Saturday, March 10, 2012

A punch in the aura

There are so many great parodies of religious claims that cataloguing them might take years. My favorite today is "Having a believer threaten me with eternity in hell is like having a hippie threaten to punch me in the aura."

Assuming we can suppress giggles long enough to consider them seriously, what is the epistemic difference between the two threats? Can the person making either threat claim to have knowledge that the threat can be carried out in this - or any - lifetime?

Compare the existence of Hell with the existence of a human aura. First, let's define Hell as "a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife." Second, let's define an aura as "a field of subtle, luminous radiation surrounding a person or object" How can we claim with some certainty that Hell or auras exist? The most direct and effective way is to look for evidence.

Do we have evidence of Hell? No.

Do we have evidence of auras? No.

So far, they're equal in terms of what we can know about them ... that is, we can only speculate, therefore we must conclude they're speculative. Either or both concept might be "real" in that they are accessible to us during the life of the universe ... but their probability is now about the only thing that we can explore further.

Elaborating somewhat on the concept of Hell - we can say it presupposes the existence of an afterlife, and of a "you" that survives your bodily death to persist somewhere else that we living beings do not have immediate earthly access to. Furthermore, this "somewhere else" provides at least two possible states after death - one of relative non-pain, and one of pain; and that the differences between the non-pain and painful states of the afterlife are sufficient to cause desire for the former, and cause fear of the latter during the duration of your corporeal existence; and that those emotions are sufficient motivators to cause you to consider changing your beliefs and behaviors in accordance with the threat-bearer's avowed world view.

Elaborating on the concept of an aura - we can say it presupposes that there is a field related to your being that indicates something about the being, and may influence or be influenced by entities, relationships or events.

Which is more likely?

Applying Occam's razor ... there are more variables in the description of a person being consigned to Hell than in a person having an aura that can be punched. Therefore, the possibility of having an aura has less points at which it can be falsified, than the possibility of having a soul that can then be condemned to Hell. And we all know that personal auras, as we defined here, are a bunch of baloney.

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