Dennis Prager’s Point #5:
If there is no God, the kindest and most innocent victims of torture and murder have no better a fate after death than do the most cruel torturers and mass murderers. Only if there is a good God do Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler have different fates. (Note 1.)
In fact, there is no “fate after death,” if Prager means experiences that can be perceived by the dead person. When a person dies, he’s dead. His soul and body die. (By “soul” I am referring to the non-material, but very real, aspects of a person: his mind, his will, his character. I certainly do not mean some sort of mystical, eternal spirit that floats around the heavens.) A conscious being that dies can no longer be conscious; if it were, it would still be alive.
The human mind requires a physical platform: the human brain. The human brain requires the human body for its self-sustaining actions, its energy source, and its contact with the world. When the organism dies, the mind dies with it. The raw material - the matter that makes up the corpse - continues to exist, of course, but the living thing is gone forever.
It’s hard to state the point without being redundant and tautological. To die is to cease to live.
There is simply no justification for claiming the possibility that a human can experience anything after death, never mind for inventing the entire apparatus of heaven, hell, purgatory, God, Satan, etc. Alas, this is another instance of Mr. Prager claiming something to be true solely because he wishes it to be true. I understand why such fantasies are popular - it feels good to think that murderers and rogues who get away with their crimes during their lifetimes will be punished after they die - but the wish does not make it so.
If we want torturers and murderers to experience a different fate than do innocent men and women - in other words, if we want justice - then it is essential for us to establish the proper social system here on earth. This is the very purpose of a proper government: to protect its citizens from others who use or threaten to use force against them. For all it may do to placate the frustrated and helpless masses, fabricating elaborate tales of heavenly retribution does nothing to punish criminals.
The nature of Prager’s claim here in point #5 is actually identical to that of point #3, in which he lamented how tragic life is without God. So, I’ll refer the reader to my response there for more details.
(Note: The next installment in the series is here.)
1. Dennis Prager, “If There Is No God,” http://townhall.com/columnists/DennisPrager/2008/08/19/if_there_is_no_god.