morriswalters wrote:Isn't that your default position? Or at least the default position on an atheist.
Well, no, for precisely the reasons I said.
Most Religions affirm the idea of an afterlife. Call it whatever you will.
Which is precisely not what I'm talking about. I said "heavens and hells" because that is what I was talking about when ucim objected. If either of you are not talking about heavens and hells, then you're not responding to what I said and I'm under no obligation to simply take the position you're each ascribing to me.
In context of my previous post, we were discussing needing a heaven and hell as a moral incentive
, specifically, a society's indefinitely deferred supernatural punishments and rewards. Christianity and Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, and others do
have this quality; they're "heavens and hells" in that sense, even if I have separately claimed that the Christian and Muslim variations are particularly insidious for other reasons (many afterlives do not trivialize the experiential world the way this one does, but that's not what we're talking about right now).
ucim, unless I'm deeply misunderstanding him, made the rather brassy claim that some people, perhaps many people, need
the moralistic qualities Christianity places on the afterlife. It's like ucim had claimed that damn near everyone needs a red car, I had disagreed and said that blue is a perfectly fine color as wel, and you're coming at me with an argument for why damn near everyone needs a car, color aside. These aren't the same conversation.
And answer me this, if people don't need an afterlife, why do they keep inventing them?
It's not as clever a question as you think, I don't think. Compare, "If people don't need sexism, why do they keep inventing it?".
A neutral or detrimental idea can certainly be likely to develop in human societies, and then have compulsive qualities that allow it to persist, without the society as a whole or the average person within actually "needing" it, certainly not its apparent "consumer".
In fact, a lot of common perceptual failures seem to be a simple result of our biology and don't need any inventing at all. The basic human tendency to ascribe intentionality to damn near everything almost certainly falls into this category, making animism, the seed from which all religion grows, quite probably an inevitable consequence of how human reasoning does and does not work. It isn't necessary
, it just is
. We've only had a fully developed theory of mind for a few hundreds of thousands of years, if that. It's demonstrably overactive. We are wired to anthropomorphize.
I actually think afterlives, speaking broadly, are closer to that cluster of innate tendencies than they are to organized religion as we know it. Death is exceedingly hard to grok. The level of our minds that understands object permanence and theory of mind finds it particularly confusing; the physical person is right there, the mind is not. Where did it go? This thing sure looks
like a person, it must be thinking somewhere
. And being emotionally bound up in a particular death doesn't make us any more rational about it. Certainly before neuroscience, or even Aristotle's four causes, I think the question "where do we go when we die" is actually a fairly natural one, even inevitable.
What a given religious authority generally does from there is to endorse and reaffirm an afterlife at the cost of using it as a moralizing tool, which cyclically reaffirms its own power. Which, I mean, is what religions do and are - they buy up all the magic that's already naturally out there in our fuzzy, metaphor-laden mindscapes, monopolizing and regulating it.
I was really hoping on some level to answer your question with a question, but I can't - there is a fairly firmly established answer for it. That's where afterlives come from. None of the steps have to be necessary, not all of them are even inevitable, and they don't really tell us anything about how to feel about the whole business or how we ought to treat it. Some inevitable ascriptions of intentionality on my own part in this account aside, none of them are really inherently good or bad for society or for the individual in question, they just sort of happen.
So if people "need" an afterlife (inevitably will, on some deep level, expect one must exist), that does not imply that they "need" the moral guidance of a particular
afterlife as presented by their particular community's organized religion.
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.
she / her / her