Posts Tagged Life of Pi

Who Wants To Live Forever?

By painting a picture of life with God in it as more colourful and exciting than the mundane existence of a god-less life Yann Martel’s book “Life of Pi” attempts to convince us that, as we cannot definitively prove or disprove God’s existence, we are better off with the version of life where God exists. After all who wouldn’t want a life that was full of angels, heaven and the promise of everlasting life, compared with rotting for all eternity? Me.

Do you really want to live forever? All that is good about life is connected to the fact that it is finite and fleeting. We love our friends and family as fiercely as we do because we know that they will not be there forever. The prospect of death lurking around every corner governs the way we live. While we certainly do not welcome death and try to delay its inevitable approach to actually defeat death would be disaster. The constant spectre of death forces us to sharpen our focus and live in the moment, although some of us appear to live as if death does not exist. Without death life would lose its poignancy. Things that are transient are appreciated so much more than the perennial things we take for granted.

In the Dark Knight Rises batman is unable to complete the final leap that delivers freedom from the pit because he no longer fears death:

“Blind Prisoner: You do not fear death. You think this makes you strong. It makes you weak.

Batman: Why?

Blind Prisoner: How can you move faster than possible, fight longer than possible without the most powerful impulse of the spirit: the fear of death?

Batman: I do fear death. I fear dying in here, while my city burns, and there’s no one there to save it.

Blind Prisoner: Then make the climb.

Batman: How?

Blind Prisoner: As the child did. Without the rope. Then fear will find you again.”

Needless to say he succeeds and saves the day, but the point is made that the fear of death is what has driven us to some of our greatest accomplishments and moments of outstanding heroism.

Eternal life? Eternal ennui. You can have it. I would rather fall to my final rest knowing a life well lived lay behind me and that, even if I could, I was too damn tired to live forever.

Dr. F. Bunny

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Planet of the Apes

There I was watching my favourite movie (the original with Charlton Heston of course) thinking (not for the first time) that this is an allegorical tale of church versus state. For those not familiar with the story it centres on an astronaut (Taylor) who lands on a planet far in the future, a planet that is ruled by apes. The planet’s human population is primitive and mute. The arrival of our intelligent talking astronaut threatens the religious beliefs of the apes, who have been taught that only they are created in God’s image. Dr. Zaius, an orang-utan who is both Minister of Science and Chief Defender of the Faith (no conflict there) realises the threat and does what he can to dispose of Taylor. However, Taylor’s cause is championed by two chimpanzee scientists, more interested in the truth than politics, and claim, under threat of prosecution for heresy that an intelligent civilization existed before the apes. They help Taylor escape and show him their diggings in an ancient cave. The cave holds a human doll that talks. Rather than acknowledge this as proof Dr. Zaius orders the cave to be sealed, while Taylor escapes and finally finds his own proof. He is, in fact, back on Earth.

This is not a new story, religion rejecting science. While religion refuses to believe scientific evidence it expects us to believe in a doctrine for which there is no evidence at all. Dr. Zaius knows Taylor and the chimpanzees are right but cannot acknowledge this fact because it will bring his civilization crashing down around him and so he must suppress the information and expunge it from the records, for the greater good. Heretics like Galileo and Copernicus faced similar opposition. Fortunately for us they continued to pursue the truth. As science reveals more and more religious inaccuracies religious support will continue to fall, but not without protest and quite possibly violence. People always fear the unknown.

Religion provides a warm blanket to protect us from the unknown. It guides us, leads us and tells us what to do. I understand why the excellent book, “Life of Pi” claimed it would make us believe in God (and religion). Life with God (and religion) is much simpler and less stressful than life without. To choose a life without God means to believe that death really is the end. It also means that we all have to take responsibility for our own actions and develop our own moral compass by which to live. This is difficult and requires careful thought and consideration, but I still prefer this route to the one where every bend and cross road is lit with preplaced signs instructing us which way to turn.

Dr. F. Bunny

You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill.
I will choose a path that’s clear.
I will choose freewill.

(Rush – Freewill)

 

 

 

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