The promise of Heaven is a tempting one but comes at the price of blind submission – something that no one should agree to
With Christianity comes the persistent offering of Heaven, of the divine way of life and of eternal bliss, upon ones death. Of course, to reach this offering, you must live an immaculate life, for the love of God is not given to those who live in an ungodly manner – unless you are Catholic.
Those of us who consider ourselves either atheist, or anti-theist choose to reject the notion of divinity, and thus, we – if religion is true – are turning down our predetermined lot, in Heaven. When living an abstruse, ungodly life, we often receive a question from Christians: ‘why don’t you accept this wonderful offer?’ – of salvation. This question often comes with the connotation that we, surely, would love to meet our favourite authors and other inspirational figures of non-belief, when we pass away, because Christians want to meet their maker, in Heaven.
Christians appear to believe that when they die there will be a process of corporeal reassembly for them – that is not a belief that you must hold in Christian theology, and to be quite Frank, it sounds like a very blatant fairy tale to me. In response, I offer this: the only reason I want to meet the man who inspires my work, Christopher Hitchens, or might want to, is because I can meet him any time I like, because he is immortal in the works that he has left behind. Having read his books, his critiques, and his articles, I fear that meeting the author himself would almost certainly be a disappointment! However, when the great philosopher, Socrates was sentenced to death for his blasphemous ways, and his philosophical investigations which challenged the gods of the city, and he accepted his death, he stated that – to paraphrase – ‘if we are lucky, perhaps we will be able to hold conversation with other great thinkers and doubters too’. In other words, the debate and discussion over what is good, what is beautiful, what is noble, what is pure, and what is true, could always go on, and never cease to be relevant.
For me, and for many other freethinkers, that is important. ‘Why?’ many Christians ask … Because those are the only conversations worth having. Whether it goes on or not, after I die, I do not know. But, I do know that the aforementioned conversations are conversations that I would like to have while I am still alive. This means that, to me, the offer of complete security, the offer of certainty, the offer of an impermeable faith that cannot give way, is the offer of something not worth having. I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I do not know enough yet; that I have not read enough, that I cannot know enough, and that I am always operating zealously on the periphery of a great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I would not have it any other way, and I implore those of you who do not live in this manner to look with greater scrutiny at those who tell you, from a young age, that you are dead – or damned – until you believe as they do. To be told that you can only live rightly by accepting the absolute authority of God, is terrible, and maybe even ignorant.
Do not think of this impermeable faith as a gift. Rather, think of it as a poisoned vessel and push it aside, however tempting it may be to do otherwise – take the risk of thinking for yourself. As Hitchens himself said, ‘much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way’.