What Happens After We Die?
In a recent online discussion with a theist, I had to endure a twenty-minute lecture on the afterlife and what it’s going to be like. He rambled on about what heaven is like in remarkable detail, from the fruits that grow over there to the rivers of milk. Then he proceeded to explain to me about hell, with all its fiery pits and multi-headed snakes.
I inquired him if he were a zombie. He said he wasn’t, so as politely as my aching head would allow me to, I asked him to come back later and tell me all about it after he’s returned from the dead. I’m sick of theists talking about afterlife with such confidence as if they just came from the grave.
Whatever happened to those beautiful words, “I don’t know”? Doubt is humble. It teaches us to be open minded about new information as it unfolds before our eyes. It’s a folly to be certain about things that we have no reason to be certain about.
A theist speaks of God with such self-assurance, it seems as if he just had coffee with God, and had a chat with Him about Inception not getting as many Oscar nominations as it deserved. Such pigheadedness alone should disqualify one from being thought of as a rational being. Likewise, any Atheist who’s absolutely certain about God’s non-existence is irrational.
When a person asks me what I think happens after we die, I do not offer him/her an enema of discombobulating, philosophical statements which sound wiser than they actually are, but I just say these three brilliant little words: “I don’t know”.
As far as we can tell, dying is like never being born. Mark Twain once said, “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.”
Humans are so used to the idea of existing, that they find it hard to imagine nothingness. The closest idea we have of death is a calm, dreamless sleep. Other than that, many find it difficult to comprehend what it’s like to be non-existent.
For instance, most people believe that a blind man sees nothing but a curtain of darkness before him, just like we see darkness when we close our eyes. Dead wrong. A blind man sees absolutely nothing…not even the black color that we see with our eyes closed. To help you understand this better, let me ask you what you see behind your head. Do you see a black space? No! You see nothing there because there’s no eye at the back of your head to help detect any light coming from that direction.
It is impossible for a living person to tell precisely what it’s like to be dead. But the best estimate that we can make is that being dead means being nothing.
So go ahead and try it! Say, “I don’t know!”. If you like say something like, “I don’t know for sure, but I have a good hunch that God exists.” or maybe, “I don’t know for sure, but it’s highly unlikely that God exists” (the latter happens to be my stance).
Voltaire once said, “He must be very ignorant for he answers every question he’s asked.” You’re a genius, Volty!