Being now well ensconced in my seventies, I find that my mind seems to spend an inordinate amount of time concentrating on the meaning of life and my all too evident mortality. Perhaps that is why I tend to forget the here and now as I dwell on the there and then. In the past, my first readings in the daily paper were the business section and editorials. Now they are the comics and obituaries (to see if I'm in either) , a rather incongruous combination but nevertheless somewhat indicative of my state of mind. I suppose that is why people of my ilk are categorized with teenagers who instantly forget errands and directives but can still quote the batting averages of minor league players and names of obscure rock groups.

    For years I have pondered what fate awaits me when I finally "pass on", or in today's vernacular, "bite the big one". Which brings up a most perplexing sign of the times. Obviously society can't accept the concept of death. No one dies. They - "are called", "pass on", "pass away", "meet their Maker" (for years I thought this was my Dad), "are chosen", "go to heaven", and on and on. Understandably, it's never published that their final trip may have involved descent rather than ascent. Regardless of terminology, the question still remains as to what really is over that final hill since the majority of these fatal phrases seem to involve travel or transition presumably leading to eternal life.

     Religions pose as the Wal-Marts of instant immortality. There is a large enough selection of beliefs being proffered today to satisfy the most discerning shopper. Accept their beliefs as the only true ones, and the ever after is yours! Frankly I treat this plethora of panaceas the same as having to buy something retail. Why deal with the middleman? I deal directly with my Deity thus avoiding some of the more painful restrictions and down right nonsense of the more "in" religions. Don't get me wrong though. Commendably, most popular religions do espouse a moral way of life that I only wish their members would adhere to more often. And how many wars have been fought in the name of particular religions? It's disheartening and smarts of being "unclear of the concept". But I am digressing...

     My engineering and military background has taught me to think in strictly logical terms, without straying into the realms of fantasy, blind belief, or guesswork. This approach, however, does have its limitations concerning the topic at hand. All we basically know is that we were born, are here now, and eventually will cease to exist by human standards (i.e.) we die. What can we draw from this rather sparse fact sheet?

     Well, it is obvious that something or someone, by accident or intent, got this whole thing rolling. Why? Again - insufficient information but one hopes it is not malevolent in nature nor merely some alien teenager's grade 12 science experiment or as depicted in this amazingly coincidental Wiley cartoon. Our brave scientists simply muddy the waters with statements such as, "the universe is expanding at the speed of light" (Great! But into what?), "after starting from a singularity having infinite density" (Ah, that makes me feel better! I worked with some people filling that definition). In essence, we know relatively little for certain about the physical aspects of our existence never mind the spiritual side! I wonder that if knowing for certain what happens to us after death would set our minds at ease. Frankly, I doubt it as this would take much of the mystery out of life. And what if this afterlife didn't look too appealing? I know for myself, the pictures of the great beyond as painted by the religions would be an eternal sentence of boredom.



Of course there is the literal translation of creation as espoused by some truly off-the-wall religions who don't want truth, logic and reality to get in the way! The following Doonesbury cartoon depicts this ridiculous take on life.

     What about the situations involving previous marriages and pets? While I don't personally have a problem with the former , the latter would mean I would be up to my armpits in animals of all descriptions. For those with many earthly relationships, marital or otherwise, this heaven could easily become hell! Also, if everything in this afterlife is to be spiritual, what about those physical pleasures that we now regard as essential to our good life such as food, drink, and (ahem) sex? Perhaps hell holds more attractive possibilities in this regard. The temperature alone would be especially gratifying to those of us who have endured a lifetime of freezing winters in the "Great White North".

     I guess I'll just continue to follow my mother's sage advice (as quoted from Shakespeare) -

"To thine own self be true."

Armed with this creed, love of my fellow man (an onerous chore at times), and a good sense of humour, I feel fully prepared to face whatever the fates may bring.



Before viewing the following irreverent, but nevertheless, applicable cartoons, here is a link to an interesting discussion I recently ran across after reading a 1959 condensed version of the literary triumph, Ben Hur, prepared by author Guy Endore. Evidently the original book written in 1876 resulted from this discussion!

Another take on religion was provided by author Richard Dawkins who wrote the controversial "The God Delusion". Reporter Dan Gardner of The Ottawa Citizen interviewed Dawkins and the result was published in The Citizen on 15 November 2007. Just click here to read this interesting and thought-provoking article.

RELIGULOUS - A 2008 American documentary film concerning religion directed by Larry Charles and starring political comedian Bill Maher, demonstrates just how misleading and downright stupid religions and their leaders can be. Click here to get Bill Maher's take on things.

There was a recent (Dec 2015) article in the Toronto Star which in clear and concise terms sums up the total lack of reality of blind religious faith. Just click here to view Robert Bahlieda's article.

Of course there is also the relatively recent nonsense that promotes "Intelligent Design" which completely ignores the immense times necessary for Natural Selection as established by Charles Darwin. (As an example of the illogic of "Intelligent Design", why do men have nipples?) Just click here to get Wiley's take on this in his Non-Sequitor cartoon.

And here are some more ...

2011 was notable for religious zealots insisting that the RAPTURE was going to strike humankind in the spring - believers would rise to heaven, the rest would descend to hell! Of course this didn't happen and some rapid tap-dancing took place by the 'sky is falling' misinformed believers as depicted below!

In the following cartoon, actions are finally being taken against those using their religious stations to accomplish heinous crimes against their trusting adherents!!! Long overdue!!!


And some more of Wiley's digs against the stupidities of man-made religions.







To wrap this up, I agree completely with author Gwynne Dyer's recent take on organized religion:

"If I had a magic wand to wave, I would expunge all religion tomorrow; not just the institutions, but the whole body of superstition and fear of the unknown that underpins religion."

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