I go out for the evening and I come back to find y'all discussing religion without
An attempt was made to raise me Catholic, but that went all to -- um, heck -- because every time I asked a question, I was told "It's a mystery! You aren't supposed
to understand it." Which made no sense to me. So I parted ways with the church at age ten and started formulating my own theory... which goes something like this:
The things that we generally attribute to our various gods are, I think, not supernatural at all, but perfectly natural -- and will someday be understandable to us through scientific study. What some of us call "God" may be, I think, a sort of communal energy to which we all contribute with our every thought and action, for good or ill, consciously or otherwise. This may be why prayer and "vibes" often seem to work -- because our focused thoughts are sometimes powerful enough to have influence through this all-pervasive energy.
And I think this energy is the "substance" of which our souls are made, too. The electrical patterns in our brains may be the nearest we come to "seeing" it at this point.
I don't believe in any hell or devil, never did... and I don't believe in the existence of "evil" as an entity or force of any kind. I think evil is simply the absence of good, the way dark is the absence of light. And I think we all start out with good at our centers. Many, many things can erode or eradicate that central core of good, but it's there in the beginning -- of that I'm sure.
Obviously, I don't believe in "original sin," either -- because if I'm wrong, and the Judeo-Christian God really does
exist, then I have to assume He is perfect. And no perfect being would perpetrate such an injustice as that. Nor would He tolerate the countless injustices committed in His name
lo these many centuries.
So that leaves Heaven. No, I don't believe St. Peter is waiting with his clipboard at the Pearly Gates, though that's roughly what my grandmother saw in a near-death experience once. It's what she expected to see, wanted
to see... so she saw it, and I'm so glad for her that she did, because she never feared death again.
But as Heather said, energy and matter cannot be destroyed -- only transformed. (Well, she put it differently, but I think that's where she was going with it.
) And the energy that is the soul does
survive the death of the body, of that I feel sure.
What happens after that... I think there are many paths, many phases that a soul may go through. But I do feel certain that some souls stay in touch with us after death for some period of time. There is so much evidence for this... and I've experienced things myself that reinforce my feeling that this is true.
But a "Heaven," a place where souls congregate, with or without clouds and harps? Somehow I don't think it's that simple. And I find reincarnation fairly easy to accept -- most people die just when they've finally gotten the hang of living, and that does seem a waste of a good soul.
So yes, I do believe in an afterlife, but I can only partially guess at the nature of it.
Let me add this: some people may have noticed that I often say "bless you" or "I hope to heaven" -- these are the conventions of habit, meant to convey my meaning through commonly understood symbology. I find the symbols of traditional religion are often helpful as metaphors in communicating across varying spiritual platforms. I don't mean in any way to take them lightly or disrespectfully.