So I read a post by Greta Christina which I also stole this title from. (If you don't read her stuff you should start, she is pretty awesome). In this post she was responding to the claim made by some atheists that religion will always win on the topic of death. That atheism will never be able to comfort people in the same way that religion does. She then spent the post talking about how heaven is really only comforting if you don't think about it very hard.
I thought this was a really good angle, and she made some very good points, but when I read her title my thoughts went in the opposite direction. Not only can we win this argument by pointing out that heaven isn't so great as she does, but we don't have to worry about the possibility of hell.
One of my uncles died about ten years ago and it turned out that he had killed himself. I was sad when he died, but when I got the new information that he had killed himself it didn't really make much of a difference. I had already been dealing with his death for a week or so, the fact that he had felt the need to kill himself was sad, but for me it was so overshadowed by the simple fact that he was gone that it didn't have much of an impact. I remember my mom being upset at the doctors who did the toxicology report saying that it was impossible. I also remember being shocked at her reaction as he had dealt with depression for years and he was pretty down on his luck at the time. At some point I realized that for my mother, my uncle died twice. Once the toxicology report came back and we learned he had killed himself, there was no longer the possibility that he was in heaven. He killed himself, he is in hell.
So for me, my uncle died and I had to deal with the fact that I would never see him again. It sucked. For my mom, she had to deal with the fact that she would see him again, but was comforted by the fact that she would see him again after she died. Then after the tox report came back, this minor comfort was stripped away and was replaced with the idea that not only would she never see him again, but he will be tortured forever.
So I ask, whose belief system has the edge here?