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Life Without Afterlife


MiggyEvans
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So, the further I step into deconversion, the more I realize all that I'm stepping out of. There is the easy stuff like the guilt, the control, the illogic, etc. But now I'm starting to realize all the 'good' stuff that must go as well. It is still hard to come to terms with the fact that this great friend I had in Jesus was really just something I imagined in my own mind, that it was self deception. I mourn it like the loss of a great friend that nothing can reconcile.

 

But recently, it's all about Heaven.

 

I used to spend many an hour trying to wrap my brain around the concept of eternity. How can something never end? How can it go on and on? Imagine being in a perfect place of peace, warmth and love forever and ever and ever and ever. Knowing that it will always be that way and you will never stop. As my mother would say, it boggles the mind.

 

I have always taken great solace in that concept. What a fantastic idea! How incredible! PURE love ALL the time forever.

 

Except that it's a dream, most likely a type of escapist invention to help people cope with the horrors of the world. You can deal with anything when you know it's temporary and something infinitely better is waiting for you if you persevere.

 

Heaven is a hard one to let go of. If I could change the world how I wanted, I might consider leaving religion for the chance of heaven.

 

But since the only way we can possibly know of heaven is by anecdotal tradition, then its is quite clear that the story originated here on Earth. If no one can ever come back, then how can anyone know where people go. I'm speaking to myself right now more than to anyone else. Logic, once again, trumps faith.

 

Anyone else struggle with losing heaven or something like it?

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I was just thinking of this very thing today, how I miss having the hope of going to heaven, of being free from physical and mental discomfort one day. Things are easier to bear, as you say, if you know they are temporary, and if there's something better coming. I don't have hope any more because there's no reason actually to have hope.

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To be quite honest, the "no afterlife" thing really blows. It's a raw deal and there's really no way to sugarcoat it. I often question those people who claim it ain't no thing. I bet that somewhere deep down inside remains that hominid desire to live on.

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Wow, I can't imagine how boring living forever would be. No matter how great and wonderful something is, it will eventually get old. I find the thought of eternal existence to be frightening, and I never missed the idea of heaven at all.

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Guest ephymeris

The realization there is likely no afterlife (certainly no christian heaven) was bracing and hard to process at first but it did get much better for me over time. Just time and getting comfortable with your new ways of thinking help. I do not have a desire for an afterlife, certainly not one in which I remain my conscious, sentient self. I would be so tired of just being forever, I prefer to think I stop at some point. Just trying to remember life before birth and realizing this kind of absence of being is a good way to think about life after death, imo. Good luck on your journey, it does get better.

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This one was massive for me too -- it's been hard fearing death for the first time in my life. On the other hand, I suddenly feel more... human, if that makes sense. All the urgency to create things, to use the time we have, to live my life and not miss it, is more compelling than it ever was when I believed in an afterlife.

 

I've also found it helpful, as ephymeris said, to think about life before I was born. It helps me comprehend non-existence, and also to lose the sense of loss or tragedy. After all, it doesn't bother me at all that I didn't exist in, say, 1958. Why should it bother me that I won't exist in 2158?

 

I read a book recently (After the Flood, by Margaret Atwood, FWIW) where these people had a tradition of burying their dead in shallow graves, and planting trees on top of them. People could choose what they wanted to fertilize in the same way we might choose what kind of coffin we want. I loved that idea -- after all, if that isn't life after death, then what is? Knowing that we're made of 'star stuff' is a beautiful and awe-inspiring thought; isn't it just as beautiful to think that we literally return to the universe the same way?

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Thinking of Heaven is just a way of mental masturbation. What we really want is a better today.

Also,it's actually quite comforting for me to know,that my mistakes won't be haunting me for eternity.

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Guest riverrunner

Its a good question but as someone once said something like "I didn't exist for 4.5 billion years and I was fine with it why should I exist after I die". this is the way its always been for all life. heaven is a recently made up thing. the best thing about shedding this myth is you realize you better not waste your life away suffering or working all the time. spend it helping people, exploring, take as much time off as you can get away with. i really think people doubt heaven more than they think - why do we get so upset when people under say age 50 die - cause they missed out on life - the best and only game we have. heaven is just a placebo for the masses, a carrot on a stick. hell is the whip. this is how they controlled us for the last 2000 years but the time of reason is nigh.

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For me, the loss of the belief in heaven eventually heightened the importance of this life and the desire to make the most of it. Basically, I still believe in heaven...it's right here, right now! I really like an Ayn Ryand quote, and have quite embraced it.

 

"Ask yourself whether the dream of heaven and greatness should be waiting for us in our graves - or whether it should be ours here and now and on this earth."

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I would agree with most of the comments here, the one positive thing that comes with losing the happy after life is that my life matters so much more. No more time to waste pissing time away because I have so much of it. I have to make this life count, I have to take care of everything that I have here on earth, my body, my behavior, my family because this is my only chance. There's no watching from the clouds, or receiving some heightened post-life perspective, its just about now. It really does enhance everything. It's like I finally upgraded to a color tv. Thank God I'm young enough (27) to have so much life left to enjoy!

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Wow, I can't imagine how boring living forever would be. No matter how great and wonderful something is, it will eventually get old. I find the thought of eternal existence to be frightening, and I never missed the idea of heaven at all.

 

+1000!

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If eternal life were with the god of the bible, I don't think it would be something really to look forward to. Just read more about this god concept and I think you will also agree. And, what's more, I don't particularly like what description there is in the bible of heaven. So if that's heaven, no thanks.

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That quote mentioned earlier was from Mark Twain -- "I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it."

 

I also like the way Dawkins puts it (paraphrasing) -- when you think of all the different genetic possibilities that must come together to form an individual, you realize that those of us who have been born are a very privileged few. How dare we expect that there has to be something more.

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And think of this, too ... did we really want to spend that eternity singing god's praises and giving him credit for doing whatever work he gave us to do? Or think any being could conceivably want such a bizarre thing?

 

I admit I was a little disappointed that my loved ones really *were* lost forever. But God would have to strip away their "sinful" traits at the door ... things I might have cherished about them. Who really wants their families living forever as sterilized puppets?

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And think of this, too ... did we really want to spend that eternity singing god's praises and giving him credit for doing whatever work he gave us to do? Or think any being could conceivably want such a bizarre thing?

 

I admit I was a little disappointed that my loved ones really *were* lost forever. But God would have to strip away their "sinful" traits at the door ... things I might have cherished about them. Who really wants their families living forever as sterilized puppets?

 

What an awesome point you've made there, flock. I never thought about the things that make all of us unique are our imperfections and flaws, which would by definition not exist in heaven. How can you even have awareness in heaven since individual perception is completely unreliable? In that respect, it really wouldn't be anything like what we can imagine it to be with our flawed minds.

 

Not that it exists, but hypothetically of course. That's a really helpful perspective you just gave me!

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Guest Babylonian Dream
It is still hard to come to terms with the fact that this great friend I had in Jesus was really just something I imagined in my own mind, that it was self deception.

This only helped me get into exchristian theism, its hard to come to terms with this, but it can be done.

 

Except that it's a dream, most likely a type of escapist invention to help people cope with the horrors of the world. You can deal with anything when you know it's temporary and something infinitely better is waiting for you if you persevere.

It's no wonder that this dream came about and was quickly popularized where it was. A place full of horrors, poverty, and downright misery.

 

Anyone else struggle with losing heaven or something like it?

Certainly, It's something that's tought to come to terms with. You learn that your worst suspicions were true, you not only don't have a great world of perfect happiness to follow this not so perfect one, but we actually have an expiration date that is permanent. There is nothing afterward. Its a hard pill for anyone deconverting to swallow I'm sure, at least if they've been taught to focus so much on it, to work towards getting there.

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For me realising that there is no after life has been incredibly freeing. This is it folks, make the most of this life because there is no other.

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I think the concept of an afterlife gives people an excuse to waste their time. I know, in the case of my mother, that she just wastes her time in this life because she's waiting for the big fun party in the afterlife. She does nothing to improve her life, or her circumstances. She just stagnates while she waits for the party to start.

 

Anything that makes you not value your current life is damaging. Having an 'afterlife' to go to is what helps motivate suicide bombers. In normal people it is still damaging because they don't perceive this life as the only life. They get complacent about stuff, and don't take opportunities.

 

It's probably why people often become more religious in the later part of their lives. The science writer Robyn Williams calls this 'cramming for the exam'.

 

I think it's really just how some people deal with their own mortality -- by refusing to face it and replacing it with a happy ending. I think this is why christianity and islam have a heaven and a hell. Nobody wants to die, but you have to deal with it, not run away from it and live in denial. I am sure that in the ancient beginnings of religion, the desire to live forever was an important component, since it is present in so many spiritual beliefs.

 

I was a bit freaked out by my own mortality at first, but once I realised there was no heaven to go to, it changed my whole attitude to life. I took opportunites and tried things I would never have considered before, because I'd realised you only live once.

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I agree with all those who have said the thought of no afterlife is incredibly freeing, and makes me realize the beauty of this life.

 

However, the loss of my pretend friend was hard to grasp. There is no perfect love. BUT, this makes me want to reach out and invest time in human relationships now, and love more, even at the risk of getting hurt. I think xianity isolates us from human relationships in some ways, and encourages us to get our needs met through the imaginary god, so when our needs aren't met we just "stuff it" and something in us that wants to connect with others gets squashed and suppressed.

 

Hope that made sense.

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I agree with all those who have said the thought of no afterlife is incredibly freeing, and makes me realize the beauty of this life.

 

However, the loss of my pretend friend was hard to grasp. There is no perfect love. BUT, this makes me want to reach out and invest time in human relationships now, and love more, even at the risk of getting hurt. I think xianity isolates us from human relationships in some ways, and encourages us to get our needs met through the imaginary god, so when our needs aren't met we just "stuff it" and something in us that wants to connect with others gets squashed and suppressed.

 

Hope that made sense.

Yep. It makes sense. People "stuff" their needs. "Stuff" all the injustices they should try to correct and wait for things to be "made right" in heaven, in the "sweet by and by."

 

With the afterlife, people are made more docile and controllable because they don't demand things out of this life.

 

 

I hope THAT makes sense.

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For me realising that there is no after life has been incredibly freeing. This is it folks, make the most of this life because there is no other.

This.

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I don't fear nothingness.

 

To me it's worse thinking of people going to Hell and be forever tortured for things those didn't hurt anybody. Or for things like being born in the wrong country at the wrong time. Or just for a bad thought at the wrong time. According to the Bible even a lot of religious people who devoted all their lives to the Bible (as they understood it) won't make it to Heaven! Because they happen be in the wrong church. Just think of a devout Jehova's Witness who sacrificed all his life for his religion, led a strict life, did everything required from him, but according to other Christian churches he will still go to Hell, because his belief was the wrong one and he misunderstood the Bible..... According to Fundies a lot of Catholics will go to Hell as well. And according to Catholics Fundies will go to Hell.

 

To me this thought is a lot more horrible than the thought of nothingness. Actually the thought of nothingness is not horrible to me at all.

 

When I think of death now, I think of it as just going back to where we started from: the Universe. I look up on the night sky and have this feeling: that's were we belong to! We are star dust and we go back being star dust. Maybe one day a new star will form out of our atoms. Or a new Earth. And maybe new life as well.

 

The downside is what I mentioned in another thread, that for many horrible things done on Earth by people there won't be justice served in the afterlife. Justice is the only thing why the thought of an afterlife is attractive to me. On the other hand the concept of the Christian Hell doesn't seem very just to me, for the above mentioned reasons. So nothingness is better than having the Hitlers of this world punished BUT also have millions of people being forever tortured like Hitler is tortured, just for minor "offenses" or for being mistaken about the Bible.

 

As for Christian Heaven - you guys already said it all. That isn't very attractive either. It seems like in the Christian Heaven we are supposed to be worshiping robots for God. And that's what Heaven is. (Heaven maybe for God. But for us?) I already felt my individualism under attack while attending Church. And it feels the same when I think of the Christian concept of Heaven. 

 

There's one thing I don't understand: why did God give us brains if all he wants is robots worshiping him all the time? Of course he could convince us that he is worthy of the worship and make us worship him out of our free will, however with all the threats that you go to Hell if you don't worship him, free will unfortunately doesn't play a role in all this. It's just as much free will as a kidnapper gives you when he puts a gun against your head. 

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The heaven I wanted was kinda like the BBC (all channels and radio)... It have something on that would at least keep me entertained :grin:

 

The heaven I was told about "An eternity of worshiping a self-centered prick."

 

But seriously, an after life or the lack thereof, was a cause of depression for me for about a year. I had no problem with NO god (I read the old testament a lot and he was not nice) It was good riddance to him. For that year though, thinking about not seeing my loved ones was hard. I now know we do carry on after we live though our surviving family and friends. Thats better then any old stinky prick worshiping session that last for an eternity any day!

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I guess I was taught differently about the afterlife than a lot of you. There was at least a fifty percent chance of any given person ending up in hell. If you so much as said a bad word and got killed in the next instant before you had a chance to repent, you'd go to hell regardless if you'd lived a perfect life up till that moment. "Not until we're there will we know that we'll make it," my mother used to always say.

 

I was taught that after death there was a judgment in which we would find out whether we actually "made it." My mother lived all her life fearing she wasn't quite "good enough."

 

So when she passed away six months after my deconversion, it was with great relief that I laid her to rest, knowing she would not have to pass the Judgment Seat of God after death but that she truly was at rest.

 

Edited to add: It takes some time to readjust one's thinking after so many years of supernatural thinking. But I think that's okay. Give yourself the time you need. There's no hell to go to in case you die before you get it right.:)

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I guess I was taught differently about the afterlife than a lot of you. There was at least a fifty percent chance of any given person ending up in hell. If you so much as said a bad word and got killed in the next instant before you had a chance to repent, you'd go to hell regardless if you'd lived a perfect life up till that moment. "Not until we're there will we know that we'll make it," my mother used to always say.

 

I was taught that after death there was a judgment in which we would find out whether we actually "made it." My mother lived all her life fearing she wasn't quite "good enough."

 

I was taught the same, and probably many of us here were. Only after god got his jollies sending broken people to burn or perfect people to live with him. Jesus of course would be at his right smiling or finger-wagging.

 

I was told once a week or more that I could go to hell, and really never saw how I (or anyone else) could be that perfect with thought even being a crime in his eyes. I'll leave with the words of Bon Scott "Hell aint a bad place to be"

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