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A heaven without seals cannot suit us !
21 May 2017

A heaven without seals cannot suit us !

And if we call to mind any characteristic portrayals of paradise, we see at once that they  conform to the familiar earthly life, needs, and desires of the  particular people concerned. In the realm beyond, the Egyptians must have their River Nile, the Mohammedans dieir  alluring young women, the Scandinavians their warlike Valhalla, the American Indians their Happy Hunting Ground,  the Christians their saints and angels.

In China the custom has long existed of burning paper images of  horses, houses, rickshas, boats, and other objects of daily  existence, in order that the soul of the deceased may surely  enjoy the other-worldly counterparts of his this-worldly needs.  Today even paper automobiles are sometimes included. This  ceremony is a symbolic refinement on the primitive practice of "killing" useful things by breaking or burning them so that  their “souls” will be released for the enjoyment of the de-  ceased. In the well-known Happy Hunting-Ground of certain  American Indian tribes the emphasis is put on deer, buffalo,  and fresh-water fish as ever-present accompaniments of the  ever-successful chase. According to Burmese notions the spirits  of the dead build bungalows in the after-life country and devote  themselves to the cultivation of rice. And among certain African tribes the resemblance between this world and the next is  so complete that the latter is divided into countries, towns, and  villages corresponding to those on earth. 

The Eskimos conceive of the hereafter as a place where  the sun is never obscured by night and where reindeer, walrus,  and other arctic animals abound forever. When missionaries  tried to win certain of the Eskimos to belief in the Christian  paradise, the latter made what must be considered the retort  classic: “And the seals? You say nothing about seals. Have you  any seals in your heaven?” “Seals? Certainly not. What would  seals do up there? But we have angels and archangels, we have  cherubim and seraphim, Dominions and Powers, the twelve  Apostles, the four-and-twenty elders.” “That’s all very well,  but what animals have you?” “Animals none. Yes, though, we  have the Lamb, we have a lion, and eagle, a calf . . . but not  your sea calf ; we have — ” “That’s enough ; your heaven has no  seals, and a heaven without seals cannot suit us !”


The evolutionary argument for immortality, too, depends  to a certain extent on the world’s remaining static. For if the  permanent and worthy end towards which the process of  evolution has been working is the creation of immortal human  souls, then it is implied that nature has reached the peak of  its development on this earth. When the great Dinosaurs were  the highest form of terrestrial life, they might well, had they  possessed the power of thought, have reflected as follows:  ‘‘What big and splendid and remarkable creatures we are!  The like of us has never been known on land or sea. We rule  the earth. We are the climax of creation. Through millions  and millions of years evolution has been working to produce  us. There is, to be sure, that thing called death. But it is  simply inconceivable that nature should now proceed to scrap  us. For if death is the end, then ‘the universe seems to be  throwing away with utter heedlessness its most precious possessions.’ ‘The manifest trend of the whole creative process is  towards the building of’ * — Dinosaurs. And so we can be absolutely sure that our souls, at least, will live on forever in the  realm of immortality.” 


(The Illusion Of Immortality by Corliss Lamont)


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