I’m an avid student of religions, from a sociological perspective, not as a believer. An observer. I find the concept of punishment fascinating. The various interpretations of punishment and the interpretations based on sects within a faith and even more diverse, individual belief on the concept.
I “eavesdropped” on a discussion regarding the precepts of kafir and takfir. There was much quoting of the Qu’ran and various lay interpretations as well as quotes from Islamic scholars. It was, with the exception of terminologies, the same discussion I’ve heard from Christians – who does and who does not get to go to paradise/heaven.
Judaism is less clear when it comes to Gae Eden and Gehinnom – there seems to be a rather open discussion on the topic. Hinduism has its own concept of a spot for bad people as well.
What is obvious to me, as an individual, free from worry about damnation of my soul, is that this “bad place” is an empty threat, used by religious leaders to terrify their flocks into staying with the herd. Execution and torture has been widely used as a tool to reinforce a fear of the unknowable.
Fascinating and rather disappointing to me, to observe how many people have been frightened into believing that only “they” will see a paradise after death. “They” being defined as adherents to a particular faith or sect.
Christian, Muslim and the Jewish religion all have their lunatic fringe built on a belief of righteousness based in bald terror of their own concept of hell.
Based on what? Not logic, not truth and definitely, not empirical fact but millions upon millions have died as a result of “belief” – not fact. Belief. The same belief that fuels the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Empty, without scientific basis, without proof absolute.
Religion points to atheists as immoral people. People without a holy book to instruct them in ethical and “right” behaviour. I disagree; atheists, by and large, are very moral people who live by doing what is right from a sociological and human perspective. None require some dark, dank or hot, sulphur and brimstone nightmare threat when they make their life choices. Atheists do not kill to enforce their points of view. They don’t torture, kidnap and beat those who choose a religious life. On that alone, I would conclude that atheists are far more moral than the religious.
So, I am a heretic, I am damned. I’m going to Hell/ Jahannam/Gehenna and with that in mind, I will continue to aid those in need, to live my life according to my own moral code. I won’t lie, steal or cause harm to others. I will eat, sleep and work; love my family and continue on, secure in the knowledge that regardless of what I do or believe, I will be going to someone’s interpretation of hell because I refuse to believe in the unproven, the unbelievable.
Sighh, c’est la vie.