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4/08/2009                                                                                       View Comments

What LIES beyond death!

By Becky

dead citiesImage by mugley via Flickr

Death is often something that humans fear because of the unknown that follows it. Throughout history, we have answered that unknown as best we could with the resources and technology that we had at the time. Explaining what happens after death has been coupled with superstition and power hungry authorities needing to control others. The belief of an afterlife is something that should not be forced on others, although that is just what humans have done with the aid of religion.

I feel that I have spent countless, harmful hours on the idea of an afterlife. I say harmful because of the mental abuse that I as a child (and as a young adult) experienced thinking about heaven and hell. Most who disagree with me would say that heaven is not a damaging thought. Unfortunately it is damaging to believe that you will be in paradise while others are not. That pious mindset has caused much of the world’s wars and crusades against other religions, not to mention mental disorders on those abused by the doctrine.

I remember sitting around the kitchen table discussing if my grandpa (who died before I was born) would be in heaven or not. My father’s father (and any non-Christian who was not baptized) would burn in hell forever. Just the idea of that was horrific and spawned from the past manipulation and power play by the church.

As a member in my middle-school church youth group, we would take field trips in the fall to an interactive drama, “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames”. Numerous churches from around the area would bring their youth to participate in this activity. The hidden premise of the event was to scare kids into behaving although in some of the actor’s defense, they were only doing what they thought was for the good of the viewers.

Toward the end of the drama, hell scene was unforgettable, including smoke machine, red lights, and a gothic looking satan. He would yell while demons and the damned grabbed and confronted you as you passed through the scene. Once the “show” was over, you had to decide which door you would choose: heaven or hell. If you chose heaven, you could mingle around a bonfire with your friends but if you chose hell, you were “counseled” by church leaders. David L Rattigan (from “Leaving Fundamentalism.org“) commented on the same drama:

If sitting through an hour-and-a-half of what I described above doesn’t provoke some sort of emotional reaction in you, there is a deficiency somewhere. If the constant sea of dazzling lights, infra-red flashes, reverberating cackles, screaming, yelling, weeping, whooping, cheering and sudden, high-volume bursts of symphonic drama leaves you totally unaffected, you were probably in a deep sleep. I am comfortable thinking that when I die, it is as it was before I was born instead of the idea of an afterlife (and all the rapture, judgment, and tribulation nonsense). These kinds of methods — and I accept the bizarre sincerity of the participants — are the perfect recipe for creating an atmosphere conducive to emotional, psychological and spiritual manipulation. They belong in Hollywood blockbusters, where at the end of the night you can leave the theatre and get over the experience because, after all, it’s just a movie.

Now let me break down the real life drama for a moment. Not only are we to believe that the unsaved are not in heaven, but they are being tortured for years upon years, centuries upon centuries, ages upon ages, until forever and ever! They aren’t just annihilated into oblivion, but are made to pay for their supposed earthly mistakes in unimaginable, unending pain. If Christians believe theirs is a loving god, who tortures most of humanity in a hell fire forever, then they have a different definition of love than I do.

hell-lake-of-fire


Robert Ingersoll in 1896 wrote against the hell doctrine:
All that the human race has suffered in war and want, in pestilence and famine, in fire and flood, — all the pangs and pains of every disease and every death — all this is as nothing compared with the agonies to be endured by one lost soul.

A Christian’s defense on the matter is the concept of free will. It would be too obvious to say that their god creates doubtful minds and has the power to punish that “flaw”. To compensate for this degree of cruelty, they state that we can choose to love god back or choose to go to hell. Their god will not force anyone to believe in him and he will not intercede on that choice. The American Heritage College Dictionary defines free will as “2. The power of making free choices that are unconstrained by external circumstances or by and agency such as fate or divine will.” If theirs is a sovereign god, then this approach doesn’t work. Man’s will to choose his fate would be by definition, god-defying!

Throwing around the term, “free will” may seem to defend god, but humanity cannot make choices or decisions without an internal or external cause. For example, people cannot choose what race they will be, where they are born, or how they will die (naturally). Even beyond that, it is unlikely that they are able to control hearing the “saving” words of Christianity and then choose a heavenly end. If I had this superior free will to choose my fate, I would will myself to be god and end the controversy! Others also argue that as a “father” god, he must be just and punish those who disobey. My counter argument to them is to look at a human parent. Would they punish their child by sending them to time-out forever? No. It would just be for a set time for the child to learn from the mistake. Even in that instance, there should be no mental or physical abuse! There is no logical benefit from an everlasting punishment beyond god’s seemingly, sadistic enjoyment.

After many years of research and investigation I am mostly released from religion’s clutches! Although still damaged by its unsolicited domination, I feel much more peace without it. Relaxation settles in, knowing that I don’t have to measure up to the church’s unattainable expectations or those of god’s. I am able to learn as I go without the anxiety of having some godly purpose to fulfill. Death becomes more a part of living and less of a preparation.

As Mark Twain noted, I was dead for billions of years before I was born, but I don’t recall it being of the slightest inconvenience. Similarly, I am utterly convinced that I will never experience my death as an inconvenience.

Kind of ironic, isn’t it? It seems that billions of people through the ages have accepted religion, and tenaciously clung to religion, for fear of something that they will not even be aware of once it happens.

On Death - ExChristian.Net - Articles, Mar 2009


I am comfortable thinking that when I die, it is as it was before I was born instead of the idea of an afterlife (and all the rapture, judgment, and tribulation nonsense). What happens in this life is beyond my present knowledge so I will not waste my time on guessing. I plan to live my life as best that I can in the present and focus on the happiness of others and myself. With this mindset, I do not fear the unknown as I did before. Unfortunately, there are so many people trapped in a religious web because of the fear of excommunication and worse, their death and the lie of damnation.



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26 comments:

webmdave said...

i couldnt agree more , i thought i was alone in what " I " beleaved... life could not exist without death , and i find it hard to fear something that one day will happen, rather or not you want it to , or ready for . My main question is , if religion was real ,, why are there so many diff religions ??? and why are they all costom taylored to mans beleaves , and all teach something diff ?? The only awnser that i can come up with to this , is that religion is man made .. witch means its a load of crap .. not to mention that religion in its self is the leading cuase of death on the planet . more people have been killed over religious views then any thing sence the start of time .. seems to me it is the root of what is evil ..

webmdave said...

Wow! There is a lot of good stuff in your reply! Great comparison with the Berlin wall !

I intend on taking that philosophy class. I didn't realize that there were FREE classes like that so that is exciting.

webmdave said...

I am quite comfortable with the idea that it is the same as it was before I was born too. Except for insecurity and desire to live forever, I'm not sure why others aren't. I can't imagine anything else after this.

webmdave said...

I am quite comfortable with the idea that it is the same as it was before I was born too. Except for insecurity and desire to live forever, I'm not sure why others aren't. I can't imagine anything else after this.

webmdave said...

I tend to think of life and death as a point of light on the path of eternity. It appears, it flickers out. For a brief time we live on in the memories of those we love, until they, too, are gone.

In the grand scheme of things we are star dust. From star dust we came, unto star dust we shall return. We will always be a part of this vast, glorious universe.

David

webmdave said...

Just as good. :)

webmdave said...

Just as good. :)

webmdave said...

We are but a loud, but deadly fart of the universe. You are born, you live and then pfffffffffffffffft! You are gone.

webmdave said...

When I die, I'm going back to the place I was before I was born.

webmdave said...

I agree with Mark Twain. I was not aware of my existence before I was born so it will probably be the same when I die. The best thing to do in light of this realization is to live one's life the way one wants to live and fuck everybody else. Because when all is said and done all that really matters is how true one is to oneself in living ones life.

webmdave said...

There is nothing after death. The life we have is the one, we're living now. Religious people are very stupid.

webmdave said...

There is nothing after death. The life we have is the one, we're living now. Religious people are very stupid.

webmdave said...

Personally, I am more concerned with the idea of life before death than life after.

Life before death is the only one I have evidence for. This fact makes me think that getting as much out of life before death is important enough to outweigh all other considerations.

webmdave said...

"Whether it's the best of times, or the worst of times, it's the only time you've got.
-Art Buchwald

webmdave said...

"Whether it's the best of times, or the worst of times, it's the only time you've got.
-Art Buchwald

webmdave said...

In spite of the fact that it's often criticized on this site, i like the logic of Pascal's Wager-with certain conditions added. I think that if there is a god of some kind (not convinced there is), he or she would want me to have as good a time as possible before death and would also want me to try to make the earth a better place for me being in it and to try not to hurt other people as much as possible. If i'm right and there is no god, i lose nothing, and if i'm wrong, i still win for doing the right thing! On the other hand, if the only god you can envision is the Abrahamic version, you lose no matter which side of Pascal's Wager you are on.

webmdave said...

That is a good point! I remember as a kid, discussing with friends/family about being a baby in heaven and then being born on earth... that didn't make much sense then either!

webmdave said...

That is a good point! I remember as a kid, discussing with friends/family about being a baby in heaven and then being born on earth... that didn't make much sense then either!

webmdave said...

I'd like to chime in here about "Heaven's Gates and Hell's Flames". I actually participated in one of these events as an actor. It was last year, I had already made up my mind that I was an unbeliever, but I hadn't told anyone yet, and I figured it would be a fun way to do something as a family. My 8-year old daughter was one of the stars of the play, and we all had speaking parts. Actually, our participation was more at my (fundamentalist) ex-wife's insistence, but that's besides the point.

Near the end of the show, I took a seat near the back of the audience with two of my kids. The MC told everyone to "turn to the person next to them" and ask them if they were going to heaven or hell. I looked at my daughter and asked her. She shrugged her shoulders and said "I dunno". And I told her, I don't know either, and what if there isn't a heaven OR a hell? So it surprises me that people will go through this charade and in their minds it really doesn't matter. Even kids pick up on how bogus Christian theology is.

webmdave said...

But do you really think you can fit back in your mother's womb? :)

webmdave said...

But do you really think you can fit back in your mother's womb? :)

webmdave said...

It's too bad this topic always seems to bring out insults and attacks on people's intelligence.

webmdave said...

What a lovely exchange between father and daughter. She is lucky to have you, especially with a fundamentalist for a mother.

webmdave said...

What a lovely exchange between father and daughter. She is lucky to have you, especially with a fundamentalist for a mother.

webmdave said...

And what, pray tell, is your view on the topic of death?

webmdave said...

Even worse, it brings the neurally-challenged out from under their Abrahamic-god rocks with what they consider to be a god-given right to insult our intelligence.

;o(((