Monday, March 30, 2009

Dubious Reunions

Bizarro is brought to you today by the Miracle Messiah Tree of Jacksonville, Florida.

When I was a tiny, oppressed, terrified Catholic School boy I began wondering about the afterlife and its myriad possibilities. Like most children of religious families, my own indoctrination was confusing: on the the one hand we were told that only our "soul" goes to heaven and our earthly body returns to dust, but all of the drawings we were asked to color in Sunday School, paintings in the Vatican, and stained glass windows in the church had people who looked like they did in life.

Then there is Hell, where everyone is all tortured and burning for eternity while their skin melts and peels and falls off, only to melt and peel and fall off again every second of every day for eternity. The burning and melting isn't enough pain for someone raised in the wrong culture (non-Christian), of course, so hideous creatures jab them with pointy sticks, too. What good would any of that deliciously sadistic torment be if you didn't have your body? Ever try to set a soul on fire and poke it with a stick? Good luck.

And if you do spend eternity with your body, wouldn't it be better to die young? Who wants to be bald, fat, tired and achy for eternity? I'd much rather have the body I had at 25. Listening to my grandparents complain about their health in their golden years led me and a handful of my more philosophical schoolmates to form a suicide cult in the second grade. We would have pulled it off, too, until one of us with a big brother told us how cool pubic hair was and we all decided to wait until at least then.

If, however, we are without our bodies and are pure "soul," how will we recognize each other? When people have the fabled "near death experience" that is becoming so popular these days, they always report having seen their dead relatives. (Which would be enough to scare me back to life, too.) Are these avatars that the "souls" have conjured up so you'll recognize them, or is Nana stuck with that deflated parade-balloon body and thin hair that she had when she died? Doesn't sound like there is much bliss in her eternity. I'm sure she'd much rather be the babe that attracted Gramps when he returned from WWII.

The nicest thing about this game is that you can change the rules as you go, make it whatever you want. It is comforting to believe you're going to a better place when you die and there are as of yet no images or reports from the other side, so make it what you want it to be.

Personally, I'm hoping for oblivion, the same experience I had before I was born. I get bored easily and can't imagine doing anything for eternity. As Mark Twain supposedly said when asked how he could face eternity as an atheist, "I was dead for billions of years before I was born and it didn't inconvenience me in the least."

41 comments:

Jeremy said...

Dan,

You ask some great questions here, and I regret that it sounds like they were never answered correctly.

But, then you told me a few weeks ago that you studied various religions, so I would have hoped you were familiar with what the Bible says about death and the afterlife. This cartoon shows a lot of ignorance.

I want to take this opportunity to share with you what I have learned from some Bible studies I found very useful:

Is The Devil In Charge Of Hell?

and

Are The Dead Really Dead?

Here is a good Q/A from one of them:

2. When will sinners be cast into hellfire?

"So shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire." Matthew 13:40-42.

"The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:48.

Answer: Sinners will be cast into hellfire at the great judgment day at the end of the world--not when they die. God would not punish a person in fire until his case was tried and decided in court at the end of the world. Nor would God burn a murderer who died 5,000 years ago 5,000 years longer than one who dies and deserves punishment for the same sin today.

3. Where are sinners (who have died) now?

"The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." John 5:28, 29.

"The wicked is reserved to the day of destruction." "Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb." Job 21:30, 32.

Answer: The Bible is specific. Both the wicked and the righteous who have died are in their graves "sleeping" until the resurrection day.

Pagani said...

Yeah, I used to believe all of that stuff too. Just last night, I was feeling rather sad, thinking of all the years of my life I wasted on religion.

Still, some people can't live without it - which in its own odd circular way is why beliefs exist.

Look at it this way, let's just start with the idea that there is no god, no afterlife and the world just exists. Why not? If you say God "just exists" and wasn't made then there is no need to have someone make the world, either. If God can be forever then so can the universe.

Okay, so try absorbing that for a few minutes. How does it make you feel? Uncomfortable? Scared? Hopeless? Does it make it sound like it's all really meaningless and pointless? ..Yep, and that's why you have religion; so you don't have to feel that way.

I love this cartoon because it addresses some of the things that made me start to question my faith. There are a million OTHER things - and bigger ones too - but this is a place to start.

And of course Christians have had two thousand years to figure out new circular arguments to try to cover their collective rear ends; arguments that would be ridiculed by the same Christians if they were being used to try to justify some OTHER religion.

I used to be angry that those people lied to me all those years ..and that I was dumb enough to believe them. Now I really don't care if people have invisible friends to make them feel better as long as they leave ME alone.

Good job, Dan! :)

Jeremy said...

Pagani,

Your argument makes no sense, can you try elaborating more on your proof that there is no God? Or maybe your brain is really just that simple, I don't know.

Karl said...

Why does a cartoonist’s blog suddenly become the debating forum for modern religion? Is it penned somewhere in the design of God’s greater plan? I somehow doubt it.

The problem of discussing religion here is twofold.

First, whenever we talk religion and beliefs, someone will get offended, annoyed, insulted along with hurt feelings etc. This does not make the experience a happy one, and we all need some laughter in our miserable life (trust me). Organized religion is a serious subject and people will believe it is the only thing that can save mankind. That is ridiculous. The truth is; the only thing than can save man with all his faults is man, himself; the creator of this misery. Unfortunately he is, either too dumb, arrogant or lazy to do so.

Secondly, none of us truly knows what happens after death. The only thing we have are our beliefs (invented by man) and fears of what will become of us and our loved ones when we die. Interestingly, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between those who believe in god and those who disbelieve. People who say: “There is no god!” are also unsure, so they naturally develop a heavy sense of skepticism and perhaps a belief that nothing else exists. Truth again is; none of us really knows for sure what awaits, if anything, after we’re gone.

If anything is important to you in life, then finding out what truth is, should be on the top of that list. I doubt very much this is the best place to discuss these matters, though.

And I want to add one more comment that Dan’s cartoon made me think about, being; who retains ownership of all those donated organs when we go to heaven. (Excuse my ignorance Jeremy, it’s only a joke).

Iseedto is dead said...

Dan, does this unpurpose, he knows Jeremy is a faithful reader and he knows that jeremy will answer religion related. Therefore the blogfest begins and Dan sits back and fells important. Personally id rather hear about fido's pepere's anus than Dan crapping on christianity bullshit.

Jeremy said...

Karl,

I like your thoughtfulness, but I reject your statement that no one knows what happens when we die and that man invented God.

I fully admit that this is a matter of core beliefs and not something that can be fully proved or disproved.

I happen to believe that Moses really did talk to God on Mt. Sinai and really did write down the first 5 books of the Bible as given to him. I believe that the Jewish Levites transcribed the Bible with at least 95% accuracy through the ages and added the revelations from his Prophets. I believe Jesus (Yeshua as he was called) was the Son of God and his apostles wrote down as much as they could about what they learned from his visit.

That book is what we now call The Bible. It describes many of the matters humans have questions about. It has a LOT of answers.

Dean said...

The great thing about religion is that you can believe whatever you want. If you disagree with one you can just switch to another. The biggest turn off for me to christianity is those who profess to be christians, but do not display any of the attributes you might find in jesus. They seem to think that you cant be a good person unless you are christian. True story from my life, I had to get a new car, went to a car lot my friend, who is christian, recommended. Found a car I liked, so I talked to the salesman. After the test drive, I offered, as is typical, to pay 1000 less than the marked price. He asked me if I was christian, I said no. He replied, I'm sorry, I can't go lower than the price on the windshield. I didn't take it, when I next talked to my friend, he said that was odd, he told the guy he was christian, got a lower price, and the same salesman threw in some extra things. That is just one exapmle that leaves a bad taste of "christians" in my mouth. To me christians are like homosexuals, I'm fine with what you believe and how you act, we can be friends, just leave me out of it.

Robert Finis said...

The cartoon was entertaining.
Religion should be discussed, but it's boring
Robert M. Pirsig claims boredom is an essential component to spiritual enlightenment. I agree.
Nice Twain quote.
Bye.

Anonymous said...

This religion crap is horse -shit.

When we die there is nothing.

Anonymous said...

Anybody who posts anymore about religion on here is a jerk.
A no life jerk-off.
I'm sick of this. I come here to read cartoons and then get subjected to pure 100 percent nonsense.

ISEEDTO IS DEAD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anonymous is carl and dean said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
doug nicodemus said...

bible smible what a bunch of oral history gone a rye (yess yes awry) as for the cartoon..what about exwives and pets? are they there too? and do i get along with my exs?

Butslam said...

Hey doug can dan turn that into a bizarro or will you keep the genius all to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Doug Nicodemus is anonymous. look again iseedto

Karl said...

Jeremy,

That’s exactly my point. Your “core beliefs” are still beliefs, no matter how holy you regard them. You said they can neither be proved or disproved, which is exactly what I am saying. What value do they hold if they only divide people; your beliefs and their beliefs? Your religion and their religion, each competing for dominance, you must see this. And this is exactly what has been happening in the world for thousands of years and what has contributed to the mess we are now in.

Each of us has a responsibility (I feel) to find out what is true and what is not. It might not always be easy, because you can not start with preconceived ideas, including beliefs.
However, once you begin discussing truth, you will find it isn’t necessary to argue with each other, because truth doesn’t need to be defended.

PIRARO said...

@iseedto is dead...
I don't aim any of my blogs at a specific reader. There are thousands each day. That would be silly.

@ Jeremy...
Your Bible points are well taken, but if one does not believe the Bible was written by "God", it is not instructive. Like all aspects of spirituality, without faith in it in the first place there is no substance to the talk.

Regarding Pagani's points, a common reason for belief in god is that "all of this" had to come from somewhere. But if that is true, then "god" had to come from somewhere. If god can come from nowhere, then so can everything else. It is simple logic.

You might say that god is the only thing that can just always "be" and that everything else has to have been created but that again is a matter of faith, there is no logic in it.

I'd like to say that it doesn't matter to me what other people believe, but the truth is that it matters to all of us. More death, torture, discrimination, injustice, war and misery of all kinds has been wrought in the name of religious beliefs than any other single cause BY FAR. Atheists do not habitually become suicide bombers, commit genocide, go on crusades, or deny certain elements of society their rights because they are not "right with god."

Though this blog post was meant to be humorous and is not attempting to convert anyone, I firmly believe religion is a dangerous element of the human psyche that causes people to do terrible things they would not do otherwise.

But it is human nature and we are stuck with it.

BUTSEX IS FUN said...

ill tell you want, it never surprises me but piraro always has great answers. I love the iseedto is dead response. LOL

Anonymous said...
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dmbaer said...

To all those too busy to click on the picture links (yeah ... that's normally me as well), do *not* fail to check out the image provided for "stained glass windows". A brilliant find, Dan!

Jeremy said...

Dan,

Thank you for the reply.

Saying God came from nowhere is to think on a very small scale. God created time and space. He exists beyond our realm of comprehension. He is the origin for everything we know and see. Without him, we would not be here.

I can tell you something that cannot originate from itself, is information. Information always has a sender. This is a basic law of nature.

Your statement about atheists not hurting other people is ridiculous. We are all human beings who sin against each other. Trying to blame that on religion is a logical fallacy. Many horrible things happened in communist Russia under an atheistic rule.

Just because people blame someone like God does not make it true. That's like the en masse slaughter of dogs and cats during the black plague. (It turned out to be the fleas living on rats).

Inga Huff said...

So like, I've always wondered what happens if you were murdered by a relative who repents on his/her death bed. Do you meet in heaven? How am I supposed to forgive you for killing me? Especially if you tortured me? I don't get how that is supposed to all work itself out. Even if you did kill me while I was young and beautiful.

Dean said...

Jeremy, I admire your faith, and honestly, if it makes you happy, that is what is important, and I can understand that it makes you so happy you want to share it with others. For myself, I am perfectly happy, and not miserable with what I believe. At any rate, when I was christian, I pondered, and asked, where did god come from? Who is gods god? Eternity? I was told not to waste my time asking questions that couldn't be answered. Where would we be if we be if nobody asked questions we didn't know the answer to? No Galileo, no Newton, no Aristotle, no Darwin no technology. I'm a curious guy, when I did find answers to questions that made since, I felt much like Laplace when asked where god fit into his theories, "I have no need for god." Christians challenge atheists/agnostics to read the bible for answers, but themselves are unwilling to read even The Origin of Species. I suspect that we share similar reasons why we don't read each others materials, "I'm happy with what I have." Finally, I respect a person who TRULY believes what they believe in, if I agree with it or not. I also respect people who stand up for what they believe, even if I don't agree with it. I dare say that the christians I have a problem with are those who want to say they are christian, but are unwilling to actually incorporate christianity into their lives further than being baptized and saying "I'm christian." So Jeremy, I don't agree with you, but I respect you, and having someones respect is much better than having them agree with you. Dan also has my utmost respect.

Anonymous said...

Dan,

You forgot foreskin. "...your tonsils, appendix, prostate and FORESKIN are waiting..."

Or perhaps the character in the cartoon is uncircumcised. One can't tell.

Waldo said...

In a nutshell... I believe religion is like a security blanket and I like mine.

But to the religious chatter about it in the work place etc... I know from past experiences that when I visit the someone's office and I see religious memorabilia decorating the walls and/or desks, I know that they will be the first person to try and screw me over. (And that goes double if they have a Promise Keepers plaque) Do they understand that perfect attendance does not automatically guarantee entrance past pearly gates?

Waldo said...

Also... the easiest place to get laid as a teenager was at church camp. (forgot that one)

GuateVegan said...

LOL It's hilarious how Jeremy acts like his believes are true and it's not just his personal delirious opinion.

Thanks for the post Dan, "oppressed Catholic child" that was meeee!!!!!!!

Thanks to knowledge that I opened my eyes and realized that I'd rather do good because it comes out of my heart, not because I want a reward in the end :D.

Anonymous said...

Nicely put GuateVegan, I feel the same, except for me it was "oppressed mormon"

Jezzka said...

the stained glass window link was INDEED a hoot. ha! hypocrisy at its worst and finest!

Robert Finis said...

Great, something that bothers me enough that I can't ignore it. I hate when that happens:
"I can tell you something that cannot originate from itself, is information. Information always has a sender. This is a basic law of nature."
Thermodynamic entropy and Information Entropy should be interesting reading. Effectively, the information content of the universe is constantly increasing. Equivalently, the disorder of the universe is constantly increasing.
Humans are more ordered than a pile of molecules, and thus actually contain less information because of the fact that we fit a general mold.
Or, to explain another way, our DNA pretty much contains all the information to construct our bodies. The information contained in a tiny percentage of a single cell contains all the information about our shape and form. Consider for a moment that means, from an information standpoint, the entirety of your body, apart from the nucleus of that single cell, is superfluous.
What we have gained in having form, we have lost in information.

Jeremy said...

Whats even more hilarious is that you don't believe the Bible.

"I'll be laughing my head off, when you're burning in hell" as the great Weird Al put it.

I find it interesting that no one else is willing to put their beliefs on the line here. What do you believe? That 2 or more molecules magically came together in a special way sometime around 2 or 3 billion year ago? That has to be taken as blind faith as well since they has never been observed and can't be proven. We all have the take things on blind faith when it comes to our origins.

By the way, the Catholic church teaches that you have to do good works to get into heaven, but Jesus clearly stated that the only things you need to do is have faith and believe in him. So its no wonder you guys are so twisted.

Anonymous said...

"'I'll be laughing...'"
Jeremy, do you enjoy being a member of an organization that tortures people?
Religion is nothing more than an adolescent philosophy.

Jeremy said...

Just because I am a citizen of the United States doesn't make me a member particularly. I certainly don't like that the U.S. has tortured people. That's why I voted for Barack Obama.

Yet Another Steve said...

WALDO's most excellent "security blanket" comment made me crazed as I tried to remember a marvelous cartoon I'd seen, where St. Peter is admonishing a new arrival at the Pearly Gates: "You were a believer, yes. But you skipped the not-being-a-jerk-about-it part." So I finally found the cartoon, and wouldn't you know, it was -- one of Dan's. Of course.

Penny said...

Jeremy, dude:

"'I'll be laughing my head off, when you're burning in hell' as the great Weird Al put it."

I couldn't be cringing any harder if I tried. I think your heart is in the right place, but you're letting emotions get the better of you. This is not worthy of the faith you proclaim to hold.

I'm just sayin'.

Peace from a fellow Christian,
Penny

gare-gare said...

So you butcher up all the comments sections with deletions in the name of this being a "family friendly" blog, but posts from a blogger named "BUTSEX IS FUN" is totally cool? Looks like airtight logic you've got there, Dan.

Fran said...

Wow. Look at all the intellectual weaklings jumping all over Jeremy's back. It is far easier to attack someone's beliefs than defend your own.

Patricia Robinett said...

you left out 'foreskin'.

Jeremy said...

Penny,

You are right, I did. It was mostly a joke, which is why I referenced Weird Al in there, since he is such a well know joker. But I definitely wanted some bite in it because it is true and its important for them to know it.

Atheism is such an irrational world view though and it is hard to defend> Which is why I think no one on here can really phrase a counter-argument, just attack God as being pretend and created by humans to scare other humans.

How can you say there is no all-knowing God unless you are all-knowing yourself? Humans are most certainly not.

thomas4143 said...

Jeremy - good to know I am not the only person who has faith in Christian spirituality here. I have always atheist arguments to be weak and misleading, and for some reason a lot of people are satisfied by them - lazy thinking in my opinion. Thanks for having the courage to speak up and declare your faith to an inhospitable public.

Joshthecartoonguy said...

Kudos to Jeremy. Happy Easter.

"He is risen. He is risen indeed."