Most everyone I know around the Internet has a “problem” with spirituality. The atheists have a problem figuring out why some people are not content with materialism or naturalism and the religionists have a problem understanding why people cannot believe in the supra-natural. I think the “problem” goes deeper than that. The problem is the philosophy of dualism, which informs every religion from Christianity to Islam. Without the idea of dualism all religious questions about the afterlife would be a moot point. So what is “dualism?” There are numerous definitions of dualism depending on your focus on morals, philosophy, or materialism, but for my purposes I am defining dualism as the belief that our “soul” or our consciousness is separate from our bodies. Many religions base their entire belief systems on the concept of the dual nature of humans, one nature which is related to God or the gods or the supra-natural and the other based in the material world, always opposed to spirit and in the control of evil, Satan, etc. Paul and the other writers would be out of business if dualism weren’t true because the entire New Testament is based on dualism.
Dualism is seemingly everywhere. We see in “twos” all the time; sky:earth, up:down, mind:body, male:female….. but we know, deep down, that two is not the final number for any of these things. Why do we insist that it is? I contend that the only reason people believe in gods is because they so desperately wish for an afterlife, a place after death in which our consciousness lives on in the presence of someone or thing and that we are preserved eternally. And I most vehemently further contend that the belief in dualism and moreover a belief in an afterlife are the SOLE reasons people believe in God. Nothing else makes belief in such an entity worthwhile. In other words, there’s nothing in it for us if the afterlife is a lie. People will be moral without gods. That’s been proven. So we don’t need gods for that. Now some will argue, equally vehemently, that they most certainly would believe if heaven or hell did not exist, but I don’t believe them. As humans we desperately want our actions to have meaning in equal measure with our wish for vengeance. Both sentiments, which come naturally to humans, automatically ensure that our religions will reflect this.
There is a Synchro-blogging event going on concerning this very topic and there are some excellent posts out there. You see, I don’t think we can over-think this issue of duality at all! It’s the key to how we will think about the world and it will guide our thoughts toward or away from believing in Gods or the super and supra-natural realm. Christians accept the duality of humans automatically. So do Muslims. I’m not sure that Jews do. There are monistic hints and patterns in the Old Testament and I’m not conversant enough in Judaism to know for sure. I sure would like to ponder some questions though:
- Can there be an afterlife and not be a God that “presides” over it?
- Can an afterlife exist without the concept of reward or punishment?
- What does it mean for us if we truly face the concept that there is no division between our minds and our bodies? How do we then live?
- Doesn’t morality become truly “moral” if there is no heaven or hell?
Just some thoughts to ponder on a Sunday morning.