Infinity vs. Eternity

Infinity and eternity are considered to be synonyms by many, but they have different meanings.  Infinity is defined as being without end or boundless like our space-time fabric, while eternity is defined as that which transcends time becoming timeless reality.

Let’s examine our universe.  I believe that space-time is boundless, stretching to its maximum expansion and then collapsing back to its minimum compression.  This constant expansion and contraction is boundless as both space and time are infinite.  Thus, our universe is a perpetual time machine, going from a Big Bang to a Big Crunch and then a Big Bang all over again.

But our universe is not eternal because time is a fundamental part of its matrix.  Eternity dispenses with time so there is no past, present, or future.  Eternal existence is without reference to calendars or clocks.  Eternity is a timeless world.

Einstein explained that there is no absolute simultaneity of events.  An event should appear to happen at the same time to different observers, but this is not the case.  An observer on a speeding train may observe an explosion before somebody who is standing along the rail.  Neither observer can claim to be correct as to when the bomb went off.  This is simply the strangeness of special relativity.

Thus, some philosophers have referenced special relativity as why time is not linear or even real.  If absolute simultaneity does not exist, how could we ever say that an event is in the present?  There is no absolute present in special relativity.

But our understanding of eternity may help scientists reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity.  Some theories of quantum gravity indicate this world does not have time on its side.  In this strange world, time may not play a role.  In effect, quantum mechanics may intersect with quantum gravity completely outside of the space-time fabric.

In the quantum world, a particle can be in two places at the same time; so this may be a “matterless reality,” which would be, at a minimum, have a completely new set of rules for its physics.  And considering eternal possibilities, it might be God’s world.

So when I talk about infinite life in the universe, I am talking about the stardust that formed us and prior to that has formed billions of other forms of matter and will continue to form matter in the future as the space-time fabric expands and contracts forever.

However when I talk about eternal life, I am referring to God’s timeless and matterless world which exists without time and space.  So how do we even know it exists?  Well, we know the quantum world exists, but we do not know much about it.  We know that the laws of physics that we use do not apply in this world.

And there is an even more potent reason: there cannot be more infinities than one because one infinity would limit the other.  In effect, our closed infinite universe must be inside an eternal world because it cannot be within another infinite world.  In other words, whatever is outside our infinite universe is where creation occurred since one of the laws of physics is that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed in this universe.  Thus, creation of our time-space fabric universe occurred in the eternal world of God.

When we pray to live forever, we need to be careful what we pray for.  We may just get what we requested.  Living forever in the world of infinity is what we are doomed to do.  Our recycling universe takes us through time, probably forwards and backwards forever.  I get dizzy just thinking about it.  That would not be my first choice.

However, reaching the eternal world of God will be a much more difficult journey.  My guess is that it will be completely foreign to us and we will have to let God manage that trip for us if we are to have any chance at all.

 

 

Dealing with Death

Does death mean “no more?”  Does it mean that our thought process ends with our being brain dead?  Or is death the beginning of something altogether foreign and new to us?

Of course, nobody knows the answer to these questions, but scientists do discuss the law of conservation of energy and mass as a known.  Following this law, energy and matter can neither be created nor destroyed in our recycling universe, but may be transformed.  Does this mean that your thinking cannot die?  If your brain is no longer functional, your thinking may evolve into a new form.  Since awareness could be converted to something else, thoughts still may exist outside our bodies after death.  Unfortunately, it is not likely that your thinking will ever stop.

The best thing that could possibly happen is for us to die and stop thinking.  Death, then, would be the end to consciousness.  We could welcome death if this were the case.  There would be no pain, no suffering, and no consequences after death.  We would have absolutely nothing to worry about.  Since we are all sinners, we all could breathe easier since our poor choices in life would have no repercussions.

If we died and our thinking terminated at that point, we could easily deal with death.  Death would be the same as nothing, and everybody should be able to deal with nothing happening.  Everything would end and there would be no more.  Believe me… that would be a good thing.

That would be a great ending for us because most of us feel guilty about something and those who don’t should.   And the bad choices we made in life would have had no consequences after death.  Of course, society, family, and peer pressure still would provide their own consequences for your sins during your lifetime.  But there would be no afterlife to worry about.

So, the real problem in dealing with death occurs if our final breath does not stop our thinking.  If we are still aware after we die, we definitely have a problem.  Most likely, the afterlife will be strange and scary for us.  How do we prepare for a nightmarish unknown?

Quite frankly, I don’t know.  There are many religions to study and select your favorite.  But I am concerned that religion, by itself, will not be sufficient.  I fear that beliefs that are lukewarm to warm will not serve us well during the high stress of facing the unknown.  Attending church and praying to God probably are not going to help that much either.  So, how do we deal with death if we are still thinking?

It seems logical that there is a Creator outside this universe, since we live where nothing can be created.  And I believe that it is critical to make contact with this Creator before we die and certainly after we die.  How do we do that?  Again, I don’t know.  But it makes sense to attempt to unify with the Creator in some manner.  If you have sufficient faith and trust in the Creator and allow Him into your thoughts, you will be on the right path.

There are no guarantees that the path will be smooth.  I’m fairly confident that we will be tested on that journey through the afterlife.  But your beliefs in the Creator must be powerful enough to withstand the chaos and darkness so that you can find the light from your guide and ally along this road.  Never give up on the Creator because only He can remove you from the eternal damnation of being stuck with your own thoughts for infinity without any diversions.

Now, that would be Hell!

How Much is Freedom Worth?

Have you ever wondered how much freedom is worth?  I believe it is like they say on the television ad:  “It is priceless.”

Freedom typically is not valued until it is lost.  In other words, we in America take it for granted.  If you were to travel to countries where there is no freedom, you might place a different value on our freedom.

The earliest Americans settled here in order to practice their religions.  So, the freedom of religion is the bedrock or the Plymouth Rock that drew our ancestors to this land.  Americans declared our independence and our freedom to enjoy “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The First Amendment to our Constitution states:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Second Amendment provides:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

It is interesting to note that when the first ten amendments were ratified in 1791, these were the first two amendments listed.  Some importance and priority may be mined from that fact.  Religion and worship of God were very important to our Founding Fathers and the early Freedom Fighters.  It was truly a “nation under God.”

After well over 200 years have passed, where are we today?  Even though freedom is still priceless, we haven’t had to fight for it recently, so it just doesn’t seem as important to Americans.  Certainly, our troops have fought in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, but these battles on foreign soil have not been embraced by the public as wars to protect our freedom at home.  The closest thing to an attack on our soil was on 9/11.  However, Americans have returned to their daily routines and the average Joe on the street thinks more about getting a promotion than losing his freedom.  It is just not a thought that we have in America.

Yet, we have been losing our freedoms, a little at a time, but losing them all the same.  Under the First Amendment, has the federal government prohibited the free exercise of religion and has it abridged our freedoms, including speech and press?  Of course it has.  And nobody says anything under penalty of being insensitive to atheists, agnostics, and others who disagree with Christianity.  America will lose her freedoms when average citizens choose to do nothing about protecting them.

I attended a corporate meeting many years ago with employees providing lengthy briefings on the best course for the company for its future.  When the Power Point slides were taken down and the lights came up, the president of the company looked around and asked, “Is there any way I can do nothing?”

If American citizens do nothing, they will lose all of their freedoms.  And once you have lost those freedoms, the government will not give them back without a revolution.  Unfortunately, many citizens are like the corporate president who wanted to do nothing.  They would rather stay under the radar… not make any waves… keep silent… all things which guarantee the loss of their freedoms.

I can remember when Americans were free to say, “Merry Christmas.”  Now, it is insensitive to other religions.  However, freedom of religion embraces all religions.  It does not single out Christianity.  In America, you have the freedom to practice any religion.  You even have the freedom to not practice a religion.  It’s called freedom for a reason.  And restricting Christians from honoring the birthday of Jesus would be like restricting the Muslims or Jews from one of their religious holidays.

The first part of the First Amendment that restricts Congress from establishing a religion should not be taken out of context.  The primary directive is to not prohibit the free exercise of a religion.  Let’s examine the current prohibition on mandatory school prayers.  Doesn’t this federal prohibition restrict the exercise of freedom of religion?  Of course it does.  The argument is that mandatory school prayers establish a religion, Christianity, and interfere with the free exercise of religious beliefs for those who do not believe in prayers.

Let’s get down to basics and common sense.  Quite frankly, any time the government acts to protect the free exercise of religion, Christianity or otherwise, it will be assisting in establishing that religion.  The framers of our Constitution and Amendments were very focused on freedom of religion and less focused on preventing establishment of a religion, so free exercise of religion should always be the bottom line.

It is true that Thomas Jefferson wanted the church to be walled off against the state in order to protect secular interests, but James Madison wanted to decentralize the federal government, allowing the religions in America to compete without interference by the government.

If we are truly talking about emphasizing freedom of religion in America, then the separation of church and state should mean that the government should stay out the business of religion altogether.  This would mean that the government should not restrict any religion, including Christianity.

What is wrong with saying “Merry Christmas”?  What is wrong with saying “Happy Hanukah”?  What is wrong with “Fast during Ramadan”?  All these religions are free to compete within America, no different than businesses.  The government should not promote monopolies of religions or businesses.  That should be the extent of governmental interference.  That should be the extent of our government’s concern about establishing one religion over another.

Let me make this clear.  The government does not restrict advertising by businesses just because that company has a bigger budget for marketing.  Monopoly busting is when a large company is too big, thus reducing the competition.  Monopoly prevention is when two companies are considering a merger and the result would have a substantial cooling effect on competition.  I know of no cases where the government has prevented a company from competing through advertising because it would have a bad effect on competition.

It should be no different for religions.  Government should not prevent religions from marketing, which includes letting others know about their religious days and practices.  This would be a very negative approach to preventing establishment of religions.  America is so diverse and independent, it is not likely that we will see religions forming monopolies.  Religions are known for just the opposite.  They splinter into many different associations, rather than coalescing.

The two provisions in the First Amendment can cancel each other out if you read them literally and out of context.  The federal government has removed many of our freedoms, including freedom of religion and right to bear arms, because it is too big and bureaucratic.

What is the solution?  Well, it is just common sense as Thomas Paine penned in 1776.  The Tenth Amendment of the Constitution provides:  “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

This amendment has been abused and ignored, but it tells the federal government to keep out of our state, local, and personal business unless it has a specific power to so intervene.  And there are not that many powers specifically granted to the federal government.

The key is to return the government to the people.  Citizens should emphasize government at the local levels, where the elected officials actually have a vested interest in their communities.  Typically, mayors and council members will do the right thing for their cities because they live in that neighborhood.  They may protect their communities for selfish reasons, but this is better than federal politicians who distance themselves from what is going on at the local level.  Many don’t care about their constituents, only thinking instead about lining their pockets.

Congress needs to focus the power of the purse on local governments so that we can downsize the federal government and retake our freedoms that were stolen by the feds.  This, at least, is the peaceful solution to the current problem.  Our freedom is certainly worth doing this.

The Power of Prayer

When you pray, you generally are looking for help from a third party or power that is beyond your personal reach.  You don’t typically pray to yourself.  You pray to a higher power to assist you.  Normally, this is done when you or a family member are really in trouble.  For example if you were diagnosed as having cancer, you might pray mightily for a remission or cure.

Is the benefit from praying:  (1) the comfort or hope that you receive by petitioning for help or (2) a positive answer to your prayer, or (3) triggering of serotonin or dopamine releases in the body, providing an out-of-body experience, or (4) a belief system that is effective only because you believe it to be true, or (5) you become unified with God?

There are several types of prayer, so we need to analyze what type of prayer we are featuring in this analysis.  You might read a prayer or repeat “The Lord’s Prayer” without any thought given to the action.  If this were just an inner speech, it would be no different than if you were talking to your friends.   But there are other prayers that can include a range of profound emotional experiences, which may have a significant impact on our feelings of well-being, both present and future.

Serotonin, dopamine, and other chemicals produced by our bodies may be created by meditation involved in intense prayer.  I am not aware of any study where these chemicals were measured before and during prayer.  There have been some studies examining general brain activity, using MRI scanning, during intense prayer.  The brain lit up during prayer.  However, these same results occurred when Buddhists or Hindus meditated.  Similar studies showed that dopamine was released when subjects had emotional responses to music that they enjoyed.

At this time, these studies do not give us any concrete results.  We believe that there are a great variety of brain responses during spiritual experiences, depending on how involved that particular individual is with their respective prayers.

William James, in The Varieties of Religious Experience, wrote that religious emotions were just simply emotions, no different than the emotions of an atheist.  The experiments that showed an increased brain activity during prayer would be, in James’ opinion, exactly the same in a secular setting.  This seems to support the fact that religious prayer and secular meditation produce similar brain patterns.

In my opinion, prayer is personal, so it does not matter to me that secular meditation may reach a similar plateau.  I am only concerned with my ability to pray and what level I can reach with my prayer.  I also believe that meditation could be coupled with prayer, so the two are not mutually exclusive.  I would go to a quiet, dark room, where I could shut down my normal thoughts and sensory receptors in an effort to reach a simple, happy union with God.  I would be attempting to become one with God.

There are products that can make us transcend ourselves when we can become connected to the divine such as: (1) salvia divinorum, which acts through the dopaminergic system, (2) psilocybin mushrooms, which affect the serotonergic system, and (3) ayahuasca which also impacts the serotonergic system.  But we can reach these stages on our own without using these drugs with proper focus and control.

If you truly believe that you are connecting with God, then you are connecting with God.  Third parties can criticize your nexus with the divine, but it does not mean that your connection was not real within you.  Only you know you and your God.  Only you know whether your connection was real or not.

Some articles have indicated that if you believe that a man like Jesus can heal you, then you can be healed through your faith.  If you believed apples will cure your cancer and you ate an apple every day, your cancer might go into remission.  The same goes for believing that you are connected to God.  If you truly believe that you are one with God, then you will be one with God.

It does not matter to me whether other people believe that I am not really connected to God, but only think that I am.  That is because all that really matters is that I think I am.  If I die and am still thinking, and I think I am connected to God, then I will be.  And that is the nexus that will be required for me to be one with God in the underworld.

So when I pray and work toward unifying with God, it does not matter to me what others think.  They might laugh at me and wonder if anybody other than me is listening to my prayers.  But the answer is that it only matters what I think.  And if I think I am one with God, then I will be.  But the power of prayer makes you stronger by blending in the power of God.  Even though you become one with God, you are no longer the old you.  You become a different entity.