Imagine There's No
11:23-26--what is the basis for the confidence shown in this verse, this
promise, which comforts so many at funerals?
12:18-27-- Here we must side with the Sadducees. Behold on how delicate a
strand the ponderous doctrine of the resurrection depends!
(ineffectively, to my mind) from the Pentateuch because of the Sadducee
canon. The Old Time religion, and if you go back to that, here is what you
will find: Genesis 3. Cf. Psalm 90. A bittersweet vision.
But it enhances the
value of life by showing how precious it is, which it would not be if
there were an endless supply of it. If all he tin in the world were to
turn to gold, gold would become as worthless as tin.
The question of
Psalm 90 is the crucial one: what can we do that will last? Can we leave
behind us a monument? We hope to. But must our name be on it? How is that
relevant beyond human vanity? So what if "My name will mean nothing 10
minutes after I'm dead." Fame and infamy alike mean nothing. The
challenge, the goal, is to enrich the world after you, whether or not your
name is known.
(We praise the names
of the great we know, but it is interesting to speculate how much
difference has been made by those whose names we will never know...)
There are two ways:
through your genes and through your memes.
But this may sound
disappointing! You will not know the difference! There will be no heaven
for you! But there are 2 mitigating factors:
1) Epicurus: "When
death comes, we are not." Death is nothing to be feared! It is nothing at
2) And what is it
you are being cheated of, as you imagine, by giving up the fantasy of a
postmortem heaven? Think of the attendant, inevitable absurdities!
You must learn the
lesson of Heidegger: the only way to assess your life and to decide what
it is to mean, is to face the inevitability of death. You cannot define a
thing until you find the finish of it.
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