Death isn't to die for. At least, that's how my churchless psyche looks at mortality. I like being alive. Being dead -- that has a disturbing ring of nothingness to it.
If it was up to me, I'd pass on the whole dying thing. And who wouldn't? Almost no one, aside from those who find life so painful, not existing seems preferable.
This is a big reason why religions, philosophies, and belief systems that promise continued life after death are so popular. The Bible says that Jesus removed the sting of death.
Hey, if there was convincing proof of this, I'd sign up for Christianity in a heartbeat. Or convert to any other faith that offered me eternal (or at least really lengthy) life.
A good life, of course. No hell. Or Fox News.
Dinesh D'Souza has written a book that purports to prove that the afterlife is real. "Life After Death: The Evidence" is an appealing title. Only problem is, D'Souza doesn't supply what he promises -- evidence.
If I simply went by the Amazon product description, I'd probably have ordered a copy by now.
Unlike many books about the afterlife, Life after Death makes no appeal to religious faith, divine revelation, or sacred texts. Drawing on some of the most powerful theories and trends in physics, evolutionary biology, science, philosophy, and psychology, D Souza shows why the atheist critique of immortality is irrational and draws the striking conclusion that it is reasonable to believe in life after death.
That's false advertising. D'Souza is a fervent Christian. His web site says that he is a co-founder of the Y God Institute, "Fresh Arguments, Science, History and Reason to Support Christianity."
So he definitely does make an appeal to religious faith and sacred texts. In an interview, D'Souza makes the ridiculous claim that we should believe in the afterlife because Christian dogma says that Jesus was resurrected. Huh?
If the resurrection stands up to historical scrutiny, if it is an historical event by the standards of historical verification, then the Christian view of the afterlife rises above the pack. It is the one to take seriously.
Well, those are two big "if's."
If I had a hundred million dollars, I'd be sitting on the patio of my beachfront Maui mansion right now, enjoying the tropical warmth rather than a freaking cold day in Oregon.
If''s are easy to conjure up. I'm interested in afterlife evidence that has some substance to it.
The Newsweek piece reviews D'Souza's flimsy arguments (human goodness, quantum physics, multiverse notion in cosmology -- a bunch of if's) and ends with mention of what could be a genuinely solid reason to believe in the survival of consciousness after death.
The AWARE project, a scientifically rigorous study of near-death experiences in hospitals around the world. Some results are expected next year. (But believers in the afterlife are already offering up reasons why AWARE won't come up with evidence of non-bodily consciousness.)
Not surprisingly, it doesn't sound like D'Souza talks at all about the many anecdotal stories in Eastern faiths -- Buddhism, Hinduism, and such -- about mystic transport out of the body and into higher realms of reality.
I'm not saying that these are any more credible than the Christian tale of Jesus' resurrection. But they are a lot more recent, so have a higher potential of being verified in some fashion (or, not).
I've been there and done that -- embracing a belief in soul travel and survival of personal consciousness after death. I hope it's true. I also hope that the Maui mansion pops into my life. I've got lots of hopes.
Having practiced various meditation disciplines for about forty years, my current approach is this: do nothing and see what happens.
Meaning, make nothing my meditative mantra. And assume that nothing needs to be done to find out what happens after death. What will be, will be. And what won't, won't.
I'm open to other possibilities.
That's why I enjoy churchlessness, not embracing any particular faith. I'll roll in whatever direction the evidence (or lack thereof) for life after death takes me.