I wouldn’t trade tomorrow for today
– Headlong Flight, Rush
Anyone familiar with the writing of Neil Peart, the lyricist for Rush, will understand the context of these words: Christians are so messed up, willing to sacrifice in this life for the promise of something more and better in the future – the promise of eternal life. (In order to properly rhyme, he had to end with “today,” so the wording might seem a bit awkward.)
For Peart, this life was all there is. I don’t know if he changed his views in his last years, knowing he would soon die of terminal cancer (which happened about one year ago). I hope he is resting in peace.
This view tells us: There is no evidence of a future, eternal life; all there is we see around us. Live each day to the full; eat, drink and be merry, because tomorrow we die; he who dies with the most toys wins. Don’t sacrifice today for some unknown tomorrow.
“Christianity set itself the goal of fulfilling man’s unattainable desires, but for that very reason ignored his attainable desires. By promising man eternal life, it deprived him of temporal life…”
– Ludwig Feuerbach, Lectures on the Essence of Religion
Christians are mocked for (supposedly) trading for tomorrow (eternal life) in exchange for giving up today (pleasure as I desire it, here on earth).
Is it living, or just existence?
We have spent the last ten months depriving ourselves of temporal life in exchange, not for eternal life, but for (maybe, or maybe not) adding some days to our future life. In other words, society has accepted a cheap, bastardized version of Feuerbach’s caricature of Christian longing for heaven.
We have given up 300 days. Will we get those days back in the future? Who among us will live 300 days longer because of this? What have we gained for this sacrifice? Something close to 100% of the people under 70 years old will never get any of these days back, because virtually none of those under 70 were at risk of losing life solely due to this bug, this corona.
Don’t kill grandma, we are told. What has she gained? She is scared to death, shut in her home, not seeing children and grandchildren, not visiting friends, not going shopping, not going to church. She is stuck watching the television, telling her to be scared to death; she is stuck listening to her children, telling her why her life will be better if she doesn’t see anyone – if she lives her last days alone.
Will grandma have 300 days added to her life because of this? No one knows, no one can answer this question. The only certainty is that 300 days of life are now gone – permanently, never to be returned. Is this how we want grandma to live her last days, to hold as her last (or everlasting) memory?
Jonathan Pageau just put out a video, The Blindness of “Following the Science.” It’s not long, just thirteen minutes. But if you are looking for him to counter the science with science (for example, science demonstrates that masks for the general population are ineffective and may even be harmful to health), you will not find satisfaction.
We cannot just “follow the science.” Science is always geared toward some end, but it cannot tell us the end toward which we should aim. If we want to create weapons to destroy the world, that would have us follow the science toward that end. If we want to make energy use more efficient, that would have us follow science toward that end. You get the idea.
What “end” is the science of corona geared toward. For every scientific “fact” one side presents about the need for lockdowns, the other side has scientific “facts” as to why this strategy is futile. Well, it may be futile, it may not be, because this still doesn’t answer the question: toward what ends?
With an iron fist in a velvet glove
We are sheltered under the gun
– The Weapon (Part II of Fear), Rush
The “science” we are told to follow is, at minimum, geared toward throwing away days of life today for the possibility of gaining more days in the future. We can speculate about many other things: controlling the serfs, the depopulation of the planet, trillions of dollars to the financial system (well, this last one isn’t really speculative; it happened, and it was likely the initial purpose).
Reasoned as these might be, it is speculation. The one thing we know with certainty is that the science of corona is geared toward trading today for tomorrow; it is geared toward trading current temporal life – not for eternal life, but for a possible (but far from certain) future temporal life. Give up a certain number of days now, and you may or may not get some unknown number of days in the future. Is this a worthwhile trade?
When Christians offer their eternal version of this trade (yes, I know it is a caricature), it is labeled as nonsensical. But when “follow the science” offers us this temporal trade, it is deemed righteous.
Science cannot tell us of ends. Philosophers can. Christian theologians can. The vast majority of both are failing at this today. Most have accepted this trade: give up your life today (300 days and counting), and an almost insignificant number of us might get a few of these days back in the future.
Of course, those of us most likely to delay death by avoiding the corona (the elderly) are most vulnerable to the cost of being left alone. The reality is, by scaring grandma into giving up those days today, we are also making it far more likely that we are reducing, not increasing, the number of days in her future.
If the only meaning of life is to avoid death, well… Dying from loneliness, from not seeing family and friends, from not seeing the doctor…is just the same as dying from the corona. It’s just dying.
We have come full circle, but ended up in a much worse place. We used to believe that there was a future after death, and this future was something worth striving for, something for which we would sacrifice. This future was eternal.
No longer. We sacrifice our days today, but for something far less valuable – and for most of us, something that is non-existent: the possibility of getting these days back later.
We have given up meaning in life by throwing away the ends for which we are designed. We have given up meaning for the sake of the materialism (or physicalism) of science that we have lived under for the last few centuries. No longer do we aim for happiness (better understood as fulfillment through other-regarding action, or beatitudo).
The last 300 days have shown us where this materialist path leads: the only meaning in life is to avoid death. It is the road where the materialism of science (and Marx and Darwin) leads…inevitably. There is no meaning in life other than to avoid death. But we all die. Hence, there is no meaning in life.
Is it any wonder that western man suffers a meaning crisis?
Mostly I think about grandma. I sure hope that if we are ever faced with such choices again in the future, my children don’t treat me this way.
Modifying the quote from Feuerbach, above:
The science (or Fauci, Gates, Marx, Darwin, whatever) set itself the goal of fulfilling man’s unattainable desires, but for that very reason ignored his attainable desires. By promising man he can avoid death, it deprived him of life…
The righteous rise
With burning eyes
Of hatred and ill-will
Madmen fed on fear and lies
To beat, and burn, and kill
– Witch Hunt (Part III of Fear), Rush
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.