An atheist was walking through the woods:
As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look. He saw a 7-foot grizzly charge towards him. He ran as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing in on him. He looked over his shoulder again, & the bear was even closer. He tripped & fell on the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but saw that the bear was right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw & raising his right paw to strike him.
At that instant the Atheist cried out, "Oh my God!"
The bear froze.
The forest was silent.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky:
"YOU DENY MY EXISTENCE FOR ALL THESE YEARS, TEACH OTHERS I DON'T EXIST AND EVEN CREDIT CREATION TO COSMIC ACCIDENT...DO YOU EXPECT ME TO HELP YOU OUT OF THIS PREDICAMENT? AM I TO COUNT YOU AS A BELIEVER?"
The atheist looked directly into the light and said, "It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask You to treat me as a Christian now, but perhaps You could make the BEAR a Christian?"
"VERY WELL," said the voice.
The light went out. The sounds of the forest resumed. And the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head & spoke:
"Lord bless this food, which I am about to receive from thy bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen."
Okay, not quite relevant but funny nonetheless. Like everyone else, I ponder from time to time about why we are alive and what happens when we die. All creatures on Earth, however mentally disturbed or brainwashed, have the instinct to survive. Even plants can evolve ways to protect themselves, if for no other reason to ensure propagation of the species. For us primates it's not so much propagation as it is not knowing the answer to that simple but impossible question of what happens when we die. It has been the driving force behind every culture in history. It has been an elusive question for so long that it's become stigmatic, seeming as though the answer was not meant to be known, EVER, and that it would somehow be a sin to have that information. But like all scientific knowledge, we will probably someday figure out what really does happen when we die, and that knowledge will change the human race, eventually to become just another school book chapter somewhere in between "What causes a Lunar eclipse" and "How does Electricity work", which up until just the last few seconds of mankind's long day on Earth, were subjects that seemed to pose unanswerable questions as well. If you can't see it, it doesn't exist. And for now we're just making up stuff the same way people made up stuff about the Sun and stars and our place in this vast yet microscopic Universe.
The logical assumption would be that when we're gone, we're gone. However, we need something more to give us a reason for being, to keep order in the human race. The concept of Heaven and Hell helps us to create guidelines that further our evolution through purpose of morality. This concept remains to this day just that, a concept, since no one has ever returned from the dead with proof positive of an afterlife. Near-death experiences and out-of-the-body phenomenoms offer little reassurance except to the person who goes through it, and religions rely solely on doctrinistic faith. Wouldn't it be ironic if whatever we believe will happen to us in the next life actually DOES happen? When we dream we create people, places and events. Perhaps when we're awake we do the same thing. You imagine other people exist and they imagine you exist, but if no one exists in reality, why is there reality in the first place? This paradox is a kicker, but the real kicker is that this means that every religious fanatic and kook that has ever walked the earth were CORRECT in what they believed. If one believed they went to hell when they died, they went to hell. If they believed they went to see Allah, they went to see Allah, if they believed in reincarnation, they reincarnated. I can't believe in this myself because it undermines my belief in a systematic collective that defines the behavior of the universe in a much more precise math. But wouldn't it be cool? Talk about the ultimate paradox. It would mean that all the things that have ever happened to us we created ourselves simply by believing they would happen. This idea certainly has a poetic justice about it, but since neither myself or anyone else can say for sure what awaits us at the end of our life here in the physical realm, I would rather believe in that which makes the most sense to me, gives me a sense of hope and purpose, and what best serves evolution in our collective quest to be more God-like.
To believe in heaven and reincarnation would seem a blasphemous contradiction of opposite ideas, but since all of reality is based on polarity (which as mentioned is more like an infinite number of opposing points on a sphere), maybe it's not so far-fetched to see a connection. The hidden laws that govern the processes which cause reality cannot be changed. At the top of the list of things that cannot be changed is change itself. It's easy for me to believe in a state of being after death where we remember everything and understand the consequences of all our actions in a moment of crystal clarity. However, I do not believe that this lasts "forever", and that Heaven is more accurately a transitional state between death and re-birth. The paradox here is that if, while in this state, we remember every moment with the same vividness as any moment experienced in the "now", then time has no meaning since all moments exist for us simultaneously with equal clarity, and in this way is "eternal" because the biological perceptions of linear time do not apply outside our biological existence. Like an autumn leaf, aesthetically beautiful in color at its end of life, broken free from the tree, falling weightless and seemingly suspended in time until it reaches the ground to be re-absorbed so the tree can continue to grow. So, young Simba, it's all part of the "Great Circle of Life", although this idea doesn't exactly put us at the top of the food chain. Perhaps the creator of the Universe as we know it is just an integral component of some grander purpose that exists beyond ITS perceptions. In one way it's depressing to think we're doomed to participate in this cycle over and over again, but I do take comfort in knowing that we move it along one step closer to completion (which may merely be "full circle"), and I take comfort in believing that there is a sort of "temporal nexus" where we can experience our individuality one last time before finding closure on this chapter and starting another.
So, put simply, Heaven is indeed eternal, but only for a little while.