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  Gene's Perspective 


By Gene Johns

When I close my eyes for the last time and my thoughts, my memories, and all that my mind gives to me fade away into nothingness, I have no expectations of any other type of existence after my life ends.  I will be dead.  

I won’t know that I no longer exist. I won’t know that I am not breathing, or that my heart is not beating. I won’t feel sorrow, pain, remorse, or have any regrets for the essence of who I was will no longer be. I will be dead. 

Mark Twain once said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.” 

Do I fear death? I’m not sure. I do have a fear of not being alive for I love life. I don’t want to die but there is no avoiding death. I am fearful about how that moment will come. Will it be painful? Will I know my death is imminent? I do know that I want to live so I can be there for my children, if needed, and see what becomes of my children and my grandchildren. I want to live so I can experience the exciting discoveries and inventions that will come. I want to live because I enjoy life. I do not want to be dead.

Most people do not want to die. In my opinion, that is why mankind invented the idea of an afterlife and a God that will save us from eternal death. It is commonly believed, or at least spoken, that when we pass on we will have some sort of an afterlife. If there is an afterlife, it will not be the life I am experiencing now. It will be, well, who knows what it will be? But, it won't be the life I am living now. 
It’s a given that most of the world's population believes in an afterlife of some sort, even though there is not one bit of verifiable creditable evidence for such a possibility. One of the world’s largest religions, Christianity, claims Jesus arose from the dead and now resides in heaven waiting for us to join him, if only we believe.  
There is no evidence Jesus rose from the dead. It is only hearsay. To further cast doubt on such an astonishing event, other than the Bible, there isn’t any creditable verifiable evidence Jesus existed at all. The book “The Holy Bible” isn’t evidence for Jesus or his resurrection. It is only a book claimed to be inspired by a “God.” None of the stories about Jesus or his resurrection are firsthand accounts. At best, those stories are hearsay or perhaps, just made up.

As an American, I grew up and live in a culture that openly and confidently promotes this idea of life after death and claims passed loved ones are looking down from heaven watching us. There are even claims that when we die and go to heaven we will walk upon streets of gold and live in mansions, rent-free. (But, will there be football?) What amazes me is how many people actually believe all of that without any proof or creditable verifiable evidence any of that is true. It appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking turned into foregone conclusions. 

I remember a song I heard in my childhood performed by the great country music legend Johnny Cash called "Daddy Sang Bass." I think it's a great song and I still enjoy hearing it from time to time. But, it promotes the very idea that I do not have any reason to believe it will happen to anyone. Additionally, it assumes everyone will get to heaven and that may not be the case if heaven even exists. 

The song is about how when the singer was a young lad the family would get together to sing songs. His Dad would sing bass and his Mom would sing tenor, he and his little brother would join right in there. The main theme of the song "Daddy Sang Bass" is how the family circle will be unbroken when they will once again be together up yonder in the sky, Lord in the sky. 

I often wonder if those who believe in an afterlife, God, and heaven actually believe in an afterlife, God, or heaven?  Are they just saying they believe so they will fit in with society and family and avoid any criticism or contempt from those they love and care about? I think some do pretend to believe. I think we would be surprised about how many do pretend to believe. 

Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing is certain except death and taxes.” After a lifetime of paying taxes, our reward--death!? Well, I'm being a little dramatic, but, it is a fact we will all face death and our relatively short time of existence will become nothing more than a memory to a few who once knew us.

I must admit, I do hope there is an afterlife. However, I hope it is a life where I am still me and I don't spend eternity fearfully bowing to some all mighty power who would crush me in a millisecond if I failed to worship its presence. That's not a life, just a mere existence for the pleasure of the worshiped. In that case, death would be a welcomed relief. 

I know most of you reading this piece will think what a depressing read. I understand how one would think that. But, I also believe it is a realistic view of death and how it gives us a reason to respect and enjoy life as much as we can.  

“Do not cry because they are past! Smile, because they once were!” ~ Ludwig Jacobowski