President of the Secular Coalition for America, Herb Silverman, has a great response for people who ask him — an atheist — about the afterlife:
I do know what will happen to me when I die. I’m going to medical school, just like my Jewish mother always wanted me to do. I’ll use my body parts to their fullest when I’m alive, but I hope others will be able to take advantage of them when I die.
I love that.
It comes from a terrific piece Herb wrote in response to the question: “What is your vision of heaven?” at On Faith.
As a child, asking heaven and hell questions probably contributed to my journey that led to atheism. I used to wonder whether I could be happy in heaven knowing that some of my friends would be suffering in hell. I also wondered if I would have free will in heaven, as I assumed I had on Earth. If so, could I sin in heaven and be sent to hell? If not, would I really be me, or just a robot without free will?
Finally, I couldn’t believe that belief mattered more than behavior. So perhaps because of my mathematical bent, I wondered how much better the worst person in heaven would be than the best person in hell. The only answers I received were “God knows,” which is synonymous with, “I don’t know.”
That last part is interesting. If Heaven existed, someone would have to be the “worst person” there, right? What would that person be like…? And the “best person” in Hell?