When I was a Christian I had great faith that there would be a place in heaven waiting for me when I died. This faith gave me the confidence to live more freely and fearlessly. There are many things I miss about being a Christian, and this confidence in a blissful afterlife is one of them.
The reason I couldn’t continue being a Christian is because I found deep flaws in the theology of the church (explained in detail in my book Ultimate Truth: God Beyond Religion). I don’t believe in free will. Instead, I believe God is actively in control of everything that happens in the universe. This means ideas like sin, judgment, and the devil, make no sense to me. These are deeply significant ideas and problems that I could not overcome, even after lengthy discussions with Christian friends and pastors and priests. I simply had to leave the faith and live with my new understanding.
Since I have turned away from Christianity, the problem of death has become a little more complex. These days, despite extensive exploration of different faith groups, I do not associate myself with any particular religion. So there are no scriptures to comfort me and no pastors to tell me how to live in order to achieve that great prize of Christian faith – a place in heaven.
I know there is a God and I believe there will be an afterlife for everyone, regardless of their beliefs. I believe this because my intuition tells me consciousness, by it’s very nature, is eternal. It is impossible to not exist. There has never been a time when I haven’t existed, and there will never be an ending to my existence. Instead, there are simply transitions into different states. I believe this because we are all expressions of God, and part of God’s nature is existence. It is impossible for God (and therefore us) to stop existing.
Living for eternity seems appealing but what really frightens me is suffering. I am frightened of suffering whether it be in this life or during the event of death or in the afterlife. Believing as I do that God is in control of all, I am constantly and fervently praying and reaching out to God as I desperately don’t want to suffer hellish experiences. Through my spiritual journey and mental illness I have had a small taste of suffering, and I know how much worse things could be. I even believe hell is possible.
But having said all this I still have a good amount of hope. I believe that God is ultimately merciful and although He might give us a terrible taste of suffering, that suffering is always under control, and limited. Unlike many Christians, Muslims, and Jews, I believe that God is in control of all our suffering, and I explain why God might cause us to suffer here and in more depth in my books.
Death is to be feared, as the unknown is always frightening. But most fearful of all is suffering, as we live under the control of an infinitely powerful God who could drag us through hell if He so chose. I suggest that we all need to pray fervently to God for mercy, and to try to come to a deeper understanding of why it is that God causes us to suffer.