Andrew Sullivan is an intelligent writer who is also a devout Christian. I have to admit I have a hard time putting those two characteristics together – my automatic prejudice is that if someone believes Jesus was actually God, they just haven’t thought about it enough.
This in itself is stupid, I realize. Thinking and believing are two separate spheres. You can’t think your way into God.
Anyway, lately on his site he’s been hosting a debate between atheists and theists that’s fascinating; about what everybody thinks happens after we die. The atheists tend to be a bit arrogant, postulating, for example, that people who believe in an afterlife do so because they’re cowards, afraid to face their own death. But they’re also quite compelling, writing about how their belief in their own dissolution makes them more able to appreciate the lives they have; more eager to live good lives because they will only live on in memory.
Sullivan himself writes:
I have two intuitions about what happens when I die. The first is that I cannot know in any way for sure; and I surely know that whatever heaven is, it is so beyond our human understanding that it is perhaps better not to try an answer. The second is that I will continue to exist in my essence but more firmly and completely enveloped in the love and expanse of God, as revealed primarily in the life of Jesus.
I agree with his first intuition, except for the part about heaven, unless he means that heaven has something to do with how everything got started, the one mystery that atheism has no capability to explain. As for the second, if Jesus popped into my room right now, I’d have to agree. But I just can’t get there from here. My room is empty.