Looking outside my window into the street I see a squirrel on the curb opposite of mine. It stops momentarily as traffic cruises by as if by freezing in place it might make itself invisible. Afterwards it turns, its big tail swishing behind it, and it continues to scout, gather, and presumably store. It exhibits no frantic behavior, content to do what squirrels over the eons have done. Squirrels, I read, could live 12 years or more in the wild, 20 or so in captivity. Much less, I fear, from those I see lying dead in the streets.
Like humans, animals live finite lives. Measured on the scale of the universe, we are all like a short-lived spark from a long enduring fire. It has been determined that modern humans began to appear around 200,000 years ago. The earth, scientists have found, is about 4.53 billion years old. The universe, it is conjectured, may be anywhere from 12 to 15 billion years old or more. The entirety of modern humanity has been here only a tiny speck of that time. Each individual human has been here even a minuscule measure of that speck. These finite lives are all we have. We were not before, we will not be afterward. This makes our time very precious. It has not been here before, it will not be here again.
Despite the precious and diminutive time span we have, there are those who would cheapen it, make it valueless. They do it for power, they do it for control, they may even think, erroneously, they do it for good.
Religions promise life after death. They teach that there is something called your soul which continues after your earthly body ceases to exist. There is no proof, there is no evidence, it is clearly a made up fantasy… but because so many are afraid of death, the fantasy sells very well.
The game goes something like this… The religious claim you are headed toward an unsavory fate after your death, again there is no evidence for this, and that your only chance to enter paradise instead is to believe in their faith. There are many cults, with differing requirements, but the conclusions are the same: You are going to an unsavory end unless you obey the dictates of their cult.
You are promised an eternity in paradise. Compared to an eternity our finite time on earth is as nothing. You may endure hardship, slavery, every imaginable suffering… but relax, it is a short time compared to your eventual existence in paradise. Our existence here is devalued. It is of no consequence compared to eternity. Do what you are told, be it die in combat, martyrdom, or in simple service to your master… and you will be rewarded in paradise. Not only that, but the lower you are, the more suffering you endure, the greater your reward.
Such dangerous thinking has enabled so many conflicts, deaths, and violent struggles. What matter death, in this finite world, when an eternity of reward awaits?
The only thing is… most likely, this is it. No afterlife, no meeting up with lost relatives, no reward, nothing. Do you yet get the feeling that you have been used? Do you realize now the depths of your gullibility? No? Then go ahead, be a martyr, fly planes into buildings, blow crowds up with your body-bombs, kill innocent men, women, and children for nothing more than a fantasy. Do it. Prove how little humanity has progressed… prove how flawed we all are. More than anything else, it is religion that is speeding humanity towards extinction as it enables so much immorality, while labeling it morality.