I was just thinking about the concepts of Heaven and Hell and life after death. It is remarkable how differently people see it. I personally know people who believe in reincarnation, ghosts, Heaven, but not Hell. I also know Atheists that believe in no after life at all except in the one in the memories of our loved ones or in progeny. I also have a pagan friend who believes that if he lives a good and honorable life, he will go to Valhalla. I respect all their beliefs and believe they feel the same way about them as do I. I laugh at none of the concepts, except the ghost one, but I am working on that. As I have said before, you can not believe just because you want to just like you cannot stop believing just because you want to.
What do I believe? Well, I like to use the Bible as a general guide for all my beliefs, that and my own conscience. I believe in Heaven and Hell, but not exactly as western cultural tradition portrays them. The Bible describes Hell as a separation from God and Heaven as a connection with him and other believers that have passed on. The Bible also describes them as realms beyond out imagining, where our existence is nothing like Earth. It does say that Hell is a place of fire and brimstone but if it is a non-physical realm that means very little and must be a metaphor. It also says that we have spiritual bodies in Heaven, but what are spiritual bodies? I have no idea, I am sure they would be something nice. I also believe that up on entering Heaven we will know what God knows. You know,answer to life, the universe and everything, and I bet it will not be 42.
Some people do not believe in Hell on the philosophical principle that it is unfair and that a loving God would never punish anyone. Well, I think the opposite, it would be unfair for God to force someone who wanted nothing to do with Him in life be be with constant communion in the here after. I think this would be a good time to answer the question of: Do I think Hell is a place of suffering? Yes, I don't know, maybe. Is the short answer. The long answer would be: Yes, it would be suffering for me to be separated from the presence of God forever. I don't know if it would be suffering for those who never knew him and since I do not know the extend which you can have contact with others sent to Hell, I guess it could be suffering for others too.
Now lets talk about the elephant on the page, well Elephant if you are an Evangelical Christian or someone who reads the Bible. Revelations. I believe that it has a really detailed account of how heaven looks with gold and gems and God being the source of light or something. I have read Revelations, it makes no sense to me and Bible scholars debated strongly weather it should be included in the Bible. Is it legitimately inspired by God or just the hallucinations of a man? I do not know, not until I go to Heaven and get all the answers. I have had no special revelation on Revelations from God. It just does not fit in with the rest of new testament and makes precious little sense to me. I honestly do not care what overly elaborate metaphorical, ope to interpretation way the world as we know it will come to an end. Even if it is legitimate it does next to no good in the way I live my life. It is a fear mongering book the skews the way people live their life. It (or rather its popular interpretation) makes people think they will be raptured any moment or it males them waste time looking for the signs of the end times which have been here since the resurrection because we have been living in the "end times" since then. Well, my views on Revelations would best be explored in another post.
I think there is a Heaven and a Hell. I also think that the boundaries between Heaven and Hell and the world of living are immutable so, sorry, I do not believe in ghosts. Neither do I believe that we linger in the world of the living after death. As soon as the brain dies, we are off to Heaven, or Hell and no turning back. That is what I believe about this. You are welcome to share what you think.