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The Oxymoron Behind Religion
I am reading a book where a character is obsessed with the question of life after death. I suspect that if I searched I would find that this notion of life after death has been discussed here before. I am sure I have danced with it myself. My apologies for bringing it up again.

Reading the other night I was really struck by the basic fallacy built into the statement. Corliss Lamont makes an excellent argument in his book "The Illusion of Immortality", which I obviously have to paraphrase. The argument is basically that when all those things that give you life, your heart, your brain, your senses (allowing of course for those whose senses are impaired) have ceased to function how can you have any life.

The oxymoron of life after death should be obvious to all people. It is certainly the fear of death that drives much of religion but one would think the obvious fallacy of life after death would cause most people to think.
To anyone convinced that his corporeal form is not who he actually is, it is not a fallacy at all. For this person, the soul, which is necessarily distinct from the body, is who they are and when the body dies, their soul wakes u somewhere else.

There are many reasons that sort of view doesn't make sense any more -- we know too much. It's easy to understand how that kind of belief could have seemed far less silly once upon a time, though. Getting people to unlearn it is the hard part.
Death is inevitable, we all know that. The question is how does one strive to accomplish anything when its all temporary? Imagine our ancestors hunting, literally having to risk their lives just to eat.

I think the whole idea of the spirit is a survival mechanism, a way to put aside the fear of death. The majority of human history consists of uneducated, ill equipped people trying to compete for food with wolves, lions. bears and whatever else happened to live nearby. We were prey just as any other animal and we are definitely not the biggest, strongest or fastest. There were a lot more ways to die than to live.

The only way our species could have dealt with those conditions was to be able to convince themselves that the chances they were taking had some greater purpose. Our ancestors could have just sat in trees eating grubs but had they done so that is what we would still be doing. The only way taking chances for better food or living conditions makes sense on that kind of scale is if you believe that whatever risk you take is ultimately worthwhile. Inevitably there has to be some belief that death is not an end point. Otherwise fear rules and nothing gets done.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana
I think also the difficulty some people have accepting they'll never see and be with their loved ones again once after death makes them want to accept promises of or the possibility of life after death.
Will The Circle Be Unbroken? Yes, it will. That should inspire us to try not to waste any of the time we have during this life with them, rather than accepting jive about how we'll see them again.
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