So Heath Ledger, the young actor, is dead of unknown causes. I don’t know much about him, I did not have any kind of personal interaction with him so I don’t need to know much about him — I liked some of his movies, he was young, it’s tragic to see a life ended so early.
Those demented ghouls at Westboro Baptist Church have a different point of view, though.
It’s just a lunatic ranting his hate, but that last paragraph is fascinating.
Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there — beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential.
That epitomizes the problem, I think. There is a kind of sliding scale of belief: most of us value our lives to some degree, and consider how we spend our three score and ten to be important; then there are people who attach some degree of importance on an afterlife they’ve imagined, and consider this hypothetical eternity to be a matter of concern. Atheists have the scale pegged way over to the left and see this little slice of time we have as all we have, and therefore the only thing we have to make work. Most religious people have the dial turned up a little to the right — they are clearly operationally secular, spending most of their time on work and family, and socking away a little Sunday prayer time for an anticipated and wholly delusional Heaven. We can all live with that.
But then there are these wackos like Fred Phelps who have the dial turned so far to the right that they place a higher priority in their fantasies about what they’ll be doing after they’re dead over what they’re doing with their life right now. That’s where religion becomes a great evil, where it destroys lives and compels people to commit acts that are materially insane, but make great logical sense to people infected with the idea that there is an eternity of consequence for trivial transgressions against a shared belief.
This is why we have to strike right at the root of religious belief. It’s an unfounded expectation of a magic post-mortem resuscitation in a new universe with different rules that has the potential to completely change the equation about how we live our lives in this brief span — and not for the better, as proponents pretend — and to those of us who care about our lives, our world, and our legacy rather than our imagined ghost-existence, that matters.
P.S. Note the inconsistency in Phelps’ position, too. If what Heath Ledger did in his life is such a tiny, irrelevant fragment of god’s great plan for his existence, why is his role in a movie Fred Phelps didn’t like so important that it dictates an eternity of pain?