I was thinking about forever. Like, the longest time imaginable, the longest time unimaginable. FOREVER. The only way that forever can exist is in metaphore, fairy tales, abstraction. The world wont last forever, the sun wont, the universe wont even last forever. You, however, can exist foever in the arms of Yaweh in endless bliss and happiness and it will be super awesome. Forever. All you have to do is praise him for the 70 years you spend on the practically nonexistent dot in the middle of the solar system that is a non existent dot in the middle of the galaxy that is the non existent dot in the middle of the universe. No, none of them in the middle, somewhere insignificant off to the side. This 70 years you spend on Earth, this planet so beautifully governed by science and physics and with all those twinkeling stars to look at, these years determine whether you are going to spend FOREVER in agony and torture if you do not praise Yaweh, or heaven FOREVER if you do praise him. I know, time, space, existence wont be the same once St. Peter admits you through the pearly gates, but in a jesusmillion heavenyears, imagine you and your cool black friend you always wanted are sitting on the lesbian cloud (not a cloud full of lesbians mind you, they are not allowed in heaven, but an actual female cloud who likes other female clouds, its just a cool place to hang out) when one of you remembers Earth.
Ya! Kind of... What was up with that...?
And then you would spend the rest of forever in endless awesomeness. I, however, will still be suffering in the lakes of fire at the hands of satan because I did not choose to recognize Yaweh as my lord and savior. Alongside the Dalai Lama, Ghandi, 95% of China (as of 2008 says Wikipedia), and, purely based on the fact that they worship the wrong deity, a great majority of the worlds population, who are FOREVER going to be subjected to the unending wrath of satan. FOREVER. Please dont let my repeated use of that word decrease its significance. FOREVER. Never ending unimaginable agony. After another jesusmillion years, 70 years is nothing, your time on earth ceases to exist. Heaven or hell becomes your entire existence. Most of us spend our entire existence and forever after that in hell. If there is true bliss in heaven, the idea of hell must be totally wiped out, because I know lots of people who would be pained with the knowledge of the tortured souls, friends, family, who are to spend their entire existence in hell. Heaven does not exist.
I have recently come into contact with two people who are devout christians, literal interpreters of the bible (which I think if you are really going to call yourself a christian, you should be). The first fought with me and asserted her belief and did her best to defend the bible and says I am going to hell for not praising her god. It was at a fondue party with the family. True story. The second, with the same belief system, couldnt give a rats ass about what I think, tells stories about her gay friends, and when I asked her if it bothers her that they are destined for eternal damnation, she says she just doesnt really think about that. If you actually think that the people around you are headed towards an eternity of torture in the fires of hell, wouldnt any good person do everything they can to stop that from happening? The fondue party lady, while much more difficult to be in a room with, deserves far more respect than contestant #2, who is either just a terrible person, or doesnt actually believe in the bible. I would like to think it is the latter because most christians are much more like #2. Idly sit by and leave my soul to eternal damnation or argue with me at a fondue party. Who has time for the unpleasantness?
Heaven does not exist. Hell does not exist. Yaweh, Buddah, Vishnu, Allah, Amun Ra, Hephaestus do not exist. I exist, humanity exists, goodness exists and it is not because of any great deity, evil exists too, and it is not because of any talking snake apples. It all exists within humanity and it takes a whole lot of faith to look at yourself and the world and believe that we can take that burden and move in the right direction on our own. But we have done that. Don't thank god for it, and dont thank god for that scholarship you got or the goal you scored, thank your teachers, your coaches, your parents, yourself. Getting through that accident, that break-up, that family members death, that was you and those around you, thank them. I can look at the goodness in humanity or the simple elegance and perfection in nature and have a religious experience that I can see right in front of my eyes. I absolutely know what I believe and I dont hate anyone because of it, I have no enemies, nobody is going to spend their existence in hell. There is no forever, there is no god, there is your lifetime, which is as close to forever as you will ever see, and there is a burden on you as part of humanity to spend your forever moving that burden in the right direction in whatever way you are able. Because you are able. Not for eternal reward or for fear of eternal punishment. We have the capacity to do good and so we have the responsibility.