God’s Science – Title Page & Intro Again

The Day When Judgement Arrives;

The Destruction of Heaven, The Resurrection of God to Earth

Vol. 7:

BACK: or, The Resurrection of God on Earth

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

A Literal Understanding of

Ezekiel’s Bones Coming Together –

Vs.

The Real, Biblical Immortality:

 

Our “Seed” and “Name” – Our Genes

And Cultural Memory – Live On;

“On Earth, as in Heaven”

 

 

 

[CONTENT NOTES to Oct. 2011 edition: The following, like all our books, is an Author’s Rough Draft; this part of our volume revised by the author, Oct. 12, 2011 to END p. 234. Containing: Ch. 1 Lazarus; Ch. 2 Jesus; Ch. 3 Ezekiel’s Bones Vs. “Name” and “Seed”; Ch. 4 DNA; Ch. 5 Name; Ch. 6 Plato’s Heaven; Ch 7 Persephone; Ch. 8 The Book; Literary Immortality END p. 197? Addenda: Copies, Heaven, Paul, to END p. 235]

 

 

“There is a sense in which mankind naturally partakes of immortality, a prize our nature makes desirable to all of us in its every form; for to win renown and not lie in our graves without a name is a desire of this. Thus the race of man is times’ equal twin and companion, bound up with him in a union never to be broken, and the manner of their immortality is in this wise: by succession of generations the race abides one and same, partaking in immortality through procreation.” (Plato, Laws 4.721.c, In Plato, Collected Dialogues, Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, ed, Princeton University Press, 1961; fourteenth printing, Nov. 1989. Italics, mine).

 

“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (Jol. 2.28; Acts 2.17).

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Biblical and Other Quotes

Relating to Immortality

 

 

 

“‘I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed [“descendants”] all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.’ After that Abraham returned to his attendants….” (Gen. 22.17-18; italics, mine).

 

“Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, The LORD will surely separate me from his people’; ….. I will given them an everlasting name” (Isa. 56.5 RSV & henceforth).

 

“So shall your seed and your name remain” (Isa. 66.22 KJE).

 

“For as the new heaven and the new earth which I will make shall remain before me, says the LORD; so shall your descendants and your name remain” (Isa. 66.22 RSV).

 

“I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your descendants also can be counted” (Gen. 13.16).

 

. . .

 

“…What is more rich than Wisdom, who produces all things?” (Wis. Sol. 8.5). “For her sake I should have immortality and leave to those after me an everlasting memory.” (Wis. Sol. 8.13). “Thinking thus within myself, and reflecting in my heart that there is immortality in kinship with Wisdom … and unfailing riches the works of her hands … I went about seeking to take her for my own (Wis. Sol. 8.18).

 

“…This mortal nature must put on immortality” (1 Corin. 15.53).

 

“Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10.20; from Acts 28.3-6?; italics, mine).

 

. . .

 

“‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son….. Now his elder son was in the field…. And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive…. ‘” (Luke 15.18-32).

 

“This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand …. ” (John 10.6, my transl. from RSV).

 

“For if we have been united with him in a death like his we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that the sinful body might be destroyed…. So that you also must consider yourself dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6.5-11).

 

“Likewise my brethren, you have died to the law though the body of Christ, so that you many belong to another, to him who had been raised from the dead…. But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code, but in the new life of spirit” (Rom. 7.4-6).

 

“Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind” (Phil. 2.2).

 

“Let his mind be in you, that was also in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 2.5 KJE).

 

“… Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature….” (Eph. 4.24).

 

“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…” (Gal. 2.20).

 

“Let what you have heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he has promised us, eternal life” (1 John 2.24-5).

 

“Have this mind among yourselves, which you have in Christ Jesus…. In my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you …. ” (Phil. 2.5 RSV).

 

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life” (John 5.24; Rom. 8.10-12 RSV).

 

“We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who hate a brother or sister are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them” (1 John 3.14-15 NRSV).

 

 

. . .

 

“And the high priest Ananias [“Anan” = “White,” in Hebrew?] – commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to him, ‘God shall strike you, you whitewashed wall…! But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, ‘Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial'” (Acts. 23.2-6 6).

 

“Since, then, we have such a hope … not like Moses….. But we have this treasure in clay jars…. We are afflicted … but not crushed… so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be make visible in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. But just as we have the same spirit of faith … Lord Jesus will raise us … into his presence…. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed…. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clotheed with our heavenly dwelling – if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked…. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee” (2 Corin. 3.12-13-4.7-5.5. Cf. the folk tale, “The Emporer’s New Clothes,” and Solomon on our “hope” living on).

 

. . .

 

“Your words have been stout against me, says the LORD…. You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God…. When they put God to the test they escape.’ ….The LORD heeded and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and thought on his name. ‘They shall be mine said the LORD … and I will spare them…. For behold, the day comes, burning like an oven….” (Mal. 3.13-4.1).

 

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been …; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt…. But you , Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge [some mistranslate “evil,”] shall increase…. He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Dan. 13.1-9).

 

. . .

 

“Which of the patterns had the artificer in view when he made it – the pattern of the unchangeable or of that which is created?… Everyone will see that he must have looked at the eternal…. And having been created in this way, the world has been framed in the likeness of that which is apprehended by reason [“logos”?] and mind and is unchangeable, and must therefore of necessity, if this is admitted, be a copy of something…. Let me tell you then why the creator made this world of generation….” (Plato’s Collected Dialogues, Timaeus 29.a-b-e).

 

“First then, in my judgment, we must make a distinction and ask, What is that which always is and had not becoming, and what is that which is always becoming and never is? That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state, but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is…. The work of the creator, whenever he looks to the unchangeable and fashions the form and nature of his work after an unchangeable pattern, must necessarily be made fair and perfect, but when he looks to the created only and uses a created pattern, it is not fair or perfect. Was the heaven then or the world … always in existence and without beginning, or created….? (Plato, Tim. 27.d-28.b).

 

“All equal objects of sense are desirous of being like it, but are only imperfect copies” (Phaedo 75.b).

 

“Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these” (Heb. 9.23).

 

“And by reason of all these affections, the soul, when encased in a mortal body, now … is at first without intelligence, but when the flood of growth … abates … then … return to their natural form…. And … he attains the fullness and health of the perfect man…. But if he neglected education he walks lame to the end of his life…. (Tim. 44.b-c).

 

“Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1.17).

 

“Not that I am already perfect” (Paul, Bible).

 

“Yet is their hope full of immortality” (Wis. Sol. 3.4, etc.).

 

“He who despises wisdom and instruction is doomed. Vain is their hope, fruitless are their labors” (Wis. 3.11).

 

“‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, “what is written in the law? How do you read?’ … ‘You shall love the LORD your God … and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered right; do this and you will live'” (Luke 10.25-28; Mat. 22.39).

 

. . .

 

“This is the man who is teaching men everywhere against the people and the law and this place; moreover he also brought Greeks into the temple, and he has defiled this holy place” (Acts 21.28).

 

“…Do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature” (St. Paul; Bible, RSV – Revised Standard Edition – 1 Corin. 14.20).

 

“Now the woman was a Greek…. And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘Let the child first be fed ….’ But she answered … ‘even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ And he said to her, ‘For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.'” (Mark. 7.26-29; see other versions; saying Jesus was sent only to the Jews).

 

. . .

 

“Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!” (Job. 22.12-14 KJE).

 

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house…. The place of which thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there… ‘” (1 Kings 8.27-29).

 

“No man has ascended into heaven but he” (John 3.13).

 

“Far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4.10; see OT, n.p).

 

“Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD” (Jer. 23.23).

 

. . .

 

“And … the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the woman, ‘Do not be afraid; for … he has risen” (Mat. 28.4).

 

“Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mat. 28.20).

 

“All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll” (Isa. 34.4).

 

“By the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction…” (2 Peter 3.7 RSV; italics, mine).

 

“Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.” (John 14.18-21).

 

“….Elijah [‘Son of Man’]; taken up to heaven … shall return to prosper the nation for the day of the Lord in judgment…. At the Passover table a place is set for Elijah in case he returns…” (Ox. Comp. 183).

 

“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband..” (Rev. 21.2).

 

. . .

 

“There is immortality in kinship with Wisdom…” (Wisd. Sol. 8.17).

 

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Mark 13.31-32?).

 

“He considered that God was able to rise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Essau…” (Heb. 11.19).

 

“But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth” (1 Tim. 5.6).

 

“dead …1 : deprived of life ; having died 2 a (1) having the appearance of death : DEATHLY …. (2) : lacking power to move feel, or respond : NUMB b : very tired c (1) : incapable of being stirred emotionally or intellectually …” (Websters Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary).

 

“You were dead though the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world…. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else. But God who is rich in mercy … even when we were dead through our trespasses, and us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us….” (Eph. 2.1-7).

 

. . .

 

 

“‘At that time, says the LORD, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its princes, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs; … and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be as dung on the surface of the ground.

 

Death shall be preferred to life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family…. You shall say to them, Thus says the LORD: When men fall, do they not rise again? If one turns away, does he not return…. How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us’? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie… From prophet to priest every one deals falsely…. Every one deceives his neighbor, and no one speaks the truth… Therefore, says the LORD of hosts: ‘Behold, I will refine them and test them….'” (Jer. 8.1-2, 3, 8, 9.5, 9.7).

 

“For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace'” (Jer. 8.11).

 

“The things that I have given them shall pass away from them” (Jer. 8.13).

 

. . .

 

“What would this seed-pecker say?” (My trans.; vs.”babbler” in RSV, Acts 17.18; seed-pecker in Greek?).

 

“I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the barbarians; both to the wise, and the unwise” (Rom. 1.14).

 

“Man’s body is a fleeting thing, but a virtuous name will never be annihilated. Have a care for your name, for it will stand by you better than precious treasures in the thousands; the boon of life is for limited days, but a good name, for days without number” (Sir. 41.11-13)

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Segue

 

 

Is there a real immortality? A real resurrection? Can Jesus himself re-appear on this earth? We will show here that a resurrection – even a resurrection of Jesus himself – is possible. Even in a way consistent with the Bible … and with Science too, at the same time. In effect, the Bible describes … a scientifically-verifiable resurrection. Of a complex nature, that we can describe here at last. As others have described parts of it before.

 

The old holy books like the Bible, are often very complicated, and hard to understand. But based on their understanding of them, our preachers and holy men, have often promised us many amazing, wonderful, spectacular miracles. Many of our preachers’ sermons assured us that they, and their god, could and would do many wonderful things for them and us: that they could walk on water; they could make bread appear out of thin air; they could raise the dead; they could move real actual “mountains.” In many, many millions sermons, delivered to billions of people all over the world, our preachers promised us that: 1) God had already performed all these miracles and more, for believers in the past; that 2) our preachers or even 3) we ourselves, would get these wonders too; and even that 4) if we just followed our preachers, God would give us “all” and “whatever” we “ask.” Including 5) not just “prosperity,” but also even 6) “miracles.” Including … 7) “eternal life,” or “resurrection,” or “immortality”; often in “heaven.” Or in the “world to come.”

 

Huge, amazing, gigantic promises, prophesies therefore, were made to us by preachers. And these promises, we were told, were absolutely certain; they were the “word of God.” Behind all these wonderful promises and prophesies, it seems at first, was the Bible itself; which appears, at first, to picture all these wonderful things and more. However, though the promises of our preachers and holy men have been gigantic, over the ages, there have been perceptions of some shortfalls in these wonderful, big promises. The first shortfall has been that 1) when we look around ourselves today, we don’t see our preachers actually producing those wonderful miracles, here and now, today. Though ancient books promise such things happened in ancient times … we don’t see many such miracles, in the world around us, here and now, today. When indeed, was the last time you yourself, actually saw your very own preacher, actually raise the dead? Or move a real actual mountain?

 

In fact, there is a gigantic sin in Religion, in Christianity, that our ministers and priests not telling you about in church. There is a gigantic, dirty elephant in the living room of religion, that everyone is studiously ignoring. But it won’t go away. The big dirty elephant is this: our preachers and holy men historically issued huge, gigantic promises of miracles to us for thousands of years … and yet, there is considerable evidence that they are not actually capable of delivering all the big huge miracles that they promised. So that our preachers are therefore, largely, false.

 

To admit sins and errors in themselves and their holiest traditions, of course, has been impossible for preachers to believe or admit, or “face” or “bear.” So over the centuries, our preachers have tried to generate dozens of arguments, sermons, that would try to assure us that the miracles they promised are arriving; or to explain why we would not see many miracles today, in our own time … and yet, that does not prove the Bible and our holy men, are simply, false. And there are thousands of such sermons. And indeed, the whole world has believed them. And followed its preachers. And their sermons. However, we found that even here, there are apparent sins and errors; even in most of the sermons that we hear in church, that try to explain why we don’t see many material miracles today. The fact is, as it turned out, none of the most common sermons – like those designed to excuse the lack of miracles – actually work, biblically, or logically. The logic of each and every apologetic for the lack of miracles, is found to be finally 1) not true to the whole, overall message and truth of the Bible; and 2) not really true to logic and reason and 3) science.

 

Why don’t we see big miracles today? Some preachers tell us that miracles will come, if we just “pray in the right way,” or “have faith,” or give more money to the preacher. Yet experience and science both, teaches us that though ancient books described and promised many miracles, it doesn’t matter how you pray, or what you do; nobody today is getting miracles on the scale that the Bible, and/or many preachers, promised. And while some preachers tell us we are commanded by God to ignore all such problems, and just have “have faith,” we found out earlier that this is not really what the Bible itself said, overall. Actually the Bible told us that 1) there have always been bad things in religion; and therefore, 2) rather than having blind faith in it, we are supposed to “test everything” in it, with “science.” While science says, there are no miracles. At best, some add, “miracles” are metaphors for spiritual and natural things.

 

So what should we say? Should we say that major elements of even our own religions, like Christianity, and our own holy books, are just false? This seems like an impossible conclusion for many to face. Billions of people have been rigorously trained, from infancy, to absolutely believe and trust and follow their religious leaders, and their idea of God and good. For most “believers,” most of the “faithful” – who have after all been trained to absolutely believe and trust – it is literally unthinkable that something in our own preachers and churches, might be wrong.

 

We have often thought of everybody else’s religion, to be wrong. But to consider the possibility that not just everybody else’s, but our very own religious leaders might be wrong, false prophets, in some way, is unthinkable for many people. Even though the Bible itself warned that there would be bad things, even in “all” those in heaven itself (Isa. 34.4; etc. See chapter on False Priests). And that one “day,” we would find that the whole earth – “every nation,” tongue, tribe; and probably preacher – had been deceived. Deceived even in their religion; even in what they “worship” (Rev. 13).

 

So in point of fact, if we look around, and find that things even in our own faith are wrong …? If fact, the Bible itself warned that this day would come. One Apocalyptic “day.”

 

Could the biblically-prophesied time, of the exposure of sins, even in most of our preachers – and even in heaven itself – be now? Could all our preachers all over the world right now, be at least partially wrong, and false? Facing this Apocalyptic possibility is perhaps a little too hard for most people to face. But we are noting now that amazingly, the Bible itself allows that conclusion. (As does the Torah, etc.).

 

Many might not be able to simple face this terrible side of religion, of God, face to face. Many will not be able to face the possibility that many of the core teachings of ancient religion, Christianity, were largely false. Perhaps therefore, we can come up with a more moderate, easlier conclusion. Maybe after all, we could say, our preachers and their promises of miracles, say, were bad and wrong; but still, actually, the Bible itself is good; it is just that our all-too-human preachers just misinterpreted the Bible. Maybe, for example, the Bible never really promised the kind of supernatural immortality and resurrections that the preachers taught that it did; maybe our preachers simply misunderstood the Bible. As we will find out, indeed they did.

 

Maybe in fact, the Bible itself has been misinterpreted by thousands, millions of preachers and their sermons; if we don’t see many supernatural miracles today, maybe its because God, the Bible, never promised them at all. Maybe our preachers all misread their Bibles. So that the Bible itself is true; even its apparent promises of resurrection, immortality. But true in a way that our preachers misunderstood.

 

 

 

More Apocalypse –

But then a “New Heaven”?

Real Immortality?

 

 

Were promises of miracles true? Consider for example, the many promises of “immortality,” “eternal life in heaven,” and “resurrection.” Our preachers often read the Bible to us, as presenting promises of huge, supernatural miracles: bones rising up out of the dust to form living bodies again. And so forth. But maybe after all, they misread their Bibles; maybe all our preachers were say, just taking ancient metaphors, in the wrong way.

 

As it turns out as a matter of fact, essentially most of our preachers misread the old holy books, the Bible. Specifically, there is a real, rationally- and scientifically-verifiable immortality. But it isn’t quite what our preachers thought it was. It is a natural and technological, not supernatural, event. Even if it is “spiritual,” then we will find now that “spirit” after all, was something real, that social science can now verify. As it turns out, the Bible itself, questioned the Bible itself, on the reality of those events. And eventually, the Bible itself decided that the old promises of resurrection, could be read as just metaphors for, garbled descriptions of, not supernatural events; but for different kinds of “revival”; and for a kind of rational but nondramatic afterlife, from Plato, and other Mediterranean and Africa and Asian ideas.

 

Until about 1964-2000 AD or so, our holy men, our preachers and churches, constantly promised us huge miracles – like dead bodies rising from the grave. But did the Bible itself really promise us such things? Did it promise us immortality and resurrection? The fact is, we are finding here, in those images of 1) dead bodies rising from the grave, or 2) people floating up to heaven, we will have found that actually, the Bible itself … qualified those promises, and modified them, in the fine print. Promises of 3) the “dead” coming to “life,” often – and arguably, always – are just metaphors. Such images just mean, for example, that those who feel dead-spirited in this life, can come to get new spirit and enthusiasm and knowledge; to feel as if they had died, and come to life.

 

We might then, have the “hope” of something more; some great afterlife. But actually, when we looked at the Bible itself, reading it even more carefully than most preachers do, reading it as theologians and biblical critics begin to, we find that 1) those many images of dead bodies rising up from the grave, actually, are not absolutely, firmly presented, in the Bible itself, as promising anything more than metaphors; for feeling better, in this life. 2) Likewise, we will find here, the other major idea of an afterlife – “going to Heaven” – is also, not really fully supported by the Bible itself. It hints at some kind of immortality in “heaven”; enough to allow preachers to excerpt quotes that seem, out of context, to promise that. But we will see here, that even as far as the Bible itself is concerned, “going to heaven,” is far less certain for anyone, even if you are good, than people thought.

 

Did the Bible itself really firmly promise us an afterlife, an immortality; resurrection, or eternal life in heaven? Actually, we might well find, those dramatic images of an afterlife given to us by religious painters and writers and priests, are not entirely true to the Bible itself, overall. Such promises took small parts of the Bible, out of context; to use them as lures, to get people into church. Finally in fact, those who can read a little better, who can read a little more closely and fully, on their own, beyond the misrepresentative fragments of the Bible they heard in sermons and homilies, will find that what is technically offered in the Bible, might be nothing much more or less than saying that parts of Jesus’ “spirit” for example – his ideas, character – were preserved in books and human memory; and “live on” in that way. That likewise, our thoughts and hopes live on, in our children, and those who come after us, if and when they take on our ideas and values and so forth.

 

This actually, is about the only afterlife that the Bible itself actually reliably offering, we will be finding here. All those images of dead bones coming to life, and life “in heaven,” were commonly misinterpreted by preachers.

 

At first, this vision of immortality, resurrection, might seem disappointing. But it is, actually, a verifiable, rational, even scientifically-provable afterlife, and resurrection, as it turns out. Our thoughts, our ideas, our culture, do to some extent, live on in those who come after us. Some part of us lives on, in those who carry on our thoughts and traditions. And though this at first seems so much less than what our preachers promised us – living in “glory” in God’s “many mansions” – actually, first of all 1) this is what the Bible actually reliably promised. And 2) this humble afterlife and resurrection, prove to be better than most people imagine; prove to be enough. And what is more, prove to be enough to recreate, resurrect, Jesus Christ, or God, on earth.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Part I

 

 

Ezekiel’s

Big Physical Resurrection?

Ezekiels’ Bones,

Coming Together to Form Living Bodies:

What Most People Thought Was Resurrection

 

 

 

 

 

So what is biblical resurrection? Immortality? At first; it looks like 1) some kind of supernatural miracle; dead bones rising out of the grave, to live again. But we don’t see many bodies rising from graves today, to live again. So is that a real resurrection? What resurrection is really like?

 

Our preachers have often promised us that if we just trust and believe and “have faith in” them, and their vision or image of God, then they and God will give us huge, wonderful miracles. Including, some kind of immortality. Perhaps, they said at times, 2) we would never die, “never see death.” Or maybe 3), we go on to life eternal, in an invisible “heaven.” Or 4) we get Resurrection into an ideal “kingdom” of God, some “day” after death. In the 5) “world to come” and so forth. But what are all these promises of an afterlife about? When we ask our preachers after church, for some details about this afterlife, about “heaven” … our preachers get rather vague. They can’t really quite describe it all very fully. Often finally, 6) some preachers suggest that the old promises were just metaphors; for the day our mind or “spirit” decides to be good; in that moment they say, we pass from being dead-spirited, to being “reborn,” resurrected, into a new and better life.

 

But all these ideas about an afterlife are rather silly, or vague, or mystical, or insubstantial. So what after all, is the promise of an afterlife, immortality? Is 7) it just a … false prophesy? A lie? An “illusion” or “delusion” of preachers? Is it just another false, bad promise, by “false prophets” and bad religious leaders? Many might think that. But 8) we are here to say, here and now, that there is, in fact, a real, rationally- and scientifically-provable immortality; a real, empirically-verifiable, Resurrection. One that has been known since at last the days of Plato, c. 350 BC. And furthermore, that immortality is the real root, the real meaning, of what the Bible meant to promise us. While in the Bible, there are many different pictures of immortality, resurrection, we can use an extension of Plato’s ideas, to put them all together at last, into a coherent whole; into in fact a new vision, of a complex but materially, scientifically provable, resurrection and immorality.

 

The resurrection and immortality hinted at in the Bible and other religio-philosphical traditions (like Plato), we will find here, is very, very real. To be sure, the afterlife, “heaven,” the “kingdom,” is not quite what our preachers thought it was. Yet it was very real; indeed, we can here and now show what it really is, in a way supported by the Bible itself. Supported, verified, from dozens, seventy or a hundred quotes from the Bible, itself. Thanks to the science of religion, we can now gather all the apparently conflicting quotes about resurrection, from the Bible … and at last, correlate them; match them up to, some real physical things in this material life. Finally, the old legends of resurrection, can be found to correspond to some things in nature and technology, that can now at last be firmed up, and better described, by science.

 

There is a real immortality; as described by ancient legends; then by Plato; then by Christianity; and now science. But to get to see exactly what immortality and resurrection are, we need to pass through some pain and disillusionment. We need to pass through the “fire” of … a critical examination, and intellectual destruction, of our first, childhood ideas of resurrection and immortality. First, we will need to take a long and critical look at those first simple visions of 1) dead bodies rising from graves; as in a) Lazarus, and b) the Easter Jesus. Or now, c) the vision in Ezekiel; of dead bones coming together in the desert, to form a living being.

 

 

 

Dead Dry Bones,

Coming Together?

Ezekiel’s Vision …

Or Resurrection?

 

 

 

What does the Bible itself actually seem to promise, at first glance, in the way of immortality and resurrection? What are its biggest and most dramatic events, that appear to be about immortality? Basically, first, in the book of Ezekiel, the ancient Jewish prophet, we seem to see long dead, dry bones coming together, to form physically living beings again. Which appears to offer form of what we would call, “resurrection”: dead bodies or bones, coming to life again.

 

So is that what immortality is; or resurrection? Our dead physical body, resurrected from the grave, coming to life again? Many parts of the Bible in fact, seem to play with that possibility, and to present that as a picture of immorality. But remember that other accounts of similar, apparent resurrections – like the raising of Lazarus, the raising of of the bodies of saints after Jesus’ death; the Easter resurrections of Jesus himself (in the upper room; in Emmaus; on the road back from Emmaus, etc.) – all were strangely worded; with many qualifications. Indeed finally, we found that pictures of dead bodies rising from the grave, were not firmly stated to be resurrections, even by the Bible itself. Indeed, we will need to look carefully at these first simple ideas of resurrection … and then move on to a more complicated idea; of our ideas or spirits being carried on in the minds, memories, of others. As we began to see in our study of the definitive resurrection at Emmaus, specifically (q.v.). And as we will soon clarify here, with a closer look at what Plato had said about this, years earlier.

 

Consider however, in any case, those first simple ideas: dead bodies rising from graves. Or along these lines, consider one of the few incidents in the Old Testament that seems to suggest a substantial afterlife (more than an afterlife in shadowy “Sheol”): consider Ezekiel’s picture of … bones coming together in the desert. Dry bones coming together … to form it might seem, many living bodies; or a “host” (of people?) in the desert.

 

Look closely at Ezekiel’s account. At first, it looks like about as clear a promise as could ever be found, of a real out-and-out, real, miraculous, physical resurrection. Of dry bones coming to life in the desert:

 

 

“The valley, it was full of bones…. There was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them … and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host” (Ezek. 37.1-10, excerpts. See also Moses taking bones of Joseph on the Exodus; Ex. 13.19. Also Jer. 8. See also our section on living Old Testament people rising from “dust”).

 

 

This surely looks like a supernatural, miraculous resurrection: dead bones, coming together out of the dust, to form a living army. And in fact, this was probably the very passage that many later Biblical prophets and religious leaders and heroes were thinking of, when they told us that resurrections were real. When they promised us that resurrection was a very real and physical process – and that we would experience this too, if we were good. But now let’s look at this original account closely; as it turns out, it isn’t quite what everyone thought it was. If we look at it closer, if we read the fine print, we begin to notice this apparently clear promise of a big miracle … was actually modified, in the fine print. In various adjacent sentences and modifying clauses, this vision after all, is called a vision or a dream, and so forth. So that finally – just as in the case of Lazarus, and the Easter Jesus – finally, what was offered to us in the big, bold images … was actually all but withdrawn, or dissolved, in the fine print. Particularly, by clear indications that this did not have to be taken literally, for instance; but could be taken as a mere metaphor for spiritual things. Or for something else, that we will eventually describe here.

 

 

 

Bones in Ancient Cultures

 

 

In this case, for once – since God wants us to use Science – let’s go beyond the Bible just in itself, and give a little historical, anthropological, archeological background, to attitudes toward “bones” in ancient culture.

 

Sometimes our bones were thought to be an important part of us, our body, our animation or liveliness … and even, part of our minds. Things are thought to bring “refreshment to your bones” (Prov. 3.8); people asked “how the spirit comes to the bones” (Ecc. 11.5); how “he sent fire; into my bones” (Lam. 1.13). Bones seemed to stand for our animation in the Bible; our willingness to physically move our bodies and do things. While having “dried up” the bones means not being willing to do many physical things (as in old age). So they said:

 

 

A downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Ps. 17.22; cf. Lam. 4.7-9 etc.?).

 

 

That is what bones, and “dried up” bones, stood for in many parts of the body, while the bones were still in our body. Therefore? The whole idea of bones being dried up and then coming to life, that may have inspired Ezekiel’s vision? Might have been rather metaphorical.

 

What did bones of dead people stand for? In many ancient cultures, the bones of dead relatives and others were often dug up, and kept or stored; sometimes in the belief that the bones were still, almost alive. Or at the very least, the bones of dead ancestors, served as a sort of momento, or reminder, of the person they belonged to (Jer. 8). Moses was said to have been carrying the bones of a prophet with him for example, for various reasons (Ex. 13.19). And to this day, in many countries, you can visit rooms full of the bones of ancient monks and others, carefully preserved. Even in monasteries, in Europe.

 

The bones of our relatives then, were often considered important; in part because even when their “flesh” or soft tissue – muscles and organs and so forth – would rot, at least our bones would often survive. Leaving a momento, a memory, a part of our ancestor at least. In some cases, such bones might have been regarded as being almost the same as the live ancestor. In other cases, since bones survived a long time, this might have been in itself, at least a hint or suggestion or even a proof, to some peoples, that there was some part of us, that lived on, after death. (Dead as bones are. See also hair, which survives fairly well too; cf. “not harm a hair on” your head). While “burn”ing their bones, in a “fire,” was seen as a sort of punishment or a final extinction, beyond death (Cf. 2 Kings 23.14-20; 2 Chron. 34.5: “burned the bones of the priests on their altars”). Was this in part, the origin of legends of an afterlife? One that could be ended however, if you were bad, by being “burned” in hell”fire”?

 

In sum: for whatever reasons, bones were often respected, almost as living people, in many ancient cultures. And keeping the bones of your relatives, or respecting their graves, is an ancient tradition found in many cultures; including the ancient Jews, at times. When the Pharaoh of Egypt, finally let the Jewish Moses and his people, leave Egypt, Moses for instance took the bones of Joseph with him (Ex. 13. 19). For whatever reason, the bones of ancient ancestors then, were often revered at least as momentos of ancient heroes. They were also a reminder that some part of us lives on, or survives, the death of our “flesh.” At least, our bones survived. This might be the origin, in part, of some later ideas that Judaism, the Old Testament, promised immortality, or resurrection (unless our bones were burned in fire; cf. Rev. 21ff).

 

To be sure thought, today bones are not really regarded as being the same as human beings; or a continuance of their life, after death. So that of course, the fact that bones outlive our flesh, is today very small consolation; since most people feel, bones are not really alive, or conscious.

 

Yet to be sure, over time, many came to think that the old bones were not very alive, after all. But probably many believed – or hoped; or had “faith” – that because ancient cultures said they had been alive in the past, somehow, those old bones might still come to life again; or help others come to life again. Some day. And out of these hopes, people restated the old stories; or even eventually created new-ish tales of such things (2 Kings 13.21).

 

So that to this very day, on the Spanish “Day of the Dead,” and “Halloween,” there are many pictures of dancing skeletons; come to life, at least partially.

 

Yet to be sure, to most people today, whatever kind of afterlife our bones offer us, does not seem very, very substantial. And so such traditions remain only semi-serious; or metaphorical.

 

But now let’s look at the related image of Ezekiel; of bones coming together in the desert.

 

 

 

A Better Meaning To Bones Coming Together:

A Metaphor for

Scattered Tribesmen Assembling

 

 

Some ancients then, 1) kept the bones of ancient relatives and so forth; at least as a momento of them; and 2) perhaps in the forlorn belief that they would come to life again some day. It is possible that some ancients, really thought that ancient bones can reassemble themselves, to live again somehow. Something like one or two or more of such ancient beliefs, regarding bones, is almost certainly a major part of the ancient origin, of the Biblical images of bones coming together, in the desert. As in Ezekiel.

However, the Bible told us to evaluate ancient stories and prophets, by “science,” and what we see “come to pass” in real life.* (As we saw at length, in our chapter on God’s Science). And unfortunately, over time, many rational persons have noticed that in real life, we don’t often see bones coming to life again; it doesn’t seem to actually happen very often, if at all. And so, though such legends survive almost to this very day in primitive tribes, and horror movies for modern adolescents, and in some churches, still, by the time of the Bible and Ezekiel in Jewish thought, the tradition that dead bones can come together and live again, was already … being modified, it seems. Was already being qualified. In fact, as it turns out, the Old Testament account of this incident with the bones, tells us that this story is not supposed to be taken literally, or at face value; this story needs to be interpreted. Symbolically. That it should be read as … a metaphor.

 

First note, the book of Ezekiel 1) openly draws attention to the confusing nature of many Biblical and other ancient stories; like those of dead bones coming together. By having the people around Ezekiel, tell him they are confused by his stories and images, and want Ezekiel to explain to them what they mean:

 


“What do you mean by these?” images (Ez. 37.18).

 

 

Furthermore, by the way – to those preachers who insist that the Bible told us that nothing in the Bible is ever “interpreted” (q.v.), noted here that 2) in this text, the people are in effect asking Ezekiel to explain or interpret this prophesy. (See also Daniel “interpreting” dreams to kings; Jesus explaining or interpreting his parables; etc.). The people in this story sense that this tale does not necessarily mean what it appears to mean on the surface; here for once, the people sense this is not necessarily just a simple promise that dead bones, can live again. That this story might “mean” something deeper or more obscure.

 

Many Fundamentalist and Evangelical preachers today, say the meaning of the Bible is obvious, literal, and does not need “interpretation.” If the Bible seems to picture dead bones coming together, to live again, then that is just what happened. But actually, that is not what the Bible itself actually said. First – 1) – the Bible itself often noted that there were things in the Bible that were “hard to understand” (as Peter said of Paul’s letters; q.v.). And 2) the Bible here notes, that indeed the people were confused about the meaning of this passage in Ezekiel. While 3) the Bible often said in other places, that many things in the Bibles need to be “interpreted.”

 

While furthermore, we are about to find out 4) here, God explicitly interprets this particular image of bones, as a metaphor. As a figure of speech.

 

Here is God himself speaking; and as he speaks, he is explaining what Ezekiel’s image means. And here – note – when asked what it means, note that God himself interprets it all, metaphorically. In two ways.

 

The “first,” naive interpretation of Ezekiels’ image of bones, Ez. 37.1-6, seems to be that the ancestors – and perhaps even the living people – of Israel, are dried up, like bones. And then to be sure, it still seems as if it is thought here it seems for a moment, that either the dead persons, and/or the living, can come to life in some way. Can be revived:

 

 

“The valley, it was full of bones…. There was a noise, and behold, a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And as I looked, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them … and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great host” (Ezek. 37.1-10, excerpts).

 

But now let’s look a second time at all this.

 

 

 

The Metaphorical Meaning of Scattered Bones

Coming Together:

Finding Unity

Among Scattered Tribes

 

 

This first part of Ezekiel 37, has seemed, to generations of casual readers, and even many preachers, to offer us all a big miracle resurrection. To promise that even when we are long dead, one “day,” our bones can come together, to reconstitute us, miraculously. But those who want to take this literally, as a promise of physical, miraculous resurrection, should now finally read the fine print; read what God said next.

 

Read the next part … where God tells us what this, and related images, actually “mean”:

 

 

“The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, take a stick and write on it, ‘For Judah, and the children of Israel associated with him’; then take another stick and write upon it, ‘For Joseph (the stick of Ephraim) and all the house of Israel associated with him’; and join them together into one stick, that they may become one in our hand. And when your people say to you, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’ say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph (which is in the hands of Ephraim) and the tribes of Israel associated with him; and I will join with it the stick of Judea, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand” (Ezek. 37.15-17-19).

 

 

Here first of all, the 1) first, obvious surface of the text, seems to promise a supernatural miracle, consistent with many old tales: dead bodies magically, miraculously, re-assemble themselves, and somehow form an apparently living body. However, now it is time for us to note that 2) the Bible itself notes that such images need to be interpreted. Then it offers in fact, two or three interpretations of images of bones and “sticks” – coming together.

 

The first, obvious surface of the text, to be sure, seemed to offer a supernatural miracles. But 3) then we are given a passage, that would take all this as metaphorical. Specifically, the text suggests that what it all really offers, is not exactly a resurrection of individual, literally dead people; dead body parts reassembling to form live bodies. Instead, 4) the image is interpreted. As meaning, in part, this: that the scattered, nomadic, tribal people of Isael are lying down discouraged and fragmented; they need to come together to form a united nation or Israel.

 

Re-read the relevant passage; note that here, the Bible itself, God himself, offers a very, very metaphorical interpretation of “these” tales; of the whole vision:

 

 

“Behold, I am about to take the stick of Joseph … and the tribes of Israel associated with him; and I will join with it the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, that they may be one in my hand…. No longer divided into two kingdoms (Ez. 37.18-22. Also from the Roman “fasces”? Sticks bound around an axe handle, to make it stronger; symbolizing greater strength, through unity).

 

 

In light of the fine print, the second message in the Bible, we might also re-interpret the following too:

 

 

“Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel…. And I will put my Spirit within you and you shall live….'” (Ez. 37.11-14).

 

 

The first passage here, seems quite physical. But then the later passage in Ez. 37.18, allows that such things might be somewhat metaphorical. These bones stand for the whole house of Israel. Who feel discouraged, dried up; and are scattered, cut off from each other. But, they can come together – as if the scattered bones of a skeleton might have been thought in earlier times, to come together – to constitute a larger corpus, a larger body; in this case, a nation.

 

So, according to the interpretation or expansion offered in the Bible itself, this apparent miracle, and the vision of sticks coming together too, both actually have another “mean”ing; and the Bible itself explains it: it is all about the coming together of the scattered people of Israel; in particular, the coming together of the two kingdoms (Judah and Israel?).

 

So that these stories about bones, which might once have seemed to be about or to promise, resurrection, dead bones being alive some way, are now re-interpreted, by the Bible itslelf; and are resolved into a mere metaphor; for the coming together of scattered peoples, etc.. And for the reviving of discouraged persons, lying down in the dust; as if they were in “graves.”

 

The Bible seems to rather clearly allow this spiritual/metaphorical reading. Though to be sure, the Bible also often promised real physical things too. Let’s consider the possibility that such things are not physical in a simple way. And to acknowledge some spiritual element. Before moving on in later chapters, to the better, fuller view of resurrection.

 

 

 

Summary on Ezekiel

 

 

For thousands of years, most preachers read to themselves, or to us, just the surface of Bible stories. While, on the surface, the Bible seemed to promise us big physical miracles; like dramatic physical resurrections. But 1) our preachers did not read well enough. Or 2) our preachers were not honest enough, in telling the people what the Bible really said finally, in the fine print. So now it is time to show everyday readers, where to find, and how to read, the fine print in their Bibles.

 

Can the Bible be confusing? In this case, we should note finally that 3) the Bible itself warned that our languages, “tongues,” would have been “confused” (at Babel); and 4) it warned that even scriptures would be hard to understand (as St. Peter said of Paul’s writings. See our writing on Scripture). While 5) here, specifically, there here we find even the Bible’s the book of Ezekiel itself, explicitly acknowledged that its own passages and visions, often confuse people. The Bible acknowledged that many would not understand such things, or know what they “mean” (cf. the “confusion of tongues,” at Babel). And 6) the people therefore ask some knowledgeable professor, to interpret these stories at last; “will you not show us what you mean by these.”

 

Therefore, indeed, these and other Biblical stories, should not be taken at face value, but clearly need to be interpreted. As 7) indeed, Ezekiel interprets them. And then, the text itself 8) even tells us exactly how to interpret them; in effect, not literally – but as metaphors. In this case, the two main images here – of a) bones coming together in the desert, and b) sticks being joined together – though they were later taken in the Christian tradition at times as promising a literal resurrection, they are here are explained by God to be metaphors. Metaphors in large part, for the coming together of the scattered people of Israel. So they will “no longer be divided into two kingdoms.” (Judah and Israel? Etc.).

 

Should we take this and all miracles in the Bible, metaphorically? In addition to conclusive evidence given specifically in this passage itself, remember all the other parts of the Bible, where we were encouraged to interpret the Bible as “figure,” “parable,” “allegory,” and “proverb” (as noted in our chapter on Metaphors). And remember all the evidence that coming to “life” again, is most often just a metaphor for dead-spirited – but still physically living – persons, coming to feel revived; coming to a new and better life, or state of mind … while still alive.

 

Finally then, given that the image of the sticks coming together is about still-living people, then 9) finally, even images of the “dried up” coming out of their “graves,” are seemingly also best understood as metaphors; for the revival of the spirits of dead-spirited – but still physical alive – Jews; dragging in the “dust” (q.v. Bible, and elsewhere in this book). For say, dis-spirited or downcast – but not physically dead – Jews, lying in the dust … but then coming to feel better at last.

 

Then too, since 10) science and practical experience tell us that physically dead bodies don’t come to life again – and God tells us to honor science (as we found in our chapter on that), therefore, overwhelmingly, the best, most reliable interpretation of most of such incidents, is that they are best read as either false, or 11) metaphorical.

 

While any remaining images of really, physically dead people coming to life – as Lazarus – are – 12) – more likely, people coming out of a coma, and so forth. Like 2 Kings 13.21. Or mere accounts of bones being unearthed, from earthquakes and so forth. As we will be finding, here.

 

Are there real resurrections from the dead then? Dead bodies, rising from the dust? Such ideas seem to come in part from images like those seen by Ezekiel: dead bones, coming together, to form living bodies. But 13) such images are often explicitly “dreams”; that need to be interpreted, as Daniel interpreted dreams. Other times, they are “visions”; perhaps things in our image-ination. In the case of Ezekiel, he is “brought” to see this, by the “Spirit of the Lord.” Perhaps, this means he sees these things in the spirit, or the mind, moreover. While indeed, 14) the Bible often told us many (even all?) things in it, can be “parables,” “figures,” “allegories,” and so forth.

 

Indeed, there were many superstitions about immortality “bones”; which seem to survive, after the “flesh” rots. So there are rumors of dead persons coming to life, in association with bones:

 

 

“As a man was being buried … the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet” (2 Kings 13.21. “He,” meaning the man, or Elisha?).

 

 

Finally though, even many bones do not definitely, unambiguously rise up; but are left as “dung” on the ground:

 

 

“At that time, says the LORD, the bones of the kings of Judah, the bones of its princes, the bones of the priests, the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be brought out of their tombs … and they shall not be gathered or buried; they shall be as dung on the surface of the ground…. You shall say to them, Thus sayd the LORD: When men fall, do they not rise again?” (Jer. 8.1,2, 4; note leading questions, double meaning “so they not rise again”; perhaps meaning don’t they not rise again).

 

 

 

 

Preliminary Summary

 

 

Are there really, big physical miracles then? Like a physical resurrection? For a moment, it seems like there is. But then on closer look, things seem to dissolve into spiritual metaphors. But then finally? Eventually we will see a better view than either of these; the 1) simply phyiscal, or the 2) simply and wholly spiritual. We will see something far more like Paul’s bodies or flesh, putting on immortality; so that we spirit, creating a new physicality. Though for now? Things in Ezekiel look either simply physical … or wholly spiritual. And nothing much in-between; no common ground.

 

Many preachers and their ikons or icons, their verbal and visual pictures, promised them. But now it is time to cut through the ancient “confusion of tongues,” and for everyone to learn to read a little better. It is clear enough from the above, that what is really being talked about here in the story by Ezekiel, for example, is best not taken as a real resurrection, but only as a metaphor. The a) scattered bones – in the first part of the passage, Ez. 37.1-7) – turn out to be explained (cf. topspun; glossed) later, as being merely a symbol, for the scattered and divided tribesmen. While b) if these bones rise, that is merely a symbol, a metaphor for, the down-spirited tribesmen of Israel, who were scattered, and discouraged, lying down in the dust (Ez. 37.11), suddenly, when spoken to by the prophet, feeling better, feeling “revived,” as we would say today. Getting back on their feet.

 

Remember that 15) Jesus and others, often used specifically, images of “death” and “life,” as metaphors for spiritual things that happened in this life.

 

One 16) more way to talk about this, would be to look at some modern, well-known metaphors, that link “death” to merely feeling bad; as in “dead tired.” And other similar words in a similar vein: being “revived” is a common metaphor; one which seems on the surface to speak of physically dying and coming to life; but that is really intended just to offer that image, as a metaphor or analogy … for a spiritual process: coming to feel better, in your mind.

 

The coming together of scattered “bones” in the desert then, can be read entirely as a metaphor then. The tale is really about people, scattered tribesmen, “coming to life” … in a manner of speaking only. The people had, no doubt, been a) feeling as if they had been dead and in their graves; they are lying in the dust, feeling like their “bones” are dry; but b) now, as Ezekiel unifies them, they feel revived; they feel as it they are coming back to life. And by the way, c) they are reuniting with each other, to form a united nation or corporate body. The nation, probably, of Israel.

 

This 17) “interpretation” is not a forced construct, imposed on the Old Testament story. Indeed, a) the Bible itself strongly and explicitly said that this episode, was confusing on the surface … and needed to interpreted, or have its inner “meaning” explained. While the Bible itself explained the idea of b) sticks coming together, to the idea of c) bones coming together; the Bible itself interpreted “these” (plural) related images – of dead bones rising from the dust; and sticks coming together – as being about discouraged people lying in the dust, but rising up; to form a unified Israel. (And/or a larger corporate “body”).

 

So 18) actually, there are many firm sayings in the Bible itself, that tell us that, against those thousands of sermons and Bible illustrations and paintings that said otherwise, there is actually no very firm promise of a real, actual, physical resurrection from the dead, at all, here. Instead, what we really have here – as in all promises of supernatural miracles – is just another metaphor; for something spiritual, in part.

 

Just as in, it seems, the vast majority of such episodes, the Bible here, the Bible itself allows and even recommends a metaphorical or natural interpretation of ostensibly supernatural miracles.

 

So was the Bible, and its promises of big physical results, miracles – and resurrections – all just ancient, confused tales? We such stories originally metaphors? Then later confused by the “confusion of tongues”? Or were such stories accidentally – and deliberately? – twisted around later, into metaphors? For spiritual things? And does all this mean, that the Bible itself hints strongly that there is no physical resurrection or afterlife? That would seem like an impossibly shattering thing, for preachers to have to face or believe. But the Bible said, we will need to pass through some Apocalyptic, painful and shattering revelations, before we get to see God face to face. So let us continue, now.

 

Is there a real, material afterlife? Is immortality promised in questions like, “Shall these dry bones live?” (4 Mac. 18.17). Finally, what is offered in Ezekiel, is not quite as good and supernatural, as what was promised to us by priests. So we need something more, to have a real resurrection. Our finding will be that ancient promises of an afterlife, were indeed largely “just” metaphors as some say, of spiritual things. However we might soon also show that we are here beginning for instance, to show that 19) some mental or spiritual things – ideas, character – and their survival in our cultures, are more real, and more important, than some thought. Though 20) to be sure, most “spiritual” things are mere phantoms and “delusions,” others reflect or represent, solid physical realities behind them. 21) And these mental or spiritual things, are good. And real; 22) they reflect real, physical things behind them.

 

For example; 23) even the real message of Ezekiel, is important: it is important for scattered peoples to know they can come together and form stronger nations, for example.

 

Important as the spiritual, inspirational message of Ezekiel might be though, it is more about down-spirited people feeling revived; it is not really very directly about a real resurrection from death, or a real afterlife; which is our main subject here. So let’s move on. Next, let’s look at a second major idea of immortality, after 1) bodily resurrection; bones coming together in the desert. Instead, next, let’s look at 2) spiritual “rebirth: now. And then 3) “going to Heaven,” as they call it. But then finally 4) some real forms of afterlife, verifiable both from the Bible, but also from rational philosophy … and science.

 

 

 

Section 2

 

Spiritual Rebirth

Is Not an Afterlife

 

 

We will show here, there is a real resurrection, a real immorality. One verifiable by science. But what is it? Dead bodies rising from the grave? That is often the first simple images that we get, that seems to offer an afterlife. These are the images that so many people historically took to offer us, in effect, resurrection: dead bodies and bones, rising from their graves and from the dust; reassembled into living bodies again. But as it now turns out, this first, simple vision of an afterlife that we got from paintings and myths, from various images in the Bible, from many sermons – and that we still see in modern horror movies (Dawn of the Dead, etc.) – were very simple, and misleading. Often such images, were not really about an afterlife at all; but only about our bones feeling better, in this life.

 

So most images of a physical resurrection of this type – dead bodies rising up from graves – then, do not seem true, from science and experience. So that eventually, the New Testament itself, offered many passages that would allow us to take such things purely as metaphors; for spiritual things.

 

Yet we have seen (in our writings on the Prodigal Son for example), that the spiritual transformation or rebirth, is something that takes place in this lifetime. It is basically the moment we decide to be good, and take the spirit or ideas of Christ etc., into our minds and hearts. Yet while many parts of the Bible allude to this, and while this is part of a real resurrection, we will note this is still not quite a full resurrection, as we will find. In part, because it does not directly involve a really, physically dead person actually coming back to life, or living on.

 

So we will need to move on a bit, before we find out what a real resurrection is.

 

In fact, there is some truth in the Christian vision of an afterlife, in spirit; or even, in a spiritual “heaven.” But ultimately we will find, our afterlife is not 1) a simple rising from bones; nor 2) just a spiritual rebirth in our own lifetime. Nor 3) just some vague afterlife “in heaven.” The fact is, we will find, 4) there is a real, verifiable, material afterlife, a resurrection, here, on this earth.

 

As we will see, next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

On Earth Again:

 

The Real

Biblical and Scientific,

Immortality and Resurrection:

We Live On, in Our “Name”

And “Seed,” DNA

And the Cultural Transmission

of Ideas, Culture

 

 

Summary of

Immortality

In the Bible

 

No Heaven

 

 

Intro

 

 

Is resurrection just a 1) false rumor, of dead bodies rising from graves? Or 2) just a metaphor then, for something spiritual, something that happens in this lifetime? Something happening just in our mind or spirit? Or is it an afterlife 3) in a vague “heaven”? In fact, one “day,” we are supposed to pass through the destruction of heaven, as we found earlier. And 4) we are to… be resurrected here on this earth, or in the material universe, in physical, material form; as we will find here.

 

And ultimately, we will find, even God himself, Christ himself, is supposed to come to earth again … by resurrection, here, in physical form, on this earth.

 

So that finally, resurrection we will find is not just a spiritual event, or something in heaven; it is a physical process. But it is not a simple raising of bones from the grave to live again. As we can begin to see, here and now.

 

As we will find out here, there is a real resurrection. But to see it, you need to go through a 3-step process, to see what it really is. First, you need to see that 1) promises of very simple supernatural miracles – dead bodies rising from graves – are too simple, and substantially, false. (No matter how many people hold them; the whole world might well believe in this; that simply means the whole world has – as foretold – been deceived). Then the next step, in seeing immortality, we need to 2) consider language; the “confusion of tongues”; metaphors; even spiritual metaphors. And then, added to that 3) we see problems with immorality “in heaven” too. But now we are adding an all -important step: 4) next, compare the metaphors, to what language studies and physical science say; to see if there is something we do observe in nature, on earth; that corresponds to what the Bible said. When we do this, then eventually we find out what real (Biblical) immortality really is.

 

The real resurrection, the real immortality, is not easy for some to see; it is complicated. But many are about to see, a scientifically-verifiable resurrection. As foretold in the Bible. Through what the Bible called “name” and “seed.” Two related forms of immortality which turn out to have been found in ancient Greek myths; but which were also discussed by rational philosophers too, from at least the days of Plato. Two forms of immortality, rebirth which, rational as they are, can also now be confirmed by science.

 

 

 

Summary of the Many Afterlives in

The

Old And New Testaments

 

 

What did the Bible itself offer in the way of immortality? Let’s begin with the Old Testament. How real is the afterlife there? Is there a real afterlife or immortality? Or are all those images of resurrections, in the Bible, just metaphors? Metaphors for some kind of change that takes place in our normal lifetime?

 

If we go back to the Old Testament to look for the Jewish sources of Christian promises of immortality, we find there is much less there, then in Christianity. There were some images of resurrection, it seemed; dead bodies coming to life, it seemed. But when 1) we looked at those images, they seemed to be metaphors, for the revival of diss-spirited or downcast people in the “dust”; while 2) even images in Ezekiel, of bones coming together to form living bodies, were actually metaphors for the coming together of the scattered people and tribes of Israel.

 

So really, there is not much promise of resurrection in the Old Testament. While 3) ostensible New Testament promises of that, often seem to a) be not authentically Jewish; and/or to b) have qualifications and amendments tacked on to them, that would negate them totally.

 

When we looked at the raising of Lazarus for example, we found that the Bible itself, is systematically undecided at to whether he really was a) physically dead; or b) merely in a coma, “sleeping,” as Jesus said; or c) “dead” in some other metaphorical way. Then too, d) even if we agree that Lazarus was actually physically dead, and physically resurrected, for instance, it was a temporary resurrection; presumably, after being resurrected, he later died of old age, anyway. So that resurrection, note, does not necessarily imply, immortality.

 

Then too, 4) we looked at the New Testament story of the Prodigal Son, and John 5 too, and found that in both, “dying” and coming to life, were clearly used there, just as spiritual metaphors. For having been lost to God and good, and then becoming good, to enter a new life.

 

Today in fact, most people note that 5) experience and 6) science, tell us that few if any people are rising today, after having been long physically dead and rotting. And 7) though some preachers tell us this will happen some day, later, the Bible often promised such things “soon,” “at hand,” “presently,” within a “generation,” “quickly,” and so forth.* And 8) if St. Peter suggested that soon, meant thousands of years, Jesus himself called St. Peter “Satan” in Matthew 16.23.

 

Today, 9) popular fictional horror movies sometimes show dead bodies, “zombies” and “ghouls,” coming to life; but a) these tales are frankly fictional; and b) those resurrections do not appear very attractive.

 

So that finally, 10) many people today, have far less confidence than our preachers, in solemn promises, in sermons, of physically dead bodies, rising up, to live again, either a) for a short time, or b) forever. Because we don’t see that much in real life, today, reliable witnesses tell us. While 11) it now appears that this picture of resurrection, might be a misinterpretation of ancient images and metaphors, by preachers; so that the Bible, itself, might not have promised resurrections at all. Or certainly, not in the form that many preachers and religious painters, presented it.

 

Indeed, because of these and other problems with promises of resurrections, eventually, 12) even as early as the time of Plato, Greeks and other thinkers, began to speak more in terms of not so much the physical body, coming to life; or living on forever. But 13) rather, the cleverer elements in Philosophy and Religion, began to speak more of our mind or “spirit” living on, somehow. Or of human beings connecting somehow, reflecting in themselves, “eternal” “forms” or truths, “in heaven.” As did 14) certain myths in other cultures (cf. Egyptian beliefs, in the “Ka” and “Ba” and so forth; cf. the Jewish “Kaballah”).

 

Many of 15) these ideas no doubt, influenced Jesus and Paul’s idea of immortality, immensely. And helped form the Christian idea of our “spirit” living on, “in heaven” somehow.

 

Curiously though, remember that there was not so much talk of our “spirit,” nor of an afterlife, in the Jewish Old Testament from which Christianity is supposed to come. While Jews believed that God was a “spirit.” But the fact is, Jews talked less about the human “spirit,” and more about the spirit of God; and only it, God, seems immortal in the Old Testament. And, 16) as for any human immortality in the Old Testament Jews believed mostly – and perhaps only – in a shadowy, partial afterlife. In a place called “Sheol.” Where we have an afterlife which turns out to be very vague. An afterlife that seems not nearly as good, as the one that our Christian preachers later promised, in millions of sermons.

 

We tend to assume that Jesus, and Christianity, got all their ides and beliefs, from the Old Testament. But 17) many scholars say that there was not, really, much about any substantial afterlife for man, even in “heaven,” in the Jewish traditions of the Old Testament. (See “Afterlife,” Ox. Comp.).

 

Oddly enough then, we find that the Old Testament was not very supportive, overall, of Christian promises of immortality. While even the New Testament put lots of qualifiers on its images of resurrection too (in Lazarus, etc.).

 

However, though the Bible itself was ultimately very coy about presenting images that seemed to offer immortality, finally, there is one plausible afterlife, that is mentioned if not stressed in the Bible. One that actually, 18) corresponded to something that Plato said – not even so much about a) heaven, but b) about our living on through our sons and daughters, and so forth. This, as it turns out, is almost the only provable vision of an afterlife, in the Bible. And for that reason it is best regarded – as in fact it was historically often regarded, in the literature surrounding the Bible – as the one true, reliable afterlife: living on though our children. Who carry on our “name,” our “seed,” our “spirit.”

 

 

 


 

Part I

Plato’s Living On Through Our Children:

The First Key To The Real Immortality

 

 

 

 

What is immortality, really? And what, where, is The Resurrection? In truth, finally, the best way to get at what the Bible was really trying to get at, is not by looking for once, at the Bible itself … but instead, at Plato. But we should skip Plato’s “Theory of Forms,” which is too complicated for many people. And just look, first, at a much simpler part of what Plato said. A part that is found over and over, in the Bible itself, too: the parts about how our “memory” and “name” and spirit, live on through our “seed,” or cultural and biological descendants.

 

One idea in Plato in particular, is sometimes considered by scholars – or in any case is advanced here at – as the real root and meaning of Biblical (and Platonic) promises of immortality and resurrection. And they were right. Though now, it is time to tell the people. That essentially, something almost exactly like this theory of Plato, c. 350 BCE, was the real meaning of Biblical promises of immortality:

 

 

“There is a sense in which mankind naturally partakes of immortality, a prize our nature makes desirable to all of us in its every form; for to win renown and not lie in our graves without a name is a desire of this. Thus the race of man is times’ equal twin and companion, bound up with him in a union never to be broken, and the manner of their immortality is in this wise: by succession of generations the race abides one and same, partaking in immortality through procreation.” (Plato, Laws 4.721.c, In Plato, Collected Dialogues, Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, ed, Princeton University Press, 1961; fourteenth printing, Nov. 1989. Italics, mine).

 

 

What then is the form of resurrection or immortality, that Plato is talking about? Basically, what he says is that we live on in our children; in that they carry on some of our thoughts or spirit, and our genes. And amazingly, we will find, finally this apparently simple – and to some, insubstantial – form of afterlife, turns out to be the real afterlife that the Bible was talking about. And the only one that can be confirmed by rational theology and science.

 

In promising us all immortality, many preachers have talked about far more dramatic things: about dying – and then disappearing into the “heavens,” or even “clouds”; others talked about “bones” coming together in the “dust.” But we will find out here, that ultimately, all these are really about … bits of our selves, our memory, living on through … our children, our bio-cultural descendants. And finally as it turns out, this kind of afterlife is rather more satisfactory than more dramatic images. Or in any case, this is what the Bible itself, really offers. And furthermore, humble as it is, is is provably, scientifically, real. Real enough to resurrect a Christ in our midst, in fact.

 

To be sure, there are dozens of apparently very, very different pictures, of different aspects of immortality, in the Bible. From dead bodies rising from the grave, to floating up into the clouds, to metaphorical “rebirths.” In the middle of it all though, is a real, scientifically-verifiable immortality, a resurrection, from the Bible, that can be proven. And the particular Biblical example, the key that finally puts it all together, is actually, an obscure set of metaphorical phrases in the Bible … and from Plato, as will be seen (Plato’s Laws IV 721 C?). Phrases whose importance many scholars have ignored, or missed. Though they are the key to immortality itself. After Plato’s rather full discussion above, the Biblical clue to it all, is the Bible’s stress on “seed” and “name.” Both of which, we will find, refer to the survival of our memory, our spirit, our ideas, our reputation – our “name” – and our genes, in our children, our “seed.”

 

So that finally, the most useful Biblical key to resurrection, is a quick look at some uses of the words “name” and “seed.”

 

 

 

Some Key Usages of

“Seed” and “Name” in the Bible

 

 

 

In any case, first note the number of times the Bible itself stressed our “seed” – or children and other biological descendants – and “name” – our cultural memory or reputation – living on. And note that these are often mentioned in connection with eternal or “everlasting” things, including “heavens”:

 

 

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.'” (Isa. 66.22 KJE; italic, ours; see also apocryphal Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, 30.4-5 and 41.11-13, in later versions; Ox. 699).

 

“This mortal nature must put on immortality” (1 Corin. 15.53).

 

“‘I shall surely bless you and I shall surely multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand that are on the seashore; and your seed will take possession of the gate of his enemies. And by means of your seed [“descendants”] all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves due to the fact that you have listened to my voice.’ After that Abraham returned to his attendants….” (Gen. 22.17-18; italics, mine).

 

“Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, ‘The LORD will surely separate me from his people’; …. I will given them an everlasting name” (Isa. 56.5 RSV & henceforth).

 

 

In the Bible, it was thought to be extremely desirable and important in fact, that we have 1) surviving children. And or, 2) to leave behind a good “name,” a good memory, a good reputation. While in contrast, those people who are bad, are to have their “posterity,” their children and/or their memory or “name blotted out” (Ps. 109.13-21). Blotted out of memory, and books:

 

 

“May his posterity be cut off; many his name be blotted out in the second generation! May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out! Let them be before the LORD continually; and may his memory be cut off from the earth! …. But thou, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for thy name’s sake…” (Ps. 109.13-15-21).

 

 

And so our children, our surviving legacy, our memory, our name and seed, are important to Biblical writers. And no doubt, those things are desirable in themselves. And yet however, it is time to add that such things are not just desirable in themselves; in effect, there is a form of afterlife, of immortality, in such things.

 

And indeed now, we begin to see that elements of the canonical Bible, were heavily influenced by the same sort of notions as Plato talked about: our “name” and “seed,” our reputation or memory, and our DNA or biological successors, carry on much of what we are; and this is important.

 

Though this process is not explicitly named “immortality” here in the Bible itself, we will find that seed and name, are often mentioned in close connection with immortal things: living on in the memory of God, in “heaven” and so forth. While then too of course, we will show, several Biblical writers knew about Plato; and undoubtedly knew about the connection between having descendants, and immortality.

 

So that finally, as we will be seeing, this living on though our children – or by extension, our culture, our kinsmen – really is, both 1) the most plausible and provable immortality known in ancient culture (by Plato and others; cf. however immortal truths living on in heaven). But also 2) this is also finally, the only real or probable, true immortality (and resurrection) promised by the Bible, itself.

 

To be sure, this immortality, will not be very satisfying, to some. The root afterlife the Bible was really talking about, for instance, 1) at first seems metaphorical. And 2) far too humble. But 3) in the end, this is the core of what the Bible is really offering, we will show here. And 4) in addition, this immortality is provable rationally, and scientifically. While finally, 5) many may say it leads to real resurrections; not fantasies, illusions, dreams.

 

This interpretation of immortality to be sure, has long been known; it is often mentioned 1) not only in the Bible, and in 2) Plato, but 3) even more clearly, in to-some “apocryphal” but still-respected books, like “Sirach,” or “Ecclesiasticus.” Which is found in Catholic Bibles. But now we are able to carry all this a step or two further. To show just how substantial it really is; and how it resurrects Christ here on this material earth again, at last.

 

 

 

Are Your Descendants, You?

The Bible Considers that They Are

 

 

 

The idea is roughly, as follows. Consider “seed” first. “Seed” can be used to stand for many things, and is used in many ways, in the Bible. However, we are interested here in the many times it is used to mean, essentially, ones children; your “seed.” “Seed” was often used throughout scriptures, as an early metaphor for ones biological successors, descendants; your children, your progeny. Those who live on after you. The central idea, that seems to have developed, is that in having children that survive you – or in another variation on this theme, having your race or tribe or “people” survive – means that they will carry on many of your concerns, your thoughts and values – a bit of yourself. So that – the feeling is – a bit of yourself lives on after your death.

 

This picture of our afterlife, has long been known, by scholars, if not by ordinary preachers. However, to be sure, there have been two or three major objections to it. Some object that 1) the Bible itself didn’t really say this; just Plato, or “Apocryphal” texts, said it. But in fact, it will now become clear that canonical texts in the Bible itself said it, well enough.

 

The second major objection to the finding that this is the afterlife God really promised, is that 2) at times, this afterlife might often seem metaphorical. In that we ourselves, selfsame, don’t live on; but only traces or reproduction of us, live on. But there are two responses to this. First a) even traces living on, are still a form of afterlife, partial as it is. And b) in any case, this is what the Bible itself offered. c) Then too, if this is a humble, note grand, resurrection, then after all we are supposed to be humble. If this resurrection then, is not good enough, then the Bible itself, Christianity itself, was just not good enough, after all. But d) most importantly, as it turns out, the Bible itself considered good reproductions of us, to be “us,” so to speak, carried on.

 

This latter is important: often God spoke, in the Bible, in such a way that clearly assumes that having children or copies of your biology and culture, survive you, means that you yourself go on. Indeed, the Bible often assumes that in effect, your children, are you. This can be found, in a random example of this, aa) where God is talking about Abraham:

 

 

“Abraham was the father of a multitude of nations, and no one had been found like him in glory…. Therefore the Lord assured him … that he would make him as numerous as the dust of the earth, and exalt his offspring…” (Sir. 44.19-21).

 

 

As it happens, the above quote is from the (to Protestants), Apocryphal book of “Sirach.” Still, it is a convenient way to introduce an idea that will be found in most of the books of the Bible. And as will be seen, such references are found in the other parts of the canonical Bible too.

 

Indeed here, note, God in giving him “offspring,” or seed, makes Abraham “numerous.” But how can a single individual be “numerous”? An individual can be numerous …. only if you consider that his sons, really are an extension of him; are him. And now we will briefly note, bb) the necessity or assumption of accepting this as identity, was affirmed too in the New Testament, when it told us that we should “love our neighbors,” as “yourselves.” Which would mean that aaa) we should love our neighbors as much as ourselves; meaning finally that Christians are obligated to be satisfied with the idea that our selves are of just equal importance with our neighbors; that we are identified closely with our neighbors. bbb) Even to the point that we regard them as an extension of ourselves perhaps; we regard them “as ourselves.” And if so, then Christians should logically be satisfied with the idea that they live on not in themselves, but as their bio-cultural neighbors. No doubt, there are objections to this concept; but it is biblical, we will see here. Indeed, those who do not accept our bio-cultural neighbors as ourselves, are not really obeying the Bible. Which told us even in the Bible itself, that if to “love God” is the “first” and most important of the commandments, a “second” command is like it, and is also the basis of all God’s laws: to love our neighbors as ourselves. As part of the key commands from God:

 

 

” ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your god…. And a second is like it. Your shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commands depends all the law and the prophets'” (Mat. 22.36-40).

 

” ‘Which command is first of all?’ [note] Jesus answered, ‘The first is, Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all our heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12.31; Mat. 19.19).

 

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (One of Paul’s few direct quotes of Jesus? Rom. 13.9).

 

 

And? If the meaning here, is only love them just “as much as” our selves, still, anyone who objects to immorality as consisting in others carrying on our tradition, does not after all, value others, as much as the Bible commands us to do. Those who want we ourselves and in person to live on? Such people are not really thinking of others so much. So that in the end? Loving your neighbor as yourself, means for all practical purposes, “one and the same as,” in either case. And those who do not accept neighbors and descendants as standing in for us after all, are simply … not really obeying the Bible. Especially if they insist on they themselves living on in person; which is … selfish. Thinking of one’s self, after all.

 

Amazingly in any case, the Bible itself often considered that your children are you, more or less. cc) Indeed, the “corporate identity” of the individual with the tribe, as it has been called, can be seen in many other parts of the Bible as well; where God seems often to have thought not so much in terms of individuals, at times, but in terms of nations, tribes. God to be sure often mentioned individuals … but he more often thought in terms of a people, a race, a culture. As if that larger entity was more important than an individual. And dd) if individual wealth and “prosperity” were important? Then note that their great success and “prosperity” lies in part in the fact that they had many children; many descendants; founded a “people.” A “nation.”

 

God himself often (if not totally) considered the fact that you have surviving children, or followers, as in effect, a validation of your values … and a form of afterlife for you; a continuance of you. God tells Abraham he will have many children, and found a nation; and he says in connection with this, that this will make Abraham – “him” – “numerous.” How do you make an individual, numerous? Technically (before cloning) you can’t. However, God here clearly considers that a man’s children, are in effect, an extension of him.

 

And finally then, how does this fit our notion of immortality again? We suggest that we are carried on, through our DNA and the cultural memory we leave behind us, in others. So we live on, through our children, or biological and/or cultural heirs. Many might not find this entirely satisfying to be sure; the first objection is that after all, this is not quite entirely we ourselves, in all our individuality. And yet, the Bible seems to pose a number of answers to that objection. One might be that after all, a) who are you yourself, to ask for perfect immortality? First, that seems selfish or self-centered; not humble. And b) who are you to ask for immortality for all your individual traits … including your bad ones? While finally in any case, we are c) noting here that the Bible considers that your descendants are you. While d) biology confirms that our DNA is partially continued in others; and e) cultural studies, anthropology, confirm that many of our ideas, our culture, continues in books, and others who remember our nature, our thoughts, our spirit. So that? If you have surviving biological and/or cultural descendants? Your descendants can carry on for a long time, then you can live on for a very, very long time.

 

Potentially in fact, if our children really are us, or do carry on bits of us, then bits of us could live on, in principle, indefinitely; one generation after the next. As our children carry on our DNA, our spirit, on into the future.

 

Originally at first to be sure, these and other pictures of immortality, seemed mystical, vague, “cloud”y. But as we will be seeing here, ultimately, this bio-cultural survival, is the probably core notion of the afterlife, even in the Bible itself. And in any case, it is only one that was not just “religious,” but that had been given a rational defense, by Plato. While furthermore, it is a vision of afterlife that can now be firmed up, by current Natural Science: by Biology and Social Studies, Anthropology. Which confirm this: our descendants do indeed carry on a bit of our selves – our memory, sayings, our culture – after our death. Through “living” “memory,” “books,” “culture,” and so forth. Through many media.

 

This bio-cultural survival, or immortality, turns out to be quite important: the survival of the self through reproduction, in your children and cultural heirs, is important in religious study. Because it is ultimately, we will suggest, 1) the real root core of perhaps all Biblical promises of immortality. But 2) this is important generally: the survival of ideas and cultural, is perhaps one of main reasons for the success of the human race. And 3) there are implications in this, for all of Nature; the fact is, the whole universe can be seen, as a sort of recording or memory medium. From the footprints of dinosaurs in the mud, to our own books and computer data bases, the universe is filled with recording media. So that patterns for things can survive generations. Indeed, the universe itself seems to contain patterns in it: the laws, the Nature, of God. So that we begin to see many important things here.

 

Nearly all of us leave some traces of ourselves, somewhere in the universe; we have an afterlife. And furthermore we will be showing here, the important thing for present purposes, is that 4) this afterlife can be described, proved, rationally, scientifically. So that 5) in effect, we here have a rational, scientific proof of Christian immortality.

 

[And 6) if this afterlife at first, seems rather partial, “humble,” then indeed, we are supposed to be humble. If 7) it seems to conflate our bio-culture children or culture or “neighbors” with our selves, then after all, that is what the Bible itself commanded: as we will find another, deeper meaning behind the core command “love your neighbor as yourselves.”]

 

This notion of immortality is probably the best. And finally, we will see, 8) not only does this idea of an afterlife finally fit all the references in the Bible; finally, this theory begins to explain how Jesus specifically, might re-appear on earth; as reconstructed from DNA and cultural analysis. His true thoughts carefully reconstructed … and then revived, in living individuals today. Who are indeed often called the “body of Christ.” Christ is reborn, in effect, in those of us who understand and take in deeply, his true words and thoughts. And note, this means that the formerly disembodied thoughts and words of God, find a material body again. So that those who follow this will find, see, a real resurrection; not only of themselves, but they will also see at last, the foretold second and better appearance, resurrection, of Christ on earth.

 

 

 

Is Biblical Immortality Enough?

 

 

This we suggest here, is what Biblical immortality was really about.

 

To be sure, how solid and satisfying, will this biblical immortality be for some? First note, it depends on how satisfied you are, with the notion that your descendants are a reasonable facsimile or copy, of you, yourself. That Abraham’s descendants really can be regarded, as a continuation of Abraham, himself.

 

For many, what the Bible is offering most often, is just a metaphorical “rebirth” in your lifetime; or second most often, a kind of immortality through reproduction. About which there are many questions, and technical objections. Is it really fair, for instance, to claim that having children allows you to live on? That our children are us? There have been scholarly, philosophical objections to this; centered in part around the problem of what might be called “identity”: are copies of us really one and the same, as we ourselves? Yet we will be finding that first, in any case, this is what the Bible offered: the Bible itself considered our descendants to be us, in effect. This in any case, is what the Bible offered; like it or not; take it or leave it. Then too, we will find that there are many situations in which we refer to copies, as being about the same as, as good as, the original. Therefore, finally, though many of us might hope for more, this is close enough to what many might wish; and indeed we will find, our final idea of our selves living on in traces in the material universe/”mind of God,” fully satisfies, or can be reconciled to, every reference to immortality and resurrection in the Bible.

 

So that in effect, this is it: this is resurrection, it seems. Those who want more, want more than God usually offered.

 

 

 

How Others Are Resurrected;

Its Real Enough

 

 

So 1) this is the real root of rumors of resurrection in the Bible. Furthermore, 2) this immortality has a biological and anthropological, scientific and rational foundation; one that will be expanded here.

 

Your children, and your neighbors, are indeed in some ways, like you: they speak the same language usually; they carry some of your genes; they have much of your culture; and often they worship the same god. They carry some of the sayings and thoughts of their parents. Children and neighbors therefore will carry much – if not all – of what you were. They carry bits of you on, from generation to generation. In their minds, and genes too. And if to be sure, this afterlife at first seems rather “ghostly,” then it is all the more Biblical precisely on account of its being ghostly; it precisely matches the old legends, that a “ghost” or “spirit” of you lives on.

 

Furthermore, as will be seen, this survival 1) like it or not, sufficient or not, is ultimately what the Bible was actually offering, when read closely enough. Further 2) this kind of afterlife was confirmed by Philosophers like Plato. And 3) this kind of afterlife can now be better defined – and fleshed out; found to be a bit more solid than formerly thought – by Biology and Culture Studies. And by say, literary criticism, and traditional ideas about literary immortality. As we will see soon.

 

Living on through “name” and “seed”: what is it all, in easy scientific terms? In part, the survival of “name” in particular is, in terms of Social Science, about Culture; about specifically the “cultural transmission of ideas,” and the transmission of “learned patterns of thought and behavior.” This survival of our memory in time is in fact, partly what “culture” is; the transmission of values, language, thought patterns, patterns of behavior, from one generation to the next. Mom and dad, in England, spoke English, and were Catholic; they will often try to teach their children to speak English, and be Catholics (to a point). In this way, much of what mom and dad were, is passed on, from one generation, to the next. Through what we would call “culture” today; but what was once crudely known as one’s surviving “name” and “people” and “seed.” The people who are related to you, who carry on some of your ideas and values … and who therefore, will be blessed or cursed, do well or do badly, according to how good those ideas you left, were.

 

This is a major part of the total picture of immortality – and resurrection too. How you yourself, live on in – or to relate this to “resurrection,” how you are “reborn” or “resurrected” – though others. And as it turns out, though all this was once thought to be rather ghostly and metaphorical only, today, we have a rather more clear vision of these things; which are now being seen more clearly, more solidly, real. From Anthropological and Sociological and Psychological studies – from the “Social Sciences,” or “Behavioral Sciences”; the sciences of human behavior or society – we now know that a great deal of what you yourself is, is inherited from our family and tribal and other cultures. In this way, many things happen that confirm a wide spectrum of Christian ideas: 1) a bit of the “spirit” our ancestors is “reborn” in us; in that the thoughts and ideas of past lives on in us. Particularly, 2) when we study and take to “heart” the writings or sayings of past persons, in churches or schools or at home for instance, their spirit or ideas, can enter our mind, become “part of us,” give us a “new spirit.” The ideas – or as they say in religious language, “spirit” – of our ancestors is born again into us; giving our ancestors a bit of immortality … and giving us a new and better spirit. Then in turn, 3) if we have children, or students, our words and/or genes are carried on by others after us. So that the old spirit of others, and a bit of ourselves too, is carried on from generation to generation; potentially, indefinitely; forever. On to the day when as last our people (with the help of the powers that made us) create an ideal life, an ideal kingdom. So that a bit of our soul or self or ideas, can live on, to an ideal life, an ideal kingdom, some day.

 

This might sound mystical to many. Indeed, this is the heart of mysticism. But now we can explain it in simple factual terms, that show how it is real. Here’s an example: you go to school and read the words of famous people …like Abraham Lincoln. Then, reading Lincoln, you might like some of his thoughts, his ideas and character – and take them as ideas for yourself. In this way, a bit of what we would today call the ideas – or in ancient religious language, the “spirit” – of Lincoln, become part of us. We read the words of Abraham Lincoln, and if we like them and take them to heart, they influence our spirit or mind or character. In this way, the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln “live on” … in us. And likewise, if we ourselves do a lot of good in life, then people will remember us and our ideas … and bits of us live on too; reproduced the minds of those who come after us and follow and remember our ideas.

 

This we say is the origin of the legend of “spirits” that live on in our bodies. And there are many spirits; many surviving ideas, in a culture. Christianity of course, is particularly interested in the “spirit” or ideas and character of Jesus, of course – though the Bible acknowledge there are many spirits out there. What it boils down to generically though is this: ultimately, some of our great persons have timeless ideas, or ideas that seem to work well (bear fruits); those we say are from God. In particular, ideas that bring us prosperity; which in turn bring us prosperity because they are in tune with, the nature of the universe (/God). So for instance, a man might look at a plow, and see how to make a better one, by observing dirt and reality, and nature; and so, the various “spirits” – or ideas – that we get from good persons of the past, are ultimately not just from people, but from nature to. And since God made nature, then, from God. So ideas come to us in part through people … but ultimately, if they are good ideas, we say they are from nature, or God.

 

All this gets a big complicated, and at first has seemed unsatisfying to many priests. Priests are used to making very, very, very big promises; and something this modest and humble is difficult for them. Even shattering, compared to their imaginations. However, were told that those who are humble, in the End will be first; whereas those who were proud and thought they had the best, thought they were first, turn out to be last of all. In the eyes of God.

 

So let’s accept this humble immortality, for a while. As it turns out, it is the key to the Bible … and to seeing a substantial resurrection.

 

 

 

More

 

 

Is this humble, para- or ghostly immortality, really what all the noise about an “afterlife” was really about? In seems hard to believe. But in fact, this was the larger part of it. We can see this basic idea of immortality, all over the Old Testament. Then in the New, too. Next though, let’s look in what Protestants would call the Apocryphal books, but that Catholics consider good, Deuterocanonical (?): like the book of Sirach (above). However, it is also fully and broadly accepted or “canonical” books like Isaiah.

 

Though the connection between promises of immortality in heaven, in God, and mention of “seed” and “name” living on, was often not made very explicitly, in the Bible, a survey of the Old Testament finds that the major references to anything about a human being living on after your death at all, are primarily only to your “name” and “seed” living on. Further, “name” is often mentioned in close connection with – or even as an analogue or co-linked notion of – heaven itself. And in close connection with some things remaining after our death:

 

“For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.'” (Isa. 66.22 KJE; italic, ours; see also apocryphal Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus, 30.4-5 and 41.11-13, in later versions; Ox. 699).

 

Notice that references to “seed” and “name” are jammed in with references to “heaven”; and to things “remain”ing before God. This proximity is not coincidental; the Bible intends to link all these things together. It might appear to be a minor coincidence to some, that “seed” and “name” and “heaven” are all linked. But in fact, it is the key to, the Rosetta Stone, of immortality. It is essentially, listing the same concept, in two languages, in two metaphors: “Heaven” and “seed.”

 

Seed and name and heaven are not just all together in one sentence, here; there is an explicit analogy, a connection, being made, between heaven – normally associated with living on forever – and seed and name. And also with remaining forever “before” God. So: as heaven and God live on forever, so do your seed and name. Or, to turn the equation around: your seed and name living on, are connected somehow, to heaven, and living on forever. Or ‘Heaven” is related to your seed and name living on.

 

Indeed, as it turns out, Jesus will later confirm that people remain alive, in that God remembers them and mentions them, they are alive in his memory in effect: “for all are alive to him” (see below?).

 

So this notion, of our children or race living on after us, and before God, appears to be a minor, ghostly, “spiritual” thing at first. But first 1) ministers should believe that in fact “spiritual” things are important. And second 2) this is it the first – and major – key to what immortality and heaven originally meant in the Bible; and in reality. It is spiritual; and Cultural; and Biological. All at once. The “new heaven,” and earth, appear to be converging, here, with this analysis.

 

Seed, heaven, immortality, are all linked. In ancient times, there was no Anthropology or Cultural Studies or Biology, to state this clearly. Now though, it is possible to make it all “plain.” (Thanks to the second, better voice of God; God’s Science. Presaged in the neglected “second” voice of the New Testament; see Science chapter).

 

 

 

 

Biological Aspects of Seed Immortality

 

 

We live on, through “seed” and “name.” The word “seed” though, is used a metaphor for many different things, in the Bible. So we need to make what we mean clear. Consider the “grain of mustard seed”; Onan spilling his “seed” on the earth”; the parable of the sowers of grain or “seed.” While Paul speaks of the “husk” of our body, etc, and hinting our soul is the seed. We are considering particularly however, the cases where “seed” is used as a metaphor for children. Children – our “seed.” Or as you might also call them, our bio-cultural descendants.

 

“Seed” in much of the Bible refers to our children, our “posterity,” our “descendants”; and the Bible says it is through they in effect, that we have our immortality. Our children, or our blood relatives, carry on much of what their parents were. They are partially our cultural successors, who carry on our culture. And they are also our biological successors. Our children and surviving biological relatives. The references to “seed” we are interested in here then, are the times it was used especially, as a metaphor for “your descendants.” The reference to “seed” quoted from Isaiah, from the King James Bible – above – is in fact, translated in the Revised Standard Edition, as, precisely, “descendants” (Isa. 66.22 RSV).

 

Confirming that our afterlife – often thought to happen “in heaven – is through our descendants, in Isaiah your biological descendants, are mentioned in connection with permanency, eternality, in “heaven.” “Remaining,’ somehow. This forms a first, early hint that Biblical promises of immortality, even of “heaven,” refer largely to the fact that that some part of our nature lives on, though our biological and cultural successors; like our surviving family.

 

When you first see this, it seems possibly true – but disappointing; deflating. If this is all promises of immorality amounts to, many people will feel tricked, cheated. And indeed in fact, it may be that our priests and ministers billed immortality and the afterlife, as more than God promised. However, though this at first seems to offer a rather unsatisfactory, partial “afterlife” – one that is “merely metaphorical,” partial, or half-immortality at most – still, we will find now that 1) for better or for worse, we this is actually the major part (51%?) what the Bible really offers, deep down, when it talks about immortality and heaven. This is the major part of the meaning of the promise that we will live on forever in heaven if we are good; our name will live on, with other men, or God. (“For all are alive to him”; since he remembers their name). This living on through children, eventually ties to, is found to be the metaphorical root underneath, most of those promises that we will live on to a better, heavenly kingdom, too; our descendants, it was hoped, would live long enough to live in a better kingdom, in the world to come after our deaths. Our defendants live in this world, which is made better and better for us by God – until finally it presents an ideal life for our successors.

 

And finally, 2) unsatisfactory as the real biblical afterlife may seem to some, there is, after all, something scientifically real to it. As will be seen now, it is more solid, than many people thought. Or, if it is vague, then remember, that promises of ‘heaven” often were rather vague too. Those who want a very, very solid afterlife, are asking for something more solid that what the Bible itself offered; there were always hints that our afterlife was a bit “spiritual” or “ghostly” or “cloudy.” We live on in some “glorious” way some say – but still, rather in the “clouds” too. So if the afterlife though children is “ghostly,” “spirit” like, then it corresponds all the more exactly to the Bible, precisely on that account.

 

Perhaps we can firm this up more, too. First, an awareness of some kind of at least para-afterlife, through having children, is common, widespread. People often say – rather metaphorically, but with some factual truth in it – that we “live on, though our children.” It is often said that a mother lives a “second life” through her daughter. (Especially, for instance, “stage mothers”). A son is often said to look like his father, to continue his “legacy,” etc; to be a “chip off the old block.” Some mothers say they can see a father’s eyes in their sons. A bit of the father, peeking out. Now we can say thought that there is a real, biological truth in this; much of what a person is, continues what our parents were, or our race or species is. Some geneticists suggest that biologically, children are 99.97% identical to their parents; and that biology, determines much of what we are. Indeed, it was our large, inherited brain, that allowed humans to think, and become human.

 

Much of what we are individually, is determined by our genes; inherited from our parents. We normally have two arms, two legs, two eyes, and a relatively large brain, compared to other animals. And all of these in part determine (q.v. Bible) much of what we are and can do; many are very important traits; our larger brain in particular, is responsible for much of what it means to be us; to be human; it is responsible for our intelligence; a key element of being human. And of course, these key things … are indeed passed on by biological reproduction. Then too, some of an individual’s traits are passed on too. Eye color and so forth. Children are very much like their parents in many ways. And though this seems unrelated to immortality at first, note that there is another way to put this; you could say that a big part of what made us what we are, is reproduced in, or “lives on in,” the child. This then is the first major root, of legends of immortality, in the Bible. As will be seen, over and over, in the Old Testament, the major references to things living on eternally, refer mostly to our children, or “seed,” living on after us, “eternally.” Or to our “name” or reputation living after us too; in part, through our children, our people.

 

At first, this seems disappointing; this is a very humble, metaphorical afterlife. But 1) this is actually what the Bible offered, when you read it closely. And 2) this is not just a metaphorical afterlife, exactly; we are now in a position to say that there are some very real biological and cultural things in it. Things that are true, and that can be confirmed by Biology and Culture studies. By Science.

 

Which means in fact, we are now on our way to at least 1) the true meaning of immortality in the Bible; and 3) a scientific proof of immortality.

 

Yet to be sure, if this is still not entirely satisfying to some? Then note that there are more aspects to cover, before we have a complete picture of the biblical afterlife. Here we have covered especially, “seed” or DNA or biology; next we need to consider more, about our “name” … or our cultural legacy, living on.

 

Part of what we have been, lives on through biology; in our biological chidden, decedents, in their genes. But? Remember that the Bible itself often spoke of our “name,” our reputation, our ideas or spirit, living on after us in our children too. But in a slightly different way than genetic survival. As it turns out, our words live on in the “memory” of others; in books; in culture.

 

As we will see, next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END CHAPTER

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

More on Your “Name”

Living On:

 

Cultural

And Literary

Immortality;

 

Living On Through

Your “Name,”

In Surviving Culture ;

In Jesus Ben Sirach; Living on

Especially Through “Books”

 

 

 

Plato said in 350 BC, that we live on through our children, or our people. And confirming that, we’ve already mentioned three or four places already in the Bible too, where the notion of living on through your biological children, and the survival of your tribe, or race, or people, is important, and is considered an afterlife. We could quote hundreds of such cases. In some ways to be sure though, the idea that our people or children, are the only form of afterlife we have, is not completely satisfying. After all, it is not we ourselves, selfsame, that live on; but rather, only bits and pieces of us; parts of us only, live on; and only in the sense that parts of us are reproduced in “copies” of us.

 

Is this really what the Bible meant by immortality then? Let’s fix this up with three or four points. First, we might mention in passing 1) this largely biological afterlife is mentioned firmly in the Bible, over and over. Second, 2) if this does not seem to favor the individual as such, it is well known to historians that a) the Jews and their God, often thought less in terms of individuals, and more in terms of a “people”; the individual was closely identified with his clan or tribe. God often promised to bless the Jewish people. And b) the individual was identified with his descendants and successors … to the point that God often spoke of a man’s biological descendants, as being in effect, the man himself being “multiplied.” As we see here with regard to Abraham; in the Old Testament, the linkage between a man and his biological descendants was considered so close, that above, God spoke as if carrying on Abraham’s descendants, was one and the same as “multiplying” Abraham, himself.

 

So your children are considered you, by God. (For better or worse; the “sins of the father are visited on the children”). But now lets move on past the Biological side of this; to thinking of our surviving children, and people, in terms of just biology; of our DNA and genetic traits living on in our people. In point of fact, if Plato and the Bible both spoke of bits of us living on in our people, there are actually two major parts of this; our descendants carry on bits of us through DNA … but also, through remembering things we said and wrote. So that 3) in addition to biology, bits of what we said and were, are carried on, through … culture.

 

As it turns out then, there’s a bit more of us, that is carried on through our progeny, our “seed.” It is not just DNA that carries on some of what we were; there are in fact dozens of different media that carry on traces of us. Specifically, we now need to look at not only how surviving children and tribesmen carry on our genes, in their biological nature; now we need to consider how they and their culture carry on traces of us, too. As it turns out, in addition to our surviving DNA, bits of what we are, is carried forward by many things in culture that record and preserve our deeds and sayings – including a) books and other written records; b) the memory others have of us; including our cultural reputation or “name.” “Memory,” “books,” and “name,” are mentioned particularly, in the Bible itself.

 

First, in the Bible, as in many Mediterranean cultures, it was considered extremely important, to leave behind a good “name” or reputation, in your culture, after you died. To leave behind a good name, to make sure those who lived after you remembered you well and fondly and with respect; in their minds, and in the books and legends and stories, retained by your culture. And furthermore it was more or less thought by some, that in this there was another piece of immortality.

 

 

 

Living on … in Memory;

Your “Name” Lives On

 

 

This then is another part of immortality: you live on … in the minds or spirits (or hearts) of others. Of those people that you personally met, and on whom you left an impression or memory. You live on in the minds and hearts of those who remember you – through those of your “words” that they remember. They carry on the memory of you; and your reputation or “name.” So in yet another way, another piece of you – an impression of your ideas, character, or “spirit” – is carried on. By others. In fact, being remembered – by God, and by your descendants – is important in the Bible. So specifically, consider now this medium, through which we live on in memory. This in fact is the second major part or element of real immortality: the memory God – and others – have of you.

 

Consider first how pieces of what you were, are carried on by other people. When you talk to people, or when they hear or read about you, another bit of you – your “word”s, ideas, “wisdom” – is impressed on those you meet, or talk to. And if you are at least locally famous, and have a big “name,” or reputation, then you live on in many people; as stories are passed on about you. And in this, it has long been considered, is one aspect of immortality. Indeed, at least since the time of Solomon, fame and “name” have long been considered a form of afterlife. Your “memory,” your “name,” live on after you. In your cultural descendants; in the people who saw you, and registered you and your character and ideas, in their minds; in people who heard about you, and who remember what you said. In particular, many people will sometimes take your words to heart … and take them into themselves, their own minds and hearts … as part of themselves. So that in effect, bits of your mind – or “spirit” – are carried on; and reproduced in others. Through “culture”; others learning from you, and copying what you say and think, in their own minds.

 

So there is yet another medium, aside from DNA, which transmits and reproduces into the future, parts of our mind or spirit: and that is the memory of a culture. Other people, remember you to various degrees. Often, more specifically, the way your memory and name spreads … is through a) the memory that people who actually met you have. Especially when they copy your thinking, in their own. But also, often b) impressions of you are also preserved in books, and other human productions. So even more parts of what you were, is preserved in “culture”: through learned – or remembered – patterns of behavior and thinking, that others take from you. While parts of you are carried especially by various material things humans make; including books, computer records, and so forth. And legends and stories; which make up your reputation, or your “name.”

 

Memory, being “remember”ed and not “forgotten,” then, is part of your afterlife. As part of this in turn, comes the common ancient notion that we live on, through our “name.” That is, through the image of us, our reputation. The associations linked to us that a culture retains, and recalls when it mentions our name, after our death. Our “name” in particular, is an important aspect of immortality, that can be seen in all the Bible.

 

 

 

Immortality Through “Name,”
In Sirach

 

 

Living on, in our surviving reputation or “name,” can be found in all Bibles. However, consider just the Catholic Bible for a while. Particularly useful is this basic idea of immortality, which is embraced more or less explicitly, in one of the Apocryphal/Catholic books of the Bible, by one “Jesus ben Sirach.” Or “Ecclesiasticus,” as he is called in the later Latin versions of the Catholic Bible.

 

Sirach or Ecclesiasticus is one of the less accepted, more questionable – or “Apocryphal” – books of the Bible. His writing is found only in the Catholic bible; and not in most Protestant ones. However, it would be good for many of us to pay closer attention now, to such Apocrypha; because texts like Sirach help clarify the roots of other Biblical ideas, that are found in the regular Bible. Including, here the promise of “heaven,” and immortality, through “name.” Such things are at times clearer in Sirach. Though we of course will need then to go back, and confirm what it said in the regular or “canon”ical, Bibles too.

 

Here in any case, is what it says in Sirach/Ecclesiasticus. While noting that a “man’s body is a fleeting thing,” (41.11), it says this, about our “name”:

 

 

“The boon of life is for limited days, but a good name, for days without number” (Sir. 41.13).

 

“The human body is a fleeting thing, but a virtuous name will never be blotted out. Have regard for your name, since it will outlive you longer than a thousand hoards of gold ” (Sir. 41.11-12 NRSV).

 

“Be careful of your reputation, for it will last you longer than a thousand great hoards of gold. A good life lasts a certain number of days, but a good reputation lasts for ever (Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus 41.11-13, NAB; italics, mine.)

 

 

Our lives are short, “limited,” says Sirach. But it is a great “boon” or asset, to have a good “name.” Which, Sirach says, goes on forever. For “days without number.” So that here, Sirach tells us there is a kind of afterlife, immortality, in our “name.”

 

Later Sirach also urges us not to “ashamed” of this immortality, furthermore (41.14). While Sirach continually emphasizes our continuing name. While finally even those who leave no conscious “memor”ies, but simply their own good works, are thus remembered, or living on:

 

 

“Now will I praise those godly men, our ancestors…, men of renown for their might…. Resolute princes of the folk, and governors with their staves; authors skilled in composition…. Some of them have left behind a name, and men recount their praiseworthy deeds; but of others there is no memory, for when they ceased, they ceased. And they are as though they had not lived, they and their children after them. Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten; their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants; through God’s covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake. And for all time their progeny will endure, their glory will never be blotted out; their bodies are peacefully lead away, but their name lives on and on. At gatherings their wisdom is retold, and the assembly proclaims their praise” (Sirach 44.1, 2, 3,4, 8-15 NAB).

 

 

Then too, Sirach – or other apocryphal material – adds somewhere, the inverse or converse of all this. Not only do we live on when others remember our reputation; the converse is also true: our immortality is partially extinguished, when others forget about us: “Mourning … [ takes care of?] only the bodies of the dead, but the worthless name of sinners will be blotted out” (n.s.). Or others might add, if our works were not good enough to survive long (when our work is tested with the slow “fire” of time, of oxidation and so forth).

 

So that in the regular Bible, but also in apocryphal sources like Sirach (and others even more vividly?), the survival of the self after death, is clearly spoken of, as relating to you “name” or memory, being retained … or, being “blotted out.” Indeed further, the Bible here speaks as if this is almost the only form of afterlife. Saying that your “life is for limited days”; it is only your “name” that lives on.

 

“Name” therefore is important. Here again, in Sirach then, immortality, having something part of us going on, going on “days without number” … is linked to the survival of one’s “memory,” as it will be added later. Or here, to the survival of one’s good “name.” Part of the idea of living on in Heaven, or living on in a good state, is actually from this idea of … having a good reputation that lives on; or a good name. And related to that, eventually hell is presented in these early books as having your name besmirched, or erased, or “blotted out,” or forgotten. Living on consists in your name – or in some variations, your “memory,” the memory others have you you, or also your “reputation” – retained, remembered. Remembered by those who come after you; your children, your cultural successors (and eventually, as will be seen, remembered by God). Whereas, conversely, being finally and really extinguished, happens when your name or reputation is forgotten.

 

Some of the first real hints of immortality then in the Old Testament, are really about having bits of us recorded, and surviving, in various things, various “media.” In things in nature, which retain some impression of us; as for example, in 1) the living memory of us, that those who talked to us in life had; the 2) fame or “name”; that leads many to tell stories about us, so that others carry on stories of us after our death. While parts of us we will be adding, are carried on by 3) books; which often record stories or data about, or by, us.

 

In particular though, ancient Jews felt that our descendants – our children, and our surviving people – are our strongest legacy; the strongest way, we live on. This is said over and over in the ancient books.

 

This is said very often, in Sirach. Who speaks of a son in particular, being “educated”; which is one of the more intense methods of carrying on your ideas. And Sirach speaks of that as carrying on the “father” (q.v. Jesus, son and “father”):

 

 

“He who educates his son makes his enemy jealous, and shows his delight in him among his friends. At the father’s death, he will not seem dead, since he lives after him one like himself, whom he looks upon through life with joy…. The avenger he leaves against his foes, and the one to repay his friends with kindness” (Sirach 30.3-4 Catholic bible; NAB).

 

 

While in contrast, of course, if the memory of us is bad, then what lives on is our disgrace:

 

 

“She will leave an accursed memory; her disgrace will never be blotted out” (Sir. 23.26).

 

 

Today, many would not consider this immortality. But not only in the apocryphal books like Sirach, but also throughout the Old Testament, overwhelmingly, when it talks about any part of us at all living on after us, it is generally about bits of us, the pattern of bits of us, surviving through our children, our “people,” our “seed,” our “name.” Bit of us live on, have our immortality, in effect, in the genes – and in the memories and written records – that others have from us.

 

Though some might not find this entirely satisfying, not just the Apocrapha, but the whole Bible, reflect the notion that what we might call here our bio-cultural descendants, carry us on; make us “numerous.” As Sirach says … in a passage that after all, reflects other, canonical parts of the Bible. On Abraham for example:

 

A lasting agreement was made with him, than never should all flesh be destroyed. ABRAHAM, father of many peoples, kept his glory without stain… For this reason, God promised him with an oath that in his descendants the nations would be blessed, that he would make him numerous as the grains of dust, and exalt his posterity like the stars….” (Sir. 44.18-19, 21).

 

Such concepts, we will find, are confirmed in the regular Bible; which often considers multiplying our descendants, to “multiply” and continue, “you”:

 

 

“Make your fruitful and multiply you” (Gen. 28.3).

 

“I will make you fruitful, and multiply you” (48.4. Lev. 26.9, Deut. 1.10ff).

 

“The word of God grew and multiplied” (Acts 12.24).

 

 

Some might not find this kind of afterlife entirely satisfying. But the Bible considers that our children reproduce us to the extent that in fact, they are us; us, carried on into the future. “Multiply”ing “you.” Making you “numerous.”

 

So the Bible often considers or biological and cultural progeny, to be we ourselves, living on, after our deaths. This in fact, we will see, is really the greater part – but not the only part – of what the Bible meant, when it promised us immortality.

 

 

 

This is a Spiritual and Physical Afterlife

 

 

The Bible and ordinary traditional preachers often picture immortality as an all-too-simple, physical thing: dead physical bodies, rising from graves, like zombies, to walk and talk again. But there are many arguments that this mental picture or legend, was just a simplified verbal illustration, for uneducated people. A too-simple, childhood vision, that does not hold up well, when compared to the fine print in the Bible. First, to be sure, said St. Paul, it was probably more “spiritual” than just the simple coming to live of long-dead bodies; Paul even said “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom” (below). St. Paul went to far as to suggest that our immortality, was only spiritual, or in heaven, he sometimes seemed to say (q.v.). Yet St. Paul’s radical over-spirituality, was later modified by St. Paul himself. And now we begin to see another, more complicated kind of spiritual and material afterlife.

 

Paul and others pictured a kind of afterlife that seemed to involve mainly, the spirit living on; not the body. To be sure we are showing here, that “spirituality” in turn, was only part of the picture; the truth is, our spirit lives on past us … but in the bodies of others. Our ideas live on … and are taken up in other’s brains, others bodies, to live there. So that indeed, our soul or spirit can leave us, and then go on to inhabit other’s bodies. Though at no time is our 1) spirit without 2) some material “medium” to live in. Be it the material brain of others, or a book recording our thoughts.

 

So that our vision here, note, is beginning to rejoin mind and matter, spirit and flesh, word and world, again. Both are part of immortality – and of God.

 

 

 

Name as Fame

 

 

In any case, the aspect of immortality that attracted the most credible attention, was the immortality that came from the Biblical word for your “reputation,” and ideas surviving in your brain, your culture: your “name.” “Name” just means: how people remember you; your fame. Whether they remember your name, personally, in their brains. Or whether your name is also written down in History; and people download it to their brains. And then, it is retained or not – according to whether people find it useful, and associate it with good things; or find it bad, or not functional.

 

Roughly speaking, “name” also relates to “fame.” It has been well known, and often said, that “Fame” offers “Immortality.” The ideas is that the more people that remember you, the more famous you are – particularly, for being good – then, the more that bits of you, live on, in other’s minds and hearts. You gain more and more immortality – the more people hear of you, and think of you; the more they remember you and use your ideas; take your model to heart, as part of themselves. You then, live on in others. More and more, if you are famous.

 

How important was this immortality, through Fame or Name? Both Plato and God often mentioned the importance of name – including God’s “name” living on, and being respected; so that his spirit would live on. (Plato also added that the naming of the gods, or goods we might say today, was the greatest achievement of man). Human beings like Jesus Ben Sirach or “Ecclesiasticus” also spoke of their desire to have their good name live on after them. To have others think of them, and remember them. And many scholars once hinted, that tales of “Jesus” Ben Sirach, apocryphal, Jewish/Greek tales of a “father” instructing the “son,” led finally, to Jesus Christ. Who constantly spoke of himself, as the “son,” following, continuing, a “father.” As being the continuation of, “one” with, his father.

 

The book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, by the way, was said to have been written from about 180 to 132 BC, by one “Jesus” Ben Sirach. It was written we were told, in Hebrew; but for many years we knew it primarily as translated and amended by his grand”son,” into Greek. A major issue in it, some scholars say, is precisely the afterlife – and the issue of retribution in it. Some say Sirach denied retribution there (as per Alexander A. Di Lella, “Sirach,” in Ox. Comp. to the Bible, p. 698). Sirach was not considered part of the core Jewish holy books, their canon, some say, perhaps for that very reason. Yet its words were “often cited by the later rabbis” as scholars tell us (Di Lella, 698). And indeed, perhaps Jesus Christ himself, was named after Jesus Ben Sirach. While much of Jesus’ thinking seems to follow these rather Greek ideas. And the whole mode of a “son,” continuing a “father.”

 

 


Living On in

God or His Memory;

God Living On Today

 

 

What did Jesus Christ himself say, about immortality, next? C. 27 AD? In the regular, or “canonical, Bible? Some parts of the Bible hint that 1) we live on somehow “in Christ”. While 2) Jesus might be said to be immortal, since he is in God somehow (likely, as above). While 3) Jesus himself will say (below) that ancient patriarchs were alive, in that they survive in God – or more exactly, God’s memory. In that God – or others – was still talking about their name.

 

When asked about the resurrection of the dead, Jesus issues a rather ambiguous replay. But one that in part implies it seems, that Abel (of Cain and Abel) for example, is living on, in that many entities remember him. First because 1) God still talks about Abel. So God remembers Abel … which might be considered a form of afterlife. Or 2) the books, the Bible records his name; which might be considered an afterlife too. Or 3) we might add, the name of Abel lives on … because human beings still talk about him and retain at bit of his shadow, in our memories.

 

In the main though, the remarks of Jesus further help develop this notion of the afterlife: that the dead are alive, when or if, God remembers and mentions their names. When asked whether the dead are resurrected, Jesus said this: “But that the dead are raised,” he said, was proven in that God remembers them, or mentions their real, actual, literal name … in writing, in the Bible.

 

Here is Jesus, dealing with the difficult issue of resurrection, in this rather tricky way:

 

 

“And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not just God of the dead, but of the living’” (Mat. 22.32. Note two possible meanings: God names old heroes, and therefore, since God is thinking of them, they are still alive. Or, God is naming old heroes to present-day people, so he is still God, still alive).

 

 

Note first here, to be sure, that 1) these phrases, like many phrases in the Bible, are very ambiguous; they have many possible meanings. 2) But in one reading, dead heroes – like Isaac, and Jacob and others – are “alive,” in that they are remembered by God, and us, for their faith in God. In 3) another related interpretation, God is naming these people, to those around Jesus; so they and God at least, are still alive, to those around Jesus. (Or perhaps 4: Jesus is evading the question; or 5 – simply saying that God is the God of many generations, from Abraham, through to Jacob; hinting that likely, he is still the relevant God, in Jesus’ time as well). Briefly though, note that Jesus seems to feel that if God names people, somehow, that implies they are alive. So that once again, having your “name” remembered – in this case, by God himself – implies a kind of continuing life, for the dead.

 

Here to be sure, the language of Jesus is – as he often is – very evasive and ambiguous. But can we resolve his meaning finally? To try to do that, we might 6) look at other versions of this same incident, in other gospels:

 

 

“‘But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the LORD [the] God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. No he is not God of the dead, but of the living; for all live to him.’ And some of the scribes answered, ‘Teacher, you have spoken well'” (Luke 20.37-9; ref. Ex. 3.6).

 

 

These passages are still rather ambiguous. But suppose we foreground this clearly possible meaning: people live on, in that God remembers them, in part, and remembers their “names.” So that all live, so far as God is concerned. (Though some doubters might consider another interpretation: “all live to him,” means that those named, lived for God, in the sense of working for him and believing in him. Or they are alive, to God; but not necessarily for anyone else. In the way that 7 – Ps. 139 suggests that even the as-yet unborn, are known to God; so that even those who do not feel themselves to be alive, are alive in some strange sense, to God).

 

Jesus’ language here, is ambiguous; and 8) the Church usually does not specify the meaning of this; and indeed has pronounced infallibly only on a very few passages, and very few doctrines. So that we cannot be sure what Jesus was saying. But 9) we can say, once again, the “name” of deceased people, seems important. God remembering names, is implied, in many interpretations of Jesus, to be proof of immortality. So that Jesus here would be consistent with 10) Sirach; and 11) Plato; in that he believes people live on, if their names are remembered (by God).

 

To further try to nail down Jesus’ meaning, we might 12) look finally, beyond the two New Testament gospel references, to the related incident in the Old Testament; in Exodus. In the original story. In Exodus too, it seems, just remembering the name of something or someone, seems like the Bible’s major idea of immortality. In the original Old Testament account, to which Jesus referred above, God again does not do much more than just mention the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is all:

 

 

“I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” (Ex. 3.6).

 

 

Here, God merely mentions the names of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. With no strong implication that they are still alive (in the English translation). Yet later, 13) Jesus cites this, in direct response to a question about as proof they are alive to, or in, God. So, evidently, Jesus considers the mere fact that God remembers the names of ancient persons, as relevant, to immortality.

 

To be sure, someone might still well ask, how strong and certain is this afterlife? Being mentioned by God? Having your name uttered by God?

 

To be sure, there are reasons to consider that this is not too strong. First, 14) these passages even might not address themselves to the idea of the dead living on at all; but rather only God himself living on; who is here being said to live on, since he presently names things to us. (As noted above). While 15) God might care to actively remember not much more than their names. Or 16) God might remember these people in his good graces – or not. While later on 17) God said he might “forget” about some (q.v.?). Or 18) actively extinguish some, in a lake of “fire” and so forth. While indeed, 19) if they are alive in heaven, then we will have found, one day heaven itself is to be destroyed* (in our chapter on the Destruction of Heaven.) So that though they were alive when God mentions them, they might be forgotten – and extinguished – later on. So the dead live on … but not necessarily, forever. While then too 20) Jesus does not here tell us how vividly or fully the dead live on (cf. Sheol; a “shadow” afterlife only). While 21) references to “treasures in heaven” may only mean, treasures in God while alive; while 22) promises of “many mansions” do not necessarily promise them to the dead; while 23) promises of a “kingdom” often only mean whatever the churches are offering now, in this life. While 24) images of a resurrection later on, in the End of Time, are also perhaps ambiguous, some would say.

 

Yet even if this is a sort of weak kind resurrection. Yet? This is what the Bible actually finally seemed to be speaking about; strong or weak, like it or not, this appears to be in any case, what the Bible itself really offered. And it is glorious enough, when you think about it. Since future generations not only carry on our memory … but also typically improve on it. To ask for more, seems … Greedy, and Vain.

 

Indeed, in many interpretations, the mere mention of the naming or mentioning of someone, the mention of their “name,” especially by God, is cited by Jesus himself, as adequate proof that people live on. So that indeed, to be sure, promises of an afterlife remain rather vague, so far as Jesus’ own pronouncements are concerned, in his first life. Though 25) we will have gone on to look at what he said, about Lazarus. And if those pronouncements also seem vague, then 26) so also were the things that Jesus himself was said to have said, after raising up physically after death. And 27) also what was said of his more subtle and “disguised” afterlife, at Emmaus, etc.. All these are shown in our chapters on Resurrection, to be rather ambiguous too.

 

Indeed, Jesus himself seems very, very vague and elusive on the subject of an afterlife; curiously so, given the very vivid reports of his own resurrection later on, by his disciples, or by those who wrote the Gospels about him.

 

Yet finally, in any case, if there is an afterlife, it seems to depend in some part, on memory and name; in this case, on God remembering our “name.” So that once again, “name” is mentioned, in connection to an afterlife. Having your name remembered by God in conversations, 28) in say a book like the Bible specifically, also eventually interfaces not only with Sirach, but also with other emphases on living on in having our names inscribed in “book”s, too, as we will see. So that eventually, a larger picture of immortality will fill out, as we look at other references.

 

To be sure, the immortality mentioned here by Jesus, is not necessarily a very firmly outlined, or strong or full afterlife at all. Jesus is never in fact, all that firm about resurrection, in his first life.

 

Later, 29) certain remarks by Jesus, were interpreted by his followers after his death, as being allusions to his own resurrection after death; particularly, preachers today like to cite his allusions to tearing down the “temple” of his time, and rebuilding it in three days. Since many disciples and more modern preachers want to connect Jesus firmly to the Old Testament Jews, and show that he is consistent with them, the New Testament itself, interpreted Jesus’ attacks on the “temple” as being metaphors, for his own death, the destruction of the “temple” of his own body; and then his resurrection, three days later, on Easter. Even though Jesus had just been talking about a real, actual temple:

 

 

“Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, ‘Your see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here on stone upon another, that will not be thrown down….’ The disciples came to him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Take heed that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ, and they will lead many astray…'” (Mat. 24.1-5; cf. Mat. 26.61).

 

“And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple” (John 2.15).

 

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2.19).

 

“But he spoke of the temple of his body” (John 2.21; cf. Mat. 26.61; Luke 24.7).

 

 

Such a) passages might actually refer to Jesus’ own antagonism to the Jewish temple in Jerusalem; since he criticized the “scribes and Pharisees” and “priests.” (Or to the new rather Romanized basilica built by Herod, in his time, the new temple built over the old one. Note that Jesus’ human father was a carpenter, and carpenters were made priests by Herod, in order to work on the temple; as noted in Crossing Galilee, 2000 AD).

 

Though b) such passages as refer to the destruction of the temple, are thought by disciples to refer to Jesus’ own death, finally; while c) accusations by the Jews that Jesus wanted to destroy the Jewish temple, it is often thought, were simply false, or too literal (Mat. 26.61?). Yet finally, d) Jesus’ own references to the temple, are not very clear; and what we have today, from John for example, is an interpretation of Jesus’ words. While most importantly, e) as we saw earlier, the physically resurrected Jesus disappears into heaven, after only fourty days on earth (Acts 1-2). So that any physical resurrection of Jesus himself, seems temporary.

 

While 31) references to the coming of a “Son of Man,” may or may not have been references to himself, Jesus. As 32) likewise, other references to a “lamb” and so forth, coming in the End Time. (See our chapter on Resurrection).

 

Others suggest 32) the form of the afterlife Jesus has, is as the Holy Spirit living on in the 33) Bible or “Word” of God; in 34) the hearts of those who believe in him; and 35) in the air. (“the wind [or spirit] blows where it wills” John 3.8, etc.).

 

Finally, Jesus’ position about the afterlife, and even his own resurrection, is up in the air. In the clouds – as we found in our chapter on that. But now let’s see if we can flesh this out a bit more. By looking at other references, outside of Jesus himself in person. Centering mainly on the various ways that the Bible says, there are 36) many things in the universe that appear to record or remember traces and imprints of us. From the a) mind of God proper – which remembers us – to the b) traces of us in the DNA pool; to c) bits of us recorded in books; and so on.

 

Ultimately as we look around, looking at the material universe – like an archeologist on a dig – eventually we come up with a lot of different types of media, that record traces, imprints, of past lives. And like Anthropology shows on TV, we might begin to speak, as we examine them more carefully, of people of the past “coming to life,” for us. As we know more and more about them.

 

To be sure though, the whole matter of resurrection and afterlife, St. Paul added later, was a hot issue, in the time of Jesus. And so Jesus’ remarks seem carefully ambiguous. Indeed, 37) most often, as in his remarks on the Prodigal Son, suggest that people are “reborn” in the sense that when they accept the spirit of good into their lives, they feel as if they had “died to” their old life; and had been reborn as a new man or woman.

 

Yet at the same time finally, what we might say here, is that when people after all, read the Bible and listen to whatever good sermons there are, then accept the spirit of Jesus in themselves, then the spirit of Jesus after all … lives again, in their own spirit and mind. So that Jesus is reborn … in us. While Jesus and the Holy Spirit and God are “in” us; and we are in them. As parts of the Bible indeed, imply.

 

Perhaps, that is the best picture we have today, of how we – and Jesus – live on. God remembers us; and/or, we (and other elements of the universe?) recorded and remember him.

 

 

 

St. Paul, and the Controversy

Between the Pharisees and Sadducees

On Afterlife

 

 

Is 38) our afterlife then a merely metaphorical afterlife? Indeed the Bible itself allows that almost anything and everything Jesus and the Bible said, can be taken as “figure” of speech, metaphor, “parable,” “proverb,” “allegory”; and not as “literal.” As noted in our chapter on that. Indeed, 39) it seems that the whole subject of afterlife, was controversial in Jesus time; as a major controversy between the Pharisees – that Jesus often, but not always, opposed – and another group, called the “Sadducees.” Who held that “there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit.” Indeed, St. Paul – who more than once remarked that he himself had been a Pharisee – defended himself as such at times, and the doctrine of a risen or still somehow important Christ it seems, by suggesting he was a Pharisee, persecuted by the Sadducees:

 

 

Paul … cried out in the council, ‘Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial.’ And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the assembly was divided. For the Sadducces say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. Then a great clamor arose; and some of the scribes of the Pharisees’ party stood up and contended, ‘We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?'” (Acts 23.6-8).

 

 

(Parenthetically: it is strange that Paul should so readily admit to being a “Pharisee” … when Jesus spent so much time warning about Pharisees. Indeed, this admission by Paul would seem to condemn him, in the eyes of Jesus. Yet Paul makes similar kinds of admissions of imperfection, often.)

 

What is immortality, and how reliable are accounts of it? The whole issue of resurrection – and say, 40) in particular, of Paul’s auditory vision of Christ on the road to Damascus, say – was a hotly contended issue, not settled in the time of Jesus.

 

So that finally, Jesus’ own remarks seem to allow for a sort of “soft” resurrection as we might call it ourselves; a rather metaphorical interpretation of it. Which might be something like this: 41) the spirit of Jesus lives on in various media, like the Bible; and it is born again, resurrected in us … when believers take his ideas and spirit, into themselves. (As suggested, we said earlier, in the appearances of Jesus during and after Emmaus).

 

Some might not like this; it might not see like a very full resurrection. But … the subject of an afterlife was controversial even in Jesus’ time; and Jesus’ own remarks about it, are often very ambiguous, and rather vague, or metaphorical. Settling if anywhere then, on 42) a rather traditionally vague, “ghost”ly or spiritual afterlife: we survive as “ghosts” or “spirits.”

 

Finally though, as for 43) any more vivid promises? Of more concrete things? They probably refer to the possibility of a concrete conventional “kingdom” on earth. Where the old ideas are at last more fully embodied. (And any of the “sleeping” who are revived to see that, might or might not have been literally dead. As those who rise from the dust, in Ezekiel’s vision; q.v. here).

 

Or perhaps: as civilization progresses, the ideas of ancients, now being far better understood, are at last more fully seen, and accepted by those of us who are alive. So that? The old spirits, firm up, and find living bodies, concrete realities, to flesh themselves out again.

 

 

 

Where Is God – and God’s Memory,

Specifically?

 

 

We live on in some way, it seems. Yet exactly how – and where – do we live on? It seems that we live on in the sense that we are remembered; we live on in the memory and hearts of those who come after us. As part of that, the Bible seems to hint that we live on, in that our “name” lives on. In part, in that our 1) name lives on in God’s memory. But 2) you might say, where is God’s memory? Is God himself totally disembodied, a spirit living above everything, but in nothing, as many priests seem to think?

 

Where is God, first of all? It is thought by most priests it seems, that God is an entirely independent supernatural entity, entirely separate from, or above or “eminent” from, this material life. However, 3) we have a different, more embodied, “immanent” concept of God here. As “fill”ing “all things.” Heaven “and earth”:

 

 

 

” ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD'” (Jer 23.24).

 

 

Until today, priests have spoken of God himself often, as his immortality, as if they were totally “immanent”; or floating separately, above all material things, in some independent spiritual realm of his own. But God and even immortality here, in our vision, is in Nature. And 4) so finally, if things in material nature – like our material brains, or say real actual books – record traces of our past, then we can say that in part, that is part of how God, Nature, remembers us. We can even say that God’s memory in part, is by way of many material things. From books, to human memory; corrected against archeological traces of us; and the fruitfulness of our memory for others. (See our related remarks, on the place of ideal Forms from Plato, according to Aristotle).

 

Where in fact, is God’s memory? His immortality? It is commonly thought by preachers – who are nearly all dualists, in spite of their technical condemnation of that view – that Jesus and God, hover in some supernatural realm of spirit and so forth; utterly transcendent, eminent, and entirely separate from God’s material Creation; God as commonly seen by preachers, cannot be in this material world, which is so full of evil; therefore, he must hover above everything, above the world, in “heaven.” Yet the Bible said that God was both in heaven … but also “in all things.” Filling heaven “and earth.”

 

So finally, where is God – and say more specifically now, God’s memory? We know that material nature leaves many traces of people, in many ways; from the prints a child makes when he steps in wet concrete, to the things we leave in the garbage dump; to the books we write that record our thoughts. Given that – along with our consistent finding that many things through to be entirely supernatural are actually natural things here on this earth – it seems possible then, that God’s memory … might be in part in material nature. Somewhere. Or everywhere. In “all things.” Most churches cannot see God everywhere in matter; though various churches have claimed to see God at least, in their own material surroundings (and Eucharistic bread, etc.); and in fact, physical churches often claim to be part of the “body” of God. But we can now add here, that God has a much larger body than that; all of Nature is part of his body too. Specifically, we might also add now, part of his brain or memory might be found now, among material things.

 

Remember, God often uses nature; God was said to have realized himself in “flesh,” in Jesus for instance. So consider this: part of God’s own memory, might be in material things. In say, DNA. And in – we will next add – rather human books.

 

 

 

How Are We Remembered? In Part, Books

 

 

It is said we live on, in that others remember our “name” or reputation. But of course, living memories of people often fade. So is there any other medium than in living human brains, that a record or imprint of some part of us, is retained? In point of fact, the Bible often speaks of our existence continuing on – or not – according to whether our name and statistics, are recorded in … books. The memory of us, it seems, is in part in books; and being blotted out of books, is ceasing to be.

 

Since ancient times, writers have known that the memory that others have of them, from having talked to them in life, can fade and die; but writers have long known and said, that their books, since they last longer than human lives, often carry on more of the writers soul and spirit and ideas. And carry it on longer. Since books can continue to vividly present an author’s character or ideas, centuries, thousands of years, after his death. Potentially, forever.

 

Books then, are an important way, one of the more important media, by which bits of us are preserved, and transmitted, to the future. Therefore, consider closely, what the Bible says about us, and books. As it turns out, many parts of the Bible regard being in this “book” or that one, to be tantamount to immortality; while being “blot”ted out of them, or erased (or “burn”ed?) … is regarded as final extinction:

 

 

“If you will only forgive their sin – but if not, blot me out of the book” (Ex. 32.32 NRSV).

 

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book'” (Ex. 32.33).

 

Bring the book of memorable deeds” (Est. 6.1).

 

“Court sat in judgement, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7.10).

 

“Every one whose name … found written in the book” (Dan. 12.1).

 

“In the book of life” (Phil. 4.3).

 

“Write what you see in a book” (Rev. 1.11)

 

I saw the dead … and books were opened” (Rev. 20.12).

 

“A virtuous name will never be blotted out” (Sir. 41.11).

 

 

Often note, resurrection and afterlife are mentioned in very close connection, with “books” being opened. Whereas it is sometimes implied, if we are “blotted out” or erased from a “book,” that implies that we are at least, out of favor with God. Or even that we no longer exist. (Rather as what happens, if God “forgets” us? Hos. 4.6; Ps. 10.11-12, 13.1, 42.9, 44.17-24. Though some say God cannot forget anyone).

 

So where and how are our names and deeds remembered? We might also go into more detail: specifically: how and where does God remember them? Most priests think of God as almost entirely supernatural and immaterial and magical. But God – and God’s memory no doubt – is in “all things.” So that it seems likely here, that all material things here on earth and in the physical universe are part of God’s memory.

 

And among the many material things in the universe, are man’s own records; written for ourselves, or for God. As noted earlier in relation to culture, God’s memory lives on in part perhaps, 1) in our own memory; or better 2) thanks to God’s own books, in part (q.v.). Or perhaps 3) even our own human books to some degree. Including the books in which we were ordered by God, to record, preserve, the deeds of people (q.v. above? Rev. 1.11 etc.). (While conversely, being blotted out of these books, means final extinction. The end even of one’s afterlife it seems.)

 

What is the sense of this? In part, there is a strictly Biblical sense of this: 1) God literally orders some people, clerics, to keep record books of people’s deeds; and that functions as a memory or record of us, by which we are to be judged in this life, for our debts and payments of taxes and so forth. (Rather like – and often one and the same with – religious clerical records of paid taxes, and so forth). So that “we ” are recorded – and to some extent our memory is better preserved – in various tax and other records. Which in turn may relate to (or be one and the same with) 2) some kind of cosmic book of God, perhaps.

 

But 3) in addition to all these books and scrolls and tablets though, the sense of all this includes another simple traditionally recognized thing: from ancient times on, literary writers and poets have felt that a bit of they themselves, of their thoughts and ideas and character, live on … in their own books. The books they wrote. And finally, this Literary Immortality, as we might call it, is extremely important to immortality; and we can relate this at last, to what the Bible said. In that: if we are our ideas or minds or spirits – as Descartes and others suggested – and a bit of our ideas and minds live on in books, then after all, we have a partial immortality in books. A bit of our mind or spirit, in fact, lives on. In books.

 

We will say much more on books, and these and other important elements of the afterlife, later.

 

(Though we might also note in passing that no doubt the “scribes” who wrote our holy books, of course, also tended to favor a vision of an afterlife that would focus on words and books. The job of a scribe, is reading and writing words; and so they tend to see God as the eyes of their own profession. Often, they refer to God as a “Word” – John 1.1. They also like vocabulary; words as such. And a written name, read, is a word or course. Indeed, it is largely because we have a name for this or that, that many things are retained in our culture. Yet for once, the focus on a book, is not merely a clerical bias; of course, written books more permanently fix things in people’s minds, and in the culture. So they allow more of us to live on after death.)

 

For now, we note that the Bible mentions resurrection often, in connection with various “book”s; the book of life, by God and/or man, too. And finally, this makes sense. In the sense that many poets and writers have long said and thought, that a bit of they themselves, lives on, in their books; which record, and perpetuate, a bit of their heart and mind, thoughts and spirit. And when others read our books, even long after we are dead, a bit of our thought and spirit lives on, in them. Even after our death.

 

This then, is yet another major way, that yet another part of us lives on: bits of our thoughts and ideas, live on in the books of man; some of which might be parts of the books of God. This to be sure, is just a partial afterlife. But when we add this to the other media in which traces of us live – like DNA, and archeological traces and so forth – more and more or us, seems to be living on. Adding up some would say, to a fairly substantial afterlife. One that is both “spiritual” – in that it perpetuates minds, ideas, spirit – at the same time as it is also materially real; part of the material universe. (Some have thought that if something happens in a material way, that this denies God, note that for us, here, God is “in all things”; including all material things. So that “all” things happening by way of matter, are happening by way of God.)

 

In any case, something enormously important is happening here: we are starting to see things that were rather spiritual, suddenly merging with, things that are materially real. Or being “made flesh.”

 

Immortality, God, is often mentioned in connection with books and words. The 1) very word “Bible” means “books” in Greek. So that discourse, God, books, words, memory, and immortality, are closely identified in the Bible, over and over and over again. 2) Jesus is known as the “Word”; God 3) the “Author” of life. And 4) our immortality, it is often said, is in our “name.” As 4) while our name and reputation, are said to be written often in “books” like the “Book of life.” While 5) “scribes” are major players in religion. While 6) “speaking in tongues” is considered a major way the spirit expresses itself. Thus the Bible stresses words and books, over and over again; especially in connection with immortality. While finally, we are now above to combine this with the conventional, traditional idea of “literary immortality,” as they used to call it; to begin to understand it all, now, in more concrete, material ways.

 

But is even this afterlife – in books and language and words and names – perfect? To be sure, books are not always perfect; not even scriptural books. 1) Jesus himself noted limits in “scripture”; as did 2) St. John. (And dozens more quotes. See Scripture chapter*). And so, 3) when Jesus comes again, he is to fix a “confusion of tongues”; caused initially by God, or as perpetuated by the arch rival of the Jews, the Babylonians at “Babel”; but 4) also by the “figures” or metaphors and other linguistic figures of speech, “parables.” Finally then, we do not see reality, we cannot form the new kingdom, until all that confusion and tainting (cf. Plaintiff arguments in Van Orden’s – ?- 2005 Austin Ten Commandments US Supreme Court case), is lifted in the End by Jesus, or God, speaking “plainly.”

 

Still, many books seem to be a major vehicle for God, and for our immorality. Discourse can be a major, heretofore sometimes neglected part of God’s body; part of where he lives on. Yet to be sure, such media are often in part tainted at times. And so parts will need to be re-corrected. In part, by cross-triangulation or comparison, with other things. Other books. Or other manifestations of God, in nature. As apprehended by the Science of God.

 

 

 

How Good is Literary Immortality?

 

 

To be sure, there are problems with just literary immortality; immortality through “books.” So is the immortality spoken about in the Bible, in large part, Literary (or Library?) Immortality? Literary Fame? If so, some would complain that the Biblical afterlife is just “figurative.” Yet for that matter, St. Paul notes that many things in the Bible are “figures” … and just keeps going; feeling that is enough. Though we will be showing here that when we add up all the countless media in which memories reside? It adds up to a fairly substantial afterlife, after all. And if it is not as good as some hoped? It is what the Bible in any case, offered.

 

Poets in fact, often thought in fact that Literary Immortality was almost enough, too. Better than nothing; no afterlife at all.

 

Paul in any case, calls much – maybe all – of immortality “figurative.” Or even, when he said “only God is immortal,” he suggest that immortality for people is nonexistent. Paul even seems willing to let it stand, there. As for physical resurrections, Paul says flesh and blood don’t get it; and at most it is only a “spiritual body” that lives on. Which is rather clearly vague and metaphorical phrase. So that at least one major Biblical figure – Paul – and maybe many more – Jesus, God – seem to regard immortality as being nothing more or less than just having your name live on in the language. In books.

 

Yet who knows but that God himself might find his own immortality at least partially in that his own “name” lives on forever, though various media, including the mind or memory of man:

 

 

“Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: this is my name for ever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations” (Ex. 3.15; continued 6.2ff).

 

 

Though God of course is in “all” things, even God feels that others remembering his “name” is important; its seems that his existence in language, discourse, books, is particularly important to him. (Poststructualist scholars would undoubtedly say that even God is a moment in Discourse, particularly rational discourse; of Logos, of the word, but also the logic, of things; the logical discourse of things.) The picture of God having records, books of us, opened before him, is a major image in literature especially about the Last Judgement, and of our resurrection (see section on books, Daniel, above). Indeed, it may be that the association of us rising from the dead, and the opening of a “book,” is not coincidental, but is part of the very mechanism of it. God himself is alluding to Literary Immorality in part: our souls or spirits, our ideas, live on in books; and when they are opened and read, our image or reputation “comes to life” for God or a reader … and then is judged. To be retained whole, or passed through purging but tempering, critical “fire.” The remnant, then to be pronounced good or not.

 

But to be sure, 1) important as literary and “book” immortality is, this is by no means quite enough; it is not the whole picture of the afterlife outlined in the holy books. In part, the spirit of God is discovered, retained, and brought to live again in our own spirits, as books, records – ideas – are examined and reviewed. But we need to keep in mind something that clerics often deny: that the words books are often largely inspired by people looking at and writing 2) about nature, physical life. Behind the words, are Things. And often, we need to actively compare the old words, to what we actually see “come to pass” in the physical, material world. While science is the activity that helps us with that; and often gets us more directly to what the old writings are about. You can read all day about the color “orange”; but it is not until you physically see it with your eyes, that you know what the word was talking about. Likewise, the “smell of a skunk.” And so forth. The fact is, most of our words – even we are saying here, religious words – are about physical things; and no preacher really understands those words, unless or until he learns to look at the material universe and experience it, and compares the to – just as God’s Science commanded us in the Bible – the physical material things we see actually coming to pass.

 

So words, sayings, books, even holy books, can be good; but we need, God told us, to constantly check them against experience; to cross-reference them. To find out what is real and good, and what is not, in our books. To make sure they are not just false promises, “empty words.” Words that exist only in our minds, and not in real life. Some might think such an existence is good enough; but we have shown that thoughts that we have in our minds, that do not correspond to material reality, are evil “empty words,” “delusions,” “illusions.”

 

So finally, good as books are – and even though they in themselves offer a major part of the afterlife – still, we will need to go beyond them. To see good, in Nature itself. In the flesh. Face to face. We will need to learn to read the “signs” in Nature itself; as Moses and science have done.

 

Indeed, a good “natural Christian” as we might all him, or someone practicing a more advanced natural religion, would say that we (and God?) are “alive” in the “memory” of all matter and energy, in the entire universe itself, that is influenced by us; and from whose traces – in archeological matter, and footprints in the concrete; or DNA or hair samples, as well as in our books – a determined person might be able to reconstruct our lives; and resurrect us rather fully perhaps.

 

But to get to that last, full resurrection … will take years of advancing the religious science which we begin to outline here. It will take more knowledge of culture and nature.

 

 

 

Are Reproductions,

Biological or Intellectual

Copies

Of Us, Us?

 

 

There is one more major point to be made here. In the Bible – particularly but not by any means exclusively in Jesus Ben Sirach or “Ecclesiasticus,” the preacher or theologian – we begin to see that the canonical Bible assumed that our fathers live on, in we, their biological and intellectual children or followers and progeny, in large part. We are limited to what our fathers were, in some ways. But then as we learn more and more from our fathers (and mothers), then we can add or subtract from the inherited spirit we have. And then carry that on, to our own children and followers in turn. Thus many spirits, get passed on from generation to generation; as Plato said. Yet to be sure, if this is most of both Plato’s and the Bible’s real immortality – then we need to note one reason 1) some critics criticize, or are unsatisfied, with Platonic, and Biblical, and Literary Immortality: that 2) it is not really quite we ourselves, selfsame, that live on; but rather, only bits of us, as reproduced, “copied,” in others who come after us. While 3) we ourselves, actually, die. While 4) our children are not quite perfect copies of us (nor should they be?).

 

The major objection to this immortality – which is, we assert, most of what Plato and the Bible promised, for now – is that what lives on is not we ourselves; but only more-or-less exact reproductions of us. Even if a child is an almost “perfect” copy of us, reproduction still, he is not us, many have said.

 

We might even admit this; and yet 5) point to all the evidence here, that this is in any case, most of what the Bible offered. As confirmed not only by all the evidence here, but also we might add, its dialogue on the importance of trying to be “perfect”; to match the heavenly models as closely as possible; since it is in this way that things live on. While we might add that, however, in any case, 6) not only is this is the primary afterlife the Bible offers; the Bible finally offers us an argument that would command us to accept, that others, copies of us, “are” us, so to speak. Over and over, the Bible often evidences the notion of a very strong linkage – even an identity – between the individual, and his people. His children, and culture; his a) “seed,” and b) “name.” Often to the point that c) the children are – at times – said to rightly pay for the sins of the father; so closely are they identified. To the point that, c) as noted above, the Bible considers that Abraham’s children living on after him, “multiply” he himself; are in effect, he himself, living on, multiplied out through time. While d) the Bible told us that things here on earth are indeed “copies” (of the heavenly things … and our earthly predecessors too, we will find).

 

Those who object to the notion that our reproductions are good enough continuations of us, e) might note God’s command to be “humble”; to ask for more would not be humble.

 

But finally, anyone who objects to the central notion – that biological and cultural and other traces and copies of us, our children and biological successors and race and so forth, really continue us – should note f) Jesus’ insistence that we “love your neighbor as yourself”:

 

 

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mat. 19.19 etc.).

 

 

In the past, this has been thought to mean, that we should love our neighbors as much as ourselves. And yet, no doubt the content is supposed to be tighter than that: finally, God is commanding us to accept our race, our bio-cultural neighbors and successors … as being, for many purposes, one and the same as us. Accept our neighbors as ourselves.

 

In any case, if we merely love our neighbors as much as ourselves, then we should be happy, if we do not go on, but they continue. So that no matter how you look at this, this command in the Bible … would make living on through reproduction – copies, children – valid.

 

Further indeed we will say, those who do not accept copies, our bio-cultural neighbors, as us, are not Christians; since they do not love neighbors either 1) as much as, or 2) as, ourselves.

 

Like it or not, then, Bible constantly encourages the view that children, cultural successors, are the continuation, the copy, the immortality, of us.

 

And those who do not accept that? Are not obeying the Biblical command.

 

 

 

Summary Assessment

of Our Biblical Afterlife

To Date

 

 

At first and in many ways, this seems disappointing. Yet those who are humble, will accept it. And we will show that those who do accept this, will get greater rewards, in the end. Finally, in part, because this model connects disembodied religious thinking, to physical material sense at last; and when the two, formerly divided parts of human nature, or of our universe – spirit and matter, word and world, spirit and flesh, religion and practical sense, heaven and earth – finally begin to unite, and work together effectively … suddenly indeed, we are possessed of greater powers. A “full”er vision; enough to guide us to be far more effective, more “mature” adults, here on this earth. As we see in daily life: those who combined their sense of religion, with practical education and work, generally are far more fruitful, than those who just have one quality, or the other, but not both. Preachers constantly speak as if everyone is over-materialistic; and that all we need to be complete is more “spirit” and “Religion,” and faith and prayer and so forth. But what our preachers have neglected, is to discover that just as it is possible to be over-materialistic, it is also possible to be over-spiritual; to neglect physical sense. And indeed, the wholly “spiritual” man is in his own way, even more incomplete than the over-materialistic man. As we can easily see, by watching and listening to our preachers and their empty promises, their lack of material fruits.

 

Whereas in contrast, those who begin to connect their religious mind, to their practical mind, in the way outlined here, should be far, far more fruitful.

 

While God in any case, told us to observe the signs of nature. To use “science.” So let us continue to do that. To see where it leads us.

 

 

 

Rome; Paul Shifts Emphasis

From Determination by One’s Biological Race or People –

To Culture, Education; the Saving “Word

 

 

There are two major elements in real immortality: Biology, and Culture (books, etc.). Both are important. But which is more important? In many places in the Bible, the stress is on the continuation of ones self that takes place, in one’s Biological descendency, as we might call it: when ones’ “seed” live on. One’s biological children, one’s race or people, are thought to carry us on. Throughout the Old Testament in particular, in fact, your own goodness or badness, and ones fate, is strongly linked to your biological people and tribe. God often champions and commends and helps individuals … but much of the time, he thinks of the individual as an organic part of the larger group. This thought to be sure, was later to become an issue; when Lot questions whether God should destroy an entire city, if it has one hundred or even just ten good people in it. Yet in the past, God often thought of an individual as very closely related to those around him; to the point that the “sins of the fathers” are carried on to the children, for many generations. And so forth.

 

One’s biological heritage then, was thought to be really, who we are. Part of us. And in ancient times, in the Old Testament, being biologically Jewish, seemed at times, like almost the only path to salvation. However note that God began in the New Testament, began to expand past this a bit. Eventually, God also extended his aegis, his protection, his approval to whole peoples … who were not biologically very related to Jews; but who became culturally related to them. Many Christians especially, were not Jews by birth; but eventually, one of the main ideas of the New Testament and Christianity, was that you didn’t have to be Jewish by birth, to be good; you could just read the holy books, or the “word”s after all, and join them culturally; and still be saved. Even if you were not Jewish, but were a Gentile. So that in effect, suddenly, you could be saved by (in this case religious) culture.

 

Originally, it was primarily the biological lineage that saved you. The biological lineage of Jews particularly; who are presented often as “God’s chosen people.” God’s chosen race. Yet by the time of the Roman Empire, and Jesus, Romans knew that what and who we are, is determined not entirely by Biology, but by culture; even a barbarian, not born in Rome to Roman parents, could become a Roman citizen; if he learned Roman ways, Roman culture.

 

By the time of Rome then – and Philo, and Jesus, and Paul , c. 20 BC to 70 AD – there was in effect, more stress on culture – including books – and their ability to make one good. By the New Testament especially, a resurgent individualism, or a desire to expand past one’s biological heritage, would begin to stress how the spirit or ideas of many traditions of the past, might be carried to other peoples. St. Paul especially – who as a sort of hybrid Roman Jew – knew more than most that it was not just one’s tribe, but also one’s later broader education, culture, that introduced you to a larger life. A larger spirit. First, Paul noted that 1) just belonging to a favored tribe – like the Jews, under Jewish “law,” for instance – and following their rituals – like being physically circumcised – was not in itself, enough to “save” you. Paul would 2) stress that to be good, saved, one needed to make an individual, personal effort (or “decision” evangelicals would say today) in your own mind or spirit; to follow God’s thoughts, spirit. You needed to change your “heart.” Or spirit. Or mind. (All roughly, names for the same thing). While 3) that culture, was available to us especially through – as others would emphasize too – hearing good ideas, “word”s, from others. From Jesus, especially.

 

Ultimately, Paul was coming to de-emphasize the importance of a specific biological tradition – being Jewish, while stressing instead, that even Gentiles could enter into the saved, by in effect, culture; by reading Jewish books. And catching their ideas, or “spirit.” From their culture. This in fact was a very large part of the real meaning of Paul’s apparent stress on “Faith”; it was a stress on a personal decision, by you, to listen to wise words, sayings, culture – in this case, from the Jews, but also Jesus.

 

By the time of Paul then, the emphasis began to shift from being very Jewish, from the tribe and biological pool; Paul was allowed to carry the message of Judaism to the Gentiles; telling everyone that it was not so much in effect what tribe you were from at birth; but that one might adopt new and better ways of thinking from other tribes, other civilizations; that was what could make you good; not heredity or membership in a tribe.

 

In effect, then, in Christianity, the stress was shifting from a narrower tribal Biology, to broader Culture. In the time of Rome, it was becoming apparent that it was not just your genes, or who you were biologically descended from, but what schools you went to and what ideas – spirit – you put into your mind, that determined what kind of person you were. And those ideas were also to some extent, from the broader culture. While getting those ideas, those saving words, came about of course, through moral Education. Not DNA or Biology.

 

No doubt, to be sure, much of what we are is determined by Biology; our genes. But by the time of Rome – and Christianity – it was becoming apparent that what one is, is dependent as much of what new ideas or spirit, you take in from others; in informal and formal, Education.

 

 

 

Connecting to Other Cultures: Greeks

 

 

With St. Paul, parts of Judaism allowed that other people than Jews proper might be allowed to get some kind of immortality; to be exposed to much of Jewish culture, books, words – and become better. While St. Paul and Jesus and others, perhaps, might also have even allowed that they had learned something from other cultures, too. And through this cultural interchange, a kind of immortality is spread to many.

 

How much connection is there to other cultures, other than Jews? Jesus allowing, when talking of Samaritans – marginal Jews – that he had other sources of “food,” than his Apostles knew. Which might mean 1) the Holy Spirit, or 2) literal food; … but which 3) might also mean, other sources of spiritual sustenance; God’s inspiration working though even Samaritans and Greeks:

 

 

The [Samaritan] woman left her water” (John 4.28).

 

“I have food to eat of which you do not know” (John 4.32).

 

 

Jesus at times told his disciples to avoid Samaritans; but more often allowed contact with them. Allowing that a Samaritan woman might be able to eat some of the “crumbs” from Jewish tables (Mat. 15.27 ff; Mark 7.28 ff); and Jesus suggested a good Samaritan might be a better neighbor than a bad Jew. While St. Paul often began to speak a great deal of Greeks especially.

 

At times, Jesus seems to have defended a rather provincial Judaism; telling his apostles to “enter no town of the Samaritans” (Mat. 10.5; Luke 9.52-3). Finally though, after Jesus, those who wrote our Gospels had Jesus issuing ambiguous phrases; phrases that in one interpretation, could be taken as Jesus allowing that persons such as non-Jews, of half-Jews – like Samaritans – might be good “neighbors” and such.

 

And in fact, finally, the promise of immortality, through being a good “neighbor,” is explicitly linked to be good with non-Jewish neighbors:

 

 

“‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? How do you read?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love … your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “you have answered right; do this, and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half-dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds…. Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, “the one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise'” (Luke 10.25-37).

 

“Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4.9).

 

“Now he was a Samaritan. Then said Jesus, … “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well'” (Luke 17.16-19).

 

“Does he intend to … teach the Greeks?” (John 7.35).

 

“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians” (Rom. 1.14).

 

“His father was a Greek” (Acts. 16.1).

 

“There is no distinction between Jew and Greek” (Rom. 10.12).

 

“Moreover he also brought Greeks into the temple” (Acts 21.28; cf. Stephen and Timothy?).

 

 

As someone might expect in the time of Rome – a Rome called by some the first full civilization – the essence of Christianity, was in part to extend one’s sphere of influences; to learn saving ideas, saving “words,” from a larger, greater culture. Jesus himself, seemed a bit broader than the average provincial and dogmatic Jew; and he offered new sayings, that too-traditional, conservative Jews did not recognize. Jesus himself even allowing (albeit ambiguously) that even Samaritans might be good; and often extending his promises to “whosoever” believed in the words he disseminated (q.v.).

 

Many might see Jesus and others like him – like Paul – as traditional Jews. Yet finally in fact, Jesus and his new Judaism, Christianity, began to see a broader culture as our “neighbors,” and as elements in our broader tradition, our heritage … and in our immortality. The past of all of humanity that we know, lives on in part in us; and we need to carry that tradition on into the future. In the moment finally that Jesus and others broadened their perspective a bit, then at last elements of narrow, insular Judaism, could broaden.

 

 

 

Wisdom

Offers Immortality Too?

 

 

Related to the difficulty of persons educated provincially in just one narrow, “spiritual” tradition of religion, and not science-based Theology: many parts of even the Bible are difficult for very narrow, modern Pharisee-like Christians, who want to follow the Bible word-for-word, literally, the way the Pharisees wanted everyone to follow religious “law.” In particular, the “wisdom books” of the Bible are hard for those who want to do that; many wisdom books, like Ecclesiastes, seem almost atheistic; or to not believe in an afterlife. Ecclesiastes spoke primarily only of “Sheol,” a shadow afterlife; and told us know one knows whither our soul goes after death. So Ecclesiastes said – rather hedonistically, and not at all like rule-following Christians thought was good – just “enjoy life” while you have it. (Though the Apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon tried to say that was a bad philosophy; see “enjoy life,” Ecc. 9.9, 5.18, 7.16,).

 

Given these conflicts, much of the New Testament – particularly St. Paul – tried to attack some kinds of “wisdom.” But there are many “Wisdom Books,” in the Bible; much of Proverbs supported wisdom over and over again. And so we need to distinguish; by his attacks on “wisdom,” Paul seems to have meant, or is best taken to mean, those who think they are “wise,” but who judge things solely by mere superficial physical appearances. One hopes St. Paul did not mean to attack science; since the rest of the Bible told us to follow science, and observing nature; even told us to judge even saints like St. Paul, by their observable “fruits,” “works,” “signs,” “deeds,” and so forth.

 

If St. Paul and other ascetics’ attacks on “wisdom” are taken to be against practical knowledge and science, then Paul is coming up straight against God; against the Bible’s advocacy of science and “crafts”; against the notion that God fills “all” things, heaven and “earth”; against Jesus, whose second name, Logos, really means “logic,” more that “Word.”

 

A radically world-hating Asceticism in fact, goes up against, indeed, most of God and the Bible. Including, for instance, much of the Wisdom of Solomon. To be sure, we have not stressed Solomon here, because some of what he said was regarded as questionable by Protestants; the “Wisdom of Solomon” book is found in the Catholic, but not Protestant bibles. However, Solomon himself is in all Bibles somewhat. So let’s look at his wisdom for a second. Which is valuable not only in itself, but also in that it says that wisdom is a part of immortality. In that in part, those who are known, reputed, to have a “name for,” wisdom, are often remembered. So that their name or reputation live on.

 

Indeed, we have said that practical wisdom “saves” you from much suffering; from things a simple as knowing how to fix your root saves you from getting wet, to more complicated things. Here in any case, is what Solomon says about “Wisdom”:

 

 

“What is more rich than Wisdom, who produces all things?” (Wis. Sol. 8.5). “For her sake I should have immortality and leave to those after me an everlasting memory” (Wis. Sol. 8.13). “Thinking thus within myself, and reflecting in my heart that there is immortality in kinship with Wisdom … and unfailing riches the works of her hands … I went about seeking to take her for my own (Wis. Sol. 8.18).

 

“For both we and our words are in his hand, as well as all prudence and knowledge of crafts. For he gave me sound knowledge of existing things, that I might know the organization of the universe and the force of its elements, … the changes in the sun’s course and the variations of the season. Cycles of years, positions of the stars, natures of animals, tempers of bests, powers of the winds and thoughts of men, uses of plants and virtues of roots … for Wisdom, the artificer of all, taught me. For in her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique ….” (Wisdom of Solomon, Catholic Bible, 7.16-23; NAB.)

 

 

Similar things are in not just in Catholic Bibles; they are in all standard Bibles, too. In the books of 1 Kings:

 

 

“He spoke of trees, form the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall; he spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And men came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon….” (1 Kings 4.33).

 

 

The main church of Christendom, for centuries, was the “Hagia Sophia.” Or what the Turks now call the “Aya Sophia,” in Constantinople; which is today, Istanbul, Turkey. Its name in any case – “Sophia” – means “wisdom.” As in our word, philo”sophy”; which means “love of wisdom.” Though St. Paul sometimes attacked “wisdom,” Proverbs constantly advocated “wisdom.”

 

St. Paul often warned us not to be taken (Col. 2.8) “prey” of by some forms or “knowledge.” And he attacked “philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition … not according to Christ.” But this should not actually cut off or condemn human knowledge or knowledge of nature. Lest believers be cut off from all practical intelligence by St. Paul, his “knowledge”-hating statements are better interpreted to tell us just to not misuse other forms of knowledge. (See Paul; doing all things in a Christly way; “all” forms of knowledge are allowed, below).

 

Indeed, the Bible backed science … and Solomon, in at least some Bibles, backed it, and “knowledge of crafts,” too. Whatever “knowledge” it is that St. Paul condemned, it could not be practical knowledge, science and technology. Otherwise, these rather ascetic parts of Paul, would be turning his back on God. Who told us to honor those things.

 

Indeed, is it thanks to in part, practical wisdom, Solomon told us, that Solomon’s name lives on. That is why you heard about him: it is because of his name, reputation, for wisdom. As he himself was said to say:

 

 

“And if riches be a desirable possession in life, what is more rich than Wisdom….? For her sake I should have immortality and leave to those after me an everlasting memory” (Wis. 8.13).

 

 

Note here that what Solomon says is not that he is expecting to live forever in heaven; nor to be resurrected. Rather, he expects to leave behind him an “everlasting memory.” Or name, in effect.

 

Immortality comes in part from wisdom – partly because it creates fame, a name, for Solomon. Because he is wise, he is famous; and in turn, because he his famous, this means his name, or was said here, his “memory” – is well known among his people, and has gone on now for two thousand years; and may be, practically, immortal. To this day, we speak of the “immortal poets” and so forth; believing that they live on, because their poems, ideas, reputation, are still “alive” to us. In part because they were “wise,” and said things worth remembering.

 

In spite of Paul then, Knowledge and Wisdom are good. And lest anyone say that “knowledge of God” means only religious knowledge, or spirituality, note that the Bible itself often advocated practical knowledge (see chapter on Science). It even said that, since nature reflects god, knowledge of nature, is knowledge of God. (For “all of nature conspires to do the will of God” as we paraphrase it.) And when knowledge of Nature, contradicts past knowledge of God, then knowledge of nature, takes precedence; revealing the “new nature” of God. As science, observing good in nature, is authorized to overrule even priests and prophets; to tell us which are true and which are false, by observing their concrete “works.”

 

How far can we go in referring to Nature, as the primary expression of God? Even over scripture? (See chapter on Scripture. See the Declaration of Independence, and Paine’s Rights of Man; Spinoza, etc.). No doubt we should not worship nature, as the Catholic Bible said (Wis. 13). But still, knowledge of crafts and of nature, is a very, very, great good. Indeed, it is enormously important in itself – and finally, we are now finding, knowledge of Nature, science, is a key to immortality; here, it earned Solomon the kind of immortality that comes with fame, a famous name; said Solomon himself.

 

Indeed to this very day, the Bible mentions – and we remember – Solomon; we have kept his “name” alive – because he was wise. (And not just “spiritually” wise; but more, because he knew practical things. Specifically, he had practical knowledge of human nature – and nature; the course of stars and the uses of plants, and so forth.)

 

So finally, Wisdom offers a kind of immortality; in that it gives us a cultural reputation; and our “name” lives on. To be sure though, we will find that this is possibly not the only reason wisdom offers immortality; as will be seen finally, wisdom in a complicated sort of way … links us to God, and eternal things. As will be seen soon, in connection with a discussion on “planets” and so forth. For now though, let’s just conclude on “name” and “seed”; cultural and biological immortality. They way we live on through our culture, and biology … and future of mankind (thus interfacing with secular humanism).

 

 

 

Conclusion on Name and Seed and Books

 

 

Whether you stress the biological, or the cultural aspect of your background, both of these, from your tribe and broader education too, form a large part of what you are. By what tradition or spirits you were born to … and what other traditions you link up to. And in this, various things from the past live on in, are carried on, by you. When you take on or continue various traditions, you yourself become partially a carrier, a continuer, of many things that went before you; so they “live on in” you. And they get a kind of immortality in part, from you; if you live past the death of the originators. And then, you in turn will educate and influence others; so that what you were, is carried on in turn, in those you influence and so forth. As you leave your genes or ideas, with your children, books, and in the memories in others. In this way, a bit of the things that went before you, and a bit of your own individual contribution or addition to that, is carried on. And in this, is your immortality.

 

As after all, not only the Bible, but also Plato, had said all along, in 350 BC.

 

Many might find this kind of afterlife to be vague, and entirely metaphorical and literary. Yet long ago, Plato put all this into rational language. While Plato used ideas that were in part already current in Jewish thought; Greeks and Romans often partially respecting Jews, as a race of “philosophers.” (Q.v., in the book Doubt).

 

Is this idea of immortality, rational, and real? Plato was an extremely logical, rational man; a philosopher. Who therefore, gave this idea of immortality a very rational justification. Therefore, we might best end with the quote from Plato, again. The quote that would have been known to many educated Christians or Jews, in the time of Philo, Jesus, and Paul. The quote where they – and you – can begin to see an outline of a rationally defensible immortality; one halfway to a scientific demonstration of an afterlife.

 

Here is what Plato said, four hundred years before Jesus. In the statement that was probably the best early, rational formulation, of the ancients’ idea of an afterlife. This very statement, could have been read by Philo, and perhaps Jesus, and Paul. And, even if it was not completely understood, was undoubtedly a major part of the foundation, the background, of Christianity’s idea of some kind of afterlife:

 

“There is a sense in which mankind naturally partakes of immortality, a prize our nature makes desirable to all of us in its every form; for to win renown and not lie in our graves without a name is a desire of this. Thus the race of man is times’ equal twin and companion, bound up with him in a union never to be broken, and the manner of their immortality is in this wise: by succession of generations the race abides one and same, partaking in immortality through procreation.” (Plato, Laws 4.721.c, In Plato, Collected Dialogues, Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns, ed, Princeton University Press, 1961; fourteenth printing, Nov. 1989. Italics, mine).

 

There it is again. This is the real, most vivid vision of immortality that was around when Jesus lived and spoke; and this is a large part of what is in the back of the mind of Philo, Jesus, and Paul, in the creation of Christianity. It happens when you procreate. Or teach others your ideas or culture. Said Plato. And if some Christians object that this is from a Greek, note that 1) Plato himself, might have got it from some versions of the Old Testament; while 2) Jesus himself sometimes (if not consistently) acknowledged non-Jews; while 3) St. Paul – thought by some to have been the earlier author of the New Testament books, c. 55-70 AD – often consciously acknowledged that he owed things to the Greeks.

 

It seems certain then, that 1) this biological and 2) cultural succession, immortality through “seed” and “name,” is really, the main, defensible notion of an afterlife, found in the Bible itself, too. Though to be sure, to finally understand the bulk of what the Bible promised, we will also need to go on and also look at two or three other aspects of the afterlife. Aside from 3) traditional ideas of literary immortality – living on in books. Or 4) finding immorality in wisdom. All of which are related.

 

Then too, we will have needed to examine 5) rumors of physical resurrection, and 6) spiritual rebirth. And next, we will need to go on to 7) a little fuller examination of Greek myths of rebirth of plant forms, in the spring. And we might link all this to 8) Plato’s Theory of Forms; immortal models in 9) heaven. And the 10) future “kingdom” or paradise, here on earth.

 

In fact, it is only when we have examined and interrelated all of these, in some detail, that we will have adequately reviewed, the bulk of what the Bible offered, in the way of immortality. But we can put it all together, into one coherent model; with the idea that the universe, the body of God, is often in effect, one vast recording medium; from our footprints in the mud, to the memories of our children, to our highest literary achievements, our own existence is recorded, leaves traces on, the universe; just as of course the structure of the universe, biology especially, was impressed on us in turn, from the start, in our genes. So that all of us are to some extent reproductions, of other people, other things in nature; cultural things like books, and biological things like genes, are just the most visible of the various media on which we are inscribed or written.

 

We can go on therefore, beyond a quick look at “seed” and “name,” biology and culture, to expand our understanding of biblical immortality somewhat. By looking into Plato’s theory of Forms and so forth; which we will see, is referred to by Paul especially. But in the meantime though, what we have just reviewed – especially say, our brief look at the central importance of our “name” living on, is the most important and accessible introduction to immortality. (Regarding “name,” cf. “shame vs. honor” studies, references in Crossing Galilee). This brief review, provides really, the clearest, simplest, most workable, and largest part of what immortality is, to Plato … and to the Bible, too. What immortality is to reason and science … and what resurrection is, to God.

 

Some might want more in the way of immortality, resurrection. But those readers who are Christians, should be told that this is all the Bible really firmly promised. Indeed, 1) God told us to consider that our “neighbors” and our “child”ren are as good as – even in some cases, substantially the same as – our”selves.” So that Christians at least, are obligated to accept the notion that such loose copies or reproductions of ourselves, are an adequate resurrection.

 

And then too, 2) God told us to accept finally, only things provable with the science of God. what we can provably, demonstrably, physically produce. And this is it.

 

Some Christians might be dissatisfied with this; calling it 3) “metaphorical.” But if all this indeed is a bit loose and metaphorical, then after all, the Bible told us to accept “figures” of speech, metaphors.

 

Some might find 4) it ghostly, or spiritual; but if so then what we have here corresponds therefore even more closely to what the Bible called for, precisely on this account.

 

But finally, 5) in any case, what we have here, will be found to be an advance on what was thought in the past; in this case, “spirit” is being firmed up a bit; indeed, spirit is being “poured on flesh.” Indeed, what we have here is far more solid than the empty spirit that we get from most preachers. Since, we have looked past the spiritual ideas of preachers, the notion that resurrection is “just” a metaphor for feeling a new spirit in our lifetime. For all its “shadow”y aspects, we have in fact at last found something far more solid in it all than our spiritual preachers did: that it was a metaphor not just for “spiritual” things; but for things as real as the perpetuation of one’s traits, one’s nature, by means of DNA, and the cultural transmission of ideas. Things well known to the sciences of Biology, and Anthropology and Sociology. Things that are, after all, both mentally but also physically, real. And provable.

 

So that we have at least, humble as it is, the first outlines of a rationally-, scientifically-provable immortality and resurrection. (As developed here, and by others before us. Including, not least of all, the very rational Plato. Whose writings would have long been available – available for hundreds of years – to Jewish intellectuals, in the time of St. Paul, and Jesus).

 

 

6) And by the way, what we have begun to see here, is “spirit” being tied to the earth. Religion tied to science and the world.

 

7) Or you might say, “heaven” coming down to earth again.

 

Much therefore is accomplished here, and in similar books; with this idea of the afterlife, we can begin to suddenly, connect the old disembodied “heaven,” to the things of this earth. And we can begin to see God, good, in and among this material earth again, at last. Resurrected, you could say; in a Second Coming of God. In a (if you insist) spiritual/conceptual return of God, good, to this material earth and flesh, at last.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

FOOTNOTE

 

Is It

Figurative, or Real?

 

 

Finally though: is Biblical reality a real immortality? Or just a metaphorical one? Paul at times says it is “figurative.” There are many metaphorical types of “rebirth” and afterlife mentioned in the Bible. One is in John the Baptist’s rebirthing ceremony, baptism. One or two are also mentioned in Hebrews 11. Paul notes that by faith or taking the word of God to heart, Abraham was ready to offer up his son Isaac for sacrifice; and when God saved his son from destruction, Paul said this is a figurative resurrection:

 

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your descendants be named.’ He considered that God was able to raise men even from the dead; hence, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11.19; like the Prodigal son, a “son” is lost, dead … but then resurrected. Also note the importance of the survival of the “name”).

 

Here, St. Paul is explicitly picturing a “figurative” idea of “death,” “rebirth,” and an afterlife. Isaac was in effect under a death sentence, and was metaphorically, a “dead man.” So that then, when God lifted him out of that death sentence, granting him a reprieve, Isaac experienced a type of “Rebirth,” in this life. Or a “new change at life” as they say today; or a “new life.” This recalling the Prodigal Son episode; where a son that had wandered away from his father into a bad life, and who had been “dead” so far as his father was concerned, came back. Who was said to have come back to “life” again.

 

Is this merely metaphorical reprieve, enough? It may or may not be … but in any case remember, the Bible itself considered this to be an afterlife. In the Prodigal son episode for example.

 

Yet to be sure, there is not quite enough here for many of us. Here, St. Paul – who had some physical pains, problems with his physical body, a “thorn” in his side?; and problems maybe with physical miracles some say (Ox. Comp.) – backs away from the full physicality of things, and God. Here to be sure, Paul wants to turn it all into spiritual metaphors. Just feeling downcast, but then revived, is enough to say we have been resurrected. But is it?

 

Note first of all, that though it is “spiritual”/metaphorical, there is something real here. To really get to the real, full, physical reality of immortality, resurrection, though, we have had to go past Paul; to the God of the Old Testament and New. We need to find out that, when you are metaphorically or “figuratively” reborn, this means that in fact, part of the mind or spirit of something from the past, is now entering your mind, to live on in, and be part of, you. But we will see, this is not quite just a vague metaphor; Psychologists confirm that the essence of what a man is, is his mind, our intelligence. Which is composed in part of ideas. Then, anthropologists and Sociologists confirm, further, that those ideas are conveyed through time, by way of Material culture – churches, books, verbal sayings and rituals. So that the spirit or mind or ideas of the past, are real enough; and they can and do survive, through time; thanks to 1) Biology and 2) Culture. Both of which are in part, material. And 3) indeed bits of our selves survive in many things in Nature. Some of which we might briefly look at, soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END

 

 

 

 


 

 

Chapter 6

 

 

Heaven –

 

Came From Plato:

Details of How Christianity’s,

Paul’s

Idea of Immortality in Heaven,

Came from Plato’s Theory of Forms

 

 

Biblical Quotes on Heaven

 

 

“Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight” (Job 15.15 KJE).

 

“Though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down” (Amos 9.2).

 

“The world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction….” (2 Peter 3.7 RSV; italics, mine).

 

“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places….
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist…. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit ” (Eph. 6.12-17 NRSV).

 

“The LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven….” (Isa. 24.21 RSV).

 

“Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD” (Jer. 23.24).

 

“Art thou not God in heaven?” (2 Chron. 20.6).

 

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!” (Ps. 108.3).

 

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting…. And … that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God … have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down…” (Rev. 12.7-10, excerpts).

 

“Draw near, O nations, to hear; O peoples, give heed! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it…. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall wither, like a leaf withering on a vine, or fruit withering on a fig tree. When my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens….” (Isa. 34.4-5 NRSV).

 

“Strike, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stand next to me, says the LORD of hosts….” (Zech. 13.7).

 

“And Jesus began to say to them, ‘Take heed that no one leads you astray…. Heaven … will pass away…. Take heed, watch….” (Jesus, in Mark 13.5-37, excerpts).

 

“The heavens will be kindled and dissolved…” (2 Peter 3.12 RSV).

 

“The heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire….” (2 Peter 3.7).

 

“The powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory…. Heaven and earth will pass away…. Take heed, watch….” (Jesus, Mark 13.14-32, excerpts).

 

“By the same word the present heavens … have been reserved for fire….” (2 Peter 3.7, NRSV).

 

“Though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down” (Amos 9.2).

 

“And another portent appeared in heaven; behold a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns…. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth” (Rev. 12.3-4).

 

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise….” (2 Peter 3.10).

 

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Rev. 20.11).

 

“The stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree shed its winder fruit when shaken by a gale” (Rev. 6.13).

 

“Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!” (Job. 22.12-14 KJE).

 

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house…. The place of which thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there… ‘” (1 Kings 8.27-29).

 

“Thus says the LORD, who gave the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars…. ‘If this fixed order departs … then shall the descendants of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the descendants of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD'” (Jer. 31.35-7).

 

“No man has ascended into heaven but he” (John 3.13).

 

“Far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4.10; see OT, n.p).

 

“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us…?'” (Deut. 30. 30.11-12).

 

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 3.2).

 

“The heavens will pass away with a loud noise…” (2 Peter 3.10).

 

“It is higher than heaven” (Job 11.8). “Is not God high in the heavens” (Job 22.12).

 

“Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven” (Mat. 6.10).

 

“You won’t be able to observe the coming of God’s basileia [kingdom]. People are not going to be able to say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘Over here!’ or ‘Look there!’ On the contrary, God’s basileia is right there in your presence” (Luke 17.20-21, as translated in Marianne Sawicki’s Crossing Galilee; pub. Trinity Press International, Harrisburg Penn. USA; 2000 AD; p.. 176).

 

“If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the basileia is in the sky,’; then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather the basileia is inside you and outside you” (Gospel of Thomas 3.1-3 = POxy 654; as translated in Crossing Galilee).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Segue

 

 

 

 

Originally many of our religions, like Judaism and Christianity, promised us, prophesied, that if followed our holy men and their idea of God, we would get 1) real material rewards, here on this physical earth. If we just did what our preachers told us to do, as our reward we would get real material “prosperity”: bigger, better “fruits,” or crops of agricultural produce; better “houses”; and “riches.” And beyond that in fact, our preachers often promised us even huge, amazing, physical “miracles”: they promised us in effect, many miraculous – or we would say, rather magical – things: the power to walk on water; the power to make bread appear out of thin air; the power to move “mountains”; the power to get “whatever” we “ask” in fact.

 

So that many huge, amazing – and very physical, material – rewards were originally promised to us by our holy men. 2) And yet however, eventually many of us – like Job – found that we were good; as good as humanly possible. And we did follow our preachers. And yet still somehow, we did not get all the material rewards that our preachers promised. So 3) what did some people come to conclude? Many have come to conclude that … our preachers, and their idea of God, were simply, false.

 

To be sure though, 4) the possibility that it is not everyone else, but – in part at least – they themselves that were “deceived,” “under a strong delusion,” is a very, very humbling conclusion; one that most of our very preachers and holy men – who were used to proudly proclaiming themselves (or allowing themselves to be proclaimed) the voicepieces of God – could not “bear” or “face.” And 5) so, rather than simply, frankly, repeatedly, confess their own sins and shortcomings, the evident failures of their own tradition, instead, our preachers began to generate dozens, hundreds, millions of arguments, that might either a) prove that all the miracles they promised, are in fact arriving all the time. Or if they are not, then … they came up with a number of other explanations.

 

If and when the prosperity and miracles they promised do not arrive, then priest come up with lots of sermons or homilies; sermons that try to b) explain why all the wonders and miracles they promised, might not in fact, be arriving right now; while showing that this however, did not prove our holy men were false; showing that even if physical miracles were not appearing, either aa) they would appear “soon” (I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today); or that particularly bb) if real, physical, material rewards – like literal bread, food – were not appearing, then after all, it didn’t matter; because material things (whatever good things God had said about them) were unimportant. What was really important, they came to say, were the allegedly good mental or spiritual effects, that their religion and promises had one us.

 

And among the many other different new promises and explanations that our preachers offered up? One was the idea that cc) even if our priests did not deliver real material results here, in this present lifetime, then they would give us however, an “immortal soul” or “spirit”; one that would live on after our physical deaths. Live on in … “heaven.”

 

But how spiritual is Heaven? And how durable is it? At times preachers called it “immortal.” But? The Bible often said that Heaven would be destroyed one day (2 Peter 3.7-12; Rev. 21; Isa. 34.4). So that? The idea that we live on forever in “Heaven” is not quite right. While the “kingdom of Heaven” … is supposed to come down to earth one day (Rev. 21; Isa. 65-6).

 

 

 

 

 

Heaven

 

 

“If you are good, God will send you to heaven when you die”: this simple sentence, or something like it, is what we heard as a child, from parents and other children constantly. As the very essence, heart, the one-sentence summary, of religion, Christianity. In effect, for many years – effectively replacing promises of real rewards on this earth – this became the core appeal of Christianity: that if we are “good” (as good is defined by priests) then God will see to it either that we will 1) get huge miracles and wonders here on this earth – or that 2) at least, when we die, our spirit or soul will go up to an ideal place in the sky; to “heaven.” To live there in happiness and joy, forever. So that even if we died in disease, poverty, “suffering,” that did not matter, and that did not prove that the priests were wrong; because after all, we were not really supposed to get real rewards here on this material earth any more (they told us); we are supposed to get rewards only later, after we were dead; rewards (pie) in heaven.

 

In effect, finally, if and when our priests failed to give us real material results here on earth, they delivered to us a new incentive for following our priests and their idea of God. More and more preachers ceased to explicitly promise big physical rewards, “miracles”; but instead, more and more of them constantly offered us instead, “spiritual” rewards; including immortality; or specifically, immortality, “eternal life,” in “heaven.” If only we were good, and did everything our preachers told us to do, then, even if our religion never seemed to work or deliver rewards here on this earth, this “world,” still, we were constantly assured, even if we died in extreme pain and misery and “suffering,” “martyrdom,” from following our priests, we should not conclude our preachers were “false shepherds” they implied; because some day, after we died, we would go to heaven; where at last we would get all the rewards we deserved. In heaven.

 

Thus our preachers made yet another very, very big promise to us: if we followed them, we would get, if not material rewards here in this lifetime, then … we would develop an “immortal soul” or “spirit”; one that would live on forever, in a mysterious “heaven.” Yet however, some of us in church, noted that our preachers at times, were a big vague about the details, about heaven; what it is like, and how certain our voyage there would be. Yet they constantly quoted Jesus’ promises of “treasures in heaven.”

 

To be sure, our preachers’ constant implication – and sometimes, their bald assertion – was, constantly, that if we obeyed them, and their idea of God, then for sure we would get amazing miracles … including especially, immortality. And most especially, our churches assured us constantly, if we were good, and did what our clerics told us to do, then we would get a ticket to an “everlasting”ly wonderful life after death, in the sky, or “in heaven.”

 

Indeed, this was the main reason many people followed religion; we were enticed to follow religion, by many huge, wonderful, incredible, gigantic promises and prophesies. Many truly wonderful, incredible things, were implicitly and explicitly promised to us by preachers. And/or – it seemed at first – by the books of the Bible, that they insisted, were absolutely holy and sacred and true; the word of God. But yet however, often, even when we were children, some of us would ask our preachers and Sunday School teachers, for some of the details, the particulars; about where exactly heaven was; and how others knew about all these things about heaven after all; or what exactly was heaven was like. And what exactly was the process by which we got there, after death. And yet, when we asked for details – exactly where and how, does this happen; and what is our life like in heaven? – our preachers either gave us phrases, sentences that did not quite really make sense; or indeed, our preachers became studiously vague about the details.

 

So how firm were those promises of heaven, after all? And where, what actually, is “going to heaven,” as they call it? What exactly is heaven like? And where did our preachers and holy men get this idea? As it turns out, 1) Christianity got its idea of “heaven” mostly not from the God of the Jews, but more from … the Greeks, and Plato. And 2) furthermore, in fact, this mostly Greek idea, was an idea in rather direct conflict with the old idea of God; of a God who after all, promised us real, material results, here on this material earth.

 

While 3) futhermore in any case, the Old and New Testaments told us that one “day,” our heaven itself is supposed to be … destroyed. So that our life there is not immortal. While 4) finally, if anything, the new heaven – and our immortality – are supposed to … actually, come down to earth (Rev. 21). So that our immorality is found, amazingly, not in “spirit” or even in a vague spiritual “heaven.” But in and among the material things, of this material universe.

 

So, as it turns out, there are lots of sins and errors and deceits and false things, in our preachers’ promises of “heaven.” As we will see, here and now. Yet to be sure, finally we can, after closer study, incorporate “heaven” into the larger picture of the truth. Into the fuller picture of God; and specifically, of resurrection and immortality. In a sense, indeed, in the Space Age, our future, our immortality, is in the heavens; is in the stars. But in stars however, conceived not as vague spiritual hopes … but real concrete places and possibilities.

 

In any case, let’s take a long hard look, at Heaven proper. To see what truth there was in it. And then to …. find something better. Find a better – and more biblical – “place” and definition, of God and Good. For our biblical God who – note – lived not just in “heaven,” but “above all heavens”; who was found in heaven but also … “on earth.” In and among material things.

 

 

 

The Christian Idea of Immortality in Heaven,

Was Not Really from the Old Testament

And the Jews

 

 

We are often told in church, that the New Testament and Jesus, were entirely the legitimate extension, of the Old Testament and the Jews, and their God. And yet however, St. Paul and others argued that Christians were not really under the “law” or Torah of the Jews, but were rather, under the “new covenant” of “Grace,” of Jesus. A sort of rather different law or sense of religion and God. Said to be at once just like the old Jewish God … and yet somehow different; “new” and yet not “new” (Bible on Jesus and Paul, and their “new commandment”). And specifically, amazingly enough, what was often presented to us as the core idea of the New Testament – of a “kingdom of heaven”; a guarantee of an afterlife in heaven – was not, actually, found much, if at all, in the Old Testament of the Jews. It is actually, a rather new addition; found almost (if not entirely) exclusively in the New Testament.

 

As it turns out, the Jews of the Old Testament did not really believe so much, in a “heaven”; they believed instead, that at death, we went to a shadowy, half-afterlife at best; in a place called “Sheol”; very much like the Greeks’ shadow underworld, “Hades.” Places that probably later became the root of our idea of “Hell”; “Sheol” and “Hades” combining etymologically it might seem likely, to form the word “Hell.” (Cf. conventional etymological speculations). Whereas, as it turns out, in the Old Testament, only one or two persons or human beings are sometimes said to go to “heaven” (Enoch and Elijah); and they do not die, some say, in the “Hebrew Bible,” but were taken up to heaven while still alive (Wayne Piyard, “Afterlife,” Oxford Companion to the Bible, Bruce Metzgher and Michael Coogan, eds., Ox. U. Press, N.Y. & Oxford, 1993, p. 15).

 

In ancient times, even in Jewish culture, there were some ancient beliefs that have been thought to be about immortality, though, or an afterlife. Many such beliefs, related to keeping the dried bones of ancestors around. Bones of the dead were kept around as momentos, ways of remembering our ancestors; and perhaps some might have believed or “hope”d, that the bones of our ancestors might somehow come to life again. (Cf. Egyptian beliefs). While indeed, to this very day, horror movies and popular traditions often speak as if such images promised this kind of resurrection: dead bodies, coming to life; bones coming together, to form living bodies again.

 

However, we have found (in our examination of such images, in Ezekiel) that though such images are found in our Bibles, and have been taken to picture an afterlife, the Bible itself began to suggest that such images can and should be taken as, at best, mere metaphors for other things. Metaphors for feeling spiritually revived, in this life.

 

While in fact, in the vast majority of the Old Testament, from which Christianity was said to have come, Jews do not seem to believe in any afterlife for human beings in heaven, at all. God is in heaven; but only one or two people go to heaven in the Old Testament or pre-exilic tradition, it is said (Enoch and Elijah, in “Afterlife,” “Ox. Comp.). While St. John later even says that no one has ever gone up to heaven, except Jesus (q.v.).

 

This is shocking news; could the core promise of Christianity, have been wrong? Or not from Jewish culture?

 

First, let’s take a look at much of Jewish, Old Testament tradition; much of which rather clearly suggests that there is no afterlife. Except in a very shadowy, “Sheol.” Or that if there is any afterlife, we do not know it.

 

 

 

 

 

Here, we locate immorality on earth, or in material nature. But possibly the most common sermon or Sunday School lesson up through 1950’s America, was the promise that if you were good, you would go to “heaven” when you died; to an ideal place in the clouds, or above the clouds, in the stars, the heavens. What was this about? Immortality … in “heaven”? Basically, no doubt, many believers began to notice that not all the material promises of holy men, the wonders they promised on earth, were showing up; perhaps they did not see so many people rising from graves, for example. And yet as it turns out, if life on earth was never quite perfect or ideal, there were rumors of a better life in the stars, in the heavens. And based on that, as Plato and others began to study geometry and math and so forth, and to suppose the existence of perfect circles, and perfect mathematical logic, they came to suppose that, there might be a place where these things might be found; a place where they and … God, or ideal or perfect “eternal” “patterns,” or “forms” (or “paradigms”) were. And, because of their beauty and vastness and consistent (relative) unchangability, the “heavens,” the stars, became the place where it was thought, all “perfect,” “eternal” things might be. If life on earth did not seem perfect, still, human beings could at least imagine mathematically perfect things; and perfect human beings; and a perfect life. And if life on earth was often bad – if human beings got sick and died – perhaps after all, there were at least “eternal truths”; eternal gods; or some kind of eternal, immortal things out there; perhaps in the stars … or heavens. And it came to be hoped that somehow, some day, we imperfect human beings, might somehow, join to, those eternal things. In heaven. And get immortality, that way.

 

To be sure, we have seen that the best idea of human immortality, had it taking place on earth; not in the heaven. Even Plato explicitly said that is how human immortality worked. But if immortality exists on earth, it did not exist here in any obvious way; on earth, what we saw superficially, was that all living things or human beings, eventually, physically, died. And so, many – like the Apostle Paul, we will see especially – turned to other ideas of an afterlife; including some of Plato’s other ideas; especially Plato’s theory of “Forms”; which suggested there were eternal ideal patterns for all of life, in the universe somewhere; probably in the “heavens.” And from this, St. Paul especially, tried to develop the idea that human beings might somehow, in some great “myster”ious way, connect with those ideal forms. And live on with them, in the heavens.

 

To be sure, St. Paul was never very clear on all this; it was a “mystery” to he himself; Paul picturing us all very vaguely, somehow in a spiritual body, somehow being lifted up into the “clouds” and so forth. And Paul was not known as a very clear thinker to the Greeks (of Ephesus and so forth); who called Paul a “seed pecker,” or chicken-like, sporadic and mindless and disconnected thinker. And to this day, the promise of eternal life in “heaven” seems quite vague; the full details of how this happens, never being fully outlined. All we have are cartoon-like images of our “soul” somehow flying out of our body, with wings, going to heaven when we die. Without anything much clearer than that.

 

And indeed, we will find here, the whole idea of an afterlife in
“heaven,” was never really clarified in the Bible itself. Nor of Jesus’ perhaps related, “kingdom of heaven,” either. But we might here begin to outline a little bit about this idea of the afterlife, for a chapter or so. Tracing it not to Plato’s actual, real idea of human immortality; which was more earthly process after all. But tracing the Christian heaven to after all, another side of Plato that he himself did not link to human immortality so much: Plato’s idea that somehow ideal forms lived on in heaven. Jesus and Paul apparently trying to connect the dots, and assert that we ourselves might connect with those higher ideals, and share their immortality. Like more advanced civilizations in the stars.

 

So let’s spend a little more time talking about “heaven.”

 

 

 

Ecclesiastes, Didn’t Really Believe

In A Heaven;

Mostly, Sheol?

 

 

The cornerstone of traditional Christianity – an afterlife in heaven – surprisingly, was not really an Old Testament and/or Jewish idea; many Jews believed only in a shadowy “Sheol” (or our “Hell”?); a vague, shadowy – and not entirely satisfactory – afterlife underground. (See Persephone).

 

Though some Pharisees – following Egyptian or Asian thoughts? – apparently believed in some kind of resurrection, and the Greeks believed in gods in the heavens, like Zeus, overall, the Jews did not have this idea.

 

First of all, in our books here, we have found a real Christian afterlife; but it is not in heaven as much as through earthly things. And this in fact is more consistent with the Bible itself; beginning with the Old Testament, and the beliefs of the Jews.

 

Did the Jews really believe in an afterlife at all? Much less, in heaven? We have suggested that mostly, they did not believe in much more than a shadowy “Sheol.” And indeed, there are Old Testament texts, like that of Ecclesiastes, that do not seem to firmly believe in much of an afterlife at all; except indeed only for the shadowy “Sheol.” So that we will have to say that the whole Christians idea of an afterlife in “heaven,” is far more from the Greeks and other pagan religions and philosophies … than from the Jews and the Old Testament.

 

Who, what, was Ecclesiastes? Ecclesiastes says it is by the “son of David, king in Jerusalem” (Ecc. 1.1); a “preacher” who as “been king over Israel in Jeruslalem” (Ecc. 1.2); almost as if Ecclesiastes is Solomon; a priest and king, the son of David. Though many today feel Ecclesiastes was not Solomon, in any case, he is a person well educated, as would be a son of a king. And his book – the book of Ecclesiastes, or the Preacher – though poorly understood by most to this very day, is actually, a sort of confused, perplexed compendium or omnbus, of five or six major Eastern and Western religions and philosophies that swirled around confusedly in the Middle East; from Epicurianism, to what would be Hedonism and Stoicism; elements of Egyptian, Buddhist, Confucian/Taoist, Jewish, and other thoughts. mentioning them all, but never quite sorting out their contradictions. And coming at most to the conclusion that we must just accept the many things in life, and take them as they come; “for very thing there is a season” (3.1ff). We cannot tell whether there is an afterlife he will say. And finally the best thing we might say, is to just live life the best we can, and enjoy it as much as we can. In a kind of Stoic hedonism. Averaging out to a sort of taoistic acceptance of a moderate, full life, with a job, a wife, not too much attachment to money:

 

 

“Behold, what I have seen to be good and to be fitting is to at and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life which God has given him, for this is his lot” (5.18).

 

“He who loves money will not be satisfied” (Ecc. 5.10).

 

“A man to whom God gives wealth, possessions, and honor … yet God does not give him the power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them; this is vanity” (Ecc. 6.2).

 

 

 

The preacher is a thinker, using his mind; and confusedly trying out many conflicting ideas of life. But finally, like many intellectuals, he sees so many conflicting ideas, that he comes to believe that they – or even life – is full of hopelessly contradictory things. “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacing cannot be numbered” (1.15). And as for the search for our breath or soul? The translators here, chose to leave it translated, as a striving after mere “wind” (a really nasty dig at Christian spirituality, in fact; since the word “wind” is the original word translated as “spirit”) :

 

 

“And I applied my mind to seek and to search out by wisdom all that is done under heaven; it is an unhappy business that God has given to the sons of men to busy with. I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind” (Ecc. 1.14).

 

“I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me…. And I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this is also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow” (1.16, 17, 18).

 

 

One of the most perplexing things about life, is that even if we get many things in life, then we die; and we are taken away from it. So that life seems “vain” to Ecclesiastes. To try to resolve this is the main problem Ecclesiastes sets himself. And finally, if he comes to any answer, it is rather just to accept our common lot; work, experience a moderate amount of many things; enjoy a moderate, well rounded life, a life with many different things in it (pluralism: “for everything there is a season”); while you can, but not with hedonistic excess it might seem.

 

Ecclesiates also relates to the core problem of the Jewish tradition too: getting real rewards from religion. Jewish religion promised that if you were good, you would get many rewards; riches, prosperity, possessions. Yet Ecclesiastes notes that money is not everything; especially considering Death; that one day we die, and all we have is taken away from us (or we would say, we are taken away from it).

 

This idea in fact is a major threat the core idea of Jewish thought. Since the basic idea of probably most or even all of the covenants made between God and his people, rests on the promise of material rewards for those that obey. Yet if material rewards do not come (as science suggests), or if they do come, but do not last, then … the promises of God are not good enough.

 

So how is this basic problem in religion resolved? Finally, it is for this reason, that Jewish religion took on elements of Greek and Egyptian and other religions … to began to add to its tradition, the promise of “heaven,” or an afterlife. This would solve everything, it seemed; because now, it was no longer in “vain”; because after death, we would get and hold on to our rewards, forever.

 

However, many scholars note that oldtime, Old Testament Jewish religion proper, overall, did not quite fully believe clearly in an afterlife (see “afterlife,” Ox. Comp.). Jews believed primarily, only in “Sheol”; a partial, shadow afterlife at best. And this – lack of believe in any substantial afterlife at all, but only a dark burial – can be seen written all over the book of Ecclesiastes. Who finds only “one” fate – and that is the extinction of our light, the darkness of death and the grave – for good and bad people alike:

 

 

For it all comes into vanity and goes into darkness, and in darkness its name is covered….” (6.4).

 

“Do not all go to the one place” (Ecc. 6.7).

 

“One fate comes to all, to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil” (Ecc. 9.2).

 

Amazingly, there is no substantial afterlife at all says Ecclesiastes; the dead have no consciousness or continued existence after death:

 

“A living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more rewards; but the memory of them is lost” (9.4,5).

 

“For there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going” (9.10; see Sadducees, who did not believe in any afterlife).

 

 

Finally, if the preacher settles on any philosophy, settles on the idea that we must simply enjoy this life, good and bad, stoically:

 

 

“Remove vexation from your mind” (11.10).

 

“Light is sweet…. For if a man lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many” (11.7,8).

 

“My son, beware of anything beyond these” (12.12).

 

“I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; also that it is God’s gift to man that every one should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil” (Ecc. 3.12-13).

 

 

Quite against the idea that we have an afterlife in Heaven, here Ecclesiastes speaks as if there was nothing beyond this life but “darkness.” While telling us therefore to enjoy “life” as “light.” And surprisingly, even Jesus himself at times, later alluded to this; to being the “life”; to “eating and drinking.”

 

But Jewish intellectual religious culture in Jesus’ time, was divided on the key question: a substantial afterlife or resurrection. Pharisees said there were such things; Sadducees – probably influenced by Ecclesiastes, and budding early science – said there were not. At times the Bible seemed to criticize Sadducees – but also Pharisees too. While in any case? The Bible of course, includes Ecclesiastes. And embraces him. While Ecclesiastes seems not to have believed in an afterlife.

 

What about, say, Jesus? Jesus’ words at times seem to reflect Ecclesiastes. But Jesus’ own words often equivocated on this in fact; at times, he suggested that whatever salvation he offered was in this lifetime; he came “eating and drinking” – to some extent, enjoying this life. And emphasizing himself as the “life.” And “light.” Suggesting often, as scholars now say it, that he offered mostly a better “life,” a salvation, for now; or as scholars say, in your own lifetime; “already.” Other times though, Jesus told us to follow the Pharisees. And though he did not clearly imply follow them in this belief, in an afterlife or resurrection, many of his followers duly reported such a resurrection of Jesus. Though to this very day, Jesus can be read as promising either 1) real physical resurrections, and/or heaven; or 2) merely a doctrine that makes us feel better in this lifetime; merely metaphorically feeling as if we had died and gone to heaven; or had been “reborn.”

 

Ecclesiastes himself – who sounds quite a bit like Solomon himself; and whose book is in fact tucked in between Proverbs, and the Song of Solomon – two other books attributed to Solomon – like most Jews in the Old Testament, finally does not firmly believe in any afterlife, it seems, other than the shadowy Sheol, and the grave.

 

As for our soul … it does not seem to be mentioned much in Ecclesiastes; who mentions mere “wind” and that is all (1.6 etc.). Suggesting that this is insubstantial and not lasting. And even the succession of generations does not help E. much. Nor does he have any sense of the Apocalyptic destruction of the world, but feels the world goes on forever (after the Flood? And/or the “new earth”?):

 

 

“A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains for ever” (Ecc. 1.4).

 

 

Today, 1) few scholars suggest this book was really written by Solomon; indeed, possible Solomonic authorship is never mentioned, and is kept secret. 2) But finally, Ecclesiastes was in a position very much like Solomon; the son, the heir, of a self-made man, who now has the advantage of all the education that his father’s wealth could buy. But who 3) is confused and “weari”ed now (1.8), by the welter of conflicting religions and philosophies, Eastern and Western, that might be found in the Middle East. And 4) he notices too, though, that there is a problem in the heart of his religion. Namely, promises of material rewards. The problems that Ecc. sees, are two. First a) as a king himself, he notices that is is wealthy … and yet not always happy. So material wealth is not enough (rather as the Buddha noticed; q.v.. The Buddha too was born into wealth, but renounced it). Then there is the great problem in the Old Testament: b) that in any case, our own death makes all that meaningless. No matter how much wealth we have, still, we die in the end; and it is all taken away from us.

 

Finally, this book seems to accept that even a good surviving “name” and “memory” can be buried (above).

 

So finally, what does Ecclesiastes conclude? His book is full of conflicting thoughts. But if anything, he decides that there is no afterlife; so we should try to enjoy life. But he does not quite embrace Hedonism; the idea that we should just party, drink, and do any evil if it gives us pleasure: “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” as they say. Rather, he seems to believe this is the only life … and yet, we should behave responsibly even here; with moderation. Accepting the many things in life: “for everything there is a season.” Or just, “be happy.” Though this does not mean just partying; having a job and doing work is part of this:

 

 

“I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; also that it is God’s gift to man that every one should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil” (Ecc. 3.12-13).

 

 

Briefly, Ecc. considers God. Rather the way that Orientals considered him: as Fate. God and life go on as they do; and cannot be changed. So we should just enjoy our life and fate:

 

 

“I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it…” (3.14).

 

 

As for an afterlife? “Who knows“? Likely, we just go to the “dust”:

 

 

For the fate of the sons of men and the fate of beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down to the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should enjoy his work, for that is his lot; who can bring him to see what will be after him?” (Ecc 3.19-2; cf. the common funeral oration: “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”).

 

 

This indeed, is the great and mildly cheerful but mildly fatalistic, accepting end of the Old Testament and its promises. A rather modern, commonsense, (Taoist/Buddhist) acceptance of the variety of this life; an attempt to enjoy its sorrows and joys; without much hope of anything more. No certain afterlife at all, beyond the darkness of the grave.

 

Yet to be sure, in today’s translations, most of Ecclesiastes’ statements are phrased not as flat statements, but as questions: “who knows?” where our soul or spirit goes after death. And that is because after all, though today many might find Ecclesiasticus the wisest person in the Bible, many Jews and Christians were not totally satisfied with him. With Ecclesiastes, or the Saducees. (How could anyone be totally satisfied, with a credo that settles for things less than totally satisfactory, some seem to have thought). And so, indeed, finally at attempt appears to try to resolve this rather mild, oriental combination of simple fatalism and cheerfulness; with Jesus and Christianity. Which attempted to in effect, answer Ecclesiastes and oriental fatalism.

 

The East accepted this. But not the West. There 1) was a problem in Judaism, many felt. Either it had promised many material things, and had not delivered them … as we found earlier. Or 2) even when it delivered them, still, material possessions, as sophisticates like Solomon and Ecclesiastes began to see, were not always enough to make us happy. While 3) in any case, when we die, all that is taken away from us, and proven to be vain. 4) So there was, a great problem with religion. And 5) to allegedly solve it, several more promises were simply made. Some of them perhaps a) true; others b) perhaps not.

 

Many Jews and others, were not satisfied with Ecclesiastes, or with the Saduccees. They wanted more. To solve all this then, c) in both the Jewish and Christian tradition, there evolved promises of long-term rewards for our children or posterity. Including d) a future ideal “kingdom of God.”

 

Yet e) to be sure, Judaism, like many ancient kingdoms, often proclaimed that this or that kingdom was already, at last, the ideal and eternal kingdom promised “soon” – and yet, history was to show that one after another “eternal kingdom” fell. Even the great “I am,” “I am Darius” (q.v., in cuneiform, on the Persian “Behistun rock”; cf. “adam Darayvaush,” in modern Turkish” “I am” or “my name is D.”; or in Hebrew, “Jahweh,” or “I am”).

 

So what could our priests then say? Finally one would think, an intelligent and honest man would simply deduce that no one really knew enough to promise an “eternal” anything; and conclude with Ecclesiastes “who knows” what happens after death. (As indeed, the second “Lararus” implies; Luke 16; vs. John 11-12). And that all our earlier prophets and priests were actually, not entirely right or good; but made many false promises, and were themselves, the “false prophets” that they warned against.

 

However, our priests and prophets themselves, were extremely proud of themselves, and their tradition, their holy writings and holy men; believing them to be the perfect voice of the Lord, and God. Therefore, rather than modestly accepting their own fallibility and humanness, or ever substantially questioning – and substantially rejecting – their tradition, instead, they sought with the New Testament and Christianity, to retrofit the Old Testament, and Judaism. With a few new apologetics and sermons. That formed the “New” Testament. Apologetics that hinted that after all, perhaps 1) being good in this life, is good enough, “already” (the oriental answer); though 2) holding out hope of progress, and a future kingdom. While other elements 3) tried escapism. Or 4) Asceticism, or Denial; just saying that material things, happiness, were not needed. Or they 5) promised “heaven.”

 

Though our preachers today never tell you this, Ecclesiastes (and to a lesser extent, Job), and other thinkers, had in fact, found what appeared to be a number of catastrophic flaws in the old religion, the Old Testament. Religion had promised many material things … but had not always delivered them. Or, even when it delivered them, it was not enough, or as much as the many miracles promised. Ecclesiastes even suggests that life is “vain,” in part because we all die in the end; and “who knows” if there is an afterlife. To try to fix that pessimism, the New Testament, though making some allusions to the more widely accepted answer – a sort of simple acceptance of life, and all the different things in it – attempts to suggest, that all was not in “vain.” That we should not be satisfied just with this life; because, it claimed, there was another better life for us, after this one. Either 1) later in our own lifetime, like Job. Or 2) heaven. Or finally – most probably – 3) a future “kingdom” for either a) we ourselves, resurrected. Or at least, b) our descendants.

 

We will particularly, stress the most plausible and provable promise: that if we sacrifice a bit of present pleasure, for our children, and future society, then they will carry a bit of us and our love at least, on, into the future; where, thanks to Progress, increasingly, they will (with the help of God’s Nature, as it might be called in the Declaration of Independence) create the better and better life that we hoped – and were constantly promised – would one day, show up. And if we worked hard, our “name” might be honored in that time.

 

Finally, many might humbly accept, for now, this smaller, humbler afterlife. “Hoping” perhaps for something more later; some kind of reconstitution in some Science Fiction future. But not being so bold as to pronounce too dogmatically, just exactly what it is that will get us there. Beyond suggesting for now, that pure straight spiritual “Religion,” priestly Christianity, is nowhere near good enough to do that; and demanding at least, the incorporation into Religion – including popular religious services – a great, great deal of science and practical knowledge. As called for by practical experience … and by God himself.

 

Ecclesiastes is a remarkable document; one that one would not expect would have been allowed into the Bible at all. However, it is there. And considered as holy as the rest. Though it offers an exit from many of the dogmas of contemporary Christianity. Indeed, Bob Dylan/Zimmerman, the singer songwriter, used the “for everything there is a season” passage of Ecclesiastes, in his song “Turn, Turn, Turn,” to allow millions of hippies and liberals, to find an escape hatch, from authoritarian religion.

 

Ecclesiastes, made this turn possible, two thousand years ago or more. And most of the East took that turn, long ago. Yet in ancient times, the West preferred not to do that. Perhaps, as part of belief in Progress – a belief that was to some extent justified by its own techno-scientific progress in point of fact – rather than, like Ecclesiastes, suggesting that the moral of all this is to therefore just to enjoy this material life to the fullest, and be rather fatalistically satisfied with things as they are, Christianity went the several other ways.

 

Or rather, Western culture split, and went both ways. Our 1) Christian religious leaders, became monks, clerics, preachers, priests … and ascetics. Who to be sure, accepted the eastern it all but suggested that material pleasures and prosperity are indeed vain; and that what is important is quieting our “passions” and “lusts” and “cravings” and desires for material “possessions” and pleasures – like more food and drink and clothes and so forth. And learning to quiet our minds, or spirits. Which will always want more, and always be discontent – until we simply tell our minds, and desires, that we already have enough. Or we are content with our dreams and hopes of a better future. Thus quieting, our discontent. And making ourselves feel good, even when we are poor. (Compare asceticism, to extreme, heretical “quietism,” of Miguel de Molinas, & Madame Guyon &Fenelon, 17th century).

 

That then is where “spirituality” came from, in part. Yet 1) just ascetic ceasing, or denial of, “desire” and striving, “lusts” “passions” for “possessions,” though this became the core of the priesthood, and religion, was 2) not widely accepted in all of culture. Or most of it; by the ordinary non-priests; working people. The vast majority of whom – rightly – a) continued to believe that much material progress was possible, and desirable. While b) indeed, much of the old holy books had promised material things anyway. (See latest book on asceticism, Routledge press. Which begins to note vacillation between ascetics, becoming priests, and popular but still religious and practical, persons. Were, we ask, Georgi’s “Opponents of Paul,” and others, the over-ascetics that would become priests … opposing the practicality of earlier disciples? And the science of the Old Testament?).

 

In any case, our religious thinkers, became enamored with, entranced by, the idea that ideas in themselves, might give us direct access to satisfaction; never mind that, unless proven by material results, they might be “delusions” or “dreams” or enchantments or “illusions” by semantic “sorcerers.” To be sure, living in the world of ideas, can be good; so long as you (as Bertrand Russell said) check those ideas against material reality, to see if they really work in the world. So let’s look at the core idea of it all finally: the idea that somehow, there might be some kind of access to at least “immortal truths,” as the 19th century writers liked to call them. And that there might be somehow, in this, access to immortality for ourselves or spirit, somehow. An early Christian thought that developed, however, less out of Jewish thoughts, than out of some ideas of the Egyptians. And Greek theories, from Plato.

 

 

 

Did Jews Believe in Any Afterlife?

Us, Living on in Heaven?

 

 

But let’s review first: did the Jews, and/or the Old Testament, believe in much of any afterlife, beyond “Sheol”? Reading Ecclesiastes at least, one doubts it. But there were divided views on afterlife and resurrection, in the time of Christianity; between the Pharisees and the Sadducces (q.v.). Probably because of conflicting or unclear legends even within the Jewish tradition itself.

 

In fact, the Old Testament, when we looked it at more carefully – even the images of bones coming together to form living bodies – was not really, so much about a simple immortality and resurrection, it seems. When Ezekiel related being taken “in the spirit” to the place where bones come together, first of all, 1) he is taken in his imagination or spirit only. And 2) then the people asked “what do you mean by these” stories; they rightly implied that these things needed to be taken not literally; that they needed interpretation; (and St. Paul and Daniel supported “interpretation”). While 3) the Bible itself, finally left open an interpretation of this event, and all events in the Bible, as metaphors for … spiritual things. Bones rising up out of the “dust” and coming together in the desert, like the Old Testament image of sticks coming together (from the Roman fasces?), could be a metaphor. A metaphor for many things – but most of all for things happening in this life, “now” as they say in theology. Including a) for the rising up of dispirited, discouraged tribesmen, from lying down in discouragement in the dust. To rise and b) assemble together, to form a nation, an army, a larger and more effective social group.

 

So where, what, is our real afterlife? There have been many, many conflicting images in the Bible, that presented themselves to us, or were interpreted to us by priests, as a promise of immortality: including dead bones coming together; dead bodies rising from graves. Yet the problem has been that 1) as we looked more closely though our holy books, even they, in the fine print, seem to back away from such things. While 2) even if they did promised them, the Bible told us our holy men can make mistakes; and so we are to honor science and what we see come to pass in real life; while we don’t see such things happening very often in real life today. So 3) what should we now say about dead bodies rising from the grave? Were the old promises just … false?

 

Rather than saying the old images were false, we might say that many Christians misinterpreted the old texts, and images. As we found in our look at Lazarus, and Ezekiel’s bones.

 

While 4) though the New Testament at times, seems to have amplified the old idea that afterlife was promised, 5) other times, in other parts, the New Testament seems to have however, rather closely examined and qualified those images (with Lazarus, and Doubting Thomas). So while the New Testament at times seemed to support claims of an afterlife, other times it noticed problems with lack of firm physical evidence for such things; and it also 6) suggested finally, that perhaps such things were mere metaphors for spiritual revival, while we are still alive.

 

But 7) still, at times the Bible – or the Bible, as read to us in millions of churches for thousands of years – is often presented to us overall as having promised heaven to us; or 8) to have promised us some kind of real afterlife. And to just whisk all those firm promises away, by “twist”ing the language around, to say it was all just metaphors, does not seem honest. So what can we say?

 

Is there finally, 9) a defensible picture of an afterlife? In fact, there is: it was Plato’s – and the Bible’s – statement and assumption, that our hopes and dreams – and a bit of us – lives on, in our descendants; numerous as “dust.” (And yet, are they only “dust”? Do the great persons of the past rise from this dust? As some asked).

 

Finally, it is this social-cultural afterlife, that is most provably real; and that is the definitive and only known defensible afterlife, offered by, or hinted at, in the Bible, or anywhere else (to date. Cf. Science Fiction). 10) But such ideas did not seem to clearly occur to most preachers; or do not seen enough; are not as grand and enormous, they are too “humble,” for most preachers or ordinary people. They do not seem as miraculous, or magical; not as spectacular as their hopes, and some promises and Sunday School illustrations. And so, many people have gone on, looking for something much greater even than that.

 

No doubt, 11) the many preachers, priests, that were promising miracles out of thin air; who prayed and waited for such things to fall out of the sky as it were – who were essentially, in the way they thought, magicians – had trouble getting such results no doubt. And so finally, they began thinking that some other type of results must come from praying and so forth; perhaps “spiritual” results. Or related to this finally, 12) partially since many people have always been attracted to the beauty and grandeur of the heavens (q.v.; the “firmament,” etc.), the stars at night, eventually, many religio-philosophical thinkers, like Plato, began to speculate that perhaps our reward was in heaven; the heavens, the stars, were “immortal” or “eternal”; and out of that, some humans tried to suggest that somehow, we could share in that immortality … in the heavens. Living there forever. Like the “gods” known to Plato, for example.

 

Such ideas of heaven, we will find, were hinted at perhaps by Jesus, and especially, Paul. And yet finally in fact, we will find that a) the Bible only hinted at such ideas, at immortality in “heaven,” without fully embracing it, overall. Because indeed, b) the whole idea of rewards primarily in “heaven” contradicted the vast bulk of the Bible; and its promises of material rewards on earth. Indeed the idea was so alien that c) we should not be surprised to find that the allegedly Christian idea, of living on in heaven, seems to have come more from Plato, than from the Old Testament (or even the New, as well?).

 

 

 

Section 2

 

The Bible Notes Bad Things in Heaven;

Heaven is Destroyed

 

Christianity’s, the Apostle Paul’s Heaven –

Is Mostly From Plato

 

 

 

Ideas of “heaven” as it turn out, are problematic. Worse? Heaven itself is fated to be destroyed.

 

Where, what, is Christianity’s – and the Bible’s – view, of “heaven”? Jesus at times mentioned joining, being one with him or God, here on earth it seemed. And he mentioned “treasures in heaven” and “the kingdom of heaven,” with “many mansions” in it. Yet to be sure, 1) “treasures in heaven” does not quite guarantee that we ourselves can live there, exactly, as we will see. While 2) the “kingdom of heaven” is today firmly thought to be an euphemism, for the kingdom of God; and/or for a real kingdom, here on earth (q.v.). While indeed, 3) there are many indications that our resurrection, afterlife, is to be rather more earthly; on earth. Especially since indeed, 4) the Bible itself began to note many sins, errors, in heaven itself. To the point that 5) one “day,” heaven itself is supposed to be destroyed. (See our quotes above; and also our Destruction of Heaven. While, furthermore, the 6) “new heaven” is supposed to come down … to be a place here on this material earth (Rev. 21):

 

 

[This repeats the above?’]

 

The heavens will be kindled and dissolved…” (2 Peter 3.12 RSV).

 

“The LORD will punish the host of heaven, in heaven….” (Isa. 24.21 RSV).

 

“Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight” (Job 15.15 KJE).

 

“The world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction….” (2 Peter 3.7 RSV; italics, mine).

 

“Though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down” (Amos 9.2).

 

“For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist…. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit ” (Eph. 6.12-17 NRSV).

 

“Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD” (Jer. 23.24).

 

“Art thou not God in heaven?” (2 Chron. 20.6).

 

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!” (Ps. 108.3).

 

“Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting…. And … that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God … have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down…” (Rev. 12.7-10, excerpts).

 

“Draw near, O nations, to hear; O peoples, give heed! Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it…. All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall wither, like a leaf withering on a vine, or fruit withering on a fig tree. When my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens….” (Isa. 34.4-5 NRSV).

 

“Strike, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stand next to me, says the LORD of hosts….” (Zech. 13.7).

 

“And Jesus began to say to them, ‘Take heed that no one leads you astray…. Heaven … will pass away…. Take heed, watch….” (Jesus, in Mark 13.5-37, excerpts).

 

“The heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire….” (2 Peter 3.7).

 

“The powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in clouds with great power and glory…. Heaven and earth will pass away…. Take heed, watch….” (Jesus, Mark 13.14-32, excerpts).

 

“By the same word the present heavens … have been reserved for fire….” (2 Peter 3.7, NRSV).

 

“Though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down” (Amos 9.2).

 

“And another portent appeared in heaven; behold a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, …. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth” (Rev. 12.3-4).

 

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise….” (2 Peter 3.10).

 

“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Rev. 20.11).

 

“The stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree shed its winder fruit when shaken by a gale” (Rev. 6.13).

 

“Is not God in the height of heaven? and behold the height of the stars, how high they are!” (Job. 22.12-14 KJE).

 

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house…. The place of which thou hast said, ‘My name shall be there… ‘” (1 Kings 8.27-29).

 

“Thus says the LORD, who gave the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars…. ‘If this fixed order departs … then shall the descendants of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.’ Thus says the LORD: ‘If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the descendants of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD'” (Jer. 31.35-7).

 

“No man has ascended into heaven but he” (John 3.13).

 

“Far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4.10; see OT, n.p).

 

“It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us…?'” (Deut. 30. 30.11-12).

 

“The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 3.2).

 

“The heavens will pass away with a loud noise…” (2 Peter 3.10).

 

“It is higher than heaven” (Job 11.8). “Is not God high in the heavens” (Job 22.12).

 

“Thy will be done. On earth as it is in heaven” (Mat. 6.10).

 

“You won’t be able to observe the coming of God’s basileia [kingdom]. People are not going ot be able to say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘Over here!’ or ‘Look there!’ On the contrary, God’s basileia is right there in your presence” (Luke 17.20-21, as translated in Marianne Sawicki’s Crossing Galilee; pub. Trinity Press International, Harrisburg Penn. USA; 2000 AD; p.. 176).

 

“If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the basileia is in the sky,’; then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. Rather the basileia is inside you and outside you” (Gospe. of Thomas 3.1-3 = POxy 654; as translated in Crossing Galilee).

 

 

Shockingly therefore, the common idea of immortality as going to Heaven, cannot be right. While any references to a “kingdom of Heaven” must be to an earthly kingdom, a physical kingdom, it seems (Rev. 21; Isa. 65-6).

 

To be sure, for many years, and until this very day, the street-level, childhood introduction to Christianity, is something like this: “be good, and you will go to heaven when you die.” And this view was presented to billions of people, as the core promise of Christianity. Yet this vision is not entirely consistent in the Bible at all. “Part”s of the Bible might support it; but not all.

 

 

 

Where Did the Emphasis On Heaven Come From?

Paul

 

 

 

So where and why did all the emphasis on “heaven” come from? We have suggested elsewhere, it came from … priests who, when their essentially magical ideas about praying for things out of thin air did not work well, turned to imagining results are supposed to come not on this earth, but in spiritual realms; and ultimately, after death, in heaven. (See our writing on Miracles and Spirituality).

 

Indeed, Christianity was suffering a great failure in its promises of material things, in the years after Jesus himself was materially killed; and many Christians suffered martyrdom. And when by the time of Paul, fl. c. 55 AD, there was still no clear cut, real material “kingdom.” Especially, when Jerusalem was physically burned to the ground by Rome in 70 AD.

 

It was therefore no doubt, a series of huge material failures, that lead many borderline believers to believe that either their religion – with its promises of material things – was false; or their religion needed to be changed, modified; to suggest that perhaps say, religion should only be held to delivering only spiritual things, not material things. Or finally, delivering things only later in time. Or delivering them at the end of time, or in “heaven.”

 

And so in fact, it was only after the material side of Christianity appeared to be in collapse, that Jesus – and especially Paul and other disciples – began to emphasize things other than material rewards here on this earth; to emphasize spiritual things; and rewards later in time. Or in “heaven.”

 

But where did they get such ideas? Where did the idea of rewards just in “heaven,” come from? To be sure, we found that this idea was not really very Jewish; not really very consistent with the Old Testament. Which concentrated far more, on promising real material rewards, here on this material earth.

 

 

Ancient Christianity did not see all the material results it promised on earth; and so it resorted to just 1) blindly repeating the old promises anyway, out of blind loyalty and faith; or 2) hinting that the old promises should be taken as mere metaphors for spiritual things. And that what we really get from our Religion, during this lifetime, is often just spiritual things only … or at most, a place in a spirit world: “heaven.”

 

To be sure though, the fuller Judeo-Christian tradition had made many, many, firm, solemnly-sworn, even contractual, covenantial promises to us all. Of very, very physical things. But many say that it had failed to deliver them; to deliver as many physical miracles as we “ask.” So it began to excuse or rationalize that, with numerous excuses and rationalizations and changes; among which it came to suggest that we would get results from religion, in a different place than this world; in heaven. So said a priestly, over-spiritual religion that has drifted away from the “world” for two thousand years.

 

The fact is though, that much of the Bible had promised very, very physical results. But our spiritual preachers failed to deliver them. Indeed, very early on, even during the lifetime of Jesus himself no doubt, Judaism and then Christianity (and later Islam) met with a series of devastating material failures. Our religious tradition had promised an ideal kingdom centered in Jerusalem; and Jesus presented himself as the Messiah or Christ or God that would deliver that. Yet instead, a series of physical disasters happened: 1)Jerusalem was still occupied by Rome; 2) Jesus himself, said to be God come to earth to live here eternally, was physically killed; and 3) even the allegedly physically-revived Easter Jesus disappeared after only 40 days. So that 4) no adequate physical “kingdom” appeared. In fact 5) even by the time of St. Paul – c. 55 AD; thirty years after the death of Jesus – there was no kingdom of God that was obvious and visible

 

Early Christians were sustained by the belief that Jesus was going to return somehow, as foretold c. 30 AD, “soon.” Yet 6) Jesus Christ was still not fuller there on earth, in any obvious way, fully twenty-five years later; in 55 AD. By the time of Paul then, St. Paul and others would have begun to feel that the physical material promises of Christianity – and say, a physical resurrection – were not “work”ing out. While 7) that impression that would have become even more vivid, when Jerusalem was even finally physically destroyed by Rome, in a “fire,” 70 AD. (As History outside the Bible records; see “Jerusalem,” Ox. Comp. to the Bible).

 

Christianity would have been in crisis therefore, in 55 AD. In spite of an occasional asserted miracle, still, Christianity seemed to fall very short of fulfilling all the old, promises; particularly an ideal “kingdom” of God on earth. Which had been probably, the biggest single promise and prophesy in the Bible (Isa. 65-6; Rev. 21, etc.). God had promised believers he would come to earth himself on “day” of “fire”; to punish bad people, and reward the good, with an ideal kingdom; in which there were no more “tears,” no more “pain”; where the “wolf” would lay down with the “sheep,” and the “lion” eat “straw like the Ox.” (Isa. 10-11, 65-66; Rev. 21; etc.). Christianity instead, was faced with a huge lack of such promised material “fruits,” “works,” “signs,” “deeds,” “proofs.”

 

So what did Christianity do? One might have thought it would have simply, logically deduced that its own religion was largely or partially false. However, Jews were a literate people; and the books fixed the old promises in their minds. And so they held to them … even as the world around them said their promises were false. And so, rather than simply reject Christianity as being substantially false,… instead, our preachers like St. Paul, began to generate words, sermons, that would excuse or explain this apparent massive material failure. And the main way they did this, was to suggest that religion, Judeo-Christianity after all, was not really supposed to get real material results here on earth; but rather, it is supposed to get – or in any case, most values – spiritual results. Or results some day in another world … or in “heaven.”

 

To be sure, this turned its back on parts of the old faith. But St. Paul and others suggested that we had a “new covenant,” and could reject parts fo the old “law,” as having been discharged or “fulfilled”; and replaced by a “new covenant” of “Grace.” A new kind of forgiving law.

 

But the main feature of all this new stuff, was the spiritualization and metaphoricalization of the old material promises. As a way of trying to explain why Christianity was meeting with so many material failures. As we saw in our chapters on Miracles and Sermons, preachers began to try to explain all these failures … not by suggesting particularly, that if the old promises had not been realized by Jesus, and/or his followers, then it was not – as one might otherwise think – that Jesus was a false Christ, or his followers false. Rather, his followers insisted that there were other explanations. Among which, our preachers began to pick up hints from earlier writings and sayings – both by Jesus, and Plato and others – that after all, perhaps our rewards – like an afterlife and resurrection for example – were not so much physical events, but rather spiritual ones. And/or that the place where all these things was to happen, was not here on this disappointing physical earth or world, but “in heaven.” For Jesus had sometimes said, “my kingdom is not of this earth”; and “lay treasures in heaven.” Ignoring or top-spinning all the many other promises by God, of very material, timely rewards – even “all” and “whatever” we “ask” – here, on this material earth. (As noted in our chapter on Science).

 

This spiritualization, by Christianity, the attempt to suggest that Religion only need to get spiritual, not material results, was influenced by, and in turn became the most important element in, a long school of thought in philosophy and religion, called hierarchical “dualism.” A school of thought related to Plato’s Idealism, as well as to Manicheanism, and later Gnosticism and Asceticism. Whose influence can be seen for example, in St. Paul. Paul explicitly liked “Greeks”; and as it turns out, his writings use the entire basic vocabulary of Plato’s most famous theory, his “Theory of Forms.”

 

 

 

Paul Got “Heaven” From Plato’s

Theory of Forms

 

 

The fact is, early Christianity got its idea of rewards in “heaven,” in large part, we will see, from the Greeks; from Plato. And more specifically, from Plato’s Theory of Forms. So that Christianity is therefore, basically, a Greco-Roman or “Hellenistic” variation, in traditional Jewish culture; specifically, a Platonic one, merging Greek ideas from Plato, with traditional Judaism.

 

To be sure, bringing Greek influence into Judaism – or literally, bringing Greeks into the temple as many complained in the New Testament – was controversial with traditional, conservative Jews. And so Christianity, Jesus and the Apostles, in the New Testament, constantly sought to try to show that their thought’s of heaven and so forth, were absolutely consistent with Old Testament Judaism.

 

Yet to be sure, when we look more carefully at what Paul especially said about “heaven,” we find that his basic idea and vocabulary were very thoroughly … from Plato’s Theory of Forms. From the Greeks. When Paul – and James – spoke of such things as these, they were using concepts and key words, straight from Plato.

 

We have spoken about Plato’s explicit theory of human immortality; which is that we live on in that our children, “generations,” carry bits of us one through time. But there are other elements of Plato that would seem to many, to remotely promise another kind of immortality: like his Theory of Forms, as it is today called. A theory that holds, briefly, that everything here on earth, is just an inferior, perishable copy, of the ideal pattern or “form” for that object, in heaven. And because everything here on earth is an inferior copy of ideal forms, models, patterns (“ideas”) in “heaven,” being inferior, we rust, rot, die. By extension, you might say that because we ourselves as human beings, are inferior “copies” of the pattern of an ideal god or man in heaven, we too, as human beings, get old and die. And yet however, the ideal pattern for us remains untouched, eternally, in heaven, one might say; the ideal picture of say, a “man.” And in Paul particularly, you can see Paul particularly – who spent several years in Ephesus, debating Greeks; who probably wrote Greek, as a Roman citizen – using key vocabulary words from the theory of Forms; as the basis of what might seem to many, to be another outline of how we ourselves (and or our churches), might somehow, connect to these ideal eternal models of ourselves, in heaven. And somehow, share in their perfection; and even share in their immortality. At the very least one might think, we can take on some qualifies of the immortals; and carry in ourselves for a while, good qualities that will survive in heaven, even after we are dead, one might say.

 

How this works will be hard to explain. Much of it was a “mystery” to Paul himself; who admitted that his own “knowledge” was “imperfect.” But in any case, we can see Paul and other Apostles (and Jesus?), clearly using Plato’s vocabulary and concepts, from his Theory of Forms. Paul, just like Plato, deducing that we ourselves, and things on this “world,” our churches and priests, are mere inferior, fated, perishing copies, of ideal heavenly models, forms, patterns:

 

 

“They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary … according to the pattern which was shown to you on the mountain” (Heb. 8.5).

 

“These are only a shadow of what is to come” (Col. 2.17).

 

“Since the law has but a shadow of the good things” (Heb. 10.1).

 

“They will perish, but thou dost endure” (Ps. 102.26).

 

“Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified….” (Heb. 9.23).

 

“For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself” (St. Paul, Bible, Heb. 9.23-4).

 

“Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13.3).

 

“Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1.17).

 

“The perishable inherit the imperishable ” (1 Corin. 15.50; 1 Peter 1.23).

 

“Follow the pattern of the sound words” (2 Tim. 1.13).

 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on” (Paul, Phil. 3.12; cf. concordances on “perfect”).

 

“Not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21.18; note however hair lasts longer than flesh).

 

 

 

The whole idea of Christianity and immortality in heaven, here, is really an adaptation from Plato’s Theory of Forms, we will find. The idea is that there are perfect models for human beings in heaven; and we should try to become like them; to become “perfect.” (Q.v., concordance). If we do this, the Bible hints at some kinds of rewards; heaven, immortality. But it was Greeks like Plato, not the Jews, who had said most clearly that the ideal “forms,” “patterns,” (and gods?) were in heaven; and that things here on earth were just im”perfect” and “perish”ing “copies” of them.

 

Before Jesus and Paul, it was Plato who, in his central Theory of Forms, tried to show that there were eternal truths, or “patterns” for things, somewhere in the universe. Plato hypothesizing that when the creator made different types of things – like “roses” or “cows” or “men,” surely he must have had in mind a perfect, unchangeable pattern. And a reasonable and fixed notion. Therefore, he reasoned eventually, there must be ideal “forms” or “patterns” out there somewhere. Of which things on earth – since they are often flawed, and perishable, and die – must be merely inferior, generated copies:

 

 

“Which of the patterns had the artificer in view when he made it – the pattern of the unchangeable or of that which is created? … Everyone will see that he must have looked at the eternal…. And having been created in this way, the world has been framed in the likeness of that which is apprehended by reason [“logos”?] and mind and is unchangeable, and must therefore of necessity, if this is admitted, be a copy of something…. Let me tell you then why the creator made this world of generation…” (Plato’s Collected Dialogues, Timaeus 29.a-b-e).

 

“My creations are indissoluble, if so I will. All that is bound may be undone… Therefore, since ye are but creatures, ye are not altogether immortal and indissoluble, but ye shall certainly not be dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death” (PLATO, Tim. 41.b).

 

“If they were created by me … they would be on an equality with the gods. In order then that they may be mortal … do yet, according to your natures, betake yourselves to the formation of animals.… Thus he spoke … they were not, however, pure as before, but diluted to the second and third degree” (Tim. 41.c, d).

 

 

This is the core of it: the “creator” of the universe, Plato asserted, must have had some kind of ideas, of perfect and “unchangeable” or immortal things; perfect and immortal truths. And then for various reasons, that creator eventually made – or allowed others to make (the children of Gods; Tim. 40.e) – an earth, with things on it, that to some extent, “copy” those divine ideas and models. But they made inferior copies.

 

Plato argued in effect, that God’s own ideas, must be eternal, and perfect, partially on the following grounds:

 

 

“First then, in my judgment, we must make a distinction and ask, What is that which always is and had not becoming, and what is that which is always becoming and never is? That [eternal truth] which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state, but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is….. The work of the creator, whenever he looks to the unchangeable and fashions the form and nature of his work after an unchangeable pattern, must necessarily be made fair and perfect …. (Tim. 27.d ff).

 

 

Plato asserts (not entirely correctly) that the ideas of an eternal God must be immortal and perfect. But then for some reason, somehow, when God made things after his patterns, on this mere material or “created” world or earth, as “copies” of his ideas, God slipped up; his creation, matter, is not perfect, dirty, perishable. And so using mere mud and so forth to make men, God did not make them as good as his original “idea”s:

 

 

“But when he looks to the created only and uses a created pattern, it is not fair or perfect.” (Plato, Tim. 27.d).

 

 

Things, people on earth get old and die; so many reason that they are not perfect. But contrast, he argues that heaven is eternal, always in existence, and therefore, is not a created thing, and can be immortal and perfect:

 

 

“Was the heaven then or the world … always in existence and without beginning, or created….? (Plato, Tim. 27.d-28.b).

 

 

Plato then argued, that though earthly, material copies of our ideals, are not entirely perfect and durable, and because indeed they tarnish, get old and die, it is likely that all things on earth like man, would naturally however desire to be more like the original, perfect ideas of God; of which they are imperfect copies:

 

 

“…All equal objects of sense are desirous of being like it, but are only imperfect copies” (Phaedo 75.b).

 

 

That was Plato. Suggesting that to be sure, things here on earth seem to die; but there are ideal perfect types, models out there somewhere (in his own mind if nowhere else); that are eternal. And Plato suggested that many entities, humans, would of course preferred to be more like their ideal models; eternal, imperishable. While Plato’s ideas hinted vaguely to some readers, that if we tried to be better human beings, more like the ideal human being, we might become … as immortal as perfect ideas in the mind of God, must surely be. If we tried to be better and better, and not inferior “copies” of the heavenly forms, one day we might be, like them, immortal. (As perhaps, indeed, we might almost be, as science improves our status, our longevity, the kind of bodies we have).

 

In any case, it seems that St. Paul and early Christianity, were often in many cases, clearly using the basic vocabulary of Plato’s Theory of Forms, when they talked about immortality in heaven. And that part of their theory of immortality therefore, was based not just on, was thinking not only of the Jewish God, but also, of that. Apparently believing that we might somehow, try to become more like, “perfect” as the original truths, goods, in heaven. And in that way somehow, achieve immortality with them. Paul – who with Jesus, often tolerated Gentiles, and Greeks – clearly speaking Platonistically, as he used the fundamental concept and language of Plato’s Theory of Forms; Paul referring to:

 

 

“The copies of the heavenly things” (Heb. 9.23).

 

 

Old Testament religion, really didn’t have this in it much, if at all (cf. Genesis, however, people being made in the “image of” God). But now suddenly, there is more and more talk, in Christianity, of things on earth being explicitly “copies of the heavenly things.” And then people on earth, trying to match heavenly things. Which actually, came in large part, from Plato.

 

 

 

Improving on Natural Reflection of Copies

 

 

But next … how do we improve on all this? To some extent, merely being a human person, means we are a reflection of deep patterns, paradigms, in Nature, or the mind of God. But just being a biological human, is generally not thought to be enough. So how do we imperfect beings on earth, try to become even more like the perfect models in heaven? Plato said, through moral knowledge, or “education” (cf. Republic):

 

 

“And by reason of all these affections, the soul, when encased in a mortal body, now … is at first without intelligence, but when the flood of growth … abates … then … return to their natural form…. And … he attains the fullness and health of the perfect man…. But if he neglected education he walks lame to the end of his life…. (Tim. 44.b-c).

 

 

Thus it was Plato who c. 350 BC, best outlined the major ideas of what was to be added to Judaism, to form Christianity, four hundred years later: the whole idea that by means of a moral education – or as Jews said, “knowledge” – we might somehow, become even more like our ideal model in heaven (Christ, God, Father). And somehow then, out of that, become as immortal as our ideal models are.

 

To be sure though, Plato’s logic here was not entirely foolproof. But almost a free-association of ideas. But in any case, it was an at least para-logical outline of one possible immortality; and it seems to have been influential, helping for form Christianity itself.

 

Finally to be sure, in fact, we might find one kind of common sense truth in it: it is said that great men, and their ideas, are “immortal”; in that their ideas, being great, live forever. And to be sure, we might also hope that by learning their ideas, their spirit, we and others might carry on their spirit, that torch, immortally. While we might also hope that our own original ideas, if any, will likewise be carried on by others. So that by learning from ideal models, teachers, a kind of immortality is in fact, created. We join a traditional (a culture) that can reproduce itself endlessly; and thus we are part of a tradition that can be in principle, immortal. As Plato suggested, by the “succession of generations.” But also thanks more specifically to their books, and memory, and so forth.

 

So this Platonic immortality, interfaces with, corroborates, the idea in Plato and the Bible, that parts of us live on though … our cultural descendants, say. Though this whole idea is better and more directly accessed, and understood, not by reference to the Theory of Forms, but by Plato’s more direct remarks specifically on … human immorality, the “generations”; good ideas persist he said, out of … being reproduced, from generation to generation (q.v. Plato), by our children, and our biological and cultural descendants. A clearer idea of immortality, also found not only elsewhere in Plato (as noted above), but also … in Christianity. When Christianity talked about we ourselves, or our “name,” living on in our sons, our children, our “seed.”

 

While the best ideas that we have, will be the ones that reflect the true nature of the universe, its laws, the will of God. Such things are already for all practical purposes immortal; and when we learn them, we join our minds to, become part of, many things that will live on, long after our deaths. As long as God’s nature lasts. Whether other immediate descendants carry them on or not, we have direct access to the Universe after all. And we individually can be part of it, in a more conscious way than others. Though ideally, our findings will be carried on to other human beings, in a way that they can understand, and that will help them.

 

Finally therefore, there are many kinds of immortality,
even just here on earth; there are many real spirits or ideas, surviving on earth … by way of many different material things. Like our genes, and our books. Both of which are frequently mentioned in the Bible, in close connection to discussions of immortality. While here, we are beginning to see why.

 

Many preachers have thought that immortality, was entirely non-material; that we live on only in our non-material “spirit,” or in some kind of spiritual, non-physical Heaven. Even such preachers however, have often longed to see God return to earth. And here and now, in part? We are beginning to see a bit of that. When we conceptually “see” how the promises of religion – like immortality – connect to material things around us – like genes; books – finally, we are at least conceptually seeing God return to this physical earth, after all. We are seeing how the ideas of God, always connected to material things all around us.

 

 

 

Is Christianity Therefore, from Greece,

As Much as Israel?

Is God Not Jewish, But Also Greek?

 

 

Could many Christian ideas, have come in part from Greeks, like Plato? The Roman Catholic Church and others, seem to acknowledge that the Greeks had some kind of “partial revelation” of God, even before Christianity. While we find that Paul himself, got many of his concepts, much of his key vocabulary, by way of Plato, and his theory of forms; the whole idea that we here on this “world,” are like residents in a cave, that see only dark “shadows” of the outside world, the true ideal “forms” or models or paradigms. That we see and experience only fated, inferior “copies” of the true models, in “heaven.” Indeed, it seems that Christianity is historically, essentially, Greco-Roman influenced or “Hellenized,” Judaism. Specifically, it seems that Christianity borrowed especially, from Greek thought, in Plato. More specifically still, the Christian “Heaven” seems to come from Plato, and his Theory of Forms.

 

Many Christians though, will be shocked to find that some ideas in Christianity, were from Plato, or Greeks. So let’s justify that for a second more.

 

Some Jews – correctly – perceived that St. Paul for instance – a Roman citizen, who was probably educated in Greek – was combining Gentile/Greco-Roman ideas, with Jewish ideas. Indeed, Jews accused Paul of mixing with Greeks socially. Or in some way bringing Greeks into the Jewish temple; while they accused Christians of being heretics, and bringing non-traditional – and one might suppose, Greek – ideas into Judaism:

 

“This is the man who is teaching men everywhere against the people and the law and this place; moreover he also brought Greeks into the temple, and he has defiled this holy place” (Acts 21.28).

 

 

To be sure, if Christianity – Jesus or Paul – began to change Jewish religion, to bring “Greeks” into it, to do that publicly is difficult, and dangerous; indeed, you could be martyred as a heretic. And so Paul and other apostles, either asserted they were good Jews; while they indirectly defended any changes they made in Jewish tradition … by offering many different arguments. Including arguments that their changes were no changes at all, but that everything they did was not “new,” but just an extension of old laws. Though eventually Paul began more openly and directly arguing against Jewish “law”; and then, defending “Gentiles” and even Greeks. Quoting Jesus too, on this:

 

 

“Now the woman was a Greek.… And she begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. And he said to her, ‘Let the child first be fed ….’ But she answered … ‘even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.’ And he said to her, ‘For this saying you may go your way; the demon has left your daughter.'” (Mark. 7.26-29; see other versions; saying Jesus was sent only to the Jews).

 

 

If it seems shocking therefore to say that Christianity came not just out of Jewish thought, but also Greek, note that finally the New Testament began to justify even the Greeks, to. And not just the extension of Jewish thought to the Greeks; but ultimately in the finer print, the modification of Jewish thoughts, by the Greeks, too. Paul confessing for instance that he – and therefore, Christianity – “owe”d much to many others than Jews; including Greeks and so forth:

 

 

“I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians” (Rom. 1.14; cf. expired gag order on this, Rom. 13.8, Phm. 1.19? This is sometimes read as meaning obligations to help them; but other translations interpret this as “owe”ing things to them; in a way consistent with having borrowed ideas from them, and owing them a debit of gratitude).

 

 

Paul even confessed that he himself was a Roman citizen:

 

 

“Paul said…, ‘I was born a citizen'” (Acts 22.28).

 

 

We might expect therefore that Paul – and early Christianity – was heavily influenced by Greco-Roman ideas. There are many places in the New Testament that allowed that Greeks, non Jews, might be admitted into relation with God. While indeed, we see the entire basic vocabulary and concepts of Plato’s most famous Theory – the Theory of Forms – in Paul, for example. And we find the Greeks, in part, behind Christianity’s concept of our being inferior forms, “copies,” of immortal perfect models, in “heaven.” Indeed, the Jews themselves did not really speak so much about an afterlife in “heaven,” as a mere shadowy afterlife in Sheol. It was mainly Plato, that stressed the heavens.

 

But if so? Then by the way, still, Aristotle often criticized Plato, for speaking in too disembodied a way about Forms and so forth; so the Aristotle wanted Plato to tie his ideas better to material things as we see them here on this physical earth; and to Science. While we agree with this. And find that the Bible itself, seems to allow and encourage that; speaking constantly of physical rewards, here on earth. And speaking of God himself, returning to this physical earth again one day especially after all.

 

While indeed, we are beginning to see that, now.

 

 

 

 

 

Circles:

 

Where Exactly Are Perfect Forms; Perfect Circles?

 

Living on, By Knowing

(Plato’s & Other’s Ideal) Eternal Truths;

As the Origin of

Christianity’s Heaven;

Plato and St. Paul Linking Immortality,

To Understanding of

“Perfect” Things in “Heaven”:

Perfect Circles and Planets

 

 

 

Here though finally, we come to this problem: where exactly, is God? Or in Platonic language, where do the ideal forms reside? Are they only in Heaven? In spirit? There are many traditional clerical arguments, that our ideal forms, models, can exist only in spiritual ways and places. Paul and others like Plato often spoke of life here on earth, as being a mere “shadow” or inferior “copy” of the “perfect” “models” in “heaven.” Yet Plato and later Christians, suggested that we ourselves here on earth, might get to know something about immortal truths, immortal models. And they suggested there was some kind of immortality, in knowing about them. But how would that work? How do you get immortality out of that? Neither Plato nor writers like Paul, were entirely clear on that. But we might begin to clarify some of this.

 

Over time, the Greeks had discovered many things, that seemed logically, eternally true. Through say, the emerging science-related fields especially, of Geometry and Math. Among other things, significantly, they developed the idea of mathematically, theoretically “perfect” circles and perfect straight lines and such. But useful as these things were, some despaired that as a practical matter, no examples of perfection exist on earth. We might think we have made a “perfect” circle with a protractor or compass; but if we look at it under a microscope, we find that our pencil lines were wavery, and imperfect. We might think that our planet earth, is a perfect sphere; but then we see mountains and valleys and bulges on it.

 

To this very day, Math teachers sometimes note that it is possible to think of a perfect circle, or use a formula, to describe a theoretically perfect circle in math, or imagine one in our mind – but then they add, it is in real life, impossible to draw one. Or get one in real life here on earth. Try to draw a perfect circle: even your best freehand drawing will probably show a few bumps and wavers in it; making your circle less than perfect. Even if you get a very, very accurate protractor, and use that to draw a very, very good circle, almost perfect, still, if you really look at it close, or under a microscope, you will see that the pencil line thickens and thins, waver a bit. Which means that your circle is not really perfect. And in fact, Plato and Aristotle – and the Bible, especially the quite Platonistic Paul – suggested that nothing on earth or in material Nature is perfect:for God made nothing on earth perfect”(q.v.). We can imagine perfect circles, and perfect circles exist in the heaven of our mind, or in math-heaven, or somewhere; but nowhere else. Even the planets, or the full moon, which appear from afar to be perfectly round, spherical, when you get up close are found to have craters, mountains, bumps on them. And related to that? We might try to be good and even perfect human beings; and yet, each of us seems to have flaws, and to not follow the original perfect idea of God, well enough. And so, out of these kinds of insights? Plato and others developed the idea, that there are ideal or “perfect” forms out there somewhere somehow; but that to be sure, almost everything we see here on earth, or in this material universe, is merely an im- “perfect” “copy” of those perfect shapes and things.

 

From this kind of thinking probably, Socrates and Plato developed the theory – that was long called Plato’s Theory of Forms – that there were “perfect” things, shaped, models, “forms” or “ideas” in Math for example. Or out there somewhere, immortal shapes or “Forms.” But exactly where exactly did they exist? Perhaps, say, 1) in our minds at least – our ideas. Or in some kind of 2) Math land or sphere. Or probably best said, such things exist 3) primarily as ideals. Or as 4) structural indications, models, in Nature. But 5) most often, Plato seems almost to think (as Aristotle complained) that these forms exist somewhere; and since we did notsee them often here on this material earth, he choose a very remote place, Heaven, as the likeliest place where ideal perfect models exist. Yet Aristotle and we here, suggest that Plato’s idea was rather inexact, and in a way, silly. Perfect circles you might say – and still at the risk of being rather silly – are better said to exist in “math land.” Or better said, as mere hypothetical constructs or ideals. (Or even better said? J.S. Mills or his father, and other philosophers suggested that even math itself, is a property of nature; “number” is discovered, by counting material things. While in fact, “number”s like “one” and “two” have no real existence at all; except as properties of material things. (Likewise, “being”; critics of the theory of the real existence of “Universals,” noted that being is a predicate quality of material things; that even if it would seem that we must have the concept of “existence” or “being” before thinking of things, still, there can be no “Being” itself, existing before things. Could we say that some was, that it had “being” … when it had not material existence? For these and other reasons finally, we ourselves here are rather thoroughly empirical, and locate even pure numbers and math, as merely an abstracted version of … actual things found in material nature. And finally? We find God himself there too. Just as he always warned: God being found not just in Heaven, but in “all things”).

 

It is easy to see how people might conceptualize ideal models, as underlying our existence. Not just from Math, but also from just practical ideals. But then we had this problem: exactly where are those models? There were many attempts to try to find a place they might be said to reside. And these efforts became linked to an earlier tradition of “immortal gods.” Who, not being entirely visible here on earth, were said to reside somewhere invisibly; either deep in the earth, or in a remote “heaven.” This is presumably from ancient times. When earlier Greeks and later Romans had looked at the universe, and noticed some things, trends, forces, general phenomena, that last for a long time. That seem to go on from generation to generation: like say, the Sea; Love; War; the stars; eternal truths. But where was the place where these eternal things lived? Many like Plato came to believe that nothing on earth was quite a perfect representative of any of these things; so that they did not live on the earth. For various reasons, “Heaven” was decided upon, as the place where these things reside.

 

The ancients looked at the universe, and saw some larger trends, patterns, that seemed to persist, from generation to generation: love and war, the sea, the stars, and then (Plato’s favorite?) mathematical formulas. Before Plato though, the problem arose: where did these eternal things reside? Many ancient animistic cultures thought they lived often invisibly, inside material things; rocks and trees, or deep in the earth. But Plato and the Greeks eventually decided – for rather arbitrary reasons – to conventionally suggest that these basic models, forms, should best be thought of as residing far from our sight; likely, in Heaven. Major elements of life, the Greeks and Romans thought of as symbolized by (anthropomorphic, personifying) human terms; as human-like but superhuman beings Neptune and Venus standing for the Seas; Mars standing for War. Venus for Love. These were called “Immortal Gods in Heaven.” Plato’s noticing “Immortal Forms in Heaven,” sound quite a bit like that .. and in fact, it is just a refinement of the earlier Greek and Ancient Near East ideas, of the great models, existing as “gods,” in the “clouds,” or in the “heavens.” And, in the same way that ancient Greeks projected their best ideas of truths, true ideas, into gods in the heavens, likewise Socrates/Plato chose to conventionally suggest that their immortal truths, also existed in heaven, too. (Which caused more traditionally religious Greeks to object to Socrates; for being impious of, usurping, the old gods. And so they ordered Socrates to commit suicide. Quite like Jesus; who – four hundred years after Socrates and his legacy were well distributed throughout the Near East – is convicted or heresy, for changing things in heaven And who, like Socrates, in the service of his truth, martyr to the truth, gives up his life, willingly. Perhaps convinced after all, of some kind of real attachment to immorality, after all).

 

Before Socrates and Plato, everyday people had noticed some larger patterns, truths, in nature; and called them gods. In Plato’s time, intellectuals and astronomers and others were beginning to notice other – specially mathematical and rational – things, other structures, forms, that seem to be the basic eternal bones of material life. Geometry was going strong; some thought that literally circles and squares and other such things might be the basic building blocks of the universe. (See Renaissance drawings that tried to see things in geometrical terms; even the human body). In any case, we were finding various truths that did seemed to underlie many things. And we were seeing general patterns, forms – in Greek, “paradigm”s (?) – that might be the longstanding structures on which life was based. Maybe life, they came to think was based on simple shapes like the perfect circle; or maybe other geometric, or intellectual truths. Or perhaps Math or Logical Rational Thought, ideas, were the basis of it all. Or perhaps the gods. And maybe, many seemed to think, if we could just try to make ourselves pure and “perfect” like they were, or as our concepts of them were, then we would get to know immortal things. And perhaps somehow? We could hitch our wagon to a star; and be immortal too. As Paul seemed to suggest. Or maybe: by learning astronomy or something, we could somehow share in, join to, the immortal stars ( Cf. Plato Collected Dialogues, Epinomis 974.b-ff).

 

Probably Paul was not sure on what he thought, himself. And we can only see very slightly better, what Plato thought about immortality, in his books. Probably the simplest and most useful description of human immortality, was Plato’s simpler version: where he said that humans participate in immortality, in that many of our ideas and traits, are carried on by our descendants, from “generation” to generation. But there might have been another idea about immortality in Plato and in others, that we might begin to see, here. Plato himself, may or may not have quite stressed this idea: that a human being might find immortality himself, by looking at or understanding immortal forms, perfect circles and so forth. But Plato’s books often seem compatible with our own hypothesis here: that in learning about the eternal truths, or basic types of things or forms, there is in fact, a kind of immortality; there is a way of more or less, hitching yourself to a star. In a) merely seeing and understanding long-term forms, patterns? You have mentally joined, seen, some longstanding – perhaps immortal – things. This at first does not make very strong sense. But it is traditionally said in intellectual circles, that when you begin to see longterm patterns, immortal truths, you somehow share in immortality. At the very least, you acquire knowledge that will give you much power in much of life.

 

Is there any more direct way to link our lives to immortal forms though? We might speculate here. The first possibility seems realistic: you have educated yourself, in larger trends; and can become more successful in life (if you don’t get too bookish). But b) consider this more farfetched possibility also? If you come to understand many of the basic principles of life, you will have … initiated yourself into, become a conscious part of a universe, life, that after all, is going on for a very long time. (And which may be what Jesus meant often, when he talked about “Life“). If say, you have the idea of a perfect circle in your mind, then you have in mind a great idea, some would say, and a great thing in the universe or the mind of God; and even if you die, you will have in your mind, been a part of therefore, something great, that will live on after you. This to be sure, would not be very immediately useful …or make you immortal yourself, it would seem. Though, the more long-term – even immortal or perennial – trends and patterns you understand, the more powerful you might be in real life. If you can always pick the winning horse or business, if you know what this or that kind of person is like to do, in this or that situation … you have a certain practical advantage, that may at least preserve your life, a bit longer. While? Some thinkers might have even suggested some kind of consolation, a kind of participation in immortality, in merely having thought of, known, larger trends in your own lifetime; even if your body dies, like everyone else.

 

But how? Is this realistic in any way? We can discuss ways that it makes partial sense. And suggest thoughts that are not so realistic; but that probably influenced many thinker’s ideas of immortality.

 

 

What?

 

 

In Plato, we seem to have a couple of ideas of immortality. In part, there is the succession of generations. And some vague idea perhaps, of ideal eternal “forms,” floating somewhere. But more plausibly, and specifically? Plato’s Socrates often favored the “logos,” or “logic,” or reason, it seems. Socrates often suggested that the most important things in life to notice and learn about, are logical and rational principles.

 

Plato himself, emphasized logic and math. However, these were very, very abstract disciplines, whose connection to real power, and immortality, is real, but is sometimes not clear to some. Yet seeing longterm principles, can be interesting in itself; and in fact, there is finally a kind of real immortality out of such things, for others: basically, the idea was that say, the same types or kinds or major forms of things seems to recur over and over in life. The “sea” goes on; seas can be found in many parts of the world. Or better? One “rose” may die … but other “roses” will be born. So the feeling in Plato, was that under the changing, shifting surface of world affairs, there were some constants; constant types or basic laws or basic phenomena – patterns; “paradigms” – that outlast individual lives, or perishable manifestations of them. And so certain general phenomena, types of things, seem to outlive the death of any individual manifestation of it. One rose dies … but the type “rose” persists … and will somehow, generate more roses, generation after generation. Potentially, immortally.

 

Thus, there are, practically, immortal things out there. In effect, the universe is full of general principles, types, patterns, forms, models, paradigms. Knowing them gives one a certain power: and even to begin to see forms of immortality; knowing that some things carry on from generation to generation.

 

Beyond that though? Is there some way to more directly, hitch ourselves to these immoral things? In a sense, there is a consolation, a philosophical calm, that comes from seeing a kind of durability in the universe; and even a sort of immediate satisfaction. We might for example, be the first to elucidate the idea of a “perfect circle.” And we might get some personal satisfaction in having linked our minds, to something that is longterm, even immortal. And even if there is not much immediate personal power in this – it will not save our personal physical lives completely – still? Giving those powerful ideas to others … makes them more powerful. And they will therefore, live stronger and longer, at least.

 

While again finally? If you have labored and discovered the concept of say, a very large and nearly perfect sphere, you get some consolation in knowing that something you know, that is important … exists more or less, in planets everywhere say; planets that will continue and be important, for billions of years after we are deceased.

 

So? There is at least an immediate philosophical consolation, at discovering such things. While moreover? Discovering larger, regular phenomena – knowing what a “circle” or “square” is for example – has eventual practical applications, in machines and so forth. So that? Those who know of these things, gain in their intellectual knowledge, and eventually, real material power.

 

And? As we know more and more, and gain more and more power? And longer and longer lives?

 

Preachers have often promised, that we can become immortal; connect to immortality. But how does that actually happen? It seems to us, that neither our preachers, nor Plato, ever really clearly said exactly how that happens, in any very direct way. It seems that Paul, from Plato (and some Egyptian and ANE ideas?) had some vague idea .. of somehow, floating up to “heaven.” But Plato at times, knew that his disinterested love of ideal forms and logical principles, would eventually have practical application; and bring us practical powers. And indeed we here and now, perhaps have reconstructed how to bridge the gap between 1) Plato’s abstract rationality, his math, his heaven, and 2) St. Paul’s – or many preachers’ – heaven. With however finally 3) the earth. First a) we will have shown here that longterm and potentially immortal things exist; and that b) knowing about them gives us some immediate satisfaction. A kind of sentimental link to immortal things. But also c) knowing about them can give us even immediate abilities, powers. It may even be, that as we know more and more general truths? And master concrete life thereby, better and better? Then we can destroy one disease after another; and improve the length of our lives; until we are practically, immortal.

 

This in any case, seems to be the general plan of Education.

 

 

 

 

More

 

 

Will the idea of “going to heaven” ever makes much real sense, however? Except as a a very, very vague in inexact metaphor; or on the other hand, taken very literally, as space travel. To better worlds? Perhaps that is all it meant. We might kick this can down the road a little further though; and talk more about the immediate sentimental rewards? Though with the caution that after all, these more purely sentimental/abstract/intellectual satisfactions of the mind, eventually fall prey to some of the same problems, that very spiritual monks had: we become more and more easily satisfied with our own mental ides and state; with mere mental things that might not be as real or great as we thought, but that might be mere, false ideas.

 

We might however, explore the immediate consolation for a while. Finally perhaps, the effort by Christianity, to posit and try to match, ideal perfect models, and thus get immortality, is a little silly. But we might make a sort of loose, spiritual/metaphorical literary sense out of it. And show how it is in fact, a common effort by many of us, already. While after clarifying it, we might move on to better things.

 

The Egyptians, then Judaism, might have begun to see some elements of this, early on; c. 4,000 BC. Then c. 350 BCE, Plato began to refine some of this. Then Christianity and St. Paul, 400 years after Plato. Paul might be seen as attempting in part, to carry the Platonic dialogue a step or two further; further than Plato himself. Paul might be seen as trying to justify yet another vision of eternality … that might promise some kind of immediate human immortality too. Paul and Jesus often speaking of somehow, joining them and their thought, immediately, to get “eternal life.” Though Plato himself perhaps, was not clear on this to many, and though Paul himself in any case, admitted that much of this was a “mystery” at least to he himself, speaking of it vaguely and supernaturally (flying up into the air and so forth), finally, perhaps we can complete and clarify the concept. Roughly, it all seems to be what we are describing here. In some ways, it is a) quite sentimental. On the other hand though? Finally, understanding larger phenomena … does eventually have practical application. And practical powers. And who knows? Perhaps even a more vivid, more real immortality … than Paul probably could produce.

 

There is an immediate consolation: note that it had already come to be said by Socrates, that there was a “perfect” world or plane of existence, full of “perfect” forms, or laws or inclinations, in the “heavens”: one which could be accessed by our minds – or spirits, as religious folk later said. And if we learn about them though observing nature, and then from “education” that reflects realities, then our lives will be better in some ways. And indeed, we will be tied to greater things than ourselves. We will feel ourselves to be part of something bigger than ourselves (as many have said; as Humphry Bogart said in the movie, Casablanca). And that is consoling.

 

There is an immediate simple sense of this: we might sacrifice our lives, in an army, to save something larger -–like our country, say. But there are other sacrifices, for even larger things, it may be. If for example, we learn about, and love, the study of planets, including their spherical aspects. If we learn some truths about them, then we will have been connected to truths, that survive as long as planets, (and/or mathematics; the math of spheres, say). And even if we die, still something we loved and that was part of us – the image of planets – goes on, outside us; in the planets themselves. So that in a strange way, part of our spirit – which originally we got from others, even other things, planets – lives on outside us. In the original, often greater objects that inspired our thoughts, after all.

 

Is this part of the meaning of it all? Much of this fits what was often said in the old books: in this scenario, though our own ideas will have only been imperfect copies of more awesome (“perfect”?) things in nature or God, still, part of what we knew and were lives on. In a sense, in a more perfected form in fact. We ourselves are more knowledgeable. And there is the sentimental consolation: even when we die, the bits of nature and ultimate truth that we had in mind, still exist, even after we are dead; they live on. And we will have been part of something, something entered us, that will be immortal. That will continue outside us, even after we are dead.

 

Is this any good though? Some would object to this immortality. Many would say to be sure, that nature for example is not conscious; and therefore nature, though more complex thanour thoughts, is not more perfect than them. Or is not even as good as our thoughts. Because nature is not conscious or aware of its own interconnections, as we are. Indeed, if it is true, this might be an objection to the idea that much of us survives in Nature. Though to be sure? Our kind of human consciousness, survives at least, in other people. The people who come after us.

 

In any case, here we have one theory, of how we might be “imperfect” or incomplete copies of a more “perfect” and “fuller” or more complex reality or truth out there somewhere; and how this notion seems to fit Plato and the Bible both. And it explains many otherwise incomprehensible things said about immortality and Christianity in the Bible; how there is a kind of immortality in us, even when we only imperfectly understand things around us. And how in sense, when we die, our spirit might be said to “return” to that perfection.

 

This therefore, might just be, about all the Bible itself was talking about. And it is possible to get much sentimental consolation out of it. Matching much of what has been said in Religion in fact; about merging with, becoming “one with,” the universe, or God.

 

Given this situation – the existence of the laws of the universe, in our minds, at times, for example – it is possible to say a great number of rather mystical and impressive-sounding things. And indeed it seems, many of the grander mystical pronouncements made by philosophers and mystics, may have been generated by some of the implications of the fact that the mind of man, can partially contain, and be part of, many of the larger, longstanding (and some would say practically immortal) truths of the universe. We might say for example, that the spirit of truth, indeed the universe itself, can live on in us. Or we could also say that immortal things, a number of great truths, laws, their idea or spirit, live on in us; and when we die, the great things that we learned, still live on, in the nature around us; in God or Nature. So that a spirit that was in God, then was in us, in a sense “returns” to the universe, the earth, the heavens.

 

 

The Need for More;

Living On, Generation to Generation

 

 

 

But to be sure, though in fact many mystical, religious sayings were probably inspired by reflection on ideas from Plato, and similar ideas developing out of it – about nature coming to consciousness in the mind of man, etc.; including many ideas about immortality though being “in” or part of larger things in the universe, like God and so forth – still however, such things are to be sure, a bit vague and airy. There will be many who get some consolation from such things; though no doubt all of us can also hope for, something more. For a more complete and vivid immortality for example. For an immortality for example, that allows our own entire conscious mind, to continue to exist, after the death of our bodies.

 

What we say here is absolutely consistent with the Bible itself; and then adds a few final touches to what it said. We must fill in some missing pieces … since Paul himself, and the Bible itself, did not really seem to have a clear idea of that; Paul called our immortality a “mystery,” and did not clear it up much; after the material resurrection of Lazarus and Jesus evaporated up to “heaven,” he and the Bible, left us in the “air,” and the “clouds.” As did Plato’s Theory of Forms too. So we will have had to look a little further, on our own here; to see how to make firm sense of immortality at last; where the legends came from, what the Bible was tending toward. But briefly, we have here outlined a general idea, of how things here one earth, can share in immortal things. By way of an extension of Paul’s extrapolation, from Plato’s Theory of Forms.

 

But next? And better? We can link that up finally, to ideas about living on in biology and culture, name and seeds. Thus bringing our heaven down to earth, at last; showing how spiritual, “heavenly” ideas were in material things, like human beings; and then further tied to many other material things, on earth, all along.

 

Suppose for example, that God had in mind a perfect “man.” But somehow few things here on earth are up to that idea model. Still? To some extent, even imperfect humans share parts of that original model. While? As we try to be more and more like the ideal man, we come into closer and closer compliance to a model that after all, will live on after us. In heaven, or wherever. We will in short, have been part of something great, that will live on after us. And furthermore? Not just in Heaven, but also in the memory of others, our writings in books, and so forth.

 

Where indeed does our immortality take place? Where do ideal forms – and God – actually live? Is it just in Heaven or in spirit? Indeed, sometimes Plato himself was also rather unsatisfied with such vague notions. And in any case? The fact is that outside the notion of the Theory of Forms, Plato finally more firmly solidified, nailed down, firmed up, the notion of our own human immortality, somewhat. When he pointed to the fact that the immediate method by which our human life is carried on through time, is by reproduction. By “generation.” By having children, and teaching our better ideas and spirit to them, and our culture. And when we die? Our ideas and genes live on in our children.

 

So that? Bits of what we are, even ideal things, can to some extent, exist in, live on in … material things.

 

 

 

The “Full”er, Generative Spring, Easter

Sense of It;

And How Do We Ourselves, Get Immortality

Out of Forms? Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato

 

 

Or better still? Let’s move away for a second, from Plato’s theory of Forms say, to 1) his more pointed and specific remarks on human afterlife – about us living on through our children – then our immortality begins to firm up, at least slightly. When Plato went beyond the generalities of his own Theory of Forms, to talk about how human beings live on, in the generations that come after us – then actually, we might begin to see vague, “heavenly” “forms” and vague “spirits” and “ideas” … begin to make somewhat firmer, more material sense. [Then too, when we begin to see how the “forms” of the universe, live in us – 2) when we are educated; when we acquire “knowledge” of the universe, and so forth – then we are also beginning to see vague spirits, conceptually speaking, come down to, link with, material things, on this material earth. In effect, perhaps a Christian prophesy is beginning to be fulfilled moreover; vague spiritual things, thought to be in heaven only, are now … coming, descending to earth again. “Spirit” is poured on material “flesh.”]

 

God told us that one day, God would destroy Heaven, and return to this earth. And many descriptions of wonders in the Bible, seem very, very physical. But how specifically, can things like immortality, be really, physically real? In fact, the great re-linkage or re-embodiment, between religious spirit, and materialistic life, between heaven and earth, might not be fully expressed directly in Plato himself. Or in Paul either. Since Paul just didn’t know many things; as he himself admitted (Paul admitting he was not yet “perfect”; that he was a “fool”; that he “boast”ed; that he was the “worst of sinners”; that his “knowledge” would pass away, etc.). But even Paul, at times suggested that immortality was to happen not just in clouds and heaven and spirit; that somehow, our “flesh” would “put on immortality,” and so forth.

 

But if our immortality is in part in the earth, in material things? Then how does it happen? Plato and Paul themselves do not seem entirely clear on this. Though perhaps the first parts of this are found … if we now consider Plato telling us that human beings, the form of our lives and thoughts, live on, in the “succession of generations.” An idea which furthermore can itself, be translated into the language of Forms.

 

What did Plato mean? How can we put together Platonic musings on Forms, with his ideas of human immortality? Perhaps this way: for example, we could say that the rose we have in our hand, is a copy of some cosmic pattern – or “form” – of an ideal rose. But since things here on earth, are often sullied and marred – as an individual rose, might have withered a little, from lack of rain, or might have spots on it, from having been eaten partially by insects – therefore, indeed, things here on earth, tend to be rather im”perfect” “copies” of the ideal “forms” or idea of a rose, that we have in our minds; the rose we have in our hand, with a bug on it, is not quite as perfect as the ideal, original concept or pattern of the rose. And then too, our plucked rose – like most things here on earth – will soon wither, and die. Yet still, we might say, there is something here that lasts beyond, and that is more perfect than, 1) the individual rose we have here in our hand: we have 2) the ideal image of the ideal rose in our minds or spirit; while 3) it might be that somewhere – in heaven or in nature – the pattern, the gene that produces “roses,” still exists. Even after the individual rose in our hand, “perish”es, still there is a sort of ideal pattern (or phenotype or genotype?) of the rose, that continues on. In say, not just our minds or spirit … but in the gene pool of other rose plants. And thus, though one rose lives and dies … still roses will be reborn, and live on. Because their “memory” has been stored somewhere beyond this individual stem; in for example, the gene pool, other rose plants. And by this mechanism, we can saw (as Plato saw thousands of years ago), thus, a bit of the rose, lives on, even after the death of the individual.

 

But now consider another example, of how some basic (if not perfect?) ideas, forms, continue from one life to another, here on earth. Consider the succession of Generations: one daisy in our yard, say, might get old and ragged, imperfect; and then die, in the winter. And yet however, with luck, it stored its memory, its genes, in a number of seeds; and from them, another daisy will often “rise up,” in its place in the spring. (Around Easter, say). So that obviously, the model or pattern or form for the daisy, continued to exist somewhere, over the winter; even after the individual daisy froze to death. The pattern for future daisies, continued to exist; some would say “in heaven,” in the “mind of God”; but actually we are saying in our books here, the mind of God fills all things, heaven … and earth; and we begin to see a memory medium (even a large part of God’s memory in effect, we will say), in earthly things like … “seeds.”

 

And so we are beginning to see how the memory and pattern of many things in our universe, live on, in various material substances. That function as recording or imprint media, or like computer memory. In this case, the form of pattern of a daisy, is stored in specifically, its “seeds.” To generate another daisy in the spring. So that the old daisy is reproduced, “reborn,” in the spring.

 

Here in fact, we begin to get a clearer, more concrete idea of afterlife, resurrection, rebirth; one that begins to give meaning to another serious of biblical vocabulary words that were also used to describe immortality: “rebirth” or resurrection, in part related to “seed”s, in the spring, or Easter. A type of immortality, resurrection, that at times Plato and Christianity spoke of, as if they existed only in some vague “heaven,” or “spirit.” Though to be sure, here we have come to re-embody all this for over-spiritual preachers, by reminding them and dramatically demonstrating, that the Bible itself said God is in “all things,” in heaven and “on earth.” And so preachers and believers, should not be so shocked and resisting therefore, to find that the “eternal” model, pattern, the Godly “memory” of so many things, existed actually, not in heaven, so much, as (for present practical purposes) on earth. More specifically in “seeds.” Or, to update this old eminently biblical idea, in the DNA of the seed. Which contains the blueprint – the model or “form,” the memory- for the next daisy. Or that matter, the next human being.

 

 

Some Implications;

The Return of Religion, God, to

This Material Earth

 

 

So now finally, we come to a series of amazing conclusions. One of which is that finally, Plato – and the spiritual/Platonic Christianity of Paul, and much of popular everyday Christianity – were half right. There were hidden, to many “invisible” (as is DNA) models or forms, that determined, generated, shapes and things in this life. Hidden forms, that allow for wonderful resurrections. But to be sure, spiritual Platonism, was never quite entirely right or clear always; and neither was conventional, spiritual, heaven-oriented Christianity. They were not quite right, in that they falsely supposed that those ideal forms or useful memories, patterns, existed only in some invisible “heaven,” far above us in space. While the fact is – as Jesus tried to say – “heaven is all round us”; in and on the earth too. The form of the “daisy” for example, existed almost invisibly, in the seed. So that the fact is, immortality, forms – like God – are found by us, now, just as much, or more, in the earth again. Not just in “heaven” as people speak of it; as something above us all, in the sky.

 

Preachers should have guessed; should have seen it long ago. Since indeed, the Bible often told us that “seed”s are extremely important; even to the kingdom (see “seed” in a biblical concordance, for dozens of references). And that even our immortality, in part, was in our “seeds” somehow. As indeed, it is. In a far more literal and concrete way, that our spiritual preachers thought. In a way that ties of preacher’s vague spiritual generalities, to concrete material things around us right now, on earth. Again. Just as Jesus himself began to make the spirit, “flesh.”

 

Most preachers by nature, are extremely conservative; their essential, even radical conservatism, is in their core doctrine, that we must hold to, have total “faith” in, not just old religious doctrines, but to even ancient ideas. But while there is some virtue in this, like many virtues, like many good things, this can be – and has been – overdone, by priests. In effect, nearly all our preachers (if not theologians) have followed the “scribes and Pharisees,” in that they held to the outward forms and language of religion, to the “word”s and the “letter” of the old religious “laws” … without however, really understanding. Without even allowing material sense – or science – to enter into their concepts. And because of that – the great sin and error of preachers; because of their massive, essentially Gnostic spirituality; their disdain for God’s “world,” for material things; the root of their massive Pride and Vanity in thinking they knew everything, Truth, fully – because of that, our preachers have never been dealing with a full deck; have never had possession of all their marbles; have been eternally half-witted; their eyes fixed on the clouds, heaven, spirit, wind … but never able to correlate – or accept the correlation – of all that, to things here on earth; never able to make all that spirit, come to earth. Never able to show everyone, how to realize the promised “prosperity” on earth; not by just prayers and faith, but also by practical material work and knowledge.

 

To date, nearly all our average preachers – if not some of our theologians – have been hopelessly, dangerously inadequate. They have rhetorically, “fool”ishly over-stressed the spirit side of life … and they have attacked God, good, on earth, in earthly things. To the point that they told us mere material food, mere literal “bread,” is unimportant; to the point that the ascetics among them – and among the people – often literally starved to death. As James warned (James 2.14-26); reiterating Ecclesiastes. Who also warned that those who try to fill their bellies, on “wind” – or “spirit” – would suffer poverty. So that it is better to be practical, doing practical work, farming, “sow”ing, with our “hand”s:

 

“He who observes wind will not sow; and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you do not know how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a woman with child, so you do not know the work of God who makes everything. In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand” (Ecc. 11.4-6).

 

At first, this more earthbound vision might seem too mundane; and to accept a dumb, oxen, work-horse philosophy. But there is another way to see this: the old spiritual consolations and speculations after all, had illusions and delusions and flaws of their own. As we will have seen in our books on Over-Spirituality, being satisfied with mere thoughts, inner feelings, consolations, can false prey to “empty” things. To illusions and delusions. A thought that feels good in our head or heart, can still be nothing but an over-cherished illusion or delusion. We might think we are Napoleon, and feel powerful; feel hope and confidence; but if we are not Napoleon in reality, we are not experiencing anything truly good, but are merely falling into comforting but ultimately false and even fatal, delusions. As the Bible itself warned, many who try to live just on dreams, ideas, thoughts, spirits, are living on mere “wind.” While St. James was to note that a religion that gives us mere spirits, thoughts, words … neglects the physical side of life, to the point that it guides us not to life, but to physical starvation and death. Through neglect of real, physical realities (James 2.14-26; Isa. 29.8; as explained in our books on Over-Spirituality, the fatal asceticism, world-hating, of preachers).

 

Those who try to live just on mental ideas, consolations, are trying to live just on dreams, windy words, spirits, but not real things. While indeed, many parts of the Bible suggest that these things – especially the false idea of living just on ideas, spirits – were deliberately given to many bad people, by the Lord, to fool them. Though one day perhaps, some are supposed to wake up, from their false “spirit”s, their inability to really see what the holy books were talking about:

 

“As a hungry man dreams he is drinking, and awakes faint, with his thirst not quenched, so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against Mount Zion. Stupefy yourselves and be in a stupor, blind yourselves and be blind! Be drunk, but not with win; stagger, but not with strong drink! For the LORD has poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, the prophets…. And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a books that is sealed” (Isa. 29.8-11)

 

Spirituality, or the related effort to live on just purely intellectual satisfactions, has a danger to it. Trying to live just on mental consolations and sensations, even spirituality itself, has its own pitfalls: since there are many false spirits. Therefore? As Bertrand Russell and others sometimes said – as in fact we will have shown earlier, the Bible itself eventually said – we need to check our ideas, spirits out, against physical facts, to see if they fit what we see in Nature, and what “comes to pass” there … or not. We need to see if our dreams, convert to realities enough to physically feed us.

 

Unfortunately, it seems as if our preachers gave up on material things, for 2,000 years, or so; to try to be wholly spiritual and mental. To try to live on mental consolations. But finally, there were dangers in that: our preachers saw only half of life – heaven, and not earth – and half of God and good. And they often fell into mere delusions and false spirits, or magical thinking.

 

But if so? Then here at last, those of us who are beginning here and now, to see how the old general musings, at last connect to material realities. We are seeing how heaven and earth at last, re- join, cross-reference – in the material, empirical science of God. The old general, traditional, abstract/philosophical/spiritual musings, are being re-connected to material actions. So that? Some of us are even now, beginning to see God, good, immortality, the kingdom of heaven, coming from heaven, to the earth, again. As foretold:

 

 

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.'” (Rev. 21.1-3).

 

 

The re-linkage, of religious ideas and spirits, to material things on earth, in such things as we are now showing here, were ignored or lost by generations of preachers; whose concept of material nature was often at best, magical. (With a few notable exceptions that only prove the rule; like Gregor Mendel, and so forth). Indeed, the interdisciplinary connections between Religion and Science, spirit and world, were only vaguely known, to a few intellectuals, over the ages. Like Plato. While indeed, it would take many centuries, before anyone would have enough Science, and good enough microscopes (see relevant poem by Emily Dickinson), to be able to see at last, where the old formerly invisible “eternal” ideal forms, gods, were actually hidden. But now, perhaps some more of us can begin to see it, here and now; God, good, forms … existed partly on and in the earth, all along. (Cf. ancient discussions of “subtle matter”). Since God “fills all things in heaven and in earth.”

 

And indeed? Suddenly many of us are seeing God in the world again. When we learn the Science of God, when we understand the physical referents to formerly disembodied ideas … God returns, conceptually, to the earth. And once we can connect general abstract ideas to material life? We should become far more materially fruitful. Indeed, we should be able to create a real kingdom. As many scientists have begun to, already.

 

As for “heaven”? Who knows how many wonderful kingdoms might exist, in the many planets orbiting the stars, in the heavens. And it often seemed at times (as we note in Ch. 8), that Jesus seems to have promised us many rewards in the “kingdom of heaven.” Yet? Many scholars agree that the Bible overall promised rewards, here on this material earth, as well.; the kingdom of Heaven is supposed to come down, to give real results, here on this material earth. While? We will have found in our books on the Destruction of Heaven, that one “day” Heaven itself is supposed to be destroyed, dissolved:

 

“All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their host shall fall, as leaves fall from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree. For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; behold, it descends for judgement” (Isa. 34.4-5).

 

“Set forth your case, says the LORD: bring your proofs, says the King of Jacob… Behold you are nothing, and your work is nought; an abomination is he who choses you” (Isa. 41.21-24).

 

“Lift up your eyes to the heavens … for the heavens will vanish like smoke” (Isa. 51.6).

 

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you” (1 Peter 4.12).

 

“The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away” (2 Peter 3.10).

 

“The heavens will be kindled and dissolved” (2 Peter 3.12).

 

The heavens that now exist” (2 Peter 3.7).

 

 

Many have thought that Jesus promised us that we ourselves would go up into heaven, in some bodily way, or in spirit. But there are problems with “spirit”s, as we will see in our books on Over-Spirituality, and on “false” things, like “false spirits.” While most scholars agree that to be real, the “kingdom of heaven” is supposed to come down to this physical, material earth, to get real results here and now, on this planet. In this physical universe. Even Jesus himself suggested that none of any of us, go up to heaven to get our rewards:

 

 

No one has ascended into heaven but he who came down from it, the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up” (Jesus, in John 3.13).

 

As we will see on our many books on the destruction of Heaven, though at times Jesus seemed to promise eternal life in Heaven, finally even Jesus himself began to speak of the destruction of Heaven:

 

Heaven … will pass away” (Mat. 24.35; Mark 13.31; Luke 21.33).

 

Finally, what remains are Jesus’ “words,” which suggest that instead of living on forever in heaven, we have a heavenly kingdom on earth; especially a sort of literary immortality. Or living on in a cultural tradition. In a new earth; and a new heaven that after all, comes down to this material earth too (Rev. 21).

 

 

Implications

 

 

To be sure, to forget “Heaven” is a difficult thing for many.

 

Yet a few of us already knew parts of the story of how God, and ideal forms, are found not just in Heaven, but in “all things.” Still, for the vast majority of churchgoers – most of whom were educated in church, by radically over-spiritual preachers; preachers who all but “hate”d the material “world,” and science and reason – many of our findings here, will be shattering, amazing, Apocalyptic. Many will experience such findings as ours here – as an incredibly, apocalyptically new insight, or a new, active development or change, in the world, and even in heaven. Indeed, many will feel, see, their old spiritual “heaven” being destroyed,
shattered. But if it does, then remember that one “day” after all, amazingly enough, our old heaven is supposed to be destroyed; because of sins and errors in our highest holy men and angels (as we found in our writings on the Destruction of Heaven. And indeed, we are now finding that our old holy men, made many conceptual mistakes; errors.

 

And if we seen to now see, describe, a somewhat different Christianity or “heaven,” here? One that links more with science and material things? Then after all, remember, one “day,” our old heaven is supposed to be destroy. And the new heaven itself, the “heavenly city of Jerusalem,” is … after all, supposed to come down to earth; so that we can see God, good, here in and among the things of this material, physical earth, again. And here and now that begins to happen, conceptually.

 

To be sure, many, many individuals and churches, have previously claimed to be God, good, the “kingdom,” come to earth, at last. And to be sure, we have found historically, that none of them was ever quite “full”y as good, as had been promised, long ago. Or as good as what they themselves promised us. Especially, when they promised us bread, miracles, out of thin air. And so perhaps it is better to retain the idea, that the complete “ful”fillment of the old promises, will always be an ideal which is never totally fulfilled by us on earth (or in in the Space Age, the material heavens either?). And yet at the same time, one of the important movements here, is to get past the excessive rhetoric and vainly grandiose promises of preachers; to see what on earth most nearly approximates – or shows “signs” of being able to produce – the material prosperity that God, after all, promised. Even an approximation of immortality, resurrection. While finally we find, that those individuals who know not just traditional “religious,” “spiritual” ideas, but also, just as much or more, real practical knowledge, will find that their lives are much more prosperous, materially successful. That those who sow only the “wind.”

 

In fact we will find, even our most spiritual ideas – like immortality, resurrection – finally make sense, and finally become useable, improv-able realities here on earth, as foretold … only when we begin to link, tie, correct, old vague spiritual notions … with real material things, here on this material earth.

 

Indeed, the whole idea of Jesus being resurrected on Easter, in the springtime – and Plato’s ideas of immortality through “generation”s – we will see, is at root, best expressed in some ancient Greek ideas, from … a profession as humble and practical, as seemingly un-spiritual, as … farming. As we will see in our writings on Naturalism, on Resurrection. In fact we will see – as many scholars have previously told us – that the whole idea of resurrection, especially the resurrection of Jesus in the spring, is linked to Old Testament musings on how things come back, from “seed”s, in the spring. An idea that was apparently known in some ancient cultures. And which can be seen with special clarity, say, in the Greek religious/practical myth, of … one “Persephone.”

 

As we will see, next.

 

 

 

 

 

END OF CHAPTER 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7

 

 

 

The Origin of the Christian Legend of Rebirth,

The Resurrection of Jesus,

In the Spring, in Easter:

 

Inspiring Plato,

The More Ancient Origins

In Observation of the

Persistence of Species, Types,

From One Generation to the Next;

And Insufficiencies in Immortality

 

 

 

 

Segue

 

 

Preachers are very lofty, and like to stand before congregations proudly representing the Lord; speaking of high and lofty things, like spirituality. But may we be humble for a moment? And speak of farming? The Bible said that one “day,” “every prophet” will be ashamed of his grandiose vision; and admit that deep down he has always only been a farmer, a tiller of the soil (q.v.). And there is good reason to believe that the bulk of the promise of the Bible is really about … farming. And? That even its immortality, was linked to “seeds,” and biological reproduction.

 

There are many times “seeds,” and farming, sowing seeds, are mentioned, in the Bible. In part, these are because 1) farming itself is important: the development of farming, agriculture, saved billions of human beings from starvation; and the development of agriculture, is credited as the main element responsible for the development of civilization itself; only organized agriculture made it possible to feed the man people we need, for large communities of people, working together. Indeed, in part our worth was estimated by agricultural over”lord”s in part, not just by “fruits” we produced, but by the “seed” we had:

 

 

“And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed therefore: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver” (Lev. 27. 16 AKJV).

 

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed” (Deut. 14.22).

 

 

But though farming, knowledge of the importance of real literal material “seeds,” is extremely important to all of civilization, eventually, many of those ancient references to seeds, came to be used in part, as if they were merely useful as metaphors, symbols, for various “spiritual” things. Seeds are mentioned more than a hundred times in our Bibles; at first, literally. And then, 2) the word “seed” was extended slightly, to stand for … our own human children, primarily; who were also called the “fruit of our loins”:

 

 

“To rule over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” Jer. 33.26).

 

“I swore to the seed of the house of Jacob” (Ezk. 20.5).

 

 

And finally, in the general, near-total evaporization/spiritualization of nearly everything that occurs in the New Testament, sowing seeds and so forth, were often finally taken as being almost solely, merely metaphors for … spiritual things. Like preaching the words or ideas, spirits, of Jesus. Indeed, one of Jesus’ most famous spiritual parables, was the Parable of the Sower. Where it is said, Jesus spoke of preaching, as being like sowing seeds; in the way that some seeds falls on bad soil and do not grow, sometimes good words fall on deaf ears (Mat. 13.4ff; Mark 4.4ff; Luke 8.4-11:

 

 

“The parable is this: The seed is the word of God” (Luke 8.11).

 

 

Then too, Jesus once spoke of the importance of having as much “faith” as a “grain of mustard seed” (Mark 4.31; incorrectly by Jesus called the “smallest of all seeds” Mat. 13.32, Mark 4.31?):

 

 

“Another parable he put before them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a grain
of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches'” (Mat. 13.31-32).

 

 

(Also 1 Peter 1.12″ Not of perishable seed but of imperishable” ).

 

This is one of many sayings about the “kingdom of heaven” that Jesus produced; which is also the occasion however for Jesus to begin to talk a great deal about what a “parable” is, and why he spoke in parables; almost as punishment for, or evasion from, crude people (Mat. 13.10-17, 13.33-35).

 

And indeed, are stories about seeds, really just metaphors for spiritual things as many crude preachers think? Or is there something real behind them after all? Even something real, relating to immortality, as it turns out?

 

First indeed remember, 1) we found that the Bible (and Plato) often spoke about our own “seed” – meaning in this case, our children and our bio-cultural “neighbors” – as a form of immortality; children carry on our legacy, our memory, to future generation. While furthermore, 2) Paul spoke rather at length, of planting seeds, as relating to our bodies being planted in the ground … but them rising up, resurrected. Paul suggesting that the reason we must physically die it seems, is in order to go through the same process that seeds go through; the seed “dies” (claims Paul), but in order for a new plant or body to be born:

 

 

“But some one will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ You foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are celestial bodies and their are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So it is with resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable…. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven… I tell you this, brethren: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Lo! I tell you
a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will found, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable nature must put on the imperishable, and this moral nature must but on immortality. When he perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O death, where is thy victory? O death where is thy sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corin. 15.36-57).

 

 

Paul – as usual for Paul – spends much time hinting that our resurrection is a “spiritual” thing; but then suggests that after all, we have a spiritual “body“; that somehow physical “nature” can “put on” the imperishable. While outside of Paul, we find clear indications of not just a spiritual, but also a physical kingdom. Most interestingly, Paul begins one of his most explicit and lengthy dissertations on immortality, resurrection … discussing seeds.

 

Possibly Paul is trying to merely turn the many key material realities of life, seeds, farming, into mere spiritual metaphors here; turning the importance of farming into a mere vehicle for a lecture on spiritual things, immortality; and discussions of seeds, into suggesting that we must “die to” our physical bodies and their carnal “desires” and “lusts”; in order to become more philosophical, spiritual; growing a spiritual body that will somehow, find immortality. (In a way we suggested in our study of Plato’s Immortality). Other times though he speaks of a perhaps at least partially physical “body” and “nature” that “put on” immortality.

 

To be sure, there is nothing very very firm in Paul, and his ever-shifting metaphors and equivocating polysemy; even Paul finds all this vague, and to be a great “mystery.” In the end, we are taken up to nothing more clear than “cloud”s, and nothing more substantial than “air.” Though he also speaks of some kind of apparently physical resurrection too; and of “the Lord himself” descending apparently physically from Heaven:

 

“We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as other do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. But as to the times and the seasons, breathen, you have not need to have anything written to you. For you yourself know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 4.17-5.2).

 

“Do not despise prophesying, but test everything” (1 Thess. 5.21).

 

 

At times Paul, seems rather firm about our rewards being rather spiritual, in Heaven. But other times, even the radically over-spiritual Paul, spoke of seemingly, material seeds … and physical “bodies,” in “nature.”

 

[While after all, we 1) might not be comforted to hear of the “lord” who comes like a “thief.” And 2) if we assume that God is in the clouds – or by extension, heaven – then after all remember, the word “cloudy” is a common metaphors for things that are unclear and uncertain. And if we think that “clouds” stand for heaven, then note there are even bad angels in the clouds and in heaven itself. So that a voice out of the “clouds” is often not entirely, surely, from God at all. Occasionally it might be that God himself speaks from clouds and heaven; but so, as it turns out, does the devil himself as well. Since Satan himself is often an angel in heaven. Then too 3) the bible often used “death” and “live” very, very loosely; as metaphors. Like “sleep” too. So we cannot be sure we are even dealing with those who really, physically, died. Perhaps it is all like the Prodigal Son; we are merely talking about those who are spiritually, metaphorically “dead,” or “blind,” or stupid.]

 

At times the Bible, in its “first” voice, seems to support a spiritual reading of everything; but other times, the Bible itself warned that our most spiritual things can be “false,” and bad. (As we found in our books on False Priests and so forth). For this reason finally, remember, the Bible itself told us not to entirely trust and believe and have faith in holy men and their dreams, visions, statements … but to seek to verify what they said as true or false, by what science and “test”ing can verify, in and among this world of physical things. Indeed, right after the long vagaries of Paul’s speculative description of immortality above, Paul admitted that after all, we should not entirely trust prophesies, but should “test everything”:

 

“No not despise prophesying, but test everything” (1 Thess. 5.21).

 

 

And indeed, as for which words and prophesies of immortality and so forth, are really from God? Consider that we cannot even know what God looks like. Though at times John is perceived as claiming that he himself has seen God, Christ, “with our eyes,” (1 John 1.1), in another interpretation, a closer reading, John and others are witnesses to the “power of” God … but not God himself in person. Indeed John says later (in spite of apparent face-to-face meetings between Adam and God?):

 

 

“No man has ever seen God” (1 John 4.12; 4.20).

 

 

No man ever having seen God, perhaps therefore we should not entirely trust those who claim to know him perfectly well. And perhaps we should look more closely in any case, at promises of immortality … as they relate specifically, to “seed.” As it turns out, totally aside from their symbolic, spiritual interpretation, actually, there is something real here. A kind of real immortality, though having biological (and cultural/spiritual?) children.

 

In fact, many scholars have long thought, that the origin of Easter, and similar Christian legends of immortality, resurrection, came from … in large part, Greek, Asian ideas. Which pictured human-like gods coming to life, out of Hades or Hell, or apparent death. Ideas, myths which … were actually about, what is called “vegetative rebirth”; about how plants that die on the surface in the winter, actually live on underground in roots and seeds; and come back, are reborn, from roots and seeds, in the spring.

 

This many scholars have suggested, is the real root of the whole idea of spring, Easter resurrection of Jesus. But even if it is, we might as well note here, still, again … we can find something real behind it all, after all. The fact is we will have begun to find here, the old Greek and Asian and African myths had some truth in them. Some “dead” things do come back. And there really is a kind of afterlife, in our “seed” or children; in that they carry on our genes, a bit of us, into the future, generation after generation; potentially, forever. To be sure (as T. S. Eliot noted cynically in one of his poems; like “The Waste Land,” or another famous poem) … it seems that the analogy between seeds in the ground, and dead human bodies in the ground, is not perfect: new human beings do not literally rise up from dead human bodies, as if the human bodies were seeds. Indeed, that would be taking some old Greek metaphors about farming, plant rebirth, rather too literally. And yet however, there was something materially true, in the Greeks myths for example. As we will see now, in a close look especially, at the story of “Persephone.” And in turn, there is a real biological truth in the similar (derivative?) Christian notion, that human beings can live on in their “seed,” or children.

 

 

 

 

What Was Immortality, Really?

The Rebirth of a Species, From Seeds,

In the Spring

 

 

 

Most contemporary theologians and religious scholars, have long since begun to do something that the Bible commanded, and that ordinary religious believers should now be taught: they should now begin to learn to use and obey the science of God. To, among other things, learn how to connect earlier disembodied, “spiritual” religious notions, of “immorality” and so forth, with practical, material reality around them. Thus helping God to connect heaven, to earth, as foretold. Not by “applying religious ideals,” trying to force the material world to obey religious preconceptions, and by being ever more pious and faithful to ideas that do not seem to work or get material results; but rather, by learning how secular sense and practical knowledge is holy. By discovering how practical knowledge is really productive, and is the real subject of what the Bible was talking about, most of the time. Learning how to connect modern practical sense, to ancient surrealisms, to understand them at last. And learning how practical knowledge can modify – and expand – our knowledge of good and God, at last.

 

This is something that the vast mass of ordinary believers and preachers, have never done; and this is their greatest sin. They have never discovered, or obeyed, the side of Jesus that told us to use and honor science, over blind belief. But if ordinary preachers and believers have been bad and evil in this way, disobeying a major part of God, religious scholars, biblical scholars on the other hand, have always been much better, much closer to God, in this respect; they have long applied the scientific study of History, and nature to Religion. And by now, if you have read this book or similar books, then you yourself, whoever you are, should be prepared to regularly apply or unite the broad, interdisciplinary, secular, scientific education that you got as a child in school, to indeed apply a far wider variety of different kinds of knowledge – History, Biology, Sociology, etc. – to your Religion, at last. In order to begin to “flesh” out your too-thin, vague, ghostly spiritual notions. To see what the old ideas really mean, in earthly terms. In this case, specifically, it is time for everyone to look at the old legends of immortality, and scan all of History, and Natural History; to see if there is anything in it – and particularly in the time from say Plato, to St. Paul – that would match, fill out, the old ideas about immortality and resurrection. While in fact, when we begin to cross-reference 1) a few statements in the Bible about “seed,” our “seed,” in the Bible, cross-referencing, juxtaposing them against what we now know about 2) historical myths about rebirth in the spring, and 3) then cross referencing all those to what about nature, from science … then suddenly, we can triangulate what the old books must really have been talking about; we can suddenly see them if “full”er, more solid, stereoscopic vision.

 

We have already begun to do that earlier; we began to 1) compare many Biblical statements about immortality, related to “seed”s, with 2) what Plato said about the afterlife. And then 3) what Biology tells us about DNA. And 4) indeed, what many scholars have found in Greek myths, like especially the myth of “Persephone.” When we begin to cross-reference, overlay the information from all these different witnesses (as God commanded; telling us to have “many counselors”) … then at last, we will begin to see yet another aspect of what biblical promises of resurrection were really about.

 

 

Persephone;

The Earlier Greek Myths,

Of Rebirth in the Spring

 

 

 

Where did the idea of our Easter come from? Jesus’ dead body, resurrected from the grave, in the spring? In part, it probably came from even Plato’s source … in Greek myth.

 

Many think of early myths and legends, as being just surreal, supernatural – and all but incomprehensible – fictions. But we are finding here, that if you know a little about Biology and History, many supernatural tales, suddenly make rational, natural sense. They come down to earth. In fact, we are finding here, probably most ancient surrealisms and supernaturalism … are really early rough, and today slightly mistranslated or confused, accounts of real, natural things.

 

Specifically, many early myths, we have begun to see here (and as other scholars suggested), were actually concerned with things that were important to know in Natural History; facts of nature. Many Greco-Roman gods, many have suggested, stand often, more or less, for major forces in Natural History. Natural History – which would include both 1) human nature, and 2) non-human Nature proper. Indeed, the standard interpretation of the Greek and Roman gods, is that they stood for forces in nature; Natural history. Mars, for instance, was the god of War; Venus, Love. Zeus, apparently, thunder and lightning; Neptune, god of the sea, etc.. Apollo god of Reason, culture, civilization? (Or of many civilized, cultural things: medicine, music, poetry, archery, and agricultural things like tending flocks and herds, etc.).

 

The ancient “gods” therefore, often stood for … major forces in the physical world, and in human life; forces in what we once called Natural History. Furthermore, they way they act or interact, often symbolized specific things in history, nature, reality.

 

Specifically, now finally, we can find in Greek culture, a particular myth, of a goddess, that links, uncovers, the buried link between, reproduction, and immorality; the myth of “Persephone,” or “Kore,” or “Proserpine.” “Persephone” is particularly important, in understanding how legends of immortality started, historically.

 

The tale of “Persephone” or “Proserpine” (or, as celebrated in the Eleusinian Mysteries, “Kore”) is, we will show, the Greek myth that most reflects, and told ordinary people and early farmers about, the basic facts of biological life. The tale of Persephone was an early myth for very basic agricultural cultures, telling how dead plants come back, from roots and seeds, in the spring. Which was 1) essential, basic knowledge needed by first civilizations, the first agriculturists; and 2) something that relates to immortality and rebirth; part of the early origin of what Plato later confirmed and put into more rational form: things die, by through reproducing, their basic type or species lives on. (As well as relating to the idea that bread is god, or god is bread, to be eaten; the cereal god).

 

 

 

Persephone:

One Root of Tales

Of Easter, and Dead Things

Planted in the Ground, Rising

In the Spring; Resurrection, and Spring Crops

 

 

Known as “Proserpine” or “Kore” too, “Persephone” was the mythical daughter of, significantly, Demeter, goddess of fertility and harvest. Since ancient Greek gods usually symbolized major forces in nature, and marital and other relationships between Greek gods usually symbolized real relationships between those forces, in life, it should not be a surprise that the daughter of the goddess of fertility and harvest, should stand for something related to fertility and harvest; and Persephone herself was also a goddess of essentially agriculture and fertility; specifically, spring fertility and plant growth.

 

Specifically her Greek myth goes like this: Persephone is said to have mistakenly eaten pomegranate, the “food of the dead.” And for that, the tale goes, she had to “go underground.” Or – significantly for the subject of afterlives – she had to go to Hades, or Hell, or underground; with one “Pluto,” god of the underworld. For – also significantly – four months of the year; likely, the winter months. And then, as narrated in the Greek myth, her mother Demeter is so upset about her daughter’s captivity underground among the dead, that she causes all the plants to die. But then, after four months, Persephone returns to the surface; and as they say, “life blossoms anew.”

 

So what is this myth about? Remember, when Persephone leaves the surface of earth, the flowers wither, the grain dies. But, fortunately, when Persephone returns after four months – in the Spring – “life blossoms anew” (Columbia Desk Encyclopedia 1968, 1637). Given that this is also known as an “agricultural” tale, and a tale of “fertility” and so forth … then what is this story likely about? If we are to related it to anything in Nature?

 

What is all this about? This story was celebrated in the famously elusive “Eleusinian Mysteries” or rites (in Eleusis); Persephone was known there under the name “Kore.” And in ancient times, this story was rather mysterious for many. But basically, we can see what it is about, now: for some time, scholars have known that this story – about Persephone going underground to live for several months, as plants died on the surface – symbolized what happens in (most probably) Winter (or hard hot summers). At that time, plants die on the surface of the ground; but seeds and roots or tubers live on underground. Then, after the cold winter is over, the seeds and tubers begin to grow to the surface; to produce a renewed plant, on the surface again. So that the once “dead” plant, reappears again, “reborn,” in the spring. (See Bullfinch’s Mythology, Modern Library, NY, p. 51 & 241).

 

Greek Mystery religions, we suggest here, were less nonsensical than they seemed to many, therefore. They were probably closer to practical allegories, of practical knowledge, for the practical trades and guild organizations and professions. Such guilds and cults, were said to have presented to initiates, mysteries of this or that “god”; but since the gods symbolized things in nature, in effect, they were often initiating certain future compatriots … into the specialized practical knowledge, needed by various trades. In this case, being initiated into the rites and myth of “Persephone,” would have actually been intended as an allegorical explanation of some of the basic facts of agriculture; the basic things you need to be a farmer. This story would have taught the first farmers the things they needed to know to farm. In this case, that though their beautiful crop plants often seemed to wither and die in the Winter, they lived on underground, in roots and seeds. And if we left them there, or planted more seeds or tubers underground, they will come up in the spring, alive and beautiful again.

 

Such things today are common knowledge, and mundane. And many proud preachers, today might reject them, as not being grand enough to be important, or the core of religion and God. Yet in ancient times, when much of the world did not know the most basic things about nature and farming, in the days when much of the world was a hunter-gatherer culture, and did not know even the most simple and basic things about agriculture, all this would have seemed mysterious, magical; and a tale of strange powers and gods. And it was extremely important in a practical way too: agriculture would often save our lives; save us from starvation.

 

Whatever our reaction might be, it is clear that this tale of Persephone, in effect, can now be seen to have narrated a simple fact that any primitive agricultural society needs to know; plants die up on the surface, in the winter; but come up again, not magically, but from seeds (note) and tubers, in the spring. The basic thing every farmer needs to know. (And something alluded to often by Jesus as well, note; who often spoke in terms of “seeds” being planted. And though such things are thought to be simply spiritual metaphors by many, actually, originally, they were about real material things in nature. (Perhaps the Eleusinian Mysteries disappeared … because they became common knowledge, and no longer seemed as mysterious or secret as they once seemed. Perhaps too we have just solved one of the Eleusinian Mysteries then, too).

 

Note in any case, that this tale about Persephone, is primarily about the basic facts of agriculture – which simple as they seem today, were mysterious and wonderful and mythic, to ancient peoples who had no real agriculture before. And would seem even more surreal and strange, to those who today, are even further from understanding the tale; until they use some natural sense.

 

However, to be sure; should we say that this tale is “just” an early account of some of the early facts of agriculture? Teaching farming to farmers? Note that it is also phrased as … a kind of “rebirth” or immortality; dead plants, come back, from life in Hades; or life underground. Or even, human-like dead gods, go to Hades, and yet come back to live. Because human figures, or human-like (“anthropomorphic”) gods, are often used to symbolize such things, especially in Greco-Roman myth, then at the time Jesus died, and was buried in the ground … if Jesus was thought to be a god, then there would have been among the common people, a hope perhaps, that he, like the goddess Persephone (and Orpheus; and others) would somehow, go down to be buried underground, down in Hades or Hell … and yet, as gods were said to, raise up again. Reborn.

 

Compare, consider indeed, the structural parallels, between the myth of Persephone, and the natural facts to which is corresponds, to Jesus after death 1) descending into hell or Hades or the underground; then 2) coming up again. In fact, 3) in Easter; in the Spring. Then in addition to that, consider 4) Jesus’ many references to things coming to life from planting “seeds.” Consider 5) also St. Paul’s “husk”; the whole notion of “dying” so that we can be reborn. Then compare all this to 6) natural history: plants seem to die in the summer, and winter; dying out and leaving only dry husks and seeds behind. But of course, they are not really, fully dead. They go into the ground … but come up again, reborn, in the Spring. Or Easter. Then 7) compare all this to many similar myths in other cultures; which make it clear that finally, our tale of Easter, and Jesus and Paul’s references to similar things … are from tales designed in ancient times, to relay some basic facts of natural history, and specifically, of farming, of agriculture.

 

Could the Gospels themselves, even Jesus himself, have been fairly directly influenced, by Greco-Roman myths or agricultural tales and initiations? Remember that 1) Jerusalem in the time of Jesus, was occupied by Rome; with a Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Then too 2) many disciples, like St. Paul and many other persons around Jesus, spoke and wrote Greek. While 3) we found St. Paul alluded to things in Plato. While 4) Jesus himself, while alive, allowed that Gentiles, Samaritans, might be good. And 5) St. Paul said he owed things to Greeks, specifically; while 6) many of St. Paul’s companions were Greeks (Stephen and/or Timothy?); and 7) St. Paul himself was a Greco-Roman citizen (as well as a Jew). While finally – 8) to 108) – examination of hundreds of elements of Christianity reveal it to be, in effect, a merger of many Greek ideas, with Hebrew ideas and the Old Testament. As was typical of the Hellenic and Hellenistic era; when Greek culture was considered the most advanced in the world, and was spread by trade, and Alexander the Great, all the way to India. And Israel.

 

So in fact, the Greco-Roman myths, like that of Persephone, are important to understand what Jesus was saying; where he was coming from; what is the inner meaning of the growing notion of immortality, and rebirth. However, we need to note here, that a) this story, though it is related to Greek “myths,” ultimately, b) is not exactly entirely false. In fact, this story is ultimately, about something materially real. The fact is, there was a way in which things die, and yet come back to life.

 

Once you say that this or that aspect of Christianity relates to some “myth” or another, many people feel you are saying it is false. However, the interesting thing is that many myths in turn, relate ultimately to real things in nature. So that it all points to something that is real, and scientifically verifiable. In this case, what the myth is about is that much of vegetative life appears to die in the winter… but “lives on underground,” three months in the winter … to reappear again, “Reborn,” in the spring. This is real; and so there really is something in real life, that appears to be death; but then, comes back from it; reborn.

 

Finally of course, we need to ask whether such tales, really do promise something for human beings; or whether that impression was just an incidental confusion from the fact that ancient things in nature, were symbolized in ancient times by human-like gods; so that if a plant dies and comes to life, that was pictured as human-like gods visiting the land of death, but then coming back to the living surface in the spring. Such tales then, did not ever really intend to promise an afterlife for humans at all, it might seem.

 

And yet however, we discussed this earlier … and found that to be sure, people are not just like plants: they cannot be planted in the ground, and come up alive in the Spring. And yet, we found something scientifically, biologically, rationally real in this. In that 1) when our DNA “seed” is created in our mate, it grows into a child, that carries on much of what we were. While 2) when we plant or “sow” ideas – as Jesus indeed suggested of preaching – if those ideas fall on good soil, they will grow there; reproducing ancient wisdom or good spirits, good ideas.

 

So finally, all this is not “just” about ancient agriculture; as indeed, Jesus hinted in his Parable(s) of the Sower, as his words on this were called. Finally, it is a picture of a scientifically-verifiable, rational immortality. One at once symblic, and mythic, and spiritual; but also, we find now, materially, scientifically, real.

 

 

 

Sum of the History

Of Ideas About Easter-Type

Resurrections

 

 

So where does 1) the Easter story come from? The story of the Easter resurrection of Jesus: his dead body, coming to life again? Or for that matter, 2) where did other rumors of rebirth in the spring come from? Or more specifically, 3) Paul’s speculations on the Resurrection at the end of time? Where “seeds” or “husks” go into the ground, or perhaps rot or die … and yet another body is somehow born? No doubt, these could be taken as spiritual metaphors. But we have become dissatisfied with a just spiritual religion here after all; which does not really obey even the Bible itself after all. And so 4) let’s begin to try to connect all this with, overlay it against, what we know from science. Here finally, we begin to see why the Bible so often began to speak of immortality, resurrection, in connection with “seeds”; the connection between seed and resurrection, was not an arbitrary, or just metaphorical connection. In fact what we have said earlier – that the reproduction of species, is the natural truth and ultimate factual origin, behind most legends of resurrection, and rebirth – is confirmed here, in the story of Persephone. Which surely must be about, mostly, dead plants surviving underground, among roots and seeds; underground – or in Greek, in “Hades.” In order to come up again alive, after some time.

 

Source after source, one perspective after another, contribute to this view of things; history confirms this view, in era after era. We have 5) already shown, among other things, that this idea was known, Historically, in Plato, 350 BCE; who confirmed that human immorality, is through the “succession of generations.” In addition we found 6) the Old Testament writers had similar ideas, about Abraham living on through his “seed” (and “name.” Which is related but slightly different: being the survival of our thoughts, in the mind and culture of our neighbors, children; not their DNA).

 

And finally, that is the idea that motivates, is found underneath, much of the writing on immortality, by New Testament writers, like St. Paul; who, as an educated Roman “citizen,” of course knew both a) the Old Testament; and b) Plato’s Theory of Forms; and c) something (at times) about nature. And perhaps may have even known d) some Greek myths (from his period at Ephesus, etc..). So that clearly, it was easily historically possible, that much of our traditional Christian idea of immortality – especially the Easter resurrection; but then also, Pauline ideas about the Resurrection at the End of Time – came from these sources. And in part, from things seen in nature.

 

To be sure though, in this case, 7) this does not mean that all of the images of resurrection, that people got from the text, are entirely, directly, true. Indeed, while seeds planted in the earth, do rise up in the spring, dead human bodies do not. Therefore, it is best to understand images of Jesus rising up from the grave, as indeed being loosely significant, or in a word, metaphorical. But as being however not metaphors for “spiritual” process, but as metaphors for … natural processes. The fact is, it was not quite just vegetative rebirth, but another natural process that was the real truth. Some elements of the old myths, might be taken as misleading or irrelevant. But the real essential elements add up to this sustainable reality, being indicated within the old myths: people are partially “reborn” in their children or “seed”; which allows at least parts of them, to live again. Often in fact, we say that a son is the “spitting image” of his father; or some such; a “chip off the old block.” So there is something to the idea that people can be reborn, resurrected, in their “seed,” their children. To be sure, this means only a partial survival of our selves. Not all of what we are is determined by our genes; but also by our environment. And therefore, even if we are cloned, still much of what we would not be transmitted to later generations. But 8) as it turns out, when we add to the elements of our selves that do survive thanks to DNA survival, to still more elements of what we said and do – thanks to other recording media, like the books we wrote, the words we said to others that were remembered, and so forth – then finally, a great deal of what we were, can in fact, survive our deaths. (For more on “name” especially, see our chapter, writings, on that, and Literary & Cultural Immortality).

 

 

 

More Related Mythic Sources

For Easter:

Eostre, Esther and Purim,

And Ishtar

 

 

Many cultures, have had bits and parts of the larger picture of biblical immortality. Among others, 9) many scholars have also related our Easter to, say, legends of other spring goddesses, like some say, the Goddess who seemed to have immediately inspired our modern English “Easter” holiday: “Eostre.” (OED: “The name of a goddess whose festival was celebrated at the vernal equinox,” as reporting on Northumbrian spelling of Eastre; name related to the “East,” and dawn sunrise; from Baeda, Tempt. Rat. xv.). A goddess perhaps 9) related in turn to the Bible’s “Esther”; which purports to explain the spring festival of Purim, in the Hebrew month of “Adar,” from February to March; the citrus harvest, some say; or simply, early Spring. (See “Calendar,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans Pub., 1962-1974). Like most ancient holidays, in ancient farming culture, Purim and Easter though, probably related ultimately to the seasons, and planting and harvest times; early spring planting, and “first fruits” and vegetation in Spring, were particularly important for persons who had little food over the Winter.

 

In turn we might note, that the Biblical “Esther” – the main character in the book which scholars confirm was a rather unique and anomalous book, relative to the rest of the Jewish canon; never really even mentioning God – might have been – 10) said Zimmern and Jensen for example (q.v.? “sther,” the New Bible Dictionary) – actually, a sort of Babylonian Jewish version of the story of the Babylonian goddess, “Ishtar”; a Jewish attempt to incorporate Babylonia myth into their own religion.

 

Especially Ishtar. “The most widely worshipped goddess in Babylonian and Assyrian religion” (Columb. Ency.). Whose name and characteristics resemble Ester … and “Easter.” Ishtar, being an ancient “fertility” deity, the most important goddess in Babylonia and Assyria, associated with love, and the “generative powers in nature”; that is, the things that bear real fruit and better crops in the spring and fall; and so forth.

 

Most interesting is the resemblance of her story, to that of Greek myths and Christian; to both Persephone and Orpheus. All such visits to Hades or Hell, referring metaphorically finally, to the way plant life retreats down to underground roots and seeds in the Winter. Likewise, Ishtar is said to descend “into the underworld in serach of her love TAMMUZ,” who was god in fact of agriculture and flocks, “commemorating the yearly death and rebirth of vegetation“; while she is said to have a “triumphant return to earth” (Columb. Ency. 1049, 2092. We might also suggest that the casting of lots, in “Purim,” was done in part, to try to vary the date of this otherwise inflexibly fixed festival; in order to suit the changing harvests of different years; some arriving earlier, and later, according to yearly climatic variations).

 

So our Christian “Easter,” the story of Jesus, probably acted out a larger, earlier, related family of stories; from Babylon, Assyria, and Greece (which eventually surfaced in England too). If this seems strange, note that 11) Anthropology affirms that many cultures have some cultural “diffusion,” spreading many parts of each other’s myths to nearby cultures; it would have been likely that Jews in Babylon, in the “captivity,” might have tried to adapt some Babylonian tales to their own literature. Especially since this, like many myths, described a real, natural, functional thing: the basic ideas of agriculture, and planting seeds and roots in the ground; to see fruits come up in the Spring. This story would have relayed important facts about natural history, and farming, that every farmer would need to know. Useful as it is then, it is not surprising that it should quickly spread from the earliest agricultural communities in Babylonia, to both Greece, and Palestine/Israel/Judah.

 

All this seems quite likely, to have recounted and taught primitive people, in fact, the basic facts needed for early agriculture and farming. At the same time though, such images of rebirth in the Spring … were also at times (mis?) understood as promising Gods or humans, dying and going into tombs or buried underground … coming to live again.

 

All this then, clearly relates to 12) the notion of Jesus the god dying, being buried in the ground or Hades, and yet coming up again, “reborn,” in the Springtime (Eph. 4.9, Rom. 10.7; see also Persephone):

 

 

“He descended into hell; on the third day he rose again” (traditional Catholic & other liturgy, known as the “Apostle’s Creed,” in Roman Missal, Easter Vigil 18, Excultet, cited in 1997-2001 AD Cat., para. 631, footnote 477; ref. to burial of Jesus?)

 

“Scripture calls the abode of the dead, to which the dead Christ went down, ‘hell.'” (Cat. of the Catholic Church, para. 631-7; no exact biblical reference listed among references).

 

“Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4.9-10 KJE; Mat. 12.40).

 

 

The original biblical and liturgical references to Jesus going to “hell” when buried, have recently proven embarrassing to priests, and so were erased from, taken out of, current Bible translations or sermons. However, these references are found in many ancient books.

 

Therefore, to understand our Jesus, we will all have needed to remember the old liturgies, that narrated the fact that Jesus went to “hell.” And then we need look more closely at some other cultural tales, in the area of Roman-occupied Palestine; in particular though, the clearest predecessors for our story of the Easter Resurrection, is best seen perhaps, in the closely-related Greek myths, that Greco-Romanized Jews could have known; in particular, the Greek myth of … Persephone. Though many cultures have similar tales, thanks to cultural diffusion of ideas, from one culture to another. Finally, the most direct link, might be from similar-sounding and probably etymologically linked words: from the English “Easter”; to “Eostre”; to “Esther”; to “Ishtar.” All of which are similar in sound, and linked in meaning too; as symbols of early Spring. A moment of harvests, celebrations – and ideas about how living things, once apparently dead in the Winter, come back again to live again, above ground, in the Spring.

 

The fact is, there is a long tradition of stories about this; about gods and goddesses, going down into Hades or the underground, and then coming up, usually in the spring. Like the tale of 13) Orpheus too. Who goes down into Hell, Hades, to try to bring back his dead girlfriend. Most of which are really about planting seeds and roots underground … and having them come up in spring (a major harvest season, in Israel; see Social World of Ancient Israel, by Matthew and Benjamin, “Calendar”). Most of these myths are interrelated. But probably the one that is best known, the one we might look closest, is the Greek myth of Persephone.

 

But for now, it is the myth of Persephone, that most clearly shows the inter-cultural roots that lead eventually, to the Christian story of the “Easter” resurrection; of Jesus. Said to be planted into, or have gone down into, the ground; to be buried, to go to the underground, Hades or Hell … and yet, to rise up again. (After however, only three days. And not forty? Or a whole season? Germination times being different?).

 

Today, the average schoolchild that looks up “Easter” in an encyclopedia, knows that our story of the resurrection of Jesus in “Easter,” was probably just the Christian realization, of some still more ancient tales. Relating they say to a goddess, “Eastre” or “Oestre” or some such. But there is much more history to this. The root elements of Easter – and of the resurrection, and of Christian immortality, of rising from the dead – can be found in not only the Old Testament; but also in Plato. And then, beyond Plato … in a long series of related agricultural initiation myths.

 

We have said that God, and 14) Plato, saw immortality, in “Forms” in heaven. But where did Plato get that idea? Plato – like many religio-philosphical thinkers – often seems to have felt that he got his ideas by direct inspiration from the gods. However, ultimately, we have found here, human beings get their ideas from physical matter; the structure of our brains, and empirical observation of the material universe. In this case, Plato got his ideas not doubt from books or retellings of Greek myths, like that of Persephone; so Plato or later Christian clerics, thought it all came from a comic “book,” or “word.” But 15) originally, human beings invented those words, inspired by, to name, material things they saw about them. And in this case, the whole idea of immortality, came in large part from empirical observation of some things – like plants – appearing to die; yet being born again, year after year, in the Spring; living on from one generation to the next. Plato himself, in fact, finally characterized human immortality specifically and clearly, as being the “succession of generations.” And 16) this model, is found as the root and strongest model of afterlife, in both the Old Testament, and the New, as well.

 

 

 

Christian Immortality,

Best Expressed in Plato?

 

 

Philosophical intellectuals like to locate truth, in very abstract philosophical discussions; at one time, they wanted to relate everything to the Holy Spirit. And at other times (in various neo-classic eras) they liked to link everything to Plato, for example, and the Greeks. But where did Plato in turn, and the Bible itself, for example, get the idea of immortality? From myths? Tales.

 

But then finally, where did those tales get their ideas? Finally, we will show that our religious books and myths too, were actually mostly derived from – and were in effect, metaphors for – real, concrete activities, here on earth. We can take an idea, like the Christian idea of the Easter resurrection … and find the root idea, in many cultural sources Plato would have known: … in early Greek myths, and Mystery Religions. In legends of Persephone, and Ishtar. But where did these tales come from, in turn? As it turns out, it is from, especially, people observing Nature.

 

What preachers desperately need to know, is that human beings are not just “spiritual” beings; they are also physical beings. And even the early ideas of transcendent immortality … comes from early farmers’ first simple intuition, of the basic facts you need to know, to farm vegetables: that plants appear to die in the Winter, but they live on underground in roots, and in various places in seeds. So that, if you wait, or even actively plant some roots and seeds … though your food supply dies off in the Winter, it will come up again, back up to the surface, in the Spring. Thus “saving” us and humanity, from starvation, “perish”ing. (Provided we know this; and actively farm; to keep ourselves alive.)

 

 

 

Science as Fulfillment of Prophesy

 

 

To be sure, there were always some continuing “myster”ies in all this: how for example, did the model, or idea, for a future plant, stay in the seed? In ancient times, the way that happened was in fact, “invisible.” Therefore, it was all consigned to the realm of unknown invisible things; to “religion”; to “heaven,” and the “spiritual.” (To what they now call the God of gaps). But today, finally, we can see better; and we can actually see things that were once “invisible”; we can see the DNA in which the genotype was stored. So that ancient prophesy begins to come true; things that were invisible in heaven, are now visible, “see”n, “measurable,” on earth. Therefore moreover, we no longer need to allude vaguely to “invisible” “forms” living on somehow in the “heavens”; but we can today far more exactly say, that the general outline of the daisy we see today in the Spring, lived on in, was stored in, microscopic DNA. And of course, when we learn to see God and good in this “second,” more vivid way – with even our “eyes,” face to face, on this material earth – then after all, we have science. And thanks to this better grasp of things, we have indeed been able to create a better kingdom, better prosperity, here on earth.

 

In a way, at first then this will have seemed disappointing to many very proud clerks and clerics. Yet 1) we are not here saying that “forms” and ideal models and spirits do not exist, at all. Indeed, 2) in fact, we are proving that the things once called invisible spirits and ghosts, do indeed, exist. Even spiritual and ghostly things, like immortality. And 3) though some who are used to promising huge miracles, will be disappointed to find out that our immortality, might be for the time something this “mundane” and “reductionistic” (cf. however Wisenburgh, in Doubt), 4) others of us will welcome this more “humble” reality; and be happy to see God and good, found in and on this new earth again, at last. Just as others were willing to welcome what appeared to be a mere physical man – Jesus – as in fact, God on, in, the earth.

 

Something some of us are even now coming to see here and now, again.

 

Can our very lofty and proud, spiritual preachers, stand to see, “face,” the son of “Man”? Can they “face” their “lord” as a farmer, a carpenter? God in “flesh” here on this “world”? Perhaps they cannot; just as their predecessors, the scribes and Pharisees could not. But others of us? We can now see God, good, in humble things; here on this material earth. Once again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END OF CHAPTER 7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 8

 

THE BOOK:

 

The Resurrection of the Dead,

The Re-Appearance of Christ,

The Coming of “Judgement,”

at

The Opening of the Book;

The Last Judgement –

As

The Biblical Version of

Literary Immortality

 

 

“He interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him” (Luke 24.27-31).

 

“Those who feared the LORD spoke with one another; the LORD heeded and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and thought on his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them…. For behold, the day comes … when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up….” (Mal 3.16-4.0).

 

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done…. And if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven … had passed away….” (Rev. 20.12-21.1).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Segue

 

 

In the Bible, the resurrection before God, on the Day of Judgement, takes place in a way that involves “book”s being opened. And as is turns out? Books, and judgement, and resurrection, are linking in many ways.

 

Related to all this – especially to ideas of our “name” or reputation or “memory living on – are traditional ideas of literary immortality; the idea that the thoughts and spirit of ancient writers, can live on, thanks to their books, their writing. Today we can expand on this, noting that traces of people of the past, also live on in various recording media, and so forth, as well. As well as in the memories, language, of our people. Finally, this completes an outline of many of the major ways, media through which, the spirit of people of the past can and does live on, even today.

 

While furthermore, this at last completes the picture of Christian immortality, resurrection: when we or others learn their thoughts through “education,” gaining “knowledge,” then their knowledge, ideas – “spirit” – is “reborn” in us. Thus the ideas, spirit of past people – like Jesus himself – can continue on, be reborn, in us; who are his new “body.” Our brains and books are rather like computers, that can be downloaded with programming, data, knowledge, from the past. And then, as we get older, we can teach/download what we know to others, in turn. So that the great ideas, “spirit” of the past, can be carried on, from generation to generation. And indeed, the spirit of Christ can be resurrected, reborn, in our own time, too.

 

 

 

Begin

 

 

Literary immortality is the idea that the thoughts of ancient great people, live on, in great books. This idea has been well known, for millennia; since at least the days of say, Homer or Cicero. And amazingly, many references in the Bible to the resurrection, seem to have incorporated literary immortality into themselves; many references of the last days – to first a “book” being opened, and then the dead “rising up” – closely match what happens when we open a book, read it … and then, an image of the author or a character in the book, will rise up in our minds. Resurrected from ancient times. So that finally it seems, many biblical ideas of resurrection, depend on the idea of literary immortality; the idea that the thoughts, spirit of ancient people, survived partially, in books. And perhaps one day or another in particular, God or his representative, will read the old books more vividly than usual … and, even more vividly than usual, many will “see” the outline of this or that ancient person – perhaps Christ himself – more vividly. Perhaps they will even “see” a second coming, in effect, in their mind’s eye. Or perhaps indeed one “day,” this or that person, having read such books well, will personify those ancient ideas of Christ so well, that he or she … more or less duplicates Christ in his own mind; and becomes in effect, a second Christ.

 

 

 

References to Resurrection and Books,

In the Bible

 

 

 

With all that in mind, let’s look now at a few examples from the Bible, where books, writing, is mentioned. And especially where there were also, in close proximity, references to people who were said to be “resurrected.”

 

Or in fact, 1) look how closely God himself is identified with writing: God is sometimes known as the “Author” of life; and 2) many say we know God primarily through a book: the Bible.

 

More specifically: 3) Jesus appears when (genuine) scripture is read, in Emmaus. Then 4) too, in Malachi, when it is said that some people are being bad, is it said that the people need a written “book,” to record, who has done what. So that God can punish those who are bad; those who tempted God too much.

 

So, incredibly, God follows his followers, and a “book” is written before him, to help God remember it seems, the deeds of man. Thus among many other recording media, a “book” is part of God’s memory, or his records, it seems. Which is associated particularly with the “day” of the end, of judgement:

 

 

“Your words have been stout against me, says the LORD. Yet you say, “How have we spoken against thee? You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God’…. Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another; the LORD heeded and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and thought on his name. They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, my special possession on the day when I act, and I will spare them…. For behold, the day comes … when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up ….” (Mal 3.16-4.0).

 

 

The people seem to feel that either God himself needs a book to “remember” the deed of people; to help him judge in the last day, the Day of Judgement. Or in any case, God gives human beings books, to record such things, if they need it.

 

And so for whatever reason, God allows a “book of remembrance” to be written before him; to record who respected him, and who did not. [By the way, the people here feel that there are those who are “tempting” God, and getting away with it. Though God earlier, Malachi 3.10, had explicitly said “Put me to the test.” So in fact, it is not sure just exactly who is being spared, when God reads those books; just exactly who he will favor. Indeed, it now seems he favors those who “tested,” if not “tempted,” God].

 

Indeed, 5) no doubt, even the average land”lord” or over”lord” of Jesus’ time, probably had some written accounting books; to record which of his tenants had paid him sufficient fruits, and which had not.

 

While in any case too, 6) there are many statements we live in the memory of God, as it will turn out; our somehow join to, be part of, God. And that memory, that God, is found in large part, in books … or so many books have said.

 

Especially, the idea that our good and bad deeds, our good and bad spirit, are recorded in books or a book – and that one “day” in particular we are to be judged on what the books say – is confirmed over and over, in the Bible itself. In fact, the single, major mention of an apparent resurrection in the Old Testament, the one quoted by all the scholars, seems to be related to the above; it is like it too, a variety of literary immortality, literary resurrection. People who are written favorably in a book, or books, are delivered, resurrected, “awake”:

 

 

“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been …; but at that time your people shall be delivered, every one whose name shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt…. But you , Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge [some mistranslate “evil,”] shall increase…. He said, ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end” (Dan. 13.1-9).

 

“I saw … a scroll written within and on the back…. Who is worthy to open the scroll” (Rev. 5.1,2).

 

 

This account is from the book of Daniel, in the Old Testament. But it is also summarized in the Christian New Testament of Jesus, in the final book – the book of Revelation. Since Revelation attempted to sum up all the apocalyptic prophesies of the rest of the Bible; and it therefore tried to integrate this specific incidents in Daniel, and Malachi (etc.) – regarding the importance of a book of records, to God – into its overall master vision of biblical prophesies.

 

The book of Revelation of course, is by far the most important book in the Bible, when it comes to summarizing ancient prophesies; especially prophesies about the End Time. So what Revelation says about books is especially useful. Therefore, here let us repeat specifically what Revelation said, about the “book” of remembrance in effect: this book would be opened at the End of Time, it came to say. When God would read the record of all human beings, as part of judging each and every one, in what has come to be called the “Last Judgement”:

 

 

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done…. And if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first earth had passed away…..” (Rev. 20.12-21.1).

 

 

Here, literary immortality 7) links to earlier comments about our “name” living on. Here our “name” lives on …specifically as recorded, remembered – here, in “books.” That is how you are remembers, or judged by God in fact, it seems. 8) Or you might say, you live on, to the extent that your name survives; you live on, in language, as Poststructuralists would like to say. (Note also links to Christianity as agriculture and early serfdom: tenants of the land are expected to pay the land-“lord,” a portion of their crops every year; and their payments are recorded by priests, in record-keeping “books”).

 

So indeed, the Bible itself, has many images that invoke, evoke, literary immortality; the idea that something of what a man is, lives on, in books; and as someone – in this case, God – opens the books and reads, the image of (and some would say, the essence, the soul of) those who are written about, “rise up.” Which 9) at least recalls, among other things related to resurrection, the moment when you are reading a book, and it evokes, calls us, “raises up,” a mental image of the author, or a character, in your mind’s eye. Could this be then, part of resurrection?

 

There are in any case, many, many mentions in the Bible to immortality in connection with books. God himself is sometimes known as the “author” of life; 10) Jesus is thought to be referred to as the “Word”; the now we find that the Resurrection of the Dead and the Last Judgement, are plainly, frequently, linked to “books,” explicitly, in the Bible. While likewise, for that matter, 11) heaven is likened, elsewhere, or is found to contain, to a “flying scroll”

 

 

“A flying scroll” (Zech. 5.1).

 

 

And the end of heaven 12) is likened to a scroll being rolled up:

 

 

“And the skies roll up like a scroll” (Isa. 34.4).

 

 

While 13) one of the great sins, is when “scribes,” writers, do not write their books well and accurately; especially when they copy, write holy books badly:

 

 

“How can you say, ‘we are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us’? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie” (Jer. 8.8).

 

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” (Mat. 23.13 ff).

 

 

Therefore, almost the whole fate of God and man and heaven therefore, seems bound up in books, scrolls, writing. God himself therefore, surprisingly, above consented to use books – sometimes books written probably even by men. (It was “written before him”). If some say we live on in the memory of God, books appear to aid or at least document, his memory; of who has been good, and who has been bad. (Though to be sure, our books can often be wrong; see “words,” “scripture,” etc.).

 

 

 

The Resurrection –

As the Moment You or Someone,

Reads Vividly, Accurately At Last

 

 

In any case, it seems that some of the major parts of the Bible that are thought to refer to immortality – especially, the Resurrection of the Dead at the Last Judgement – powerfully evoke, and probably refer to, are based largely on, literary immortality. Or more exactly, to a subset of that, that might be called, “literary resurrection.” That is, as you read an author’s words, and his thoughts or soul rise up before you, in your mind’s eye. He is revived, “raised up,” as a sort of “spirit,” or mental “vision.” (Part of Paul’s “spiritual body.” Though more is needed; you need a living reader, a physical body, to read, and carry the spirit in your physical brain. So that you are at once a spirit, but also, in a body).

 

So what really happens in the “Last Judgment”? When the books are opened on you? In part, the last judgement refers to a time when God – or his chosen representative(s) – come to earth. To at last look at the records, and judge everyone, living and death; to give the evil their just deserts, and reward good people. And this involves “books”; so that this is probably a kind of literary immorality.

 

Is it 14) real or solid? All this can be taken by some, as a) a metaphor. Here it seems that it is no more or less than what happens when anyone reads; you read a book, and a mental image of the subject may (depending) “rise up” in front of your “eye”; your mind’s eye. Yet this vision is quite compatible with, literary immortality. And that is real enough, in our mind or spirit. And then too, if an image of some past person or idea rises vividly in our minds, then after all … we may take those ideas or spirit into our mind … and be educated, changed profoundly, in a real way, by this; in a way that will cause our real material actions to change, in the future. So that this resurrection in our minds … can have real effects.

 

Is this therefore, just about the moment that we ourselves read the Bible vividly, say, and at last take it to heart? Or 15) perhaps, it may actually be read as an evocation of something like, say, the “Judgement of History.” It may be that after all, all of us are judged by History as good or bad, worthy of retention or not. Based on what books say about us.

 

And when does this “judgement” day come? It may be for example, that there is no particular day when this happens; a set “day” with God, after all, can be any period of time, said St. Peter. Indeed, there is a kind of Judgement going on all the time, in life. Almost every day, someone reads a datum of information that reflects a bit of us. A Republican looking for votes, will read data on voter patterns … which include us. A medical researcher may read a bit our insurance records or medical records; another bit of us. And beyond that, for real authors … there are often readers who are reading our words and our books. And in every case, readers – acting in their own best sense of what is good, of God (and the events of the earth conspire – Paul said? – to reflect the will of God) – will decide to take what that bit of you says, seriously or not; to allow it to live in them, or not. To consign you to the heaven, of living on – “live on” – in the memory of the people (Jews, God’s people, etc.). Or not.

 

So in fact, a sort of miniature “Judgement” is going on all the time. Every time people listen to you speak, see how you act – and in this case, read written records about you – you, the impression you make, is judged as good or bad, worthy of attention or not; worthy of retaining or remembering … or not. Worthy of retention … or worthy of the burning trash heap (cf. Gehenna). And if many remember, and judge your memory worth keeping, then strong traces of you will survive; potentially, immortality. While, on the other hand, if you are forgettable, and do little for others, so that they do not remember you, then your memory is extinguished. And then finally perhaps one day, there is a particularly vivid day when old records are reviewed; as when the library is burning, and monks have to decide which books – and souls – to save. Or perhaps one day, a good theologian looks over your work, and subjects it to the “fire” of intellectual criticism. To decide whether records of you should be high on reading lists … or low. Or whether indeed your books should go into a real fire.

 

Either way, whenever it is, much of the Bible’s picture of rebirth, Resurrection, seems to reflect – and even be – what might be called Cultural Immortality. Or a specific variety of it we might call here, Literary Resurrection. There are definitely elements of Literary Immortality, in much of the Bible; especially the sections about “books” being read at a moment of judgement; and then the dead raising up. So that part of Christian legends of immortality, is almost certainly, about literary immortality.

 

This forms another major piece in the puzzling, dozens of different visions of life after death, presented in the Bible. Which at first seem so contradictory or different. But which we can now put together, in the end.

 

Remember, God came to be called a “Word.” And our life lives on, in that Word. While in the end, we are resurrected in front of – and judged from – “book”s.

 

 

 

 

Section 2

How Spirits Find Bodies, In the World:

In Churches, and Books:

 

St. Paul and the Soul or Spirit Living On;

In Members of A Church, the “Body” of Christ;

Education and Rome;

God’s Materialism

 

 

Is resurrection an entirely physical process then? Not at all. There is a place for spirit or thoughts here. Indeed note, we should note here that 16a) spirits are real, material; they are ideas. Which are at times, at least real sensations in our brains; and real, as Psychology and Philosophy say. Indeed to some extent, we can now use thermal imagery, and now even see some thoughts. So once again, spirit is being manifested in, made, “flesh” again. Visible on earth again.

 

Note b) in addition to all the above, St. Paul had another, related idea, of how a spirit or soul lives on; by way of material things. Specifically, Paul spoke of the “spirit” of Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost, living on. St. Paul usually did not stress Jesus’ physical miracles, but talked about various “spiritual” things happening. However, it is time to note, the spirit – really, the ideas – of Jesus, live on in large part by way of material culture; material things.

 

Specifically, remember, Paul focused on our bodies, and our churches. He said that we and our churches are the “body” of Christ. Our physical bodies, to be sure, are in themselves earthly, “worldly,” full of “fleshly” “lusts” for possessions and sex and food and so forth (cf. James). But we have minds in our bodies, (as Plato had said earlier), or “spirits” as religion says. Though out bodies and their “animal” needs and “lusts” drag our spirits down, and are essentially “dead” to higher things, it is said (cf. Romans 8.2-13), still, good, Godly ideas or spirit can come into us by several different means – churches, or direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit – and give us a new and better state of mind, a “new” “life.”

 

It has been thought, that all this is entirely separate from physical things. St. Paul was a “Hellenized” – or Greek-influenced – Greek-speaking, Jewish intellectual. He seems to have thought of life in Greek dualistic terms; as almost a war been bad, evil, matter, or “world,” versus the good heaven or kingdom of Spirit. However, though St. Paul constantly fell into this simplistic way of thinking, and often condemned physical things – “flesh,” “world,” “food,” “works,” and so forth (to the point that he hinted that physically dying would we good, to leave this entire physical existence) finally, St. Paul acknowledged belatedly, that we need to stay alive in this physical existence, for various reasons (Phili. 1.21). He himself finally spoke of eating physical “food” as important; he referred to his own “labor”; commended physical labor for many; said “those who do not work shall not eat”; and so forth.

 

And so, actually, the whole idea that the Spirit world is good, and the Material world or existence is wholly bad, breaks down. Though much of St. Paul entertained that idea, and though it was probably thanks to Paul that Gnosticism – a world-hating philosophy or form of “knowledge” – expanded in early Christianity – eventually, the world-hating philosophy, (Dualism; Manicheanism; Gnosticism? “Gnosis”/Knowledge; “knowledge falsely so called?”) did not hold up. Partially because it was so radically impractical; those who paid no attention to physical food and physical necessities, logically did not eat food … and so starved to death. Etc. . (As noted in our chapter on Over-spirituality). Then too, in Genesis, God himself made the physical universe and said it was “good.” And so forth.

 

And so, for these and a hundred other reasons, eventually, religion has had to back away from the precipice of extreme over-spirituality, and world-hating. And now, it needs desperately to rediscover in fact, the physical component in God’s Plan. The sacredness of the physical world. (As opposed to the “world” of bad people; NAB glossary). In this case, specifically, St. Paul in various places began to call attention to the value of our physical “bodies,” as the “temple” for the spirit of God. Though he sometimes implied we do not need physical churches, he did seem to feel that … we need our own material bodies.

 

And then too, Paul and others knew that God was now and then found in the earth, in and among material things; even in the “flesh”; Jesus was said to be the “Word,” or “God,” “made flesh.” Here it was said that God was in Jesus “reconcil”ing himself, spirit, to the material world, at at last. And we can see this in part, in the double meaning of the “word”; which might be a sort of proper name for Jesus, but also a name for the Bible itself. In any case, both are at least partially material objects, often.

 

So that, now indeed is the time to push this a step or two further – and begin to notice how important items of physical culture – like books – are, to things talked about in the Bible. Including even immortality. In point of fact, immortality is not usually talked about as a process involving a wholly disembodied, non-material “spirit” floating up into the “clouds.” Though there are parts of the Bible that spoke that way, they need to be understood in the context of … the hundreds of other parts of the Bible. That championed Matter, and spoke of immortality as a process within the world, more than over and above it, in “heaven.” The “kingdom” is partially “within you” – within your body. And without you; “all around you.” Hidden in the world, like “leaven” in flour. Like the soul, in a body.

 

Indeed as it finally turns out, all along, spirit needs matter to live in. And no one understands God, who “hates” this entire physical existence. Even immortality takes place by way of material culture; books, and so forth. Far more than priests thought.

 

Material things are important here. It is commonly said the individual’s body is the “temple” of the soul, and if you follow his ideas and spirit, perhaps the ideas and spirit of Jesus, we add. St. Paul was to add this up a bit; each of is, a “member” of the larger body – Paul happens to speak of a church. Or we add here, any type of society. And each of us perhaps, embodies at least some part of, a “member” of, the spirit of Jesus, according to our individual “gifts,” as Paul says. (1 Corin. 12-14.1; Rom. 12). Paul sees the church as a sort of large corporate organism or person or body. Which is needed for the spirit of God to live here on earth . (An image that is natural in some languages, where larger organizations are spoken of as a “corpus” or “body,” the same as a human body; or “corpse,” etc.).

 

So St. Paul – a spiritualist who often seemed to genuinely hate the physical world or earth – actually spent a great deal of time “working,” “labouring” in this world, traveling all over Roman roads, to set up groups of physical human beings, as churches; to give the spirit a physical body, here on earth. And he was right enough; real religion has a strong physical component. Indeed, those who do not make real, physical things happen in this physical life, who do not “work,” should not eat. Nor do they get immortality, it seems.

 

 

 

Developing Your Spirit –

As Education

 

 

To be sure then, our obvious physical bodies, are not all we are. It was thought in Greece, that our bodies were in themselves not enough; ancient Greeks looked at often apparently healthy physical bodies, and noticed that some were alive, but often some were dead, apparently inexplicably – with no visible external damage. (The Greeks did not have microscopes or any good sense of internal things and so could not see heart failure, etc., very well). But it was noticed that live bodies are breathing, and dead ones are not. So it came to be supposed that there was something in the air, that kept us alive, and that was our mind, our spirit; from outside; from the gods. Our “pneuma” or breath or wind or psyche or spirit. Our mind, and/or spirit, was part of this; and it was apparently all but thought to be breathed in with the air. And it was partially our own … but partially from without; God or spirits were in the air, and when we breathed, we breathed them in. That is in part why God, in the Bible, often leans over and “breathes” on people; it was thought that was how he came into us, and/or how he made us alive. The real material media which support the mind – books, the brain, etc. – were not well known.

 

In any case though, whether we take this ancient Greek idea of spirits being “breathed” into us, literally or not, it makes a certain amount of sense metaphorically, and can be updated into modern language. Each of us is born with a biological body that is alive … but our bodies and minds as babies are in part, empty; we do know some things intuitively, have some inborn instincts. But we are not born knowing how to talk, speak a language. Thus there are many important things that are given us not by “nature” as they say, but by education, or nurture. By culture.

 

And so, in order to develop ourselves, our minds and spirits, we have to try hard to learn from others; we have to go to school, to educate, develop our minds. So that indeed, we are born with a bit of a mind, but then, we need to bring in ideas from outside ourselves, learn from others, taken in their ideas – acculturate ourselves, learn from the culture – to develop a “full”er mind. If a person was raised in a box, never talking to human beings or hearing language, never being exposed to culture, he would be a primitive half-human person (as the old stories about “wolf-boys” and so forth suggested). We have our bodies almost automatically from nature – but not a developed mind or soul. Thus Paul was partially right, in that indeed, just in ourselves, our bodies, we do not really have enough. It is not until we sit down quietly, and learn from others – especially go to school – that we develop our minds or spirits, and become capable persons. This is why the Bible at times stressed education, learning “knowledge.”

 

17) Much of religion, its talk about “spirit” specifically – and immortality from “wisdom” too – is really in effect, an early dialogue, about what we would today call, “Education.” Many priests were also schoolteachers; because they were among the few literate persons in society. Indeed, the basic vision of religion – sit and devote yourself to learning the sacred Words, developing your spirit, so the Lord will give you bread – is a religious variation of the basic requirements of educating children. Sit quietly, suppress your bodily desires to ask for food in the middle of class, or to go to the bathroom. Suppress your “natural” bodily “fleshly” instincts to look out the window or run around and play; instead, sit quietly, listening to the “word”s that your teacher or “rabbi” is saying. Memorize the ideas or “spirit” of ancient good people (see our – future? – chapters on Clerics). And when you have done that for many years, then you become a “new” and better person; you are not a baby or a child or an empty “body” any more, but have taken in good ideas or spirit.

 

St. Paul and Christianity of course emphasized learning specifically, the words of Moses, and God especially, the Bible. But what they were saying fits as part of a larger phenomenon; formal education. St. Paul was one of the few central disciples who was literate; he was a Roman citizen, and wrote Greek. The Greeks, from Plato, often spoke about the necessity of bringing in living spirit, but also of educating the mind. That is part of Paul’s background; and much of Christianity makes a new kind of sense, when you see it like this; as being essentially about education.

 

And indeed finally, being educated, learning wisdom (as noted in reading books above) … allows a kind of immortality. It allows ancient people at least, to live again. When you sit in a classroom and listen to a book being read, by Lincoln, you are being exposed to the ideas or spirit of Lincoln. And if you take on his ideas or spirit, then a bit of Lincoln come into you, his spirit or ideas; and develops your “mind” or spirit. Indeed, to the extent that you become like Lincoln, then Lincoln lives again in your mind – and in a sense, partially possesses your body too, in that way.

 

Many might resent this possession by other’s thoughts. But after all, many other peoples’ ideas are good, and better than what we would come up on our own. So that many might not object to lending our own life as a “host” to other’s thoughts or spirit; to Jesus’ thought especially. And then too, if we learn, take on ideas or spirit, that helps us, transforms us into a new and better person, then we say we are “born again” (cf. rebooted) to a better state of mind; we were given a partially “new” mind or spirit, as Paul said.

 

In this furthermore, there is “salvation” in that, the good thoughts of others educate you, and make you a more capable person, knowing how to live better, as an adult.

 

So that ideas from books, leave the material medium of print … to enter the medium of our brain; our body. In a sense, then, spirits transmigrate or move, from one material thing to another. As many said earlier in mystical language. But which we now see, makes simple material sense.

 

Matter – including material books – is therefore, quite involved in the transfer of knowledge, spirit; education. And this transfer can be a good thing; in the case of secular education, learning how to fix your roof for instance, can mean your life will be better; you will be “saved” from getting wet. And indeed, “salvation” was often seen in very physical terms in the Old Testament (see “Salvation,” Ox. Comp.).

 

To be sure, preachers and teachers, tend to be limited in their perspective, and to think of knowledge as just thoughts to be memorized; not realizing that thoughts are primarily useful, and true, only if they get real material results here in this world (as Jesus noted, with his science). It unfortunate that after Paul, others developed into the incorrect notion that almost the only important thing we need to get, is just spirit or mind. Without looking at the material basis of how spirit exists. By way in part of a physical “body” of the church. Or of a book. And many preachers long since lost sight to the fact that the kind of education that is particularly important, is not so much an education in abstract ideas, spirits, but education in practical things – boat-building, and so forth (as well as materially functional morality).

 

However, whatever our over-spiritual priests might have said and thought, the Old Testament especially, valued physical salvation; saving yourself from rain and cold and disease and so forth. While Jesus himself was pictured as delivering many material wonders; healing physically sick persons for example. And so, practical knowledge too therefore – how to build a house and fix a roof; how to make medicines, how to grow better grapes and fruit, and so forth – is important. Since it is “fruitful”… in bringing the material prosperity that God often promised. Which we say here, is the major part of God’s Plan; is embraced by God. And indeed we just said here, even the “spirit,” education, needs a material body; which includes say, books. And schools. And our own material brains in which to live. (While the laws of the universe, have a material universe in which to dwell). As becomes clearer in our chapters on Science, and Matter.

 

Religions have at times ignored this, or denied the material side of life; or in any case have spoken as if only Morality, moral and religious ideas – about prayer, faith, spirituality – are important. As if salvation was gotten only by developing the moral spirit. Whereas, in fact, developing the “mind” as Paul said at times (though not consistently), was part of it too. To be sure, Paul was a moralist, and stressed that, and at times but down other forms of “knowledge.” But we are adding here, practical, technical “knowledge” are far more important than our priests thought. Even to things like education. And if we look closer at our Bibles, we find there is a key, second voice in them that at last, reveals precisely … that.

 

In the meantime though, St. Paul and others had little understanding of science or culture, and so they were not able to adequately describe what they wanted to talk about; they spoke vaguely about bodies and spirits. And St. Paul’s though in particular, was heavily encumbered by some now-rejected Greek dualistic ideas about a universe divided into good spirit, and bad matter. He often spoke of our physical material body, as being basically bad, and in itself “dead.” And he asserted that only taking in the breath of his Jewish moral ideas, could make us truly alive and good. And he thought, immortal too. And indeed, there is a reproduction, resurrection, re-embodiment, perpetuation, of ideas, spirit, we are showing, scientifically proving, here at last; in terms more exact than Paul’s, but compatible with his language.

 

Like most Greeks, Plato, Paul noticed that our own physical bodies are fated to die, “perish.” But what he noticed was, in effect, an early version of what we are now more clearly explaining here; human beings are not just bodies, but also minds. And our minds are full of ideas …. which indeed, can be passed on from generation to generation. Some of those ideas – like Plato said (see Plato, here) – may also reflect, copy, eternal things out there in the Universe. So there is a kind of double immortality when we take in the right ideas; we carry on the ideas of other human beings … and behind them in turn, it is hoped, are immortal things in the universe. (See our discussion on Plato, planets).

 

It is indeed more ideas than body that lives on. Though Paul like many Greeks and ascetics, overdid this, and often spoke as if it was only the spirit and not the body that was important. When he talks about a resurrection, he says “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Paul though at times knows that the body is the “Temple” or house of the soul; and he also spent the better part of his lifetime trying to speak to physical persons, to build up actual houses and physical churches (as it later turned out), to house, be the temples of, his the spirit. Though Paul and Greeks and Christians often speak of the spirit, as if it never needs a body, we find here that it always needs a kind of body. In the Bible, God is not just floating in an empty heaven; there are stars and physical things in the heavens; he also fills all things, including the earth. His memory is not floating either, but often used human brains, and books, to live it. We say there then, that the spirit is not as detached from matter, as many thought. We live in the body, as a computer program lives in the material computer. Though our minds appear invisible and non-material, in fact, they are actually subtle – and to ancient Greeks, “invisible” – patterns in matter, memory media.

 

Trying in his way to grapple with a this, to overcome a rather simplistic dualistic vision of a universe full of two radically different things, mind and matter, St. Paul began to denigrate the body and flesh … but then at other times, to speak of the body as the temple of the soul. As for how our mind survives our death, and lives somewhere else, Paul admitted his own failure to fully describe it; admitted he was not yet “perfect” himself; spoke of it as a “mystery.” And finally, to try to envision how both spirit and body are involved, begins to talk about a “spiritual body.” But he too leaves us in the clouds, or heaven.

 

St. Paul was essentially right. But he didn’t quite get it all. To be sure, he did see that there was something called a “spirit” or “mind” as he sometimes said. And he correctly saw that it was just by listening and taking in good ideas or “spirits,” that one could be saved from ignorance and error. Indeed, it is said that St. Paul’s main contribution to Christianity, was to insist that it wasn’t your biological heritage – being Jewish or not; being circumcised or not – that was important in being saved, or becoming immortal. Instead, there was something else, that he and others stressed: faith or belief. But more than that, what Paul was getting at was … the importance of culture; reading good words, and taking them to heart.

 

Paul wrote in an era, of Roman civilization, close to the Republic, when Romans were learning that it did not matter who your biological ancestors were; any race of man could become a Roman citizen; what mattered, was your education; what words you had heard, and had taken to heart. This was really what was the common sense reality, behind Christian talk about taking sacred words to heart; and the words saving you; really, it was all about education. It doesn’t matter what race you are; it is the words you read and hear, and take into yourself, that “save” you from ignorance and error. Or “sin” as it is called in religion. And so indeed, the essential message of Christianity, was essentially, the emerging awareness of the value of Education; sit quietly in class, suppress your boyish passions to go out to play or fight; instead, go to school, take the old sacred Words to heart; “renew your mind.” And in this way, become a new, better – educated – person. And as for the doctrine that first, renew or fix your spirit – and then prosperity comes? (Jesus, Lilies speech). This was just the Christian version of this: once you have an education, you can get a better job, and get more money. and you and the people you work for, can be more materially productive. So, working on your mind or spirit, means eventually, prosperity; a civilization; a better “kingdom.”

 

This is also the true meaning behind legends of immortality, rebirth, etc.. Books, DNA, memory, allowed the spirit or ideas of past good persons, to be carried on; to “live on.”
And when you read good books by or about them, a bit of what they were, is revived, comes to life again, lives on, in you.

 

And of course, reading good books were a major part of that.

 

Writers since at least Cicero knew about literary immortality. And Cicero, significantly, lived immediately before St. Paul, and was even the governor in of Paul’s birthplace, Cilicia; Tarsus. (In what is now part of Turkey). Cicero was governor of Paul’s home region, in 51 BC; just before St. Paul, who flourished around 55 AD. St. Paul therefore, as a Roman citizen, in a region of Turkey that had just been governed by Cicero, would probably known about Cicero, and possibly his and other Greeks’ ideas, about literary immortality. About the general notion that an author lives on in his books.

 

In fact, St. Paul would have been acquainted with an incredible number of different ideas about immortality, coming from the many different cultures around him. First of all, as a Jew, he would have been exposed to the above-outlined notions 1) in the old testaments of the Jews; Jewish hints of immortality or living on somehow through “seed” and “name.” And he explicitly refers to 2) the Pre-Christians’ Pharisee/Sadducee debate on immortality (Acts 23.6-9; see above). Then too, since as most educated Romans, who regarded Greek culture as the classic culture from which they came, Paul read Greek; therefore he would undoubtedly have read or heard about the greatest Greek philosopher of all time, who had lived 400 years before him: he 3) would have known Plato, and some of Plato’s thoughts on immortality (cited here). And of course, he also seems to have been exposed to 4) Jesus’ ideas. So that in fact, Paul was living in an incredible nexus of ideas on the afterlife. It is not surprising then that St. Paul should have “discovered,” as some say, that Jesus was still alive somehow. As a Greek speaking Roman Jew, St. Paul was in the very center a vast nexus ideas; including ideas about immortality. Indeed, Paul spent many years debating Greeks; and also visited Ephesus, Turkey – which had one of the major libraries of the age (even before the famous still-standing library building was built, c. AD 151).

 

St. Paul got very close to it. But Paul himself knew that he did not have it all; that it would take a “second coming” of a second Jesus, the second coming of Christ, God, to finally make everything clear. But we are beginning to hear a that second voice, here, in our look at a side of God, the Bible, that our priests missed. The part that advocated science and logic. And now, as we look at Biology and Culture Studies, suddenly indeed, we are beginning to see it all more clearly. Paul was talking about things that can now be more clearly seen, and proven, by a combination of modern academic disciplines. (See future chapters on Inter-disciplinarity; the mind of the King).

 

Some of this was vaguely known by Romans and Greeks especially – and Jesus told us to give unto Caesar what is his; while other early Christians, like Paul, told us to accept Gentiles or Greeks. So let us do that. Let us look at what Paul might have gotten from God, speaking though Greeks (compare Socrates, the man of eternal mind and ideas, sacrificing himself by taking poison, vs. Christ, man of spirit, sacrificing himself on the cross; both in the service of ideas, spirit). Indeed, everyone in the time of the Roman Republic, was beginning to understand that it was not so much your race, or even always family (or genes we would say today) that determined who you are; even a slave, or a black man, a person of any race, could become a Roman Citizen; all that was really required, was …. culture, and education. Speaking Latin/Italian, or Greek; and having acquired civilization; saving ideas. Ideas that improved you mind and spirit. St. Paul was given the authorization to carry Jewish and Jesus’ thoughts, “to the Gentiles,” non-Jews. As part of that, to make that possible, Paul is commonly said to have discovered that it was not whether you were Jewish or not; it was whether you accepted the right ideas (of Jesus, he thought), into your mind; that was what made you good, he though. Speaking constantly to non-Jews, trying to convert them to the right way of thinking and feeling, St. Paul would have to have believed right from the start, that your biological race or people, was not the most important thing. And he said constantly, that what was important was “faith” – by which he meant, we now say, the mental act of accepting certain ideas. So that Paul’s constant emphasis on faith, was actually, an emphasis on accepting (in his framework, Christian moral) culture, words, ideas.

 

Like many Romans, he knew that what saved you from ignorance and error – “sin,” in religious language – was sitting quietly and listening to good ideas read to you from books, or from teachers; improving your mind – in religious language, your “soul” or “spirit.” Therefore, what was saving you, in the time of Rome, called one of the “first real civilizations,” was not your membership in a particular tribe or race or family any more; it didn’t matter whether you were Jewish or not, circumcised or not, he often said. What mattered was … sitting down quietly, and listening to the masters and teachers, and letting good ideas, good spirits, enter into your own mind or spirit; educating you, making you a “new” man or a new woman.

 

And so what St. Paul was really talking about, can now be clarified at last; he was talking about the importance of education. But where Paul and priests made their mistake: specifically, they stressed Moral education; how to act toward other human beings. As if that was all that one needed to be whole and good. Whereas, in fact, God, in a smaller but more significant second voice, told us that to make our lives good, and prosperous, just morality – prayer and morality and spirituality, and acting good to other people – were essential … but not enough in themselves. In addition to that – and even more than that – you need science and practical knowledge.

 

You do not really see the larger outline of God, and you do not really know what immortality is … until you know some science, and know how to relate it to the Bible. At times, to differentiate itself as a specialized field, religion but down different aspects of “mind,” “philosophy,” “law,” “the world,” “the body,” our “flesh,” “food,” “knowledge,” “works,” and even “wisdom,” finally that attack in St. Paul was toned down. (See future chapter on Paul). Finally it was understood that the attack on the “world” should be understood as being just the “world” of bad people; not, as in Greek philosophy, this entire physical existence (see “world,” “flesh,” etc., NAB glossary). That the condemnation of “knowledge” and “wisdom” contradicted God advocating wisdom in Proverbs. The churches tried to stipulate that Paul therefore condemned only practical and scientific and secular knowledge, as opposed to religious, moral knowledge; as “knowledge of God.” But in fact, God fills “all things,” even the earth. So that knowledge of the earth, delivers some knowledge of God. Indeed we are beginning to try to prove here, material things are God’s body. And knowledge of material things then, is the better part of knowledge of good, god. Though God “is a spirit,” and is worshipped in spirit and not by ritual “works” or sacrifices Paul and others sometimes said, God often promised material prosperity to us; and asked for us to help with our “hands” and “work.” And as it turns out, by applying our minds, logic, in science.

 

Priests have habitually, and radically, over-stated the importance of spirituality – and moral or ethical knowledge, morality, (which are the better part of religion; how to be morally good). While they radically underestimate the importance of practical knowledge. That is why priests have not ever delivered the earthly “kingdom,” even though they have been promising it “soon” for fully two thousand years. That is why they have never really understood God, and specifically, immortality.

 

Still, they have been prepared to hear a second voice from God. And by now, they should be starting to hear it. Painful as it may be. Yet after all, some things about God are “terrible”; and painful, even all but impossible, to “face.” Though now, with a gentle introduction, some may be able to face the possibility of great errors, even in their own ideals; their own heaven. And it is time to see the new heaven … merging with the earth.

 

In any case, in education there is immortality – in that at least part the lives or thoughts of ancients are reborn in us, when we learn their words and thoughts. An idea repeated by the Bible, in connection with the value of “wisdom.”

 

 

 

 

Living On In God – or in the Universe

(See Plato)

 

 

And there is another side to this; in the Bible, it often said things, to the effect that Jesus lives in us; and we live on “in him.” Others say, that when we die, our soul goes up into the universe somewhere, or to God; and lives on somehow. What does this mean? In part, our soul lives in things outside of us. As we will now see.

 

We ourselves were “copies” (cf. Paul) of our forefathers and other things. The things that made us will often survive us. Even if the world contains little imprint of us specifically, the forces and things that made us, the “mold” so to speak for us, is still out there; the general Form of “a man,” is still in the gene pool; many of the things we read and talked about are in the culture and in Nature. So that much of what made is, will be out there, living on when we are gone. To be sure, no one ever quite put them together in the same way as we did perhaps; still, it is not as if everything we thought and cared about will be gone when we are gone. If you loved Dalmatians, chances are the breed will go on after your death; if you loved the planets, most of them go on a very long time. If you loved Math, then some say its truths are almost “eternal.” And the sum of all eternal truths, some would call “God.” So that god indeed, had you in his “mind” – which may be the entire physical universe, which “remembers” all kinds of imprints – long before you were born. As parts of the Bible (albeit rather deterministically) say.

 

This was hinted at by Plato. (See Below). Basically, though, this is not spoken of too directly in the Bible; though Paul makes some references to “forms,” sometimes in “heaven” – like Plato’s Ideal Forms. He also sometimes referred to things on earth as “copies” of “perfect” things in “heaven.” Which is all from Plato. Perhaps then, God spoke to Plato a bit too. Paul said Greeks, Gentiles, could be saved after all. A movement called “Neo-Platonism” tried to reconcile Christianity and Greek Platonic philosophy in fact. Perhaps they were related from the start; Christianity can be understood as a Hellenized or Greek-influenced form of Judaism; particularly, Jewish thought fit together with Plato. Indeed, St. Paul’s remarks often don’t make sense in themselves; they seem to refer to something outside the Bible; “perfect” (see in Bible), “forms,” “copies” of “perfect” things in “heaven” in fact, and his idea of immortality, all probably came in large part, from his own modified understanding of Plato.

 

In any case though, there are many mentions of some kind of afterlife, in joining with Jesus and God; Jesus lives in his father, and we live in him, and so forth. Here is one example of many:

 

“The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me…..” (cf. John 14.19).

 

How is it that we live on in others? How are we all “one” with God as some say? How is there an afterlife in that? We have already mentioned a few ways; 1) Jesus lives on though us, when we accept his ideas, they become ours … and a bit of Jesus’ ideas take over our minds, and we become a body for his spirit. 2) Likewise it was said, many such individuals form a still larger and complex “body” of the church, of which we are members; and Jesus’ spirit finds more and varied minds and lives to live in. Or 3) the spirit of Jesus is also stored in the Bible, and other books about him. (To the extent that those books are accurate of course; research “Historicism.” And complaints that books do not really accurately store old thoughts). [As well, 4) Jesus’ ideas live on in the churches, many say. And as will be seen, 5) the spirit of Jesus is part of God, and the universe; “all things.” So that our spirit lives on through culture, books, Jesus, in the universe.]

 

So that is how Jesus lives on in part, through us. And we live on in him, in a few related ways. First 1) when he was physically alive, Jesus represented, contained, the best that was in many of us; so that wherever he went he carried the best we could be. Second 2) even if he dies, his name lives on. And when we are Christians, then he becomes part of us …. and finally, in turn, when we die, other Christians are carrying on a bit of Jesus … that was also for a time, a bit of us. So both Jesus, and Christians, live on in other Christians who live on, after our death.

 

So our soul lives on, in things outside of our body. But the media in which we live on, are physical. In this case, we live on in the minds, memories – physical brains and bodies – of people and institutions other than yourself. Most of which are here on earth, or in the material universe.

 

Nature is the truth; and that is where the truth lives on, practically forever. And to the extent that we knew and connected with the truths that are there, part of longstanding things, were part of us.

 

 

 

Sum?

 

 

For some time, the vaguest promise of the vaguest relation to ultimate truth, or “heaven,” has satisfied many. Yet there were problems with heaven. Not the least being that real religion, is supposed to get real, physical, material – and timely – results; here, on this earth. Prosperity; good crops; better houses; physical health.

 

So what should we say? Perhaps we should say nothing. And simply move on. Judging our prophets, and our own Judeo-Christian-Islamic and other traditions, as being simply false. But for those who want to know as much as the Bible does, we might as well try to summarize it. And when we do, we find something humble, but physically, empirically true, under all the rumors, after all.

 

It all comes from Nature: a daisy dies in the Winter; but another daisy like it comes up in the Spring. To be sure, this does not work for human beings, in exactly the same way as it works for plants. Yet to be sure, 1) even if human bodies buried in the soil, do not usually sprout up again, there is something real out of all this eventually. To be sure, animals and humans do not live on in the way that plants do; when buried, we do not sprout up again in the Spring. However, 2) the rebirth of plant or vegetable things in the spring, is just one example of how things thought to be totally dead, somehow, live on in buried ways. While indeed, animal species too, carry themselves on, through their “seed”; not from year to year, but from generation to generation.

 

It was 3) out of this, that the Greeks got the idea of “immortal” gods, goods, living on eternally forever somehow. As can be seen in part, in the myth of Persephone. Then 4) finally, in 350 BCE, Plato refined this, and restated it in more rational form; and got the right idea; that some things in the universe, somehow, live on, from generation to generation; our immortality is in the “succession of generations,” as he said (q.v., above).

 

Here, Plato – and the theory of immortality – was at its best; rational and real. But out of this (and some other things) perhaps, 5) Plato eventually began talking more generally; about “immortal” truths living on. But where? Plato did not have microscopes; and could not see genes, DNA. And so Plato simply, conventionally, suggested eternal things live on in some invisible way; in an invisible sky or air … or wind … or “heaven.”

 

By 6) this time things were getting complicated, and few people had it in them to keep the whole human dialogue about life in mind; and so the people in our cultures were splitting into two camps; becoming either Platonic, or Aristotelian; spiritual or practical; religious or scientific. The mind of man was split; dualistic. And many people more or less ignored one side of life, or the other; if many materialistic people ignored the spiritual, many spiritual people neglected – and even reviled – the physical “world” and “body” and “flesh.” Many of our religious specialists and clerics, simply ignored the material – and scientific – side of life, and of all this; and left it to science, and practical people. Who were despised for being practical.

 

By the time of Plato, professional thinkers and clerics had appeared; persons who specialized wholly in thinking and talking; in invisible things. In spirit or mind. And such persons tended to speak very abstractly; and to disdain finding practical applications … or empirical proofs, for their ideas. Yet finally, even Plato wanted to build a practical “Republic.” While as it turns out, 7) Aristotle rightly criticized Plato’s more abstract thoughts, for actually, in effect, setting up a radical dualism; or a vision of lif according to which some transcendent “ideas” or Forms, universals, were spoken of by Plato, as if they existed totally independent of all material things, or “substance”; in heaven, in spirit. (See G. B. Kerferd, “Aristotle,” Ency. Phil. v. 1, p. 159).

 

Aristotle rightly criticized Plato, and his notion of a realm of reality entirely separate from this world of material things. But by this time in history, during the split between Plato and Aristotle, civilization and the world of thought was becoming so complicated and overburdening … that finally, no one could learn it all; and knowledge split. Dualistically. Into, on the one side – the smaller but more intellectual, literate part – people who studied just through and ideas and “spirit” – philosophers, clerics, priests. And on the other, those who were involved less with ideas, but more with practical realities; and the “material world.” So that finally, 8) when Philo and Jesus and St. Paul and St. John taught, they were in a class breaking away from practicality; a speaking increasing just of abstractions in “heaven.” Going with Plato … and all but ignoring Aristotle (cf. however his talk of spirits and winds?). St. Paul in particular, was rather bookish and intellectual; and for him, ideas and spirits were always as real as material things; or even more real. Paul at times not really understanding that ideas can often be mere phantoms, false ideas. And in that vein, our apostles just continued Plato; in talking about the “perfect” things, ideas, in heaven. Of which earthly forms are imperfect “copies.” Striving, even “scourging” the flesh, to match abstractions. (As if that was even advisable).

 

9) Yet finally, St. James and others began to note similar problems in Christianity, that Aristotle had noted in Plato; its inability to tie itself to, a get real results in, this material world. And so, just before the end of the Bible, St. James is both favoring spirituality – but then, teeter-tottering back to materialism, as he saw it failing in its deeper dives. While all the Apostles are talking about the end of even their own “heaven”; and looking forward to something “new,” after the Bible itself. While the Bible closes with the apocalyptic book of Revelation; which indeed, looks forward among other things, to the end even of heaven itself. Looking 10) ahead to something to happen after the Bible; the creation of a “new heaven”; one that is not floating separately in the sky; not getting real results, a real “kingdom,” here on earth. Seeing the destruction of the floating heaven … and seeing a “new heaven” … that is to be re-merged with the earth again. Ending dualism. As God “pours” his spirit on the earth again; God becomes flesh again. Revealing his presence here on earth again, in a dramatic way visible to all.

 

But in the meantime of course, 11) for those of us who can see, and who do not despise God’s material world as much as most preachers do, God of course has always been here; in “all things, heaven “and earth.” And now suddenly, with a new jointly scientific/spiritual methodology and theology, we can begin to see a bit of how it was all supposed to work, all along. To see a foretaste – and for those of us who finally become whole, and more materially effective adults, even a bit of the substance – of the coming of a state of mind, that will allow us to realistically address the material universe … and from that, produce real prosperity. Here on earth again, at last.

 

 

 

 

Epilogue

On Going Beyond Spirituality

 

 

Which begins in part, by seeing, knowing, the Science of God. Which is indeed, the backbone of contemporary Theology, Biblical Criticism, Religious Studies … and the sane, honest, responsible man or woman. Who does not give up on the better half of God’s Nature, as did our preachers; but who hangs on to both spirit, and world, ideas and testing, word and world … to become moral but balanced, holy and whole, at last. Capable of seeing morality, and the long-term survival of mankind and his spirit as real; but capable also of seeing how much of the world we need to know, to realize that goal.

 

Which alone, can get us to the kingdom; with both ethics or morality … and material practicality. A vision of transcendent ideals … but more than that, how they derive from, and ultimately apply to, this material life.

 

In any case, a good education, real wisdom, the spirit, we note, requires a number of material bodies; from books, to our material brains. And indeed, God’s science suggests that good ideas are those which have proven to be materially efficacious. So that a good, balanced, full education therefore, should not be wholly or even largely spiritual; but should include much attention to physical reality.

 

Indeed it now seems here, even our immortality is not just spiritual; the spirit needs material bodies. Even our alleged spiritual heaven, is dissolved one day; to come down and merge with the material earth.

 

And so it is. Our immortality exists; but it is always in, and manifested in, many material things. And if some spiritualists are disappointed, on the other hand, there is a gain: it is materially real.

 

 

 

 

 

Section III

 

The Cultural Afterlife

 

 

An Important, Additional Form of Afterlife:

Our Ideas Live on, Through Culture, Cultural Reproduction:

Read Books, And the Image of a Dead Person, Rises up in a Reader’s Mind,

To Be Judged

 

 

So this is part of what the Bible meant by immortality: a trace or shadow of us, our mind, lives on, in 1) the gene pool. Through biology; in our biological children, our “seed.” Indeed, so long as human beings exist, there is something like us out there, living on; another human being. And not only does our basic humanness live on; sometimes, bits of specifically us, live on; a child may have our “eyes,” or our brain, more or less. So the first part of immortality, comes through Biology; parts of what you are live on through your genes, in your DNA, in your children, race, people. But of course, this is not a perfect afterlife; it is a partial, “shadow” or “ghostly” one; “Sheol.” It is ghostly for several reasons; including the fact that it is not you yourself in person, but rather, your genes that live on; and related to this, furthermore, not all of what a person is, is passed on through genes.

 

When you have a natural child, that child is partially like you, biologically. But not exactly like you (unless your child was cloned from you). Because you are a combination from your father, and your mother; you are not exactly like either one, but have a bit of both; a practically unique combination of genes of them, or their ancestors.

 

So that, it is not quite entirely true that your child, continues you, perfectly. Through biology, a certain portion of what one is, is passed on to our children; many of the major characteristics of their physical bodies is given to them through their DNA. Replicating traits of their ancestors. Even if we are biologically 99.7 % the same as our parents, still, we are not exactly like them, even biologically; unless we are clones, we do not really just duplicate or fully, perfectly continue our fathers bodies, etc.. Generally, our very basic physical characteristics – your basic human outline, and only a little more – are passed on through genes. But not all of what a father is, is passed on to this children, though biology. So that this ancient, biblically acknowledged and touted survival of bits of us, through our “seed,” though it is some consolation, will not be enough for many.

 

Those who know much about human beings will also know that even if you were a clone of your parent, even if you were exactly like a parent biologically, then still, you would probably not be exactly like your parent in every way. That is because, much of what an individual is, comes from not just our genes, or the structure of our bodies – but also from individual experience; from learning from the people around us. From our environment, or culture. For example, your biological father might have lived in Germany, and spoke German, and thought in certain ways; but if you, even if you were biologically identical to your father, grew up in America, speaking English, you would be rather unlike your father; you would have lived in a different environment, and learned different things, from a different culture, a different country. So that, we know, even a cloned person, will usually not be exactly like the original; he or she will have lived in a different time, a different environment … and end up as a person strangely like our biological predecessor … but also rather different too, in many ways.

 

And so we are never a perfect reproduction of anyone; and therefore, probably no one lives on perfectly, or completely, through us. And that is fine; we can be free individuals, to some extent. However, as it turns out, 2) many traces of what we, were determined by our genes, our biological inheritance. And so, our ancestors do “live on” at last partially, in us, in this way. And further, we need to add, more, additional traces of our ancestors, are carried to us, through the medium of culture too.

 

As just noted, human beings are part of a very large universe, full of things that record, retain, some record of the past. Therefore, many traces of what a man is, or values, can survive. To live on in many odd corners of the universe. Not just in Biology, our biological children – but also, in whatever books or records we write, or that are written about us. Or in addition, verbal conversations are remembered too, by others; and traces of what we said and did are retained in other’s memories, then. And in books.

 

The Bible talks about the importance of a “name.” Our reputation. Or the memory that others have of us; do they remember our name after we are dead? And what we did? This “name” is very important to many people in the Bible. After “seed” – which means mostly biological descendants, in this context – “name” is the second major mechanism of immortality. We live in societies, cultures, full of people talking, learning, writing. As we talk or write, we can leave at least a modest impression, or “memory,” or a “name,” (and spirit or ideas) in others around us. Here our children get a double dose of us; they get many of our genes – and, in cases where our children live for us for some time, they also hear us talk, and therefore inherit many of our ideas in this way, too. (And certainly, they are trained to memorize and take to heart, the ideas of our culture, our country, often. So that traces of dead ancestors – their ideas or spirit – live on in us, through Education, and socialization; culture. Particularly, our reputation or “name” lives on in those who knew us, or knew of us; and in any written records or “books” written by or about us. Which contain some tiny bit of information about us; our race and age, some of our experiences and beliefs, etc..)

 

So, Biology is not the only thing or medium in the universe that carries on traces of persons from the past. Aside from 1) biology, DNA, there is also 2) Culture. Traces of what people, thought and said, are carried on … through the memory of people that met them; through books and other records about them, and so forth. In particular, records of others recorded in “books,” particularly, are mentioned over and over in the Bible. It has long been said that some poets and writers are “immortal”; because they record many of their ideas in books … and they are good enough, that generations want to read them long after their death; to take in some of their ideas, and character.

 

 

 

Living on, Being “Reborn,” “Rising Up,” after Your Death –

Thanks to Culture; and Books

 

 

Traces of dead persons from the past, survive in many ways; in many parts of the universe, which function as “media.” And then, after this survival, we begin to see how bits of us can survive, to be revived, reborn, in others. We begin to see a new meaning to old promises of “rebirth,” and “dead” persons rising up before you. If you write books, or if others relate your memory after your death, others listen … and your ideas, perhaps a more-or-less accurate mental image of you, survives. You, your ideas, are read about by someone after you … and in this way, a bit of you lives on, in others. They read you; they get a mental image of you. And if they like their ideas, they take those ideas into their heart and mind, to be become part of them. In this way in effect, a bit of you, is again reproduced, reborn … in the “heart” or mind, of another.

 

This is extremely important; it begins to explain, to discover unexpected sense in, two or three major ideas about immortality from the Bible: the idea that 1) a “spirit” from the past, can inhabit you or others; that 2) when this or that “book” is read, an image or spirit of a past entity can rise up before someone; and part of immortality. And 3) how your own – or another; say Jesus’ – spirit can be “reborn” into another.

 

These are all major parts of the Christian idea of religion … and suddenly, now, they are coming to make sense. As we will see here. In terms of science; culture science. So let’s tale a look at this second major aspect of Biblical immortality; bits of things, their “spirits,” living on though books and memories.

 

As it turns out, resurrection is often mentioned in the Bible, in particular connection with reading this or that “book.” What we will find, is that once again, this connection is not accidental; books are actually, one of the ways that we get immortality. Resurrection. As follows.

 

(To those who say that these things -books – are of man, not God, notice that after all, 1 – God gave us the ability to make culture. 2 – He himself was sometimes said to be a “Word.” And 3 – many thought a book – the Bible; scripture – was important, was almost the body of God, the main vehicle that carried his ideas or spirit. Then too, 4- as it turns out, God uses man’s books. And then finally, 5 – immortality is mentioned often in connection with books. Indeed 6 – the end of the universe of often spoken as the rolling up of a sheet of paper, a scroll. Though Jesus had his differences with “scripture,” the “letter” of the law, and “scribes,” note that perhaps he criticized them because they were so important, and needed careful monitoring. God, as it turns out, uses human books as one of the major means of achieving immortality).

 

 

 

Literary Immortality

 

 

Secular thought has long said, for millennia, that there is a kind of immortality in being a writer. Probably from the days of Homer, or Cicero, it was said that when you write, you put a bit of yourself – your ideas, your soul – into your writing. Into books. And it was said, of course, books can be preserved, copied, forever. If you are lucky, or are a good writer, your thoughts, it was said, will survive to be read by others, long after you are dead. In yet another way then, another bit of you, can live on, even after you are dead: your ideas can be stored in print; in books.

 

To be sure, our ideas in books, are still not quite us, exactly, or entirely; they may not always fully represent our thoughts, our self. (See Walter Whitman, who said “I am not my books”; and Historicism, etc.). Still, many – if not all – writers, have felt that their own books particularly, do reflect, and carry on, some vital part of themselves. Their ideas and attitudes. And indeed, anthropologists know that many ideas are carried on from one generation to another, through various cultural artifacts, like books. So now it is time to relate all this to the subject of an afterlife: books and other written records, can record even more bits of our specific nature than genes, perhaps. So that here, in books, we have yet another way that traces of us can and often do survive.

 

Further, this is not just limited to books written by us; or to books either. Though most of us do not write books at all, still in this culture and age, bits of what we were like, are listed as data, in various data banks. Census records; school transcripts; test results; court records; and so forth. The average person has bits of his life reproduced or recorded in many written records; the National Census; our school records; our employer’s records; our criminal record if any; our medical records, and so forth. We are all therefore, on many books. And therefore, still more traces of us survive, there. Perhaps to be sure, some of those records are accurate, and others are not. But that is another problem, for later (and for Historicism). For now, let’s just consider that likely, many and even most of those records, are fairly accurate and true; so that they validly and accurate reproduce or store, at least some accurate bits of what we were.

 

Knowledge and acceptance of this – of some kind of immortality, some kind of partial survival of parts of ourselves, our souls, though writing, written records – has long existed. From the days of Cicero at least, writers have consciously talked about taking some energy from knowing that though their writing, a bit of themselves will live on; that others will read them, and get an image of what they are talking about, and even sometimes an image of the writer himself, and some of his character and ideas, from his books. You read an author, and the mental image or vision of him rises up before you, in your mind’s eye. Which turns out to be a large part of the background, of all those Bible references to books being read, and the dead rising up.

 

For millennia, there has been something that might be called “literary immortality.” It has been a commonplace among writers that particularly when a writer is very famous, and has a great “name,” there is a kind of immortality in this for him; to some extent, a person is his mind; and his mind is the sum of his ideas, thoughts. A writer puts his thought, ideas, in a book .. and then, even after the writer is dead, some reader long after him, can open the book … and it is said, often, “see” the writer (or a person written about) in their minds’ eye, (formerly, “have a vision.”) A writer lives again, partially; his ideas, his “name,” have often become relatively immortal. A bit of his spirit, lives on, as long as his books survive, and are read. Though books to be sure are not all that is necessary here; you need a reader, to read the book, and then recreate them in his or her mind. Still, books, written records – or in ages to come, video and other records of us – are very important, in keeping a bit of us “alive.”

 

This finally links to the otherwise mysterious and strange reappearance of Jesus at Emmaus; Jesus had just been physically killed, but as an apparent unrelated stranger began recounting “scripture,” suddenly they recognized the stranger as Jesus, himself (Luke 24.27-31, above). And so it is. Many other apparent pictures, models, of resurrection, were presented by the Bible itself: dead bodies rising from graves; bones coming together in the desert; and so forth. But if you read the Bible carefully, all of these accounts are carefully qualified, hedged; indeed, they might all but entirely evaporate, if we follow much of the Bible, and read them as metaphors, allegories, parables for spiritual things. But to be sure, if many preachers have more or less mentally given up on any physical “miracles,” and have long ago resigned themselves to taking everything as “spiritual,” here, we find that there is a material reality even to the mind or spirit; it is as real as a computer program, as real as ideas. And furthermore, we have here found that all this is somewhat more material that many preachers thought; our ideas or spirits, can be and are in fact, partially stored, and carried on, from generation to generation, through various things in material nature and material culture. From our DNA, to our books and other recording media. While finally, therefore, the spirit, the essence, of ancient great persons – like, many would say, Jesus Christ – is in fact still alive, and can be “reborn” in the world. “Heaven itself” may pass away; but Jesus lives on in his “word,” as he says (Mat. 24.35, etc).

 

Preachers in the past, at times to be sure, promised much more: a giant miracle; Jesus appearing out of thin air. But other times, they promised much less as well: mere mental or spiritual change or rebirth. Here we find a middle course between the two, and bring the two – heaven and world – together again: demonstrating the very real survival of many old ideas, spirits, their reappearance, in material things.

 

So that, you might say, Christ is reborn, resurrected, into the “world” again. Thanks to physical books, and words, in part. But books to be sure, are material things. And Christ is reborn, after all, into this physical, material existence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END OF REGULAR TEXT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADDENDA

 

Are Copies Us?

 

More

 

 

 

The Bible often spoke of resurrection in connection with 1) our “name” living on; and our 2) “seed” living on; and 3) in connection with a “book” or two. And we might link that to our wisdom and good judgement surviving. These, and 4) not heaven, are perhaps the main roots in fact, of the Bible’s discourse on immortality. But to be sure, we might next ask, how good Biblical immortality is.

 

When we look more closely at this, about half the tales about gods living on forever, or dying but being buried and resurrected, came from many different sources. In part, they came from early ideas of 1) literary and cultural immortality. Or deeper? They are 2) really from tales of “earth” and “spring” and “fertility,” and agricultural truths. Tales which we will trace here finally, to something real in Nature. Finally, by thinking of material nature again, that we rediscovering the lost truth of our all-too-vague, abstract ideas. And learn what legends of immortality were really about. Specifically, in large part: the death of things in Winter and from old age; but then the reappearance – “rebirth” – of a species, from seeds, in the Spring. Or as applied to human beings: the death of parents … but their hope that parts of they themselves will live on, in their “seed”: their bio- cultural descendants.

 

Finally though of course, we all need to ask next … whether such legends – and now, facts – really justify preachers telling everyone, that there is a real or very, very substantial resurrection for human beings. Indeed, there are indications in the Bible itself, that the resurrection and so forth, are not good for everyone; or even all that good for anyone at all. At the resurrection, many are “judged” to have been bad … and are thrown into the lake of fire, some say. Even in the Bible, the Easter Jesus is said to have stayed on earth – only forty days. While even those in “heaven” have problems too – as Heaven itself is to be destroyed.

 

And then too? Some might find that “living on” through our descendants, is a little too shadowy and vague, and metaphorical.

 

So what then should we say? We say only that really, this is mostly what the Bible offers; and if living on through others, through our bio-cultural “neighbors,” is not enough for you, then you are not a Christian. You do not love your neighbors, “as yourselves.”

 

To be sure, this biblical afterlife, might not be enough for some; who are greedy for far more. But a) the first answer to this objection, might be that after all, to ask for more is indeed, Greed. Another b) objection would be that this kind of afterlife is not quite as good as many hoped, and pictured in religious pictures in Sunday School and Church. But after all, most Christians know, by now, that religion is complicated, and that their first impressions of anything can always be wrong. St. Paul had warned us that though we enter religion only as children, we are supposed to “mature.” So by now, everyone should be prepared to move to a different impression, of what the old ideas were really about. Indeed, c) Jesus told us that he once spoke in “figures” but would return to speak “plainly.” The Apostles at the time thought Jesus spoke plainly, right away; but their assumption was presented in the Bible as an assumption after all; while other parts of the Bible seem to suggest that the “plain” truth is not to come until now, at the End (Isa. 66.18).

 

But there is a more serious, second objection to this vision of an afterlife. That is, that d) some might say that this is not really immortality of our selves, self same; our own real body perishes … and it is just our genes, our DNA, that live on. More exactly, related to this, note we live on not as ourselves, but only through reproductions of us. Our original body dies; we live only in copies, reproductions, of us. So that this might not seem like us, living on. But traditional Christians should note, that St. Paul said that we have to cast off our original bodies.

 

While e) we should now note that in fact, in many common languages usages, a reproduction of something is considered as the original.

 

Before returning to biblical sources more closely, let’s look into popular culture, ordinary language, on the central issue here though: the matter of identifying reproductions, copies, as the same as, a continuation of, the original. Let’s look at the issues surrounding the identification, or equation of a copy, with an original – an identification which is necessary if this is to be regarded as a real form of afterlife.

 

Though it seems strange at first, to say that a copy or reproduction, is the same as the original, actually, this idea is common in popular usage, both inside and outside, of religion. Consider. Often when we get a printed book by Hemingway, say, in a bookstore, sometimes you might say, “I got Hemingway’s book.” But in fact, Hemingway himself, wrote a typed manuscript, which was the original; that was actually his book. And today, though you speak as if you have “the” book, usually you don’t have the real author’s – Hemingway’s – actual original manuscript. Actually, what you have, is a printed copy of his handwritten manuscript, etc. You don’t actually have “the” book by Hemingway; you actually have a printed copy of it. Actually, it would be more accurate to say – as some do, sometimes – that you have a “copy of” Hemingway’s book. However, the important thing to notice here, is that in much actual practice, often there is so little important difference between an original and the copy, that you leave out “copy of,” and just say you have “the” object. So, the interesting and important thing here is that, particularly in the case of intellectual constructions – thoughts, programs – often the copies are so exact, that we accept the copy as being the same as the original.

 

Thinking of a copy, as the same as the original, happens all the time. For example, we speak of our copy of a computer program, from Microsoft, for instance, as being “the” program. Though technically the disc you have, is only one of a million copies of an original computer program. The disc or program you have, is not the very self same, original program, that was written by a software engineer or programmer, years ago, back in Microsoft headquarters; it is actually, a copy of the original program. But – the important thing here – often, we speak of copies, as being the same as the original. Because in this case, we regard a copy as about the same as the original; we commonly regard them, and speak of them, as if indeed, they were the same. We might say we have a “copy of” the program; but in point of fact, the copy is so perfect, that we just as often make no distinction between the copy, and the original; we just say, we have “the program.” And in many cases? This identification holds.

 

So those who would argue that copies are not as good as originals, on the grounds that it seems stained or impossible to think of them being one and the same, need to note that in popular usage, this link is made all the time; and people find it easy, natural, to make. Furthermore, it seems natural and easy … because it is true. Practically speaking, an average good copy of many a computer program, is for most practical purposes, functionally, the same as, the original.

 

Then too, finally, f) the Bible and Jesus himself, we show here, was asking us to accept that link. When he asked us to link ourselves conceptually, intimately, with our “neighbors”; “love your neighbor as yourself,” even specifically asks us to identify them as carrying us on; as even, being us. Jesus moreover, was not asking for something we never do; not only did ancient g) Jews often identify themselves with their fathers and tribes, almost as if they were just an extension of their “father.” This begins to explain another major motif in the Bible relating to immortality in fact: Jesus’ frequent assertions of close identity, being not just the “son” of, but even h) “one” with, his “father.” This develops too, into i) other assertions; that we ourselves can also be one with Jesus, and therefore God too; and thus we ourselves can share in the immortality of God. And this oneness with God, comes in part from obedience to him and his principles, trying to become even copies of Jesus; “imitations” as Paul or someone said, of Christ. (Paul, developed by Thomas a Kempis?).

 

If there is j) more than this? It will seemingly come, only as civilization and science develops further, and begins to produce a better and better life, a “kingdom,” on this material earth, for living human beings. We have already seen many clear signs, that it is not just spiritual religion, but religion intermixed with science and practical knowledge and wisdom, that alone produces the better life, the better world, the better kingdom, here on this material earth. Perhaps k) in addition? Perhaps someday we ourselves, our essential ideas and even spirit, might simply be downloaded into some larger computer program, or something similar; and live on, in that way. But if so and in any case? Note that we are living on, in a sort of new but still physical, material substrate or medium. In a physical computer, or whatever; in the DNA, in books, and in a mind of God. A mind that however, we increasingly see not hovering above nature, but inhering within it. As the human mind and spirit is a product of a physical organ, a brain, likewise the mind and nature of God, seems to be found within material Nature, or using that nature as substrate, medium. [As to how Nature or God creates itself? Or comes into existence in the first place? No one is really sure: traditional metaphysical answers to date, are not entirely certain.]

 

In any case? What we have here is much firmer – and more Biblical even – than “Heaven.”

 

 

 

A Vague Heaven, Dissolved

As Foretold (2 Peter 3.7-12, etc.).

 

 

Is this afterlife vague, shadowy, metaphorical, insubstantial? If so, then it corresponds all the more exactly, to whatever ghostly or spiritual things that the ancients described. But even at that, what we have here seems firmer than “Heaven.”

 

How certain was Heaven after all? The Bible said it is to be destroyed.

 

While in ancient accounts, in the Bible itself, living on in Heaven was never as firm as everyone thought. The ancient Jews themselves, by and large, often did not believe in any afterlife for all; at least, the Sadducees did not (cf. Sadducees, vs. Pharisees, in the Bible). Most scholars say that Jews believed then – as they do today – not in an afterlife in “heaven,” after a Judgement, many scholars say. We are told in standard reference books from biblical theology, that in the pre-Exile period in Jewish history, there is only one reference to the dead coming to life in a sort of Last Judgment (Daniel 12.2; as noted in White, p.17, Ox. Comp.). As for the rest, “the two people in the Hebrew Bible who are taken to heaven to live with God, Enoch [Gen. 5:24] and Elijah [2 Kings 2:11], do not die” (White, 17).

 

Since these two figures – Enoch and Elijah – did not die, they were not, properly speaking, resurrected or reborn. Nor is it stated that there was any substantial continuing life for them in heaven; astronauts go up into the heavens, but they do not become immortal there. Likewise, other Jewish’ promises of an afterlife, seem to promised things rather ghostly, airy-fairy, metaphorical. In Solomon, one’s “hope” – but not necessarily one’s self – is immortal (Wisd. of Sol. 2:23-3:4). As for those who do die and go on to some kind of afterlife in the Old Testament, they are said to go on to the afterworld; we are told that “All who die, righteous or wicked, go to Sheol (see Gen. 42:38; Num 16:30-33]” [White 1993, 15]). And Sheol, of course, is by dictionary definition “an underworld where according to ancient Hebrew belief the dead have a shadowy existence” (Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary; italics, mine).

 

Sheol, the place of the dead, is described by the dictionary as a “shadowy” place; theologians likewise describe it as “a place of darkness and gloom, where the dead exist without thought, strength, or even consciousness” (White, 15-17; citing Ps. 88:2-12; Isa. 38:18-19; Job 10:21-22; Eccles. 9:10). In the Jewish tradition – from which Christians sometimes insist, their tradition came (cf. however Holy Spirit) – Sheol, the place where we go when we die, the dead do not exist in a very vivid or substantial form at all; if they exist at all, it is as faint and elusive shades. Shadows. Or ghosts. As vaguely, some critics like to hint, as “hot air,” or filling your belly with the “east wind.”

 

Is this afterlife insubstantial? Ghostly? Metaphorical? If so, then it is authentically Jewish, Christian. The Jewish/Old Testament tradition, like many others, would seem to offer on close inspection, only a very ghostly or faint kind of half-afterlife. One which, in its very incompleteness or “shadowiness, exactly matches biological immortality. And further, the notion of living on through copies, reproductions, impressions or memories in others around us – “neighbors” – is restated and given approval, by Jesus, himself. Who commanded us to “love your neighbor, as yourself.” If you really do love your neighbor, as much as yourself, then you will not be disappointed if he goes on, in your place. As your representative; as you.

 

If you object to this, you object to Jesus’ command, to love your neighbor “as” yourself; which ultimately extends, beyond loving your neighbor as much as yourself, to mean, loving him as being, yourself.

 

No doubt, we want our original selves, selfsame – our physical body and mind both – to survive; or rise whole from the grave. The way Jesus seemed to, in parts of the Bible. However, 1) when we examined those parts, we found they were highly qualified and questioned, even by the Bible itself; (as in the Raising of Lazarus, and the Easter Jesus). Then too, 2) the Bible told us there were many false prophesies and religious writings, and therefore to “test everything” with “Science” – and science says these physical resurrections don’t happen. In addition to this of course, 3) we are told to be “humble,” not proud (cf. selflessness and self-sacrifice). And what is less humble, than seeking immortality for ourselves? Then too – 4) through 777) – there are hundreds of indications, noted in our book(s) here, that living on through others,
should be enough, from a humble, self-sacrificing, Christian perspective.

 

To be sure, in itself, the “Biological” afterlife, as we might call it, is imperfect, “shadow”y. Rather at times explaining the legend not a full afterlife, but only the underground afterlife of “Hades,” the underground. Or of only something slightly better it seems; of a mere “Sheol” or “shadow” afterlife. Remarkably though, this may be the real content of the heretofore secret Eleusinian mysteries; in the myth of Demeter, mother Peresphone, Kore, or Prosperina – Demeter – who was said to have set up the mystery cult at Elesusis, it is said that Demeter, the goddess of agriculture essentially, cereal, becomes a temporary wet nurse in a palace there; for the baby “Demophon” (“people’s voice”?). Significantly, she tries to make an emphatically human person, even named for “the people” – Demophone, as in “Democracy” – “immortal.” But it is said, Demophon’s mother nosed in, and interrupted the rites that would have done this. So the tale goes that the rites therefore, fail then, and forever, “to achieve complete immortality” (Ken Dowden, The Uses of Greek Mythology, Routledge Press, p. 99). So that indeed, when the rites of the “rebirth” of plants, tried to achieve immortality in the human sphere, just as we predicted, this myth confirms, it fails. (Compare this to the annual search for Persephone; as a ritual holiday, possibly related to Easter, etc). Yet when we add up more and more materials in life, that record, “remember” us – including culture, books? The afterlife begins to look … more and more substantial.

 

Many have said our afterlife is “in heaven.” But that was not quite right; “heaven” was often just an inexact metaphor for God and truth; and God and truth are in “all things,” heaven “and earth.” Indeed, God himself is often said to be in heaven; but more properly, in “all things,” and … “above all heavens.” While indeed, heaven itself is supposed to be destroyed. At a time when finally, God comes back down to his already- “redeemed” or cleansed world; and pours his spirit upon “all flesh.”

 

Indeed, Heaven itself is supposed to be found to be flawed, and is supposed to be dissolved. While in the end, we see God again more vividly, here on this material earth:

 

 

“I call heaven and earth to witness” (Deut. 30.19).

 

“The heavens dropped” (Jud. 5.4).

 

“Heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee” (1 Kings 8.27).

 

“Heaven … cannot contain him” (2 Chron. 2.6).

 

“Higher than heaven” (Job 11.8).

 

“Thy seadfast love is great above the heavens” (Ps. 108.4).

 

“Be exalted, O God, above the heavens” (Ps. 108.5).

 

“His glory above the heavens” (Ps. 113.4).

 

“Who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth” (Ps. 113.6).

 

“Blessed by the LORD, who made heavens and earth” (Ps. 115.15).

 

“Punish the host of heaven, in heaven” (Isa. 24.21).

 

“Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD” (Jer. 23.24).

 

“The stars will fall from heaven” (Mat. 24.29).

 

“Heaven and earth will pass away” (Mat. 24.35).

 

“A copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary” (Heb. 8.5).

 

“It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away” (Luke 16.17).

 

“No one has ascended into heaven but he” (John 3.13; cf. Gen. 5.24 vs. Heb. 11.5, Sir. 44.16; 2 Kings 2.11).

 

“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ … The word is near” (Rom. 10.6, 8,9).

 

“The heavens will be kindled and dissolved” (2 Peter 3.12).

 

“I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh” (Acts 2.17).

 

“And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem,
coming down from God out of heaven…. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God… And he that sat upon the throne said, behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end…. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son” (Rev. 21.1-7 KJE).

 

 

And so it is. The spirit of God, was in part always here on earth; not just in heaven, but also on earth. And even in the “flesh.” Likewise even our afterlife is here. Just as it has always been for those who could see it; here, in the material, natural sphere of life, among men and women. But one “day” in particular, most of us are to see that more dramatically perhaps; as indeed, many of us who have read this very book, who begin to see how religious things, heaven, commnect with earthly things, science … are beginning to see it all connect again. Heaven and Earth. Spirit and Body. Word and Flesh. Again. For a Second time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END OF CHAPTER 8

 

END OF BOOK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTES

 

 

 

Heaven

 

 

When we are children, the most simple idea of religion and life, we are often told, is this: “be good, and if you die, you will go heaven.” But how accurate is this Going to Heaven; the core promise of Christianity? Is it really in the Bible? Often we are promised heaven in church. But where and what is heaven in fact?

 

To be sure, there are quotes in the Bible, that seem to promise heaven. Or a “kingdom” of heaven:

 

 

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 3.2).

 

“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Mat. 6.10; 19.2; 28.2; Luke 6.23).

 

“Eternal in the heavens” (2 Corin. 5.1).

 

“Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (Col. 1.5).

 

“In heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1.16).

 

“Copies of the heavenly things” (Heb. 9.23).

 

“A better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11.16).

 

“The heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12.22).

 

We are told that were here are just shadows, copies, of more perfect things in heaven. And if we become perfect, then some say, we are promised heaven:

 

“A copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary” (Heb. 8.5. Cf. high cities, like the Acropolis; Masada).

 

“Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mat. 5.48).

 

 

On the basis of such sentences, two thousand years of preachers promised us that if we were good, when we died our soul would go up to heaven.

 

Yet there are problems with that promise: first, where and when and what is heaven? In fact, there are many problems with the concept. As it turned out, the word 1) probably comes from the old words for the night sky, and the stars. Over 2) years, because of their beauty and remoteness, the stars came to suggest themselves as a natural symbol for eternal beauty and goodness; and were conventionally said to be where the gods are found, in the time of Plato. Which might be in the physical heavens, the stars … or might not be.

 

Yet were we really offered an afterlife ourselves, in heaven? It is less clear in the Bible, than you might think. The 3) Gospel of Matthew, far more than other Biblical texts, spent a great time offering a “kingdom of heaven”; which it was said was “at hand” two thousand years ago (Mat. 3.2). But what was being offered? For one thing, 4) most scholars today simply feel that offers of a “kingdom,” meant a real actual kingdom here on earth. Some a) say Jesus rejected a real conventional kingdom; but actually, he only rejected a real kingdom as offered by Satan (in the famous Temptation; q.v.). While b) the rest of the Bible pictured the kingdom as being a very, very physical place (Isa. 1-11, 65-66; Rev. 21ff). As part of this, 5) when we didn’t get a real kingdom, some say that the kingdom a metaphor for a convert coming to be spiritual, and joining a church; at that point you enter a sort of metaphorical or “spiritual” “kingdom.” In the church. Or in our new state of mind or spirit.

 

But then too, scholars tell us that 6) the word “heaven” came to be in effect, just a metaphor or polite term or euphemism, for “God.” So when we are offered the “kingdom of heaven,” that just means, a godly kingdom. Probably, here “on earth” (Mat. 6.10; Rev. 21.2-11). While, 7) if our faiths do not achieve such miracles here on earth, then it came to be said, even in the time of Jesus, that perhaps the “kingdom” was whatever was already “all around you” in this lifetime (where?).

 

There are many reasons to doubt that the Bible itself really promised any afterlife in heaven in point of fact. 8) Not least in fact, because one “day,” heaven itself is supposed to be destroyed:

 

 

“The stars will fall from heaven” (Mat. 24.29).

 

Heaven … will pass away” (Mat. 24.35).

 

“Heaven and earth will pass away” (Mark 13.31).

 

“Heaven and earth will pass away” (Luke 21.33).

 

“The heavens … that now exist have been stored up for fire” (2 Peter 3.7).

 

“Then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise” (2 Peter 3.10).

 

“The heavens will vanish like smoke” (Isa. 51.6).

 

 

Incredibly then, “heaven” is far, far, far less certain than our preachers told us; even in the Bible itself. While finally, 8) there are even suggestions that “no one” has gone to heaven but Jesus; conflicting with to be sure, accounts that Enoch and Elijah – and even they, alone in the Old Testament – went to heaven:

 

 

No one has ascended into heaven but he” (John 3.13).

 

 

Finally, 9) scholars tell us that in the pre-exilic period, the Jews did not really believe in specifically, “dying” and then going to heaven:

 

 

“In the preexilic period, there was no notion of a judgment of the dead based on their actions during life, nor is there any evidence for a belief that the righteous dead go to live in God’s presence. The two persons in the Hebrew Bible who are taken to heaven to live with God, Enoch (Gen. 5.24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2.11), do not die. All who die, righteous or wicked, go to Sheol (see Gen. 42.38; Num. 16.30-33. “Afterlife,” Wayne T. Pitard, Ox. Comp. to the Bible, p. 15).

 

 

Ideas 10) about heaven in fact, are said to have come from the Greeks; to appear in Jewish traditions most after the conquests of Alexander the Great. At which time, it was Plato’s ideas of immortality, that predominated:

 

 

“In the postexilic priod, and particularly in the hellenistic period following the conquest of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, Jewish thought concerning death and afterlife underwent a major change, owing to the widespread influence of the Platonic idea of the immortality of the soul…. Whereas prior to the period of the Hellenistic empires the official religious stance of Israel acknowledged some form of shadowy existence in Sheol for the person after death (see Hell …), beginning in the third century we find a flowering of literature describing the fate of the human soul after death…” (Sidnie Ann White, “Afterlife, Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity,” Ox. Comp. 16-17.)

 

 

Even in the most vivid promises in the Bible, often those promises evaporate under closer inspection; in the Wisdom of Solomon – itself, already an doubtful or Apocryphal book for Protestants – we are told the “souls of the righteous are in the hand of God” (Wis. 2.23-3.4); but that does not promise them immortality in heaven, unambiguously. While 11) likewise, our “hope” is “full of immortality” (Wis. 2.23-3.4):

 

 

“Their hope is full of immortality”

 

 

But even this does not necessarily say much; not more than that whatever happens to us, is in the hands of God; and not we but only our “hopes” will live on. There is here still, no firm promise that we will live on. Preachers like to imply that heaven is doubtful, but only if we are not good and obedient to our preachers. But actually, heaven is doubtful it seems, for everyone; even for the very good. Especially since it is to be destroyed, one “day.”

 

It is far from certain that the Bible itself, really does promise any afterlife in heaven at all; that is an idea in part, we found, from Greek or Hellenistic – and especially, Platonic – and other, Egyptian, influences. While 12) even there, in Plato’s theory of Forms, there is no firm route to heaven, for ordinary people; while 13) later Hellenistic and Christian attempts to adapt Platonic thought, to prove a heavenly afterlife for human beings, though common in St. Paul, never quite firmed up; and left us in the “clouds,” with no very firm directions, finally. 14) We have tried to outline as much as Plato’s thought might allow; but 15) in fact finally it seems, that both in Plato, and in the Bible, the only really firm promise of an afterlife, is a rather metaphorical afterlife, many would say, is through our a) biological and b) cultural descendants.

 

Finally 16) “going to heaven” is a metaphor for going to God; which is a metaphor for dying, and going to … God knows where, as they say. Finally, it only says … we don’t know what happens after death, after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More

 

Why Heaven?

 

 

 

Most people think of their immortality, in a very simple, vague, spiritual way: as leaving our physical body behind, while our soul “goes to heaven.” Many of us have been told that we have a soul or spirit – a sort of semitransparent self, inside our body. And when we die, we were told in church, though our body dies … our soul however – maybe with little wings on it – flies up into the “clouds.” To live in the heavens; our soul or spirit does on to live on, in “Heaven.” (If we were good; in Hell underground, if we were bad). This vision – of the soul departing the body, for Heaven or Hell, at death – is by far, the prevalent view of an afterlife; one found in Christianity, and Islam, and in other religions too. Yet as it turns out though, this popular idea is not quite entirely accurate; and it is not really what the holy books actually said.

 

So let’s start with a hard look, at heaven. First, what is it? “The heavens,” in a simple literal way, are just the sky. The “clouds” (1 Thess. 4.17), and blue sky and the sun; and especially, the stars; “the heavens.”

 

The heavens then are a real, physical place. Over the years though, because of the beauty and remoteness of the stars, the heavens came to be spoken of as a sort of symbolic place; the place where things promised, but not seen on earth, must be (if they are anywhere). Where gods or good (who are increasingly seldom actually seen on earth much), must live.

 

If the holy books talked constantly about gods, but we seldom see them here any more on earth – then where are they? They must be somewhere else; maybe somewhere else on earth. But as we searched the whole earth and don’t find them? Then they must be either “invisible” … or off the earth; in “the heavens” where we can’t see them.

 

The Greeks often spoke of their gods as often coming down to earth; but since we seldom see gods here on earth, in any obvious way, then they came to be spoken of as not existing; or, living in the heavens; where they can exist, but “invisibly”; where we can’t really fully see them. (Cf. though, Job on “Leviathan” and “behemoth,” the hippo and the crocodile, who are taken by Job to be visual proof of the wonder and horror of God. Job 40.15- 42.5. “Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine … his goodly frame,” 41.11-12).

 

Actually though, the whole idea that God or good, is just “in heaven,” though implied in the Bible at times, is not really true to the whole Bible. Since God “fills all things.” Since God is actually, supposed to be “all around you.”

 

God is all around us, all the time. However, if God is all around us, then why don’t we see him, some said. So eventually, for this and other reasons, over the years many came to speak conventionally of God, as living in “Heaven.” Among the stars, and moons and planets and so forth. (To the extent they were known; see Deut. 4.19; “sun and … the stars, all the host of heaven”; 17.3).

 

There was another reason, people came to think of God as living primarily “in heaven.” The reason was this: many Jews took the name of God – God; Jehova; Jaweh; whatever – as being a sacred secret. The name of God was supposed to be so sacred, that one should never say it in public. But then, how do we talk about God? To deal with this, the Hebrew texts came to often refer not to “God” by name – but instead, they used the word “heaven” to conventionally stand for God; as a symbol, an euphemism, for him and his more sacred, secret name(s).

 

In the way, the word “heaven” came to stand for God; as a sort of acceptable way of referring to God. A God who normally, should not be named in public. So that “Heaven” is often used as an “euphemism,” or polite code word, for “God,” or Yahweh, or Jehovah (see “heaven,” Ox. Comp.).

 

“Heaven” then, is just a conventional name for God; only a very approximate and conventional name for him. The whole idea of dying and “going to heaven,” as they call it, then, for example, is not quite what many people thought it was. What “dying and going to heaven” really meant, was dying and going back, to God. Or? Being extinguished ourselves; leaving only God and his Nature. To hopefully generate others like us.

 

But if so? It does not – as millions of preachers mistakenly thought – happen mostly in just a spiritual way, or in Heaven. God or Truth, is not just in heaven; God or truth are everywhere; they are “all around you”; they “fill all things, heaven and earth.” Therefore, to go to God, you probably don’t really have to go anywhere other than where you are right now; anywhere other than the earth.

 

The massively popular idea that God and our afterlife are in “heaven” then, is a limited and largely false, convention. The fact is, “God” is a word for the center of the infinitely complex truth of the universe; and that truth is found really, in everything. Indeed, the Bible in effect notes that the whole notion of God just in “heaven,” is just not right; it is too simple. Though the Bible often spoke of God as being “in heaven,” it also other times noted that God “fills all things,” in heaven and in earth:

 

 

Am I a God at hand, says the LORD, and not a God afar off? can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? says the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the LORD” (Jer. 23.23).

 

 

Is God here on earth? Job for example, “sees” God, in the hippopotamus, and the crocodile. As many see God, in the “things he has made,” here on earth. While indeed, for those bookish and abstracted priests and scribes, who find the physical material side of God, impossible to see, finally God was said to have appeared in very dramatic physical form, here on earth, in the “flesh,” with Jesus.

 

 

 

Partial Summary of a Number of Afterlives

 

 

So where and when is our afterlife? Many ancient religious promises of wonders, miracles, in general, were for 1) your lifetime on earth. Or at most 2) for your descendants. These 3) promised things included good crops and riches; perhaps even miracles. And 4) an ideal Jewish “kingdom”; perhaps with God himself overseeing it. Therefore, 5) most promises of future rewards in the Bible, were really promises that you yourself would get things, here on earth. You, or at most, your descendants.

 

6) However, many saw that often even good righteous people did not get the promised rewards, before dying. So, 7) eventually it came to be thought that the promised rewards, must have been promised for some kind of life after death. Since 8) although the Old Testament doesn’t have much idea of an afterlife, beyond “Sheol,” 9) some cultures like Egypt’s, and 10) Greek Platonism, did have that. And eventually, 11) Christianity allowed the idea to spread popularly, that we might live after death in the “heavens.” And get the promised rewards, at last, there.

 

Jesus partially encouraged this belief, speaking of “eternal” life, and “treasures in heaven.” And a future “kingdom.” Yet 12) to be sure, the whole idea of getting rewards “later,” even after death, contrasts with 13) many other parts of the Bible, that offered wonders in your own lifetime. Even Job was rewarded in his own lifetime. While often the ideal “kingdom” for example, was promised “soon,” “quickly,” “at hand,” in a “generation,” without “delay,” and so forth.*

 

So actually, promising future rewards only some day, in heaven, is not quite what the Bible said. The fact is, real religion, real Christianity, has to be tied to, real material results, here in this life. While 14) we find here that in fact, “heaven” itself is very problematic, even in the Bible itself; including not least of all, because heaven itself is supposed to be destroyed one “day” (Destruction of Heaven).

 

So finally, the whole popular idea of rewards after death, in “heaven,” is somewhat questionable. Particularly because many of the things we are told we will get “in heaven,” were actually promised for your regular lifetime. To 15) deal with this, the New Testament came up with many ideas. One idea was that when Jesus came to earth, we would get rewards in heaven – and/or, in some kind of kingdom; a kingdom that some said, could already be seen “all around you,” even in Jesus’ time.

 

Yet to be sure, though 16) many churches and nations, have tried to say that they are the foretold kingdom, the problem has been that no place on earth, has ever been as good as what the Bible itself promised (in say Isa. 65-6, & Rev. 21). To try to deal with this, since no real actual conventional kingdom appeared, 17) our preachers eventually tried to sell the idea that … this or that church, and or spiritual state here on earth, was an adequate fulfillment of the old promised rewards. While, 18) if anyone complained that such things here were not as good as the kingdom that was promised, then it was added that more would come, in physical form, later, after death. In some form; perhaps in a resurrection; or 19) a future “world”; or again, a future “kingdom”; or heaven.”

 

Yet finally, 20) it is not even certain what “heaven” means; the material heavens, or 21) the world of Ideals; or 22) the world of dreams; or 23) some other place. While indeed, 24) “heaven” was often used historically, as a metaphor, or symbol, for God. (Or “a reverent paraphrasis” for God; L. L. Morris, “Heaven,” The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Doublas Ed., Eeerdamns Publ. 1962-74, p. 510). While the New Testament itself, is famous among theologians today, for equivocating whether it was going to give us heaven, or an ideal kingdom, here and now – “already” – in Jesus’ time; for it was sometimes said to be already “all around you” then (Eph. 2.6); or “later,” after death. Now or later – either in heaven, or a future kingdom (see Thomas Francis Glasson, “Heaven,” Ox. Comp. pp. 270-271). While finally, we do not really see anything as good as what was promised, in what is around us now; nor it seems, are the promises of rewards later, very reliable. Since we cannot nail down heaven in the Bible; and 25) whatever heaven is, it is supposed to be destroyed one day.

 

26) Preachers’ sermons, sometimes are vague about who gets to heaven; but 27) they lead us to believe their doubts are not about whether there is a heaven. Yet the Bible questions whether heaven itself really exists, or is eternal. While 28) the Bible is much vaguer about who is good enough to get there, too. 29) Parts of St. Peter finally seem to assure us that “an inheritance” is “reserved in heaven” for them (1 Peter 1.4). But the fuller nature of this “salvation” is onluy to “be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1.5 NRSV). But most importantly, the St. Peter that promised this, did many bad things; so that Jesus finally called St. Peter “Satan,” in Matthew 16.23. Leaving all promises of rewards after death, especially in “heaven,” very much in doubt. Even according to the Bible itself.

 

Amazingly then, one of the core ideas in Christianity – the whole concept and promise of rewards and immortality in “heaven” – is far, far less sure in the Bible itself, then in popular belief and sermons. The Bible itself is far less sanguine and sure, than our preachers often are; about when or even if we will get our rewards. Amazingly then, the core promise of popular, street-level Christianity – be good, die, and go to heaven – is only very equivocally offered in the Bible. If at all.

 

This and other information about heaven, is amazing of course; since the promise of “going to heaven” and living there forever, is the core promise of Christianity; it is the main promise used by preachers, to attract people to church. If heaven is not that certain even in the Bible itself, then this, the core promise of our preachers is merely a false, deceitful lure or ruse. And 30) so we are living ourselves, in the era the Bible warned about; a time when our priests themselves are false; and when 31) the whole world has been deceived … by the very leaders that we thought were most holy, and from God; and even were God.

 

So what should we do? We should 32) pass through the intellectual, apocalyptic destruction of our Childhood heaven; to rescue Christianity from being proven permanently false, we will need to go beyond even heaven finally. To 33) find a broader, greater, “new heaven”; a 34) “full”er, more “mature,” “second” vision, 35) Second Coming, of good and God. A second and better vision … that can get real material results not just in the imagination or spirit; and not in the infinite future. But in this lifetime, on earth, in the “flesh.”

 

Indeed, God constantly offered that. And indeed, God told us to 36) evaluate all beliefs, as being from God or not, by whether they got real material “signs,” 37) “works,” 38) “fruits,” 39) “deeds,” 40) “proofs”; as proven by 41) “test”ing, 42) “science,” and 43) “observ”ation, of 44) the “visible” things, and 45) what “comes to pass”; here, on this earth. Since God often offered material things; in a timely way here on earth; and since God himself is not only “in,” but also “above all heavens” (Eph. 4.10).

 

And in fact, we are doing that in part, even now. We have passed through the intellectual destruction of our childhood idea of heaven. And now, specifically, 46) we now find good, part of God, in ways heretofore unseen or too little appreciated, in the microscopic world of matter; and in the world of structural mechanics, too. In DNA, and the cultural transmission of ideas, etc..

 

And so now, we begin to see good – even immortality – here on the material earth again. And perhaps 47) some day soon, all these things will come together, in one or more individuals, who will particularly, realize the old dreams.

 

 

 

St. Paul:

Material Things Too Though

 

 

For many centuries, our priests have usually neglected – and even reviled – matter, the material universe. Note in passing, however, that no matter how anti-materialistic and spiritual St. Paul for example, got occasionally – casting off our “flesh” as a “husk” and so forth – still, somehow, there are physical elements, some kind of “body,” still present, even in our trip up to heaven itself. At times, St. Paul, in the grips of Greek dualism, attacked our bodies, our flesh:

 

 

“The sinful body might be destroyed” (Rom. 6.6).

 

“Put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8.13).

 

“Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom. 12.1).

 

“The flesh is of no avail” (John 6.63).

 

“Nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7.18).

 

“The things of the flesh” (Rom. 8.5).

 

“If you live according to the flesh you will die” (Rom. 8.13).

 

“Do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5.16).

 

“Now the works of the flesh are plain” (Gal. 5.17).

 

“Crucified the flesh with its passions” (Gal. 5.24).

 

“Put no confidence in the flesh” (Php. 3.3).

 

 

Yet St. Paul eventually, had to back off all these rather adamantly ascetic and world- and matter-hating statements, we found earlier. Confirming and expanding that here, we have found that our immortality in biology and culture, clearly depends on material things. Bodies and books, etc..

 

Consider St. Paul’s account, indeed. Note for example, that even after our first physical body of flesh dies, we retain some sort of “spiritual body.” Suggesting some kind of physical material side to this afterlife. Though it is our “spirit” that seems most important here, still, as will be seen, spirit also needs matter, somehow. And we see throughout the Bible – and even St. Paul – a return to matter, somehow:

 

 

“Cause flesh to come upon you” (Ezek. 37.6).

 

“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (Jol. 2.28; Acts 2.17).

 

“My flesh is food indeed” (John 6.55).

 

“For no man ever hates his own flesh” (Eph. 5.29).

 

“In my flesh I complete what is lacking” (Col. 1.24).

 

“Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” (1 John 4.2).

 

“In one body, we have many members” (Rom. 12.4).

 

“Your bodies are members of Christ” (1 Corin. 6.15).

 

“Your body is a temple” (1 Corin. 6.19).

 

“Be holy in body and spirit” (1 Corin. 7.34).

 

“You are the body of Christ” (1 Corin. 12.27).

 

“It is sown a physical body… it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Corin. 15.44).

 

“We guide their whole bodies” (James 3.3).

 

 

As is typical of much of the New Testament, there are so many apparently conflicting messages, we are never sure quite exactly what we were promised. The language changes, and shifts, and never firms up, or harmonizes either. Yet if for some time, St. Paul seems to have all but given up any real physical material results; seems to have become “spiritual,” still, later he rightly began to reinstate the value of material things. Perhaps of material life, improved after all by science and technology.

 

In the meantime, it is the great inadequacy or sin or error of preachers, that preachers have overwhelmingly heard and preached, only part of the Bible; the spiritual part. St. Paul for instance, in his first and loudest voice, was full of a radical, world-hating, asceticism (2 Corin. 4.4). He constantly talked up “spirit” and “faith,” and seemed to hate all physical, material things: even his own physical body; as well as your “flesh,” “law,” “the earth,” and any kind of “wisdom” relating to the “earth” or the physical “world.” He and most of Christianity often seem to hate all practical things that get real results in this physical world.

 

You can see this world-hating side of Paul in a hundred quotations in the Bible: his 1) “body”- hating and pummeling (1 Corin. 9.27; Rom. 8.9; 2 Corin. 10.10-12.11). 2) His “Flesh”-hating (1 Corin. 5.5); vice-hating (Gal. 5.19). 3). 3) “Law”-hating (Rom. 3.21, 6.7, 7.6; “written code,” 10.4; 2 Corin. 3 “dispensation of death”, Gal. 3). Then his 4). “Knowledge”-hating (1 Corin. 8.1, 13.8; 1 Tim. 6.20). 5). Material “food”-hating (1 Corin. 8.8), spirit-loving (Rom. 7.9, 1 Corin. 5.3). Then his 6) “Work”-hating (Eph. 1.9; cf. though 1.10). 7) “Wisdom”-hating (1 Corin. 1.20- 2.21, 2 Corin. 1.12), “foolishness”-loving (2 Corin. 11.1-21-12.11). Finally, 8) you can see a material possession-hating asceticism throughout Paul particularly (Rom. 12.114.17).

 

Though we are told “God is love,” Paul and spiritual persons actually “hate” a great deal. Over and over, St. Paul championed “spirit” and “faith” – and condemned, hated, all those who concentrate on the physical side of life, like food, sex, works, our body or “flesh,” and “material possessions,” as they say in Hinduism; “riches.” St. Paul condemned all those whose “god is the belly,” and who “glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” As opposed to his spiritual commonwealth in heaven (Phil. 3.19-20). Unfortunately though, Paul took priestly world-hating to its logical, fatal denouement or reducto-ad-absurdum; to its absurd and fatal logical conclusion: assuring us that our physical life and body was so bad, that “to die is gain” (Phil. 1.21-23).

 

That is the problem, finally, with priests, to date: their radical – and fatal – over-spirituality. Which turns out to be actually, based on “hate.” And to be physically fatal, and against God. Those who really, actually follow the sermons they have heard in churches, who really despise this entire physical existence – including their own physical bodies or “flesh” – have been taught a seriously, disastrously false doctrine. One that, we have seen, is literally fatal to those who actually try to follow it. Those who really, actually despise, say, real physical material food, would not eat it – and then of course, those who do not eat physical food, die. Of starvation. While those civilizations who follow these false priests and prophets and saviors, who neglect practical “knowledge” and just sit and pray, never develop agriculture and mechanics and architecture; and they just starve, more often than not.

 

Fortuntately, eventually even St. Paul noticed some problems with his philosophy or religion. And began to consider that the material things of this world, might have some value.

 

Some religious figures almost noticed the problem with over-spirituality; a faint glimmering of the great problem in the heart of spirituality itself, of the realization that the ultimate end of a real world-hating ascetic would be to try to physically die (and so free his spirit from this bad body and so forth). Sensing some part of it maybe, admitting that those who “do not work, shall not eat,” finally, even St. Paul – who in fact flirted with dying in Philippians 1.21-23, – even St. Paul began to tone down his “hate” for the world. To tone down his hate for this material life. As Jesus had also, before Paul, in his second thoughts; in his second, wiser voice (see John 12.25 vs. 12.47, etc.). Jesus had at first told us to “hate” our life in this world (Luke 14.26; John 12.25) – but then came to say in his second, wiser opinion, something more: that he had not come to “judge the world but to save the world” (John 12.47). Or, in the most famous line from the Bible, in the 1960’s through the 80’s, the famous “John 3.16”:

 

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish… For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3.16-17).

 

 

Finally, we see the redemption of material things in theology; just as we are seeing material life made better, by Science. Suggesting once again that after all, Science is the better part of what God wanted us to know, and have.

 

So for many reasons, a “heaven” mostly detached from the earth, is not quite good enough, according to the Bible itself. What is more, you can get past that; ultimately we will show, you can (in certain circumstances) join God, and even find immortality … here; on earth. Many of us have already seen much of that; while one day, spirit is supposed to be poured on “all flesh” (Joel 2; Acts). Beginning to redeem, reinstate, mere matter:

 

 

“I will pour out my spirit on all flesh” (Jol. 2.28; Acts 2.17).

 

 

In effect, that is what we are doing here with the Science of God: we are here even now, beginning part of that process; pouring spirit on flesh; by demonstrating, allowing others to see, a real immortality, immortal spirit, on earth. In and among material things, again. Spirit, meeting, returning to flesh. God, returning to this material, physical earth. As foretold (Rev. 21, etc.).

 

 

 

Summary?

 

 

What kind of immortality, resurrection, is finally offered, in the Bible? The Bible itself, is rather ambiguous, and not entirely clear. As we examine the Bible itself, we find that it is never actually as clear or simple, as preachers told us. And it is not even absolutely clear many would say, that we really were offered immortality, or heaven, very firmly. At least, it not at all certain that it promised us 1) dead bodies rising from graves. As Lazarus; or Ezekiel’s vision; or even the resurrection of Jesus. On the other hands, 2) it isn’t entirely a “spiritual” metaphor only, either. 3) In fact, what immortality we are offered, is a far more subtle thing than that, it now seems; it eventually involves both spiritual and physical things.

 

Many preachers see resurrection as a simple “supernatural” miracle. But finally, God told us to use our minds, reason, logic, and science, to examine priests and prophets, to see which of their ideas hold up to empirical experience, and which do not. And when we did that, we found that 1) science says that in normal or natural life, physically long-dead people do not rise up from their graves, to physically walk and talk again; while 2) even the Bible itself questioned its own images; whether people like Lazarus were even really physically dead. While 3) it seemed to imply that; questioned them in many other ways; suggesting even that such images are merely metaphorical; about spiritual transformation.

 

But 4) if the old images were metaphors, we suddenly find now, that they were not just metaphors, for spiritual things; but that under and all around the spirit, there were some concrete, real, physical things. That ultimately, the metaphors … were about real things, in nature.

 

Looking a) deeply into the Bible, we find hints at a larger culture outside the text itself; Jesus and St. Paul using language that hints at “Samaritan” and Gentile (say Bablylonian-influenced) and b) Greek ideas; from Greek tales of dead gods rising from Hades, to c) certain ideas from Plato’s famous core theory, the Theory of Forms, as it is called. But it was the d) Bible’s interest in “seed” and “name,” that connected with probably he best picture of immortality, both within the Bible, and outside it too: an idea clearly found in the Bible itself … as well as in Plato, too. Who clearly said, that the way that humans get immortality, is through reproduction; our name and seed, our spirit and character and physical makeup – our ideas and DNA as we would say today – live on, in the memories and genes of our children, and in the people we influence.

 

That actually, is the most valid core of what Plato promised to us, c. 350 BC; and it is really the core, of what the Bible promised. Whereas, though God might live on, 4) “heaven” itself was fated, the Bible itself said; while 5) the “kingdom” of God, or “of heaven” (in Matthew), refers to a time when religion is supposed to get real, visible, material results, here, on this earth. A time said to be “soon,” “at hand,” to becoming coming without “delay,” to be “at hand,” “quickly,” and in a “generation”; to be already all around you, like “leaven” in bread * … “already,” as they say (see “Afterlife,” Ox. Comp.).

 

Yet for some reason, nothing so dramatic as all that, seems to have emerged in any obvious way, in the time of Jesus. Instead of setting up a temporal power, a visible Jewish or “kingdom of heaven,” or kingdom of God, a) Jesus himself was physically tortured; b) physically executed. If c) he was resurrected, that lasted only forty days, physically. Then d) his followers were persecuted, and often martyred. While e) finally Jerusalem itself, was burned to the ground, in 70 CE. Likewise, though f) many later churches claimed to be the promised kingdom, none were ever quite as good, as what had been promised in the Bible; an ideal kingdom where there would be no more “pain,” no more “tears”; where the “wolf” would lie down with the sheep; and the “lion” eats straw like the “ox,” and so forth (Isa. 11.6-15, 65-66; Rev. 21ff).

 

6) The Bible does not trouble itself to clearly, plainly note such things at all. But secretly, privately noticing that they were sometimes not getting all the wonderful physical results they and their prophets often promised, gradually, our holy men shifted, into promising both physical, but also more mental or “spiritual” things instead of material “riches” and “possessions.” Yet 7) to be sure, this metaphorical, semantic re-reading of the old promises, has left many people suspicious of preachers; thta preachers are just playing word games with them; “twisting” scriptures to try to cover up, “whitewash,” critically bad things, failures, in the most basic and sacred prophesies and promises, of our most holy men and women, saints and prophets.

 

So 8) what should we say, now? Should we continue to be satisfied, with just a “spiritual” religion? In fact, that would not be consistent with either a) the Bible itself, or with b) physical necessities, either.

 

So for that reason, we have had to … either 9) simply deduce that this is the Apocalyptic destruction of haven foretold; and simply abandon much of our old faith; and/or 10) try to see if we can see now, the “new heaven” foretold; something better and more credible. Something that is at once “new” and yet not new; something that goes beyond old errors, yet totally foretold and fully authorized, by the ancient holy books, the Bibles, themselves. Something totally consistent with the Bible itself … and also, consistent with its demand that real religion, must be measured, discovered, by science, testing, and so forth. (As we found in our chapter on Science). Something that 11) can come down to this physical earth, and get real results here.

 

Can we do that? Can we pass through the modern intellectual demolition of our childhood heaven of miracles and spirituality … and get to another, second, more credible heaven at last? One totally consistent with both the ancient texts … and science and experience too? Some say this already happened in the past; but present experience disproves that. 12) Some say it cannot ever happen. Some say that we should simply reject the old prophesies at last, as being false. Yet 13) even that, would actually, be allowed by the Bible itself. Perhaps after all, the Bible was a self-deconstructive document, disproving itself; a childhood primer designed to take us through childhood as loyal students, followers … until the “day,” the “age,” when we are qualified to think for ourselves.

 

The 14) position we officially take here though, is that finally, we can see the best available, most credible picture of what the Bible really offered, here and now. By at last re-discovering God’s lost Science. And then 15) coming up with the more Natural vision of each and every wonder promised in the Bible; including a vision of resurrection and immortality, that is compatible with Natural History and Science.

 

What is that vision? It is a vision – from clearly, dozens, hundreds of parts of the Bible itself; and from science also – of a resurrection of God, good … from out of a re-embodiment, in ourselves, of the best surviving genes and ideas, of the past. Which includes taking into ourselves, the fullest possible understanding of the past, and of the present experience of Nature as well; to perceive God’s History, and Nature. In Natural History again, at last.

 

What then, in this at once traditional but also “new” vision, is resurrection? It is connected with a) ancient tales relating to the Easter resurrection; about human-like figures going underground to live; to come up in the Spring. Most of these stories though, we now find, were actually allegories, of some key facts of agriculture: many plants die on the suface of the earth in the Winter; but they live on in roots and seeds, underground. To come up, reborn, in the spring. Though to be sure, this vision is based a little too much, on farmers’ educational tales, focused too much on vegetables; what we needed was an orientation, that focused more on b) animal – and finally human – reproduction. Which we now have. Noting that the Bible itself finally allowed, that traces of what we were (cf. “shadows”; ghosts or spirits), lived on, in our children. Who reproduce us, to varying degrees.

 

Finally, we assert, this is the core vision of immortality and resurrection in the Bible. Yet to be sure, this vision is known today among scholars; and is not thought to be entirely satisfactory to all of them. In particular, because it is not we ourselves, selfsame, that live on; but rather, only “copies” or “reproductions,” of us.

 

There are scholarly objections to this immortality then. So let us look at this vision more closely, now. Our conclusion will be that whatever its inadequacies, this is in any case, what mainly the Bible offered us. While, if there is anything more that this, it will have to be pursued and achieved, largely outside a Biblical frame of reference.

 

Indeed, we will learn more about God, the Bible itself suggested finally, by observing Nature itself; what it “wants,” so to speak.

 

In the meantime, how good can we ourselves be, as copies, continuations, of the past? Just being the biological heir, the “son”s of our fathers, can help a great deal. Indeed, many ancient cultures identify a son with his father, closely; since one’s family name was inherited from one’s father, and for other reasons; the first son was often the designated and sole heir, in many societies; and would be head of the family, when the father died. And this pattern persisted; even the New Testament presented Jesus, as the “son”; as the continuation of God, the “father.” At times, as having the full authority of his Father (as of the day he changed water to wine. See also John 5.17 ff). While in some readings, we are all “sons of God,” as parts of the Bible suggest.

 

So that? After all, human beings – especially, as reined in, by Science and objectivity – might have some authority.

 

 

 

A Real, Physical,

Scientifically-Verifiable,

Resurrection:

 

Proving That Christianity is True

 

 

As foretold, our old heaven is being demolished; but the new one is becoming visible, here on earth. One which offers in fact, the original, real immortality that the Bible itself promised.

 

Every word of our books and actions here, are designed to be totally compatible with every world of the Bible, taken overall.

 

Many bad preachers of course, tell us to ignore what our eyes see, ignore physical evidence, the Bible tells us to honor science; “test everything” it says. Those who say we should not “test” God, should better be translated to say, not “tempt” him. Since God told us to “test everything” (1 Thess. 5.21); and specifically, with “science” (Dan. 1.4-15 KJE).

 

Many spiritual persons tell you not to trust your real, actual, literal “eyes”; but what Paul actually said, was that those who walk just by faith, and not by sight, are “far from God.” Indeed, Jesus himself constantly healed literally, physically blind persons – clearly indicating that he thought that the ability to physically see, was important. Further, Jesus himself, and others, in the Bible itself, warned constantly, that there had been, and would be, many “false prophets” and false shepherds, and false religious leaders, and churches, throughout “all”; even after Jesus. Even in Christianity. So that finally, we are supposed to use our eyes, and examine objective evidence; to find out what was good, and what was false, among our holy men.

 

Let us therefore do that, now, in the name of God.

 

When we do that, in point of fact, we do begin to see immediately, that there were many false things out there; even in the heart of our holiest men of all; even in saints, angels, apostles. Even in the holiest promises of miracles – like immortality, and resurrection. So that already, many of us even now in fact, can see our first, childhood, churchly heaven, dissolving. Seeming to be reduced to “just metaphors.” However, even as it dissolves, thanks to a little more theology – beyond as it turns out “just metaphors” and beyond even the ministers’ “spirituality” – we are about to see now, here, the emerging outline of a newer, better theology; a real science of religion; and for that matter, a real resurrection; one that is both spiritual and metaphorical, and physically real too.

 

And so now, it is time … for you the individual – and possibly, most of humanity – to pass seeing this … to see however the fuller, more “mature” vision, more informed vision, of God and Truth. A Truth that seems less miraculous and colorful … but that in fact, has the great advantage that it is materially real, and provable. That it can be seen around you, here on this earth. That shows you the fuller outlines of Jesus “new” heaven; one that seems newly remade now in fact; and one that finally, can guide us all to real action, here, on this earth. A new heaven … that seems, as foretold, to “comes down to earth,” as they might say (to recall Rev. 21.1-10). ….To reveal in fact, now …. a real, scientifically-verifiable, immortality; a real resurrection. A scientifically-verifiable immorality. As foretold; a real resurrection, here, on earth.

 

The road to real immortality, to be sure, is a long one. It has included dozens of steps, dozens of ideas, dozens of partial afterlives. But maybe, when added up, they amount to something significant. Suppose then, we begin to add up all the various types of immortality, from the Bible.

 

There are dozens of different pictures of the afterlife in the old holy books. Here is how they all add up. From the very earliest days, from 1) the moment God was said to have created man from the “clay” or “dust,” in Genesis, it was said that 2) God had allowed us to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil … but not the Tree of Life; man has had some kind of “knowledge” – but the Angels said explicitly, we were denied eternal life. Though it was said that of course, 3) God and possibly some angels were “eternal,” it appeared that man was not.

 

This was not good, man has thought; no one wants to die; everyone wants to live forever. And so, from the earliest days, man has been seeking ways of 4) at least prolonging his life – through work, growing better crops; developing medicines. And, since God had sometimes spoken of raising crops, vegetation, with “rain,” from the desert “dust,” and since man himself was said to have come from the “dust,” like plants after a desert rain, the early holy books played with vaguely hinting that somehow, 5) dispirited or downcast persons lying down in the dirt or “dust,” would not only be mentally revived when they were feeling bad, but 6) even physically dead persons, dried “bones,” might rise up alive, one “day.”

 

Indeed, primitive tribes – and our ancient ancestors – often kept the bones of ancestors – and early Christians buried and preserved the bodies carefully in elaborate Catacomb burials – hoping that indeed, 7) as the old books seemed to hint at times, the dead would come back to life. “Resurrected.” As Lazarus was said to have been raised from the dead; mind and body both.

 

However, to be sure, as time passed, we have not seen this happen very often; seldom do dead bodies rise from the grave. However, there had been things in our religious traditions, that could be used by priests, to keep promising huge amazing benefits to those who followed them – including, they said, immortality. Ancient images of persons rising from the “dust,” and “bones” coming together to form living “bodies,” allowed them to do this.

 

To be sure though, we have found over time – and in this book – that 8) God warned us not to trust too “faithfully” to our priests and the prophets and saints and angels they follow; because there are many “false” and bad things, even in religion, God told us. Instead, we are to “test everything, ” with “science,” to find out who and what is good and true in religion … and what is not. And in addition, we are supposed to read our Bibles, more carefully. When we do that, we found that of course, science and experience suggest that resurrections – dead bodies, bones, rising up alive from “dust,” doesn’t happen often.

 

So what is the truth about immortality? Does it even exist, at all? Looking carefully back into history, we found many things that might have been seized on, by persons desperate to live, or attract others to themselves with promises of magical powers; things that were stretched a bit, to try to promise others immortality. There were those images of the desert “coming to life” as we would say, after a rain; images of “bones” coming together. However, we looked at those very carefully here … and there is nothing in them, in themselves, that definitively promises a real immortality or afterlife. Therefore, we have had to look elsewhere.

 

Among dozens of different hints and intimations of an afterlife, 9) it was observed by ancients, farmers, that though plants die in the winter, they come back to life, in the spring. This led to 10) various mythic, sacred stories – like the legend of “Persephone”; the daughter of a goddess, who went underground, to “Hades” – the Greek word for all things under the surface of the ground in effect. Where Proserpine would live for three or four months – and then come back up to life, on the surface. This legend is widely considered to be about the life cycle of plants; which die – or disappear from the surface of the earth – in grey, dead winter. To live on in seeds and roots underground though; to reappear, green and alive again, to come back to the surface, in the Spring.

 

Out of this observation – the death, but then reappearance, of many plants – came many things. First 11) many cultures came to speak of dead Gods coming back to life. Or going to Hades but then coming back to the surface of the earth (like Persephone; cf. Jesus). Related to this, the 12) philosophers, like Plato, had come to suggest that it seemed as if, in spite of the continuous death of all-too-“perishable” living things on this earth, still somehow, the same “type” or “pattern” of living thing, re-appeared. Though one daisy plant might appear to die in the winter, another just like it appeared in its place; from the 13) seeds. Out of this eventually, came a wide variety of speculations about immortality through reproduction, in effect. And/or, living on, through your “seed.” As well, in Philosophy, 14) speculations that there were recurrent, long-lasting patterns in nature and life; “eternal” things. That Plato would call immortal or eternal “forms,” or “ideas,” or “paradigms,” or “patterns.” And in this Plato came to say – as early as 350 BC – there was a kind of immortality. Though individual men die, still the basic pattern or type or species – “Man” – lives on. From one generation to the next. In this, Plato said, there was immortality for man.

 

In addition, it was vaguely noticed that 13) many of our own ideas and sayings, are carried on too; by way of various things in human culture, as we would call it today Like 14) books; 15) memories others have of us; 16) sayings and 17) rituals.

 

To be sure though, all these afterlives, were a bit vague and shadowy. Man has always wanted basically, to live on forever, whole and entire, mind and body intact and healthy; and yet, none of these many highly-touted forms of afterlife, really offered that. In most of them, you actually die; and all that happens, is that bits of you survive after your death, in various 18) “mediums” or “media”: in the minds of those who live after you and remember you. A mental image of you rises up at most, when your words are read in rituals, and so forth. (See Eucharist; Necromancy). And so indeed, thought there were rumors of an afterlife in ancient culture; but 19) many of them admitted that the afterlife was rather vague – or “ghostly” or “shadowy.” Like 20) “Sheol.” Or 21) Hell. Which comes from “Sheol” probably; Sheol, Hell.

 

It was, admittedly, an unsatisfactory afterlife. Many would say that it was 22) at best, just a “shadowy,” or quasi or half-immortality at best; “just metaphorical.” Indeed, there is a great deal of evidence that apparent promises of dead bodies rising whole and entire from graves, were simple exaggerations or misunderstandings, of either earlier folk tales of plants coming to life in the Spring, and/or, 23) too literal interpretations of promises that if you feel bad, believing in God can “lift your spirits,” and make you feel as if you had been “reborn.” Raising your spirits from the dust, only.

 

Viewed carefully, what Biblical “immortality” amounts to, appears to be something much less vivid and solid and real, than what was promised to us by priests and prophets, in their sermons and church paintings. What it is really about, at bottom, is just that a bit of our state of mind, lives on, in other things – people; institutions; our favorite things – that survive after us, can that carry our hopes and dreams on. Which is a form of “afterlife,” that is so vague, that therefore, some might say, we should just take the old promises as mere metaphors, for “spiritual” things; feeling “revived” and so forth.

 

Eventually, it has come to be said that 24) at least our “hopes” live on; some say in others; others say, 25) “in heaven.” And people have been hoping for help from heaven, for centuries. Even millennia; thousands of years.

 

What, where, is “heaven”? Over the centuries, from the first days of agriculture and Plato, it had come to be said that there were things in nature, life, the universe, that seem to live on, for a very long time; from generation to generation. Many rocks and mountains outlast any individual human life; and though generations of men come and go, there are still 26) many things that go on, from one generation to the next, one age or era to the next; like Death and Taxes, the joke goes. Like War and Love; rocks and trees. In some cases, though, just exactly how they go on, has been a great 27) “mystery.” One that became in fact the basis of the “Mystery Religions,” like the tale of Persephone; which figured prominently in the Eleusinian Mystery religion.

 

“Mysteries” have persisted; the Catholic Church speaks of many things in its belief system, as “mysteries.” But what was the great mystery? It was simply, that somehow, 28) though the large, visible living things – human beings; plants and animals – all eventually “perish” or die, still somehow, their pattern, their design, survived, often “invisibly,” or all but invisibly. A plant will die, on the surface of the ground, where we can see it. And yet suddenly in spring, it reappears again; from “invisible” sources, underground. Which lead to rumors of “invisible spirits” somewhere, making things happen, mysteriously. To the Mystery Religions.

 

However of course, 29) today we know, that indeed, there was an at times invisible realm – both the underground realm of tubers, and the tiny and only semi-visible realm of “seeds”; and then another realm that ancients could not see but might imagine; things tinier ever than a grain of mustard; the real of DNA atoms and so forth; a realm where indeed, the patterns of things, were stored. Invisible to the naked eye. But now, we are beginning to see it all with our new science; see the underground; see heaven too.

 

Finally, the old books were right enough; the important thing, was “seed.” That is the center of our (Biblical) immortality. Immortality, through reproduction. For now. Traces of us live on, impressed into various elements of the universe; the way the life of ancient people are left in their camps, in ways that archeology can read. That is what the Bible was really, deep down, offering. In all its offers, from feeling revived, to threats of Hell and promises of Heaven. Traces of what we are, survive, live on, in books; sayings about us; memories of us; in the things we loved that survive after us; all of which some might say, are component parts of the mind, or the 30) “memory,” of God. Where your “name” might be said to live, ultimately, by many (Cf. Jesus, “that all are alive”).

 

The memory of God though, oddly enough, is already partially “all around us,” in the earth. Just as Jesus told us that heaven was “all around us”; in “all things.” Books; archaeological traces; human memory; genes; all of these are part of how the universe remembers, and retains, bits of us. And further, as we note here, in the End, though this is at first a rather spiritual, ghostly, modest afterlife, survival after death … it is possible, now and then, for many of the many different media of afterlife – culture, genes, environment (see “Planets”) – to meet again in one individual, in a way very much like the way they met in another, a religious hero, of the past.

 

So that finally, when many of these shadow or ghostly or spiritual or “metaphorical” afterlives, begin to converge, and overlay each other … suddenly … a great figure from the past can be substantially recreated; “reborn.” Even Jesus can reappear again, on earth. In someone who substantially recreates much of his life.

 

 

 

The Second Coming, Conclusion;

A Dramatic Re-Appearance of God on Earth?

 

 

Is there, really, a real immortality, and/or resurrection, then … or was it all “just metaphors”? We saw here, that our afterlife, our resurrections, are aspects of a subtle – but real – effect in nature. People – or their ideas, bits of their character – are “reborn” in us. We in turn, “live on,” in that our “name” and “seed” live on; and/or in that our “memory” lives on in culture; Nature; or God.

 

People live on, in that their character, their ideas, are carried on in their species, their people … who to some extent carry them on; allow them to live on, by reproduction; reproducing their ideas, their genes, their ideas; in “name” and “seed.” Is this really what the Bible was talking about? Indeed, it was. If you want more than that, you want more than the Bible offered. When the Old Testament talked about persons rising from the “dust,” it usually just meant that downcast persons lying down, would feel revived; that is all. When it talked about “bones” coming together, in Ezekiel, it was just turned into an “allegory,” to say that the scattered tribes of Israel would come together to form a unified “body” or “corpus,” or nation. The Jews in the Old Testament did not really believe in an eternal life for humans, in “heaven” or “hell”; they believed only in a partial, shadow afterlife in “Sheol.” When it talked about anything surviving “eternally,” it only means … that your name, your memory, your children, will carry on bits of you.

 

God considered that your memory and children, were as good as – were the same as – you yourself living on. “Surely I will bless you and multiply you” Paul quotes God saying of Abraham (Heb. 6.14) – God there referring to Abraham’s successors, his progeny, as being the same as “Abraham” himself living on.

 

That is what God felt, anyway; that is what God said living on was. Over and over, the Old Testament does not talk about living on in heaven; a much as only, your “name” and “seed” living on. At most, your image raises up when future people, or God, read about you in this or that “book.” Though the New Testament often takes old metaphors literally … in the end, under all the pictures of dead bodies – like Lazarus and the Easter Jesus – seeming to literally come to life, underneath them, in the fine print, was the message that what actually happens, is that the essential, good ideas of a person like Jesus, survive in various cultural media/the mind of God; like, in the case of a cultural figure like Jesus, in holy books, churches, rituals (like Passover; Eucharist), and so forth. As for a physical resurrection, at the end of time? Actually, as it turns out, this is both spiritual and physical – albeit in a way our priests did not understand. In point of fact, the spirits or good ideas of the past, are carried on, in one body after another. Ideas survive, thanks to recording media, like books and rituals. When you are educated, from those media, in those ideas of the past, those ideas take root – and are replicated/”reborn,” in you; and your physical brain. In this moment, you yourself become a “new person”, and the old spirit has found a new, physical body to live in: yours. So that spirits are real; they are our bio-cultural programming; and they do move from body to body, one object to another, ghost like. And finally, some “days,” one or more of the great spirits of the past, find a particularly suitable body, and are more fully re-embodied in one or more of us.

 

If you look at the Bible closely, that in fact, is the core of Biblical immortality. Whatever you might have pictured in your imagination, whatever your preachers may have insisted, this is actually what the Bible itself, was promising, primarily: we live on, through our bio-cultural descendants. If you want more than that, you want more than what the Bible offered. Promises, images of dead bodies literally rising from graves, were examined in another chapter (Resurrection). And found to be phrased far more ambiguously and uncertainly than many thought (see comments on Lazarus, Easter Jesus, Emmaus). In fact, they were not really promising a lasting physical revival, of that sort. Read more carefully, even the raising of Lazarus and the Easter Jesus, were actually, resurrections of this more subtle type. While, finally, any resurrection at the moment of Judgement – when books are opened on us, and our image stands before God to be judged – is not much more or less than literary, or cultural immortality; a memory of you lives on in the memories of others; in books; and in the universe.

 

To be sure though, it can happen that one day, an individual shows up who combines the right combination of culture, genes, experience … to substantially duplicate or replicate a great figure of the past. So that finally, an ancient religious hero reappears, on earth. Out of “heaven” so to speak. But on the earth. In physical form.

 

Out of all that, now at last, you should be able to see, at least in your mind’s eye, how God reappears in physical form. On earth. Again.

 

As foretold.

 

 

 

 

 

The Differences

 

 

 

 

Out of all that, now at last, you should be able to see, at least in your mind’s eye, how God reappears in physical form. On earth. Again.

 

Thus the entire Bible is here affirmed; we follow the Bible itself, every word of it (as far as we know; while we can defend all apparent lapses, in the future). But while we follow the Bible here, to be sure, what we come up with, is at times very different from what our preachers told us in church. Because our preachers, our churches, have always very seriously misunderstood and misrepresented, much of the Bible itself. So that the fact is, when we see Christ in the second coming, as Christ reappears on earth, he comes to after all, correct or “refine” countless misunderstandings of him, false doctrines and false forms of “Christ”ian “worship,” that have existed over the centuries. More specifically, this case it is clear that the Christ or God of the Second Coming, is rather different than what we have been taught by almost every church, in the past. Projecting the real Christ, from a fuller, “second” reading here of the Bible itself, we see a Christ who only very tentatively if at all, accepts, has “faith” in, what tradition tells him; but who then seeks to balance, “weigh,” “test,” and finally “judge” the religious tradition itself, by comparing what our preachers claimed, to what experience and science tell him.

 

The Christ we see now, is the true Christ of the Bible. But the Christ of the Bible, is very different than what so many millions of people all-too-trustingly heard and accepted, from preachers. In dramatic constrast to the Christ you were introduced to in Church by preachers, the real, Biblical Christ does not stress endless “faith” in holy men or … preachers. Or even those in heaven itself. Instead, 1) the Jesus we now vividly see, warns continually of bad preachers, following “false prophets,” “deceiv”ing themselves, and the whole world, and its “worship” (Rev. 13); with “delusions,” “illusions,” “false” sayings from the “lord,” magical “enchantments,” “false prophesies,” “false spirits,” and “empty consolations,” among other things. So that the Christ we see now, 2) does not therefore stress “faith” in our religious institutions or religious leaders; but 3) tells us adamantly, to “test everything” (as Paul noted in Thess. 5.21), with “science” (Dan. 1.5-15 KJE; 1 Kings 18.20-39; Mal. 2-3; etc.).

 

And 4) if the application of science to religion – its promises of conjuring miracles; its emphasis on “spirits” – turns out to disprove much of your own worship to date? As you now find that essentially “all” our preachers and churches to date “have sinned” and erred, even in their allegedly most holy, “inspired” doctrines and sayings and sermons and homilies about God? If you should find that essentially all our churches habitually presented a “false Christ” in effect? Then after all, precisely on this account, it ever more exactly follows the Bible, and fulfills Bible prophesy. One day or another, after all, the Bible told us over and over, God is supposed to reveal precisely that, to you. And if this seems to “dissolve,” destroy, our very Heaven itself and “all” in it? Then after all, one day or another, this day is supposed to come, to you yourself. In order for you to see 5) a new, second, fuller coming or appearance of Christ. One that is very, very significantly different, from the worship, the “Christ,” that was continually presented to us in churches.

 

No doubt, some preachers and churches will oppose this appearance; just as many opposed the first coming of Christ. Just as the Bible foretold, those who have been following a false Christ will not accept the real one, when he appears. And? Many sermons and papers will be delivered to allegedly “refute” or answer, our many points here. And unfortunately, many blind believers will continue to be taken in, by priestly false sermons, sophistries. And unfortunately, the author of these books may not be present in your church, to answer the many “refutations” your preacher offers. And then too, it is even possible that we ourselves, in writing this book, have made one or two genuine minor errors. But on our many volumes here, we will have begun to answer already, dozens of traditional objections, to the real Christ; the Christ who here and now firmly warns you about your preachers; and tells you to follow not blind or strong faith, but to follow Science.

 

Many objections to what we see here, may be raised in your own church. And, unfortunately, the author here, will likely not be in your church, and will not be allowed to answer them. But we will have begun to answer, forestall, hundreds of typical objections, even here and now. Among others: to oppose any and every refinement and improvement in Christianity, one very, very typical sermon or homily or religious lecture, will quote – as usual – a misleading part or fragment of the Bible. One where we are warned about “strange new doctrines.” This part of the Bible we are assured by preachers, tells us not to listen to any “new” ideas in religion, different from what you heard in church; for “I, God, do not change.” But as usual, the great sin of your preachers, has been repeated here as usual: they are slyly mis-representing the Bible, by quoting misleading fragments, out of context; they are failing to present to their followers, the “full”er view of Christ. In this case, though God himself does not “change” in some metaphysical sense, he 1) acts in different ways, to different people. To a person dying of thirst, he might give more water; to someone drowning in the sea, he might give less water after all. While 2) God also issues “new” things, “new covenants.” So that though God himself never changes, the things we receive from him do change. And your perception of God also should often change too, the Bible adamantly tells us; when your vision of Christ is deceived and wrong in the first place. Indeed, we are supposed to “mature” not even just in our faith, but to mature finally, beyond faith; maturing by adopting no longer the blind faith of children, but the more reasonable Science of God.

 

In any case, to support what we have found here and now, to defend it specifically against say, the very common but always false sermon, to avoid “strange new doctrines,” we note that 1) what we find here is not new at all; but has always been in the Bible itself. Indeed, 2) Jesus himself implicitly defended himself against charges that he was already teaching a “new” and wrong idea of God, a “new commandment” (Mark 1.27?; to “love one another”; the golden rule); by noting that his idea was at once in a way “new,” but in another, not new at all: since what he was now saying was really just a distillation, of the essence, of what had long been said in the holy books, before.

 

So that? What we see here, as in the New Testament, is in a sense “new”; but in a sense not new at all. Just as the new testimony of Jesus himself was:

 

 

“Clear out the old to make way for the new” (Lev. 26.10).

 

“Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (Isa. 66.17).

 

“A new commandment I give to you” (John, for Jesus, in John 13.34), 1 John 2).

 

“Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment” (1 John 2.7).

 

 

What we are finding here in fact, is not “new” at all, relative to the Bible itself; what we are saying here is affirmed over and over, by hundreds, thousands of quotes, from the Bible itself; from God, himself. Our findings here will merely appear to be new or different … from 2,000 years of often, all-too-flawed priests and churches.

 

To try to avoid facing their own larger sins, the errors in their own doctrines, many preachers and churches, have sometimes said that the “new” was totally discharged, by the first coming of Christ, and the “kingdom” of Christianity. But deeper down, most Christians have intuitively known that not “all” the “full” promises made for the new “kingdom” have ever been “full”y delivered by our priests; no one on earth, in any church, no matter how good, has been walking on water, unassisted by science and technology. No one at all, none of our priests, has made real actual bread appear reliably and regularly, out of thin air, today, in front of qualified “witness”es. While no place on earth, no church at all, has ever been fully as good as the promised “kingdom” in which there is “no more pain,” no more “tears” (Rev. 21 ff; from Isaiah). So that intuitively and even formally, even most churches acknowledge that the full coming of the promised kingdom, of Christ, is waiting; for a Second Coming that did not occur any time at all, in the years of Jesus himself; until our own time today.

 

Parts of the New Testament seemed to speak as if the “kingdom” was “already” as many say, realized; but such things were merely seen in past dreams. Indeed in the Bible itself, in the time of Jesus, and after Jesus, Peter – St. Peter, the founder of the Roman Catholic Church as many have said – spoke in a way that made it clear that the moment when the “old” heaven itself was to be cleared away, was not accomplished in the time of Jesus, or Peter, or Christianity. So that it was not just the Jewish heaven, but the Christian heaven that was “present” for Peter for example, that was still due and pending for destruction, something Christians were “wait”ing for, something that has not yet taken place with Jesus, but that only “will” take place:

 

 

“We wait for a new heavens and a new earth” (2 Peter 3.12 RSV).

 

“The new Jerusalem which comes down from my God” (Rev. 3.12).

 

“The heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgement” (2 Peter. 3.7).

 

“The heavens that are now are stored up for fire” (2 Peter 3.7 NWT; italics, mine).

 

“They will say, ‘Where is this coming he promised?… The present heavens and earth are reserved for fire…. The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear” (2 Peter 3.4-7-10 NIV; italics, mine).

 

 

So the first coming of Jesus – or the “Heaven” itself established by classic traditional Christianity – was not final or definitive (Mat. 16.19). In fact, even the then-“present,” Christian heaven of Jesus, Peter, and classic Christianity, is supposed to “disappear.” In order for us to see, after all, the Second and better Coming of God. When we are supposed to see Christ in fact, as we see him now: Christ not advocating not the blind or strong “faith” of preachers; but Christ and God, firmly commanding us all, to learn and use the fuller, better, more knowledgeable, Science of God.

 

 

“Test everything” (1 Thess. 5.21).

 

“… Understanding science” (Dan. 1.4-15 KJE).

 

“Put me to the test says the LORD of hosts” (Mal. 3.10).

 

 

And so finally, following the Bible more closely than our preachers have, we have here honored the parts of the Bible, that match what Science can confirm. Presenting finally the science which explains at last, how there is a real immortality. And how resurrection really works. Anything beyond that, is mere speculation, or “wind.”

 

 

 

Jesus, in his Second Appearance,

In Science

 

 

Here we have spoken in a general way, about resurrection in general; the resurrection of anyone and everyone. But does Jesus himself re-appear on earth, somehow, in some concrete physical way, through some kind of resurrection? In the Bible, there are many passages that suggested that Jesus partially re-appeared, with the breaking of bread; and/or he reappeared, as or “in” a stranger, when the stranger reads, “interprets,” scripture to us (as on the road to Emmaus). And so indeed, to some extent, 1) Jesus himself, should have re-appeared to the reader, in his mind’s eye, when he or she re-read his Bible with us here and in our other books; particularly a “second” appearance should have manifested itself, as we read especially the parts of the Bible were God and Jesus began to emphasize not blind or strong “faith,” but only a tiny amount of faith; only enough to believe and follow, Science, a Science of God.

 

Where 2) else might we see a second appearance, a Second Coming? It may be that as someone reads more fully at last, the fuller words of God and Christ, describing the resurrection and other things, and fully takes those words, that Christ, into him- or her-self? That such a person … in effect, is taken over by Christ, to become “one” with him. It may be indeed, that now and then a person reads the Bible well enough … and takes in the thoughts of God and Christ fully enough, that Christ is “reborn” … in they, themselves.

 

To be sure though, we all need a systematic and thorough humility here; countless people and churches, in the past, have claimed to have Christ in them, or even to be Christ fully or adequately reborn, reappeared, at last. But practically all of the thousands, millions who claimed that in the past, historically, were at least partially wrong. God being infinitely complex, it is unlikely that any given individual, will ever be able to adequately embody God’s nature just in one body, one individual; or even one church, or denomination, or congregation. So that? Mindful of the temptation to vanity here, in the future probably no individual or even any given church – not even say the Roman Catholic Church; not even the Pope himself – should ever claim to be, the entirely adequate embodiment of God or Christ.

 

But indeed finally, the Science of God, is not an individual; nor is it a single church; nor is it just one Christian denomination, a series of related churches. Rather instead, Science is a discipline, composed of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of persons. Persons who are systematically, methodically humble; ready to be corrected by their peers; submitting papers to juries or refereed publications. All of Science in fact is always open to correction, as new data comes up. So that? Real Science is never in quite as much danger as many institutions have been, of fixity and arrogance; real science is always open to correction. Nor is it quite as in danger of maverick individuals; since it is indeed an entire field, an entire discipline, composed of thousands of individuals … in free competition, in a perpetually open debate. Nor is it even, a particular institution; rather it is an entire discipline.

 

In this way, Science avoids being over-influenced by single individuals or churches; it usually avoids the vanity of attaching too much importance to an individual, or any particular institution. To be sure, some churches, some different “branches” of Christianity in the past have attempted something like parts of this: as Paul for example suggested that the mass of believers is the real church; which has many “members” that do different things. But finally, Paul and others did not value “members” that know science, well enough. So that? All major Christian churches to date – even Christian Science and Scientology – have neglected the fuller outline, of the Bible – and its real science. While God warned that churches, temples, and whole “branches” of Christianity will be found false, in the end. While even the idea of “Christ,” the “worship” that dominates the whole earth, will one day be found false (Rev. 13; 1 John 2-4; etc.). While we will have found in our other books, that essentially all our earlier churches sinned and erred mightily, fatally, in that they did not integrate real science fully into every aspect of their existence; at least half of their content.

 

Finally therefore? We will have been showing in our other books, that no single religious church, or even denomination, or branch of Christianity – not Protestantism, nor Catholicism, nor Orthodoxy – will have been adequate to really see or embody Christ and God adequately. Not even the whole collectivity of all the churches altogether, can do that. Instead, to more fully see the truth and God, and specific things like Resurrection – as fully as human beings can – no individual or church or branch, or Religion, will ever be even remotely good enough. Rather instead, a religion cannot be considered to be good at all, or even adequate, or even merely not evil. Unless it regularly embraces and teaches science, as at least half of its own content, in almost every lecture, sermon, homily, liturgy, and so forth.

 

“God alone is good”; all the churches and pastors in contrast, have failed us over and over again. Finally therefore, if we must trust and believe in anything? We will have been seeing in our other books on the Science of God, that the Bible itself told us that we should not even consider having confidence, faith – except in things that seem well proven by real, empirical Science; the science of God. While regarding immortality and resurrection? Here we and others, will assign probability, only to those accounts that square not only with the Bible itself (say, the Revised Standard Version; RSV.) Those follow the Bible truly and fully … only those who also honor, just as much or more, real Science.

 

All others, who do not integrate science as the bulk of religious content? Are following a false idea of Christ; a “false Christ.” As Jesus himself foretold (Mat. 24.24; Mark 13.22. See also 1 John 2-4; Rev. 13 etc.); as foretold, they are following “another Jesus” than the right one (2 Corin. 11.4).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

END OF CHAPTER,

 

END OF BOOK 7

 

OF OUR SERIES OF VOLUMES

 

 

 


 

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