You hear frequently that theists believe that when they die their spirit and soul will leave their carbon based bodies and meet God, where he’ll judge you on your actions during your life. Practically every religion throughout history has had some belief in some form of afterlife, where the remaining consciousness leaves the body and ventures into a spiritual existence, or reborn into another life. This is especially believed in Indian cultures that practise Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and Hinduism. This can either be a reward, or a punishment depending on how they conducted themselves in their previous life. Abrahamic religions, that consist of the Baháʼí Faith, Islam, Judaism and Christianity believe in the dark and the light, the good and the evil. They all have their versions of Heaven, and Hell, where varying degrees of suffering and reward are subjected to the deceased depending on their level of sin during their lives.
“You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who don’t believe and who don’t seek the faith. I start by saying – and this is the fundamental thing – that God’s mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.” – Pope Francis
As you can read above, Pope Francis said in 2013 that be believed that atheists would enter Heaven if they lived their lives following their conscience. If an atheist adopts a humanist approach and lives a kind and virtuous life, surely any compassionate god would forgive them if it turns out Heaven does exist? We are approaching 8,000,000,000 on this planet, and some are by nature good, and some aren’t; but theists and non theists are individuals with different personalities, desires, morals and ethics. So how can an afterlife, or a Heaven be a personal experience for everyone? Is it an irrational concept to imagine an eternity as a spirit?
What will people do forever?
Surely it would get boring as I’m sure there are no bars, social clubs, sporting events or holiday companies.
Why would anyone use this life to plan for that?
“Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.” – Kurt Vonnegut
Is our body mortal but our soul or spirit immortal? Personally I think that when we die it’s like turning a switch off and once brain activity ceases we are no more, but over thousands of years, various cultures and religions have questioned what happens after death. Is the afterlife no more than just wishful thinking and is it just to give people hope in that death might not be the end? When people have supposedly died, and they’ve claimed to have seen a tunnel of light, surely this is just electrical activity of the brain and if you were truly on your way to judgement, would you even remember after you’re brought back to life?
“I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.” – Carl Sagan