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Is There a Life Beyond the Grave?

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Author Topic: Is There a Life Beyond the Grave?  (Read 255 times)
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« on: February 10, 2009, 10:54:09 pm »

Perhaps the strongest element in the argument for a future life is derived from what is called the desires of mankind. These, it is said, must be accounted for, which we think can easily be done. We submit that the instinctive love of life found in man is sufficient to explain the desire for its continuation. No doubt there is some connection between desires and their realization in reference to things that are attainable, for the very desire may be a factor in the sum of the causes that enable us to realize our ideal. But the mere fact of having the desire is no evidence that its realization will follow. A desire for food and comfort is very general, but many are destitute of both. The longing that all members of the human family should be equally well off is extensive, but such an enviable state of things does not exist. We must not, in reasoning, take refuge in incongruities. Those who argue that without an endless future, this life is not worth having, must regard the present existence as being exceedingly defective. Why, then, should its continuation be desired? And yet the doctor argues for a prolongation of such a life. If it is said that in another world there will be a change for the better, we ask, where is the proof that any improvement will take place? It is another instance that the wish is father to the thought. Endless existence and interminable motion may be laws of thought which it is impossible to banish from our minds, although we are unable to conceive of an infinite past, which is involved in the statement. But it is otherwise with the forms of existence that possess life, these can be conceived of as coming to an end. Intense heat or intense cold may terminate all living things in a brief space of time. The truth is that it is only dreamers who contend that any part of the compound being called man will

               "flourish in immorial youth,
          Unhurt amidst the war of elements,
          The wrecks of matter, and the crash of worlds."

     Many persons who do not admit that Secularism is the best

philosophy of existence, acknowledge that its principles are excellent so far as this life is concerned; but they assert that those principles are insufficient to sustain its believers in the hour of death. With a view of showing that this position is not a sound one, and that it misrepresents the Secular views as to death, we purpose answering the following three queries, which are frequently put by our opponents.

What are the Secular views in reference to death?
Is there sufficient reason to justify the Agnostic attitude as to a future life?
Is the Secular position a safe one?
In the first place, what are the Secular views as to death? They are these. That there is not sufficient evidence to justify the assertion that there is, or that there is not, a life beyond the grave. Many centuries ago, an oriental sage is said to have asked, "If a man die, Shall he live again? Although many generations have passed away since the supposed query was submitted, no definite or satisfactory answer has been given. It is a problem to the solution of which the philosopher has devoted his wisdom, the poet has dedicated his poetry, and the scientist has directed his attention, and yet the problem remains unsolved. Secularists, therefore, agree with Thomas Carlyle when he said: What went before, and what will follow me, I regard as two impenetrable curtains which hang down at the two extremities of human life, and which no man has drawn aside." The Secularists adopt, in reference to a future life, the Agnostic position, and they refuse to dogmatize, either pro or con., upon a matter in reference to which, with the present limited knowledge in the world, it is impossible to KNOW anything. Mr. Hugh O. Pentecost thus puts the case; "The Freethinker looks at death just as it is, so far as we know anything about it -- the end of life. He does not hope, nor expect to live after death. He admits that he may, just as there may be a planet in which water runs up-hill. He therefore maps out his life with absolutely no reference to alleged heavens or hells, or to any kind of spirit world. He goes through this world seeking his own welfare and knowing, from the open book of history and his own experience, that he can promote his own welfare only by promoting the welfare of every other man, woman and child in the world; knowing that he cannot be as happy as he might while anyone else is miserable. He knows that death is as natural as birth. He knows that, as we were unconscious of our birth, we will be unconscious of our death. He knows that, if death puts a final end to him as a person, as science seems to prove, it cannot be an evil. He suffered nothing before he was; he will suffer nothing if he ceases to be. He will not even know that he is dead."
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