Life pales in the face of eternity
When you try to mentally stand back and objectively look at the whole of the human race, some things seem fascinating and perhaps contradictory. The whole concept of religion tops the list for me. It seems every people group on the planet has some sense that there is a dimension of existence that is not visible and that somehow transcends our physical senses. Beyond touch, seeing and hearing is something that stirs fear, awe, anticipation and curiosity. Of course there are the extremes that run from total denial on one end to suicidal groups trying to join spaceships on the other. There are those who insist that there is no absolute truth, except of course the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth.Almost without exception, there is the feeling (or conviction) that there is some eternal prospect for this mortal life. Some say it is a reincarnation into whatever you deserve over and over. There is the concept of blending into some overriding essence of good or evil. Some believe that the next step is to become a god and do your own creating. The options are varied and multiple. There are those that try to blend it all and claim that all paths lead to the same god. There it is again: “god,” but this perceived “god” ranges from loving, to rewarding, to punitive, dictatorial or neutral and uninvolved.All in all, there is the overriding sense or expectation that this mortal life is just a step in some eternal program. The concept of eternity is really hard to grasp, but as you ponder it, it becomes evident that this mortal life is just a blip on the screen, and you personally are just a blip on the blip. The practice of a religion does have benefits in this life in most cases, excepting of course, the suicidal and self-destructive practices. There is the sense of order and belonging and stability that a ritualistic practice brings. There is also the nagging, haunting, and persistent feeling that there is an eternity ahead.It has been said that preconceived ideas are the greatest block to truth. Religious people worldwide are basing their practice of religion on great masses of preconceived ideas. These ideas are acquired from parents, peers or other loved and respected people and very rarely examined, studied and tested. I am convinced that the search for truth is not only legitimate but an intelligent, wise and important pursuit. I do not fear people or ideas in the legitimate pursuit of truth. I love people who are emotionally sensitive and responsive, but something as fundamentally critical as eternity needs to be challenged on all levels. This includes historical, logical, experientially, emotionally and every other legitimate test.Short of some great leap of illogic, you cannot blend everyone’s concept of eternity. Since these concepts are so diverse, it follows that either they are all wrong or there is only one right answer. Everything we do here in this life pales into insignificance in the face of eternity. You can flunk every test in this life, you can live in squalor or luxury, be a king or pauper but if there is an eternity, if there is a heaven and hell and you get it wrong, there might just be hell to pay. Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.
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