blogging gobbledygook and such

Currently am living a godless life. It is self’s belief that if you’re a so-and-so, what happens in your afterlife is as according to what your religion says. So Christians would go to Christian heaven, Muslims to Muslim heaven, atheists would just cease to exist, and so on. There would be no such thing as Hell because Hell exists for the unbelievers and people who denounce the religion. (Because if you’re a sinner but you still believe in the religion, chances are you’d squeak past Heaven’s gates.) If believe in a heaven for every religion, then hell becomes redundant.

Despite being an agnostic and theist of sorts, am a little afraid of dying without a religion. Children have been, perhaps still are, taught that if they didn’t believe in God, they’d go to Hell. Though am not a child anymore and can tell between rational and irrational, this belief still haunts the back of self’s mind. Doubt creeps in and that question pops up: What if? What if it’s true? What if after you die, you’d really go to Hell because you didn’t have a religion?

In self’s one mind, am considering converting to a religion. This mind is thinks that it’s something that should be considered in old age, when one is at the brink of death. Many people do that; perhaps mortality is an excellent spiritual wake-up call. This mind is also thinking that if there’s any religion she would convert to, it would be Christianity, simply because it is the one she knows best from her brief forays in Sunday church as a child, and another brief spell in Christian youth groups.

Self’s other mind argues that that is a ridiculous rationale for becoming a Christian. (Ridiculous, but surely understandable?) Becoming a Christian on the basis that your mortality is dwindling and that you don’t want to go to Hell is a shallow way of thinking of religion. After all, being Christian should not be something that you want to be just before death – it’s a lifetime commitment to Jesus Christ and a way of lifestyle that is recommended by the religion. It’s unfair and insincere to commit all the sins before you declare, “Okay, my time looks like it’s up, so now I’ll become a Christian and be pious.” (Yea, yea, there are those Christians who tell you that Christians are not sinless, but neither their conscience nor the church would allow them to commit one without much stick for it, no?)

But then again, doubt if any pastor or priest would turn down a dying person’s request to accept Jesus Christ in his / her life, sincerity notwithstanding.

Also, this other mind argues that if the reason you’re not a Christian now is because you have doubts of it, what makes you think that you’d be convinced later in life, before death? (Well, the mind and person changes over the years, don’t they?) And it also reminds you that there’s no guarantee that Christianity is the one and true religion – that’s what the other religion advocates too.

So what happens in life after death in your mind?

(If this post reveals the blogger’s laughable concept of religion, you may reeducate her in a non-preachy way. All religions / non-religions welcomed.)

Comments on: "Aren’t you afraid of dying without a religion?" (15)

  1. I’m agnostic, and of course I’ve faced the same fear that you have. I still feel it from time to time. It is only natural.

    Did your siblings (if you have any) ever scare you as a kid? They probably said something like “the stuffed animals under your bed will come alive at night and eat your brains unless you give us five dollars”. And you thought “psh, no way”. That is so incredibly unlikely that you just know it isn’t true. But then again, what if it is?

    So even though you are very comfortable in the knowledge that your siblings are lying, you still get scared of the consequences. It is a logical fallacy, but what room is there for logic when your brains could get eaten?

    A loving God would not subject loving people to eternal torment based on their inability to believe a flawed document if a) God indeed created the document himself, and b) God created man with the brain power to understand the flaws.

    sulz: phew, thought am only one. πŸ™‚ the last line is very reassuring! am inclined to think that way too… despite the what ifs. πŸ˜›

  2. i’m agnostic as well (although in the philosophical sense, not the unsure sense), and my thinking is that if i tried everyone with love, then surely it would be unjust for any god to damn me for the mere crime of not believing, as long as i’ve lived as ethically as i can.

    [/runonsentencefromhell]

    sulz: that’s the rationale agnostics believe – how can one be judged for not believing when there is no one real reason to? and yet like all other religions and beliefs, there’s no proof on what would your life be after death. in that sense, being a christian or a muslim, where they have faith in their gods, can be somewhat reassuring before death, knowing, believing that they will be alright when they pass on. being an agnostic doesn’t say we’ll go somewhere after death, it just says you’ll see. and that’s the part am a little apprehensive of!

  3. Hamza Isa said:

    Hello, i have enjoyed reading your post and i can relate to it. I was born into a Christian family and led a Christian life for many years until i began researching into it deeply. I then saw many flaws in the central doctrines of the faith that remain unanswered. So, i left, unconvinced in what the Christian doctrines taught.

    i believed in God though, for me, belief in God was obvious, there is no other explanation for life, the perfect and orderly way the universe functions according to certain laws and in all its amazing detail.

    so, one of the religions had to be right (i said to myself) God would not leave us without the correct way, His way.

    I studied many faiths and none of them really answered all my questions….apart from one, and it was that one that i really didn’t want to convert to, but it kept giving me answers. The purpose of life, who were the Prophets? who was Jesus? how was the universe created? heaven and hell, life after death and about God Himself.

    Islam gave me all these answers. The Qur’an identifies itself as being written by God; God’s own words (the Bible didn’t do that and its quite a statement to make isn’t it?) i thought, what book is there that claims that God is the direct author of it?

    Well, after a long time of reading i had to accept that indeed, the only being who could have possibly authored this book, is God Himself.

    I believe Heaven and Hell exist, life after death exists, i believe in all the revealed books (original) and in all the Prophets including Jesus and Muhammad and in the Qur’an.

    when i accepted all the doctrines of Islam to be true it left me in a state of inner peace…! i haven’t looked back.

    When you consider other faiths, take a look at Islam and what it says about reality, the afterlife, Jesus and the other Prophets. You may just find what has been missing

    With respect.

    Hamza

    sulz: thank you for sharing your spiritual experience. πŸ™‚ would like to learn about other religions too, except that a lot of time it is misconstrued as wanting to convert to that religion or people seeing it as an opportunity to evangelise. have no qualms about asking some friends about their religion, and they are more than happy to answer to the best of their knowledge.

  4. Religion is only the trademark of a belief. Think about faith. Look at what you think about life, death, destiny. If some religion matches with your inner truth, fine. If not, who cares. I’ve been an atheist most of my life, then an agnostic and now to quote to song, I’m a believer. But I don’t think I’ll fit in a religion.
    As I told before, I think faith is about experience. If your own experience didn’t drive you there, you can’t blame yourself.

    sulz: if you’re a believer without a religion, that still makes you an agnostic, no? actually, well at least what christian people have told self, faith is the opposite of experience. it’s about not knowing it but believing in it anyway. it’s blind trust.

    but yes, am looking for a spiritual experience before having faith. god doesn’t work that way for most parts, think.

  5. I consider myself an atheist. I was raised in a catholic family and all, but as I was growing up I realized I was doing all the religious stuff just because my family did, and I had no reason to. Right now the idea of a “God” to me is not much different than the idea of “Santa Claus”, only difference being that many more adults believe in it.

    I think I can understand why people would need to believe in something, to have the feeling that they have a guide, someone to rely on and protect them. It’s comforting, isn’t it? I recognize that maybe if I made myself believe in something like a higher power, my life would be easier. The idea of having someone I could rely on always, and ask them the hard questions and have them comfort me me when I’m confused or feeling bad is tempting. But I just can’t believe in it just because it’s comforting, in the same way believing that someone old and caring comes every year to give me the thing I’ve always wanted all wrapped in cute colors seems like a happy thought, but I just know it’s not true.

    Besides there’s the counterpart of sin, hell and strange rules with no explanation that I just don’t want anything to do with. I’m with commenter #1. Any god who would send people to eternal torture just because they won’t believe in him or refuse to play by his confusing rules is not a god who deserves to be worshiped.

    Oh, if you could count how many times I’ve been “sent to hell” because of saying that.

    sulz: you’ve made a really good point about faith and comfort! never really saw it that way before.

  6. If you look at Judaism, Islam and Christianity they all believe in the same God, they just do not agree on the prophets and their interpretations. I see the church as simply a door that lets you explore the worlds of God. That doesn’t mean the church will give you an answer that you are looking for. Peace with one’s self must first come from within.

    I suppose most people would classify me a Deist. I believe in God and Christ. But I do not follow one particular denomination of Christianity. I am not a big follower of churches in general mostly because to many of them claim as if they have the only solution to understanding God and Christ. The churches are run by humans with all the fallibilities that accompany being mortal. That does not make them bad people; it just makes them human. And I am not sure you can expect a human to understand a being that is omnipotent. I think looking for God is like trying to find the forest among the trees. The belief in God must come from within. I feel that you must first come to appreciate the universe and life before you can even fathom how little we truly understand about life or God. The Universe is to complex of an equation for me to believe in accidental existence. But believing in God is like any belief, you either have faith in the existence or you do not. You or no one else can force the issue. That belief can come in an instance or it may take time to develop and only if you wish to have that capacity. As to the questions surrounding heaven and hell, once again you are asking humans to perceive like a much higher being. It would be like a human trying to explain to an insect how to write a sonnet. We will have to evolve to the next level of life to truly understand the next reality. Do these beliefs clash with church teachings at time, sometimes? They are not mainstream and if I am wrong in my translations I only have myself to blame. But the clash usually comes from different interpretations of the same writings. Nor do I claim to be all knowing or a powerful being such as God. In fact my only real problem with most religious institutions is those that claim to be as omniscient as the God they worship. I just claim to believe in God and will have to accept my next state of being for whatever it is. And I accept the churches for what they are; the doorway to God’s universe.

    sulz: the analogy of the insect and the sonnet makes a lot of sense. many people do take religion at the superficial level and see it as spiritual insurance. they can’t be entirely blamed for their docile childlike faith seeing that they were taught and raised to believe without necessarily understanding. that’s partly what faith is made of, after all.

  7. I only pray to God when I feel I’m not safe.

    Nowadays, I ask guidance from the Universe or Higher Self. But then is it our faith and hope or our actions that allow us to get what we want in our prayers? I don’t know. Maybe both.

    When we are young of course we would follow what our family is doing, then later influenced by friends and peers. Lucky for me, I have the freedom to choose my religion (or no religion) because I’m not born a Muslim in Malaysia. I don’t care what my parents think about my religion anyway. It’s my life.

    I don’t believe anyone who believed own God then he/she would go straight to heaven. What happens to those who are kind on Earth but has no specific religion? Maybe there’s another committee for them πŸ™‚ on the other side.

    sulz: the ones with no specific religion would go to their heaven also la, whatever it may be! πŸ™‚ yes, even though the muslims have a lot of advantages in malaysia over other races, freedom of religion is not one of them.

  8. Why do you feel the need for a specific religion? Believing in God and not associating with a religion does not make you an agnostic, it makes you a believer and a person of faith. An agnostic is someone that doesn’t know for sure if there is or isn’t a God.

    Surely, if there is a heaven/hell, then we all go to those places no matter what religion we are. Just because a person’s religion doesn’t believe in hell, that’s no guarantee that he won’t go there. Belief in something doesn’t make it real.

    I do believe that you can worship God in your own way, by adhering to the principles that Jesus taught – Love God, love your fellow man, turn the other cheek, bless those that persecute you. Those are the core principles of Christianity and they should coincide peacefully with any religion worth practicing.

    Modern evangelical churches have distorted Jesus’ message to the point that we associate Christians with narrow-mindedness and Republican ideals.

    Jesus was a radical troublemaker for the established religion of his day and I think he would be very displeased with the state of religion in the modern world.

    That’s just my opinion. πŸ˜‰

    sulz: the need of religion is just like a child’s need for a security blanker. some comments above have commented on this too. there is a side of self that thinks perhaps there is no god – that god is a creation of man – but for the most part am inclined to believe in the existence of one. all good values are advocated by every religion, not just christianity. non-believers don’t see it as practising what the religion teaches. it’s basic moral principles that need not be linked to any religion.

    and thank you for your opinion. πŸ™‚

  9. I don’t think I’m still agnostic. In fact, I think being religious doesn’t require a religion. Prophets, saints, great religious figures are religious.
    What I would call believing requires a religion. You pick it, you follow it. Mostly because you need it or because you grew up this way. It’s not about faith, only conformism. Which, is, I think, what most people in a religion do.
    That makes sense with “blind trust”.
    Faith is about seeing, feeling, communicating. It IS an experience.

    sulz: hmm, good point about conformity and blind trust. maybe faith has two definitions, since the one am taught has nothing about experiencing!

  10. The only advice I can offer is be careful which one you choose… some of them don’t let you leave! (Not gonna name names, I don’t wanna get in trouble.) 😯

    As some others have stated, religion doesn’t require organization or a large building. I recommend making it a personal thing, and reading the good book(s) you believe to be the most authoritative. (Or compare and contrast them.) In the end say of things, it’s between you and God. (Or gods plural if you go that way.)

    Best of Luck!

    sulz: don’t worry, most malaysians are well aware of this fact as muslims in malaysia are technically not allowed to convert to any other religion.

  11. Oh yeah, one more thought. I’ve been thinking about Pascal’s Wager. Basically, it’s the concept that you have little to lose by believing in God and picking a religion, but a lot to possibly gain if you’re right! Interesting thought.

    (I actually came to this conclusion a number or years ago and called it the Gamblers Approach to Religion or something like that.)

    sulz: guess this post is sort of a question about that too. the problem is which religion to choose, if one would look at it that way!

  12. […] I Wanted To Talk About A Long Time Ago I once said that if there were any religion I would embrace, it would be Christianity simply because it’s the one I am most familiar with. If one were to also deduce, then one […]

  13. Currently, I don’t know if I’m an atheist or agnostic or what. But I don’t think I’ll go to hell if I don’t read a couple of scriptures and do my prayers in a defined sort of a way. If you think you’ll go to hell for something as small as that, then there’ll be millions of other people there to spend time with. God himself did not create religion. Every religion says God is one but then goes ahead to say that he/she is the one according to their religion. My religion and Hinduism has so many Gods. That doesn’t make sense. I believe that your God is inside your heart, somewhere, even if you believe in him or you’re not. They always say that God protects you and stuff like that, so if you don’t believe in God, why do you think you’re alive till now? You could have died in any mishap right? But here you are, alive, and almost happy which is proof in itself that your God is with you. I believe that making up your own prayers for God will work much more effectively than saying a pre-defined prayer which you may not feel anything about.

    And as you said, joining a religion just because you’re afraid of going to hell is not fair for the religion. You should join it only if you believe in each and everything it says. Religion is just a way to reach God, if you don’t believe in any of the existing ones, make your own way. If you don’t believe in God, you need no way. You’re there where you want to be. Atheism is a religion. You will go to their heaven.

    sulz: i’m inclined to agree with you with some logical points you made about religion, as i feel that way myself. i’m sure people with a religion will offer their point of view about that though, especially about atheist heaven! πŸ˜‰ i wonder what’s in there if there’s really such a thing? but yeah, like you, i believe if you believe in a heaven, then it exists and you will go there. if you don’t believe in heaven, then you just cease to exist after you’re dead, i guess. πŸ˜›

  14. I’m personally a Christian, but that’s largely becaue that’s what I was born into. I think all religions, including whatever spiritual beliefs one has that are not classified into the dogma of an established organized religion, are simply vehicles that bring us closer to whatever god is.

    My personal belief, based on my own experiences, is that god wouldn’t want us worrying so much about hell.

    Even within the christian faith, their are “christian” texts like the gnostic gospels that contained such controversial claims that Christ indicated no one goes to hell, and that everyone gets to heaven.

    I”m not an expert on this though and have only heard of this through word of mouth, so that may not be accurate. That’s my understanding anyway.

    I’ll also add this. I’ve had some pretty unique personal experiences that you would think would have left my faith unshakable, and yet I constantly struggle with my own as well.

    I love that you mention the universe here because I’ve long pondered over whether the universe wasn’t somehow god? Or one of the many faces of god? If their can be only one alpha and one omega, and if we are, as Calr Sagan said, the stars made self aware, are we not made in the universe’s image? Even looking at such offerings as “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” – the material that makes up our planet it is thought was created within another star that went through an entire life cycle billions of years ago. I love wondering about such things. I think it’s healthy to do so.

    By the way, you may enjoy reading this month’s Discover magazine, as there are three theories lade out (purely speculative at the moment) about what happened before the big bang, which has always been the moment in existence that science has struggled with. It was very intriguing stuff to read.

    Now, to answer your last question – I’m pretty open about the fact that I believe I’ve had contanct with spirts of my relatives from beyond the grave. I’m convinced something happens to us, but I’ve no real idea waht it is. I think I actually felt the presence of god on two occassions (whatever god is) and so I do believe in something that is greater than ourselves. If I could some up what that feeling was like in one word, the first word that comes to my mind is “familiar” – in fact strikingly familiar, as if I had known it my entire life and yet nothing here on earth could attempt to replicate it. It was pure love. The kind of powerful love that dwarfs anything I’ve ever felt for my wife or my son. And yet, I recognized it – which means I knew it before. This makes me think we “return from whence we came.”

    That’s my best guess at the moment.

    sulz: gosh, kstafford, you really should consider having a personal blog because this is pure blog fodder! thank you for sharing and adding so much to the post. πŸ™‚

    i’m not a spiritual person, so i don’t really have an experience like yours to substantiate what i feel about this issue, which perhaps explains my doubt about religion. but it’s good to know that many people feel a semblance of the way i do about religion, especially people who are familiar with a religion and are aware of the flaws/controversies in it. after all, religion is made by people at the end of the day… (jesus was a person, for instance.)

  15. Wow, I got lucky I found this blog. I just typed in, aren’t you afraid of dying, and found this blog in google. I do feel afraid, so afraid, life feels so random. I found myself blaming my parents and having all sorts of arguments with them but I realized because I was in my late 20s and I had not separated from them yet, psychologically and emotionally. In a sense, I wanted them to be there for me, to protect me, I wanted them to be super-human, to be, well, Gods. Because once I separate, I find myself in a strange world, which is chaotic, unpredictable. I mean just last year my family doctor got run over by a bus while bicycling.

    This is the sort of stuff that can happen, like earthquakes, like floods, random accidents, illnesses. I mean how could you hold on to your life (because it’s all that you have) and yet be willing to give it up and not knowing at all when or how it’s gonna happen. I was born into a Muslim family but like many who find holes in strict adherence to a religion, distanced myself from that in my teens. I looked at various religions, philosophies, but I realized that the problem was not particularly Islam but the fact that I needed certainty, absolute and unquestionable certainty and no ideology could offer that to me. Every ideology, every belief, comes apart if prodded enough times and from different angles. Prove to me that this is not a dream, for instance.

    So there is the problem with proving that there is a God (or proving that there is NOT a God) and surprisingly that does not comfort me either way. I NEED TO KNOW that this God is loving, caring, protective, all those good things, that he won’t let me suffer too much or disappear into oblivion after death.

    I have found myself avoiding getting close to people, like visiting them when they’re sick. I say to myself, what can I offer them? Just stand there and watch them suffer? I am not them and they are not me and my mere physical presence, an anxious and depressed on in fact, can not in any way or shape be healing to them. And the same goes for others to me.

    I do try to look at life as an adventure, but stories tell me that adventures do end with the hero returning home. He is at peace. Things somehow work out. In fact, in the past things did somehow work out for me despite various forms of suffering. Illnesses came and went, I survived them. But survival or life can not be valuable in itself–beyond the narcissistic reasons–can it? How comforting to have God come to me in a dream or reality, to tell me things are going to be okay and if I do my best and try to act according to my values, to be loving and caring to others, but also to myself, that even if I make mistakes, if I act immaturely at times, if I take things for granted, if I get lost, if I lose my temper or lose my faith, if I don’t appreciate the love and support of friends and family, if I don’t act the right way or say the right things, he will still love me and protect me.

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