Known Unknowns

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Yesterday’s posting reminded me of a recent conversation I had in a Chinese airport on my way back to Chengdu. It was a theological conversation with a young guy from Zimbabwe. He was a chapter-and-verse kind of Christian. He was an earnest guy, and we had a friendly but contentious debate.

I told him that I suspected that reincarnation happens, with memory erased after every lifetime, and that at the end of the process (9 lives perhaps), a soul either ascends or is extinguished. But I cannot be sure. Reincarnation seems logical to me, but I cannot prove it.

I told him that I am inclined to believe that the Aztecs were right about our being in the Fifth World, with the Fifth Sun – and that Hinduism (which believes in reincarnation) is a residual religion left over from the previous world. In any case, I suspect (but cannot prove) that the Hindus were onto something.

The Christian, however, was absolutely certain that reincarnation was impossible. No ifs, ands, or buts. Christianity does not allow for this view. He categorically denied even the possibility that reincarnation could exist.

To me, such a firm position reflects the deeper arrogance underlying so many Christian views. How on earth can he be so certain? He cannot be. For humans, whether or not we are reincarnated is ultimately unknowable.

This is the Christian mistake: to claim knowledge of the unknowable.

I asked him if he remembered what it was like, you know, before he was born. Exactly. No one does. That, I said, was probably what it was going to be like after death. The soul might be eternal, but for your mind it’s probably going to be lights out.

Is not the past the best predictor of the future?

Is not your pre-birth status the best predictor of your post-death status?

Another example of Christian arrogance is Heaven and Hell. Like reincarnation, the existence of either Heaven or Hell is ultimately unknowable at the human level, despite what is written in the Illuminati scriptures.

I can suspect, or imagine, that there might be a Heaven and Hell. If there is, I’m fairly certain that one’s soul is separated from one’s identity, from one’s ego. The soul and the ego are probably disambiguated after death.

I asked the Christian if, upon entering Heaven, would he remember his name? Or his Social Security number? Or passport number? He was only stumped temporarily, because Christians have a ready answer for absolutely everything. He said yes.

So now I’m thinking, and this is directed to all you Christians out there: If you think that you retain knowledge of your Social Security number in Heaven, then you would also know who is among you and who is not.

You would be aware of who among your dear family and friends are with you in Heaven and, more crucially, who are not (those who are in Hell).

So if you continue to enjoy Heaven while a family member is in Hell, well, that would simply make you an asshole.

Being human means that we don’t get to know the unknowable.

Religion allows people to temporarily fool themselves into thinking that they do.

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