Thursday, March 1, 2018

Paradisical Slices

Problems with Paradise

Paradise narratives thus far humanized are highly problematic. Inherent, these problems, not dependent on some aspect of revealed truth to demonstrate them, ergo they prove themselves false paradises, broken paradises, without need of any dogmatic doubting that might trouble the faithful. Faith is, in fact, a salvation for stupidity in the sense of intra-belief thinking, potentially more important in this way to believers than it would theoretically be at converting non-believers.

Take many modern popularized versions of Christianity as an example. One has faith in Jesus, and one is saved, and one experiences perpetual bliss. And one's beloved grandmother or grandson, who did/does not satisfy the proper requirement of faith, is either soulularly null and void, or tortured forever, depending on nuance of belief. Is one's faith supposed to be so selfish that it considers this acceptable? Well, they should've had the right kind of faith. But within faith is the true salvation for the faithful, in the implication that one must be incredibly ignorant and incredibly trusting. Depending on the relevant assumed strictures, the following things can happen: the mutilated maim-rape victim who was completely, totally faithful every day until death dies uncertain about it all in the context of her recent experiences, resulting in just and righteous torture forever; or, the infant whose family car is hit by a truck on the way to its baptism, killing all passengers, is tortured justly and righteously forever; or, the lifelong joyfully nun-abusing bible-burner undergoes a five minute conversion on his deathbed at age 99, earning perpetual ecstasy, in contrast to his neighbor the lifelong orphan-feeder who just wasn't sure about all that stuff due to his religious mother, who would've raised him right, having been killed by an atheist drifter before she could show him the light, earning him (of course) just and righteous torture forever.

Deferral of any possible use of capacity for reason, e.g. faith, provides the only possible answer to these seeming conundrums, which can arise in different detail within most pentateuchal belief systems. The answer, through faith, is "God will take care of it," and just as one is too intellectually incapable of simultaneously understanding the received truths of both space stations and firmaments, refuge is to be found in stupidity, i.e., "God will take care of it," the implication being "You have not the capability of understanding how it all fits together."

Other horrors await within Terrocentric eternity fantasies, from which faith also offers the only possible salvation. The limitless human immortality, and its certainty of itself turning into eventual torture, is perhaps the hardest to understand. Okay, so you have a thousand years of sleeping in, a thousand of eating whatever you want, a thousand of screwing every potential sex partner (including dopplegangers of any unsaved), a thousand of contemplating how great God looks, a thousand of waking up in the morning and having nothing that demands your attention, etc. And then another thousand, and another, and another--forever. It's a sin to want it to end, so you keep going, until you've been served the best tortellini and the perfect mousse by the 90 hottest servers ever so many times that it's boring and predictable, no wait, you've had that though before, oh god will this never end? Maybe I should watch the complete DVD set of god-written ultimate coolness and thought provoking movies, no, I did that already five times, they say he's producing another thousand but they're so derivative, it's like he doesn't even know!

Details may change by the person or by the era, but this perpetual human pleasure thing is doomed unless you're stupid enough either to think you'll never get tired of watching God's best-ever (definitive) DVD greats while being served the best tortellini and the perfect mousse by the 90 hottest servers ever (constantly updated as standards change? your preference), or you can conclude that God has something great planned that you can't possibly understand, ergo he'll take care of it.

Beyond Boredom in Paradise

This problem--that of the horror of boredom within a googol-year paradise; that of the mind perceiving its inadaptability and un-suited-ness for perpetuity, a.k.a. its need for death--has driven ample feats of creativity during the history of European Christianity. Perhaps most shamefully known is the prediction that part of the enjoyments of heaven includes watching the torment of those consigned to hell; there exists newness, at least, of the vicarious sort. Though there were undoubtedly sexual reasons for this fantasy of the end times, there is at least a reaching for newness through others; e.g., we know we're inadequate to the task of existing forever, but if we watch people experiencing it for the first time (say, being flogged by hilariously long demon phalluses), we can share in their newness, which is at least a taste of the newness which, by then, we'll crave.

Yet boredom is not the only inherent break in modern and some pre-modern existential salvations. Say you're really nice and you really believe in salvation by faith. We previously discussed one of the conundra of prayer, in which the perfect prayer is to ask God to forgive everyone, to load their burden of sin onto you, and then the most righteous person ever is the only one who ends up in Hell. God is traditionally thought to pre-emptively void such bargains by, in that way he can make some boulders so heavy even he can't lift them, making sins non-transferable, such that the truly giving cannot pray for the right to suffer for the sins of others, thereby gifting them the knowledge of god and paradise. This is forestalled not only because people aren't smart enough to have widely thought of it, but because forgiveness must be non-transferable for this ridiculous federal-reserve-style of prayer and salvation and limited omnipotence which modern religion has given us. The Pope does not ask to visit Hell perpetually on behalf of all sinners who don't know what he knows, and all other types of salvation are similarly non-transferable. This is only a mechanical problem, but it can be made more pressing, more emotional, by changing the variables: can the grandfather, content with his experiences, beg--truly--that God burden his soul with the sin of unbelief, thereby perpetually saving his granddaughter who is unfortunately being raised by that atheist bum?

Not only does that limit the power of prayer to those purposes wholly selfish, it breaches the narrative in the interventionist way, wherein X million people could be saved if some historical pop figure could have but two days to visit the mortal world, share some verifiable secrets so you'd know it's true, then talk about how great heaven is. Questions of how moral it is for God to eternally torture those X million people, rather than to let them be saved by said once-popular dead person's intervention, make associated moralties more difficult for people to process. If someone in Heaven really is that good, and has seen specials before about how someone's unverified appearance in the dough of a biscuit didn't convince anyone, is it more moral to relax on Heaven's beach all day, or to spend at least half of each day trying to reach the mortal world and convince people "No, seriously!" We don't know how God keeps such well-wishers from reaching us, but within the belief system, he must be. Or maybe he adjusts their minds such that former conceptions of good are now irrelevant, and they no longer want to? So it's not really them in Heaven. Or Heaven is a prison, keeping the excessively good from ruining things by their ignorant kindness and willingness to self sacrifice?

Aside from convincing people not to sin and to worship God more--apparently bad, forbidden actions for that last year if you're finished off by a car a year earlier than you would've been--all of the traditional "if God is all powerful and all seeing, why does he allow ____" scenarios affect the deceased and (spiritually) risen. Why can't a risen spirit poison the evil, save the good, encourage relatives not to commit wrongs, et cetera? We can presume that, for every ten Christians who understand the divinity of forbearance ("let them work it out, it's not fair if they do it with my cheat codes"), there might be at least one who'd try to prevent a descendant, or just some soul s/he deems worthy, from committing a bad act. While absurd rationalizations abound for an omnipotent god allowing evil to persist, applying those same rationalizations to every person who's ever gone to Heaven is a different creature entirely--unless forgoing free will is necessary before achieving salvation.

Solutions for Paradise

The above questions are no good for people who've already rewritten their capacity for conscious thought due to imaginary divine command, but are of potential use for people who are neither Bangist nor Christian, but (non-Bangist) "agnostic," for the implausibility of tacitly-accepted forms of local thought is a useful tool for growth. Much intellectual inquiry for centuries has stagnated due to guilt by association, where rather basic logical premises have caused many versions of inquiry to be prohibited due to their strong social association with pentateuchal myths. Even before this was considered taboo in one way, it was considered taboo in others; one performs an experiment either in order to better understand the glory of Yahweh's creation, or to demonstrate how advanced we are by rejecting the idea of Yahweh and associated philosophies.

Public, learned interest in that which we do not currently understand has been tarred by these centuries of Christianity, more so in the popular realm than the professional, for the occasional evangelical might achieve funding and publishing for an experiment which is nonetheless rejected by people who could understand, without a journalistic prompt, what was being demonstrated. Twenty Christian physicians can contribute to a paper on near-death experiences which is ignored by the public at large, not because of the paper's individual merits or demerits, but because the association of "spirits" with "Christianity," and of "Christianity" with "stupid," is now so popularly strong that it can risk one's employment or social standing to manifest specific interest. Being a member of some church can be publicly acceptable, but not so evidence of seriously investigating non-you existence. Which is to say, being a member of a "firmament exists" club is, astoundingly, fine and commonplace, whereas it is socially, perhaps economically, damning to be more privately interested in something not currently disprovable, e.g., "bad people are resurrected as dogs, good people as sexy mermaids." Interest in claims that are verifiably, completely wrong are shielded, perhaps because of what remains of tradition, while potentially stupid yet not-disproven claims are viewed as unacceptably kooky.

That's understandable, just like early feminism, in the sense that the vast fields of stupidity which were previously harvested leave such inquiries tainted by comporting with similar means. Yet, like the initial theories behind the anger of initial feminism--like Christianity and Bangism--the invisible, illogical, absurdly (and now-provably) erroneous claims were not merely accepted, but embraced, by people anxious to have a reason why they existed and why they had done what came before. As we learn more about, say, testosterone and its effects on the developing and mature human, we learn more details about how ridiculous feminism was, and so too observation and the Bible or the Big Bang.

Consider a more realistic, fractally demonstrative stage in a human-including life cycle. Not that I've necessarily been there, nor believe anything, but as a thought for your lonesome, where unvoidable possibilities can comport with current or future neutral observation. As you live, when you die, your energy signature evaporates up to Terra's, rather slowly during some years, rather rapidly during others, like a sink with the drain cleared upon death. Suitable metaphor for understanding memory and character, and for why there are no bodies to repossess after death, since the code doesn't match any available brains. What's up there bounces around for some time without material access, lacking a conduit. At some point, the planet dies, and on all the energy signatures go, again like a sink with the drain-plug pulled. There are new demands, new desires, new material access, and so forth. And who is so pitiful they have the time, if even the direction, to go somewhere and communicate about how it's all okay or something should be done or anything like that? Say it's really fulfilling to participate in your future existence. Like, Your Kid Singlehandedly Saves The Mayor And Fifty Photogenic Orphans From That Burning Building fulfilling, times say a thousand, to participate in whatever your function is then, and working not as part of a team is about as fulfilling as living without your skin or other organs, considering that they're "not you" and it just pisses you off to be part of a form of togetherness.

Now, that's a "fantasy" that doesn't suffer from any of the Earth-related-fantasy problems we've touched on. People don't come back from Nirvana to reassure you not only because there aren't available material conduits, but because perceptions of time scales have changed, and it's rather ridiculous to take a million years to tell someone something will be okay in fifty years (stop worrying about it, I'm telling you!). You're going to end up doing something that makes you happy anyway, and so is that one. Growing into belonging in an incomprehensible future has its place, and a corresponding inability to conceive of what or how is similar to, say, an infant's perspective on why it was crummy when the company laid you off. Grandma doesn't come back to tell you she loves you because, depending on perceptions of time scale, she's going to spend a millennia telling you that starting in five minutes anyway. A good comparison to modern Terran life is how something can seem really cool and potent in kindergarten, but once you can buy one hundred cute sparkledolls or miniature amazing trucks and set them in a drool-inducing ring around you, then play your heart out, few people return to kindergarten in adulthood to show off by playing with trucks and/or dolls in front of the other attendees.

Your disinclination to fulfill outdated desires doesn't mean kindergarten-you doesn't or didn't exist, but if you believe you actually did exist at a time during which you held desires you would not now care to fulfill with the same intensity, you can understand something of how being stuck here might be viewed by people who have moved on. There isn't a law against donating to a kindergarten, then using that to acquire access to the facilities and play uninterrupted with some coveted feature of the place, and there doesn't need to be a law because so few, if any, people are interested in it. It might be done as a memory-affirming action, like tenderly stroking a favored toy in memory, but is entirely dissimilar, and would look not fun, to the point of being unrecognizable, to much-younger onlookers.

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