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Infinite life or infinite death?

Harry Erwin talking about the difference between secular and religious views, in View From England:

Perhaps that might be the case, but the underlying issue is something left unsaid–there is a basic conflict between the secular state and the religious perspective about the value of human life. Religion believes that the value of an individual life is infinite, while the secular state claims it knows the value in pounds or dollars. This shows up in the conflict between the NHS, which is concerned with curing those diseases that are inexpensively curable, and the Church, which seeks to heal illness, whether curable or not.

I think Harry is fundamentally correct when he talks about the difference between secularism and religion as being about the finite versus the infinite. However, the flip side of the view that he proposes is that religion – or at least the big monotheistic ones – view human life itself as infinite, in the form of the immortal soul. This reduces the value of corporeal life, and in its most extreme form leads down the path to suicide bombing and "martyrdom".

Most religions are, though, fully aware of the need to avoid falling into the trap of only valuing the soul, so they have developed multiple layers of injunction against causing harm to yourself and others. Yet still, at its heart, the belief in an immortal soul leads to a devaluing of real life. Religion, in this sense, is a like a form of virtual reality which the person has become so wrapped up in that it dominates their real lives too.

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