Maybe it’s the Rapture that wasn’t, or the lobsters we murdered last week in celebration of my mom’s birthday. Either way, I’ve been pondering a lot of life’s bigger questions lately. I’m no theologian, and my spiritual journey thus far has been bedeviled (pardon the pun) by detours and u-turns galore. Trying to figure out answers to the mysteries of the universe is maddening work!
Just this morning I had an interesting, hourlong phone conversation with a friend about this stuff. She’s a hardcore Catholic and I’m…well, not…but really, we came to a lot of the same conclusions. Truth is, we’re both just as confused as ever.
Take the lobsters. Moments before my mom sent them to their deaths by plunging them into a pot of boiling water, I said something along the lines of, “At least they’ll be in a better place soon.” Meaning some life-after-death spiritual realm, and not my stomach (though there was that, too). My dad replied that once the lobsters were dead, they would simply be dead. This surprised me, as my father firmly believes in the existence of God, Heaven and Hell.
“So, people have souls but animals don’t?” I asked.
“That’s right,” he said.
“How can that be so?” I wasn’t being argumentative…I’m just genuinely interested in these things.
“Animals are lesser life forms. They were created to serve man, or for some other purpose.”
“What about mosquitoes?”
I thought I had stumped him with that one, but without hesitating, he answered, “They exist to feed bats.”
I resisted the temptation to ask why bats existed, because I had a feeling the conversation could have continued, back and forth like that, all night long. Which would have been okay, I suppose. I find these questions fascinating – and yet, as I’ve stated, infuriatingly unanswerable. Or rather, for me at least, infuriatingly unknowable, as there are always people who have answers that suit their beliefs. And that’s fine, of course.
I believe in ghosts. I believe in some form of the afterlife. Whether it’s Heaven or Hell or some other less-defined spiritual plane, I can’t be sure. But, shouldn’t it exist for all? Lobsters think (maybe not like we do) and breathe. They move. They exist. Why should their light just fade out once they die, while ours continues to shine? And, here’s something that really bothers me:
Why are there no dinosaur ghosts?!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad there aren’t. People get freaked out enough seeing the disembodied spirits of old men and women in period dress. Can you imagine if you were walking along one night and saw the ghost of a fifty-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex lumbering your way?? That’d be enough to stop your heart.
But why aren’t there?
My dad would say dinosaurs were created for some other purpose (though it can’t be to serve man, since man didn’t exist then) and weren’t intellectually developed enough to have souls. I looked this question up online, and a lot of people say dinosaurs existed so long ago their energy has already evaporated, which also explains the lack of woolly mammoth and sabertooth tiger and Neanderthal ghosts. Or that, if reincarnation is real, all the dinosaurs have already long ago been reborn as other creatures. Or that they didn’t form attachments to man (as dogs and cats do, and there are many reports of dog and cat ghosts) and, therefore, have no reason (or ability) to manifest themselves as apparitions. There’s even one theory that states, because the fossil of a plesiosaur was found in Loch Ness, all those sightings of the Loch Ness Monster could, in fact, be the ghost of this dinosaur – explaining the lack of any other hard evidence of the creature’s existence.
See what I mean? Answers galore, and yet, no real answers.
And then there’s all this business about the Rapture. Somehow, somebody manipulated the Bible’s text into meaning one year equaled one thousand and that the end of the world was going to occur on May 21, 2011. The media grabbed hold of this story and Facebook was awash with “have you been Raptured yet” status updates throughout the day. I was going to resist, but ended up posting a video of Blondie’s “Rapture” because it kind of started feeling like one big party (where a man from Mars eatin’ cars and eatin’ bars would be really groovy). I mean, nobody really believed it was going to happen, right? But then I heard about this California preacher named Harold Camping and his followers who did believe, and set about the business of spreading the word. Some folks apparently even maxed out their credit cards because bill collectors would have a hell of a time coming after them once they’d been raptured, capisce? This Camping guy was astounded when the world went on with its regularly scheduled program, and holed up for a couple of days before emerging to announce that the real rapture will now take place on October 21st, and that last Saturday was “an invisible judgment day.” Meaning, God has already determined our fate, but the results won’t be announced for five months. It’s like watching some reality television series in which there has already been a winner, but we won’t find out who that is until the finale airs. Think of October 21st as the Mother Of All Results Shows.
I have a question.
If we’ve already been judged and our fates are locked in, what’s to keep us on the straight and narrow now? It no longer matters, right? I might as well loot, pillage and plunder to my heart’s content, since the decision has already been made. While I’m at it, I’m going to take candy from a baby and trip an old lady or two trying to cross the street. Ain’t nobody left to impress, after all.
True believers will say May 21st did bring about cataclysmic disaster. A volcano erupted in Iceland. There were freak hailstorms and tornado outbreaks across the U.S. People were killed unexpectedly (I imagine a few of them, in their final moments, believed the Rapture really was occurring). Skeptics will talk about tectonic plates shifting and low pressure systems where cold air collides with warm air to spawn funnel clouds and say that freak accidents happen everyday. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Both of them? Neither?
I hope you don’t take me seriously, or are offended by anything I’ve written. I remain openminded about everything – pondering the big questions keeps the ol’ brain active, if nothing else. Religion, philosophy, science, and nature – they all fascinate me. And I believe they can all coexist.
I just wish the answers weren’t so hard to come by.
22 thoughts on “Why Are There No Dinosaur Ghosts?”
Mark…thank you for tackling the hard question regarding dinosaur ghosts. This keeps me up at night.
as far as already being judged, that’s called “predestination”, and I don’t believe that…that would mean that God creates people he ALREADY knows He will cast down to HELL. Why would a loving, caring, tender God do that? I don’t believe Scripture teaches this…
I DO believe that we all come to a moment in time where we have to decide–do we believe in God…or not? If the answer is no, once and for all, well then, I think your chances are slim to none for eternity.
I cannot imagine an ETERNITY separated from God…
Regardless, here is what I know and believe:
God is God. God is Good. God is Love.
What on earth would keep a person from knowing Someone like that?
blessings, and fun post, as always.
Maybe we can’t ever decide, Jane. What if the best we can do is admit the possibility exists and hope for the best? I admire and respect your Faith, and am curious if you think – in that instance – that God (who you describe as caring, loving, and tender) – would admit an agnostic into His Kingdom? I’d really like to know your thoughts on this. 🙂
Theological contortionists have put into theory that predestination and free will are compatible. They have all kinds of convoluted logic to support it. Now that’s a hat trick if ever. I would suggest taking up stamp collecting, butterfly mounting and even knitting rather than travel this road of examining matters that ultimately have no satisfactory answer. It will drive you mad. One woman in Puritan Massachusetts in mid 1600’s reached such a level of consternation over whether she was saved or not murdered her child by throwing it down a well. Now she knew she was going to hell. I imagine the ghost of the child was pretty pissed.
LOL…stamp collecting, eh? Then I’d drive myself crazy searching for the elusive (and extremely valuable) “inverted Jenny.” But yeah, I probably wouldn’t lie awake nights thinking about it!
Oooh, I LOVE this post. I could ponder this stuff for days and now (thanks a lot!) I probably will. I believe there really is no possible way of knowing. I also think that whatever is meant to happen WILL happen, regardless of whether we believe in it or not. (Just because I don’t believe in something doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t exist.)
Personally I’m not really getting into that whole “Rapture” theory, no matter when they say it will happen, I have a sneaking suspicion that the bible is, in large part, fiction (or at least well-meaning fable) and if God created *everything*… well then where did God come from? Hmmm?
But I doubt my beliefs for or against are in any way going to change the outcome of the Universe. Or even my soul’s destiny. If there is an afterlife, I suspect when I die I’ll be right along with the rest of you, doing whatever it is we’re all meant to do.
Unless of course I’ve just sealed my fate by denouncing all that is holy and can now expect to just get snuffed out like your lobsters.
Thank you, Tamsyn! I’m very proud of this post. It’s not easy for me to talk about this stuff…this one definitely counts as one of those deeper, more soul-searching entries I promised I’d write about…but these things have been on my mind for awhile, and it feels good to get them out there in writing (and maybe open up an honest and enlightening discussion about the various possibilities that exist).
Either way, I agree with you 100%. Believing or not believing won’t change the Universe (although true Catholics believe it will change your Fate and your entire afterlife experience). Personally, I think if we’re strong enough to admit that we just don’t know but are open to the idea, that would be enough to get us into the so-called Pearly Gates…but maybe that’s just wishful thinking?
All I know is, I think Stephen Hawking has got some nerve to so blatantly say “Heaven is a fairytale.” He’s a scientist, and therefore should never completely rule something out regardless of his beliefs.
No, I’m not offended at all at what you’ve shared here, Mark.
I found it fascinating! I think you and believe the same thing. Or at least, have a ‘feeling’ about the same thing(s).
I too believe that animals have souls. In fact, I sometimes think animals have more of a soul than some of us humans, because animals are more deeply connected to nature.
I believe in destiny and fate. And I also believe in reincarnation, and that my destiny and fate are based on my past lives. My life has already been planned out before I ever became physical. Therefore, my task is to stay attuned to what my life presents to me, and see it ALL as a learning experience. THAT’s my free will!
Great post, buddy!
Thanks, Ron! I appreciate that!
I didn’t even touch on my own thoughts about reincarnation – I sometimes have a sinking suspicion that I’ve been here before. I can even name where and when and what I was doing…but I think I’ll save that discussion for another post!
I agree, life is one big learning experience and having an open mind is probably the best trait that anyone can possess!
Where did you find that photo?! That ghostbuster image is hilarious. Good question, where are the dinosaur ghosts? If I find any on my graveyard tours, I’ll let you know.
There’s a website called Deviant Art (http://deviantart.com) that has some really cool images, like the one I used here. And also some “mature content.” Which, let’s face it, is a selling point for me. 🙂
There’s this Man. You’ve heard of him, you know others who know him, but you? You’ve never met him. You’ve maybe seen him around, here and there, caught a glimpse of him in town or in the mountains or as you’ve gazed up at the night sky—just out of the corner of your eye. But it’s fleeting, you tell yourself it was nothing…And, you know, you’re not even sure where he lives.
One day, you go to your mailbox and inside is an invitation to a party–your favorite kind–a Hawaiian Luau with a pig roasting in the ground, at the home of this Man you’ve only heard about.
The invitation gives the directions to his home, a way you’ve never seen on any map.
Hm. The road must exist…otherwise, how could all those other people have gotten there?
Well, you know some of those other people who are going to the party…so you ask them—“Hey, is it going to be a good party? I really like Hawaiian Luau parties—but I don’t know this guy.”
“Yes!” They all reply, “Yes! It is going to be great! We LOVE the Host! He is awesome. Make sure you follow the directions to his house, though, or you will get lost—you’ll end up someplace else entirely.”
“But…how do you know?” you ask…
And they say, “We know because we’ve met him. Like you, we didn’t know the way to his house…but we followed his directions and, well, we trusted him to lead us to his house. We kinda just had to take a leap of faith. We’ve never been disappointed we did. We know the party he plans to throw will be amazing.”
“But, his directions make no sense to me! How can I get in my car and follow directions I don’t understand?”
“Mark,” they say, “You just have to get in your car and trust the words he wrote in your invitation. Believe me, they will get you where you need to go.”
You ponder. You worry. You look for a way to his house some other way, any other way that you can think of. You want the roasted pig, you just don’t want to follow the directions he gave you. I mean, if it makes no sense to you, how are you just supposed to get in your car and trust directions that confuse you?
The date of the party draws near. You’ve been out and about in town, and again, you think you may have spotted the party giver. He was there, near the homeless. He was nearby as children played in the park. He gazed out at you, you think, from behind the eyes of a street vendor, selling delicious hot-dogs.
There were moments, moments when you almost got in your car, right then, and decided to follow the directions to his house…
But again, fear held you back…logic. I mean, his directions made NO SENSE to you…how could you trust him?
But, you really, really want that Hawaiian Luau and bbq pig…and the only way to get it is to follow the directions on your invitation, throw caution and logic to the wind, and trust this man who has invited you to feast with him.
Blessings, Mark. The journey of faith makes no sense…that’s why it’s faith.
And, ask yourself this: If you’ve been given the invitation to the party, and you don’t accept it, if you decide, “nah—this can’t be for real”—do you think there will still be a place for you at the table once you rsvp your decline? Or…will he remove your place setting, and set it for someone who accepts?
John 14:6 (The Message)
6-7Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him. You’ve even seen him!”
Thank God someone has taken up this issue–about dinosaur ghosts, I mean.
About the rapture—all evening on Saturday, my friends speculated–okay, the world will end at 6pm–but at 6pm where? That was a bit of a loop-hole in the prediction–no? Well, that and that the world did not end!
I have a friend in Australia and I checked in with her early in the day to make sure the world hadn’t ended out there. 6 PM for me was rather anticlimactic!
One of the outliers of the Inklings set — Chesterton or MacDonald, I think, put forth the idea that most animals do not have souls, but those that are in relationship with humans, pet dogs and cats, for example, develop them through the interaction and will be with us in heaven. I guess that means assuming their human goes to heaven — I’d hate to think the alternative!
No kidding. The alternative would give new meaning to the words “hot dog”!
You crack me up. A dinosaur ghost would be the scariest shit ever. And you are so right – if we’ve already been judged, now through October is the perfect time to do everything we’ve always wanted to do!
I guess it’s now safe to point out that since October came and went, and came and went again, and is well on its way to coming around yet again, that Mr. Camping must be feeling pretty foolish right about now.
Animals including the dinosaur have souls, what they lack is a three part vessel body, soul, and spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23) This makes man the unique vessel that can contain, experience, and enjoy God. The dinosaurs are the demons (disembodied spirits) they fell with Satan a former angel. So they don’t need a “ghost” they enter things containing water including people, animals, the water etc…see the gospels where Jesus sent the Legion of demons into the hogs and fled into the water.
Thanks for responding. This answer for me puts far too much emphasis on the Bible, God, and the Devil to suit me. I think if I believed in all those things I’d be able to justify the lack of existence of dinosaur ghosts, too. But I appreciate your thoughts on the matter. It’s definitely an interesting topic even now, two years later!
You don’t have a ghost of a chance of finding the answers.
As Carl D’Agostino would say…that’s a 10!
Next time I’ll shoot for an 11 or 12.