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These were the last words of Chris (Yul Brynner) at the end of the movie “Return of the Magnificent Seven”.  He was looking back at the Mexican village which he and his six cowboys had just saved, against all odds, from the hundreds of banditos out to destroy the village, its people and the heroic Seven who fought to save them.  His companion replied to Chris’ expression of surprise that they had actually succeeded – “I’ll be damned !” – by saying : “I doubt it.  I doubt it very much.”  Taking the everyday expression literally, he was saying that after such a generous act of bravery as leader of the Seven (as Chris(t) the Savior ?), he would not be punished by God for his many sins by being damned to the fires of Hell.  A original punch-line to end a classic Western, but also food for thought for people who wonder about God as the Judge who condemns His wayward children by torturing them in Hell for all eternity.

Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell : the four Last Things, the “eschata” of Christian eschatology.  In fact only the first is a fact.  The others are pure fiction.

Believers, shocked by such a statement, will insist that the Gospels (the “Good News” ?) are explicit on eternal reward and punishment.  They take them as “Gospel truth”.  Jesus was indeed explicit about both,  so can there be any doubt as to what we can expect when we die ?  If questioned as to why they believe what they read in the Gospels, they would say that they accept all that Jesus (is said to have) said because He proved He was the Son of God by the many miracles He worked, above all by resurrecting Himself from the dead.  Q.E.D.

Such naïve credulity is not surprising in children, but unworthy of adults.  They will NOT be judged, they will NOT damned to Hell, they will NOT be rewarded in Heaven; when they breathe their last, they will just cease to exist.

You still believe in that nonsense about the “afterlife” ?  Well I’ll be damned !

RIDENDA     RELIGIO

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