I think every human being thinks 'beyond himself'. Not that we have the natural idea of an actual physical afterlife, but I think we cann't help 'thinking towards infinity'. So it's no wonder that certain people have come to think of an afterlife and that so many people can relate to that idea. It reflects human thinking in a bad way.
Auge…I would like to propose that no one thinks beyond himself or herself. See…I do not believe that I am going to die. I know that I am; but I do not believe I am.
I think ideas such as Heaven and Hell is the extension of what we know into what we do not know. We cannot think of ourselves any other way. Even those of us who do not think there is “anything after death” (that is a telling phrase) there seem to be the seed of implication that there is someone to not be there.
I agree that it is natural to feel that there is some type of extension of ourselves after we die. I also agree that descriptions of the afterlife are an example of that. I would not say that it reflects “bad thinking”. It is the same phenomenon that allows us to “suspend our disbelief”. In order to suspend disbelief, we have to believe something, for a given period of time. What makes us different is that we realize that we are dealing with our projection in an objective way. Everyone objectifies his or her projections. That is what people who believe in Heaven and Hell are doing. I would not call that “bad thinking”. I would say that they are thinking as all humans think, without the benefit of thinking about their thinking. They are unaware of how their use of language is shaping their worldview. Most people are. In fact, I am virtually certain that there are many areas where I still do that. The reason I know that is that I catch myself doing it every day. So, to me, it is no wonder that most people, naturally unable to imagine a future without them, mistaking their fantasies for the real thing. I doubt most people are capable of doing otherwise.
In response to the original post…I think that you may underestimate just how sick and twisted Christianity is. I once did a study of the origins of the horror genre. The horror genre, as we know it, got its start with the Spanish Inquisition. Christianity takes the phenomenon that I described in the previous paragraphs, and uses it as a club to bully people into acting as if they believe what the bully claims to believe…and does not. True believers are the most dangerous, vile, disgusting creatures to ever walk the face of the Earth. They would have no problem killing every person who dares to question their house of cards. Why? Because they feel that is the only way they can keep fooling themselves. Since they are unable to do so, they project a God who will. Don’t be fooled by the apparent civility of Christians.
For a religion that preaches brotherly love and selflessness, we cannot hold a candle to their self-centeredness. The heart of the Christian religion is the belief in evil.