Archives for posts with tag: Reincarnation

Perhaps you might recall my earlier proofs of God, well here is another.

We live in a flawed reality. We use language with its limitations to describe things that we perceive with our imperfect sensory organs. The label of a thing is not that thing; it is merely how we as human beings are able to understand it to the best of our abilities. However, presumably there is actually a thing that we are perceiving and experiencing. It must have an essence that makes it what it is, despite us as a species being unable to objectively ratify it. The tree-ness of a tree, for example, that goes beyond a green leafy-looking thing that may or may not get rid of its green leafy-looking things every autumn.

The idea that things must have an essence that truly make them things was first theorized by a German, Immanuel Kant, and he referred to that essence as the thing-in-itself. While unable to be appreciated by our insufficient intellect, Kant suggests that there still must be an objective reality that transcends our experiential one, and defines it from the outside.

Arthur Schopenhauer, another German, built upon Kant’s theory of the thing-in-itself by suggesting that the Will is what makes a thing a thing. It is what drives us that defines us. Circumstance, character, environmental factors (note: all of these would be phenomena, existing within the experiential universe) may all focus or direct the Will, but the Will itself exists outside. The subject to the universe’s object.

Of course, there are gradations to the Will. The Will as it exists in a human being is a much stronger representation than the Will that exists in a fluffy bunny rabbit. The further down the scale, the more devoid of knowledge the subject becomes, and the more it must conform to laws. Animals are more susceptible to instincts, and plants only have the drive to grow, bear seed, and die. The bottom of the scale would be inanimate objects, mere pawns of physical laws.

Now what does the Will as the thing-in-itself have to do with God? Well, if the Hindus are to be believed, the Atman (the Self) is the same as the Brahman (God). The Will, as Schopenhauer envisions it, permeates all of eternity, and we are individualized portions of it, focusing it in our actions. If our Selves (our Atman) are all the representations of this Will, then we are all disillusioned into thinking that we are individual people, and to achieve salvation, or moral well-being, we would have to recognize the unity in all things, and act accordingly.

Another possibility of this theory accounting for a God is if each individual person/creature/object has their own thing-in-itself, rather than a generalized one that encompasses everything. For example, my Will would exist strictly within my own consciousness, and would not be a focusing of a larger/greater Will. If this were the case, and each Will of each person is their essence, each Will of each fluffy bunny or of each stone, then there would be a thing-in-itself of Being as well. Existence would require its own thing-in-itself, and following Schopenhauer’s proposition that the thing-in-itself is a Will, then there would be a Will behind the universe, this being God. Of course, Schopenhauer followed closer to the Hindu model and didn’t investigate this more individuated method (so far as I know), so this is just my own theory as to how the Will as the thing-in-itself is a potential for a proof of God.

Do I agree with this? Nope, still atheist. However, it is an interesting proof, and does answer the problem of Free Will that I look at in my previous post. Should I offer my refutation as to why I don’t believe it? Ehn, it’s getting kind of late. Maybe I’ll let you, dear readers, figure this one out for yourselves.

 

One problem people seem to have with the lack of belief in God is that it renders what we do meaningless. What purpose can our actions possibly have if they’re not part of something bigger than us? Bigger than reality? Part of a cosmic plan?

Sure there’s the whole idea that, “oooh, well it just means that what we have *now* is more important…” hedonistic approach that claims that only the present has value, (which, however valid, I will be ignoring for the purpose of this post), but I’m talking grand scheme of things, millions of years from now grand, when all traces of our actions are gone. The sun has burnt out.  Eternity.

Just work with me here, and let’s think under the concept that if there is no God, what we do is null.

Let’s give our actions some weight, then. Add God. Now we’ve got an omnipotent Judge that gets to decide what our actions are worth. Unfortunately for us, God likes to send those of us He doesn’t like down into the fiery depths of hell. It’s kind of a bummer. For those claiming that an empty universe is unjust, I’d argue that being infinitely punished for sins committed in a finite world far more unjust. Who is to say that if some horse thief from the Wild West lived a thousand more years, he might have cured all the STDs, finally allowing the world as much unprotected sex as it desired. A virtue well worth entry into heaven. But unfortunately our horse thief is mortal, and he died terribly of syphilis well before they started inventing cures for things that didn’t involve leeches. Given an eternity, who is to say what kind of people we would be? But we only have a short time, and punishing us over the course of eternity for *any*thing committed in that short amount of time is unbelievably cruel.

The other option is that everyone gets the happy ending. Everyone gets into heaven, everyone achieves nirvana, everyone gets that sweet slice of eternal bliss, no matter what. That final phrase there is what I’m driving at. The “no matter what” stipulation of a heaven entry suggests that again, what we do is meaningless. If we accept that inevitable oblivion makes what we do invalid, then we have to accept that inevitable salvation leads to the same conclusion. If the ending is always the same, no matter the path chosen, then it doesn’t matter which path we choose.

The only option I can think of where our choices have eternal weight is the concept of reincarnation without the option of nirvana. We would just be stuck in samsara (the life cycle) forever, with no hope of escape. Our actions would dictate our upcoming lives, forever and ever.  No end.

So everyone is either going to have to find some way to accept that our actions are inherently meaningless, or convert to a confused version of Buddhism.