Like a lot of my generation I was sent to CoE Sunday school from about five years old. I stopped going when I was nine. I think my parents were believers but they did not go to church. When I was around about eleven I joined the Boy’s Brigade which is a religeous based organization and I started going to a Sunday School again. It was Methodist this time. It was during this time that I started to lose what little faith I had.
I struggled with the idea that the price of a tie in this country could feed a starving family for a week. Yet everyone wore ties. How could these well off middle class members of the church reconcile their comfortable lives with the teachings of Jesus.
And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.Matthew 19-24
I became very disillusioned with the Church; then I became disillusioned with God who would allow innocent babies to die. I simply could not believe it, which meant I could not believe in God, or at least a God who cared.
Then as I became more aware of the Universe, which, according to most monotheistic religions, God has created I simply could not see how an entity could be interested in this tiny spec of dust in the Cosmos. Do we care if a particular microbe in our gut lives or dies?
So then I began to question the whole establishment of a church – any church. I believe Jesus the man would look with horror at his legacy. The Vatican is the richest square mile in the world, yet see Matthew’s quote above.
I would love to have a supernatural friend I could talk to and who would tell me what to do. Millions of people say they do. The human mind is an amazing thing, quite capable of holding any number of contradictory views.
The existence of a God is immaterial in many sects of Buddhism. I can relate to that.
Is there an afterlife, and are humans different from animals? These two questions are interlinked. My mother, father and all of my late relatives, and all of my late friends, cats, dogs, gerbils, mice and goldfish have an afterlife. They are in my memory and in the memory of others who knew them. As these people pass on, finally all memory will disappear and their afterlife will come to an end. Of course they are not self-aware in any respect. They have became, essentially a meme.
Some memes endure for a long time. Jesus and Muhammed were men who lived and died, but their memes endure. A meme, which is simply an idea in peoples minds (billions of people in these cases, but only a few in the case of my mother and father) changes over time and may not be related to the original source.
I can remember most of my school friends; but I remember them as they were when they were teenagers. Most will have retired by now – if they are still alive. My meme exist in their minds too.
In fact the supposed “original source” may not have existed at all. You don’t even have to have been alive! The memes of Micky Mouse, the tooth fairy, St George. and the dragon, Adam and Eve will long “out live” mine.
Humans are different from other animals in that they can carry these memes in their heads. Old Hemp was the very first border collie, but he is not a meme in border collies minds. Animals brains, as far as we know, are incapable of absorbing or cultivating a meme. Perhaps it relies on language. Old Hemp is a meme, though, but only in some human minds who think about and talk about him and pass on the information (as I am doing now). A dog’s mother may be a memory for the dog, but the dog is incapable of passing that memory on.
So yes, there is an afterlife but you won’t be aware of it, and yes, as far as we know Humans are different from animals – nothing to do with a soul, immortal or otherwise, but only to do with the capability for language.
I am sure anyone with an unshakeable faith will look on me with pity. The pity is not reciprocated. If anything I am slightly envious but I simply can’t make myself believe in Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, the Devil, or God.