Last week a friend of mine was on his way to a Jewish funeral, he had never been to one before and was curious as to what we believe viz a vie death. I told him he had called the wrong Jew.
My understanding of the official company line is a bit vague. I know we don't have a heaven or hell. There's no standing at the Pearly Gate. And there's nothing I can recall about violins, clouds and long white robes.
I do remember something about a soul. And getting bound up in God's great book of life. And in order to do that I couldn't eat cheeseburgers, or bacon, or lobster. So I gave up on that tale pretty quickly.
Seeing I was of little help, he asked what I believed and I told him.
I ascribe to the notion that nothing happens. The light switch goes off. You're done. No more conscious after life than you were before it. In fact, why would I believe otherwise? Where is there anything to suggest any kind of afterlife? Moreover, if there are deceased family members watching and looking out for me, why am I having such difficulty with my refi and why does my prescription for Vicodin always run out on Friday afternoon after my doctor has checked out for weekend?
Does this make me a Nihilist?
And the evidence is more in my favor than it is in the Pope. Or the holiest of Imams. Or the beardiest of Rabbis. That's the oddest thing about religion and the existence of God. It is a collection of fables and myths without a shred of physical or visible corroboration.
For those of you that have faith, I wonder, do you believe that when a termite dies he or she goes to heaven or hell? Is there an afterlife for termites? No, that would be silly, you say. Termites are so tiny and insignificant. Our lives and the lives of a common termite are world's apart. Are they?
Even though he was from a second-class lacrosse school like Cornell, Dr. Sagan offers us some beautiful insight on the topic.
I know it's comforting to think that as occupiers of the top tier on the food chain, we have some special place in the universe, however I don't think it is that special. Yes, we have built buildings, created art, composed music, and documented our existence with some panache. But in the grand scope of things, is what we have done any more lasting or of greater import, than what a monkey can create by throwing his own feces at a wall?
I've looked at my own body of work and can honestly, without any hesitation, say, "No."