I’ve had an epiphany about fear and religion. This is pretty deep shit, so hang on.
My first argument is that fear can only arise from a state of not-knowing. Fear is only manifested by the unknown. Now that might sound like a bold claim, but consider it deeply for moment. I’m going to walk you through some logic to demonstrate where I’m coming from here, but first I want to make a sharp distinction between fear and aversion.
To demonstrate what I mean by this, consider that most people fear being shot. A fear of being shot is different from an aversion to pain. Consider if you would still fear being shot if there were absolutely no pain or discomfort involved.
To dislike something is rather different than fearing it. Pain is unpleasant so most people don’t want to feel it, but people can’t actually fear it, they can only fear the thought of it happening in the future. People “fear” pain because it is typically associated with bodily damage. And if a body takes enough damage, it leads to physical death. And death is generally feared because it is an unknown state.
Imagine that you are about to be tortured. The torture instrument is drawing near and you know it’s going to hurt so bad that it will probably cause you to blackout. How much fear do you have? Now put yourself in the position of actually being tortured, how much fear do you have? Now put yourself in the position of having endured the torture and being rescued, how much fear do you have? Now that you have endured the torture, is it possible for you to still be afraid of the torture that happened in the past?
Now imagine that you are about to be tortured, but this time you already know how it will feel and that you will be rescued. You might say that you still fear the event taking place, but perhaps you are not understanding what I mean by “knowing how it will feel.” The only way to know what that specific event will feel like is if you have already experienced that specific event, and if you’ve already experienced it, then that event is in the past. From this example, you can see that the flow of time is necessary for fear to exist.
It’s impossible to have a fear of being tortured at 5:00 PM if you endured the torture and it’s now 6:00 PM. You can’t fear past events since you already know the outcome. Try and think of something that makes you afraid from your past. It’s impossible. It’s only possible to have a fear of some similar event happening again in the future. As terrible as the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were, it’s literally impossible for anyone to be afraid of those events now.
Now consider if you were to know all things. Would it be possible for you to ever have any fear? It seems to me that it would literally be impossible to be afraid of any event if you already knew the outcome. Knowing the outcome implies your awareness experienced and survived whatever event occurred.
To know all things is to have experienced all events, past and future. Omniscience, a state of all-knowing, is simply another word for a total lack of fear. To have total knowledge also means to have had a complete experience of all events past and future.
For example, if I were to ask an omniscient being what it feels like to have sex with a super model, the only possible way for an omniscient being to know the answer to that question is for it to have experienced it itself. Otherwise, there’s no possible way it could know the answer, and hence, it would not be omniscient.
This is a real logical conundrum for the religious folks out there. If you believe God is omniscient, then you also believe that God has experienced all things. This is the only possible way to define omniscience. If God has been all things, then God has literally been you. And if God has been you, then you have been God. It doesn’t matter what tense you use, the argument remains the same.
The only way for God to ever be you is for God to be you right now, at this very moment. God can not chose to be you at some point in the future, after you’ve already been you. How would that work? Experience can only take place in the now. In other words, if you believe in an omniscient God, then it is logically impossible to believe you are not God.
Fascinating how fear, knowing and time are all tied together, no? To have a state of not-knowing requires time. To have a state of omniscience requires that there be no such thing as time. To have a state of fear requires time. To have a state of total fearlessness requires that there be no such thing as time.
Now consider that to ever experience any thing, its opposite must exist. A contrast is necessary for experience to occur at all. If all things were white, there would be no way to understand what white actually is. Having an understanding of what white is requires something other than white to exist. Only then does it become apparent what white is. The same is true for all emotions. Understanding requires opposites. Understanding is knowledge.
A few comments on time from medical professionals who had a near death experience:
“We shy away from the word “eternal,” but I can describe the experience only as the ecstasy of a non-temporal state in which present, past, and future are one. Everything that happens in time had been brought together into a concrete whole. Nothing was distributed over time, nothing could be measured by temporal concepts. The experience might best be defined as a state of feeling, but one which cannot be produced by imagination.”
-Carl Jung MD.
“…the vagaries of time in these worlds beyond what I knew of this earth continued to hold. To get a little-if only a very little-idea of what this feels like, ponder how time lays itself out in dreams. In a dream, “before” and “after” become tricky designations. You can be in one part of the dream and know what’s coming, even if you haven’t experienced it yet. My “time” out beyond was something like that…”
-Eben Alexander MD.
“Time and space as you and I comprehend it at this level doesn’t exist. There was no time at all.”
-George Ritchie MD.
“I found myself sitting in this beautiful field sitting with an angel. And we spent what seemed like hours, but it could have been minutes in earthly time, and we talked about all of the big questions.”
-Mary C Neal MD.
“I just remained there with a sense of hovering for what felt like forever. It was really only for seconds or minutes I suppose but time did not make any sense. Time did not seem to apply. It seemed irrelevant. It was unattached to anything, the way I was. Time is only relevant when it is relative to the normal orderly sequential aspects of life. So I was there for a moment or for eternity. I cannot say but it felt like a very long time to me. I was aware that I was separate from my body yet somehow I continued to exist. The part of me that existed did not have anything to do with my body. I was completely comfortable and no longer in any pain. All of the distress I was in while lying in my hospital bed was gone. I felt like I was bobbing about in a warm bath.”
Grace Bubulka-Hatmaker, R.N, M.S.N.
You can read more near death accounts that have been submitted to NDERF here. Pay particular attention to what they all have to say about the experience of time.