• Christopher Tanner

The Afterlife

© The Unassuming Atheist

“Life is a short warm moment. Death is a long cold rest.” These are lyrics from a favorite Pink Floyd song of mine called “Free Four” from the album Obscured by Clouds. OBC was the album before Dark Side of The Moon and provided the fertile ground that would blossom into one of the best-selling recordings of all time. Many of Roger Water’s lyrics focused on death. “Free Four” is about what one thinks about on their deathbed. “You shuffle in gloom of the sick room…and talk to yourself as you die.”

Pretty profound stuff. However, I’m not writing an article about Pink Floyd. I just wanted to point out a portion of the first line that I quoted. …”Death is a long cold rest.” Is that what death really is? A dirt nap, so to speak?

Without attempting (poorly) to give a history lesson, I think we all know that mankind has always had a fascination with death. It is the Great Mystery, isn’t it? Look at the incredible detail found in the burial tombs of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs. One ancient Asian emperor had an entire terracotta army buried with him to command in the afterlife. Look it up, it’ll blow your mind.

There are many examples throughout history of man trying to explain the unexplainable. As we moved through the ages and learned some things along the way, the answers to these mysteries revealed themselves. The earth is flat, Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox created the Grand Canyon…you know, stuff like that. Those that believed the myths of their point in time went kicking and screaming when science, reason, or whatever, provided the explanation that solved the mystery. Look what is happening right now in our lifetime with the evolution versus creationism debate. Kicking and screaming.

But death. That is the final frontier. The end of the line. [Insert your own analogy here]. Most faiths have their own version of what happens to us when we die. To cut to the chase, it is a “you go to the light-your loved ones are waiting for you-everyone is happy-fluffy clouds and halos” sort of thing.

There was a news story last month about the boy who was the central figure of the book The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven and his admission that he made it all up. There has also been a news story making the rounds about a man who died (twice) and lived to tell the tale. But this time, there was no bright light or dead relatives welcoming him to the party. It was…nothing. A dark, silent…nap. Both times. Look it up, it’ll blow your mind.

This got me thinking. Most people of faith see life as a dress rehearsal for the afterlife. A short warm moment. But what if the afterlife really is just a long cold rest? Is that bad? Why do we need to believe or convince ourselves that there is more than just our brief time on this planet? Many people think  we need that hope (faith) to get through life to keep society functioning in an orderly fashion – without killing ourselves or each other. Well, we see how THAT’S working out!

Do we need faith or hope in an afterlife to bear the hardships of life? I just so happen to be an Atheist. I came to that belief in my own way. Atheism is interpreted by non-atheists in a number of ways. I don’t speak for all Atheists, just myself. One joke meme I saw recently had a tombstone that said “Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up with nowhere to go.” I appreciate the humor in that joke. However, I believe I am all dressed up for NOW. I try to make a difference. I try to be a good father and husband. I try to be kind to everyone I come in contact with. Am I doing these things to prove I deserve a place on the “streets paved with gold?” I do these thing because I have come to the conclusion I only have this life and I should try to leave a positive legacy where I can. As long as I am breathing and a part of the living, I will do the best I can.  For NOW, not LATER. When I am done, I’ll take that long cold rest. And I’m good with that.

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