Why is it that religionists accept the concept of heaven without thinking it through to its logical conclusions? To them, that is what this world is all about. Live your life within the guidelines of morality, as dictated by a book that could not be more irrelevant to the modern world, so that you may enter the kingdom of heaven …. otherwise ye shall be condemned to the firey pits of hell. Oh yeah – it’s for eternity, by the way. Eternity. As in forever and ever and ever and ever.
Maybe it’s just me, but when you add that “eternity” caveat, doesn’t that make both versions of the afterlife seem like nothing to look forward to? Of all the vacations that I have ever taken, and of all the vacations that I would like to take but can’t afford to, I cannot imagine one that I wouldn’t eventually be sick of. You could send me to my own private island in the most beautiful Caribbean waters on earth, with all the free amenities, servants, delicious food and drink that I can partake in – it may take a year, it may take 5 years, but eventually it will get old and I will want to get the hell out of there. Maybe I’m off a bit, and it would take 20 years to become painfully tired of such an environment – but what is 20 years in comparison to eternity? Maybe it will take 1,000 years to get sick of it, but again - what is 1,000 years in comparison to eternity?
There is virtually nothing that a billionaire cannot afford to buy, and consequently I imagine that not much of anything falls into the category of a luxury at that point. If heaven is a land of milk and honey where you are richly rewarded with anything you desire, what would you have a desire for that would last an eternity?
If hell is eternal, wouldn’t you get used to that burning sensation pretty quickly? What is torture if you cannot eventually die from it? How do trillions of souls, who cannot die again, not stand up to one devil and change their environment? How does that devil manage to control all those souls and still find time to mess with mortals on earth?
If doing things like gambling, partying, having sex, cursing, telling lewd jokes, not going to church, working on a Sunday, etc. is what lands you in hell, and doing things like singing religious hymns, proselytizing, going to church, and living a quiet, sanitized life of utter mediocrity is what gets you into heaven, which kind of souls would you rather be surrounded by for ETERNITY? Once you get beyond the paradise surroundings, and you are sick to death of being waited on hand and foot, and tired of playing golf every single day with gold plated clubs and diamond tipped golf balls, and don’t want to ever see another luxury item again – the only thing you will have left to suffer through eternity with will be the trillions of other souls who you are surrounded by. It sickens me to think of myself ever being that position.
Once you think it through, the fact is that the only just reward that a god could ever grant would be the opportunity to come back to earth, or some other non-eternal place, and do it all over again. If I can’t have that, then leave me to disintegrate into the earth and become a part of whatever else happens to absorb me. The heaven concept sounds grand, but thanks to that eternity clause it will eventually be as maddening as hell.
It certainly is easier to know which crowd I'd rather fall in! Though I'm not entirely certain that a million billion lifetimes in a post scarcity society would really be so bad. So people no longer need to work. And maybe most don't. But I feel like enough would to keep life interesting. I mean, if there are 100 billion people in heaven, I imagine enough will want to be famous that we would never run out of new cultural products. Movies, plays, books, art, music, video games... They would be what people did.
On the contrary, the bigger the population, the harder it is to be recognized. In a setting where souls have no choice but to be cummulative, because they can't die or move on to another realm, the population grows indefinitely. You would literally be sharing space with people whose earthy existence was hundreds of generations before yours and an infinite number of generations beyond your own death. Obviously, I don't believe this myself - but it amazes me that there are so many that do. And if you think heaven would be crowded, imagine what hell would be like. Clearly this is one of the most flawed aspects of the Christian doctrine, yet it doesn't ever get discussed, and it won't get revamped because the scriptures are infallible. Yeah right.
And just think about all those aborted (spontaneously and otherwise) fetus souls. There will be way more aborted fetus souls than adult souls.
Those must be like gnats in the afterlife. Heaven must be infested with them!
It's easier to embelish suffering than to focus on the purity, serentiy and eternal joy of heaven. In hell, you can always make it sound a little worse, but in heaven, most things that could be said to make it sound more inviting would actually involve sinful behavior (aka fun.) Hell starts out as an eternal lake of fire, but we can always layer more nastiness into it. For instance, in another comment I made I suggested how nasty the sewage treatment plant in heaven must be (due to the cummulative nature of the population there) - but then quickly came up with the solution that heavenly toilets must flush directly into hell. Win-win! I'll embelish a little more - the excement from heaven is what they use to make sandwiches in hell, and maggots are hell's condiments. This is fun.
Maybe recognition gets harder, but chilling out and enjoying the work of others gets easier, meaning less competition to be recognized. Post scarcity means no lack of space, either. I think if the culture was good, it wouldn't be so bad.
I agree the heaven concept really doesn't sounds all that great when you think about it. Who needs all that gold stuff and surrounded by annoying people.
I remember when I was little and I asked the Sunday school teacher if I would be reunited with my dog when I got to heaven, and she said no - dog's aren't allowed in heaven. I was pissed. That was literally the beginning of my journey into atheism.
I've always thought streets of gold seem dumb. Very highly impractical.
I couldn't agree more !
The irony in the appreciation of anything enjoyable, lies in the knowledge that it's NOT going to last forever (and/or that it's in limited supply).
Take away the 'threat' of 'losing it' (regardless of what it is) and it quickly loses some/much of it's appeal. The most common thought given to something unpleasant (pain/illness/grief/financial-difficulties ...) is not in fact, that we can't handle it in it's current state but, it's in the fear that it won't EVER end.
At one point in my life I thought of heaven as a get out of jail free place in that I could get off this planet, get out of this life, and there would be none of my dysfunctional family members there that I was convinced didn't deserve to be there. Then I got with a group that thought families could be united for all eternity. Now that was my vision of hell! Totally messed up my idea of freedom. They did however, believe in a graded system of heaven where you could be promoted and move up, so at least change was possible. But once again, admittance to each level was all based upon a select group of all males judging and directing your jumping though religious doctrinal hoops of worthiness and unworthiness " or exclusivity. The more I learned the more I was grateful that my father was an atheist and that he gave me a brain to use, Even though there have been times, that I have misplaced that brain in my many wanderings through various religious and philosophical groups as I attempted to verify what exactly was my understanding of the truth. I did finally come to an agreement with my Dad and that he was right all along. He told me something when I was six, I never forgot but resisted. "Man created God in his own image so that he didn't have to be afraid of the unknown." It finally makes sense.
The problem is that the word "eternal" implies that something will literally never end - so even when the theist attempts to adjust the definition of heaven to sound more appetizing, by adding levels that you can graduate to, there would have to be an infinite number of levels because of that whole "eternal" afterlife bullshit. If heaven is the be-all and end-all, and represents absolute paradise, then how can one level of it be any better than another level? Is it possible that your soul will eventually pass from one paradise to a lesser version of paradise? Because that kind of sounds like something that sucks. The concept is ridiculous any way you slice it, and anyone who gets dragged into this kind of debate and exits maintaining the same pie-in-the-sky visions of heaven is beyond delusional, imo.