Afterlife: Picking Up the Pieces After Loss of Belief

Afterlife: Picking Up the Pieces After Loss of Belief January 24, 2021

Hi and welcome back! Lately, we’ve been talking about a false belief I discarded relatively recently: the last of my hope that something of us survives after death somehow in an afterlife. Suddenly, this topic becomes sort of topical, too! Today, let me show you the story of Robert Bigelow’s new contest about life after death — and what can fill the space left behind in a heart when a false belief finally gets cast out of it.

piggy bank of the afterlife
(Roman Synkevych.)

The Fate of All Flesh.

Recently, I saw a news story about Robert Bigelow. He’s a wealthy Las Vegas guy who’s spent literal millions investigating various conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.

None of those millions has ever produced any credible evidence for anything supernatural. We know that because, well, we still don’t have any. If he’d ever found any, real scientists would have noticed. It would stop being some strange fringe notion that only pseudoscience consumers believe. It’d be more like how germ theory and the theory of evolution went from being weird new ideas to a big part of how doctors fight diseases and injuries today.

Now, after a long history of wasting vast sums of money on wackadoodlery, Robert Bigelow has put out a contest!

It’s super-easy. Contestants just submit essays proving that life exists after death. The winner takes home USD$500k for first prize. There’ll be a 2nd and 3rd place too, for a combined almost-million-dollar jackpot.

Here’s the contest’s official site. Of course, not every normie can enter. Contestants must fill out an application first and be accepted. I’m sure their qualification process is completely rigorous, even if their application link doesn’t work yet (as of this writing). But still, it’ll be interesting to see what claptrap essays they finally decide contain their big answer.

You know what this story said to me?

It said that humans are so nervous about death that some of us are willing to fling a whole lot of good money at any conjobs who can promise to get us solid answers about the undiscovered country, the afterlife.

PROOF YES PROOF of the Afterlife.

This whole setup sounds similar to the setup for a 2015 TV series called Proof. I watched the first episode and almost reviewed it a few years ago, when this same topic was greatly on my mind. (As I mentioned yesterday, around 2015 I was writing a lot of stories about the topic of life after death.)

Proof concerns a billionaire who hires a reputable doctor to investigate reincarnation, near-death experiences (NDEs), and ghosts. Because he’s facing his own incoming death from cancer, this fictional billionaire wants evidence of an afterlife. He thinks it’ll comfort him as he dies.

That billionaire character sounds almost exactly like Robert Bigelow, doesn’t he? Dude’s old and rich and wackadoodle, I mean. I wonder if he’s feeling his mortality creep ever-closer in similar fashion?

That said, I wonder even more if anybody will tell Bigelow the actual, factual truth in a way he can accept:

Yes, there is absolutely life after death. Absolutely there is. There’s life before each of us is born, and there’s life after we all die.

What makes us “us,” however, isn’t part of the picture for very long. There’s no “afterlife” for us in that sense.

That’s exactly why our time here is precious and valuable.

The Space Taken Up By Lies.

Every one of us gets an allotment of time. That allotment represents the sum total of seconds, minutes, and hours we’ll spend as the recognizable pattern that is our “me.” When that allotment gets spent, then we get no more at all. And our pattern ends.

When we’re focused on preparing for an afterlife, everything we do will fall to dust. It’s worse than wasted time. It’s pointlessly wasted time. For most of us, it’s not enjoyably spent at all. Nor does this preparation markedly improve any aspect of our lives — now or in the future.

It might feel good sometimes in the moment to those doing it, but it seems like all they’re doing is making themselves more afraid of their eventual deaths — and less capable of accepting their futures.

I’d like to recommend that instead of preparing for a nonexistent afterlife, such people get their feel-good moments in square dancing or something.

Perhaps worst of all, preparation for the afterlife keeps us from spending time on stuff we do enjoy, on stuff that does improve some aspect of our lives. Or, dare I say, on coming to grips with the last journey we will ever take as “me.”

Even spending the day in bed, playing vidya, or getting higher than a kite is better than wasting it on “storing up for yourself treasures in heaven.”

The Nonexistent Piggy Bank.

It’s like we found a million dollars, when we know we’ll never get more money, ever, not in all the rest of our days. Holding this precious cash in our hands, how will we portion it out when we know there’ll never again be more? What will we purchase?

If someone knows there’ll never be more money, ever, then they can plan ahead. They can make sure they and their families have food and essentials, then plan for luxuries of all kinds and improvements to their lives (like education, reliable transportation, etc). Sure, they’ll spend some money on what others might consider frivolous, but all work and no play, as they say.

Well, a lot of folks blow their allotment of metaphorical cash by mail-ordering a million-dollar piggy bank from a fly-by-night company that has never once actually delivered any of its advertised products to any customer who has ever ordered from them.

Even the silliest frivolities are better than that. Imagine being one of those customers, insisting loudly up and down that just the promise of an invisible piggy bank makes the expenditure totally worthwhile!

Finding Room for Growth.

When one has a kabillion trillion zillion dollars, a mere million might look inconsequential. Similarly, when one has a kabillion trillion zillion years in store, a human lifetime is not even a blip on the radar. Such a tiny little span doesn’t even matter, except insofar as someone might individually think so if they lack perspective.

Christians had to find a way to make a short human lifetime significant by making people’s eternity of years hinge utterly upon a few decisions made while we wore meat suits while running around on a tiny spinning rock in a disreputable part of an unremarkable galaxy. The idea is absurd in its entirety; any god who’d actually care about anything humans thought, in the scope of eternity, would be a monster.

But like every god ever created, this one reflects the same flaws of perception and perspective of his followers.

Once we realize that the eternity of years won’t happen, suddenly that short human lifespan telescopes into vast importance.

That lifespan is all we will ever get. Nothing credible has ever suggested otherwise.

That means that it’s of infinite importance that we make the most of what we do have. The moment we awaken from the fever-dreams of religion, we’ve still got some time to make our years on this good dark earth matter.

I Wondered As I Wandered.

Not long ago, I was looking over some old photos of a forested park Mr. Captain and I visited some years ago.

So much life was contained in these photos. Animals, birds, and endless green things: trees, grass, even a few bright pink flowers. And a mountain creek flowed through it all, crisp and clear and very very cold.

I’m hardly the only person who’s ever felt a sort of oneness with such surroundings. I’ve heard this feeling called eutierria. A lot of people have felt it. At such moments, it feels like you’re plugged into the whole universe: like the universe gazing back at itself in wonderment.

When I consider the palm of my hand, as well, I can sense every person in my genetic line. When I look at a forest, I know that the atoms in my body may well once have flowed through those of the trees and earth and animals there. Once I die, they will start mingling again — and with considerably more speed than they do now. There’s something very comforting in these thoughts, now more than ever.

So okay, Robert Bigelow, that Las Vegas rich dude, wants evidence of an afterlife, of life after death. I say to him and those like him:

Look around yourself. There’s plenty of life after death. What makes you “you” won’t be part of it, and that’s okay. The atoms that brush past all of us all the time, joining and leaving our bodies every day, may well once have been part of another person’s “you.”

Like It or Lump It.

Long ago, the atoms that make up “me” burned in stars and exploded in supernovae. By turns, the pattern of “me” is made up of star-stuff that collected into the Solar System, then made planets, and then algae, and then critters, and then humans, and finally, most recently, me. One day, the recognizable pattern of “me” will break apart. Afterward, the atoms that were most recently part of that pattern may well end up in a monument, or the sea, or even someone else many years from now, forming another recognizable pattern for a brief, brief while.

We’re like cosmic Lego that way: for a while we may look like “us,” with bricks added and removed constantly. But then the overall pattern breaks apart again to become part of Hogwarts Castle or a roller coaster.

We can “like it or lump it,” as my grandmother used to say: accept the facts or rage against them. It seems more useful to accept reality.

But people trained from birth to fear that not-being, to look at it with dread, to see life as a mere pit stop on the journey through eternity itself, are busy lumping it as hard as they can.

I hope they learn one day that their golden piggy banks are never coming in the mail.

If anything about this offer were true, we’d have found some support for it by now. Nobody has. So I’d rather live in the facts as we know them now than waste time on this whole afterlife idea just because I fear the end of “me.”

NEXT UP: LSP! Then: A sad reminder that the piggy-bank vendors will always look to protect themselves and their gravy trains over helping the endless victims of their own hypocritical peers. See you tomorrow!

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Last thoughts: Here are some links I found about coming to grips with mortality:

They seem like sound advice.

About Captain Cassidy
Captain Cassidy grew up fervently Catholic, converted to the SBC in her teens, and became a Pentecostal shortly afterward. She even volunteered in church (choir, Sunday School) and married an aspiring preacher! But then--record scratch!--she brought everything to a screeching halt when she deconverted in her mid-20s. That was 25 years ago. Now a comfortable None, she blogs on Roll to Disbelieve about psychology, pop culture, politics, relationships, cats, gaming, and more--and where they all intersect with religion. She lives with an adored and adoring husband named Mr. Captain and a sweet, squawky orange tabby cat named Princess Bother Pretty Toes. At any given time, she's running out of bookcase space. You can read more about the author here.

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