Having finished series on Hell and compiling it into a book, it has taken me a little while to find my feet and decide what topic to approach next. To be honest, I still haven’t got a clue, but I thought I would share something that happened yesterday. This blog is meant to be kind of a diary of my ongoing deconversion, to document my thoughts on all things spiritual as I seek to find a new way post-Christianity, so I will use it to download this experience for posterity.
The kids are currently off from school for the Spring holiday and I managed to do what I never do; I booked time off from work in advance so I could be off at the same time. To be honest, the time off was way overdue. As some of you may know, I suffer with my mental health a little bit and I could feel the anxiety piling up on me in a really unhealthy way, so the break came just in time. Part of my plan for the time off was to kick-start a fitness routine and to write every day. Much like New Year resolutions, these plans haven’t really worked out, but I have been trying my best. This is the first time I’ve managed to write anything and I’m half-way through my 10 days off. (Sigh), oh well, but I have managed to get the kids, my wife, and myself for out for some hiking excursions.
I love being outdoors. I grew up in Florida, which is located about half a mile from the surface of the sun for most of the year, but in the slightly cooler months we did manage to go camping quite a bit when I was a kid. Moving to the UK has been amazing for me because I can deal with cold and wet much better than rediculously, unfathomably hot and humid. A trudge up a muddy hill in a driving rain is, for me, much more enjoyable that checking the mailbox in Hellfire County, Florida. That’s not to say that the only weather England has is and cold. There are a good number of days that are dazzlingly bright and beautiful. Yesterday was just such a day.
To make things an adventure, we decided to skip an easy walk on our doorstep and venture out to a national forest about 30 minutes from our home. The day was excellent and we had a blast. That is, until we got home and realized that my 10-year-old had lost her phone somewhere on the walk. Yes my child has a phone, no I don’t care what you think about it. We have our reasons and that is not the point of the story. The point is that we managed to get the person that found it to answer when we called and made arrangements to pick it up. The only problem was that, as I said, we lived about 30 minutes from the forest, and so did the other person… 30 minutes the other direction. Meaning we had roughly two hours in the car to get on each others nerves.
While there was plenty of nerve stomping going on, we did manage to have some really interesting conversation as well. As I said, I have one child that’s 10, the other two are teenagers, and they are all on-board with our leaving of Christianity. We talk very freely about what we used to believe and what better options there might be. At one point, the topic of “reality” came up. Things like how do we know that other people exist? How do we know that we are not just a brain in a jar that is being manipulated with false input? How do we know that we are not, in fact, in the Matrix? What if the Big Bang, which leads to the Elastic Universe theory of snapping back to the single point that we expanded out of, is a repetitive process, meaning that the universe has Bang-ed, recoiled, and repeated millions of times? I don’t know if I have the name of the theory right, but you get the idea. But generally, you know, easy stuff.
At some point we moved on to the belief in Heaven. The kids are really switched on about this stuff, and have watched enough sci-fi and Youtube conspiracy theory videos, to have several ideas to talk about. It was amazing to discuss how every belief system seems to have a concept of an afterlife. I seem to remember that the conversation sparked from the idea of going out in a blaze of glory in Grand Theft Auto would possibly lead to the Valkyries taking the character away to Valhalla. Silly, maybe. But it led us to an interesting talk about why almost every religion has an afterlife to look forward to. I believe that it could be as simple as coming to a realization that everyone dies, wanting there to be something more, and filling in the blanks according to the hopes and dreams of your culture. Vikings went to Valhalla because they were drinkers and fighters who wanted to go on drinking and fighting forever. Christians go to Heaven because a relationship with God is the basis of the faith, meaning that being acutally, physically present with him is the ultimate goal. I should probably not talk about the Muslim version of Heaven because I would probably offend someone and they take that stuff pretty seriously.
Interestingly, we came onto the idea of reincarnation. Not a the version specifically detailed in any particular faith tradition, mostly because we aren’t that familiar with them. More just the idea of something non-material being the center of ourselves, and the idea that, in some way, that self may go on in another life or in another form. Which leads me to a thought that I had come to not long ago. I have a theory similar to the idea of reincarnation that, I believe, can be accepted by the thoroughly spiritual person as well as the materialist. Here it goes: energy is neither created nor does it have an end, it simply changes form. Since the Big Bang (at least this Big Bang), everything that is has existed in one form or another. If we think of that which makes us who we are; our memories, our personality, our soul if you like; as energy, then some form of soul goes on forever. That energy might disperse into a billion different uses, or it might, in some yet-unfathomable way, stay together into an unknown future.
I Googled this idea after I wrote my version of it. As it turns out, I didn’t invent this idea. Now, I haven’t read too far into it, nor do I intend to. But it is comforting to know that I’m not too far out in left field. It’s also kinda annoying because it means I haven’t invented something new that I can make my name with. Ah well. At least I can be at peace with the fact that neither I, nor my wife and kids, are living with the fear of Hell hanging over our heads any more. Neither are we hoping for some unending worship service in the sky. We are a mystery, and we’re all OK with that. I will count that as both a personal, and a parental win.