Someone I knew committed suicide this past week. It is a tragic ending to any life and even more tragic being someone I actually knew, since I can imagine the impact this has on his wife and kids that remain. It is not something I could ever really understand why it was done and what it really means to take your own life. I just know that as an Agnostic I only know of this life and cannot imagine that anything is after it. Because of this belief, I don’t see how suicide could ever be considered a solution to any problem. You throw away any chance you have to continue your story for better or worse and have written the final sentence of your life when you do this.
So this brings up the question of what religions say about suicide and their belief in an afterlife and heaven. Do suicides go to heaven? Apparently nobody knows since I found many different answers to this very important question. I’m always told God is always very clear about what we should be doing, and yet I’m not surprised by the answers. I have yet to find a clear answer from religion for any question I pose to it. At ChristianAnswers.net I found this answer:
Augustine argued in the fifth century that suicide was a violation of the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Later, Thomas Aquinas, being catholic and believing that confession of sin must be made prior to departure from the world to the next, taught that suicide was the most fatal of all sins because the victim could not repent of it. The problem with his view is that it represents a gross misunderstanding of eternal security, which Scripture clearly teaches. We are saved by the grace of God, not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9) and nothing can separate a Christian from the love of God (Romans 8:37-39).
Apparently it can be argued either way. I can definitely see why some religions would want you to think you spend the rest of eternity in hell for committing suicide. The alternative is that you get to leave this short moment of your existence early and get to spend the rest of eternity in heaven where everything is blissful and any loved ones that have died are there now. Plus, the loved ones you leave behind will catch up with you eventually. Basically it sounds like a great plan to me. Why would you want to mess around any longer here on Earth if you can reach the prize of heaven that much sooner?
Suicide is a catch-22 that makes the idea of heaven and hell that much more ridiculous for me. I believe death is the end because that is all I know as fact. Religion sells us on the notion that death isn’t the end and entices us with an improvable everlasting life in a utopian heaven. Apparently all believers go to heaven when they die so dying shouldn’t be a big deal, right? Some people make rules for getting into heaven and some make just a simple rule such as accepting Jesus as your savior. However, if you follow the later rule and commit suicide then apparently you have your free pass to heaven as long as you still accepted Jesus. In which case, what would be the problem with accepting Jesus and then dying as quickly as possible to get your reward of everlasting peace in heaven? Even the sin of suicide would be forgiven, right?
I believe the most compelling answer to a question of committing suicide is that you can’t afford to throw away the only life you have. No longer existing is not a good answer to any problem.
I like to find interesting discussions on religion where you can hear some different viewpoints that gets you thinking. Here is the funny Bill Maher and his guests talking about Jesus Camp and other religious topics that this brings up. I believe the woman is dangerously dillusional. She actual thinks the Christian belief is worth dying for to the point that she couldn’t denounce Jesus to save her life.
Growing up in the United States I got the impression that most everyone was a Christian like my family. Eventually I discovered the truth that I want to share with my fellow Americans. If you actually look around the world you will find that Christianity is actually only followed by 1/3 of the world, which is a bit far from being an overwhelming majority. The reason for this is that religions are passed down from your family just like your language and values (the true source of your moral basis). Religions are a simple matter of geography instead of being some sort of worldwide truth.
<%image(20070422-rel_pie.gif|480|446|Adherents.com pie chart)%> Adherents.com
A plan to require public schools to teach classes with the Bible as a textbook was changed by a Texas legislative panel to make such classes optional instead.
The House Public Education Committee approved the modified bill Thursday, drawing praise from critics who feared mandatory Bible courses would be more religious than academic.
“I think the committee got the message that families and churches don’t want the government to tell our children what to believe about the Bible,” said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network.
The original bill by Republican state Rep. Warren Chisum would have required schools to offer Bible courses as an elective. He argued the Bible would be used for its historical value.
Wow, I didn’t realize my old home state was that close to being completely nuts. Believe it or not, I have no problem with a Bible elective in public schools. You might actually get a class that critically exams the contents of the book from a historical perspective. Of course you’ll also get highly religious teachers that just teach their flavor of Christianity instead of following a standard unbiased curriculum. The second type of teacher is exactly why it is good they did not make a mandatory Bible study for everyone; even for its historical value if it could be enforced.
My question is why aren’t they making it a class in world religions and truly inform our youth about religions around the world? Oh yes, maybe they’re afraid us Americans might actually realize that only 1/3 of the world believes in Christianity and the other 2/3 believes in different mythologies. That kind of knowledge could make people actually question their particular beliefs.
A law enforcement official who read Cho’s note described it Tuesday as a typed, eight-page rant against rich kids and religion. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
“You caused me to do this,” the official quoted the note as saying.
Cho indicated in his letter that the end was near and that there was a deed to be done, the official said. He also expressed disappointment in his own religion and made several references to Christianity, the official said.
In my previous post I talked about the ‘Ismail Ax’ words scrawled on Cho’s arm and the fact that this could take a religious turn. I said that if he was Muslim then Christians will blame that religion and some blogs are already doing that.
But now today the hint is that he was disappointed with his own religion with several references to Christianity and “the end was near.” Now, if he was a Christian that thought the apocalypse was here the Christians will disown him and say there was nothing Christianity could have done to help him and was not the true source of his inspiration. They will say he got it all wrong and was misled by the devil or something. The religious usually have no problem with disowning the troubled members of their flock when something really bad happens.
I’m really interested in how this will unfold as far as religion’s and God’s role in these murders. Obviously my Agnostic viewpoint is that there is no Christian God to have a role to play, but it will be interesting to see what the Christians think of this troubled person’s connection to religion.