thoughts about their possible worthlessness and managed to realign themselves to the greater truth of their true worth or meaningfulness—a truth that they were fighting to one day be able to establish irrefutably. In these rare moments of clarity and security humans knew there was an afterlife for them, that they did contribute meaningfully to the future. Unable to explain it rationally, this greater truth, that humans were occasionally able to access, became expressed in literal terms, and these literal interpretations became central in religious beliefs. Over time, as humans became more alienated, the literalness became more simplistic, to the point where some people actually believe they are reincarnated as new humans or even as animals after death.
The other dimension to the concept of afterlife involves the concepts of heaven and hell. The insecurity of humans of doubting their worthiness or meaningfulness became expressed in the duality of a hell-versus-heaven afterlife. The more corrupted humans were the more they feared they were not meaningful and the idea of going to hell became the expression of that fear. Similarly, the more humans managed to avoid becoming corrupted, the more they felt they might be meaningful and the idea of going to heaven became an expression of that hope. From there, the idea of heaven and hell became developed as a form of reward or punishment for humans. The threat of going to hell deterred humans from living out their corrupted self’s angers and frustrations. In reality, as has been explained, ‘heaven’ was the utterly integrated state that humans’ once lived in, and will now return to, and ‘hell’ was the corrupted state that developed as a result of the battle of the human condition, a state which humanity is about to leave. Heaven and hell have been states here Page 425 of
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By analysing these various concerns people have with the demystification of God as being negative entropy, it can be seen that the common underlying problem is that people have been limited by their resigned state of alienation and cannot view their situation objectively. It is precisely this ability that prophets have of not being part of the resigned, alienated state that allows them to look truthfully in upon the alienated world. Davies pointed out that if ‘you can stand outside of the spacetimescape [and view it] as a whole’ then ‘that can be something with meaning.’ This is all very well but humans find it difficult to extract themselves from their position within the paradigm; to use a popular saying, they have trouble ‘standing outside the square’. The same situation applies to the alienated paradigm—if you can stand outside it, then what’s going on inside can be easily understood.
Another way of describing this situation is that people can’t help projecting their alienated way of viewing the world onto every situation. Alienated humans are extremely limited in their ability to consider questions about ‘God’ and an ‘afterlife’ by the extreme selfishness of their alienated state. What essentially happened at resignation is that humans became selfish, they became preoccupied with trying to justify themselves and avoid any implication that they are bad. Resigned humans are preoccupied with their insecure state, always on the look out for something that will reinforce their worth. This preoccupation with self means they are selfish and this selfishness clouds their view of the world. They can’t see things as they really are. In particular it is impossible for resigned, alienated humans to imagine a world free of resigned, selfish alienation.
Free of alienation, people in the future will be dramatically different to people today. In particular they will be full of love and generosity, devoid of selfishness. They will be secure in self and won’t project their insecure view of the world onto everything they think about. If you ask someone who is in love with absolutely everything, is full of trust in life and generosity towards all things, including life and its limitations, and to whom everything is sparkling with beauty and the sheer magic of life, whether it matters that the universe is going to end one day, they may say that it doesn’t.
The point is, it is virtually impossible for humans to see beyond their own generation’s way of viewing the world. There are questions that cannot adequately be addressed until the new situation emerges Page 426 of
Print Edition and is adjusted to. To attempt to know, understand and accept the answers to some questions depends on first reaching a new paradigm or way of viewing the world. There are questions that should be left to the future. When Sir Laurens van der Post wrote that ‘We live not only our own lives but, whether we know it or not, also the life of our time’ (title page, Jung and the Story of Our Time, 1976), he was recognising that humans are obliged to accept that they can only hope to live life within the confines of their generation—that they can be aware that there are going to be wonderful worlds for future generations, but that their responsibility is to fulfil the role allocated to their generation, and by so doing, ensure that that future potential will one day be realised. When I listen to the rhythmic chanting and singing of the Bushmen of the Kalahari, or the Australian Aborigines, I can sense the deep acceptance that they have for the immense distance there is still to travel from where they are to freedom from the human condition. While it conveys a feeling of being a long way from home, it is not lonely music, just deeply intuitive. Similarly when I listen to music from the 1930s and 1940s I feel that I can hear that era’s acceptance that freedom from the human condition is not quite going to occur for their generation. They are toughing it out and bravely partying on into the night. The music of the 1960s is full of incredible optimism, while music of the late 20th century is full of manic, repetitive, mind-numbing, head-banging frustration. No more work towards enlightenment can be done and yet the answers still haven’t emerged, and humanity is piling up on top of itself in an awful, utterly corrupted, alienated mess. Every race and every generation has intuitively known its exact position in the great human journey to enlightenment and freedom.