“Imagine there’s no heaven. It’s easy if you try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. Imagine all the people, living for today.” Those are the lyrics to John Lennon’s “Imagine.” And according to one atheist I visited with recently, little would show more promise for our country if all of America were to embrace those precepts.

As a brief reminder, life after death is the topic I’ve selected to develop over the course of my columns. My intentions are to accurately reflect the various perspectives of local residents by posing the same questions to each person, and detailing their responses here. Bear in mind that no individual claims to represent the beliefs for all people of similar persuasion. Their opinions are theirs alone.

Ralph Isler is a semi-retired former professor of physics. His mother took him to a Methodist church when growing up, and in his own words, he was a strong Christian and had a genuine born-again experience. With age came deeper introspection into the seeming conflict between his religious beliefs and the real world, a world where the existence of evil and suffering contravened his religion’s all-loving, all-powerful God.

Compounding Isler’s turmoil was the importunate Methodist teaching that this same benevolent deity would consign people to literal hell to be eternally tormented — even those who had never heard of this God. At the age of 23, Isler asked his pastor to remove his name from the church roll. Permanently.

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