Thursday, August 23, 2012

The End of Days Paradox

This is not a dream...but I don't have another place to write this all out.

I've been thinking lately about the Book of Revelations and the "end of days". Here's the paradox: In the beginning of the world, when Adam and Eve are kicked out of the Garden of Eden, they realize this is a good thing because if they didn't know the bitter they'd never have known the sweet. The story goes that if they had never known misery and pain they'd never know joy...so after the fall and they are cast out and the world is as it is in this our current state, they discover joy (for the Mormons, see 2 Nephi 2:25). But then in Revelations, chapter 21 God says he'll wipe away all tears and there won't be anymore sorrow or pain...and it suggests we'll all follow God in this new heaven and new earth and there will be no more sin. Happy days, right? Except...um, we just learned that in order to have happiness/joy, you have to know sadness and pain...

My question is this...in this "end of days/Revelations" scenario, will we no longer have joy? How can there be happiness if there is no more pain and suffering? Surely we cannot rid ourselves of pain, of sorrow unless we also rid ourselves of happiness.

Is this Bible verse a lie? Which is it? No more pain, tears...or yes still pain and tears? We know God has emotions, God weeps, so how can there be no more tears? It seems a paradox.

Either we really will not cry or feel any more pain and thus not experience true joy either (total bummer). Or this part of Revelations was a nice idea generated to placate those who now suffer and wish it to end and would like some rest from it all. Which would make the 21st chapter of Revelations a lie.

In Buddhism, life is suffering. There is no end to suffering. Their goal is to reach a point where their soul doesn't reincarnate, a state where you basically don't exist anymore (Nirvana) and thus cannot experience anymore pain and suffering (which is what you get if you exist).

To me, personally, that sounds terrifying. I'd take the pain and suffering, along with the joy over erasing myself out of existence.

This verse in Revelations is basically saying "when Jesus comes again all your suffering will stop and you won't cry and everything will be perfect!"...but then it doesn't seem to get/acknowledge the yin to the yang, that with suffering also comes joy.

Personally, no offense to Buddhist ideals or Revelations 21, but I want to exist. I want to be able to cry and to feel and to live, knowing I have the ability to know the difference.

2 comments:

Steve said...

What if both are wrong? What if this IS heaven, thus the joy/pain that we experience now, thus the 'joy' of existence?!? Very few people think of that. That is why we are with our families now, not before or after.

In another scenario, THIS now could be purgatory, the time period between death and heaven, where we must prove ourselves while faced with challenges. If we do well, then we move on, if not, then you don't.

Either way, no one knows until the end. Thus, live your life the way you feel you should, enjoy yourself while you can, which includes some pain and suffering, but don't think the joy or the pain are necessarily God's handiwork or test; they are simply steps along the way or the whole point of being here in the first place.

Steve said...

Or if you want to be real cynical, you can quote Marx and believe that "religion is the opium of the masses". Just taking the time to think and worry about all of this is of itself robbing you and distracting you of energy and time you can be more productive in your life.