Tristan over at Advocatus Atheist just wrote a very eloquent piece at why the idea of an afterlife is absurd. This has inspired me to write why I reject the very notion of an afterlife, especially the Christian hell and what believing in these mythos' did to my psyche.
Before I begin I would like to address some information on subject of hell. I was raised in an Assemblies of God church. If you do not know already the AoG church is an evangelical church who believes hell is a literal place. It is a literal place of fire and torment. They believe it will last forever and from which there is no escape. This is not to say that some AoG churches believe to the contrary that hell is a place of "separation" from God because some do but this, however, was not the way I was raised. I was raised in a belief of the former. So this is the hell I will be dealing with.
From the age of five I was coerced and compelled into believing there was an afterlife. They expounded on the idea that the only way to experience said afterlife was to come to accept Jesus into your heart. I was also sold on the idea that if I rejected Jesus and did not ask him in that I would be cast straight to hell. Being the age I was I immediately accepted Jesus as my savior although I would have to admit that being at the age of five I really didn't understand why I needed to have a savior. I mean really what did I need to be saved from? But I was reassured that this was a matter of life or death or something to that extent.
So, notwithstanding, I continued on my walk with Jesus all the way up until my twenties. It was not till then I started researching the idea of hell. I couldn't explain it, something bothered me about the idea of an afterlife, especially hell. I searched and searched for answers until I was hoodwinked on the idea that hell wasn't eternal after all. I bought into the idea of Universalism. The idea of Universalism never really fixed my problem with hell, it really only put a band-aid on the festering hole I had. There was just something I could not put my thumb on. Even with my now liberal view of hell it still had so many problems. I could not reconcile hell in my mind. It made no logical sense to me. There were thousands of unanswered questions about it. Here are just a few that plagued me for years.
If God supposedly knows everything before it happens, then why would he create mankind knowing that most, if not all, would "choose" eternal hell?
What is the purpose of hell?
If the purpose of hell is just a punishment for sin, don't you think that one nanosecond of hell would be enough for us to learn our lesson?
How is a finite experience of sin, immorality, and rejecting Jesus equal to an infinite experience in hell? I implore you to find the reason and logic in that.
Also if hell isn't forever what is the purpose?
If hell isn't forever and its purpose is to make you learn then why be good?
The more and more I explored the idea of hell the more and more I found it to be illogical and absurd. These questions can also be turned onto the idea of heaven also. So it does go both ways. But just because I found it absurd and illogical didn't mean that hell wasn't real because after all Jesus did talk about a place where this supposed punishment would take place. So for me there was no escaping it. I just had to accept the idea of hell and that was that. But this wasn't the only problem I had. If hell was real so was Satan and all his minions. Satan and his demons is something I struggled with my whole Christian, God fearing life. They drove me more nutty than squirrel poo.
Satan and demons riddled my dreams for years. They would pester me in my sleep. I would wake up and just know they were in my room just waiting for me to look at them and then they would possess me. They terrified me so much that I became an insomniac. I wouldn't fall asleep. I made my self stay awake till I saw dawn approaching. It made me feel like some one was always out to get me. It drove me straight into depression. I wouldn't sleep, I constantly wanted to end my cursed existence and I was paranoid. This led me straight to deathly scary anxiety attacks. It got to the point where I would pull over my car and vomit on the side of the road. I couldn't go to work and I was irritable all the time because of the lack of sleep and the fact I thought every human being was conspiring against me.
I finally decided to try medication. The meds really didn't help much, all they really did is make me feel like I was a damn zombie. Plus the demons never went away. They were always still there. In the back of my mind when I was awake. In my dreams when I slept. So since I never slept much I decided to do alot of reading to try and ease my mind. I would read about the Bible and why demons attacked and haunted people. I would just try to fill my mind with so much Jesus the demons would have no choice but to go away. I would spend hours crying and praying to God to take this affliction away from me because it was driving me to end my life and I wanted to live. But the demons never went away.
So like I said I filled my time with reading and praying. A friend of mine gave me one of his books to read to fill my time with. This book blew my mind. It was Dr. Bart Ehrman's book Misquoting Jesus. I was hooked. For the next year I spent all my time immersed in textual criticism and textual credibility. Which led to other books, which led to more books. So after two years of immersing my self in this debate of reliability and criticism I came to the conclusion that the Bible just couldn't be trusted at all. Which led me down the road of atheism. On the way I encountered the problem of suffering, the argument of creationism vs. evolution, and the most important thing if God even existed. After years of reading, researching, and searching for the truth it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was an atheist. I could no longer believe or reconcile any of what I use to know as truth. It was truly liberating.
This of course led me to believe that there was no life after death. This was it. All those complicated questions before that couldn't be answered made sense to me now. They really couldn't be answered because there really was no answer to them. It all was subjective presumptions and speculation. Nothing was objective. The more I thought about the idea that so many people had so many different versions of what hell was made even more sense. It was because first and for most the Bible can't be trusted to be reliable because it was written by humans and we are human.
A year or so passes by and I start to realize I am having less and less dreams about demons. I could actually sleep. I was free. A huge burden had lifted from me. Life became more important than ever before. Life seemed all to real. I didn't have to look at it through the lens of heaven and hell or Christianity anymore. This made me value the life I had so much more. My anxiety became almost non-existent. God never healed me like I had prayed for. Like he said he would in the Bible. I had healed my self. The actual problem was God.
This is why I reject the notion of an afterlife. It is illogical and an absurd fairytale. It can't be tested scientifically because once your dead there is no turning back. Your dead. This is why I reject religion in any form. It fills your head with nonsensical, incongruous, and ludicrous ideas. Ideas that can lead to pure insanity. This is why I reject and hold contempt towards people who indoctrinate their children with such idiotic fables. Beguiling your children into believing worthless twaddle is detrimental to your children's mental health.
I know I do not have emirical data or "real" evidence to support my claim. What I am trying to do is show you how pernicious the idea of an afterlife can be. I came to reject an afterlife because to me it just seems illogical and a little more than wishful thinking. Yes life is short but that is why we should be trying to get the most out of it while we can; not filling our brains and our childrens brains with ineffectual and meaningless rubbish. There is so much more to life then racking your brain over pointless bunk. It leads to a fruitless, repressive life.
Theres my two cents, for what its worth.