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The Problem of Heaven

By Wertbag ~ 

Heaven is classically described as a place of pure happiness, where there is nothing negative ever and you live with the angels for eternity. This does sound very much like a carrot and stick situation, where if you accept the claim, you are rewarded, not just with some benefit but with the greatest thing ever, oh but if you don't agree then you'll suffer the worst thing possible. It's the very extremes of the two views, perfect happiness verse unending torment, that points to it being just the greatest thoughts in each direction that the author could come up with.

The problem with trying to propose a place where there is no sadness, is that such emotion is a normal part of being human. We have empathy and care for our fellow humans, but we are expected to believe that we can be in heaven and not care for those cast into hell? Upon arrival in heaven, you find your wife, husband, children, parents or other loved ones didn't make it, so the alternative is they are in torment or, if you are an annihilationist, then they cease to exist, and you'll never see them again. Having just been told you will be happy for eternity but that your loved ones won't be there is quite a contradiction.

Apologists have noticed this hole and there have been some attempts to reconcile it. One way was to say we will not be human anymore. Turned into a being of pure spirit who doesn't have human empathy or possibly even memory. This idea that we lose ourselves upon going to heaven is not widely liked due to the obvious negative outcome such a thing is to most people's minds. It also leaves you wondering what is the point in our time on Earth, as if it is a test for heaven and yet we don't remember or it's not necessary then why bother with the real world at all? God could create the beings in the already existing world of pure happiness, and there is no need for pain and suffering in the real world at all.

If you believe in a faith only salvation message, then some horrible people could potentially be in heaven, from Jeffrey Dahmer to Hitler, to the child rapist priests. Imagine arriving in heaven to be greeted by the guy who raped you, or even the guy who killed you and ate your corpse. But apparently, we will be fine with it, because there is no anger or sadness, so we will have to high five them and say, "Welcome to heaven, prepare for eternity of happiness".

But what about babies? Do they go to heaven in the form they died? Do they get magically converted to adulthood and somehow gain language and education that they never did in life? Will your still born baby be potentially older than its mother in heaven if the best each of them ever was at different ages?

What about someone who suffers a head injury and their personality changes. Do they go to heaven as they were before the accident or as they were when they died? If they go as an early, healthier form, do they lose the memories, friendships and love they had after that point?

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net