My Opinion of the Afterlife
Did God create man, or did man create God?
I’m sure many of us as a kid were told that we need to be good so that when we die we could go to Heaven. Our parents drilled this belief into us from the time we could understand right/wrong. If it wasn’t our parents, it was a pastor, preacher, imam, priest, or some other clergyman. At least this was taught if you were raised as a Christian or Muslim. It makes sense too. Live a life of good and believe in the correct deity and you have yourself a one-way ticket to the greatest place ever. Do the opposite and you will be suffering for a long time, perhaps for all eternity (depending on which set of religious beliefs you subscribe to).
There are several references to Hell in the Bible, describing it as a horrible place where sinners will burn forever, and lots of teeth gnashing. One interesting thing about the Biblical account of Hell is that it is literally no where in the Old Testament. Hell is hinted at in the Bible a few times, but not described as most clergymen would describe it to you. What it the reason for the discrepancy? Another interesting thing to note is that the Heavens are mentioned in Genesis, but Hell is not. Surely God with all his infinite wisdom would have known a Hell was needed. Then again, I’m not sure if Genesis is a good source for anything. According to Geneses Book 1 Line 3, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”
Let this soak into your mind, because it is about to come into play. Skip down to Line 16, and read: “God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.”
Some three days after God creates light, he creates the sun and moon? How is this possible? The light we see comes from stars such as the sun, and the moon shines reflected sunlight. It would have been more accurate of the Bible to combine the creation of the sun and moon with the advent of light. Can you trust a holy text or any text that makes such erroneous claims?
Although Christianity and Islam are similar in the existence of a heaven/hell dynamic, they differ on some of the finer details of the two places. There is also a divide within Christianity between Protestants and Catholics. Catholics believe in Purgatory and a Hell, although Purgatory is a last ditch attempt to avoid eternal damnation in Hell. Protestants do not have an equivalent to Purgatory, and instead bad people are forever damned to the fiery abyss to suffer eternally. Muslims do not have an eternal Hell; Hell is more like a prison term more or less.
Now that we have some background information out of the way, let’s do some more examining of these beliefs. Neither of those religions tolerate disbelief in that particular supreme being. Non-believers are supposed to be dealt with in this manner: “They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13 NAB)”
Is that the Old Testament? You know, the one that Christians like to downplay like it isn’t part of their religion? Yup, that one. Here is what Jesus and other portions of the New Testament had to say about the OT, “’For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)” or “All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever. ‘It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.’ (Luke 16:17 NAB)”. Don’t believe me? Look it up. And while you are at it, check out these other passages:
- Matthew 5:17 NAB
- 2 Timothy 3:16 NAB
- 2 Peter 20-21 NAB
- Mark 7:10 NAB
- Matthew 15:4-7
- Matthew 5:27
- 1 Peter 2:18
- John 1:17
- John 10:35
God also demands the lives of people who do not abide by the clergy, witches, homosexuals, fortune tellers, one who strikes his or her parents, curses his or her parents, infidels, those who fornicate, believers of other religions, false prophets, and other crazy criteria that I will not list here for the sake staying somewhat on topic. The ones I want to zero in on are the nonbelievers and believers of another faith. Not only are they supposed to be going to Hell eternally, but you as a Christian are supposed to send them there, or at least pack their bags. Sounds like a stand-up deity.
Why do people have to burn for all eternity for simply not believing in him? This applies to those who have lived good lives and helped others. Someone as good as the Dalai Lama will burn because he does not believe in Jesus. This is why I find it somewhat farfetched. With my imperfect logic as a human being, I can clearly see the problems with this. Apparently, you can be a jerk your whole life, repent and believe, and go to Heaven, at least in Christianity. This is worse than many a justice system worldwide.
I have spent a bit of time attempting to discredit religions in this article so far. What about what I think? What is my magical solution to the afterlife? What knowledge to I possess and what gives me any ethos on the subject? Let me start off by stating I have absolutely no ethos on this subject. I am a rational human being who has never died (not to my knowledge). However, based off of reading the Bible, and snippets of other Holy Texts, the Christian afterlife was created to control the behavior of the commoners. Unfortunately for the people millennia ago, they were uneducated and unable to critically think about the dogma forced onto them.
To understand my view of the afterlife, one would have to understand my idea of a “soul”. In my opinion, a soul is the mental essence of a being. This is the being’s mental capacity, memory, personality, and mannerisms, and consciousness. The reason I believe this is because this is what makes the person develop the way they do. It heavily influences how they view the world, and their interaction with it. I believe a soul is housed in the brain or whatever houses those five components of a being.
Sound ridiculous? Need some support? Imagine a scenario in which John Doe, a 42 year old electrician from Seattle gets into a serious car accident. He loses consciousness and slips into a coma. John eventually wakes up, but with no memory of anything. He has to learn how to walk, talk, and eat, etc all over again. His new experiences will dictate his new personality. His handwriting and walk will change. He likes different foods now, and dislikes his old favorite wine. What happened? Surely this isn’t the same person, although it is the same body. This is why I feel as though the soul is housed inside of those three pounds we call a human brain. If we accept this idea, then logically we can conclude that once a human or animal dies, it dies. That’s it. Once the brain stops utilizing neurons and electrical activity within the brain ceases, that person is no more.
This is not unique to homo sapiens. Animals have brains, and I believe plants have souls, at least some of them. There are carnivorous plants that will hunt or ambush their prey. How is this possible without a consciousness? A consciousness is a prerequisite for a soul. It is impossible to hunt or ambush without a consciousness, at least I believe it is. Instinct or no instinct, a being cannot actively or passively eat something else and not have a consciousness.
Life is so short, which is exactly why I feel as though a person should live the most fulfilling life they can, and not be held back by social or religious dogma and stigmas.