: We are caterpillars and "the universe" or "All there is", or "God" is like the butterfly.Long answer with explanations:
I believe that all there is is all there is and that the universe is mathematical (Godel may be right in proving that we cannot prove that but we don't actually have to prove it) and, thus, our individual being, although forever dissipated once we rot or burn, nevertheless remains as part of the universal computer memory. No, I don't believe that there is anyone reading the memory's contents on the screen; I just believe that the universe is an existential unit and that we are among its infinitesimal manifestations which can be stored and retrieved. We, by virtue of being small manifestations of the universe (like little sprouts or grass blades on a field or waves in an ocean or whatever such time-honoured analogy from the ancients) are bigger than ... ourselves just as if the individual cell of my fingers could "see" me, the total organism, as bigger than it and as if it could identify with me. So, once we are free from spatial/temporal constraints, we (now it gets difficult because language cannot describe non-spatial/non-temporal propositions) are no longer individual entities (therefore no afterlife for "you" or "me" under the kind fatherly smile of "God") but we are "reabsorbed" into all there is, but with the ability to "remember" or "retrieve information about" our individual manifestations here in space-time.
Ok, in simple terms, I believe that the universe is all there is, BUT ... there is a lot of stuff in "all there is" that we humans are simply not equipped to perceive or understand -- notice, there is no need to be consigning such "stuff" to such arbitrarily established classifications as "supernatural," "metaphysics," "heaven," etc.
Time and space are themselves a part of the universe and, therefore, not the whole or even the definitive element thereof (hence our inability to conceive any "answer" remotely accurate or relevant to the task of explaining existence -- existence includes a lot of non-spatial and non-temporal ... "stuff").
This does not necessarily mean that the universe is its own God -- the term God is meaningless anyway (it only means IN PRACTICALITY "the big brother who can bail me out of whatever bothers/threatens me," no matter what the purported creeds ).
Now, what does all this mean for us humans or, more importantly, for ME? ("screw everyone else" is the honest but most often non-admitted attitude): It means some good news and some bad news.
1) Bad news: It does not matter what this means to us or to me or whatever. Truth or fact is independent of how we feel about it.
2) Good news: It doesn't, however, have to be bad news. No, (it's true) we cannot go on living in an after life, and no, there is no "God" BUT... that's only because "afterlife" and "God" are nonsensical terms, when you try to define them, like "ugah-chahkah" or like Chomsky's "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously." The ultimate "reason" (itself a teleological and therefore a space-time concept which is thus inadequate in explaining existence and its non-spatial, non-temporal aspects) or "ground" or "proposition" (a more mathematical and less linguistically-constrained term) for MY existence in this life may well be "rememberance" or "reenactment" or "data-retrievae" or "a sub category of mathematical propositions" (crudely speaking, a place, a use, a job, a purpose in the afterlife) for even the tiniest, most insignificant part of this universe. If all there is is all there is, then even microbes, humans, and solar systems (not sufficiently different in terms of size and significance in comparison to even something as small as clusters of galaxies, let alone...ALLTHERE IS) still remain parts of all there is. It's not like they get lost because they are too small and the place is too big for a person to look for them. The needle is lost only to us in a haystack. But the haystack knows (uh... ok, anyway...)
Now, of course, we do not continue living as...souls or resurrected saints or astral bodies in some "after life" but we are recorded for ever in the universe's memory. In a sense, we rejoin "all there is" and, we can be recalled to memory by "all there is" if it is "desirable" or "necessary."
The caterpillar cannot fathom concepts like "flight" or "air" -- they are existentially and qualitatively inaccessible to it. When it becomes a butterfly, it may still wish to go down on ground level and crawl for old times' sake, but its new existence as butterfly, and its new tasks and realities, are more interesting and important to it. But this is something the caterpillar, before tasting "butterfly existence/reality" can neither conceive nor be persuaded of. We humans are the same when it comes to being unable to accept that we are temporary and that there is no continuation to our individual existence. If we could "see" what "All There Is" "sees" (or, "what God knows"), then we would be as relaxed about the death of our caterpillar-like existence as the butterfly is or should be, were it actually prone to, or capable of, such existential musings in the first place.
Now, on to the next question: Ask me what I''ve been smoking