Starting a death cult. Not the easiest of tasks but as Andy H points out, many benefits accrue.
The best way of course would involve convincing folks that something better than life awaited them after death. Hmm, tough one. And how to parry the “You first” rejoinder? Let’s see. I would have to sell myself as a messenger. But a messenger from whom? Damn, this is even tougher than I thought. Well, I could try to persuade people that there is a Supreme Being who, from time to time, selects some living creature to convey his or her message.
His or her? Would the Supreme Being have a gender? Would it have observable physical features that would peg him/her as a him or her? Or would its composition include chromosomes? Then, could they melt near the more fiery stars or freeze up in the outer reaches of the universe? Or what if it were like that South African runner where it’s really hard to tell? OK, must not get sidetracked. Something to ponder another day.
No offense then, but I’m going with “it” for the sake of this exercise. So I’m the unlikely choice of being the SB’s messenger. How do I know? Well, I say so. And I’ve received messages. Can you run the risk that I’m not? It could be the difference between an eternity of bleak, depressing, unending pain and torment versus unabated ecstasy. Your choice.
Having quelled the skeptics with elementary game theory, I still have to contend with the supercilious who doubt the existence of a Supreme Being. But that’s been done before.
First, the watch-maker. That watch you’re wearing buddy didn’t just evolve from some shiny rocks. Some guy in China put it together. The workings of the universe are even more complicated so don’t tell me it just evolved. And from what pray tell? That usually gets them. And if you still think everything came from the “what”, how did the “what” get there? Only explanation is that someone must have put it there. Q.E.D.
For the harder bitten cynics, there’s the inner divinity line. Look, we don’t have a notion of non-existent colors. We have a notion of colors because they exist. We don’t have a concept of non-existent numbers (OK, you math Phd’s can take five here), we have concepts of numbers because they exist. Likewise, we don’t have a concept of a fundamental, ideal Supreme Being because it doesn’t exist. We could only have that concept it it did. And don’t try that unicorn counter-example; heard it before. I know about ponies and rhinos and can put the two together thank you. This is a First Cause, Creator of Everything, Omnipresent, Prodigiously Powerful, Inscrutable Supreme Being I’m talking about, not a pony with a horn. That should win over all but the perversely doubtful.
So now that everyone is persuaded that there is a Supreme Being, that it’s a safe bet that I’m its messenger, the rest should be easy.
OK, listen up. You in the back, I’m talking to you. There’s a Coming Calamity. You’ve seen the signs (like someone’s gonna raise their hand and admit to obliviousness). The Supreme Being isn’t too thrilled at the way we’ve managed our affairs (seriously, who could quarrel with that). And the SB (careful not to reflexively inset an O) is going to do something about it. Soon. He as much as told me. (Damn, gotta watch that gender thing)
Of course, the fault of all this human mismanagement is not yours. The SB salutes you for your many good deeds and your unquestioning faith. That’s very important. But just like one of those evil corporations that goes bankrupt and lots of good, decent people lose their jobs, when the earth goes into receivership, plenty who deserve better will go with it. That means there’ll be a flood of new applicants for the Great Beyond.
Now you know that the Great Beyond is like a brightly lit corridor at which end there are two doors. Only one will open. If you’re the right sort of person, the one that opens for you will usher in an infinity of bliss. All your closest family and friends will be there. And you older folks will feel youthful again. As for the babies here, well, they’ll probably feel like adolescents or something. It’s all worked out, so I’m told.
The other door opens to a world, nay a universe, of hurt. It will be hotter than the hottest fire. The most evil, obnoxious and hateful will surround you. Every color will clash. The music will be gangsta rap set to the 101 Strings, Every picture will be hung crookedly. The tap water Mexican with only single-ply tissue. All the TV shows are infomercials. Every season is allergy season. And boy, will it smell bad.
Now, because of the Coming Calamity, there will be quite a rush for both doors. Don’t fret about those who get the bad one. They’re not like you and they’re just getting what’s coming to them.
But you good folks are destined for lifelong serenity. Now, while they won’t turn away anyone who’s entitled to be there, like you, the ones who get there first will get the best seats. And since we’ll all be going there before long, I say, why shouldn’t you get the private boxes? They’re just waiting to get filled up.
So get a start of the Coming Calamity and get a VIP ticket to the Great Beyond. How? Well, you can’t just walk in like you are now. No, I don’t mean that outfit. This is the Great Beyond. You actually have to, er, put an end to your suffering, pass through this veil of tears, get into a world where there’s no life like it. Think of it as a gated community in the very best sense of the word. See that man in the corner with the jug of Kool-aid? Hey Jim. He’ll help you on you way.