Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta

Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) is an Ecumenical association of six Protestant seminaries in Atlanta. The predominantly African American member institutions provide graduate and professional level theological education. Their mission is to train pastors, church leaders, and teachers committed to serving the church and the community. ITC members represent six different denominations.

The ITC was founded in 1958 after four seminaries came together. Original member institutions were Gammon Theological Seminary, Turner Theological Seminary, Phillips School of Theology, and Morehouse School of Religion, which recently became Baptist School of Theology. Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary and Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary later joined ITC. Absalom Jones Theological Institution was also a member school at one time, but closed its program in 1979.

Degree programs offered at ITC by its member seminaries are Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Education, Master of Arts in Church Music, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Theology. There are also dual degree programs. Part of ITC’s vision is to be a resource bringing together leaders from the church, academia, businesses, nonprofits, governments, and communities to develop solutions to the social and moral challenges facing our nation today.

A look at the history of ITC’s member seminaries reveals several institutions dating back to the post Civil War era. Gammon Theological Seminary was founded in 1883 as a part of Clark College in Atlanta. It is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, and Dr. Albert Mosley is President/Dean. Turner Theological Seminary was founded as a department of Morris Brown College in 1894. It is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Dr. John F. Green is the President/Dean. Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian Church (USA) seminary. It roots extend back to 1867 and the Freedman’s College of North Carolina. The seminary joined ITC in 1969, when it relocated from Charlotte. Paul T. Roberts, Sr. is the President/Dean. Baptist School of Theology, formerly Morehouse School of Religion, is associated with multiple Baptist groups. G. Martin Young is the President/Dean. Phillips School of Theology was founded at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in 1944. It is a seminary of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. The school moved to Atlanta in 1959. Dr. Marvin Frank Thomas, Sr. is President/Dean. Charles H. Mason Theological Seminary was founded in 1970 by the Church of God in Christ. Dr. Harold Bennett is President/Dean of the seminary.

ITC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) to award master and doctorate degrees. In addition, it is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). ITC is located on ten acres in the middle of the Atlanta University Center campus, at 700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive SW.

Religious Contracts Made to Obtain Tithing Money: The Mormon Theological Breach/Unjust Enrichment

Are there such things as enforceable religious contracts that may be made between human beings and entities called churches, in the same context as people engage in contracts with corporations, companies, governments, or with other people? A contract is simply defined as an offer made by a person, company, or business entity to another person, company, or business entity, which, if accepted, is based upon a certain consideration that might be money, a service, or a promise that certain events will occur for the benefit of both the offeror and offeree. In other words, I might offer John an apple for the sum of $1.00. If John likes the apple, and wants to obtain it, he will accept my offer and tender the required consideration of $1.00, which will allow him to obtain the apple. Hence, there are many types of contracts that are taken very seriously by, both, the offeror and offeree. One of the most complex types of contracts is a church’s offer of spiritual products, in the name of a deity, for a person’s promise to obey the commandments imposed by that church. For instance, if agents of a church make an offer to a person that, if he, or she, will strictly obey the commandments imposed by that church, the spirit of that person will, after death, go to a paradise and remain there for eternity, the proselyted person will, either, accept, or reject, the offer based upon the representation made by the agents. Such a representation would be much like Goethe’s “Faustus,” where a man sells his soul to the devil for power and influence while alive on the earth. Of course, while “Faustus” is purely fictional fantasy, there are churches that actually represent that they are the only medium or conduit through which mortal man may communicate with deity and through which, so to speak, mankind get to heaven. These churches have their own very ethnocentric scriptures, which, they claim, were obtained from deity via a centrally organizing character, usually called a prophet. These churches claim to possess powers that other churches don’t possess because of the lack of proper ecclesiastical authority. This tendency of a particular religious organization, or denomination, to proclaim unique power only reposed in that particular organization is what I shall refer to as religiocentricity.

When agents of these purely religiocentric churches, or cults, seek converts through active proselytizing and by making representations about what the churches have to offer, some people are immediately cajoled into believing and converting to that particular church’s standards and requirements, and others are never persuaded. One church in particular, the Mormon (LDS) Church, makes missionary representations about its theology, which are not, in the least bit, true in order to obtain converts. In other words, lies are told. Tens-of -thousands of full-time Mormon missionaries are constantly throughout the USA, and the world, offering individual men and women, and families, around the world a, supposedly, Christian theology that is actually a total misrepresentation of real Mormon theology. Millions of Christians have, during the dawn of the 20th Century, been induced by these false representations into joining the Mormon Church by baptism, thereby undertaking the tangible demands of Mormonism. Here is where the contract concept applies to the acceptance of a church’s theology by a person to whom the theology was fraudulently misrepresented by agents of the church; which is the proximate cause of the defrauded convert to seriously accept the demands, rules, and regulations based upon deliberate lies. In the case of a new Mormon convert, the most important mandated religiocentric rule to which a newly converted person must commit before baptism is the payment of a full-tithe of gross income to the Mormon Church. Believe me when I say that a person won’t be baptized into the Mormon Church without making this commitment. A formerly Christian convert to Mormonism is induced by the Mormon agent missionaries to believe that what the Book of Mormon, the “alleged” keystone of Mormon theology, says about God is true Mormon theology; that God is a Spirit with no beginning and no end, a Trinitarian Spirit that has never changed; and that Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit are one Trinitarian God.

Yes, this is what the 1830 Book of Mormon entailed as the theology that Joseph Smith, Jr. wrote into the fictional 19th Century apocrypha between 1820 and 1830. Then, later, between 1831 and 1835, Smith met a follow of Alexander Campbell’s Disciples of Christ, a preacher by the name of Sidney Rigdon, who added his specious knowledge of the Holy Bible to Smith’s heretical imagination to produce a reconstructed Mormon theology that was as heretical, un-Christian, and unbiblical as the Islamic Koran. When this new pagan theology was introduced by Joseph Smith Jr., the Book of Mormon was extensively edited, later, in 1838, in an attempt to make the original Christian Book of Mormon theology conform, to some extent, with the unChristian scriptures written, and spoken, later by Joseph Smith Jr. While the 1830 Book of Mormon could not have been defended, in any way, form, or fashion as a book of divine origin, the Mormon missionary agenda was created by Smith and his successors in order for lies were contrived about the origin and content of the Book of Mormon to make it seem more credible to struggling Christians who believed in Jesus, but were ignorant of biblical scripture and prophecy. These material misrepresentations began the Mormon ritual of “lying for the Mormon lord.” The primary focus of real Mormon theology was the 1845 King Follett Discourse proclaimed by Joseph Smith Jr. during an LDS General Conference, in Nauvoo, Illinois, the year of his subsequent lynching and death in Carthage, Illinois. These theological ramblings of Smith added the heretical dimension of polytheism to what he had created between 1835 and 1839 in his fictional book, the “Book of Abraham,” a book he claimed was the product of his translation of Egyptian funeral papyri that he had acquired in 1835 from a seller of Egyptian antiquities. Having charismatically persuaded his disciples, in Kirtland, Ohio, that the Egyptian papyri had been personally written 5,000 years before the birth of Christ by the Prophet and Patriarch Abraham, and that he, and he alone, was able to translate it, the concept of the plurality of gods was introduced in his fictional book. In his 1844 King Follett Discourse, Smith defined the ritualistic polytheistic manner in which Mormon gods were perpetuated, which was expanded by the second Mormon Prophet, Brigham Young, in the first written Mormon temple liturgy in 1877 that he delivered before his death, later in 1877.

The current statement of real Mormon theology has been presented to the presiding Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood in written form, outside the venue of the Mormon temple (there are 149 operating Mormon temples throughout the world) approximately every 25 years since 1900. The most recent statement of real Mormon theology was presented in written form to the Mormon Melchizedek Priesthood, as a refinement of the comprehensive verbal statements of the first Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1844, and the Mormon Prophet Lorenzo Snow, in 1896, about Mormon polytheism, in 1984 in the Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, “Search These Commandments,” in the form of “Lesson 21 -“Man May Become Like God.” In this written lesson, the expanded couplet coined by Lorenzo Snow, “As man is God once was, and as God is, man may become,” was succinctly explained in the context of the 1844 “King Follett Discourse” of Joseph Smith, Jr. The reason that the real theology of Mormonism is published so rarely and only talked about and extolled in the Mormon temples is because of plausible deniability in the face of the lies that are told by Mormon missionaries to people who are investigating Mormonism, called “investigators.”

As a brief summation of real and correct of Mormon theology, the Mormon (LDS) Church believes and maintains that the Mormon father-god, the father of Jesus Christ, was once a human man who was biologically born, and lived, on some planet in the cosmos; who followed the laws and commandments of Mormonism and, later, died, was resurrected and awarded the highest degree of celestial opportunity, called exaltation, wherein he was transformed into a god, with a capital G, and given limited power to organize, not create (Mormon gods are bound according to the earthly laws of physics), an earth of his own, and to procreate billions of spirit children, with his Mormon goddess wife, in order to populate his earth on the spirits obtaining mortal bodies. This process of Mormon godhood, in “Lesson 21” is further expanded by an explanation that all worthy Mormon elders (holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood) have the destiny of becoming as great as their Mormon father-god, with a capital G, by becoming, themselves, Mormon father-gods, with a capital G, to be able to do all that their father-god, with a capital G, was able to do. Brigham Young, in 1868 during a Mormon General Conference, in Salt Lake City, proclaimed that “there are as many Gods as there are stars, and as many saviors as there are Gods.” This additional principle of real Mormon theology is the main point of theological emphasis that the Mormon missionaries, in the 21st Century, want to hide from the prospective Mormons, with whom they connect in their door-to-door proselyting. What this means is that every Mormon elder, on the earth, who becomes a Mormon god, with a capital G, procreates his own version of Jesus Christ, as saviors for their world. This, of course, blasphemously makes the real Christian Jesus, the one and only God of the universe, just another “savior,” who was biologically procreated to ritually die just in order to provide provide resurrection, not universal salvation, to all of the inhabitants of an earth in the past, present, and future.

The foregoing explication of genuine Mormon theology is what is presented with emphasis, as a commandment, in “Lesson 21.” So, it is quite obvious why the Mormon Church wants to hide, and lie about, the real theology of Mormonism from the hundreds-of-thousands of struggling Christians, to whom the tens-of thousands of full-time Mormon agent missionaries, and the hundreds-of-thousands of part-time ward (local Mormon congregations) missionaries who assist the full-time agent missionaries, present the five currently scripted presentations (called discussions) every calendar year, which don’t contain, to any degree, real Mormon theology.

Hence, the application of contract law to the Mormon missionary dissemination of false theological information to struggling Christians, who know nothing about Mormonism, and a subsequent offer of membership in the Mormon Church based upon this information, goes hand-in-hand with the offer, acceptance, and consideration requirements of all legally enforceable contracts. What is the tangible consideration that is required to consummate the contract? The Mormon missionaries are agents of the Mormon Church hierarchy who offer membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by baptism to all struggling Christians who sincerely “promise” to do certain specific acts of obedience to Mormon commandments. One of these acts of obedience is the paying of a full-tithe (1/10th of a person’s gross income) to the Mormon Church. Now, if an enforceable contract is, supposedly” formed through the offer of membership by baptism for a promise of obedience between the Mormon convert and the Mormon Church, the other laws of contracts must also apply. If the material representations made by the Mormon Church are false, and the struggling Christians base their acceptance of Mormonism on false material misrepresentations, then the contract is, by contract doctrine, void on its face, and all consideration paid to the Mormon Church by those struggling Christians must be returned by the Mormon Church, just like the legal obligations any other corporation.

Just how much continuing consideration is received by the Mormon Church from the duped struggling Christian, and non-Christian, converts within the time that they remain members of the Mormon Church, before realizing that they have been deceived? Well, the breach of the contract is immediate and begins with any and all promises and actions made by convert to the Mormon Church, especially the payment of the first tithing payment to the agent ward bishop, to whom all Mormons are required to submit their tithing, in the form of checks and cash. Let’s then say that the husband and wife of a convert family makes $200,000 per year gross. That is a total gross tithing sum of $20,000 for one year of membership. In the year 2014, over 150,000 struggling Christians, and people from other religions, were induced to join the Mormon Church. If the average gross income of these 100,000 individuals was $100,000, the Mormon Church received approximately $10,000 x 100,000 = $1,000,000,000 of tithing payments during one calendar year. Now, the average approximate time that a new Mormon remains a member of the Mormon Church before he, or she, realizes the lies that have been told about Mormon theology is 4 years. Within that time, a new Mormon convert is prepped and indoctrinated to accept the Mormon temple rite, which is an epitome of the polytheistic theology. Within those four years, the amount of tithing money received by the Mormon Church from those 100,000 Mormon converts is $4 billion. Now, on considering that the Mormon Church is the wealthiest Church, per capita, on the face of the earth, and that the average income of the, approximately, 10,000,000 active Mormons is approximately $100,000 per year, 10,000,000 tithe-paying Mormons multiplied by $10,000 tithing per year, which yields $100 billion per year. With that gross yearly income, the Mormon Church hierarchy makes sizable business investments throughout the world, which yield considerable dividends every year for the LDS Church. Hence, isn’t it, therefore, quite obvious why the Mormon Church, in the year 2016, is worth nearly $700 billion dollars?

But, as the parodic bard would cleverly say, herein lies the awful rub, for even though the contract between the Mormon Church and every Mormon convert is voided, or breached, at the outset of the acceptance of the offer of membership, because of the false theological information upon which the acceptance is based, the Mormon Church has never returned any part of the consideration that they have received from the deliberately duped converts; that is, the tithing money paid in good faith to the Mormon Church, amounting to billions of dollars. Why hasn’t it been returned? The main, and only, reason is that the LDS Mormon Church would never voluntarily return a penny of tithing money to the deceived Christians who paid it. The only way that it would be returned is if the Mormon Church were forced by a court of law, and equity, to repay the billions of dollars to those duped converts, to whom it is rightfully owed. This also applies to all other religious organizations that manipulate the minds of their converts to cause them to pay money to those churches based upon false information and criminally fraudulent misrepresentations of church doctrine, rules, and theology.

So does the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, guaranteeing freedom of religion in the USA, protect the actions of such churches that deliberately deceive people into joining them, in order to induce those unwitting people to pay the churches tithing money based upon fraudulent and deliberate misrepresentations? Currently, of the, approximately, 11 million active tithe-paying Mormons in the world in 2016, there are approximately 5 million of them who have been “Mormons” for five years-or-less, who have been deceived into believing the false theology of Mormonism, and who ignorantly continue to labor under the false information. The other 6-to-7 million members are the true-blue Mormons, Latter-day Saints who have been procreated into the Church through a long lineage of Mormon ancestors. Most of these people, born into the Mormon Church, know the truth about real Mormon polytheistic theology. These are the fraudulent, if not criminally illicit, men and women who are, either, employed by the Mormon Church or are ward and stake defenders of the faith, known as professional or part-time Mormon apologists. Yes, the Mormon Church hierarchy employs their very sophistic members as professional apologists to “lie for the Mormon lord.” Every time websites are posted by Christian and, generally, anti-Mormon information groups exposing real Mormon theology, these paid professional Mormon apologists produce opposing websites in an attempt to neutralize, or totally diminish, the effect of truthful facts upon the mostly ignorant religious public.

Hence, if fraudulent multi-state insurance companies, which send their door-to-door salesmen agents out to sell insurance polices that the companies never intend to honor, can be federally indicted for fraud and racketeering, under the federal RICO Statute, religious organizations that do the same basic thing in every State, deriving illegal money from converts through their agents’ false theological representations, are equally culpable of criminal fraud. I see no difference. Total disclosure of the facts, and the truth, about what the people accepting the churches’ offers will receive in return for their faithful payment of a full-tithe of their income, is necessary for there not to be fraud. Criminal and tort action should, therefore, be taken by the U.S. Department of Justice against each, and every, church in the USA that are enriched through deliberate intentional misrepresentation of their theologies by their proselyting agent missionaries, in order for the unfortunate and deceived converts to receive reparation payments to restore the money that has been lost through church racketeering, and for the criminally offending church organizations to be punished for their criminal conduct.

Closer To Truth: Theological Realms

There is an ongoing PBS TV series (also several books and also a website) called “Closer To Truth”. It is hosted by neuroscientist Robert Lawrence Kuhn. He’s featured in one-on-one interviews and panel discussions with the cream of the cream of today’s cosmologists, physicists, philosophers, theologians, psychologists, etc. on all of the Big Questions surrounding a trilogy of broad topics – Cosmos; Consciousness; Meaning. The trilogy collectively dealt with reality, space and time, mind and consciousness, aliens, theology and on and on and on. Here are a few of my comments on the general topics that cover theological concepts.

What Causes Religious Belief?

There apparently is no evidence, far less proof that any living species, apart from the human species, has or exhibits any sort of religious belief. So what exclusively causes religious belief in most, obviously not all, humans? I suspect it has an awful lot to do with the phrase “what’s in it for me?”. I mean if you thought you couldn’t personally benefit, or maybe believe that others wouldn’t benefit too as part of any hypothetical religious belief you held, then there would seem to be little point in investing a lot of time and energy (and maybe money) in believing in a religion of any kind. However, the “what’s in it for me” apple dangles just in front of a hungry you. At one fundamental level, religious belief allegedly gives you an afterlife in paradise. If you believe in the power of positive prayer and miracles, then more likely as not you want the results of positive prayer and miracles to apply to you (and selected others), after all, you’re doing all the hard work! So you pray to pass those final exams. You pray to stay free of cancer, but if that doesn’t work you pray that your cancer will be miraculously cured. Those wishes would of course extend to your immediate family as well, so not all religious belief is of necessity and exclusively for your own benefit. Still, you have a vested interest in your immediate family. Sometimes religious belief comes cart-before-horse. You would obviously exercise your horse-before-cart religious belief if a tornado was bearing down on you, but if you had no such conviction and a tornado did bear down on you and you survived, you just might then become a true believer as an alternative explanation to survival via blind luck. If you think you will benefit from a religion, or have benefited from a religion, then you will be prone to ‘see the light’, convert, and have an ongoing belief in that religion.

Can Many Religions All Be True?

I would have thought that this was a clear cut and dried issue. If people hold various belief systems that are mutually exclusive, that are polar opposites, that are contradictory, then not all of those belief systems can be correct. You cannot both believe in monotheism, and in polytheism. One or the other or neither must be the case. Some people believe there will be an afterlife. Some people believe that death is final. Both belief systems cannot be true; one must be false. Now all of that presupposes that we exist in a really real cosmos where outcomes are either/or. Now if we ‘live’ in a Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe then anything goes. There is a software program for monotheism; there is another software program for polytheism. Christians may get a simulated afterlife in a virtual heaven; others have their software program terminate and they don’t get another afterlife software program to replace it. In a simulation, all belief systems can be catered to and all belief systems can be true.

Do Science & Religion Conflict?

One clear way that science and religion conflict is with respect to many of the events as told in the Bible. If Eve was created from Adam’s rib, Eve received male genetics and should have been a male; Adam’s clone. If Jesus was born via a virgin’s birth, then all of his genetic material would have been female in origin. Jesus should have been a woman. Noah’s flood is pure fiction since how could the flightless New Zealand kiwi bird get from New Zealand to the Middle East in time to hop on board? Where did all of that extra water come from – and go? And the Ark wasn’t nearly big enough to house two of every animal species on Earth as well as store all the foodstuffs required; plants, bushes and trees, vegetation that couldn’t survive for very long underwater, would have to be on board as well. And there wasn’t hardly sufficient manpower on board to feed and clean up after all of those critters. Did I mention that the Bible mentions unicorns? And what about all of those really, really, really old age pensioners. It wasn’t just Methuselah that lived well past his expiry or use-by date. What odds do you give that you could live inside the belly of any type of aquatic creature for three days and survive to tell the [tall] tale? Then there is this whopper – the Sun and Moon stood still in the sky at the command of Joshua. Now that would imply that the Earth suddenly stopped rotating on its axis. I’m sure anyone who is even slightly scientifically literate would know the catastrophic results that would transpire if the Earth suddenly stopped rotating and stood still. Even if that were possible how do you get it going again? So, just these few examples alone bring science and religion into conflict, or at least into conflict for those who believe that the Bible is absolutely God’s true word; literally true in every way. Unfortunately, such fundamentalist believers, creationists, haven’t yet gone the way of the dodo and appear happy to keep the science versus religion conflict an ever ongoing one.

Is This the Best of All Possible Worlds?

If this is the best of all possible worlds, then the creator of this world screwed up big time! That aside, it’s difficult to imagining best without being able to also imagine better. In some contexts one can imagine best without being able to imagine better – a perfect game pitched in baseball; a royal flush in poker; achieving 100% on an exam; winning an Academy Award perhaps, but such scenarios tend to have fixed rules and parameters. There doesn’t seem to be a rulebook for creating worlds that can be scored as 100% perfect. Can one ever create a world where one can’t go beyond best to better-than-best? In any event, best can be, and usually is, a relative term. What’s best for me is not of necessity best for you and vice versa. If this were the best of all possible worlds everybody would be equally best in everything and that of course is an absurd concept.

Do Angels and Demons Exist?

I put no stock in the existence of supernatural entities though I do subscribe to the philosophy that underneath every mountain of mythology, especially mythologies that cut across nearly all human cultures and historical eras, there is a molehill of fact. Now under the Fermi Paradox, “Where is everybody?”, it is just about certain that ET has visited, noted and logged, even explored our Third Rock from the Sun – Planet Earth – in the geological, even historical past. As Arthur C. Clarke has pointed out, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, or the supernatural, to those less technological. So angels and demons are just run-of-the-mill flesh-and-blood mortal extraterrestrials, or ‘ancient astronauts’, mistaken for supernatural entities by ‘primitive’ humans, human cultures and human societies. Angels and demons were just part of a larger collective of extraterrestrials and not the be all and end all of ‘ancient astronauts’. Oh, and by the way, angels do NOT have wings despite all of the millions of modern images to the contrary. In the Biblical texts, only the cherubim and the seraphim are associated with wings.

Is there a Judgment?

If there is a judgment, then who judges the Judge? Where is the system of checks and balances? It seems here that God (or equivalent) has appointed Himself as Judge, Jury and Executioner. We know how well that sort of legal system works down here on Planet Earth. Why suspect it will be any better upstairs? And is there any appeal process? In any event I fail to see why I should have to answer to any deity for any and all of my actions here on Earth when I would of already had to answer for them here on Earth by and according to my peers. If you do the crime and then you do the time, why should you be tried and punished a second time by a deity?

Is This the End Time?

If I received a dollar bill for every time someone said that we were living in the end times; the end is nigh; the second coming is just around the corner; the world will end on such-and-such a date as ‘predicted’ in the Bible (because there are wars and rumors of war); that someone had a vision from God that the apocalypse or Armageddon would happen in a matter of weeks, etc., I could donate or put half of those dollar bills into the collection plate and still end up being a very, very rich man. The bottom line is that over thousands of years, each and every prediction or prophecy that the end of days, even a general one that the rapture is really close now, quite apart from those who make specific predictions as to the exact date that the end of the world will come to pass, has failed. What sort of confidence does a 100% failure rate inspire in you that the next ‘prophet’ to come along will get it right? I think it is safe to plan for your future, your children’s future and your grandchildren’s future without losing any sleep over that future being prematurely terminated as outlined by the Biblical Book of Revelation.

Do Heaven and Hell Really Exist 1?

Do Heaven and Hell really exist? Well, I start with two assumptions, the first being that Heaven and Hell are physical places since in order to experience either one you’ll need your sensory apparatus intact and that requires matter and energy. You can’t burn in eternal torment in Hell if you can’t feel anything (no physical nervous system) which would have to be a physical infra-red radiation; you can’t physically see the glory of God if you have no eyesight, if you have no physical perception-of-vision apparatus and there is no light which is another form of energy. Okay, you retain something of the physical you in the afterlife and the afterlife abode has to be a physical place. Now if I understand this correctly, and this is my second assumption, Heaven is upstairs in the Cosmos somewhere and Hell is downstairs here on, or below, Earth (which leads me to an interesting question why the universal flood, that deluge when Noah sailed the really high seas, didn’t extinguish Hell’s fire since surely every entrance to any sort of underground must have been under water and water flows downhill – but I digress). Humans have over the millennia done a pretty good job of exploring all the land-based nooks and crannies of our planet, and guess what? No Hell has been found, neither visually or seismically or any other way like as in smoke arising out of the entrance to Hell. As for Heaven, well Heaven may reside in the Cosmos but it really has to be pretty close by in order for God and/or His minions to keep tabs on what’s going on down here on Earth. That’s because of the finite speed of light limitations. If God-in-Heaven were 1000 light years away, or if Heaven were located in say the Andromeda Galaxy, then it would take a long time for prayers to reach God and just as long for Him to act on them. And by the time God could learn if you were naughty or nice you’d have long since turned to dust. No, Heaven has to be close by, say within easy commuting distance for angelic messengers. The question then arises, given the intense observational scrutiny of near-Earth space (on the hunt for dangerous Earth-impacting asteroids) as well as those regions of space in our local cosmic neighborhood (say the volume that contains our solar system out to the Oort Cloud) by astronomers both professional and amateur, how come no Heaven has been spotted? I mean it would have to be pretty large place, way bigger than a typical O’Neill Space Colony in order to house all those billions and billions of people who have already met their maker, as well as all those billions and billions yet to meet their maker, and all of those billions and billions of people not yet born who will one day meet their maker. Heaven and Hell may yet exist, but both are rapidly running out of real estate options in which to hide and avoid our scrutiny.

Do Heaven and Hell Really Exist 2?

There is another possible answer to the question regarding the actual existence of a Heaven and/or a Hell. That possibility centers on the notion that our reality might in fact be an artificial or fake reality. We might in fact be ‘living’ out our lives as virtual beings in a Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe. Now if we are ‘living’ our lives as a simulation, then it is possible that we might ‘live’ our afterlives, assuming the concept of life after death has been programmed into the overall simulation, in a virtual Heaven or a simulated Hell. Now the interesting thing about that scenario is that all possible versions of Heaven and Hell as conceived by human cultures and societies could be catered for. There would be a Christian Hell; an Ancient Greek Hades; and a Norse Hel, as well as all other hellish versions too that humans have conceived of. The same applies to Heaven or any other version of paradise that human cultures have accepted as their home once they shuffle off of this mortal coil and kick the bucket. Of course that doesn’t give actual reality to a Heaven and/or a Hell, but if you are a virtual being in a virtual Heaven the real nature of that reality as far as you are concerned is a moot point.

Is Life After Death Possible?

Life after death is possible in one scenario at least. That scenario is that we exist as virtual beings in a Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe. Just as our virtual reality ‘life’ is controlled by a software program, when that program terminates (our virtual reality ‘death’), it can be replaced by a virtual reality ‘afterlife’ software program. Since the odds are pretty high that we do indeed exist as virtual reality, the odds are reasonable that that virtual reality includes a virtual reality life after death. Apart from that scenario, I don’t hold out much hope that you will have an afterlife. If you want to have consciousness or awareness in an afterlife you will need your sensory apparatus intact as well, along with all of the neurological infrastructure that supports sight, sound, etc. In short, you need your mind intact and for that to exist you need your brain intact, but as we are all too well aware of, at death, your brain, your mind and your ability to perceive sights and sounds, all of which contributes to your awareness and consciousness goes down the sink-hole. So, perhaps you should hope that somewhere out there there is an afterlife software program with your name on it.

Is There Life After Death?

There is a slight complication to the question of a resurrection and an afterlife. In all such philosophical and theological pondering, it is taken for granted that we (humans) are an organism (singular). Of course we are not an organism. In any accounting of the human condition one needs to come to terms with the realization that we are not one organism but a colony of billions of organisms which we call cells. If we get a resurrection and life after death then presumably all of our billions of cells get a resurrection and an afterlife. Well why should there be a life after death discrimination or distinction just for human cells? Are all cells equal but some cells are more equal than others? I think not. So, presumably every cell, every micro-organism, every bacteria, every amoeba, gets resurrected and an eternal ‘life’. That means every cell in every multicellular organism gets a resurrection and ‘life’ after death, even those cells that died before the multicellular organism died. Therefore every multicellular organism, including plants, ‘lives’ eternally. That should make pet owners happy since they will be reunited with their companion animals in the hereafter. As an aside by the way, because we are a colony of organisms, when we die not all that comprises us dies at the same time. Some, in fact probably most of our cells will outlive us by at least minutes if not hours or more!

Do Persons have Souls?

Over the course of recorded history, billions of people have passed away in the presence of other people. These independent observers have never reported any verified occurrence of the deceased emitting some sort of wispy type of ether substance that could be considered the deceased’s soul or essence or spirit or whatever you care to call it. Therefore, if there was such a wispy thing, it was undetectable by the five senses, and in some cases when present and recorded, by instrumentation such as cameras or thermometers and associated. So, those who postulate a wispy soul have to argue that an undetectable something could somehow still be substantial enough to contain the essence of a deceased person, including all of their memories and knowledge, personality, emotions, likes and dislikes, in fact a total of multi tens of thousands of bits and pieces that make up the essence of a person. Well maybe the soul is composed of dark matter or of dark energy. Maybe the soul is just a conglomeration of neutrinos or gravitons. Although those options are highly unlikely, regardless, a soul must be a thing. A soul must have structure and substance. Therefore it seems unlikely in the extreme that given the billions of people that have passed on, that no dearly departed souls have ever been spotted. If they had been, there wouldn’t be any need for this discussion.

What’s a Resurrection Like 1?

I’ll just start off my equating an afterlife with the concept of a resurrection. Now I personally think that when you kick-the-bucket that’s it. You’re dead and the value in that is that you get recycled and get a chance to live again, or at least some of your atoms and molecules do, in other life forms, even if it’s just bacteria and worms (but then birds might eat the worms and another human eat the bird, so bits of you might become human again). Anyway, while it might be theoretically to resurrect your body if your DNA remains viable, it’s very hard to see how you can be cloned if you were cremated or if your body was consumed when eaten by a shark and you are now shark-flesh. However, enough gloom and doom. There is an escape clause leading to a possible resurrection and afterlife. That clause is what if we actually exist as virtual beings in a Simulated (Virtual Reality) Universe? One can imagine the following: End software program; end subroutine biological viability of one Joe Citizen. Joe Citizen is virtually dead. Now imagine the following: Begin software program; begin subroutine afterlife viability of one Joe Citizen. Joe Citizen has been virtually resurrected and is a happy camper in a virtual Heaven. Now the really interesting thing about that scenario is that you could get the type of afterlife that was part and parcel of the afterlife concept held by your society. Thus, the ancient Egyptians got an ancient Egyptian afterlife (albeit in virtual reality); the ancient Greeks got an ancient Greek afterlife (ditto); the Vikings got a traditional Viking afterlife (ditto again), and so on.

What’s a Resurrection Like 2?

There’s another form of resurrection that we ‘enjoy’ over time. When we sleep we dream. When we dream we exist as ourselves in our dreams even if only as a passive observer. Now what happens when the dream concludes, or when we wake up? Our dream self ‘dies’. However, although you ‘die’ when your dream concludes, or when you wake up, you get resurrected again in your next dream! And you don’t need the intervention of any supreme deity to make it so! I’ve often wondered whether this might be one of the observations or mechanisms that when theoretically elevated one level up might not have led to the possibility of people considering a real post-death resurrection.

Eternal Life is Like What?

Eternal life is like what? Eternal life is like boring, very, very, boring. Oh you might be occupied for the first million years or so learning all about your new eternal existence, the rules and regulations, the do’s and do nots, catching up with old previously departed friends and family, digesting the contents of the heavenly library of books and CDs and DVDs (or whatever passes for entertainment upstairs), puttering around in your heavenly garden, learning some new skills like playing the harp and how to polish your halo, maybe even do a bit of shopping every thousand years or so (would there be shopping malls in heaven?). But eternity is forever. Eternity is infinity. So will you still be eager to get up-and-at-things, jump-start the day out of your heavenly bed instead of sleeping in (I assume that you will still sleep) after a billion years has passed and heaven becomes a bit of ho-hum – the angels aren’t going to give yet another concert featuring 1000 repeats of the “Hallelujah Chorus” are they; and if I have to attend any more bingo games I’ll go nuts! And wouldn’t it be nice to get some rain for once here in Camelot, oops, sorry, Heaven. But wait, there’s more. There’s trillions of years yet ahead of you yet in which you will need to occupy your time, and that’s just beginning to scratch the surface of what eternity means. Look, let’s face it. Humans have a hard time fully occupying their time constructively here on Earth for three score and ten years, especially once they hit those golden years and retire. What hope will there be that you can fill in trillions upon trillions of years of available idle time in your everlasting ‘life’ after death in any sort of meaningful way? The other factor to take into consideration is that you may have to spend eternity not only with loved ones, but your former nasty neighbors, that cranky old boss of yours, politicians you never voted for in a pink fit, your mother-in-law, as well as a host of the great unwashed you couldn’t abide when down here on Earth! But if eternal life is what you want, and eternal life is what you get, well don’t come crying to me when you find yourself totally bored to ‘death’.

Imagining Immortality and Eternal Life?

Few of us want to die, but none of us have any say in the matter. The next best option, since we have a hard time coming to terms with our non-existence, is an afterlife or life after death. So it is not surprising that we would jump on any bandwagon that gives us that option. However, be careful what you wish for. People don’t usually want just an afterlife, they want an eternal life after death. You can’t have immortality in this reality, but in the next reality, a supernatural realm, immortality is often promised. However, the Big Question is what the heck do you do in your afterlife? You’re going to begin to get a bit bored after having read every heavenly issue of “The Readers Digest” and “The National Geographic” thirty times over. And how many reruns of “I Love Lucy” can you stand? I am assuming that one way of passing your eternal existence is akin to the way you passed your time in your living reality. Still, for the first several million years or so you are a happy little camper in Heaven, but what about after several billion years then several trillion of years, and that’s just for starters. Eternity is a very, very, very long time – infinitely long in fact. But a finite afterlife means you have got to face ‘death’ and non-existence all over again. Actually sooner or later, be it in a Big Crunch or a Heat Death or a Big Rip, the cosmos will come to an end or die an energy death, and then where will you be? I do assume that your afterlife is spent somewhere in the cosmos. Perhaps it is better to just fade away at the end of your biological life and be thankful that of all the possible unions of eggs and sperm that could have been, the one that was turned out to be you. On the plus side, personally I like to think of post-death as like being the same as pre-life – peaceful and tranquil and tax-free!