I'm hugely enjoying David Eagleman's "Sum: forty tales from the afterlives." This is a marvelously creative and thought-provoking book, unlike anything I've ever read before.
Sum is a work of fiction (maybe). The back cover says:
With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.
There's no way to explain the book. So I'll simply share one of the tales that I especially enjoyed. Read on.
by David Eagleman, in "Sum"
In the afterlife you meet God. To your surprise and delight, She is like no god that humans have conceived. She shares qualities with all religions' descriptions, but commands a deific grandeur that was captured in the net of none. She is the elephant described by blind men: all partial descriptions with no understanding of the whole.
You can see in Her glittering eyes how delighted She is to hand forth the Book of Truth. The Book cleanly addresses your lifetime of questions with no philosophical gaps or loose threads. As you observe Her excitement about revealing this, you begin to suspect that deep down She was afraid that an especially clear-thinking theologian would guess the answer. All the clues were there, and only people's personal backgrounds got in the way. You notice that She feels relief as She watches while people's biases and traditions impede clear theological guessing. It is only because of these cultural blinders that She retains Her enviable position of revealing the universe's great secrets each day as the dead cross over to Her territory in the next dimension.
If these people were able to completely shake their traditions, the claims of their ancestors, the songs of their childhood -- She reasons -- they would have a decently clear shot at the right answer. And this is why She was always leery of apostates, those who rejected the particulars of their religion in search of something that seemed more truthful. She disliked them because they seemed the most likely to float a correct guess. If you assumed that God is fond of those who hold loyally to their reasons, you were right -- but probably for the wrong reasons. She likes them only because they are intellectually nonadventurous and will be sure to get the answer just a bit wrong.
Upon their arrival in the afterlife, She divides people into the Apostates on Her left and the Loyals on Her right. The Apostates are put on the down escalator, and only the Loyals remain in Heaven. Each day she welcomes new Loyals from two thousand religions. She watches them study the Book of Truth and waits for it to sink in with a delicious thrill.
But something has gone wrong with Her plan. The truth does not convince. The newly arrived Loyals have an imperturbable capacity to hold the beliefs with which they arrived, a deep reluctance to consider evidence that separates them from their lifelong context. So She finds Herself unappreciated and lonely, wandering in solitude among the infinite cloudscapes of the nonbelieving believers.