Once again the subject of eternity and the possibility of experiencing it, with god, has arisen. Once again, I've had to explain that really, I'm not overly interested in it. Why? Well let me take you back, about 35 years back. I was at Sunday school and we were learning about Jericho and it was a day and a lesson that got seriously stuck in my mind. But first, just a little about Jericho itself.
Jericho was and still is an amazing city. It is arguably the oldest inhabited city on earth and back in the day, it had walls so thick they could race chariots on top, or so it was said. Of course the remains of those walls and their foundations would tend to suggest that yes, they were very thick by the day's standard, but one chariot would have been a squeeze let alone a race. Nonetheless, they were massive and impregnable walls with lots and lots of people inside.
Now the valley of Jericho, in which lays the city, is in a region that used to be called Canaan. "Ah well, there's your problem!" I hear you say, and you'd be right. God had given Canaan to the Israelites, despite the fact that there'd been a race there, called "the Canaanites", funnily enough, for well, since before Abraham got there. One could almost say since the beginning even...
I got to wondering why god had to kick the Canaanites out so the Israelites could live there, so I asked. According to my teacher at the time, "because god wants them to" is good enough. But wasn't there somewhere else they could go? Well no, god said they were going to live in Canaan, so they had to. Oh...Ok...
Anyway, to cut a very long story short, one thing leads to another which eventually leads to a whole lot of marching, yelling and let's not forget, the blowing of many trumpets. Eventually god tells them to stop, then the earth shakes and the walls fall down. Then god tells Josh to get the lads in there and make sure they kill everybody, except the prostitute. God even keeps the sun up for a few extra hours so they can make sure they've killed everyone, which they do, which is extremely pleasing to the lord.
I didn't like the story very much, as you can probably tell. So I went home quite confused that day, wondering about some of the other lessons we'd had like "god is love" and "do unto others" and by the end of it, had come firmly to the conclusion that the god of the Old Testament was not "love" and definitely was not the kind to ask his acolytes to "do unto others as they would have done to themselves", otherwise he probably wouldn't have any. Well not for long anyway. I even thought for a while that there might actually be two gods, but then I got to thinking about the "There can be only one!" thing and thought better of it.
But so began my journey from theism to a-theism. I took the long and very winding route via church too (various churches in fact), and many years of study. I was genuinely curious, so I searched high and low to find god. I even became pentecostal (yep, with the AOG) but eventually found no evidence, not even a trace, of either he or his son Jesus.
Along the way, I'd also gained an education and eventually came to the conclusion that there are some simple facts that need to be considered where eternity is concerned:
1. The human body, including the brain and all the other organs and the thoughts and emotions they produce, works by producing and using certain chemicals which it utilises in producing responses via certain chemical reactions.
2. When the chemical reactions stop, so do we.
Simple facts out of the way, I have a couple of question:
1. Is there really any reason then to think that I'll still be able to think, let alone emote once my body stops working? Well no, not really.
2. If there was an afterlife, would I really want to spend it with the vindictive, petulant, two faced megalomaniac that seems to be the god of the Bible, Old and New? Well no, not really.
3. Does any of that stop me from thinking it might be nice? Well no actually. I like the idea of a personal beer volcano.
So no, I don't think there's an afterlife and my reasons for thinking that don't really have much to do with my second question, that's just me being petulant.
Eternal pastures are always greener, but whether they exist in any form other than wistful dreamings is a question that living mortals are simply not qualified to answer, as well as being extremely doubtful, which just doesn't help at all...