Everybody Talkin’ ‘Bout Heaven Ain't Goin’ There

From the Book of the Dead

An overwhelming majority of people living on Earth believe their god offers them an afterlife. The accuracy of this statement is based on the number of people who belong to a religion that claims life after death is a certainty. Among the many existing religions featuring some form of afterlife are Christianity (2.5 billion adherents), Islam (1.5 billion) and Hinduism (1.1 billion). That’s more than 5 billion of humanity’s 7 billion people.

Where Do Dead People Go When They Die?

The opportunity for sincere believers to improve their circumstances after death is a common feature shared by many religions. Convictions regarding the afterlife develop over time as world religions offer and revise revelation, dogma, doctrine and interpretation. Is there life after death? If your answer is yes, then where do dead people go when they die? What’s it like for them there? Thousands of simple and elaborate answers to these questions have been documented.

The eminently successful Kingdoms of the Pharaohs survived for up to 4,000 years. Their religious convictions changed over that time. Around 2000 B.C. some Egyptian priests produced the Book of the Dead, purporting to describe what happens after death and, most importantly, how the deceased could take advantage of their afterlife opportunities. The Book of the Dead was a personalized guidebook for a successful living in the hereafter. Thousands of copies were sold.

Bad Deeds Weigh a Heart Down.

The main event after death was when the jackal-headed god Anubis placed a person’s heart on a scale and weighed it against a feather. The heart’s weight determined what happened next. Bad deeds weighed a heart down. Light-hearted people moved on to a heavenly banquet. Many Egyptians had themselves buried wearing a small stone beetle-shaped ornament called a scarab, which they believed would hide and reduce the weight of their deficiencies.

Egyptian beetle scarabs are on display in museums around the world. The scarabs are man-made faith technology designed to avoid divine retribution for bad deeds. On the scarab these words appeared: “Oh heart rise not up against me and condemn me.” From the Book of the Dead, a more elaborate version of the spell pleaded “Oh my heart which I had upon Earth, do not rise up against me as a witness in the presence of the Lord of things; do not speak against me concerning what I have done, do not bring up anything against me in the presence of the great God of the West …”

Pray that the Scarabs of Modern Medicine Intervene to Save Us

Imagine what these Egyptians were thinking as they waited for their hearts to rise or fall. The closest any of us may get to this experience is waiting for the results of a cancer test, while we pray that the scarabs of modern medicine intervene to save us.

No scarabs can hide these truths about humanity. The destructive consequences of abusive and violent human behavior may last for centuries. The legacy of hate between nations, tribes and religions has an afterlife. Many of the species driven into extinction by humanity are gone forever. Plastic litter may not decay for thousands of years. The half-life of some nuclear waste is counted in millions of years. Certain truths are too perilous to ignore and may betray us.

There’s More to Life than Afterlife.

Our progeny is destined to share our hereafter. The amulets protecting humanity grow ever more complicated. While we wait for our salvation, there’s work to be done. Enjoy historic recordings by Johnny Cash and Marian Anderson singing “I Got Shoes,” the spiritual that inspired this post, especially this refrain, “Everybody talkin’ ‘bout heaven ain’t goin’ there.”

Johnny Cash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXWVFQtr4ow

Marian Anderson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBgiIIp9v2c

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