Stephen Hawking said, "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
This quote bothered me for a lot of reasons. Number one, I just can't accept that human beings are comparable to a computer. I just can't. I don't even think my sweet little puppy dog is comparable to a computer (and I appreciate how the Mormon church has my back on that one). I think there is something more to us than just chemical and electrical reactions.
Number two, he still sort of has a point. I don't want to believe in God/religion simply out of fear. That is super depressing. I get things like Pap Smears and flu shots out of fear. I have car, home, and health insurance out of fear. I avoid making left-hand turns and driving down I-35 out of fear. I don't want to have a relationship with God for the same reason I will schedule a colonoscopy (when I turn 40, because PSA that is when you should start if you have a family history of polyps or tumors). Spirituality should be about compassion, and growth, and understanding. Not about a sense of obligation, avoidance, or abject terror. Is there even such a thing as a spiritual equivalent of an uncomfortable cancer screening? Because there really shouldn't be, in my opinion.
And last but not least, the heaven I grew up believing in isn't really all that great of a fairy tale. To be honest, best case scenario, it sounds sort of lame; worst case scenario, sort of miserable. Like from what I gathered at church, I imagine heaven as a sort of church camp for eternity. I don't know if you have ever been to a Southern Baptist Church camp. They aren't all bad. There were some good times to be had and good friends to hang out with. But it just felt so forced. So emotionally manipulative. So not how I wanted to spend eternity. Plus, if what some of my church leaders told me were true, many of my friends and family wouldn't be in heaven. It wasn't just that they wouldn't be there; it was also that they'd be burning in hell for all eternity instead. How are you supposed to have a great time knowing that is happening?! And if you are capable of having a great time, knowing about hell and all the people you love who are suffering down there, I don't really think I want to hang out with you, you sociopath. I mean, if I love these people enough to want to spare them from hell, wouldn't God?! After all, he is love and all (1 John 4:8). And if anybody could spare people (ie, all people) from hell, it'd be him. So can he not do it? Or does he choose not to do it? (and which is worse?!) When I asked my church leaders about this slightly awkward scenario, I got answers about how God is holy and just. Which is religious talk for, He's just following the rules. I mean, justice. And also, holiness. And the Bible and stuff. Like, what? You're telling me his hands are tied? He's just following the rules?! PLEASE. He is God. He wrote the rules. No, He IS the rules. And you know what? No heaven at all actually sounds a little more appealing than the Southern Baptist one. At least as I understood it.