Your loved ones aren’t coming back
aka You too are already an atheist probably, you just don’t know.
My uncle died last year. He was a gambler, smoker, and full-of-life Jackie Gleason sort of fellow, very quick-witted. I helped the rest of the family bury him. When in the earth, the casket soon disintegrates, and, so does he, atom drifting from atom in complete lassitude. One day, thousands of years from now, when his dust is scattered all over the earth, will the world suddenly be undone in a heartbeat by a vengeful God? On this zombie day, will my uncle’s atoms fly together, be magically glued together, and will he walk down main street, cigar in mouth? I think the least God could do is give him his cigar back, and his missing leg too, for all those weekends spent in Catholic church! My wife’s dead father, who died of a heart attack nearly 20 years ago, will he and my uncle stroll arm in arm down main street on zombie day? No. No, they won’t. You don’t believe that, and neither do I. Zombie day is the core belief of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There is a complete suspension, according to scripture, of the laws of nature precipitously on zombie day, which allows the mixed dust of all the people that ever lived to be reassembled into walking, talking human beings again to be judged for their beliefs and actions. Now, since, say, some of Alexander the Great’s dust has been recycled into a baby or teenager in Greece no doubt by now, I’m not sure how Alexander the Great, the baby and the teenager can all stand completely whole for justice when they share the same physical body to some degree, magic or no. Do you believe this, or do you believe the sun is a star with a lifespan, and the earth is a planet going around the sun with lifeforms on it? That we are bodies that degrade with age and/or disease to where we no longer function, and simply dissolve, never to be reassembled, except for having small bits of our physical stuff recycled. We can tag an atom in our hippocampus, our memories, our “soul”, and watch after death as it dissolves and is reused in the butt muscle of a rat. This is a factual event, and this is why in all likelihood, you believe the latter. You probably do not really believe in zombie day, though you call yourself a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
If you are one of the few who do believe in zombie day, really, truly believe you’re going to see my dead uncle walk downtown, kudos to you. You are at least consistent in your madness. You at least can comprehend the content of your scriptures. To those of you who claim to be Muslim, Jew, or Christian, and now protest that zombie day is not essential, you are quite mistaken.
For the Jews: Ezekiel 37: 12 – “I will open your graves, and cause you to come up”, and it is the 13th principle of faith: “I believe with complete (perfect) faith, that there will be techiat hameitim – revival of the dead, whenever it will be God’s, blessed be He, will (desire) to arise and do so. May (God’s) Name be blessed, and may His remembrance arise, forever and ever.”
For the Christians, “…there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15 KJV), “resurrection at the last day” is mentioned at John 11:24-25, Matthew 12:38-42: “…At judgment time, the citizens of Ninevah will come back to life along with this generation … At judgment time, the queen of the south will be brought back to life along with this generation …”, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and He will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. … And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31-36, 40-43, 45-46 NRSV)
For the Muslims,
Surah 75:20-21 (Part 1)
1. I do call to witness the Resurrection Day;
2. And I do call to witness the self-reproaching Spirit.
3. Does man think that We cannot assemble his bones?
4. Nay, We are able to put together in perfect order, the very tip of his fingers.
5. But man wishes to do wrong (even) in the time in front of him.
6. He questions: “When is the Day of Resurrection?”
7. At length, when the sight is dazed
8. And the moon is buried in darkness
9. And the sun and moon are joined together that Day will Man say;
10. “Where is the refuge?”
11. By no means! No place of safety!”
12. Before the Lord (alone), that Day will be the place of rest.
13. That Day will Man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back.
14. Nay, man will be evidence against himself,
15. Even though he were to make excuses.
and so many others that talk about Al-Qimaya, the Resurrection and Day of Judgment.
So, if you don’t literally believe in the resurrection of the dead, you are not really a Jew, Muslim or Christian, and, in fact, according to these very same traditions you will be punished for your beliefs. So if you use the personality of Jesus or Muhammad as a sort of proof of God and his so-called wise men, yet ignore their very words, this seems rather curious indeed, and self-defeating. If you don’t really believe my uncle is going to walk down the street some day though he be stone, cold dead and dissolved now, the you aren’t really a Christian, Jew or Muslim and are going to burn in hell forever according to the very traditions you uphold as wise and good. This would make such people appear to be hypocrites and fools, slaves to other people’s will alone.
And what about this popular belief of going to a “better place” when you die? If it does not come from the desert prophets of monotheism, where does it come from? This is a very old pagan idea really. The Egyptians and most pagan peoples of the world had gods, a shadowy after-realm. It is a fruit of a pagan tradition. Pagan traditions arise from primitive understanding of man’s relationship to nature, like the cycle of the season. Spring became a metaphor for rebirth, appearing to die every winter. In writings, certainly the apex of pagan thought which also greatly influenced Western and Islamic worlds via translation and study, Plato puts forth the quintessential formulation of heaven. He basically argues that the forces the compose the universe must be symmetrical. This is in line with modern physics too. As such, he concludes that primitive properties must be in balance, hot and cold, long and short, etc. So death and life are in balance, and a loss here is the gain of a soul there. Similarly, there were reincarnation beliefs too, that a birth here was a soul migrating from there. The pain and suffering of this world is balanced by the wisdom and perfection of that world. While the reincarnation ideas crept into Eastern religion and the perfection ideas into Nirvana concepts, the ideal heaven that you go to when you die is what took hold here in the West and somewhat less in the Muslim lands, but occasionally still too. The problem with Plato’s interesting argument is that entropy, which defines the life or death of a complex structure like an organism, is not a simple property. Entropy is not conserved, but actually always increases within any closed system such as the universe, but this was not known to Plato. The “proof” offered by Plato shows what heaven really is, a desire to rail against degradation and loss, a fear of death, the end of being. It is more logical than the bizarre Hollywood magic of the desert prophets with zombies strolling the streets, to think of perhaps an alternate dimension we slip to on death, which human consciousness somehow shares, so that we may live forever, but without pain. As appealing, more placid, and rational as it may appear, heaven is not actually Christian, Jewish or Muslim. It is a pagan belief and a blasphemy. And since I doubt you believe in Zeus, Athena, Apollo, and the rest of the gods, which being the perfected spirits of the other realm are logically derived from the surety of heaven, you don’t really believe in heaven. Again, if you are one of the few who believes in Hades and the gods, under whatever name, and has the consistency to call yourself a pagan, than kudos to you as well. You at least are consistent in your madness too.
The truth is most of you call yourself Jew, Muslim or Christian out of social pressure and fear of individuality. Most of you do not really believe in zombie day because it’s stupid and fantastical. Most of you don’t really believe in heaven, because you are not idol-toting pagans “suckled in a creed outworn”, but really have a vague childish wish to live forever and have all wrongs righted somehow in the end. If there are no gods, there is no heaven. If there is no zombie day, there is no need for refuge in God. God, deprived of zombie day, is just a label for a childish wish to live forever and to never suffer injustice despite being rather insignificant really. The truth is that you are not orthodoxly one of the desert religions, or an orthodox pagan, you are really an atheist in believer’s clothing.