Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

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Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby sirlamre » Fri May 14, 2010 10:35 pm

I decided this perhaps deserved a thread of it's own, so I moved it to here....


In another thread, Brian said the below:

Brian wrote:Unless you've ever been a corpse, you have no idea if there's a God or an afterlife. It's not possible for you to [empirically] know anything about it.
(emphasis mine)


That got me to thinking ---


I'm not sure you'd know for certain if God existed even if you WERE dead.

I think you'd still have just as much of a chance of experiencing human fallibility and the concurrent ability to misunderstand, misperceive,
and see-what-you-want-to-see as we do when alive.

It's a particularly Christian narrow view that
"when you die, you'll instantly understand everything, and no truth or reality will be hidden from you. Everyone will instantly be presented with absolutely irrefutable evidence of what Truth is.
[That is, "truth" according to whatever some particular Christian is telling you this, but as per common practice, expressed as "The Bible says", not "I think the Bible says"]
And, you'll either understand "Truth" and understand (as you fall down into lava) just how badly you screwed up, or (as you put on your halo) how much you were doing JUST what God wanted.

Concomitant with the kinds of no-empirical-evidence-yet-we-believe-this-and-that ideas that Christians have,
they also firmly believe that EVERYONE, upon the moment of death, will immediately be totally unable to deny the truth

The belief seems to be that instantly, God tells the freshly dead person just how it is, and that person sorta stands there and says "Oh!"
or "Uh-oh!".
No learning curve, no self-experience -- just WHAM, and God has explained IT ALL to you...
You instantly realise whether or not you did exactly what God wanted, or whether God's REALLY REALLY mad at you, and your toes are beginning to burn...

Such is the basic intent of what every Christian I've met implies with their statements about belief -- whether they put it in those exact terms or not; what I've said is sort of the experiential definition -

But I don't think there is that kind of rationale or promise from God, or anything else to say that
once we die, we instantly understand every truth, have no further misunderstandings, we "get it" about how true everything Jesus said was



Personally, I think just after dying, we're likely just as subject to human fallibilities as ever.. not some sort of
instantly magically turned into either molten lava or turned into some sort of savant-guru knowing absolutely everything and understanding everything in the Bible as "true", according to our own personal perceptions of it.

Some people have this belief that everything God could ever even remotely conceive as a "sin" or a "flaw" will instantanously be wiped out of every human accepted into heaven - we are "made perfect" in every conceivable fashion, every personality trait that God would consider slightly imperfect, etc etc.
Under this belief, God would "wipe away" any sins like:
any and all pride
any ego
any sense of self-sufficiency in any way (since we're supposed to rely upon God the Father for everything)
Any personality traits or emotional reactions that even slightly irritated God once in a while.

That particular belief of Christians (who are alone in that
if fully examined, and developed into a more realistic perception, rather than left as simplistic as most think of it
would reduce humans to nothing more than shells, with little or nothing left of what actually composes most of our
personality.

If (as I believe) God permits us to enter His Kingdom, yet does so with the knowledge that we still have fallibilities, still have work to do in order to be what He wants us to be, etc

then it also seems logical that some of us might go into the next life and NOT "instantly" be fully aware that God
is there, DOES exist, and is pissed off ;-)

What do you think?[/quote]
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby Brian » Fri May 14, 2010 11:13 pm

Maybe I misunderstand the nature of your objection, but I would think that the fact that you were still conscious after death would be proof positive of an afterlife, by definition. :scratch:

There's an episode of "Married...With Children" where Al goes to "Heaven" and mistakes a dead shoe salesman for God. I think there's a possibility of something like that, where you wouldn't necessarily be able to [b]identify[/i] God, but that's hard for me to picture, if God turned out to be anything like the all-encompassing, awesome presence he's advertised as.

As for entering Heaven still having sins and flaws, that's consistent with the Judaic tradition, but not with Christianity. The concept makes Jesus' being impaled on the cross no more significant than a really bad nailgun accident. That's why Christians can't accept the idea. It's completely incompatible with Christianity of any stripe that I'm aware of.
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby sirlamre » Sat May 15, 2010 4:30 pm

Brian wrote:Maybe I misunderstand the nature of your objection, but I would think that the fact that you were still conscious after death would be proof positive of an afterlife, by definition. :scratch:

There's an episode of "Married...With Children" where Al goes to "Heaven" and mistakes a dead shoe salesman for God. I think there's a possibility of something like that, where you wouldn't necessarily be able to [b]identify[/i] God, but that's hard for me to picture, if God turned out to be anything like the all-encompassing, awesome presence he's advertised as.

As for entering Heaven still having sins and flaws, that's consistent with the Judaic tradition, but not with Christianity. The concept makes Jesus' being impaled on the cross no more significant than a really bad nailgun accident. That's why Christians can't accept the idea. It's completely incompatible with Christianity of any stripe that I'm aware of.


I think almost all cultures have a "life after death" belief---
but I thought your thread response was "would we know God existed"
Some of those cultures are the "feasting hall of Valhalla", "great hunting ground", etc -- not necessarily focussed on "meet the Creator"

Many Christians I know believe that Jesus died for their sins -- and if they accept His sacrifice, they are theoretically eligible to enter heaven, whereas if they don't accept His sacrifice, they have NO chance.

That to me (and quite a few others) -- does not necessarily imply that you commit NO sins at all of any kind ever, after the one moment of "accepting" His sacrifice.
therefore, if God is going to acknowledge your noticing Jesus sacrifice, He's either going to have to accept the fact that you're human, and there WILL be other sins between death and that previous glorious moment at the front of the church on Sunday with everyone watching and singing Kum ba Ya with you

So I don't follow that from the moment I decided that Jesus died for me -- I will never again until the day I die, commit any sort of sin, and that the moment I enter heaven, I will become utterly perfect just like God is, and totally sin-free in all ways, identical to Jesus sinlessness.

I think God is likely going to look more favorably on me for having decided that Jesus was important -- but I don't think God is going to make me as sin-free and utterly perfect as the first atom He created on the day of Creation.
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby Brian » Sat May 15, 2010 5:23 pm

sirlamre wrote:I think almost all cultures have a "life after death" belief---
but I thought your thread response was "would we know God existed"
Some of those cultures are the "feasting hall of Valhalla", "great hunting ground", etc -- not necessarily focussed on "meet the Creator"


Maybe it's just that I'm culturally unable to grasp it, but doesn't an afterlife presuppose that there was a higher power that created it?

sirlamre wrote:Many Christians I know believe that Jesus died for their sins -- and if they accept His sacrifice, they are theoretically eligible to enter heaven, whereas if they don't accept His sacrifice, they have NO chance.

That to me (and quite a few others) -- does not necessarily imply that you commit NO sins at all of any kind ever, after the one moment of "accepting" His sacrifice.


I'm not Christian myself, but my understanding was that if you accepted Jesus' sacrifice, you got your sins wiped out before you entered Heaven. That doesn't imply that you never committed another sin after you accepted the sacrifice. It just means you earn the privilege of having your slate wiped clean.

sirlamre wrote:So I don't follow that from the moment I decided that Jesus died for me -- I will never again until the day I die, commit any sort of sin, and that the moment I enter heaven, I will become utterly perfect just like God is, and totally sin-free in all ways, identical to Jesus sinlessness.

I think God is likely going to look more favorably on me for having decided that Jesus was important -- but I don't think God is going to make me as sin-free and utterly perfect as the first atom He created on the day of Creation.


I don't think any Christian would claim that accepting Jesus' sacrifice would mean that they'd be just like God or Jesus when they entered Heaven. I think the doctrine (as I understand it, anyway) is that such a person would simply be sinless. There's a very wide gulf between being omniscient and omnipotent on the one hand, and simply being sinless, on the other.

It's my understanding that Christians believe that when they die and (presumably) go to Heaven, they're going to spend all their time in holy communion with God, worshiping him. If that's actually the case (or close to it), I don't see how one could be that close to God (which if I understand correctly, is the whole point of Heaven) without knowing he exists.

Now, if some other kind of afterlife exists (e.g., Valhalla), then I could see getting there and not necessarily knowing who, if anyone, was in charge. But I still think it would be reasonable to assume that someone was running the show, so to speak.
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby sirlamre » Sun May 16, 2010 12:02 am

Well, I think the primary difference would be between knowing that "someone" is in charge, versus the "Christian" God
(not that I think theres such a distinction about God, but most Christians do)

And you'd be surprised how many Christians DO think that God is going to make them "perfect" when they get to heaven -- never mind all the ramifications of having every single facet of our emotional/personality/ego-self-confidence
stripped utterly away if it's even slightly "imperfect"

Yes- for Christians, they certainly expect to find out whether God exists--

Originally, I thought you'd said that "everyone" would find out when they die ---
My point was more along the lines of what happens when someone who DOES believe in an afterlife, yet doesn't subscribe to the Christian perceptions of what God is.

ie -- they believe in a Creator - and yet, simply assume that the Creator is supplying the endless amount of animals in the great hunting ground, and otherwise is just as abstract and not "real and in their face" as their Creator was on earth...
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby Brian » Sun May 16, 2010 1:37 am

sirlamre wrote:Well, I think the primary difference would be between knowing that "someone" is in charge, versus the "Christian" God
(not that I think theres such a distinction about God, but most Christians do)


Oh, okay. I wasn't making the distinction between "someone" and the Christian God. My point wasn't that the person would know that the Christian God existed, but just that some God existed. I think the existence of an afterlife would clinch that.

sirlamre wrote:And you'd be surprised how many Christians DO think that God is going to make them "perfect" when they get to heaven -- never mind all the ramifications of having every single facet of our emotional/personality/ego-self-confidence
stripped utterly away if it's even slightly "imperfect"


How are you defining "perfect"? All the Christians I know believe that their sins will be washed away before they get to Heaven, and that they will be "perfect" in that sense, but not perfect as God is perfect (e.g., no superpowers). I think Christian dogma (as I understand it) assumes that the sinless person is the real person, and that the sinful person is just a corruption of that.

sirlamre wrote:Yes- for Christians, they certainly expect to find out whether God exists--

Originally, I thought you'd said that "everyone" would find out when they die ---
My point was more along the lines of what happens when someone who DOES believe in an afterlife, yet doesn't subscribe to the Christian perceptions of what God is.


Regardless of what exact form the god takes, if there's an afterlife, there's a god. If you make the assumption that everyone goes to the same afterlife (rather than, say, Christians going to one afterlife, Buddhists going to another, etc.), then everyone will find out the same thing, one way or the other. Unless you posit the idea of a personal Heaven, then everyone will find out the same thing, whether it's God in charge, Odin, the Great Pumpkin, or the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

sirlamre wrote:ie -- they believe in a Creator - and yet, simply assume that the Creator is supplying the endless amount of animals in the great hunting ground, and otherwise is just as abstract and not "real and in their face" as their Creator was on earth...


I don't think the fact that the god wasn't in their face makes the god any less concrete or real. In a happy hunting ground afterlife, you might not see a deity, but you'd know where all the good eats were coming from.

I will say this, though: There's always a possibility (however slim) that an afterlife sprang directly from the natural world. I suppose that if someone had that concept, there would be two explanations for the afterlife.
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby 24HourNut » Sun May 16, 2010 10:19 am

Brian wrote:Regardless of what exact form the god takes, if there's an afterlife, there's a god.


That's not necessarily true as there are other possibilities including some of which we may not even be able to imagine.
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby Brian » Sun May 16, 2010 12:13 pm

24HourNut wrote:
Brian wrote:Regardless of what exact form the god takes, if there's an afterlife, there's a god.


That's not necessarily true as there are other possibilities including some of which we may not even be able to imagine.


Without a god, who's in charge of the afterlife? Who created the conditions? If it's impossible for us to imagine it, it's not worth considering, is it?
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby Marie5656 » Sun May 16, 2010 1:11 pm

I think much depends on your belief system before death. If your beliefs are strong, then it stands to reason that you already know God exists, and will see him when you die. For non believers..then it is just plain hard to say...
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Re: Will we instantly know God exists when we die?

Postby Brian » Sun May 16, 2010 4:41 pm

Marie5656 wrote:If your beliefs are strong, then it stands to reason that you already know God exists, and will see him when you die. For non believers..then it is just plain hard to say...


If your beliefs are strong, you strongly believe God exists -- by definition. If there was a way to know God exists, there wouldn't be a controversy about it. Everyone would just know. Certainly, if someone could demonstrate the existence of God, they wouldn't be shy about demonstrating that to people.
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

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