Monday, October 14, 2013

Why-Questions For Ourselves


The oldest question in the world. It has general and personal aspects.

Honestly, I think we can't answer the general aspects. We don't know beyond doubt where we came from. Religions have all their own answers, sometimes in full contrast to one and other. I have gradually learned to rely on myself. "Why am I here", "Where am I going", are questions usually approached in a moral fashion by religions. It may be a help cord for humanity to hold on to, but is it an answer to the question? The role of humanity in the scheme of things on Earth, is seen as a task, by religions. And its future is determined by the way humanity carries out this task. The problem then lies, again, in the differing, sometimes contrasting answer furnished by religions. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism basically say, though in differing ways: The human soul is forever; its future in the afterlife is determined by how the living man or woman behaves during life. And there's an invisible, omnipotent creating God who creates, decides for and judges us, and everything else. But the stories of these religions are different, and so is their worship. Buddhism says: there is no invisible world behind this, this is all there is and has been, there is no creation, and the human soul isn't immortal. Personally, I think that all religions cast their light on an aspect of the truth that was revealed to their spokesmen, usually referred to as prophets. Why the stories differ, is an answer God only knows;) Or only some answers can be proved to be true or false. Islam still is my own religion, but I can't confirm that the prophet Muhamed, pbuh, really met archangel Gibryl, and that Gibryl truly came with God's word. We can't prove it, no matter how valuable and truthful its content may be. That is faith: Acknowledging something to be truthful or valuable, without having falsifiable evidence. The consequence is, that none of us have the right to forcefully impose our non-falsifiable convictions on other people. That also goes for atheists.

I think, that Buddhism has a point here, it's view can be retrieved with Ibn Rushd, for those who like to know if there's a parallel with Islamic views somewhere. I agree with them and think there was no first creation. Mass cannot have emerged from the non-existent. That's technically and absolutely impossible. Non-existence isn't empty space, because space is existence. Therefore, mass must always have been there, which doesn't mean there has never been empty space. Empty space is always mass-related. Like Ibn Rushd, I think, that God is working within the universe, as the force within it. God may be time, the law or force of nature, an abstract concept. God cannot be compared with anything at all, says the Qur'an. There's no god, there's just the law or force of nature, but that's not god, atheists say. When the Bible says, that "the earth was without form, and void", it may say there was a first creation of our present planet and the other celestial bodies, but Genesis leaves open whether it must have been a remould of something else, another mass. The story in Genesis may sound contradictory to scientific knowledge and even to itself. An aspect not irrelevant to the age-old question, is that other religions have their own stories, that may also be impaired and proven-untrue.

And then, how about thinking of where we're headed to. The afterlife. Is there nothing, or is there a retribution, where justice is restored? It's always been approached from a moral point of view, even by atheists. We should live righteous lives in order to attain a good afterlife. Or, vice versa, we don't need to... etc. The only thing not eagerly considered, is the possible preparation to a bad afterlife. A life in Hell. If Hell is forever, shouldn't we learn now how to live in pain, or at least in unpleasant conditions forever? Shouldn't we learn to accept evil as part of a whole that may have good in it, simply because the whole 'needs' this aspect. We're not taught to deal with an eternal painful retribution. (How we should, is another issue.)

All things considered, I think it's better to keep things personal. It leads to always-relevant and tangible answers to the age-old questions. Why am I here? Where do I go? I stick to things I know. I came from two parents and a long line of ancestors. I live here, because I was born nearby. I have children, they have my genes. Why do we live somewhere? Because of family, a partner, or friends cherished enough to be counted as family. Because I like the town I live in. Because of a job. But I think that most people tend to find their livelihood near family and friends. The chance is realistic, that I'll stay here too, because it's not easy to leave and then live away from family. Why do people leave the vicinity of family and friends? To be with a partner. It may be uniting with an existing partner, or traveling to a country or town where a partner is likely to be found. It may also be necessity. If it's impossible to find a source of income or affordable housing in the vicinity of family and friends. Yet, I think that most people hesitate to leave their country or city for work only, no matter how tempting the prospects may be. There should be someone or something else too, to make it worthwhile to live alone in an apartment far away from home. That's how it works for me. In all honesty -- a partner, or family and trusted friends somewhere else will make me move away more easily than only a great writing gig. The chances are realistic, though. And it's best to recognize that I'm not sure what will happen after death, and try to do my 'best' as is recognized as such in my community, including not causing harm to others.

With thanks to fellow blogger Izaakson.