reply to post by xFloggingMaryx
This is my biggest problem with educating myself on death. After all... it really is the Great Unknown... so any information that I gather regarding
the topic cannot be verified or proven, so it all comes down to a matter of faith.
First, my congratulations to you on your coming graduation. I once seriously contemplated Boston College, back when they first introduced their
fast-track MD program. You're in a good place!
I would like to complement you further because your comment that I quoted above suggests you're years ahead of the average person, IMO. And
considering where you're coming from "theologically", I am impressed that a religiously inclined person still humbly accepts that Death is in fact
a true mystery.
My appreciation comes in part from my own background. I could have been considered something of a "theologian" at one time myself. But the
religionist typically doesn't have the humility to see that the "big questions" remain unanswered, in spite of their "faith".
Yes, the Church HAS the answers to the big questions. Religion in general, is there to provide these answers, for all that would otherwise remain a
mystery, if something like the Church were not there conveniently to shed light on these difficult matters.
Hense the rather universal appeal that religion has always enjoyed.
We all want the answers, and religion hands us their answers, and yet...Why do we still yearn for certainty
? Obviously, because the idea of
"faith" does in fact fail
at a fundamental level for the thinking person.
I know that probably sounds a bit arrogant, especially considering the many great thinkers who have gone before, like C. S. Lewis, or Aquinas, etc.
But when confronted with these realities, do we notice what really happens pretty much across the board? Do we see how people have reacted, and read
what they have written, and see that they are as perhaps frustrated as any of us, in spite of the eloquent words that remain a testament to their
Thomas Aquinas, for a Catholic, certainly no introductions necessary. In his time, he decided to confront as many questions as he could in his mighty
. And yet, he was forced to take a step away from the methods he had inherited, else the whole thing would fall apart. As
it was, his contributions would pave the way for an increasingly "unfaithful" future he perhaps could not have imagined.
C.S. Lewis, a master orator and story-teller, and icon of a rational faith. And yet, he was the atheist who found himself stepping away from his
materialist certainties, in favor of those traditionally provided.
I think that in most cases, when examining these paragons of faith, we can find something in common. It was not so much "reason", per se, that
indicated their course, it was something else entirely. Yes, reason could be employed to ensure that at least nothing was "contrary" to it, as they
set out upon the path of Faith, but the motivation to go there to begin with...Well, if not for Death, and the actual certainty
that it cometh,
why bother with so much (really, quite a lot) that couldn't be "known" any other way?
Reason may not need to be "parked at the door" as we enter the churches, but it would indeed wear a hat, so-to-speak. With Death ever present, and
in days of old perhaps more so than today, I think we can see why religion has always been so powerful.
But there is more than Pascal's Wager playing in the background. There is "something else" too, and this other thing is not born of some
ultimately selfish fear, but rather, it is born of our actual common experience
of things beyond. In this case we need not even speak of
anything more extraordinary than...Love.
If we have ever known love, then indirectly we may already have some "evidence" that there must be something beyond the grave. For some, this
evidence may be dismissed, for others, it's importance is minimized, but I think that the vast body of poetry and art that has issued forth from
humanity over the millennia does agree with the religionist when it comes to this issue: Our essence is somehow not temporal.
And when a loved one passes away, this really gets very personal! Most of us have lost someone, grandparents, parents, friends. Maybe even a
sibling, a spouse, or a child. But how much more personal can you get than your own "death", which brings us to the NDE. No wonder the experience
is a life-changer.
Like most people, I wish I had more "certainties", but in fact I do have some, even if they would never pass scientific muster.
You brought up Socrates, who at the end of his life was credited with saying that there were no answers, only questions.
Death. This might be the one we have to humbly bow our heads before, but when that hope springs eternal in our breasts, as the poet once said,
perhaps we can still raise our heads ever so slightly.