On another post, a Christian asked me, what happens when we die? Rather than answer him in the comments, I thought I would answer his question here.
The power of religion rests in the hope they give people concerning life after death. Remove this from religion and churches would be shuttered overnight. Hope, along with fear, is the glue that holds most religions together. What would religion be without the fear of hell and the hope of heaven?
The problem though is that there is no proof that there is a heaven or a hell. All we have to go on is the various religious texts that clerics use to “prove” there is a hell and a heaven.
No one has ever gone to heaven and come back to tell us about it. The same goes for hell. All we have to go on are what ancient texts say about heaven and hell. Thus, it requires FAITH to believe there is a heaven and a hell.
The same goes for any life at all after death, whether it be reincarnation or Christian resurrection. There is no proof that there is ANY life after death. Again, a belief in life after death requires FAITH.
As a skeptic *, faith has very little place in my worldview. I judge matters according to what I can know. What does reason tell me about life after death? What do my my observations tell me about life after death? What do my experiences, anecdotal they may be, tell me about life after death?
Simple….when we die we are dead. That’s it. End of story. When my heart stops pumping and my lungs stop breathing I am dead. Everyone of us will come to this end. No one escapes death.
I know of no one who has come back from the dead. I know of no one who is not right where they were planted or sprinkled after they died. As with God, there is no evidence of a hell, heaven, or life after death. Since there is no evidence, I must conclude these things do not exist.
Now, this does not mean I don’t wish it could be different. Heaven, eternal life, a pain-free body…..that appeals to me. But then, so does having magical Harry Potter powers. Both are fantasies that have NO foundation in reality.
Some day, sooner rather than later, I am going to die. It is unlikely that I will be alive 20 years from now. I hope I am, but my body and its slow, gradual decline tells me that death is lurking in the shadows and some day will come and claim me. Believe me, I want to live. I have no death wish like many Christians do. Take me Jesus, I am ready to go, many a Christian says. Not me. I have no desire to leave on the next boat or any other boat. I hope that slow-black train that’s a-comin’ gets derailed in Texas. I want to live as long as I can. I want to be married for 50 years and see my grandkids get married and bless me with great grandchildren.
You see, we as skeptics value life because this is all we have. We know (because that is what the evidence tells us) there is no hell, heaven, or life after death. This is it and because this is it we want to ring as much as we can out of life. We are not content to off-load life to a mythical afterlife. Every days matters because every day lived is one less day we have to live.
I have lived about 19,843 days, 467,592 hours. What is most important to me is how I spend the days I have. Have I lived life to its fullest? Have I made a difference? Am I a better person today than I was yesterday?
This is enough for me. A well-live life…what more can anyone ask for?
Sadly, the Christian views life as something to be endured so that they might get an after-life payoff. I know this description sounds crude, but it is the essence of the Christian belief concerning life after death. Endure! Suffer! Be Patient! As the Christian song says, Some day it will be worth it all. Some day you will cross the finish line and receive the prize that awaits you, the Apostle Paul says.
Now, I fault no Christian for believing in hell, heaven, and the afterlife. The Christian Bible certainly says these things are real. The Christian Bible certainly says who will be going to hell and who will be going to heaven. However, as a skeptic, I see no evidence that these beliefs are true. I do not have the requisite faith necessary to suspend reason on these matters. (and faith requires the suspension of reason) I am unwilling to waste my life in the pursuit of that which, best I can tell, does not exist.
I hope this adequately answers the Christian commenters question.
* my use of the word skeptic. I use the word to represent atheists, agnostics, and humanists in general.