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One of the few things, which connects us all is the fact that we ware all going to die. Sooner or later in one way or the other our life will expire. Therefor more or less since the dawn of Homo sapiens we, the meeting point of falling angel and rising ape, concerned ourselves with speculations of what happens with grandpa, when he’s eaten by the wolves. The variety of afterlifes are as varied as human fantasy.

From dining in Walhalla through getting your heart weight against the Feather of Maat to the heavenly Paradise, they all seem to have one thing in common. They are as entertaining as they are unlikely. They seem to have in my opinion to major uses. First they are to explain one of mankind’s greatest mysteries and second they generate hope. But in the last 2000 years our general unease, if not fear, was ruthlessly used to suppress, torment and exploit the believers. Therefor the uncertainty of what happens after death ist the greatest weapon in the hand of religious leader everywhere every time.

But what are we, the rational thinking with a free mind, supposed to do? Hope and a nice prospect is a very calming and reassuring thing to have. And even for the strongest characters is hard to live without it.

Just as many other small epiphanies the one about death came to me during university. My personal solution for the stated problem is the following: Rotting in the earth about six feet under alluvial soil may seem a depressing thought at first sight, but it is far from it.Your body becomes an energy source for billions and billions of creatures from minute bacteria to small rodents, which in their turn feed billions of animals of every form and size in due time.

With our death we reenter the circle of life. And absolutely nothing is lost. Every single one of the atoms, that composed our being finds a new place in molecular structures of different beings or substances. If you want to interpret this spiritually we are reborn in billions of form at once and keep on being reborn throughout the existence of the universe.

I find this extremely comforting since the exchange of atoms with the universe in general and our environment in particular happens not only after our death but throughout our whole life. We are not lost or cease to exist when our body stops working. So why bother with controlling myths of any kind when the reality ist so wonderful?

 

The Third 5

– On the funeral of William The Conqueror his body broke in two, when they tried to put him in a coffin to short for him, releasing the foulest stench upon English and Norman Nobility.

 

– The old London Bridge was so packed with shops and houses, that crossing the Thames by boat was considerably faster.

 

– In medieval and early modern England only a few witches were actually executed and even more rarely burned, but hanged.

 

– It is best to keep open wounds covered and moist while cleaning it regularly. Letting it breath in open air is an old wife’s tale and not a good idea.

 

– A cup of coffee got more caffeine than a cup of tea, while  a pound of coffee got less caffeine than a pound of tea.

During my first or second semester at university one of my friends told me about a guy he met at a camp. This guy claimed to be a serious believer in Thor. Now there are many people around with trinkets based on this old Scandinavian god especially in connection with  types of music, but serious believers are quiet rare, at least in my experience. My first reaction – and to be honest my second and third as well – were of amusement mixed with pity.  But lately I came to think, that believing in Thor is just as logical as believing in the christian god.

Being brought up in the christian Occident with a euro-centric worldview and as a friend of progress I assumed that our society improved let’s say during the past 4000 years. Seeing that monotheistic religions played a major part in european history at least since Constantine the Great and that since then in all modern and powerful societies monotheism was standard you can understand my at least not entirely childish error. I connect polytheistic religions with ancient, if not primitive cultures.

But of course this can not possibly be the case. An obvious argument against my old assumption is simply Japan. A modern state which by all means can not be called monotheistic with Shinto and Buddhism as the major religions. So we can safely establish, that mono- or polytheism has no undeniable connection with a societies state of modernism. But nevertheless the question remains. Can a religion be outdated or old-fashioned? Seeing how many believe-systems have perished over the millenia just to be replaced by a new one, is it not nearby to see a similarity as to how evolution works? That religions evolve from each other and are constantly under the evolutionary struggle of the survival of the fittest?

Well I’m amused to say, I don’t think they do. Every student of european archaeology will come across the name Oskar Montelius. Montelius was a Danish  curator and director in a prehistoric museum and developed through his work a method of putting artefact of the same class in a relative chronological order. His method was based and heavily influenced by Darwin’s work who was active around the same time. I will not explain the method since you can easily read about it in the net. But my point is, that he along with many others of the same or different scientific fields tried to establish varying theories about a cultural evolution. About the idea of a constantly improving human society under strict Darwinistic rules.

As far as I know all of these ideas could be proven and the common opinion of both Archaeologists and Anthropologists is, that the rules of evolution can not be applied on the development of human society and civilisation. As a result of this conclusion I realised during these last years at university, that of course believing in Thor is not evolutionary outdated, but simply another colourful and most unlikely view of how the universe is run and who does the running.

The Second 5

– There are 11 North/South Poles.

 

– Technically the second World War ended 1990, since Germany officially did not exist untill then.

 

– You were at least twice as likely to die in Florence Nightingale’s lazarette than in any rough field hospital in the Crimea at the same time due to  cross infections. All her good work was done afterwords. From her bed, where she stayed for over 20 years.

 

– The first rubber boots were invented in the south-american jungle by the natives. They simply stood in buckets of caoutchouc to cover their legs and waited till it dried.

 

– Water softens beard stubble far better than shaving cream.

It’s one of those things theists ask me: If I don’t believe in a God or an Afterlife, if there is no higher purpose, might I not just as well die and save the hassle? Why do I bother living at all? What difference would it make if you’d die today rather than in 50 years?

Well, nobody has asked me this personally so far, but inspired by the start of the counterapologetics 101 series at Just A Little Common Sense:

http://humanizzm.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/why-i-bother-living/#more-905

I will start to hijack these questions for a little though digestion of my own. So let’s start with my personal self-centered view of the whole thing, and later try a more general approach.

I can more or less boil the whole question down to: “Do I need God to want to be alive?” Well… I do not really. I have quiet a hard time seriously denying  any deity or afterlife or even fairy magic, since I am very much not all-knowing and I have yet to look into every part of the universe and all different dimensions with my magic-detecting-supergoogles. So let’s say I’m open to the possibly, but I don’t really give a flying toss about it. What I need and what mainly is why I bother to live at all is the endless wonders life provides. And the fantastic thing is, these wonders are not simply there to amaze us or humble us or entertain us, but they have a vital part in the proper running of the universe.

For example: When you send light trough different kinds of material and/or expose it to different levels of gravity you can slow it down! Isn’t that amazing? It is quiet possible to slow it down to about 32 mph! Just imagine the sight of sluggishly crawling light.

A life and a universe filled with countless small and little wonders to explore is so much worth living in, that I hardly have time to think about any kind of afterlife. And as a matter of  fact I don’t really care if all this came from a god or came into existence by itself, since I am just grateful it is there. Not grateful to anyone. Just grateful

The First 5

For your enrichment and entertainment and overall to brighten your afternoon, I will start to write five little factoids from my growing collection. I hope you find them as interesting as I did:

– The density of Saturn is so low that, if you would throw it into a bathtub full of water, it would float like a bar of soap

– After the drop of the Hiroshima Bomb the japanese emperor said in his radio address: “the war is developing not necessarily in our advantage.”

– You don’t lose more body heat via your head, than for example your arm. In fact it is less.

– There is no language in the world, that has more words than the english

– It was popular believe in 17th to 18th century france that wearing boots while having sex would improve the chances of getting a boy, where the ancient Greek believed facing north would do the trick.

 

Since people continue to walk slowly in front of me while walking in the middle of a small pavement or zick-zacking from side to side or block my way in and out of the subway or walk with four friends side by side I will start to staple entertaining articles to the back of theirs heads, so I have at least something to read while being frustrated trotting behind them trying to hold myself back from throwing them in front of the next bus.

As an alternative to a stapler you can also use a bit of string or ducktape. Or if you have a nice steady hand and some time on you why not shave an amusing statement in their hair with an electric razor.

So I start this as a campaign against throwing people in front of busses for the greater good and avoidance of bloody stains on our streets.