Sunday, November 26, 2006

Resurrection of the Dead without "Heaven"- Proof there is No "Heaven"

Thought that would get your attention.

I was think aloud to someone today and this thought crossed my mind (also out loud):

Whatever flimsy evidence there is in Torah/Tanach/Talmud that Judaism believes in some kind of life after death, relates to tekias hamesim (reviving of the dead bodies). Belief that god will somehow revive all the dead bodies of Jews (apparently not the other 99.98% of humankind) in the "end of days" when moschiach (the messiah) comes is in fact an article of faith as far as Maimonides was concerned. The 13th Principle of his 13 Principles of Faith reads as follows:

"I believe with complete (perfect) faith, that there will be techiat hameitim - revival of the dead, whenever it will be God's, blessed be He, will (desire) to arise and do so. May (God's) Name be blessed, and may His remembrance arise, forever and ever."

Umm, ok. Note, there is no reference to "gan eden" or some sort of paradise. You'll often hear rabbis of the Talmud or even your local fanatic referring to "Olam Habo" aka, the World to Come. There is no such reference in the Torah or Tanach to any such divine, eternal place outside of this world, and perhaps not even outside of Israel!

It seems to me that a lot of people have taken up "Pascal's Wager" (i.e., "I might as well follow this religion in case it's true and I'll go to 'Heaven') and ought to take a closer look.

At best, you are wasting hours and hours in shul over something which is purposefully vague in few instances where it is actually discussed. Of course, you might want to be equally wary of one who refers to heaven in great detail without any evidence whatsoever, as religious nuts are wont to do.

Ask yourself, is Orthodox Judaism simply belief in fairy tales? Better yet, why not take a close look at what you've gotten yourself into (if you're a BT) or what your parents got you into (if you're FFB) and ask would I sign a contract that was this vague?

Imagine buying your house (or any other incredibly major purchase or decision) online. Imagine what you got was described in terms as vague as the Torah/Tanach's*** regarding raising of the dead. Would you wire your life savings? Would you risk the rest of your life's wages on it?

If not, why would you spend hours and hours on praying and going to yeshivas, based on pie in the sky?

Serious aside:
I don't look forward to my death, or that of anyone I care for. My own innate instincts to survive and to avoid pain make the thought of death an extremely unpleasant one that I've spent a portion of my adulthood coming to terms with. However, intellectual honesty requires that we acknowledge our own blind faith and what kind of a crooked path it leads us on. Those who would gladly break the law here because they've learned it won't jeopardize their "portion in the world to come" are abusing themselves and others.

Just a quick look at Islam would make it plain as day the evils involved in religious focus on the world to come. However, what did Jews do on the misguided basis that they would go to "heaven?" Why is the story of Rabbi Akiva gladly being flayed to death by Romans (with an inspired centurian throwing himself on the burning body of the rabbi to go to heaven) so celebrated? What does this teach our kids? Also, if the whole world is going to be thrown asunder and then revived somehow, why even bother stopping war or greenhouse effect destruction? After all, Yahweh will fix all that in the "end of days" right?

Worst of all, are the religious Jewish nuts who gladly risk their lives and those of thier kids living formerly in Gaza and still in the West Bank, figuring even if they die, they'll all go to paradise together eventually. That might be an acceptable thought under the extreme duress of having just tragically lost a loved one. However, it is not rational or moral to teach nonsense about heaven to kids, especially to drill it into them or put them in harm's way figuring God will sort it all out. I shudder to think of the Jews who let their kids perish rather than convert based on the teachings of narrowminded rabbis throughout the eons.

*** Mesopotamia and the classical world
In the literal sense of the word, resurrection refers to the event of a dead person returning to physical life. Thus it is not to be confused with things like Hellenistic immortality in which the soul continues to live after death, "free" of the body.
"Centuries before the time of Christ the nations annually celebrated the death and resurrection of Osiris, Tammuz, Attis, Mithra, and other gods" [1]. A cyclic dying-and-rising god motif was prevalent throughout ancient Mesopotamian and classical literature and practice (eg in Syrian and Greek worship of Adonis; Egyptian worship of Osiris; the Babylonian story of Tammuz; rural religious belief in the Corn King).

[edit] Judaism

[edit] The Hebrew Bible
See: Jewish eschatology: Biblical verses
The Torah rarely plainly addresses the issue of bodily resurrection. When Jacob dies, he says "I am about to be gathered to my kin. Bury me with my forefathers in the cave which is in the field of Ephron the Hittite." [Genesis 49:29] All the Jewish patriarchs (except Rachel) were buried in the family cave, and so were many other biblical personalities, including King Saul and King David.
The Hebrew Bible refers to the term Sheol, which in traditional Judaism is translated simply as "grave" and is perceived as a transitory state. Critical views (see below) interpret it as a referring to a permanent, shadowy underworld. For biblical references to Sheol see Genesis 42:38, Isaiah 14:11, Psalm 141:7, Daniel 12:2, Proverbs 7:27 and Job 10:21,22, and 17:16, among others.
Passages in the Hebrew Bible traditionally interpreted as referring to resurrection include:
Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones being restored as a living army: a metaphorical prophecy that the house of Israel would one day be gathered from the nations, out of exile, to live in the land of Israel once more.
Daniel's vision, where a mysterious angelic figure tells Daniel, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake; some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)
1 Samuel 2: 6 - "he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up"
Job 19: 26 - "after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God"
Isaiah 26: 19 - "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise"
Ezekiel 37: 12 - "I will open your graves, and cause you to come up"
Other passages may be more ambiguous In the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), Elijah raises a young boy from death (1 Kings 17-23), and Elisha’s duplicates of the feat (2 Kings 4:34-35). There are a multiplicity of views on the scopes of these acts, including the traditional view that they represented genuine miracles and critical views that they representedresuscitations rather than bona fide resurrections. Other common associations are the biblical accounts of the antediluvian Enoch and the prophet Elijah being ushered into the presence of God without experiencing death. These, however, are more in the way of ascensions, bodily disappearances , translations or apotheoses than resurrections.

(From Wikipedia-