I have been wondering recently, ever since writing an essay on the meaning of life, how eternity fits in with happiness and the meaning of life. This is because death is often seen by philosophers as necessary to make sense of life, to give purpose to life since we have only finite time to exist. As such, we are forced to make the most of life and are unable to suffer the lethality of eternal boredom. Eternity promotes boredom, and as philosophers such as Schopenhauer declare, boredom is lethal. It is the arch nemesis of happiness.
The context in which I have been thinking about this has been one of Christianity. In researching an essay on Descartes and Wittgenstein, on the body–soul issue, it becomes apparent that Christianity is different from many other belief systems, and perhaps philosophically incoherent. This is because Christianity follows a strictly linear progression. There is no cyclical nature to the worldview. Humanity existed, we sinned, Jesus was incarnated to atone for our sins, and then there will be a general resurrection where all the good people will live in a new kingdom on earth, eternally.
In other words, all eternity roughly revolves around a few thousand short years. And after this general resurrection, one assumes there will be no change. That’s all folks. Those in heaven / eternal kingdom on earth get that with no further goals or ambitions, whilst those who screwed up get an eternal damnation to pay for their finite crimes.
You see, philosophically, linear existences like Christianity, don’t really tick all the boxes. There doesn’t seem to be a coherent way around the boredom issue except if you give a heaven of the gaps answer whereby God sustains and infinitely pleasurable and goal-setting / variable / boredom side-stepping existence. The only way this could happen is for the soul in heaven to be so remote from our earthly minds and existences as to be unrecognisable.
With our earthly existences, it is well understood by philosophers that happiness revolves around the setting, journey toward achieving and achieving of goals and objectives. This whole package seems not to fit too snugly with the idea of heaven, or the idea of the soul. Now, I have in many places before shown how the idea of a soul is incoherent, especially when deciding what part of your earthly existence denotes the soul that goes into heaven. I, for one, don’t want to go into eternal heaven with Alzheimer’s. This eternal, issue-laden idea that we would exist eternally in ‘heaven’ after the resurrection without the things that philosophically drive happiness in a linear, non-changing fashion seems naïve. All sustainable processes that we know about seem to work cyclically. Life is cyclical in nature: birth, reproduction, giving birth and death.
That our entire existences wouldn’t be, that they would be linear in character, smacks of a poorly conceived god, fashioned out of short-sighted theology.
In : Religion
Tags: existence heaven soul happiness philosophy
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