Heaven would suck… if it were real.
Such a big topic, so little time. But, I’ll try…
It hit me last night while watching an interview with Richard Carrier, that heaven would really suck… if it were real. So, let’s first examine the legitamacy of heaven (and hell for that matter) from a purely psychological and mythological point of view. My friends at Godisimaginary.com do a great job in explaining it.
Simply talk to Christians about heaven. Ask them to describe what heaven is like, and how they will get there. You will be able to feel the absurdity of this notion in two different ways:
1) There is the direct absurdity [in their story] where the creation of entirely new and completely imaginary “dimensions” and “materialization processes” tells you everything you need to know about how delusional things can get.
2) There is also the absurdity that comes when you compare any two people’s views of heaven. Everyone’s fabrication of heaven is different. For some it involves harps and clouds and halos. For others it involves hot and cold running virgins. For some people, the actual body is transported magically to heaven as described in the “Left Behind” books. For others, your “soul” floats out of the body and makes it way to St. Peter. And so on. People make up anything they like, because heaven is a completely imaginary place.
Heaven is a fairy tale invented by human imagination. And each person’s fairy tale is different. We imagine that we have “souls,” fabricate the concept of “eternal life” and then fantasize a place called “heaven,” complete with streets of gold, calorie-free foods, frolicking virgins and whatever else we can come up with. Christians imagine it so vividly and repeat the fantasy so often that they actually believe it to be reality.
How bizarre can the fantasies get? Fly to Cairo and take a look at the Great Pyramid. There is the pyramid itself — still one of the largest man-made objects on earth. In addition there is the whole mummification process, the disassembled boats, the sacred artwork and so on. All of this was designed to help the pharaoh reach the afterlife. We look at it now and we all know, with absolute certainty, that it was a complete and total waste of time. The Egyptian notion of the afterlife was a fantasy.
The Christian notion of the afterlife is a fantasy in exactly the same way. Heaven is completely imaginary
Heaven is the greatest reward man could ever invent to keep us acting good (short of Mormonism… they make you a god and give you your own planet to rule over – pretty frickin sweet!). And, inversely, hell is just about the single most awful punishment one could imagine. On top of that, they are both for eternity… yep, forever and ever and ever and ever. Wow, that’s a long time. Why is it the best reward and worst punishment imaginable? BECAUSE THEY WERE IMAGINED!
But, let’s suppose for the next little bit that they were indeed real. Would you even want to go to heaven? Think about it. It’s a pretty exclusive club; tough to get into. So, more people will obviously be going to hell than to heaven. It’s not very many. Luke 12:32 shows that there is only a “little flock” that shares in the heavenly kingdom. Rev. 14:1 speaks of only 144,000 being with Christ in heaven. Rev. 5:10 brings out that they will be kings and priests “over the earth.” Who will they rule over with Christ? Psa. 37:11, 29 shows that meek and righteous mankind will inhabit the earth. This follows the premise of what a kingdom actually is: a relatively small group of beings governing a much larger group. Of course, it would make sense that only those who have demonstrated their faith in God’s promises in both word and deed would be chosen for that position.
These will be people you know – friends and family that messed up along the way in their short, short lives on Earth and forgot to ask for forgiveness (or at some point denied the existence of the holy Spirit, which, according to the bible is the only unforgivable sin). So, they will burn in the flames of hell and be tormented by demons day after day who want nothing more than to torture, rape, and defile them in every way imaginable… and there is nothing you can do about it. In Luke 16, the bible says those in heaven can’t even dip their finger in water to ease the torment of those crying out in pain to those in heaven. How much fun would that be? You can hear them screaming for all eternity, but there is nothing you can do, but you don’t care because you drown out their screams by constantly chanting, “I got mine and you got yours. Na nana boo boo, stick your head in doo-doo!” that doesn’t sound like eternal bliss. That sounds horrible… and makes those in heaven seem like real assholes.
And, who says hell will be all that bad. The bible isn’t that specific about it. When Jesus died on the cross, he descended into hell. In Acts 2, Peter is speaking, verse 31, ” . . . seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell.” And in Matthew 12:40, Jesus says, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly: so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” So, this leads bible fearing people to believe that hell is inside the earth. Urban legends about Russian miners recording millions of voices screaming from hell have popped up all over the internet from this same claim.
Let’s see… god creates a majestic kingdom once thought to be in the sky by Christians (before the age of astronomy… and meteorology). We now that there isn’t one. So, Christians say it’s on another realm of existence of in another galaxy (far, far away… sound familiar?). But, since we haven’t mapped out every part of the inner earth, it’s still ok for them to believe that hell has a physical location inside the globe… where it’s estimated to be 12,000 degrees (and where no oxygen exists which is needed for flames to burn… but that’s another topic that Christian apologists haven’t yet “figured out”). What seems more plausible? There really is a hell inside the earth and volcanoes are evidence of it…. OR… mankind once saw lava spewing from the ground and thought, “Hmm, I bet that would suck to live there – must be where hell is”??? I choose the latter.
To be honest, if the bible is the only source for the story of hell, that’s not really fair to Satan. He didn’t get a book to tell his side of the story. I mean, if people in hell are sinners and have therefore “sided” with the devil, wouldn’t the devil want to show them and good time? He was banished from heaven for being prideful and thinking he was better than god. So, one would assume that torturing people in lake of fire wouldn’t be the best way to show that you are better than god. If anything, it would be an awesome party… all the good stuff you “weren’t supposed to do” on earth is free game down in hell.
But, don’t worry… NONE OF IT IS REAL!
Don’t you find it interesting that Greek mythology (which predates Christian mythology) uses the same good is up and bad is down archetypes for Mount Olympus and Hades? Not just them… many “religions” have shared this story. Christians don’t believe those, but they do when it comes to their own brand of fairy tales. I understand how it helps keep people in line. We reward people on earth for good things and punish them for bad. It seems only reasonable than man would extend this same paradigm to the afterlife. No one likes to think that when you die “it’s all over”. But, that may very well be the case.
We’ve come far enough in human knowledge to let these old myths go. We can live peacefully without the promise of heaven or the punishment of hell. We make our own heavens and hells on earth based on how we live. This is our paradise if we choose to make it so. We may not have streets of gold, bouncy clouds, perfect bodies, mansions for all, and fat little cherubs with harps… but at least what we have is real, tangible, and available to all – no eating of god-flesh or drinking of savior-blood required!