TED Conversations

Roy Bourque

Aerospace Education Officer for Cadets, Civil Air Patrol

TEDCRED 30+

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how has a belief in an afterlife affected the quality of life on earth?

I see this as multi-faceted. Starting with those who believe;

A-1: Some believe that life hereafter is dependent on how well they have upheld the golden rule.
A-2: Some believe that life hereafter is only determined by adherence to religious ritual and doctrine.
A-3: Some believe that they have a duty to uphold God's law and to defend it with whatever it takes in order to get God's approval.

Now to those who don't believe;

B-1: If this is all you have to give, give it all you have to offer.
B-2: He who dies with the most toys wins. The losers are just a bunch of stupid people anyway.
B-3: If life doesn't go on, why should I live in poverty while others live like kings? Let's take the world by force; Might makes right.

We all know what category Richard Dawkins is in; B-1. He sees religious people as not caring about this life because religion steers them in that direction. He abhors those who would kill in the name of God, and I don't blame him. People in this category see religion as a threat to the preservation of this planet.

What category are drug cartels and human traffickers in? They don't kill you quickly, they suck the life out of you over time. Is A-3 any better or worse than B-3? there are many who choose not to do evil because they believe in divine retribution. Would taking away that belief make them better or worse?

I don't see this question as black and white. I would like to see A-1 and B-1 come together and work to eliminate all the others. Can we do that, and what would it take?

I am open to anyone else's thoughts on the subject.

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Closing Statement from Roy Bourque

I have found in the comments that it can go both ways. Many feel that a belief in an afterlife has caused many to have a contempt for this life. Some feel that they are connected to something greater, but don't see it as God. Some have left the church they were in for something that has more meaning in the present life.

What a person believes is largely dictated by what they were taught unless they choose to seek for themselves. I believe that religion was originally meant as a guide for seeking, but has been monopolized by institutions to promote their beliefs. Many others feel the same way, but differ in how they chose to seek.

Today, science has taken the lead in many person's tools to understand the world. Some have gone beyond their faith but still use the tools of science to augment how they see the world. For them it is not one-sided, but a compromise between the two, gleaning from each other to expose the truth wherever it may exist.

Adriaan presents links on Swedenborg. It offers teachings by one who has lived a spiritual life.

The negatives to the debate are concerning those who would do terrible things to please God because that is what they have been taught. They see an afterlife as a way out of a wicked world. Churches use fear, punishment, and reward to promote a moral code and lock their parishioners into a belief system that is unswerving.

The positives are concerning a connectedness to a greater whole. Some find solace in believing in an afterlife in a world that has left them with little to hope for in their present life.

I see an afterlife as an extension of our present life. Should we return here, why not leave the planet better off. If science can tell us how to do that, then so be it. Should we go somewhere else, why would God choose someone who couldn't take care of the world they were entrusted with? Should we go nowhere, why not learn all we can about the world we live in?

Find the truth however you can, and share it.

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  • Apr 2 2012: You were asking how a belief in an afterlife can affect the life on earth. I think it is the type of afterlife you believe in that is important. If you believe that life is just a test for you (only for you) or if you believe that there is no afterlife and everything that happens after your death is not important, then you basicaly dont care about what happens with this planet, with humanity after you die. I think if people started to care about the world they leave behind, not just their lives or their afterlives, if they would be a bit more humble, if they tried to realize that they are just a tiny little individuals, realize that what realy matters is the longterm wellbeing of humans in this universe, then the quality of life could improve.
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      Apr 2 2012: I am finding this to be true. there are those who do despicable things because they have been taught that God will punish them if they don't do as he says, and their leaders claim to be the voice of God. So their leaders march them off to war to defend the faith.

      There are those who believe that this life doesn't matter and its only a test, so they do all the things that the church teaches without regard to what they should be doing to improve life now. Jesus said "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" which says to me that we need to be making heaven on earth.

      There are those who believe that life doesn't go on and it's finders keepers losers weepers, so they exploit the planet and everybody they can to benefit themselves.

      I don't like any of the above options.
      • Apr 3 2012: I think it was Voltaire who said if God didn't exist, man would have to invent him.
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          Apr 3 2012: Voltaire also said:

          “The universe confounds me! I cannot imagine that such a ‘clock’ can exist without there being a Clockmaker.”—Voltaire
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        Apr 3 2012: Roy, you state you don't like any of the options......what other options are there?
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          Apr 3 2012: Mary,

          I was referring to the options I cited in my comment.

          The other options are
          1. believe in an afterlife and make God proud of what we have achieved in his name, being true to Jesus' teaching on love and forgiveness and not judging others. (This is what I believe).
          2. Don't believe in an afterlife, but leave the planet better off than how we found it, learning all that we can while being fair to all and not just to ourselves.

          I don't like Holy wars, and I don't like exploiting the planet while letting future generations to fend for themselves. If we are going to gain God's favor, then I think God would want us to take care of the kingdom that we have been entrusted to, and that includes "We are our brother's keeper".
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        Apr 4 2012: I have always taken God's kingdom to be a government. A heavenly government. The king of this kingdom being Jesus. And asking for the kingdom to come would imply waiting for the time that earth would be ruled directly by God through the kingdom....

        You think the kingdom is our earthly home right now, and that we as imperfect humans can make the earth a better place and solve all the problems ourselves Roy?

        This is very very interesting........how do you think it will be accomplished without a government to rule the people?
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          Apr 4 2012: Jesus said that God is God of the living and not of the dead. Jesus also said the Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force. He was describing the world he was living in. Jesus also said he would go to the father and send back the Holy Spirit who will teach you all things. Those who have felt the indwelling of the Holy Spirit understand what he was trying to say. Jeremiah said that God would write his law in our heart (Jeremiah 31:33). This is the kingdom that God wanted with Israel before they demanded a king in Samuel 8:1-18. So all that has come to pass are the warnings of God become manifest that we would know what turning from God does to us. And now we are seeing a time when people are turning their hearts back to God. God must dwell within as Jesus said "behold the Kingdom of God is within you". This doesn't necessarily mean that there won't be a governing body, but that we need to know God from within to know what God would require of us.
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        Apr 5 2012: The clergy commonly teach this idea of the kingdom of God being inside us. The Catholic Encyclopedia asserts: “The kingdom of God means . . . the ruling of God in our hearts.”

        Some think that Jesus himself first promoted the idea that God’s Kingdom lies within the hearts of humans. Jesus did say: “Look! The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21) Some translations here say: “The kingdom of God is within you” or even “inside you.”

        Do you think those are accurate renderings of Jesus’ expression?

        Did he really mean that God’s Kingdom is found in human hearts?

        Roy, you first have to consider what the human heart is. When referred to in the Bible, the figurative heart means the inner person, the source of a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.

        The idea that something as sublime as the Kingdom of God resides within the human heart—in the way it changes and ennobles people, for example—may sound appealing, but does it stand to reason?

        The Bible tells us: “The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate.” (Jeremiah 17:9)

        Jesus himself said: “From inside, out of the heart of men, injurious reasonings issue forth: fornications, thieveries, murders, adulteries, covetings, acts of wickedness.” (Mark 7:20-22)

        Consider this: Cannot much of the misery that we see in the world today be traced back to the sinful hearts of humans? So how could God’s perfect Kingdom come from such a source? Really, the human heart could no more produce God’s Kingdom than a thistle could produce figs.—Matthew 7:16.

        Also, consider the audience Jesus was addressing when he spoke the words found at Luke 17:21. Verse 20 says: “On being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them.” The Pharisees were Jesus’ enemies. Jesus stated that those hypocrites were not going to enter God’s Kingdom. (Matthew 23:13)
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          Apr 5 2012: Mary,

          The only truth is inside any being. We can call it the heart and it connects all being.
          If you've found that heart you may trust it and live without fear. If you are disconnected then fear will rule by what is said to be, "wickedness" which is the shortest way to recover that lost love.

          Scriptures can teach as much as they can confuse someone. You don't need them.
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        Apr 5 2012: Now if the Pharisees were not to enter God’s Kingdom, could the Kingdom be in their hearts? Impossible! What, then, did Jesus mean?

        In rendering these words of Jesus, a number of careful Bible translations say that the Kingdom is “among you” or “in the midst of you.”

        How was God’s Kingdom among those people at that time, including the Pharisees?

        Well, Jesus was the one whom Jehovah God appointed to be the King of the Kingdom.

        As the King-Designate, Jesus was right in the midst of those people. He taught about the Kingdom of God and even performed miracles, giving them a preview of what that Kingdom would accomplish.

        In a very real sense, then, the Kingdom was in their midst.

        I personally am of the opinion that there is no Scriptural support for the notion that the Kingdom of God is in the hearts of humans. Rather, it is an actual government, one that will effect dramatic changes on the earth, just as the prophets foretold.—Isaiah 9:6, 7; Daniel 2:44.

        What do you think of this? I'm open to your thoughts.
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          Apr 5 2012: Mary,
          You are describing the carnal nature as opposed to the spiritual nature. Christ is the seventh energy chakra of Eastern philosophy. It represents a spiritual ascension once we learn to control our carnal nature. This is what being born again means. Have you not read that the disciples were able to do the very miracles that Jesus performed?

          I Corinthians 3:16, 17; Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

          The need to become spiritual is all through the new testament. Paul says to the disciples at Ephesus; Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost (Acts 19:1-6).

          The carnal nature cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. Only the spiritual nature can. How could Jesus have chosen disciples among the children of men and empower them to do the things that he did if we are not capable of it ourselves? But people resist the Holy Spirit because of peer pressure and the cares of the world. Only those who open their hearts up to God will be able to receive him. So yes, the heart of men is evil, but we are capable of overcoming that evil through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
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        Apr 5 2012: Franz, Adriaan, Roy.

        Thank you for your varied thoughts on my reply to Roy.

        What can I say.....I can go eenie, meenie, mienee, mo........

        OR, I can continue to have faith in God's inspired word, and await the unfolding of his purpose for the Earth and mankind.

        Certainly the first century christians spent themselves preaching the good news of God's kingdom. Many lost their lives because of it.

        Today it is no different. Many christians worldwide continue to be persecuted for bearing witness to God's name and preaching the good news of the kingdom. Want to read about it?

        www.jw-media.org

        Yes Franz, we can be happy and live a fulfilled life, without scripture. I know I don't need scripture, I have lived such a lifestyle before. I have since then, chosen to live my life in harmony with scripture. I am part of a worldwide brotherhood that attempts to do what Jesus said would be done in the last days of this system....."preach the good news of God's kingdom to all the inhabited earth, as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come"........sometimes, like I have said before on TED, my words do not come out like I want them to. You cannot hear my voice, see my facial expressions, etc.....but I make an effort.

        The results are not what matter though, it is the fact that I have given this witness to those that took the time to read my posts.

        I shall wait and see......like the rest of you, what the future brings.....maybe all of us are right?.........in the meantime, I know, that all of you are sincere in your words. Your genuineness is very important. Do not think that I do not appreciate your words. I truly do.

        I kindly thank you for the effort it took to write your responses Adriaan and Roy.

        Adriaan, I continue to read the links you have given me. Thank you.

        Roy, I just don't know what to make of your belief system. Is there a website I can visit?

        Thanks again. Be Well.
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          Apr 5 2012: Mary,
          we are all working out our own salvation, some are further along the path than others. Aside from my own spiritual awareness, I know that I am far from knowing the whole truth. There may be a great epiphany that will take the world by surprise uniting all Christians in what many churches teach as a second coming of Christ. I believe that is what you are eluding to, that the second coming of Christ hasn't come for the world at large.

          I am a non-denominational Christian in that I believe in what Jesus taught, but have found few Christian churches that could expound on what the spirit of God has already revealed to Me. Many teach doctrine that I would personally disagree with. Presently, I attend the Calvary Chapel because they teach the history of the bible, which gives insight into why it was written the way it was. I find this to be most helpful in my present understanding.

          I wrote a book about what I believe called "The Merging of Two Worlds". It contains many of my personal experiences as well as research material to verify what the spirit of God has shown me. It is outlined in my website www.scienceandreligionconverging.com. The National (or great) cycle of the Mayan calendar and the Judeo-Christian tradition have much in common. The stages of the National cycle and the development of the Judeo-Christian tradition fit together like a glove. I believe and hope that the final second coming is just around the corner.
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          Apr 5 2012: I don't know Roy

          The Prime intellect operates on his own time though i would like to think the seals have been broken they might not be.By trying to merge the two worlds would you might be hastening the move to a one world church?Babylon?

          I use to believe in an afterlife but i always thought "Then what's the point of all of this existence" I would like to think god isn't subject to our organic tendency to make mistakes and then change his plans for us, then that would make him fallible.

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