Dream of Hell

Interestingly enough, some of my dreams are hazy and fragmented, but others are quite vivid and appear to be very real.  One of those that seemed like I was actually living it, including feeling pain with all of my senses intact, was a vision of hell itself.

I lived in a compound with thousands of others, who all wore the same drab, gray outfits.  Men and women looked alike, as there was no distinction made through cosmetics or clothing.  There were no children, at least, in our compound.  We all had rules to follow, and we were all punished equally for failure to comply or failure to submit.

It took me a while to familiarize myself with my surroundings.  The structure had three elevations with the basement containing the exercise area, two dining facilities, and public showers and restrooms.  There was no privacy.  The sleeping arrangements were similar to prisons with cells with bunk beds.  I slept in the upper bunk bed, while my roommate, who did not introduce himself, covered his head with a scratchy, brown blanket in the lower berth.  His loud snoring kept me up most of the night.

The meals were bland and tasteless.  I had hoped that if we still had to go to the bathroom in hell, we would receive decent food, but that was not the case.  People moved around in lines for meals, restroom visits, and recreation.  There was no room for individualism anywhere in the compound.  Freedom was defined as being allowed to exist.

All control was totalitarian.  Stoic guards who never talked were everywhere.  I suspected that they were robots.  Some of the older prisoners were called “trustees” and they made certain that you understood the rules and requirements to submit to whatever was asked of you.

I watched one prisoner attempt a breakout that ended in failure.  The gentleman zipped out of line and ran for a door, only to find it locked.  He bumped off guards like he was in a pin-ball machine.  The guards had expandable, black batons that thumped him into submission.  They carried him back to his cell where he died.

At that point, I wondered if dying in hell would be better than living in hell.  Hopefully, this poor soul was in a better place.  But fear of the unknown is sometimes worse than fear of the known.  His body was dumped into a well, but it seemed like a three-minute fall before I heard it hit the water.  Nobody seemed fazed by this activity as they continued to shuffle off to their next destination.

The trustees were constantly attempting to get the prisoners to do bad things… either convincing them to hurt somebody else or allowing the trustees to have sex with them.  The idea was to get everybody to submit, one way or the other, to evil within the compound.  You couldn’t get away from the incessant torment.  If you failed to submit, you were punished in a separate area of the compound, which had various instruments of torture.  The pain seemed very real.

Thank God, I woke up during my torture.  However, my body ached for the remainder of the day just as if I had actually been beaten.  The dream seemed too real to dismiss it lightly.  I wondered what would have happened if I had submitted to the demands of evil.  I was certain that I would be tested again and again and again… a hellish world without end, amen.

Part of hell is feeling like there is no advantage to resisting.  You want to just give in and face the consequences, which may be less painful than the torture you will receive for sticking to your moral code.  However, remember that morality is choosing to do the right thing when doing the wrong thing is easier.  Holding to your moral values is not for wimps.

Oh, My Heavens!

Paul mentions in the Bible that there are three heavens (2 Corinthians 12:2), but he does not go into detail as to what or where they are.  The Bible also is not clear about the judgments that await us and how they factor into the equation of reaching these heavens.  All we know is that we exist on earth and someday we will die, having no idea what awaits in the unknown zone.

I prefer to believe that if I am still aware of my environment after I die that I will have three tests before me, which if I pass will allow me to enter consecutively each of the three heavens.  I like to think of the first heaven as a segregation camp among those who believe in God, the Creator, and those who don’t.

Those who believe may be further tested in the Judgment Day scenario described in the Bible.  You may have to relive the bad judgments made during your life and humbly accept your punishment from God.  This test may be designed to see if you are still receptive to the desires that led to your sins during life.  For example, you may be tempted to avoid punishments by agreeing to follow evil spirits, rather than God.  You probably should accept God’s punishment without seeking ways to eliminate the consequences.  If you pass the second test, you may enter the second heaven, which I expect will be very peaceful and calm.

The last test may be extremely difficult.  Even though believing in God and accepting your poor decisions in life and all their consequences may get you to this point, the last hurdle may be the hardest to cross.  My guess is that it will involve significant testing of your moral foundation.  You probably will have to unify with God and become God-like in order to pass this final exam.  In order to reach this third heaven, you may have to prove that your character is worthy of this ultimate trust to enter the last heaven.

If I am fortunate enough to reach this final goal, I hope that I will be permitted to see God’s entire universe with the billions of galaxies and the billions of stars in each galaxy.  I want to spend an eternity examining God’s creation.  I believe that there is life scattered all through the universe, and I would love to see it and examine it.

I hope that there are many animals that will be available for us to view and watch.  I also hope that God will permit us to be with animals from our earth, so that we can be comforted by them.  I believe that the humans allowed into God’s third heaven will be of like mind and will be comforting as well.

In my heavens, I expect that there will be no breathing, eating, smelling, or employing any of the bodily functions.  There will be no need for toilet paper or procreation.  As we all know, our body will stay behind and decompose, so basically only our spirit can survive and still be conscious of what is transpiring after death.  Thus, awareness may spring from our imagination.

So, the three heavens may be only in my imagination, but if I am still thinking after death, the heavens may exist because of the unification of my and God’s imagination.  Then I might say, “Oh, my heavens!”

Dreamweaver

I have had many dreams over my 68 years.  Many of them seem like they are movies with me playing myself.  Some of them border on the strange side, but I had one the other day that was the biggest, baddest nightmare ever.  I don’t wish this dream on anybody.

It started like I was being enticed by third parties, most of whom were unknown to me, to do things that were out of character for me.  For example, I was asked to steal some items in a store, but I refused.  I was told that the storekeeper would not see me and there would be no consequences.  But I still refused.

After a series of attempts by others to get me to do certain things and after continuing refusals, I was told that I played a role in the attempted suicide of a NCIS agent that I worked with at the Navy Yard in Washington DC.  I visited the agent in an effort to find out what had happened, but I was not allowed to talk with him and was shuttled off to a dark room.  I saw a tunnel and I got in it.

Then the police came and told me to come out of the tunnel since I was under arrest.  I refused.  They came in and pulled me out.  Then they strapped me to a seat that was attached to a conveyor or train rail.  I started moving around like I was on an amusement ride at Disney World.  It took me to scenario after scenario, but they were hardly amusing.

In one scene, I was approached by a sinister figure who said that he would free me if I simply agreed to follow him.  I refused.  He hissed like a snake and told me I was a fool.  I would be tortured and would finally give in to him, so why not make it easy on myself and avoid the pain?  I refused.  He advised me that all I had to do was agree to follow him.  What harm was there in that?  I refused.

And then the pain started.  My back felt like it was breaking.  My arms and legs were stretched like a rubber band.  My eyes were burning like a hot poker was in them.  My skin was being burned off my body.  The nails were being pulled out one at a time.  The pain was excruciating.  I had never had pain like this in a dream.  It seemed so real.

Then I cried out for God.  I had attempted to fight this demon by myself and was losing the battle, so I realized that I had to bring God into my dream to save me.  It worked.  As soon as I called out for God to enter me, I woke up.  My wife was awake next to me since my calls for God woke her up.

The thing that really shook me up was the aches and pains that I continued to have all throughout my body.  It was like I had actually been tortured by some devilish creature.

I had never called on God before to help me in my dreams.  I suppose that was the lesson.  We cannot fight Satan and the powers of evil by ourselves.  We might believe that we can, but that is exactly why pride is a sin.  It is only by allowing God into your soul that you can fight the forces of darkness and chaos.

 

Free Willy

In 1993, “Free Willy” erupted on the movie scene.  It was a story about a young boy who befriended a killer whale, who was going to be killed by the aquarium owners.  The boy risked everything in order to set the whale free.

Free will is something that we all have.  We sometimes take it for granted.  Many times, we misuse our free will.  Sometimes, we even forget we have free will and we just march along behind the crowd without giving any thought to our reasoning behind the choices we make.  So, it is time that we risked everything and freed our will.

It is only when we recognize and fully appreciate our choices in life that we are truly free.  The majority of people get stuck in a rut of everyday work and everyday home life.  They become robotic in their movements and thinking, if you want to call it thinking.  A better phrase is “mind numbing.”

In the big cities, most people just follow the crowd into the subway going to work, walking along the busy sidewalks, pouring into crowded elevators, and sitting down at an office chair in a cubicle with harsh lights overhead.  In smaller cities, most people grab a cup of coffee, drive the same streets to work, park the car in the same spot, and greet the same people the same way in what may be termed a “Groundhog Day.”  Do any of these people appreciate their choices in life?

Even when the light bulb comes on and we make conscious decisions, what is good and what is bad?  Ethical enlightenment shines brightly on free will, but we still will make decisions that may be considered as bad by society or by laws or by family and friends, or even by us.  If you are simply following guidance from others, including parents, peers, or society, you are not making personal choices.

Although this statement may be controversial, I believe that we must commit sins and sink to a depressed state as part of the process of attaining freedom.  Certainly, being trapped in a lifestyle of evil and regret or even being trapped in society’s drudgery and daily grind is like being a slave to sin.  Freedom is a personal decision to stop making bad choices.  In order to do this, we must think outside the box without even touching the box.  Your thinking must belong to you and you alone.  Your decisions must belong to you and you alone.

Since I have never met anybody who hasn’t sinned, everybody has made poor decisions.  The first step is to admit that you have a problem.  Leave your excuses in the box that you are not touching any more.  Now that you are outside the box, face your frailties and weaknesses with a stern self-discipline that will not give in to temptations.  It is the awareness of sin and the appreciation of your control and power to make good choices that leads to exercised free will.  It is when you free your will.

We make decisions based on many things:  peer pressure, society, laws, family, how we were raised, our experiences, our personal desires and needs, and our personal moral fabric.  Many professionals argue that we make decisions based on genetics, while others maintain that we make our choices based on our experiences.  Nature vs. nurture.  As a practical matter, it doesn’t matter.  It is probably a little of both, but the bottom line is not nature or nurture.  The bottom line is you choosing what you want to do and then doing it.

Now, the tougher question is:  What is good and what is bad?  And who makes this call?  Well, I believe the answer is that you do.  Your peers, family, and society can go to hell.  It is your call based on what you think is right and wrong.  Now, it may be true that some people are so mentally disturbed that they truly don’t know the difference between right and wrong, but you do know the difference.  So, you should be held accountable for your selections.

What do I mean held accountable?  Do I mean by police and society?  Well, in some cases that is true, but I am talking primarily about how you think about yourself and your decisions when you look in the mirror at the end of the day.  And not all people will react the same way.  Some criminals have hardened their hearts to making bad choices.  But, they too will be held accountable some day.  But held accountable by whom?

Well, society and its laws may provide consequences if they are ever caught.  But I am talking about significant punishment after death.  How do I know there will be consequences?  Well, I don’t, but I do know that there must be a reason why we are the only animal on the planet with free will.  It would be absurd if we were provided free will and there were no consequences.

We have little control over the objective world, but we can make good decisions in the subjective world.  The journey to understand our inner self is very important because that may be all we take with us if we are still thinking after death.  Your free will may be put to the ultimate test in the afterlife.

For example, what would you do if you were offered a pain-free afterlife if you participated in torturing other souls?  You might even justify this based on your belief that the other souls committed worse sins than you did.  But if your conscience allowed you to do that, you might find yourself in Hell.  In order to travel through the afterworld, you will have to unify your self-discipline and thinking with the Creator.

Even if you die and that is the end (in other words, you are not thinking), making good choices will improve your life and the lives of others in the world.  It is a good thing no matter what, so there is no downside to making good decisions.

Kierkegaard Got It Right

Soren Kierkegaard, sometimes called “the Father of Existentialism,” was a philosopher who attempted to appeal to both secular and religious readers.  Kierkegaard was the only philosopher who got it right.

Born on May 5, 1813, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Kierkegaard was never politically correct.  He typically was not sensitive to others.  He was not liked by Scandinavians or, for that matter, by anybody else.  He believed in God, but Catholics, Protestants, and other believers turned against him.  He was an existentialist, but other existentialist philosophers spurned his writings.  Yet, Kierkegaard got it right.

It is like the story of a judge who made a ruling that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant liked.  The judge smiled and said, “Well, since nobody likes my ruling, that means I made the right decision.”

Kierkegaard champions our individual freedom in making choices over the religious or secular establishment’s restrictions on your decisions.  Your unification with God will not be assisted by a priest or minister or policeman or government employee.  It will be a one-on-one meeting of the minds.  You will become one with God only within yourself.

Your attendance at church and your giving to the church will carry no value into the afterlife.  You will carry nothing on this journey of death except what is within you.  And according to Kierkegaard, God must be your guide on this road, otherwise you will be lost.

Kierkegaard had two primary steps.  First, know yourself.  If you know yourself, you will be a strong individual who can resist the temptations of life.  Second, know God.  Only God has experienced everything and can assist you through the chaos of the afterlife.

It is important to know yourself inwardly and subjectively.  Know your weaknesses.  Pride must become humility.  Be independent, but humble in your individualism.  The highest goal in subjective ethics is to be humble.

Then let God inside your subjective self, thus allowing an objective spirit to enter your body.  This creates the synergy of subjective and objective reasoning.  The combination of a priori and a posteriori makes for perfection.

Once you let God enter your soul, your independent spirit will be lifted up to new heights.  This combination completes the person.  God’s objective, empirical knowledge is the final piece that finishes the jig-saw puzzle.  The highest goal in objective ethics is to become one with God.

Subjective consequences for your poor choices in life will be handed out by your conscience, but objective consequences will be administered by your Creator.

 

 

How to Be a Better Person

Some days were better than others, but I was constantly working toward becoming a better person.  In the beginning, I focused entirely on myself.  I tried to straighten myself up and iron out all the rough edges.  But I found out that I was not permanent press.  My life was never smooth, so I found that I was applying more pressure and heat from within in my efforts to iron out my rough patches.  It was very frustrating as the wrinkles kept returning.

Finally, I realized that we are human.  That is how we are made.  We can’t change that.  Only our Creator can change any of that.  In order for me to straighten up my life, I had to reach out to my Creator.  I had to become one with God in order to become a better person.  I could not do it by myself.  Unification with God was the only way to be a better person.  Once God is in your life, you instantly become a different and better person.

When you attempt to become a better person by yourself, you end up comparing yourself to other humans.  You settle.  You see your neighbor having extra-marital affairs, so you congratulate yourself for avoiding that.  You feel like you are a better person by comparing yourself to others in your neighborhood.  If you are better than most of your neighbors, then you must be a better person.  That is not becoming a better person.  That is settling for what you are.  Instead of improving yourself, you measure yourself against other humans and attempt to make yourself feel like a better person, rather than actually being a better person.

However, when you hook up with God and bring Him into your life, you are starting that journey to becoming a better person.  In many ways, Jesus was a Gnostic.  He became one with God like the Gnostics.  But Jesus took the unification to the highest level.  He became God.  That is the next step beyond unifying with God.  He was God.  I believe that can only happen with perfect humans.  Since I am a poor wretch, far from perfect, I can only become one with God.  But that is good enough to start down the path of being a better person.

If God is inside you, you immediately become a better person.

Why Do You Think You Are a Good Person?

Whether you are a religious person or not, most people like to think that they are a good person.  There are exceptions, most of whom populate the prison system.  But as a general rule, we like to consider ourselves as basically good.

But why do you think you are a good person?  Is it because you compare yourself with your peers and you come out looking pretty good?  Or is it because your good traits outweigh your bad traits?  Or is it just because you want to be a good person?

Late in 2014, I started a “Virtues” chart on myself.  I included topics like: Bible, reading, writing, thinking, meditating, praying, no-anger, truth telling, kindness, humility, patience, love, service, and joy.  I gave myself one point for doing something each day that fulfilled any of these categories.  The first week, I was a disaster.  The second week, I moved up a little, but it took me over a month to get out of the single digits.  I had to focus on doing these things or I failed to address them.

I started thinking:  Gee, I thought I was a pretty good person until I evaluated my actual performance.  The truth is that we all think more of ourselves than we probably should.  We have a tendency to believe that we are good people since we haven’t robbed or killed anybody recently.  The problem is that we all have a tendency to rock along with daily activities, distracted from accomplishing anything outside your work and family zones.

For example, you can lose your patience and temper at work or home without too much difficulty.  But you are so busy trying to complete your assignments at work or to run your kids from school to soccer practice, you forget that you were not as good a person as you thought.

I truly believed that I was a really great truth teller.  But when I tested myself, allowing a point only if I told the truth all day long, I failed miserably.  Without this test, we are like golfers who take “mulligans” and don’t count “wiffs” as strokes.  We think that we tell the truth because most of the time we do not lie.  But those “white lies” or stretching the truth to avoid hurting somebody’s feelings are still lies.

Another one was “no anger.”  I rarely got to check this one.  I had no idea how angry I was since I was only angry a few minutes out of a long day.  I thought I was right on target: a good person who did not get angry.  However, those short bursts of anger were sufficient to keep me from getting any points.

The last category was “joy” which is significantly more than being “happy.”  I have not achieved this goal yet.  You should know it when you reach joy, but there are just too many things in life that interfere with that ultimate connection.  I came closest when I was content with my daily activities and was turning in after a long day.  But then my wife would ask me something like, “Did you take the garbage out?” or “Did you know Johnnie got a ‘D” today?”  But there is no joy in Mudville – our mighty egos have struck out.

So, do you still think you are a good person?

Politicians Are Like Disposable Diapers

Politicians are like disposable diapers:  they frequently need to be removed and thrown out… and for the same reason.

Now, most people will think that is because they are both full of shit, but that’s not the entire story.  They both need to be removed because they are dirty without any possibility of being cleaned up.

When I was a fraud attorney in the Pentagon and the Navy Yard in Washington, I was amazed at how quickly the new congressmen turned to the dark side.  Even the Tea Party candidates were consumed by the corruption blender in DC.  The insiders inside the beltway told me that about 98% of senators and representatives were accepting money from third parties.

As a fraud attorney, I approached federal investigators and DOJ to see if we could prosecute these individuals, but I was told that these amounts are considered to be campaign contributions.  I explained that I had information that indicated otherwise, but I was told that this was part of the DC culture that I couldn’t change.  In fact, I was told that we would lose our jobs if we took any action against these congressmen.

Quite frankly, if politicians didn’t join the ranks of those who were paid off by special interest groups, then they were blackballed by the majority and were relegated to being in the dungeon of Congress, where they could never get anything done.

Even if you voted all the Congressmen out of office, the system is set up for failure so that the newly elected Congressmen eventually would be exactly the same.  Even though the majority of politicians is corrupt and needs to be removed, the system is flawed beyond repair and a changing of the guard will not solve the problem.  Most citizens know that our political system is failing, but they don’t know how deep the cancer has spread.  In effect, the cancer is inoperable.

So, we can make jokes about how bad politicians are and can laugh about it.  But there are some very difficult times ahead for our country because we no longer have congressmen who are willing to do the right things for their country.  They don’t ask what they can do for their country; they ask what their country can do for them.  And they don’t represent you; they represent themselves.  I guess just like disposable diapers, we are stuck with them until we can get rid of them.

Peer Pressure in the Wrong Direction

Our friends don’t always give us good advice and many times push us in the wrong direction.  We may receive better advice from our parents, but may not realize it until we are parents ourselves.  The problem with friends is that they are primarily motivated to make their lives better than your life.  If you do well, they may be a bit jealous, so don’t count on too much support.  In fact, you may find that you have been sabotaged by friends who couldn’t stand your success.

Yet, peers are very important to us as we reach the adolescent stage.  We want to be members of a gang or clique.  We want to be accepted in a group, but at what cost?  We may have to give up our independent identity and conform to the group norm.  And that applies to most any association, whether church group or criminal gang.

And once you pass the test to be admitted to that gang, your life will belong to that group.  You will be owned by that association.  Your thoughts and actions will be controlled by the pack.  There have been many examples over the years where individuals could not believe what they did in out-of-control mobs.  The Germans did not understand why they supported Hitler.  Peer pressure exerts tremendous mind control over individuals.

So how do we interact with others without succumbing to peer pressure?  Perhaps the best way is to always think independently of others.  I remember in law school, we set up study groups to prepare for exams.  The study groups got out of control when they started cutting cases out of the library law books so that other students would not have those cases to study.  Always keep your moral compass handy when you are around these groups.  It will point you in the right direction when they are attempting to lead you down the wrong path.

Why is peer pressure so important to you?  Just remember that you will have a better life without following the group.  Groups head in the wrong direction about 90% of the time.  That’s because their decisions are rarely based on study and thought.  Typically, emotions and intuition lead the pack.  Always keep your head when others are losing theirs and blaming it on you.

And always ask why before doing anything.  If the justification for the action is “just because we can” or “why not?” then you better rethink the action.  I remember when I was in a fraternity, the active members asked me to join them in an act which would physically harm the pledges.  I asked them “why?” and they told me because we had always done it.  I told them “no” and was almost blackballed out of the fraternity.  But it taught me a lesson about people.  Many times you will have to go against the grain in order to do the right thing.  But it is always worth it.

Instinct vs. Choices

Homo sapiens have been provided some instincts such as self preservation and species preservation, but we seem to be different than all the other animals on this planet in that we also make choices, unrelated to obtaining food, shelter, or sex.  As an example, we may make decisions based on whether we consider the act as being right or wrong.  This seems to separate us from the others in our animal kingdom.

This gift of a decision-making process does not come without consequences, though.  Even if you do not believe in consequences in an afterlife, there are consequences within our lives.  If you choose the door with the tiger behind it, you will, more than likely, be eaten.

Biological psychologists wrestle with some very difficult questions.  (1) Can our minds work independently of our brains?  (2) Why do humans have an ethical basis for their decisions?  (3) How does heredity influence behavior?  We will discuss these questions later to see how they impact our choices.

But let’s start with instinct.  Instinct is a label for a category of behaviors that are found in different species.  When we say that female elephants take care of their babies based on a maternal instinct, this is only a label that does not explain how the behavior developed in elephants.  But these labels are important and seem fairly consistent throughout the animal kingdom.  Many species have a maternal instinct, which helps preserve the species.  Some biological psychologists avoid the term instinct as being offensive to their studies, but it is very beneficial when talking in general terms.

There is a strong maternal instinct in our species.  Our brains are hard-wired to protect our young since this allowed humans to survive predators in the wild.  Many mammals have young that are not strong enough to run away from a hungry predator, so an instinct to preserve our species is deep within us.  Humans don’t wonder whether there will be consequences to us.  We react instinctively when we protect our young.

Now, let’s examine choices.  When our species makes a decision, is it because biological factors forced a behavior or did they enable the behavior to occur?  For example, there are areas of your brain that increase the likelihood of you being pushed into aggressive behavior.  But you will make choices on your response to that force.  Your past experiences, the current social setting, the legal consequences, and current motivations will all come into play when you make a decision.  When murderers were asked if they chose to commit the murders, they answered in the affirmative.  You make choices every day and there are always consequences, which temper your decisions.

So, let’s examine the first question above:  can our minds work independently of our brains?  There are two theories:  (1) the dualists believe that our brains interact with our minds, while (2) the monists believe that the brain is a machine and consciousness is irrelevant to its functioning.  Most religions follow dualism since when our brains die, we arguably continue thinking with our minds.  And our ethical and moral values play a significant role in making choices.  Descartes, a French philosopher, was a dualist who believed that there was something other than the brain that recognized that “I think, therefore I am.”

If you believe that we respond like machines, then we really don’t have any choices.  We are predestined to do everything that we do.  We would be hard wired to make decisions.  If this were true, wouldn’t we all be making the same basic decisions?  For example if we found a lost wallet with $100,000 inside it, would everybody make the same decision on what to do with the money?  You would have some people who would return the wallet and money and others who would return only the wallet and pretend that they found it without the cash inside.  The final choice will be based on many complex factors and should not be a typical mechanical decision.

This is a transition to the second question: why do humans have an ethical basis for their decisions?  Is there a part of our brain that has a conscience?  There may be parts of the brain that may be stimulated to provide relief from pain or depression.  But it is not known if the brain can be manipulated to provide a conscious in the decision-making process.  In other words, can a portion of the brain be stimulated to make a person make better choices based on something other than personal gains?

The answer why our species seems to be unique when it struggles with ethical decisions is based on many factors.  Certainly, how we are perceived by others, our religious beliefs, and how penal systems will respond to our actions may forge a conscious.  Man struggles mightily with ethics, so there must be some reason that is lodged somewhere in our thoughts, different than in our brains.

Then the final question is: how does heredity influence behavior?  An ontogenetic explanation of our behavior starts with our genes and traces how the genes combine with the influence of the environment and our experiences to produce the final outcome.  The genes that were more successful were passed on to future generations as the genetic makeup that had weaknesses were phased out over the years.  For example Homo sapiens probably had a conservative gene that made our species more cautious and patient in our responses.  Those of our early species who were too impatient were eaten by predators, so natural selection preserved those genetic propensities to take our time and think things through before jumping into harm’s way.

As we discussed, birds do not need to be taught how to build nests since that behavior is largely instinctual.  However, humans need to be taught nearly everything we do.  We have a survival instinct for ourselves and our species, but we make most of our decisions with our minds in gear, not our brains.  We make many conscious choices every day based on our individual moral fiber.  So it may come as a shock to many people that genetic differences are also an important determinant of variation in a wide range of human behaviors.  A growing list of behaviors— including major measurable aspects of personality, political conservatism, religiosity, occupational attitudes, social attitudes, marital status, and even television watching—have all been shown to be inherited traits.

In conclusion, our decisions frame who we are and who we want to be during our lives.  But our decisions also play a significant role in the afterlife.  In other words if you are still thinking when you die, then your brain will decompose leaving your mind to continue into the afterlife.  The choices that you made during your lifetime will follow your thoughts after death.