From Not My God



I have missed this blog! Between winter holidays, Andy getting badly injured, planning a wedding and miscellaneous happenstances, I haven’t posted in a while, though I religiously (heh, heh) have posted every Thursday.

It’s no secret that I have big love for the HBO series Big Love, which I discussed in my posts about Mormonism. The opening credits end with Bill, the husband, meeting each of his three wives in heaven. (Do they get every third night with him in heaven, too, or how does that work?) Maybe it’s because I’m getting married, but recently I paid attention to that part and it choked me up a little.

Big Love Intro

All right, so Andy and I won’t meet in heaven. That may not really be a loss for me, as I don’t remember ever believing in heaven. Jewish theology doesn’t discuss the afterlife much, and in any case, there is no hell in Judaism. (Hell is other Jewish people.) This is another point in favor of Judaism: no hell. Thanks, guys!

Many atheists tell me that atheism is a positive thing– they don’t need to feel “watched” and judged all the time. They won’t be punished in the hereafter. Still, there are quite a few who tell me that they lament the loss of a loving god and not going to heaven. They are sad that this life is all they will get and that they won’t get to join their loved ones after they die. It is indeed a rude shock to think that you’ll spend an eternity in paradise only to conclude that such a place doesn’t exist.

Skeptic extraordinaire Michael Shermer’s stock response to his feelings on life after death is “I’m for it.” Many people may want an afterlife, but I suspect these people haven’t really thought it through. I would rather die tomorrow than be forced to live forever. Would you really want to go on forever and ever (and ever and ever) after the earth ends, the universe ends, and you’re just floating in nothingness, with nothing to occupy you but your thoughts?

What do you think? Do you miss the idea of an afterlife, including an eternity in the Celestial Kingdom with your spouse (or spouses)? Are you glad you’re not going to hell? Are you glad you’re not going to heaven? Did Christians ever portray a really compelling heaven, for that matter?

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Tags: Heaven, afterlife, hell

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Comment by Sarah Trachtenberg on January 15, 2010 at 10:54am
Morti Menni, I'll be sure to check out your songs.
@Michelle-- isn't it funny how these ideas never quite go away, or at least not soon, even though we know that they're irrational? Eternity, good or bad, is a scary idea.
Comment by Michelle on January 15, 2010 at 7:20am
I've been saying for years that I envy Christians for the fact that they have something to look forward to after death. It's like they spend their whole lives believing in something so ridiculous to me, but they have no reason to be mad when their time finally comes because, guess what! They get to spend the rest of their eternal life with their loved ones who have passed. Instead of having something like that to look forward to, I find that if I think about it too much (sometimes I even lay down and close my eyes just to imagine I've died and everything has disappeared) I start to have what I believe to be a panic attack. It's really quite silly because as many times as I've done that laying down routine, I still get freaked out and I never rethink my position as an atheist. In all reality, I don't really want to live forever, but I'm still overwhelmed by the idea of nothingness.
Comment by Michelle on January 15, 2010 at 3:03am
Even as a 'Christian' child I found the idea of eternity terrifying and that included heaven. It still freaks me out a little if I think about it too much.
I love to read Terry Pratchett novels with characters like Reg. Shoe the Zombie saying, "Huh!" "Priests!" "They're all the same. "Always telling you that you're going to live again after you're dead, but you just try it and see the look on their faces!" (Reaper Man 1991)
Comment by Morti Meni on January 14, 2010 at 10:08pm
paradise is a word ,that is wine of my mind
i am a singer & my free songs based on khayyam's poema are (www.khayyamsongs.com
look ,this poem is one of my songs
2-Like a Dream!

Days changed to nights, ere you were born, or I,
And on its business ever rolled the sky;
See you tread gently on this dust-perchance
'Twas once the apple of some beauty's eye.

I sometimes think that never blows so red
The Rose as where some buried Caesar bled;
That every Hyacinth the Garden wears
Dropt in her Lap from some once lovely Head.

And this reviving Herb whose tender Green
Fledges the River-Lip on which we lean--
Lean upon it lightly! for who knows
From what once lovely Lip it springs unseen!

Threats of Hell and hopes of paradise!
One thing at least is certain - This Life flies;
One thing is certain and the rest is Lise;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies.

The world is a mirage, a dream;
why Then do you despair and cling to your
Unhappy condition? surrender your soul to the present.
your future is fixed. you can't change any part of it.

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