Grundy on the Christian Afterlife
I was a Christian for twenty years and I still don’t have a clear picture of heaven. The bible is somewhat contradictory and somewhat vague on the topic. The church has done it’s best to fill in the blanks, but “the” church is really just “a” church and every denomination is a bit different. If I had to cobble together a consensus, all I can say about heaven is that “it’s nice.”
A believer would probably say that it’s perfect, but my perfect might not be your perfect--but we are probably going by God’s perfect which likely isn’t either of ours perfect. Last time the Almighty made paradise it had an evil, talking snake in it, so I’m not making any assumptions.
Then we have the problem of eternity. I call it omni-bordeom, because you can, and will, have too much of a good thing. The are only two ways around this. One is a divine-lobotomy that takes away your ability to become bored, but once we get into God fundamentally changing who you are, can we say that it is really you that lives past this mortal coil. The other option is continuing the human tradition of shitty memories. I might live forever, but I’ll only remember the past fifty years or so. This undermines the idea of both eternity and perfection, but it’s better than getting sick of your favorite movie.
Grundy on the Muslim Afterlife
72 virgins, right? Better comedians than I have written every joke that can be written about the Muslim afterlife. Honestly, I have a feeling there is more to it than non-Muslims think. I’m not saying that it isn’t a stupid and misogynistic view of the hereafter, but it could very well be not stupid and misogynistic in quite the way I imagine. Until I’m more educated, no comment, but I’m pretty sure they suffer from the same downsides of eternal life.
Grundy on the Hindu Afterlife
Like Islam, my understanding of Hinduism is that of an American outsider. At first glance, I kinda wish it was true. The idea of Karma is the fairest motivator to be moral in all the religious traditions. Instead of our acts for the span of 0 to 100 years being the subject of judgment to determine our next infinity of years, we have a system of judging one life to determine the starting point of our next life. We trade the two extreme options of heaven and hell, to a sliding scale. If an afterlife exists, I’d like it to be this one...but I’m not holding my breath.
|Via Flea Snobbery|
When I tell people that I believe that nothing happens to us when we die, it is usually met with some variation of “that’s depressing.” (This is often coming from people who think everlasting punishment is an option.) Depressing or not, we have no reason to believe that we have a soul or spirit or anything more than what our living brain provides. Wishful thinking does not dictate reality. Even if you find some argument for God convincing, which you shouldn’t, that doesn’t mean an afterlife is a given. Just because something is eternal, doesn’t mean that we are. The only reason almost every religion connects an appealing afterlife with their God, is because we wouldn’t worship the God or obey the religious leaders otherwise.
Am I glad that there probably is no afterlife? Not particularly. I’d rather have reincarnation or some reunion with lost friends, but not at the expense of knowing that others could be unjustly suffering. Hell is universally unjust.
Hitler doesn’t deserve eternal torment. There, I said it. I’m not sure what he deserves. Maybe an ass full of red hot coals. Maybe a painful death and rebirth for every Jew who died in the Holocaust and every soldier who died in World War II. That would be an “eye for an eye” revenge that only a supernatural deity could exact. This would be overkill, pardon the pun, but it would still be infinitely more just and humane then eternal torture. I don’t think believers ever quite wrap their brains around “forever,” if they did I’d expect a lot more objections.
No afterlife is at once more depressing and more comforting than most religious alternatives, but not by design. Atheists hold certain beliefs because there is no evidence to believe otherwise. The afterlife will forever be beyond our knowledge. It is up to you to either believe your preference, or to go with the most educated guess.