According to Stephen, afterlife and heaven are fairy stories for people who are afraid of the dark. Logically if this was true, should religious people not be afraid of death then, cause they do believe in heaven? The only religious people I see happy to die are terrorist nutcases. They are a minority (lucky enough). The rest of them suffers, despite of the promise of heaven. They not only suffer their own future death, they really suffer the coming of death of their loved ones. Not only because they might suffered retribution, if they are a part of that type of religious movement that has scared them into obedience. Never have so many people gathered in Europe to mourn as when the previous pope died. Hey peeps, gods number one person on the planet has left the building, is that not a reason to party? Why mourn the loss when you could celebrate the fact that you got to live at the same time as that great (well perhaps not my opinion about him) man.
We can be certain of a few truths. We are here, although the definition of here is under debate. We were at one point of time not here, and we will at one point of time not be here again. These facts depend on the idea that time is linear, an idea that is the base of the three big relgions Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Also that I am present here in the flesh.
There is another truth which is biologically significant, Buddha’s word on change; everything changes, nothing ever remains the same.
If we take this truth to the biological level of ourselves, we can see that this is true. The person that started to read this text is not the same biological being that is reading it now. Cells have died and been replaced, new cells have come into being and chemicals have moved around. Your body is never the same, this change is constant. I have written an earlier posting about this (with that headline).
Tantric deities are often shown in lovemaking, usually with jewels made of skulls or heads. This is a mirror of what it means to be present. It is mirroring change, it is constant death and rebirth (the images have other meanings as well). It is one symbolic description of what it mean to be alive and have a body. It is showing the extacy connected with this experience.
Thus there is nothing to be afraid of. There is only change and thus there is only now. This is heaven, this is the afterlife, cause the person you were five seconds ago has died and been reborn into something else. It is an ongoing cycle. If you take this interpretation, Stephen is wrong. There is a heaven, which comes in the breach of life and death and rebirth (the last depending on religious belief of course) and it is taking place within us right now. There is no fright of darkness, only of our projected fears.