I was thinking about my death the other night and came up with a continuum of possible afterlife scenarios. I ranked them from 1 to 5, with 1 being the worst—from my perspective—and 5 being the best.
1) Militant Islam is right. “Disbelievers,” including yours truly, wind up in Jahannam (hell) and endure appropriate punishment for all eternity.
2) The heirs of Epicurus and Lucretius (atheists and materialists) are right. We are only atoms and our personal selves, including yours truly, ceases to exist upon death.
3) Roman Catholicism is right. Ordinary people, including yours truly, are destined for centuries in purgatory while the polar ends of the bell curve go straight to heaven or hell.
4) Evangelical Christianity is right. The elect, including yours truly??, are ushered through the Pearly Gates while the rest of humanity is banished to the Lake of Fire.
5) An all-wise, all-loving God redeems and remakes those created in his image, including yours truly. Evil is defeated and every heart is changed and reconciled to the Divine.
Pondering our post mortem future is sobering. So is the realization that whatever option we hold, billions devoutly disagree. That’s because spiritual DNA is shaped by revelation, reason, tradition and experience, which differ radically from person to person.
Muslims are confident scenario #1 is assured while growing millions are convinced #2 is correct. I grew up believing in #3 and spent most of my adult life teaching #4. Now I hope #5 is closer to the truth.
What we believe is vitally important and we should diligently seek truth. But human intellect is flawed, faith is only as good as its object, and hopes weigh as much as shadows. When it comes to reality, “que sera sera.”
But that doesn’t stop me from pulling for #5.