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â€˜If there is no God, everything is permitted.â€™ Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky once wrote. We have been wondering, watching our favourite show, where God has been. Castiel has looked all over for Him and we know that He doesnâ€™t speak to everyone, wellâ€¦
Michelangelo, Fresco at the Sistineâ€™s Chapel
We have already encountered Lucifer, the lord of Hell. He was introduced in an amazing manner, working on subjugating the world â€“ he claimed, though, not to have any intention to destroy the planet, the â€˜last great handiwork of Godâ€™, because he has always loved God and was eventually condemned to live downstairs.
But how is the situation upstairs? Where is God? Who is He? Will He still have a say in this cosmic battle, even after Sam pulled Lucifer and, well, another archangel into the pit, or will He drink expensive cocktails elsewhere and spend time founding a flatbread-cult instead?
There is an element of megalomaniacal delusion to the task of trying to answer any of those questions. There are opinions regarding the subject as many as there are religions, philosophies or mythologies. Well, as a psychologist I should not be afraid of such fancy, but even approaching that topic seems ridiculously delusional as so many great brains have tackled it, theories have been formed by scholars and battles have been fought in His name piling up body counts of unparalleled numbers.
During my research for this article I stumbled on so many fascinating interpretations and opinions that, would I describe them all, you were to read an article of probably more than two hundred pages. So, I will illuminate just a part of all theories, hoping to still create an interesting picture, while staying mostly within Western mythology and the so-called Abrahamic Religions. I apologize in advance to the fans of other beliefs for neglecting their mythologies or religions for practical purposes which by no means should be perceived as disrespect.
A devout believer will live differently than a person who does not believe in God. The most appealing in a person has always been to me authenticity and honesty, and I consider sloppy atheism just as problematic as false piety, as neither is entirely truthful.
But the question of belief is unequivocally linked to another: what happens to us when we die? â€˜To be or not to beâ€¦. â€˜Are we nothing but fleeting beings on a path to ravening death, â€˜wormsmeatâ€™ as Shakespeare calls it? Is living all we can do, however cynical, brave or flippant we might proceed, as nothing awaits us in the end? â€˜To dieâ€¦. To sleepâ€¦ nothing moreâ€™? Or is there anything to expect after we cross the final threshold? People have for many ages wondered what happens after death and sought comfort in the idea of an afterlife. Religion, developing in part from mythological backgrounds, in part from historical events, gave answers to the believer. And, of course, rules that one had to follow to be worthy of paradise â€“ a place almost every religion established, be it the Antiqueâ€™s Elysium or the notion of paradise as e.g. Christianity or Islam offer.
â€˜â€¦the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have, than fly to others that we know not of. Thus conscience makes cowards of us allâ€¦â€™ Ah, Hamlet, so full of appropriate linesâ€¦
The ancient question, whether the beginning of all religion and the idea of gods or God was the great mystery of death, the observation of the sky and its countless stars or simply a story someone thought of will in all likelihood never be answered.
Probably the various religions came into being because man suffers a basic dilemma as a creature that faces fear, worry, sorrow. There is the bitter experience of mortality, but also the yearning to grasp the deeper meaning of the universe and the world. From the beginning of time, or shall we say from the age man began to develop some consciousness about his these things, other spheres also came into existence â€“ the divine ones, theism, being taken quite seriously, sometimes with a flavour of the bizarreâ€¦
Theism, deriving from the ancient Greek word theos meaning God, means simply and in its broadest sense the belief in at least one deity that acts personally in the organization of the universe, governing it.