Photo by Darran Shen on Unsplash
Let us not say, ’God only knows’; let us say, ‘we do not know now.’
‘What is there after death?
Is it a spirit? Is it a ghost?
Is it the other world?
Is it the rebirth? What is it?
None returned after death.
None brought a report after death.
Does this matter for life on this Earth?’-Dr. D.V.Gundappa, a well-known Indian poet.
What happens after death is nothing more than the memory of the death itself. There is no evidence for the afterlife. Human life ends with death. This is the well-known monistic view of the rationalist.
But for the religious apologist, there is life after death; the human soul survives his death.
For some, what happens after the human’s death is a mystery.
I hold the view of the twelfth –century Indian rational mystic, Basavanna that there is no afterlife. Man has only one life. There is no duality in him: With his death, his brain dies and with his brain’s death, his mind or soul dies. His mind or soul is inseparable from his body. A disembodied soul does not exist.
Carl Sagan, the astronomer recollects:
‘Probably a dozen times since their deaths, I have heard my mother or father, in a conversational tone of voice, call my name. Of course they called to me often during my life with them-to do a chore, to remind me of a responsibility, to come to dinner, to engage in conversation, to hear about an event of the day. I still miss them so much that it does not seem at all strange that my brain will occasionally retrieve a lucid recollection of their voices.’(quoted by Michael Shermer in Heavens On Earth).
It is an admitted hallucination. Some may, however, treat it as an unexplained experience, a mystery.
The pandemic, Covid-19 is not a divine punishment meted out to the people, as such other pandemics as plague, and so on were believed to be so in the past. It is not a mystery now. It is known exactly as what it is: It is a highly contagious infectious disease for which medical science is still to manufacture a remedy.
Human consciousness and the origin of life have been still mysteries to science. These two mysteries have been unresolved by science. This epistemological situation is called a gap in the scientific explanation of natural phenomena.
The theist grabs such an absence of scientific explanations of things(gaps) as God’s field. He is sure(how?) that only God knows these gaps and the gap is God!
A mystic’s poem quoted below appears apposite here:
‘You say you know.
Tell me how you came to know?
Those who truly know, do they say they know?
Those who know the unknowable supreme
live like those who do not know…’
These are the deeply meaningful words of southern India’s Allama Prabhu, another towering rational mystic of the twelfth century. The words, ‘the unknowable supreme’ is the cosmic energy (which the mystics call as Creation or God (not a supernatural God who performs miracles, answers prayers, rewards his followers and punishes sinners, and so on)) of which the human being and all sentient beings are parts. This concept of God is pantheistic.
‘We do not know it now’
Science explains the facts of nature, animate, or inanimate. Scientists do not simply ‘say they know.’ They prove what they know.
To believe in a mystery of nature to be a god is superstitious.
What science does not know we must admit that ‘we do not know now.’
You have to be humble in awe of the limitless mysteries of nature to snatch her secrets with sustained research.