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Christy Caputo

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If you did not have religion or never exposed to religion; how easy would it be for you to believe in a heaven and hell?

I will start by saying I was raised in a religious home; we attended church 3 times a week whether we wanted to or not. In my mid-30's I started to recognize subtle similarities to various world religions and the religion I grew up believing. This made me wonder...if not all religions teach of a "heaven" or "hell" as where one goes when one dies based on how the person lived on earth...would those who are not exposed to religion believe in a heaven and hell or something similar?

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    Jan 9 2012: Even having been raised a Christian, and finding enough favor with the philosophy of Islam to consider myself Muslim, I do not believe in Heaven and Hell as literal postmortem places, but as metaphors for a state of existence wherein your life is either a positive one or a negative one. When through the results of decisions you make you find yourself in undesirable situations from which you cannot extricate yourself, this is Hell; when through the results of decisions you make you find yourself in desirable situations at which you can share its positivism, this is Heaven.

    Amongst the philosophy of addiction treatment programs, there is a nice quote which I think is apt in describing this: "I'd rather be three feet from Hell and walking out than a mile out and walking in." Basically, when an addict gets to a very bad condition, that is Hell, and recovery is the process of walking away from that condition. When the addict has not yet reached "rock bottom", they are on the path /to/ Hell.

    As to whether an afterlife exists or whether such an afterlife might be divided into precincts such as is found in the common and literal interpretation of Christian theology, I cannot say, nor I am inclined towards or against much speculation. For all I know, reincarnation is just as real a possibility; Heaven would be the reunion with God of which we are parcel, Hell would be another go at life, under different circumstances, in an attempt to cause us to realize our destiny.

    Last, I /do/ think I would have arrived at these conclusions without exposure to religion. I live in the secular United States, and society has rules, both legal and normative, which when followed results in symbiosis, while which when broken results in punishment. Certainly is prison Hell, and staying out of it is Heaven. I think of religion not so much as theological tenets, but of behavioral guidelines. Society will always develop its own religion, with or without the interference of preexisting religion.

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