Furthest Right

Condemned to Hell

Culture, like religion, occurs in layers. There is something like a universal human culture of getting along with each other. On top of that, each race has traits. Within that, each ethnic group behaves certain ways, and each social class possesses its own standards, ideals, and norms of behavior.

Religion will prove to be the same way on detailed analysis. Humanity and animals probably share a universal religion with benevolent universe and afterlife; each race has its own mythos; each ethnic group and social class interprets those its own way.

On top of that, individual variation will follow a standard distribution. Some people do not need God/gods, and will be perfectly happy and conventionally moral as atheists. Others are true believers, but most are in the middle, somewhere between agnosticism and hopeful faith.

This means that even within an ethnic group, there are layers of religion, but at the core, the same beliefs exist in parallel between most religions. This points to a type of intuitive understanding that humans have about their universe and its structure.

However, these basics leave as many questions as they create, which is probably a good thing. We wonder about the nature of God or the gods. We question the purpose of a universe which contains bad as well as good, and we wonder about the afterlife and whether the worthy are rewarded.

Naturally this too follows a Bell Curve. Some humans believe in an infinite and eternal afterlife, others in reincarnation, and most fall somewhere in the middle hoping that the divine does something useful with them. Perhaps what we encounter in fact corresponds to our place on the Bell Curve as well.

The ancient Greco-Romans gave us both few visions of the afterlife and multiple interpretations of it. Most of them feature an almost formless place of grey dust and boredom, with many retellings gesturing toward a type of reincarnation where the spirit selects its new body.

Some of the earliest and the latest had almost no vision but an Earthlike but desolate place where the dead exist in a state of suspended animation, but in the middle, people saw this as a temporary zone, less like Hell than Purgatory in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

To a parallelist, it makes sense to look at the parallels between visions of the afterlife. Most feature a static but temporary afterlife, followed by reincarnation, or the idea that one moves on to another purpose after life.

It seems to me most likely that souls run the gamut of the Bell Curve. Some are destined to a new purpose, others are headed for finite emptiness, and still others are going to be reconstructed into raw material.

As some spiritual leaders have suggested, the physical world exists because the supernatural requires it, and here we prove ourselves through our struggles and mental organization. Those who make themselves into purposeful beings likely have a purpose elsewhere.

On the other end of the Bell Curve, those who are purposeless, random, self-centered, and destructive probably serve no use to the universe. These most likely find that death is a locked doorway. The semi-random, like leaves in a compost, live on in some new but reconstituted form.

In other words, we are here to forge souls by finding a transcendent view, aspiring to the good, and sacrificing for it. This makes enduring souls. Going the other way, into a world of the self, leads to nothing but the end when the body no longer functions.

Nature wastes nothing, and there is no reason to suppose that souls are any different. The larger world of information which surrounds this physical reality will form attachments to unique ideas, spirits, and actions.

This rejects the concept of modern religion that one can buy their way into Heaven by public acts of charity. The intent matters, as does the achievement, and most charity does nothing but prolong poverty and dysfunction (whatever you subsidize, you get more of).

Dualism holds that there are two worlds, Heaven and Earth, with different rules for each. For example, in Heaven there is no want, where Earth is driven by want. In Heaven, one exists in eternal suspended animation in a constant state of bliss, where on Earth this would become Hellish tedium.

Monism on the other hand points toward a continuity of worlds. As it is on Earth, so it is in the Heavens; as above, so below; as within, so without. The spirit, Earth, and heavens are a continuity with the same rules because they arise from the logic grounding the universe.

In this view, the spirit which arranges itself around what is natural endures, and that which retreats into the self becomes temporary. The real Hell there is missing out, since to withdraw from the world of thought and action is to become neutered, isolated, and energyless.

None of this is incompatible with the religion in which you were raised, which probably exists in many semi-conflicting interpretations. To have a religion, you must first be religious, which requires experiencing the transcendent to the point that good seems a supernatural force in your world.

Much of it depends on your layer. For many, religion is icing on the cake, a Pascal’s Wager style safety net. For others, it is preposterous because their brains and souls do not work that way. For those who seek the beauty in life, perhaps the heavens consist of infinite new adventures.

This may not take the form of reincarnation here on Earth. A spirit could be something else in worlds beyond our imagination, or go to other parts of the universe where other species struggle to evolve to clarity in themselves and their civilizations.

In any case, it seems that like most things, religion is a mystery in plain sight. Most to some degree believe, but few want to probe deeply into what might be there or what it might mean. This suggests a narrowing of the tunnel with few making it to the other side.

This parallels our places on the Bell Curve. If someone lives for drinking beer and watching television, another few million years of that would give nothing more; if someone never lives, they might not even notice death as they pass into nonexistence.

Much of the writing on this site involves the group on the right side of the Bell Curve who honestly believe, even if they are atheistic, in the possibility of goodness in life. No amount of magic words or charity will distance such a group from the mindset of the heavens.

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