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My Atheist Afterlife

By Sarah Bertrand --

What happens when you die? As a Christian, I always believed that a person goes one of two places when they die. I was convinced that all my sins were forgiven, and I would spend eternity in heaven, with all of my Christian friends and family, and I would watch over the loved ones I left behind. I wasn't concerned with being a GREAT person.

Sundial on the side of a building in Yvoire, H...Image via Wikipedia

I figured I just had to do my best to live a life that was pleasing to God, and ask him to forgive me when I made a boo-boo. It was kind of like grade 11 all over again. I didn't care about getting good grades...I just had to pass. In my mind, grade 11 didn't count, because it was my grade 12 and OAC marks that would make the difference in my University choices. I could worry about that later...right now I just needed 50%. I could ditch class, miss assignments, have a good time, and then make up for it later. I thought I had all the time in the world to worry about being great. I wonder how much different it would have been if I had thought that every moment counted? How much learning and experience did I miss out on while I was out frolicking around the mall and smoking cigarettes with friends (yeah, I was cool like that).

Life is kind of like that. As a Christian, I could have fun now, repent later, and it was heaven that really counted...I had plenty of time before I had to worry about that. How can you really live a full life, all-the-while believing that this is really just the shitty forward to a great novel?Who cares if I died young? I was going to live forever in the afterlife. I went to sleep at night, "knowing" that even if my life were to be full of seemingly unbearable hardships, and terrible mistakes...it would all be worth it when I reached those pearly gates.

Am I the only one who thinks that this paints such a sad picture of life? Have we become desensitized to "carpe diem" and "live life to it's fullest"? How can you really live a full life, all-the-while believing that this is really just the shitty forward to a great novel? Personally, I don't read the forwards...I'd much rather just read the book. But I often find myself wondering if I'm missing something by skipping over words that the author clearly thought should be included with his story. Christians often seem like they'd rather fast forward through life, to get to the "good stuff". How much learning and experience are THEY missing out on?!

When I became an atheist, I thought I had to let go of all notions of immortality. There is no heaven, and no hell. Nothing happens when you die. But I believe in immortality. I believe that memories can last forever, if they are worth remembering. Life is my process of creating my own legacy. What I do NOW is what counts. This is my time to be something great. My legacy is my afterlife.


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