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Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Afterlife?

I believe that the only reason people believe in some sort of afterlife is that they are afraid of death. The 'end of living' can seem daunting to some. Hence humans have invented different theories for what happens after life in order to preserve the idea of living on. It’s a comfort; rather than accepting that the ones you love are gone forever, you invent a make-believe place where they have gone.


I’ve believed in all sorts; heaven, hell, reincarnation, god, angels. Growing up I had my own theory about what happened and told everyone in year 8 R.E. I believed that bad people went straight to Hell and good people went to Heaven, and after a few years people in Heaven came back down to Earth and reincarnated as something else. I believed only dead people could see Heaven and Hell.

Obviously this makes no sense; the point of being dead is that it’s the opposite of being alive. Someone once put it to me like this; “where were you in the 1950s? Dead!” It’s true. I was dead before the 11th of June 1997, and I’ll be dead when I’m no longer alive. But as humans are all made of energy and atoms, and energy can be neither created nor destroyed, in a way we never truly die because our matter and energy lives on. Our memories live through each other, as is the secular humanist perspective.

There is no evidence for any kind of afterlife, nor is there any rational reason to believe in one. In that same R.E lesson everyone said what I thought was silly (so much for respecting beliefs eh) and the one boy who said he believed that when you died you were gone forever was asked by the teacher “really? So you just think you’re gone? You don’t think anything else happens?” It’s like we were being encouraged to believe in an afterlife. Your brain controls everything; once your brain stops working you’re gone. You live through the memories of the others who loved you, and whatever you leave behind in this world.

I also think that believing in an afterlife can be dangerous. Ever hear those stories of children who kill themselves after a parent or loved one dies so they can be ‘reunited’ with them in Heaven? If I believed in an afterlife I think I would have killed myself long ago. The idea of eternal bliss sounds wonderful; what would be the point of staying alive if you could die and live in a sunny paradise forever? Why would you even want to live if that were the case? To someone young and impressionable who was unhappy with their situation, the fact that if they threw themselves onto a train track they could have something better would be appealing. In this way I think telling people that life gets better once you die is dangerous and unhelpful.

I’ve always respected aspects of Buddhism. It’s the only religion I really respect. Buddhism is about acceptance; accepting that suffering and death are inevitable parts of life, and the key to a good life is to enrich your human experiences. Of course they believe in reincarnation, which I now think is nonsense having believed in it before. Humans are made up of genes and DNA, and live through our experiences. How would we reincarnate? It doesn’t make any sense. Maybe it would make more sense if I believed in spirits and souls, but I don’t for the same reasons I don’t believe in afterlife or angels or other vague and un-proven concepts.

Life is what is happening now. I believe that we only get one shot at it. The best thing is to make the best of it, even when things seem horrible. Heaven and Hell aren’t above or below the ground; they’re right here on Earth.

What do I believe in, Heaven or Hell; I don't believe in Heaven and I'm living in Hell so that's my life
- Joy Denalane

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