Nobody knows what happens after we die. Even Christians who believe in God do not know exactly what will happen in the afterlife.
The afterlife, more than likely, will be entirely different from anything we can see in the universe. This is because: (1) only a very small percentage of our universe is visible to us, and (2) we have no idea about the laws and substance and sustenance in an open creative universe that probably exists outside our closed universe which we believe is limited because matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed, according to our laws of physics.
Our imaginations would have to work overtime in order to come up with what exists in a creative universe. Of course, much has been written about this universe in the Bible with God as the Creator of our closed universe.
So, is the concept of God the result of the strained imaginations of early man? Or is it a design that was imparted to us from a divine being? Or is it an idea concocted by an early genius who realized its benefit to mankind during life and also in an afterlife if thinking continued after death?
One of the unknowns about death, especially in our recycling universe, is what happens to our thought process? We believe that the body, including the brain, decomposes and enters the recycling hopper. But we are not as certain about our thoughts, which may continue, thus separating from the brain at death.
This concept of continuation may be because we are a selfish animal that cannot accept the finality of our thinking at death. But it also may be because we actually detect a “soul” through introspective searches and through intuition. In other words, we seem to know this “thinking entity” a priori, not a posteriori.
Our deductive reasoning allows us to conclude that there is something outside our brains and physical structures that is not explained by biology and physiology and physics. It may be self-evident when we look in the mirror at the creature that is reflected as an alien that is foreign to this “thinking entity.”
So what happens if we are separated from the brain at death and we continue thinking? Again, we have no idea, but we might speculate that this continuation of thinking may not necessarily be a good thing. If we consider an eternity of thinking without our senses to entertain us and distract us from thinking serious thoughts, this could be a very bad thing, indeed. It would be similar to the torture of sensory deprivation.
We know through scientific experiments that when our senses are removed, we are left with ourselves and our own thoughts. Even if we are thoughtful people, our demons of the past may haunt our conscience for an eternity, which sounds a lot like Hell. But in those experiments, those who had a clear conscience fared better in this deprivation environment. Their experiences were closer to what Heaven might be. They were at peace with themselves.
What better way to clear our conscience than to believe in a God who forgives us of all our sins simply by believing that Jesus died for this purpose? Christianity appears to be the best religion for giving us the opportunity to avoid punishing ourselves for our transgressions. If we are still thinking when we die and have faith in God and the Bible, then we are more likely to think good thoughts and will be at peace with ourselves and our God.
But this belief in God must be paramount to everything else. Our faith in God must be powerful and permanent, standing the test of eternity. Perhaps, the litmus test of how we would do in the afterlife is provided by our dreams.
When we dream, do we have nightmares where we are running away or hiding from something? Are our dreams calming or tumultuous? Do we ever dream of the Creator? Or are our dreams chaotic and stressful? Our dreams may be the reflections during life of what our afterlife will be like.
As William Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause: there’s the respect that makes calamity of so long life…”
Our dreams that occur during our life may be precursors to what is to come after death. And if our dreams are typically nightmares, this may not be a good omen for us. Get right with God or suffer the consequences.
Most of us must think much differently than we do right now in order to find peace in the afterlife. Of course if we are not thinking after death, then we will already have peace. The real danger of Hell comes from our continuation of thinking after death.
Even though nobody knows exactly what will happen after death, we know that if our thinking ceases at that point of death, then there is nothing to worry about. There will be no more pain, worry, or care. Our thoughts will cease and our bodies will decompose.
On the other hand if we die and are still thinking, then we better have a strong faith in something. Even though we would like to think that we could handle this situation by ourselves, more than likely we could not. We must have a powerful controlling faith to hold onto or otherwise the strong current of chaos may pull us into a darkness of forever.