I have been deep in thought about many things this month. I recently turned 50 and as a result, my reflections have been deeper than usual, and the dream of the planet has been weighing heavily on my mind. We are witnessing more history with the plight in the Ukraine currently. As a child, I grew up under the red scare. I have seen the Wall fall in Germany, the fall of the USSR, several wars worldwide, the current pandemic and so many other pieces of history. I have friends worldwide that I am concerned for and stand with. For a person of ethics and empathy for all humanity, this can feel daunting and heavy. At the same time, I feel a tremendous sense of hope. Hope for change. Hope for the future. Hope for human strength in the solidarity of humanity. Hope for the best of ourselves to triumph. Hope for peace. Hope for wisdom. Hope for growth.
In my half a century of life, witnessing so much on a global scope, I have lived a full life on a personal level too. Connection with people from all the avenues I have travelled has been my proudest accomplishment. My relationships and friendships with people are treasured above all. It is with this in mind, that our community’s health and strength is part of my focus. I have heard from many of you about what you would like to see moving forward. This ranges from going back to normal and having monthly meetings to still staying remote until we are further assured of safety by credible authorities of this pandemic. For the next couple of months, we will be remote, but with hope, we will plan our summer BBQ and possibly other activities so that we can meet safely and be together.
My friends, I see you. I hear you. I think about you often. I want safety and happiness for you. Witness the world around you. We are all craving connection. Think about how you, as a humanist, can provide connection safely to your circles. Be the example that you feel helps spread hope in our message. Until we can meet again, we wish you happiness and safety. Keep pursuing knowledge and strength during this time. But most importantly, know that you are in our thoughts and that you are not alone.
See you all soon,
Belief in the Hereafter
Secular humanists do not believe in the hereafter. That’s fine. But there is something going on here that might make us change our minds. It is this. Believers in the afterlife can never find out that they are wrong. They can never be disappointed. After all, if there is no life after death, then there is no disappointment after you die. No life, no disappointment.
But suppose that there is life after death. Then believers will be fine with that. So, either way, whether there is life after death or not, after they die, believers are not going to be disappointed.
It seems, then, that we should all believe in the hereafter—considering that the belief makes us happier right here right now. And in the end, we have nothing to lose.
OK. Now that we believe in the hereafter, we can think more about what this implies. For one thing, members of other species would have to be included. The idea is that, if we humans survive death, then so do our fellow primates. Not to mention the cows and pigs on our farms, and the puppy dogs and pussy cats in our homes. However, most people consider the idea that animals survive death to be absurd. After all, if animals cease to exist when they die, then why should we think that humans are any different?
So, in conclusion, we see three things: first, that we have nothing to lose by believing in immortality; second, that we really do stop existing when we die; and third, that being in touch with reality may not be not consoling.
All of which brings to mind a poem by Czeslaw Milosz. It goes like this:
If there is no God
Not everything is permitted to man
He is still his brother's keeper
And he is not permitted to sadden his brother
By saying there is no God.
In the end, when thinking about the hereafter, the real question has got to be: what are we here after? People differ here.
Humanists of Greater Portland
March 2002 Newsletter
Currently there is an exhibit of Charles Darwin’s life and work going on at the Bean Life Science Museum on BYU’s campus in Provo, UT. I visited it last week and was very impressed. First, I was amazed that on a religious school’s campus, it would be as well done as it is. That said, it is at the Bean Life Science Museum, which, is very impressive. There are no admission fees, and it is a wonderful activity for all ages.
The exhibit is small and lovely. It talks about Darwin and his adventures. It focuses on his work and common misperceptions about who he was, his work and why it is so important now. There are several copies of the Origin of the Species on display, ranging from children’s books to a copy of the first edition publication. Have fun and enjoy!