I am of the opinion that people believe in an afterlife—and, in many instances, God—as a method of protection.
Without an aftermath to our aftermath, we’re exposed for what we probably are: Meaningless nothings. All our work and dedication and determination and time and effort may well be the accumulation of otherwise worthless existences. I mean, I’m not saying existence is worthless. Certainly, it has worth. But if there’s no God, one can argue there’s no larger meaning. And, without larger meaning, what difference does any of this make?
That’s why, I think, we have religion. To supply meaning.
But here’s what I often ask myself: What’s so terrible about applying our own meaning to our own lives, sans God or Jesus or Moses or Mary? Perhaps my meaning is to have fun. Or to help people. Or to have fun and help people. Why is that wrong, or—really—meaningless? Why do I need a God to supply meaning?
Because, if the Godly are honest with themselves, meaning=afterlife. In other words, when they speak of their religion providing a basis for their existences, they’re speaking of their religion offering the dangling carrot (or cucumber, if you must) of an eternity alongside God. No pain. No problems. Just God and you, sipping lattes. Ah …
But, as Christopher Hitchens has written, who the f^%$ wants an eternity of anything? Seriously, does eternity sound nice? I mean, let’s say—best-case scenario (for me), heaven is an eternal game of pick-up basketball. And I can slam. And my teammates are Kareem, Magic, Bird, Jordan and Louie Orr. And I’m the best dude on the court. And, at halftime, we all eat banana splits. Great! For an hour! For a day! For, eh, a week. For … eternity? No.
Eternity would suck. Our heads would explode, our minds would melt. As badly as I crave eternity, in my I-don’t-wanna-die moments, I’m repulsed by the actuality of eternity. In other words, it sounds dreadful.
Death might be an end, but at least it’s an end.
I’ll take it.