Shit like this is why I cannot be a part of this religion anymore. All my life growing up teachers and others were feeding my head with this idea that Lincoln freed the slaves. 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments all ratified. Then I get to the church and find out I’m still a fucking slave. Christianity is the slave-master’s religion, and I recognize it as such. If Hell is the price then I’ll pay it. The world’s white idol can fuck off.
Physically, as in a geometric location prepositionally oriented to the Earth (below), or a co-planar alter dimension of roasty torments, probably not. But in the hearts and minds of some of the people I’ll leave behind, I’ll be ‘down there,’ wailing and gnashing my teeth because I chose to no longer believe.
The trouble with the afterlife is that we have to die to find out what it is. We talk about it as if we’ve sent NASA battlebot rovers through the tunnel and into the light and we’ve been watching the live feed on the agency’s website. The truth is, we don’t know. We have no reproducible evidence of what, if anything, is over there, or if there is in fact an ‘over there.’ There is a lot of speculation and supposition among people, and most of it is very fervently held.
We live on in the hearts and minds of the people whose lives we’ve touched. That’s the only ‘afterlife’ that’s verifiable. It’s the only afterlife that we do know. That’s why forgiveness is so important, not because of a threat that God won’t forgive you if you refuse. It’s so that you’re not carrying around the burden of encounter after encounter, and situation after situation for years afterwards, and possibly to your grave.
When people die and someone sees them in Hell because they chose to not believe in Christ, or at least to not believe in the ‘Christ’ that was being preached at them, it means that they have a place in their heart for the purpose of burning and torturing people, and they’ve placed that person, their memories of that person, there. And if they have a particularly sick pathology, they take delight in the fact, and count it a blessing to one day observe it. That idea goes back to at least the 13th century, to St. Thomas Aquinas.
I personally know a few people who shine the outsides of their mental furnaces, and whenever I go, if they’re still here, they’ll likely toss me in with the others.
The thing is, eternity, the other side, whatever that is…whatever experience, if any that I’ll have when my time ends here, that’s between me and the creator. That’s between me and the universe. It’s not anyone else’s business. And it certainly has nothing to do with whatever movie is playing in someone else’s head, now or after I leave this experience.
As far back as I can remember I have believed in the existence of life on other planets. The way I view what’s ‘out there’ is heavily coloured by years of exposure to telescope images, science fiction shows, and science documentaries. Whether they have been here in body or mind is subjective. I hope they have. I hope somebody out there has figured out how to perturb the space around an object such that the perturbation can move sufficiently fast to cover the vast distances. It’s a hope I have. I don’t know. I have seen UFOs on four occasions, but I’m not going to detail those in this post.
We’re a small planet orbiting third in line around a small star close to the outer edge of a galaxy that’s composed of billions of other systems and because of certain hobbling beliefs, some people think we’re it…the only planet with life. I don’t believe that. I’ve never believed that, and I will go to my grave never believing that. I’ve never been satisfied with that idea. Even in my years as a Christian I believed there was life out there. I refused to allow doctrines to destroy my vision of a truly vast universe. I just tried to work in a savior for their ‘mankind’ and hoped that they hadn’t made as much of a mess of their history as we have of ours. I don’t do that anymore.
A few years ago I was talking with a minister friend. He said that he felt that anyone who believed in aliens didn’t know God or his word. I listened. I didn’t challenge him on what he was telling me because his opinion of my views on cosmology is none of my business. And after we got off the phone I said to myself, “Well I guess I don’t know God, then.”
Actually I do.
Some people’s gods are just too small.
Here’s part 2 of my interview on the Losing Our Religion podcast.
Those of us who, through deconversion and/or deconstruction, are challenging Pascal’s wager are playing for the highest stakes imaginable. We’re betting that God is bigger and more awesome than anyone has ever envisioned, that the creator transcends the book and is nothing like our feeble 2-dimensional notions. So I want to say to anyone who is just starting the process or is considering deconstructing their faith or deconverting from it to take heart. It can be scary. It will scare some people in your life, but I think in the end we’re going to be okay.
It was a privilege a few weeks ago to be interviewed on the podcast Losing Our Religion. Host Zac Gandara talk about my time in the church and the process of deconstructing and deconverting from my faith. This is part 1 of 2.