Your Own Personal Jesus
April 5, 2010 § 31 Comments
It’s Easter, the “most holy day on the Christian calendar” as some would put it. It’s the day that Jesus (the son of God, and the human incarnation of god himself on Earth) died for the sins of man, only to be resurrected on Sunday to rise to Heaven so that we can all be saved from damnation in Hell and have an everlasting “afterlife” at the right-hand of Jesus and God. Makes perfect sense right?
Again, religion is a soft target for me to criticise, as there are so many holes in the stories that the ridicule of religious beliefs is all too easy. I’m hoping to include my voice to the many other more-educated, better-learned scholars and theological debaters, and add something constructive to the debate.
With that in mind, I’m going to delve into the idea of The Resurrection a little farther, and try to surmise what exactly is the driving force behind this belief, and also what are the assumptions made for this belief to be maintained, and what are the underlying consequences of this belief.
Sins Of Man
Firstly, for this to be true, we must assume that humanity is evil, that our presence on earth is somehow and abomination, an unnatural occurence. “Catholic Guilt” would have us believe that our thoughts and actions in life are crimes, and that we must feel guilty for doing the things that come naturally to us, with special focus on sex.
It goes like this; Sex is evil, and is only for the propagation of the species, in wedlock, under the eyes of God, with his blessing. If you have sex, you must intend to have children from this union. Sex is a necessary evil in the eyes of God, and he only allows it on His terms. Everything else is SIN, including thoughts about sex and carnal lust.
The idea of SIN is a way of controlling people. But Sex is an especially difficult thing to control, for not only is it necessary, but it’s deeply ingrained in out psyches and our DNA, by heredity and human instinct, but it is actually the driving force behind a great deal of human evolution and advancements. By making human procreation something to feel guilty about, religions can control, to some degree, the behaviours of the believers.
Other SINS run are equally as serious, but none of them carry the weight that the “Sins of the Flesh” carry. I won’t mention the irony of this situation given the current state of the Catholic Church and sex/rape scandals.
On the other hand, people DO act questionably for the sake of sex, but I think we’ve grown up enough now to accept responsibility for our own actions, don’t you?
In Christian theological beliefs it is accepted that if we pray and obey God’s laws, that we will be reunited with our loved-one in Heaven to live a peaceful existence alongside God and Jesus for all eternity in bliss, no pain, no suffering, no disease, no need for any earthly pleasures.
I have a few problems with this notion.
The idea that this life is the prequel for “a real purpose” devalues the lives we lead on earth, and the consequences of this cause a myriad problems for our societies. One can go to war in the name of their God, with a “knowledge” that if they kill and die for said deity, that they will be saved. It means that those on Earth who are “looking forward to heaven” can knowingly dismiss duties in this world, such as the environment or problems caused by famine and drought. It means that people can treat LIFE as a “dry run” before the real show, up in the sky. It means that by blindly following the words of the holy books, regardless of other consequences this may cause, that they at least will have a blissful existence hereafter.
By claiming “afterlife” one mitigates responsibilities for the real world. And in some cases, like extreme fundamentalism in Christianity and Islam, people are pushing for Armageddon, for the final war, so that they can go to this paradise.
The idea that if we’re good as humans, and follow the edicts of religious faith, praise a God who apparently looks after us, and give over our will and lives to an unseen creator is odd enough. But to back it up, and to make the idea all the more appealing, someone came up with an alternate afterlife scenario, one of eternal punishment and torture.
So if you’re good you get all the things you wanted on earth, if you’re bad you go to a “place” of eternal punishment. Again, this is simply a tactic to control the people. But how long will the idea of Hell continue to be used as a deterrent? The Vatican recently admitted that “Limbo” (the middle ground between Heaven and Hell, where un-Christened babies go) doesn’t exist, so how long before, due to public demand, they dismiss the idea of Hell?
These ideas of “Afterlife” stem from one thing in life, the very natural fear we have of death. Put simply, all animals fear death, though none so intellectually as mankind. “Fear of death” is very closely linked to self preservation, which is linked to the pain reflex. We have pain to stop us from damaging our bodies, and pain can be seen as a small step toward death. Death is the ultimate unknown, for we can’t see beyond death what happens to the human mind and psyche after the batteries run out.
So the idea of afterlife was invented to “give people purpose” to their lives? Well yes and no. Originally the afterlife was an answer to the question of “What happens after we die?” But people over time identified it as a good motivating factor to keep people in line. This is how religion uses it. If you have enough people believing in an afterlife, but only if they follow your rules, you effectively have an army. You know the rest.
The Easter Spirit
So if you’re good and follow the laws of God, you go to heaven. We know this because Jesus, the son of God (and God himself made corporeal on earth) died and rose from the grave on Easter Sunday (an arbitrary date based on cycles of the moon, originally a spring rejuvenation festival), to save us from sin, and give us everlasting life in Heaven Eternal. If we don’t follow the rules, we go to Hell. Seems simple enough right? Does the Easter Bunny believe in Hell?