Afterlife Emptiness, Faith Fulfillment

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Sam Rodriguez

The following article expresses pretty controversial ideas with respect to Christianity, and religion in general, today. I ask that those Christians that are especially sensitive to criticism of their religion keep an open mind during the course of this article. For those curious, I am a Roman Catholic. Recently, however, I have had somewhat of an epiphany that, in my opinion, speaks volumes about the current state of Christianity.

First, I will discuss my epiphany. This week, I gave a great deal of consideration to the “Nada” concept. This idea, commonly associated with Hemingway, states that there is no afterlife. Absolutely no afterlife. According to this concept, like animals, when we die, we simply cease to exist. No perception at all. No identity. No life. The world around us goes on, but our spirit, our soul, does not. In fact, to my knowledge, there is no soul in the “Nada” concept.

This idea is nearly impossible to fully comprehend. We cannot very well use our rational faculties or senses of perception to understand a world without our rational faculties or senses of perception. It is quite difficult.

When I first considered this idea, I shuddered. In fact, the contemplation of a life that ends entirely at death threw me into two days of utter depression. It consumed my every thought. It made its way into almost every conversation. At first, I resisted contemplating such an idea. As a Catholic, I felt that thinking about such a concept was just unnecessary. How wrong could I be.

As I continued to consider the idea, I was somehow able to find peace with it. I felt a sudden harmony with the order of the universe and all living things. The “Nada” concept requires a simple recognition of our fragility as human beings. How necessarily humbling. Trust me. If you take a couple of hours to come to terms with this idea, I think you too will find a similar peace.

Now for the shocker: I truly feel that, after finding deep affection for the “Nada” concept, I became a better Christian overall. How?

All too often, people enter into relationships with God (or gods) to compensate for basic insecurities or inadequacies. No one wants to imagine that life has no meaning beyond our final breath. Thus, many find religion out of fear rather than love. Many ask, “If I live this virtuous life, if I follow the ten commandments, if I accept baptism, what do I get out of it? What does God give me?” Accepting religion for the sake of salvation is wrong. A relationship with God created out of a fear of the unknown rather than a love of Eternal Truth should not be the basis of any faith whatsoever.

Please keep in mind that many ancient Hebrew prophets, like Abraham, had no concept of heaven revealed to them. Nevertheless, these people were able to make God the center of their lives. They were also able to bring God to other people without a promise of a glorified afterlife. How does it benefit Christianity, or any other religion, to operate differently?

If you are a Christian, or someone that believes in some sort of an afterlife, I ask that you ponder, accept and learn to sincerely love the “Nada” concept. I ask that you re-evaluate your relationship with God thus far and the reasons for making this relationship a part of your life. If you believe evangelism is central to your religion, be careful not to preach words of hell or heaven, but only words of love. A basic human love for one’s Creator.

Nietzche believes that God is a mere human construct that no longer has a place in the human race. I sincerely believe that, without the re-evaluation I proposed, we are simply proving Nietzche right.